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The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


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Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com

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Friday, 1 August 2014

Gaza - both sides of the coin...

I don't have much faith in leaders of countries nowadays.  My particular journey has taught me not to believe in their empty promises.  Most war is based on greed; somebody wants someone else's resources.

I've been reading up on Gaza and its history; how that piece of land came to be and who agreed on what.  These are matters that politicians attempt to iron out - which may mean that these issues may not ever be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

I believe there's another option - one that's now being exercised more - the people tell their elected representatives what they want ... and they hold their elected leaders accountable for their actions ... and they stop a country from going to war, when they, the people of the country believe it is wrong.  It's up to the collective communities of the world to put an end to this situation.


Why is Gaza so important to Israel?
Why are Israel's armed forces leveling buildings on the borders?  Why are those buildings and grounds being occupied by people from Israel in defiance of previous treaties?

I think back to the Gulf war and remind myself that people died for nothing more than the West's ambition to destabilise the Arab world and to then better control the main resource of the area, oil.  Oil has generated over 1 Trillion Dollars for the USA over the last decade.  The USA generate income to the tune of $250 Million Dollars per day.  That seems to be the common denominator here and perhaps the reason why the USA and UK have been ineffective at resolving the situation. 

Could it be that Israel want undisputed control of the gas and oil resources that were discovered in 2009?



Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-and-natural-gas-the-israeli-invasion-and-gaza-s-offshore-gas-fields/11680


Who governs Gaza?
The West Bank and Gaza Strip were part of the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1947. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank were governed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Chairman Yasser Arafat. While the areas were predominately settled by Arabs some Jewish people also live there.

After the UN partition of 1948 and the failure of the creation of an Arab state envisioned by the partition, the West Bank was annexed by Jordan on April 24, 1950. 



In 1948, during the First Arab-Israeli War, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. It formally came under the control of Egypt by the terms of the Arab-Israeli armistice agreement signed in 1949. In October 1967, Israeli forces occupied both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during the Six Day War. 

In April 1993, after two decades of uprisings, negotiations, and armed conflicts, Israel and the PLO agreed during secret negotiations to gradually extend self-government of both regions to the Palestinians.

Source: http://ehistory.osu.edu/world/CountryView.cfm?ID=242



Who are Hamas?

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament,[10] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government's commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas resisted such changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.[33][34]

In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.[35] Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza,[35] after which Hamas retained control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank.[35] Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.[36]

In June 2008, as part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Hamas ceased rocket attacks on Israel and made some efforts to prevent attacks by other organizations.[37][38] After a four-month calm, the conflict escalated when Israel carried out a military action with the stated aim of preventing an abduction planned by Hamas, using a tunnel that had been dug under the border security fence,[broken citation] and killed seven Hamas operatives. In retaliation, Hamas attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets.[38][39]

In late December 2008, Israel attacked Gaza,[40] withdrawing its forces from the territory in mid-January 2009.[41] After the Gaza War, Hamas continued to govern the Gaza Strip and Israel maintained its economic blockade. On May 4, 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for "creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government" prior to national elections scheduled for 2012.[42] According to Israeli news reports quoting Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, as a condition of joining the PLO, Khaled Meshaal agreed to discontinue the "armed struggle" against Israel and accept Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders, alongside Israel.[43]

Hostilities resumed between November 14–21, 2012.

On 12 June 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. IDF initiated an operation in the West Bank aimed to find them (not until June 30 were their bodies found). Israeli authorities have named two Hamas members as prime suspects: Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasm.[44] The increased tensions soon escalated, and a full military operation began on 8 July  2014.

Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas

  
The Geneva Convention
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of war. The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), which updated the terms of the first three treaties (1864, 1906, 1929), and added a fourth treaty. The Geneva Conventions extensively defined the basic, wartime rights of prisoners (civil and military); established protections for the wounded; and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 196 countries.[1] Moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants, yet, because the Geneva Conventions are about people in war, the articles do not address warfare proper — the use of weapons of war — which is the subject of the Hague Conventions (First Hague Conference, 1899; Second Hague Conference 1907), and the biochemical warfare Geneva Protocol (Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, 1925).

Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict
This article states that the certain minimum rules of war apply to armed conflicts that are not of an international character, but that are contained within the boundaries of a single country. The applicability of this article rests on the interpretation of the term armed conflict.[12] For example it would apply to conflicts between the Government and rebel forces, or between two rebel forces, or to other conflicts that have all the characteristics of war but that are carried out within the confines of a single country. A handful of individuals attacking a police station would not be considered an armed conflict subject to this article, but only subject to the laws of the country in question.[12]
The other Geneva Conventions are not applicable in this situation but only the provisions contained within Article 3,[12] and additionally within the language of Protocol II. The rationale for the limitation is to avoid conflict with the rights of Sovereign States that were not part of the treaties. When the provisions of this article apply, it states that:[25]
  • Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
    • violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
    • taking of hostages;
    • outrages upon dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and
    • the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
  • The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.
Enforcement
Enforcement authority of the United Nations Security Council
The final international tribunal for all issues related to the Geneva Conventions and other treaties is the United Nations Security Council. As a charter, the UN Charter is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. The UN Charter's Article 25 and others[26] require that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations. The UNSC rarely invokes its authority regarding the Geneva Conventions and so most issues are resolved by regional treaties or by national law.

Protecting powers
The term protecting power has a specific meaning under these Conventions. A protecting power is a state that is not taking part in the armed conflict, but that has agreed to look after the interests of a state that is a party to the conflict. The protecting power is a mediator enabling the flow of communication between the parties to the conflict. The protecting power also monitors implementation of these Conventions, such as by visiting the zone of conflict and prisoners of war. The protecting power must act as an advocate for prisoners, the wounded, and civilians.


Grave breaches
Not all violations of the treaty are treated equally. The most serious crimes are termed grave breaches, and provide a legal definition of a war crime. Grave breaches of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions include the following acts if committed against a person protected by the convention:
  • willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, including biological experiments
  • willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
  • compelling a protected person to serve in the armed forces of a hostile power
  • willfully depriving a protected person of the right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime.
Also considered grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention are the following:



Nations who are party to these treaties must enact and enforce legislation penalizing any of these crimes.[28] Nations are also obligated to search for persons alleged to commit these crimes, or persons having ordered them to be committed, and to bring them to trial regardless of their nationality and regardless of the place where the crimes took place.



The principle of universal jurisdiction also applies to the enforcement of grave breaches when the UN Security Council asserts its authority and jurisdiction from the UN Charter to apply universal jurisdiction. The UNSC did this via the International Criminal Court when they established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to investigate and/or prosecute alleged violations.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions

You may recognise actions by Israel AND Hamas that have contravened parts of the above sections.  This is not acceptable.  Counter terrorist operations are very different to all out war and the populace of the area have to be protected against breaches of the Geneva Convention.



Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict 
The Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict was adopted by the United Nations in 1974 and went into force the same year. It was proposed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, on the grounds that women and children are often the victims of wars, civil unrest, and other emergency situations that cause them to suffer "inhuman acts and consequently suffer serious harm".[1]

Overview
The Declaration states that women and children suffer victimization during armed conflict due to "suppression, aggression, colonialism, racism, alien domination and foreign subjugation". The Declaration specifically prohibits attacks and bombing of civilian populations (Article 1) and the use of chemical and biological weapons on civilian populations (Article 2). Article 3 requires states to abide by the [[Geneva Protocol]] of 1925 and the Geneva Convention of 1949. The Declaration also requires countries to take measures to end "persecution, torture, punitive measures, degrading treatment and violence" especially when they are targeted against women and children, as well as recognizing "imprisonment, torture, shooting, mass arrests, collective punishment, destruction of dwellings, and forcible evictions" as criminal acts.[2]
Certain inalienable rights are also enshrined in the Declaration, such as access to food, shelter, and medical care, which are to be provided to women and children caught in emergency situations.[3]



Finally, the Declaration cites the binding nature of other international law instruments, naming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Declaration of the Rights of the Child.[4]


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_on_the_Protection_of_Women_and_Children_in_Emergency_and_Armed_Conflict



Rule of Minimum Force
I've served in a similar environment of hatred as a Military Policeman.  I have never seen behaviour as witnessed in this video - Members of Israels security forces operating in Palestine with absolutely no discipline - no regard for the rule of 'minimum force'.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HDENWwEDGr4 - this is also a breach of the Geneva Convention.  Treatment of children in this way seems to be the norm though as documented by this report:  http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/palestinian-children-tradition.html.


