Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak to inject £126m to boost traineeship scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce a £126m boost for traineeships in England in his Budget on Wednesday.

The scheme will include a new “flexi-job” apprenticeship that will enable apprentices to work with a number of different employers in one sector.

Unemployment is at its highest level in almost five years, with younger and typically lower-paid workers bearing the brunt of job losses.

Mr Sunak said it was “vital” support continued to get people back into work.

The Chancellor’s boost to existing apprenticeship and traineeship programmes will include playing up to double the current cash incentive to firms who take on an apprentice, regardless of age.

Traineeships are intended to get people into their first job after education. They last from six weeks to six months and they are open to people aged between 16 and 24.

Currently, firms in England are given £2,000 for every new apprentice they take on under the age of 25, and £1,500 for those over 25, in addition to a £1,000 grant they are already getting under another project.

So the government says the planned £126m investment could enable 40,000 more traineeships.

While he is committed to helping jobseekers and employers, Mr Sunak warned in an interview with the Financial Times that the UK’s finances were now “exposed”.

“Because we now have far more debt than we used to and because interest rates . . . at least a month or two ago were exceptionally low, that means we remain exposed to changes in those rates,” he said.

“That why I talk about levelling with people about the public finances [challenges] and our plans to address them.”

He added that the UK’s exposure to a rise of one percentage point across all interest rates meant adding £25bn a year to the government’s cost of servicing its debt.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which represents HR professionals, welcomed the move, but said it would like to see reform of the apprenticeships system to make it more flexible.

“Changing the apprenticeship levy to make it a flexible training levy would achieve a bigger boost to skills development than incentives alone,” said Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser for the CIPD.

She stressed that awareness of traineeships is very low: “Besides providing additional funding for placements, the government will have to do much more to market them to employers to boost uptake.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which had previously called for flexi-job apprenticeships, said the increase in incentives for employers was “important”, because the current level of support “is not leading to enough starts”.

“It will be important in the budget to take wider action to support jobs, including on employers national insurance and reintroducing the jobs retention bonus,” said the FSB’s national chairman Mike Cherry.

“Going forward, the government should consider changing the timings of apprenticeship incentives.”

Police boss wants cannabis trial for prisoners

A police and crime commissioner wants prisoners to be given cannabis behind bars in a bid to tackle addiction and curb violence.

Arfon Jones said he wanted to see a trial commissioned and introduced to see if the measure could work.

He is standing down from his role overseeing North Wales Police after elections for a new commissioner in May.

The Prison Service said it had a zero-tolerance approach to drugs.

According to a recent report by Swansea University’s Global Drug Policy Observatory, officials in UK prisons found 13% of men “reported that they had developed a problem with illicit drugs” since being locked up.

It also highlighted a spot check by prison inspectors in Cardiff, who found 52% of prisoners said it was easy to get illegal drugs.

The report pointed to concerns raised by the UK Prison Inspectorate, which described the rise in the use of synthetic psychoactive drugs such as Spice as “now the most serious threat to the safety and security of the prison system”.

Mr Jones said authorities needed to be “addressing the causes” of addiction and violence in prisons – especially the abundance of drugs such as Spice.

The dangers of the synthetic drugs was highlighted by the case of 22-year-old prisoner Luke Morris Jones, from Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd, who died at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham in 2018.

An inquest jury later found there had been a “systemic failure” in stopping drugs from entering the prison, contributing to his death.

Mr Jones, the Plaid Cymru police and crime commissioner (PCC), said he was also concerned about the levels of prescription painkillers given to prisoners, especially opioid-based drugs.

“If they are on opioids, why can’t they be prescribed cannabis?” he asked.

“Opioids are a damn sight more dangerous than cannabis. Let’s supply cannabis in controlled conditions and see if offences reduce.”

Mr Jones has been a long-time campaigner on the issues surrounding drug use and prohibition, and has often backed calls for heroin injection schemes to provide safe, controlled environments for addicts.

He previously said it was a “national scandal” that people were “dying needlessly” because governments had refused to acknowledge a radical new approach to drug policy was needed.

Both the Welsh Conservative and Labour candidates vying for votes to take over his post in May have been critical of his latest idea.

