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Archives for November 2010

A prize week at You & Yours

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Andrew Smith | 12:24 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

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Carolyn Atkinson and Julian Worricker at the Travel Press Awards

A nice end to the week. You and Yours won the Travel Broadcast Programme of the Year at the 2010 Travel Press Awards on November Thursday 25th. Our entry was the special edition we did in April on the air travel chaos caused by the volcanic ash blown over Britain from Iceland, forcing aircraft to abandon the skies. It's particularly rewarding because Carolyn Atkinson's small team of producers and reporters gave up their Sunday at less than 24 hours notice, to do the legwork. Julian, who presented the programme with his trade mark calm assurance, wrote a blog as to how the programme came about.

You can see the full list of Travel Press Award winners here.

Ilyas Khan and Peter White

Earlier this week at the AMI Awards (AMI stands for Ability Media International) where Peter was granted a Fellowship by Leonard Cheshire Disability. As the organisation says:

Peter White MBE has been given this award for his distinguished career in broadcasting and his commitment to championing disability. Peter's achievements are many and considerable and have brought wit, compassion, together with his outstanding journalistic skills to a range of programmes for over 30 years.

Hear hear.

There's a picture of him, for once in his suit, receiving his prize from Ilyas Khan.

24 hours later the suit was back on again. This time it's the Mind Mental Health Media Awards which recognises responsible and authoritative reporting of mental health issues. It was Peter who persuaded me to commission our entry which has made it to the shortlist - an audio diary from Chris Danes who has bipolar disorder. Chris catalogued his ups and downs, which has made for very compelling listening, not least when relating with utter honesty, how the strain of having to produce a piece of radio to a deadline, was not exactly improving his condition.

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Joe Kent produced the diaries and you can hear them here.

As it was we received warm words from the judges but not the award itself which went to our own documentaries unit for "Anatomy of a Mental Illness." This told the story of Angela Barnes who was detained under the Mental Health Act after a psychotic episode in 2005.

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That was broadcast here on Radio 4 made by a very talented documentary programme maker. Laurence Grissell who cut his teeth as a producer many years ago, here on You and Yours. The programme will be repeated in full on BBC Radio 4 on 7th December at 4pm

It was no disgrace to miss out to this fine piece of work and Peter has won so many awards in his time he'd have probably needed to extend the mantle piece. Win or lose, Peter is unaffected. Regardless of the outcome, he never buys a round

Andrew Smith is the Editor of You and Yours, In Touch, Fact the Facts and The Media Show on BBC Radio 4./p>

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Things that Make My Day

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Peter White Peter White | 16:56 UK time, Monday, 15 November 2010

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Peter White

We'd like to hear what makes your day if you're disabled; what kind of help can make all the difference and bring a smile to your face rather than a glower. It can be about any aspect of life: getting from A to B, work, socialising or the graceful offering of care and it can relate to any disability. Quirky is good and it can be as much about attitude as about practical solutions!

I'm not saying that we disabled people moan a lot, but there is a temptation to tell people what they're doing wrong, rather than what they're doing right, when it comes to offering help. I plead guilty myself! It's so much more fun as a blind person to tell stories about people not bothering to ask you where you're going, but just grabbing you by the fleshiest part of your forearm and marching you across a road; or propelling you from behind through a revolving door as if you were a battering-ram; and I can't tell you how often I've been regaled by indignant wheelchair users with stories of the people who talk over their heads, bend very close and shout in their ear, or just ignore them altogether and talk to their friend or partner. All forms of disability generate examples of their own.

This has been very much on my mind as late because, as some of you may know, You and Yours and In Touch and a number of other programmes are coming, not from Broadcasting House, but from Bush House down the road. This has meant that I have had to change my well-honed route to work, which I could more or less do in my sleep, and start asking for help again - where is the bus stop from which about twelve different-numbered buses go to the Aldwych, which bus is coming, what's the safe way to manoeuvre the triangular crossing at the Aldwych itself... It reminded me that a lot of people are lovely, and go the extra mile plus, but giving directions to a blind man which make sense is a dark art, and only a few people do it really well.