Have Israel attacked UN installations before July 2014?
Sadly, yes.  In 2009 a United Nations school was bombed by Israel.

You can see a slideshow of the damage by clicking here.  Jeremy Paxman interviewed Mark Regev about the attack in the video below:



and by Jon Snow in 2009



and now in 2014 by Emily Maitlis


 If you decide to bomb buildings without checking or ensuring that non-combatants have been evacuated, you are guilty of a war crime.

If you suspect that terrorists are hiding amongst civilians, you use infantry to assault those buildings and you ensure that they operate within the Geneva Convention and the rule of minimum force.  Current evidence suggests that Israel's armed forces are being used to commit genocide.

The way forward
When you consider how long this war has been raging, the amount of hatred that exists between some of the the survivors of these atrocities on both sides, as well as the amount of trauma that must be affecting everyone involved on the ground - it's hard to see a way out - or an end to the fighting.


This is where United Nations troops should now be deployed as a peacekeeping force - to take any action necessary against Israeli or Palestinian troops/activists necessary but within the parameters of the Geneva Convention because it's clear that Israel have breached various forms of Human Rights, as have Hamas with every rocket they launch into Israel.

The United Nations has a clear duty here and must act responsibly and soon, even though some of the more powerful member countries are failing to act for fiscal reasons, particularly the USA, who have just sold munitions to resupply Israeli operations in Gaza.  I would have thought that a country that supplies another country munitions after it has clear evidence that those munitions are going to be used to commit further breaches of Human Rights, is guilty of the some offence.

I feel that the resolution of the issues between Israel and Gaza in now the responsibility of the International community.

Something needs to be done to protect the children there ... and to start breaking the cycle of violence, hatred, suffering and trauma ... on both sides.

In closing I would ask you remember something ... this is not about Jews and Muslims as people of different religions live on both sides of the borders.  This is about Israel and Palestine.  Jews and Muslims live together peacefully - even in Palestine and Israel ... and they have been protesting together against the attacks on Gaza.


Jews in New York say 'Not in our name'.


Jews in the UK say this is not a religious issue in this video.


People in London protesting against Israel's murder of civilians.

As a species, we should be evolving beyond the need to war upon each other.  War is caused by the greedy, by politicians and by bullies.  War is not the answer to problems such as these.

Media blackouts and propoganda are also tools of warfare.  If the government of a certain country tells a station to 'not report' on an issue - they will comply.  Incidentally, this is why the UK government are trying to push through legislation to control what goes up on the internet.  There have been a great many atrocities of late that the western world wouldn't know about if people hadn't been brave enough to post videos, words or commentaries online themselves. 

Who profits by war apart from the arms, natural resources, real estate, pharmaceutical, food and Information Technology industries?  The dots are there, you just have to look hard enough to link them together and care enough to do something about situations like these. War is governed by big business and top rank politicians will always have their fingers in a few dirty pies - it's the nature of the beast.

Get involved and help stop the murder of these children.  The definition of 'murder':  the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.

 Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu




Friday, 18 July 2014

Wolf Photography's Special Edition Prints are now Limited Editions

I've been umming and ahhhing over this decision for a while and it seems the right time to do it.

The exhibition 'Living with PTSD' has been a success in terms of raising awareness and getting the issues across to people and organisations with open ears, hearts and minds.  So it's a celebration of sorts that I'm launching myself back into the Limited Editions market. 

Questioning


I used to sell limited edition prints in Cornwall but I let those ranges slip a few years ago when I was retired on ill health.  It seemed too much work at the time but I've now set up an easier system that should allow me to do the necessary monitoring and recording.

Shades of Grey


It's been a tough year for various reasons; the exhibition work has been demanding, as has the necessary networking.  I have had to self assess continually over this period as by the time the last exhibition shows this year - the rolling exhibitions will have lasted just over a year.  It's time for some self-preservation and I feel the need to escape more into wilderness areas.