Tory PCC candidate for north Wales, Pat Astbury, said: “There may be other ways to treat prisoners, using alternative medicines which are legal and mimic illegal drugs.

“One can’t be seen to break the law at the expense of the force you are representing.”

Labour’s Andy Dunbobbin added: “There are lots of ways to prevent problematic drug use but this isn’t one of them – prevention and treatment programmes in and out of prison should be strengthened and I’ll work with partners, if elected, to do so.”

He said the biggest issue was “not drugs in prisons – it is drugs in society” and called for “decimated” drug, alcohol and mental health service cuts to be rolled-back.

Ann Griffith, Plaid Cymru’s choice to replace Mr Jones, said a cannabis trial was “something I would be willing to cautiously explore” with criminal justice partners.

“Any such initiative would need to consider any unintended consequences and would need to be based on sound evidence and robust evaluation,” she added.

A Prison Service official said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and work closely with healthcare to support offenders through treatment and recovery.”

Billy Monger completes epic Comic Relief challenge

Racing driver Billy Monger has completed the final stage of a Comic Relief challenge by walking and cycling laps of his “home track” in Kent.

The 21-year-old, who had both legs amputated after a crash in 2017, covered 140 miles over four days by walking, cycling and kayaking.

He completed 18 laps of Brands Hatch on a bike and three on foot, crossing the finish line at about 20:00 GMT.

He said it was “hard to explain what it means to have been able to ride again”.

Monger said he rode a bike for the first time since the crash about a month ago.

Before starting his circuits of Brands Hatch, he said the “epic” challenge, which began with an 18-mile walk in the North East on Monday, had left him feeling “battered and bruised and sore”.

On Thursday, Monger completed a 65-mile bike ride from Birmingham to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Television presenter Zoe Ball, who cycled 355 miles for Sport Relief in 2018, joined him at Brands Hatch before he finished with several laps on foot.

Bad weather had forced Monger to delay plans to kayak in the Lake District on Tuesday. He took to the water on Wednesday and covered 6.5 miles across Ullswater, joined by BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker for the closing stages.

Cycling up steep hills on Thursday had forced him to “to dig the deepest that I think I’ve ever had to,” he said.

Thinking about the people who benefit from Comic Relief helped motivate him through the difficult moments, he added.

Before setting off on Friday, Monger, from Charlwood, in Surrey, said his experience at his “home track” Brands Hatch meant he knew just how hard the final stage would be.

“I know every inch of this place, so I know exactly how far I am going to have to go every single lap.

“I do know the racing line, so hopefully that might help me out,” he told BBC Breakfast.

Henry VIIIs Hurst Castle wall collapses in Lymington

The wall of a 16th Century castle, built by Henry VIII, has collapsed.

A section of Hurst Castle’s east wing, near Milford-on-Sea, Lymington, fell on Friday.

Owner English Heritage said the sea had weakened the foundations. It added engineers were assessing the damage and planning remedial works.

The site was closed to the public at the time of the collapse and there have been no reports of any injuries.

Most recently, English Heritage carried out work in 2019 to stabilise the foundations of the west wing and to reinforce its sea defences.

It confirmed a programme of works to protect the 19th Century east wing was “about to commence”.

Estates director Rob Woodside said: “This is a devastating blow to a Hampshire icon and for all of us whose life’s work is to protect England’s historic buildings.”

The organisation said it was among “the most challenging and most difficult heritage to protect” due to its “extremely vulnerable position, exposed to the full onslaught of the sea”.

“Located on a shingle spit the castle faces the full force of the wind and waves,” it added.

Hurst Castle was originally built by Tudor king Henry VIII between 1541 and 1544 to guard Needles Passage, which is the narrow western entrance between the Isle of Wight and the mainland.

From 1860, two large wing batteries were added as part of a defence programme.

The castle was also used for searchlights and guns during World War One and World War Two.

Monster Paul Devaney jailed for raping two women

A heavy-drinking “monster” who raped two women has been jailed for 18 and a half years.

Paul Devaney, from Carlisle, admitted three counts of rape, including one committed when his victim was under 16.

Carlisle Crown Court heard he left one woman sobbing after continuing the sex attack despite her desperate attempts to push him away.

