Third Annual Refugee Picnic Held in Herefordshire

Last Saturday saw the third annual ‘Refugee Welcome Picnic’ organised by Ledbury Refugee Support.

This yearly event brings refugees and locals together for a day of fun, food and crafty activities in rural Herefordshire.

The majority of people at this years event came down from Wolverhampton for the day. This is due to the great work being done by Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary and the link that has been forged with the Ledbury group.

There were people from all over the Middle East and Africa there. Although they all share traumatic stories of how they came to find themselves in the UK, the day was far more about building links for the future.

As well as the amazing picnic, people were given the opportunity to have a go at willow weaving, wood turning and jewellery making.

With plans for a possible City of Sanctuary group in Hereford, it’s hopes events like this could become a more regular fixture.

Luther Blisset.

County Hospital needs more beds, more staff

County HospitalBosses at the County Hospital called on people to avoid the accident and emergency department in December because of long delays.

And members of the public were again warned of extended A&E waiting in January.

The calls came as the NHS was being put under great strain across the country this winter, with many widely-reported cases of patients having to wait hours in corridors waiting to be seen.

Long delays were also the cause of two deaths at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital in January.

The British Red Cross is now frequently working with the NHS to help relieve the strain and called the situation a “humanitarian crisis”.

The staff do their best with what they’re given but Hereford needs more beds, more doctors, more nurses. So does the rest of the country.

How much longer do we have to wait before the government seriously investments in the NHS? How many more people have to die? Our hospitals can’t cope.

Badger cull target missed thanks to campaigner efforts

BadgerBadger-culling is a key part of Defra’s 25-year policy to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle, with Herefordshire being one of seven new target zones in 2016.

Government policy is to reduce badger numbers in a given area by 70% in the first year and then maintain this population level with a further three years of culling.

But badgers have been scapegoated for the spread of bTB infection in UK cattle herds for decades, and this flies in the face of scientific evidence that the main route of transmission is from cow to cow.

Studies have highlighted the need for improved bio-security measures on farms. This includes regular testing, strict adherence to movement restrictions and quarantine for cows that have tested positive for the disease.

The problem is of course made worse by intensive modern farming methods.

Having spent winter 2015 sett-surveying, campaigners were able to target their efforts effectively once the cull started in August last year. And during long days and dark nights out in the fields of Herefordshire fighting a six-week cull it becomes easy to lose perspective. What impact if any is being made on cull activity? Are badger’s lives being saved?

The kill figures for the 2016 cull, released by Defra in late December, while devastating overall, contained some surprises. Five weeks in and cull contractors had been struggling in Herefordshire, forcing Natural England to massively reduce their targets.

Ultimately in Herefordshire, although a total of 624 badgers were killed, that was still 248 fewer than Natural England’s original minimum target.

Every life needlessly lost is a tragedy but every single one spared serves to remind us that direct action saves lives. Culls will now take place for a further three years.

If you would like to get involved please get in touch with No Herefordshire Cull by emailing or by phone on 07551 884357.

Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting also organise wounded badger patrols.


Ska-punk band, Citizen Fish, headline an anti-badger cull benefit gig on Saturday 25th February at the Booth Hall, Hereford. Doors open 7:30pm and tickets are £8 on the door.

High Town is looking tatty and landlords are to blame

High TownThere’s no denying that Hereford city centre is looking shabby. Paving stones are broken and stained, the streets are dirty and the buildings look rundown.

You could easily lose count of the number of shops that have broken or rusty guttering, rotting window frames, dirty exteriors in need of painting and so on.

So who’s to blame? Many city centre properties are occupied by businesses that could afford the odd maintenance project here and there—a shop-front paint job won’t cost the earth. But responsibility must surely lie with the landlords.

When the Card Factory–River Island site went up in flames in 2010 it was one of a number of properties across the UK owned jointly by two London firms, both run by two businessmen in Gibraltar. Since then the site has remained more or less untouched and it took Herefordshire Council a number of years to force the owners to act—which they failed to do before the businesses went into liquidation.

Why would two offshore businessmen care that fire-damaged buildings were making Hereford city centre look shabby? For landlords it comes down to profits. They often display a tremendous lack of civic pride, neglecting their property until there’s major problems (a consortium of local business managers, Hereford BID, has now taken it upon itself to try and smarten up the city).

We all have a responsibility to look after our little bit of the city. And in the case of High Town it is a landlord’s job to take care of their patch. Right now they’re failing and our city is looking a mess because of them.

Charity grant for defibrillators

A £50,000 donation from the Four Acre Trust could see an additional 100  defibrillators installed around rural areas of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

To qualify for a grant communities need to raise half of the £1,000 required to install a defibrillator, with the charity paying the rest.

For more information contact Sue Watkins at

DID YOU KNOW… If a defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3–5 minutes of cardiac arrest, survival chances increase from 6% to 74%.