Symbol of Love


I'll continue to run 'Intimacy with Plants' alongside talks and presentations over PTSD awareness, photography, ecology and IP rights but the main exhibition - 'Living with PTSD' will have its last showing in Nottingham (please see http://wolf-photography.com/html/exhibition_schedule.html).  The project will keep using the title 'Living with PTSD'.

Intimacy with Plants 03


Anyone that has already purchased a 'Special Edition' canvas will have their automatically upgraded to a 'Limited Edition' and will be emailed with their print number.  All Limited Editions are limited to 50 copies.

For those of you wishing to purchase a print from the current exhibition at Snibston Discovery Museum and the last exhibition at Nottingham - you will be able to purchase them at the cheaper exhibition price and they will be automatically upgraded to Limited Edition Prints as a way of thanking you for supporting the project.


Final Exhibition Invite

Please remember that this is a Not-for Profit project and that funds generated will be used to allow me to continue working on my art as well as working to raise awareness of PTSD in civilians and veterans alike.

I would like to thank all of the organisations and individuals that have helped to date and I hope that you will continue to interact with the project, as the work will go on.

Regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu


Saturday, 12 July 2014

#PTSD, #Isolation and #Support

There are times when we need support when it's either not available because we're not in the appropriate support pipeline or because there's no one living nearby in our limited social circles.  So what do we do?

By support needs I mean day-to-day tasks that we might need help with - eg cooking or doing something tricky in the realms of 'permitted work' where we need some guidance or a sounding board before going ahead on a certain idea or piece of work.

This support is essential to people living with chronic PTSD or any long lasting disability.

The problem is trying to find people that understand you, your disability, the task that your trying to achieve and have the time and patience to support you.  I'm lucky in that I have two people in my life that will do this for me - whether it's checking over a piece of work, a web page or a document for errors or for a reassuring voice to ensure that I'm cooking safely and turning off all my appliances afterwards.

There are also times when I may need to speak to someone and either of my friends may be unavailable and I have to rely on an organisation to help me with telephone support.

All of these avenues of communication are possible through the telephone.  You just have to make sure that you pick the right company with the right package for you.  Mine allows me to call any UK phone number for free, any time of the day.  I bought a little oven timer bell to make sure I don't go over an hour, as most companies only give you an hour free - then you have to redial the number to continue the conversation.  If you don't want a landline, there are mobile service providers that will offer you a very good package that includes free calls to any UK landline or mobile number and including free data too.  You might be able to get a good deal from these links:  http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio/price-comparison/or http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/compare/home_phone_and_landline/ - or you can find your own links by seaching 'Google' for 'uk mobile phone call packages' or something similar.

Here are some phone numbers for support, some of them for civilians, some for Veterans and others for both.  I haven't personally used some of these organisations but feel free to share if you have had a bad experience with them.  If you’re having a bad episode or need help urgently, you may find help right now with some of the agencies below:

Support numbers
Childline runs a helpline for children and young
people in the UK. Calls are free and the number will
not show up on your phone bill. Tel 0800 1111

Domestic Violence Helpline
 If you find yourself in an emergency situation, for example, if you
are being subjected to physical violence, always call 999.
For confidential advice support and information, ring the
National helpline on 0808 200 0247.


Mind - a UK mental health charity
Lines are open 9am - 6pm, Monday - Friday
Tel 0300 123 3393, Email info@mind.org.uk
or Text: 86463
http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/a-z-mental-health/

Samaritans operate a 24-hour service available every day of
the year.  Tel 08457 90 90 90, or email jo@samaritans.org.


Ex Armed Forces specific support
Veterans UK (0808 1914 2 18) provides free advice on many
topics to all veterans and their families.  When the Veterans UK
helpline is closed callers can opt to be routed to the
Combat Stress or The Samaritans 24hrs help lines (UK only).

Combat Stress is a UK Veterans' mental health charity.
Helpline 0800 138 1619
General enquiries 01372 587 000
Email contactus@combatstress.org.uk.

SSAFA Forcesline provide confidential telephone support on a
range of services, including financial support and emotional
support. Tel 0800 731 4880.  AWOL Helpline 01380 738137.