The 55-year-old, of no fixed address, told her “sorry”, and added flippantly: “Drink in, wits out,” the court heard.

Judge Nicholas Barker told him his conduct “demonstrates in my view that you are a person devoid of any moral compass”.

In victim impact statements read in court, the women spoke of the massive psychological impact of being raped.

The court heard both had been prescribed anti-depressants.

One said she was left feeling “humiliated and like a piece of meat”, had trouble sleeping and woke in “terror”.

Devaney raped one of the women twice, with one offence committed while she was under age.

Describing Devaney as a “monster”, she said she had regular nightmares and, at one stage, had been “so low” she attempted to take her own life.

“I do not think any sentence the court passes will be as long as the sentence his actions have given me, or impact his life as much as he impacted mine,” she said.

Devaney must remain on the sex offenders register for life and abide by the strict terms of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.

Aberdeen physicist behind first full-body MRI scanner dies

A British physicist known for his pioneering work in medical imaging has died at the age of 94.

Prof John Mallard notably led a team at the University of Aberdeen which developed the first whole-body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner.

He also helped develop Positron Emission Tomography (PET) which can produce detailed three-dimensional images of the inside of the body.

He was appointed the university’s first professor of medical physics in 1965.

Born in Northampton, Prof Mallard published work in a journal in 1964 on his research which indicated that magnetic resonance might be able to diagnose cancer.

Colleagues said this “went largely unnoticed”.

The technology behind MRI was developed in the 1970s by the late Sir Peter Mansfield and his team at the University of Nottingham.

Sir Peter shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003 with the inventor of the technique, US chemist Prof Paul Lauterbur.

But it was Prof Mallard’s team in Aberdeen that was responsible for developing the world’s first full-body MRI scanner.

Clinicians were able to use the university’s machine to carry out the world’s first body scan of a man from Fraserburgh with terminal cancer in 1980.

The technology is now used globally in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, dementia, and a wide range of other conditions and injuries.

Prof Mallard carried out work on PET imaging when the technology was in its infancy.

In his first lecture shortly after joining the university, he correctly predicted PET would become one of the most powerful tools for studying human diseases.

He also brought Scotland’s first PET facility to Aberdeen by leading a national fundraising campaign.

The old facility at Woodend Hospital was replaced by the state-of-the-art John Mallard Scottish Pet Centre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Over his career he received many honours, including an OBE after retiring from the university in 1992.

In 2004 he was awarded the freedom of the city of Aberdeen for his pioneering work.

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, head of the university’s school of medicine, said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Professor John Mallard who, along with his team helped change the face of medical imaging.

“His legacy lives on through the technology that saves lives on a daily basis and we are proud that he carried out such ground-breaking work at the University of Aberdeen.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Emeritus Professor Peter Sharp who worked for Professor Mallard and then became his successor, added: “Professor John Mallard played a major role in the development of medical physics, both here in the UK and abroad.

“It is no understatement to say that hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide have benefited from his vision for medical imaging.”

Brexit: DUP agriculture minister orders Brexit check construction halt

Northern Ireland’s DUP agriculture minister has ordered his officials to stop work on new permanent border control posts (BCPs).

These are used to check food products from GB. Existing temporary BCPs are continuing to operate.

The minister, Gordon Lyons, said he had also asked officials to stop recruiting BCP staff.

However, it is understood officials are seeking legal advice on whether they can follow the orders.

The BCPs are a requirement of the Brexit deal between the UK and EU.

Mr Lyons said he was responding to “practical difficulties” caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said there was too much uncertainty around the end of the protocol grace periods.

“It’s a real nightmare for us and it’s going to be causing us an awful lot of problems.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol is the part of the Brexit deal that prevents a hardening of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It does that by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods.

That has created a new trade border with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Currently, there are grace periods in place that mean checks and controls on goods going from GB to NI are not yet fully implemented.

The first of the grace periods, which covers food and parcels, is due to end in April.

Mr Lyons’ predecessor as agriculture minister, Edwin Poots, had sought legal advice on whether he could instruct his officials not to operate the BCPs but was told that would be unlawful.

Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon, of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said she has written to ministerial colleagues calling for an urgent meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive on Friday evening.

She tweeted: “This decision is controversial, cross cutting and cannot be put into effect without Exec agreement.”

She said it was “essential” that the executive meets to deal with “this DUP minister’s solo run”.

Jack Barnes: I cant breathe death ruled unlawful killing

A man who died after being restrained in the street by public transport workers was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Manchester Coroner’s Court was told Jack Barnes shouted “I can’t breathe” repeatedly as he was held by Metrolink staff in Manchester in October 2016.

The 29-year-old from Hull had a cardiac arrest and died seven weeks later.

Concluding his death was unlawful, Coroner Nigel Meadows said the workers’ actions amounted to manslaughter.

Both Transport for Greater Manchester and Palladium Associates PLC, who were contracted to provide Metrolink with the customer service representatives (CSR), have been contacted for comment.

The court heard that the father-of-one’s life effectively ended while being held face down on a pavement outside the Australasia restaurant in central Manchester.

He had recently moved from Hull and had been out with some friends on 11 October, 2016, travelling around Manchester on the city’s trams.

The group were spotted at St Peter’s Square at about 20:15 GMT and challenged by a Metrolink CSR.

The worker suspected the group was smoking illegal drugs, a claim they denied, and it is thought Mr Barnes responded with abusive language.

Evidence in court indicated that he had taken the cannabinoid Spice at some point that day.

The inquest was told later that evening, shortly before 23:30, the group were spotted at Manchester Victoria station, and recognised by the CSR who had earlier challenged them.

A group of CSRs approached them after being told about the earlier abuse.

A row broke out and Mr Barnes became aggressive to being confronted.

He swung a drawstring bag he was carrying at the men, which hit two of the staff, before he and a friend ran off.

Metrolink’s policy was that their representatives should walk away from such encounters, alerting the police if necessary, and the inquest was told that all staff had been reminded of this at the start of their shift that night.

The policy states that CSRs cannot “grab hold of a person” or “pursue a passenger either off the platform or trackside”, but the four workers – Paul Fogarty, Brian Gartside, Matthews Sellers and Stephen Rowlands – decided to chase the fleeing pair, two on foot, two in a taxi.

After a nine-minute chase across almost a mile of the city centre, Mr Barnes was caught by Mr Gartside and bundled to the ground outside the Deansgate restaurant.

Bodycam footage from a camera worn by Mr Sellers, and played in court, showed that within moments of being caught, while being held down with his left cheek on the pavement, Mr Barnes asked for help, shouting out: “I can’t breathe.”

After being ignored, he repeated: “I can’t breathe.”

Over the course of about 90 seconds, Mr Barnes said he was struggling to breathe on eight separate occasions.

Just before the camera moved away to focus on Mr Barnes’ friend, Mr Rowlands was recorded telling him: “If you struggle, I will put you to sleep.

“It won’t kill you but you will go to sleep for a while.”

The inquest heard Mr Barnes had a cardiac arrest and, despite a police officer and a passing ambulance crew providing assistance, he never recovered and died on 2 December, having been transferred from Manchester Royal Infirmary to a hospital in Hull.

Giving evidence to the inquest, the men refused to answer many questions about the incident, having been given legal advice that to do so could incriminate them.

However, Mr Rowlands told the coroner that he had been trained in restraint while serving as a GMP officer for 13 years and that he had left the force due to an injury in 1989.

He estimated that he had restrained “well over 1,000 people” during his police career.

He also told the inquest that “it didn’t enter my head” to follow Metrolink’s “walk away” policy.

Mr Rowlands declined to speak to the BBC when approached for comment.

Recording a conclusion of unlawful killing, Mr Meadows said that the exertion of the chase and the pressure on Mr Barnes’s neck more than minimally contributed to the heart attack.

He found the restraint amounted to assault as it was unnecessarily prolonged and the CSRs had had an opportunity to both call the police and to sit Mr Barnes up into a more comfortable position.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Barnes’s mother Tricia Gerrard told the BBC the men had “hunted him down like an animal”.

She said the family refused to believe he had attacked the CSRs, as at “any sign of trouble, any sign of violence, he’d run”.