You see, the real secret is that you need to give directions that you can touch, rather than you can see! You have to realise that saying "it's the third turning on the right" only works if it really is the third, and that you haven't forgotten there's a garage or pub entrance, or a carpark, which feels exactly like a road; or that a lamp-post can feel exactly the same to a stick as a bus-stop, or a pelican crossing pole, or a dozen other things. So what makes my day is when I come across someone who understands.

Of course the ideal person is another blind traveller, but the chances of coming across one of those outside Waterloo Station when you need them, is pretty remote! But enough of my traveller's tales, we would like to hear from you. We want innovative solutions, premium quality help that makes your day. And you never know if we get enough great examples it could spark a series of its own!

Peter White presents You and Yours and In Touch on BBC Radio 4

Consumer Rights Over 40 years

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Natasha Emerson | 14:19 UK time, Friday, 5 November 2010

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Which? October 1970

In this guest blog Louise Hanson, Head of Campaigns at Which?, reflects on the how the consumer experience has changed over the past 40 years.

There's been a sea change in consumer rights over the past 40 years. In 1970, consumers were yet to receive the protection of the Office of Fair Trading and it would be another two years before the Geoffrey Howe was appointed Britain's first Minister for Trade and Consumer Affairs. In 1970, it was still legal for suppliers to demand payments for something they knew hadn't been requested and for people to drive a car without wearing a seatbelt.

Although times have changed and people's needs are different, consumers still require as much protection, if not more, than before. In 1976 there was a 50-50 chance a colour television would break down, now people are concerned about online shopping rights and international scams. We've tested over 25,000 products in the last 10 years and our testing labs show that although things like TVs breakdown less than they once did, safety issues such as product recalls and car faults still happen and we need to remain vigilant.

Between the 1970s and late 1980s, it became obvious that people needed more consumer protection and one new consumer law a year was passed by Parliament. And the milestones didn't stop there - over the past 20 years we've seen the formation of the Food Standards Agency in 2000, and the establishment of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The development of FOS has been particularly important as it's been a one stop shop for consumers who can't get their complaints with financial services sorted out. But incredibly, we're still seeing the financial industry ignoring consumer's demands and their record of dealing with consumer complaints remains pitifully poor. However, the fact that consumers are being more proactive in fighting for their rights is a great leap forward and we'd always encourage them to do more.

Over the years, we've seen a huge increase in the willingness of consumers to take action to help themselves - particularly in financial services with endowment and bank charges complaints and the still ongoing complaints about PPI. We offer consumers template letters on our website and hundreds of thousands of people have used them to get redress.

In the past 10 years the Internet has also had a massive impact on improving the 'consumer experience'. There has been a surge in the number of websites that encourage people to share their thoughts on everything from hotels to local traders and many thousands of people make recommendations each day.

We still have a long way to go. While many of the problems facing consumers remain constant from one decade to the next, the emergence of new products and markets means that we're continually being handed new challenges.
A Which? survey in 2009 found that up to four million people have placed orders with an online retailer that went bust before their goods were delivered, and at least 17 per cent of those didn't get their money back.

And more work needs to be done. As the Government announces significant changes to the consumer landscape as part of its spending review, we believe that it's vital that front line advice and enforcement services are maintained.

You and Yours has been at the centre of tackling consumer detriment over the past 40 years and they've done a fantastic job, highlighting issues that really matter to the public. We wish them every success for the next 40 years.

It will be fascinating to see where we are in the next few decades. There are many battles still to be fought, but if we've learnt anything from the past, it's that we're going to have to remain nimble when it comes to consumer protection and adapt to the emerging needs and markets that are just over the horizon.

Louise Hanson
Head of Campaigns at Which?

Louise Hanson, Which?

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