The Royal British Legion can help you with representation as well
as some financial assitance.  They also offer a free handy person
service for those unable to do small DIY jobs in the home.
Telephone 0808 802 8080 - 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

I know it can be hard to get from day-to-day and not many people will be able to empathise with you or understand you ... but I hope you find some support from the options above.  Alternatively, you can go to www.lwptsd.com for a larger list of support organisations.

Regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu




Saturday, 5 July 2014

Council Tax reductions for people with mental and/or physical disabilities (England & Wales only)

There are two forms of discount available for disabled people:

Disabled band reduction scheme

This scheme makes sure disabled people don’t pay more Council Tax if they need:
  • a bigger property
  • to adapt their home because of their disability
The property must be the main home of at least 1 disabled person. They can be an adult or a child and don’t have to be responsible for paying the Council Tax.
The property must have 1 or more of:
  • an extra bathroom, kitchen or other room for the disabled person
  • extra space inside the property for using a wheelchair

Other Council Tax reductions

People who are severely mentally impaired and some live-in carers are exempt when working out Council Tax.  Some people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will qualify under the 'Severe Mental Impairment' exemption - please be aware that this isn't restricted to people with learning difficulties etc.

 To find out if you qualify, please contact your local Council Tax office via the link below, tell the officers about your circumstances and ask them if you qualify.  People living in Scotland may be entitled to an equivalent scheme - please check with your Local Authority.

https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-council-tax-discount

Good luck with your application.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Monday, 23 June 2014

Activity report re Nottinghamshire Veterans and Families Partnership (NV&FP) and 'Living with PTSD'.



After having served on the NV&FP since October 2013, I came to the conclusion that most of the collective don't know what networking and social policy work is.  They mistakenly assume that client referral is networking, when it is in fact a small part of the activity. 

I couldn't justify the time effort and stress of their inactivity and lack of cohesive thinking any longer and left the group this month.

It is clear that the main purpose of the group is to seek funding.

My report about the issues is below; this document will form part of my activity report from the project to Arts Council England:


Activity Report to Arts Council England  & NottinghamshireVeterans & Families Partnership

‘Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ (LWPTSD) and ‘Intimacy with Plants’ (IWP) are part of a rolling programme of exhibitions with the following aims:



  • To raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
  • Educate on Intellectual Property issues and
  • Promote creative arts as a coping mechanism for disability.



One of the project activities was to engage in dialogue with mental health professionals to raise awareness of the barriers that Veterans face with regards to access to service/support provision.



The exhibitions started on 5 November 2013 and are still scheduled to appear at more venues – with the first 2015 booking having just been confirmed.



I was invited to speak at the Nottinghamshire Veterans and Families Partnership in October 2013 to raise awareness of issues that Veterans face when seeking support, as well as to provide feedback on NHS mental health service provision based upon my experiences of being a patient in the Nottinghamshire area. 



I raised awareness of a formal complaint that I had taken out against one of the adult mental health teams and the implication of their less than professional behaviour. I shared my experience of attending ‘Combat Stress’ treatment.  I shared my daily experience of living with PTSD.



The group invited me to become a member of the NV&FP.



I was a member of this group for 9 months and feel my time and energy is best spent working on my own project now.

The reasons are as follows:

  • The group (NV&FP) takes much too long to complete simple tasks (over 3 years to come up with a webpage and logo, no moving forward on group strategies associated with client care).



  • The group does not adhere to its Terms of Reference by virtue of its general lack of action.



  • The most important action of such a group – networking and sharing information was taken off the main agenda and became an after meeting activity – losing effectiveness as most of the people attending the meeting would have left by this stage.
  • Seeking funding is, in my opinion, the over riding objective of this group.



The group is saturated with NHS staff from a team that is already supposedly stretched.  As a former community service manager, I find this irresponsible when I hear senior executives complain about dwindling funding and no guarantees of posts being funded in the next fiscal year.  I would suggest a more responsible use of staff deployment and time management.  Issues should be discussed at their own team meetings with the briefed attending member relaying the team views and reporting back on the group’s work.  There is also another issue with regards to numbers of NHS staff – if there was ever a contentious issue that had to be voted upon, the vote could be swayed in favour of the requirements or result sought by the NHS which might not necessarily be for the benefit of its service users and would, to say the least, be undemocratic.