The inquest was told the bag that hit the men contained clothes and a phone charger.

Mrs Gerrard said she wants the four CSRs, who had “never apologised [and] never showed any remorse”, to be prosecuted.

Greater Manchester Police, whose officers investigated the case, told the BBC in a statement that “following a review by the Crown Prosecution Service, four men… who were arrested on suspicion of assault were released without charge”.

Scots rock band Mogwai score number one album after 25 years

Scottish rock bank Mogwai have made it to number one in the album charts, 25 years after their first release.

As Love Continues is the group’s 10th album and fought off grime artist Ghetts to take the top spot.

Despite taking to the streets of London in an armoured tank to promote it, Ghetts’ third album Conflict of Interest was 2,900 sales behind the Glasgow-based four-piece.

The Official Charts Company confirmed the news on Friday.

Mogwai frontman Stuart Braithwaite said: “I can’t believe it – it’s something we never thought would happen.

“It’s absolutely outrageous and not anything we’ve ever considered. It’s not the kind of place a band that makes music like us usually ends up.

“It’s bewildering and amazing at the same time.”

Stuart told BBC Scotland’s The Nine that when he first saw the email putting them at number one, he thought the report was for one city or one record shop, not the whole of the UK.

Mogwai’s previous chart peak came in 2017 when they reached number six with Every Country’s Sun.

Prior to that only one of their records had cracked the top 10.

The band, known for their mainly instrumental brand of experimental post-rock, also became this week’s best-seller on vinyl and the top seller in UK independent record shops.

The race up the album chart was heightened on Tuesday when Hollywood actor Elijah Wood tweeted support for the record.

The Lord of the Rings star shared Stuart Braithwaite’s tweet calling on fans to help make the record a bestseller and wrote “come on folks”.

Stuart said the band had never bowed to pressure to change and their chart success has been a long time coming.

“We’ve always done our own thing, been very independent and been very in our own lane,” he said. “I think people appreciate that. There’s a lot of people in music and different kinds of culture that go chasing the latest trend and that’s never been our thing at all.”

He thinks a lot people have been attracted to the record because it reflects current events.

He said: “It’s really resonated. The music’s quite personal and obviously everyone is going through a hard time right now so that might be a factor.

“Also our fans are really loyal, and we are really lucky new generations have discovered our music in recent years and the people who found out about us in the early years have stuck with us.”

Mogwai recorded a recent session for BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway.

And the band had been due to play Glasgow’s Hydro this month but like many bands, they have been grounded by the pandemic.

Stuart hopes to get back out on the road as soon as possible.

“We would go anywhere to play and I’m sure it’s the same for most musicians. I think once things start opening up it will all happen. I wouldn’t imagine we will be very far behind anywhere else.”

For the moment, though, the band will celebrate their chart success, lockdown-style.

“We’ll probably do a wee zoom. I don’t live too far from Barry [Burns], so we’ll maybe meet in the park and jump around the swings or something like that,” he said.

“Maybe a few glasses of wine and talk about how weird it is.”

LGBT in the forces: It was a very scary time

In 2000, the law changed to allow members of the LGBT community to serve in the UK armed forces.

As part of LGBT history month, the BBC spoke to some of those affected by the change to find out how military culture has evolved.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Deborah Penny was the first transgender soldier to serve in an operational theatre in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

Growing up she knew there was “something different” about her.

“We didn’t have computers back in the 70s and 80s – we didn’t have mobile phones,” she said.

“It was very hard to find out about sexuality.

“To try and understand why I didn’t feel right – I suppose that’s what people would say back then – I couldn’t identify it.”

She joined the Army and “tried to be a normal soldier”, but couldn’t and didn’t understand why.

“From what I understand, there was never a ban on transgender soldiers, but until the first transitioning document was written in 1999, we were classed as mentally ill or gay,” she said.

“Through my career, I was trying to find the true me, but it was a very scary time, because if anyone thought I was gay or anything, I’d be sacked.”

While hiding her sexuality, WO Penny had some “close calls” while serving in Plymouth in the 80s and 90s, where she nearly got caught.

“I was out with a group of girls, dressed as a woman, when a couple of the girls decided to have an alcohol-induced row,” she said.