I ran the NV&FP Action Group’s first meeting and facilitated a group discussion about the aims of the action group – which was only attended by 6 people out of a possible 60 people.  This group was to actually achieve tasks that the main group seemed unable to act upon.  Although different words were used, the activity role of the group is identical to that of the main group which begs the question - if the action group are to do all the work and operate with the same terms of reference … what is the main group there for?  What is its role?  What are the participant groups there to achieve?  I strongly suggest that the NV&FP go back to being one group and start working on a wider range of issues together as per their terms of reference.



In terms of networking and Social Policy work, ‘Living with PTSD’ has achieved far more on its own than working with the NV&FP.  I can’t justify the time, the additional stress, frustration and anger generated through working with an ineffective collective.  Only 3 of the groups in the collective actively engaged in some form of networking with my project that has actually benefited people suffering with PTSD.  I have liaised with Mayors and Councillors in the areas where the exhibitions have taken place to raise awareness of the issues raised and to find out what more can and is being done to help Veterans and other people living with PTSD.  The response from officials towards the project has been positive to date.  Their feedback needs to be further researched and the results will appear on www.lwptsd.org.uk.  Combat Stress and Help for Heroes continually promised to support this project but failed to do so.

I joined the group to raise awareness of issues from a disabled veteran’s perspective and to network with the group which I have done by setting up a relevant website and sharing the details of the other groups that can provide support to Veterans and their families and through relaying personal experience.  I listened to comments that were being voiced on various issues by the NV&FP and provided solutions and support where possible through the sharing of information via www.lwptsd.org.uk.  I will continue to list your individual groups on my site as sources of support.



I wanted this group to help bring about changes and improvement in these specific areas:



  1. To ensure that NHS patients transferring into their geographical area of care with up-to-date medical reports (less than 3 months old) are not re-diagnosed or re-assessed.  Instead they should be referred to a practitioner for continued care as soon as practicably possible.  It should be the responsibility of their practitioner to assess their needs and take appropriate action.  The NHS can’t continually complain about a lack of resources and then waste staff hours carrying out duplicate assessments for transferring patients.  You’re all NHS staff and you’re qualified to the same governing bodies when it comes to role dependent mental health related care.
  2. That NHS professionals had a document providing a ‘good practice’ guide relevant to Veterans with PTSD.
  3. To ensure that NHS management representatives from the other mental health teams in the area are a part of this group as they have Veterans referred to them directly from GPs.
  4. To continually raise awareness of Veterans’ issues and service provision options to GPs.  The feedback is that the majority of GPs that are in touch with Veterans are unaware of the routes of support available to them and that some don’t care or aren’t interested in mental issues and will issue a prescription rather than take the time to identify a route towards recovery or coping with the condition with the patient’s understanding and agreement.
  5. To provide other avenues of direct NHS led care and treatment not just relying on CBT and EMDR.  People are different and they have different needs.  The mental health profession is relying too heavily upon these forms of treatment, along with pharmacology.  The road back from pharmacology can be extremely difficult and for many, impossible, once a person’s brain chemistry has been altered for a prolonged period of time.  One of the oldest forms of treatment for someone with a mental health problem is to be able to sit somewhere with someone they can trust and to be heard without being judged.  The NHS don’t generally encourage this form of treatment as it negatively impacts on statistics and funding issues.

  1. The provision of a holistic source of referral for different treatments/service providers (statutory, voluntary and private) that can assist people with PTSD, as well as general information exchange and networking, particularly via the web and social media … and the library service as a means of assistance for non-IT literate people seeking help with PTSD.
  2. The recognition that for many ‘recovery’ isn’t possible and that the best case scenario is ‘Living with PTSD’ and understanding that to care for yourself requires a lot of time and energy.



  1. Where a complaint is made against a statutory service and is proved or accepted, that the issue(s) are then addressed with the practitioner/service representative responsible rather than being swept under the rug by the service manager.  Inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour can have dire consequences for people that are vulnerable owing to mental health problems … this can and sometimes does end with the loss of human life, whether through suicide or other actions.  As a service provider, you have a responsibility to try to ensure that this never happens.





I request that the group actually work on the issues listed above, rather than just seeking funding.  The foundation needs to be solid before you build further services upon it.
Feedback from people living with PTSD that I have spoken to at the various exhibition/workshop venues in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire suggests that there is still a lot of ignorance from statutory agency employees about PTSD and how to treat or communicate effectively with suffers without triggering their condition.  Statutory agencies were identified as the Ambulance Service, Police Service, Social Services, GPs, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and NHS service managers.  When it comes to highly motivated veterans with the ability to do physical harm to people, the implications of triggering their condition can be dire.  People that are responsible for the provision of care to these people need to be aware of this and take responsibility for their own actions and behaviour when dealing with people with mental health problems … especially Veterans.

My thanks to those of you have that have networked with me and to those of you that actively work with Veterans and other people with PTSD in a responsible and caring way.  I hope that you are the majority in the equation. 



If any service/organisation/community group would like to have a presentation or discussion about the issues raised with a view to improving services for people living with PTSD, or to understand what it feels like to live with PTSD, please get in touch.
Villayat ‘Wolf’ Sunkmanitu

Wolf Photography

Email wolf (at) wolf-photography.com

There was a bit of discussion around points 1,2 & 8.  Some parts of this discussion were addressed by a document produced by myself and 2 members of the NHS.  Members of the group dismissed the aims of the document on the basis of there being no evidence to support the necessity for a change in policy.  The group's chair stated that the NV&FP was not the body to further this issue to the NHS hierarchy.

I disagree.  I also believe that you don't need evidence by way of complaints to plug a hole in policy and practice when an issue has been raised.  The role of a good manager is to look to continually improve upon existing services and to maximise their effectiveness ... particularly when dealing with vulnerable people in our societies.

Please feel free to share this post and to add your thoughts.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Winter visit to Iceland ...

I love snow and ice and usually manage to get to a beautiful winter location for photography once a year ... sadly this hasn't happened for the last three years or so owing to preparation work and then the launch of the current exhibitions - 'Living with PTSD' and 'Intimacy with Plants'.


This year I had to escape.  One of the reasons was that I'd been following reports about the Aurora Borealis this year - it was supposed to be one of the best viewing seasons for a while.  I wanted some different shots of the phenomenon  - different settings and backdrops etc, so I picked Iceland.

It's an expensive place to visit, so I opted for a group tour to get myself to the areas that I wanted to photograph.  Ten days of clean air, some snow and ice, night skies filled with more stars than I have ever seen before (even more than sleeping out in West Cork!), viewing glaciers, ice sculptures created by nature ... and the Aurora Borealis.


I'm still editing the shots as I've been busy since returning.  The main exhibition had to be hung the day after my return ... but I thought I'd better post a couple of preview shots up.  I'll add posts as and when the final sets are posted onto the website.

If you haven't gone to Iceland - try it in the winter.  You won't be sorry.  Just dress properly for the climate and be sensible about what you do.  Think carefully about the different sorts of equipment you may need.



Imagine what it would be like to walk in an Ice Cave at the mouth of Europe's largest glacier, knowing that the ice above your head is over a thousand years old.  It's awe inspiring to say the least and the colours are beautiful.  I would have liked to have gone further up the little river of melt water to have explored further ... perhaps that's a visit for another time now that I know the lay of the land - so to speak.

Enjoy the change of season ... wishing you a happy spring Season.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu



Friday, 21 February 2014

Update from Nottinghamshire Veterans and Families Partnership (NVFP) meeting 19 Feb 2014

Before I write my report I need to make a point about my involvement in this group.

I see my role as taking issues forward and contributing towards the involvement of care programmes for Veterans and civilians.  It's important to understand that this group also looks at the issues of partners and dependents of Veterans - which includes loved ones acting as carers.

I will share information here to keep you aware of developments and issues that arise.  I am not a politician ... and have absolutely no interest in becoming one.  The point of sharing the information here is to give YOU a voice.  If you feel that you're not happy about something or if you can come up with ideas and initiatives to help us to achieve the key objectives ... or if you feel there is a better way to do something ... then please comment on the blog.  If you have any concerns about being identified, please contact me via Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer and I can keep your identity confidential and still pass on your contribution towards the work of the group.  This initiative cannot succeed without your involvement.  Your contribution will help us to get the issues right ... but most importantly it may go a long way towards lessening your suffering as well as those people coming down the line after us that are carrying invisible wounds.