“A few policemen at the top of the road started walking towards us, and all that went through my mind was that I had my army ID card.

“I would have been arrested, taken back to the unit, investigated by Special Investigations Branch – that’s it, I’m done.”

“I was trying to understand who I was inside a military who sacked you if they thought you were different,” she added.

The “self-imposed exile” went on until the ban was lifted, when she went to the med centre and said she needed a chat.

“I thought ‘I’ve got to do this – I can’t not do this anymore’,” she said.

“I couldn’t control it any longer – I couldn’t solve the problem in my own brain and that’s why I came out when I did.”

“When I came out to the regiment, it was a weight off my shoulders,” she added.

“As a community, the support networks are there, and that’s been brilliant and it’s really working now – we’ve come leaps and bounds.”

When Lt Cdr Gordon Jones joined the reserves in 1998, it was still illegal to serve in the military if you were LGBT.

“It’s complicated because I wasn’t out at all, so it wasn’t a matter of something I was trying to conceal because it wasn’t something that was really a part of my life,” he said.

“I’m being interviewed by the BBC for being openly bisexual – if I did that when I joined in ’98 I’d have been immediately kicked out.”

“The law changed, but it takes a lot longer to be able to change a culture than it does to simply change a law.”

Lt Cdr Jones said there were a lot of people who were “adjusting” to the fact that being LGBT was no longer illegal after the law changed.

“The navy was working hard to try and help people, both to advertise ourselves as being an inclusive employer, but also to help people who had been in the navy to understand what was and wasn’t appropriate,” he said.

“It’s interesting hearing the stories of people who can’t bring their authentic selves to the workplace because they had to hide it away – otherwise they would lose their job.”

“In the navy, if people bring their authentic, complete selves into the workplace, we’re going to get more people to come and help us out,” he added.

“When it comes to labels, we all identify them differently – we all have our own variations.”

Navy Air Engineering Technician (AET) Triss Smythe, 22, identifies as agender, meaning they don’t feel a connection to any one gender.

“The pan-sexual side is more of a type of bisexuality,” said AET Smythe.

“It’s me saying that I don’t conform to any gender so I don’t care what genitalia you have – if I like you as a person, I will be interested,” they added.

AET Smythe knew they were different when they were younger.

“The way I saw myself didn’t tally up with the way everyone else saw themselves – I couldn’t relate to anyone,” they said.

About a year ago, AET Smythe started looking into how they could identify their gender.

“I had a chat with some guys from the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Network for the navy, called Compass, as well as a couple of friends online.

“There was a light bulb moment where it sounded like I was agender and I just went ‘that’s it, that’s the word I’ve been looking for all these years’.”

AET Smythe said they have received six death threats in the past year since coming out – both in person and online.

“I’ve been told it’s not real, I’m against science and all this kind of stuff, so it’s been difficult.

“The sad thing about it is that I’ve still got it better than most,” they added.

Through the work of Compass, gender neutral toilets were installed in AET Smythe’ squadron.

“For some it wouldn’t matter, but for someone who doesn’t identify as male, to have a toilet I can go in and not be questioned as to why I’m in there is awesome,” they said.

AET Smythe said the atmosphere is very clear in the navy – they feel protected.

“I came out, and my chief looked at me and went ‘fair enough, what are your pronouns?’

“There are stumbling blocks, there are little pot holes and obstacles, but they’ve never been from the navy as a whole, but from individuals who have then been dealt with in the right way,” they added.

“I came out as bisexual in 2018, before I even applied to join the army.”

Craftsman Riley Morgan, 21, realised someone else in his platoon was “already out” and seeing everyone was “perfectly fine” made him think there was no point trying to hide who he was..

“Joining the army in itself gives you a massive amount of confidence and joining the community as well gave me more confidence within my own sexuality,” he said.

“I can definitely see a change from who I was before I joined to where I am now,” he added.

Craftsman Morgan said he had spoken to a few people who have gone through things that are “nothing like what I’m experiencing now”.

“People coming in now have got people to help and support them all the way through, because they can give a hand, guiding them through it.

“Hearing about things which happened before to other individuals, it’s amazing that that would never happen now.

“It’s definitely grown on from what it was.”

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