Thank you.


Introduction
There was clear frustration expressed by most of the Voluntary Veteran led groups in attendance.  There was a general feeling that we were taking one step forwards and two steps back.  We felt it was inexcusable that the group has been meeting for three years or so now and that there was still not any branding, leaflets, posters or a website that is publicly viewable.

We also felt that this was now an NHS led group facilitating NHS funding objectives rather than seeing to the holistic issues surrounding the care and well being of Veterans.

The Chair's response was as follows:
He felt our frustration and understood our concerns.  The group is not NHS specific in any way.  If we want items discussed, we should contact the group secretary and have them placed on the agenda.  He recognised that some of us wanted this group to be able to lobby the NHS and the Government for change but that this wasn't the remit of this group. 


Funding
The Chair made it clear that all of the partner organisations in the NVFP will be eligible for some funding for their own projects.

Re-diagnosis of Patients transferring from other counties
I've asked for this item to be placed on the agenda.  I and some of my colleagues will be making it clear that it's not necessary where a patient transfers with up-to-date medical reports, as it's a very distressing thing to go through when you've already had all your scars opened up for the original diagnosis.  It's one thing to build up a relationship between patient and practitioner ... it takes time and effort on both sides.  To force someone to go through it all again with a stranger is emotional rape.

If patients are not transferring with up-to-date reports as a matter of course then this is something that the NHS needs to pick up as a National issue ASAP.  Transfer of care for long term ill patients depends on clear communication between the different services caring for the patient.

Guidelines for Interviewing Veterans
Two group members from the Criminal Justice System and myself were meeting and working on a document.  The purpose of the meeting was to identify ways to facilitate a mental health review appointment for patients who are ex-service personnel with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This included pre-meeting preparation, the review and subsequent follow up appointments.  The issue has had no further work done on it for the last two months or so.  I've asked for this to be an agenda item for the next meeting.


Organisational Updates
Organisational Updates are back on the agenda in a formal way and will be minuted but will take place after the main meeting.  The Chair said that he didn't have the time to sit in that part of the meeting because of other commitments.

What came out of this part of the meeting was that we need a lobbying group that is independent of the NVFP, so that we can push certain issues forward.

I felt that we could use Nottingham City Council to produce our own leaflets and have them fund our printing costs.  To that end I've asked all the groups that would like a presence on the poster to email me a logo, email address, weblink and telephone number together with a brief sentence about what they offer.  I'll design it and take it to the next meeting as an agenda item if I have their requested data.

There was some discussion around why Veteran's don't access services for themselves as soon as they get a hint of something being wrong within themselves.

The reasons we came up with were as follows:
Some are in denial of their own problems
Veteran's are used to being the dependable ones at the sharp end and coping
People don't always understand a Veteran's language (service slang)
Veterans can swear a lot when talking about issues that they find painful, this can be a barrier for some GPs
They're programmed to keep going until they drop
They have little trust of a society that sent them to war and then discarded them when they came 'home'
They don't fit into 'civvy street', people don't understand their their ways
Service life is black and white - civvy street is shades of grey
Being made to feel vulnerable and then mistreated
Many GPs are ignorant of mental health issues
Some GP's attitudes are appalling towards people with PTSD or other mental health issues
There is a lot of stigma attached to people with mental health problems and it ruins their difficult lives

We discussed how we could make GPs  aware.  A couple of the groups have been trying to make contact with GP's Surgery Managers over the years and have never received replies to their communications.  I feel that we should mail shot them carefully in a recorded way and build up an image of their attitudes based on their responses or lack of them.  I would go so far as having a recommendation list based on their responses as to whether they are capable of looking after the needs of people with mental health problems.


The NVFP have a link in already and can start the ball rolling on raising more awareness with GPs.  I also feel that we should be targeting Patient Liaison Groups as well as GPs and practice managers.  we may achieve better results.

Future posts
As well as continuing to report on the progress of the group, I'll be writing specific blog posts on the other organisations that form the NVFP, as well as any key documents, in the hope that you or a Veteran may find the information useful ... or that you have a template for beginning your own group in your area.

Regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu



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