Former criminal with more than 50 convictions gets degree - in CRIMINOLOGY


Photo ReportingFormer criminal with more than 50 convictions gets degree - in CRIMINOLOGY

Natalie Atkinson has turned her life around with a first class degree in Policing, Investigation and Criminology.

A 25-year-old woman with more than 50 convictions has turned her life around to graduate from university with a first class degree in criminology with honours.

Natalie Atkinson put her troubled past behind her to be awarded top marks in her Policing, Investigation and Criminology degree.

Despite leaving school when she was just 14-years-old she scored 95 per cent in her dissertation.

The clever alumna will go on to do a Master’s degree in Criminology after being accepted at the London School of Economics (LSE).

She was crowned the National Union of Students (NUS) Endsleigh Student of the Year during a ceremony at Bolton’s Macron Football Stadium.

Natalie who studied at the University of Cumbria said: “It’s amazing and to be honest I am still in shock.

“I have gone from being a prolific offender living a chaotic lifestyle to living a settled and happy life, so if I can do it then anyone can.

“Looking back, if someone had said to me a few years ago that in 2014 I’d be graduating with a first class honours degree, moving to London to commence a Master’s degree and looking forward to a successful career, I would have laughed.

“But this is my life.

“If you set your mind to it anything is achievable, but it is up to you to make the changes that need to be made.

“All you need to do is take little steps to begin with and you will see things changing. Everyone will have a different path to desistance, you just need to find yours.”

Proud Natalie, from Lancaster, is now an activist for troubled teens and recently presented BBC3 documentary Banged Up and Left to Fail.

The show highlights the plight of of youngsters going through the criminal justice system and their lack of prospects.

In the hour-long programme she meets jailed young offenders while also liaising with MP Jeremy Wright, Minister for Prisons.

She told the cameras how she had more than 50 criminal convictions and claimed to have committed more than 100 offences, including battery, damage, theft and assaulting a police officer.

“Throughout my teenage years I was a persistent offender, constantly in and out of police cells and once I turned 18 prison,” she said.

“Prison made me worse. I wanted rehabilitating, not a chance - I was just punished, I was contained ,I was held...then let out.”

“At 13, I used to want to go back to secure units because its the only place I would feel safe and settled.

“It all changed when i turned 18, I graduated to the adult criminal justice system, a week after my 18th birthday I was locked up in HMP Styal.

“My history of assaults meant I was high risk and put on the wing with the most serious adult offenders.

“It was a whole different world, there was violence, fighting, aggression.

“I learned more about drugs than I’d ever known and got addicted to subutex, a heroin substitute. One inmate took her own life because she couldn’t cope.”

Natalie added: “Returning to education was one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome.

“When I first started University I was so nervous that I would not fit in, as I thought everyone would know I am an ex-offender and that I would not be able to do the work.”

University of Cumbria Student Union Chief Executive Daryl Ormerod said: “Natalie’s story is compelling.

“Her ongoing commitment to developing herself so that she may in turn help others as she has been helped, is simply inspiring.

“We are proud to have her amongst our membership, and wish her well for what I am sure will be a highly successful future.”

By Stephen White

Source: Mirror UK

Mother, 25, Sells Newborn Boy to Childless Couple for £130


Gauri Shah and the new newborn baby sold for just £130 becuase his mum is too poor to keep him after her husband left her eight months ago.Mother, 25, Sells Newborn Boy to Childless Couple for £130

A single mother of four was so poor she felt forced to sell her newborn son for £130 in rural India.

Gauri Shah, 32, who lives in a slum near railway tracks in a village, in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal with her three daughters aged between three and eight years old was abandoned by her husband eight months ago when she was expecting her fourth child.

She sold the baby boy to a childless couple but he was rescued after neighbours raised the alarm.

The ten-day-old baby is now being cared for at a children’s home.

His mother gave birth to him on May 25 but was uncertain how she could raise him alone so she sold the tot – who is yet to be named – to a childless couple seven days later.

However, the news soon spread within the village and the local government quickly stepped in and rescued the child.

But Mrs Shah refuses to take him back and the little baby was handed over to a children’s home.

Her only source of income is the money her 70-year-old mother gets after a day begging for hours on the streets.

She said that she feels no remorse about selling off her newborn baby, as she believes it was the best decision for her son and three daughters.

She said: ‘My husband left me eight months ago with three daughters. We depend on whatever money my mother manages to collect. She had to borrow Rs 100 (£1) from our neighbour for my delivery. I have no money to raise my children, how will I take care of another?

‘After I was discharged from the hospital, a childless couple approached me and asked me to give them my son for Rs13000. I accepted the offer, as I had no other option. I thought my son would live a better life with them.’

Mrs Shah said she would take back her son if the government helped her with some benefits.

The state administration has now given her 60 days to think about whether she will accept the baby. After that the infant will be given away for adoption.


Sleepless, hopeless, voiceless; an 18-year old's goitre-like ordeal

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Grace Panyin needs your gracious help

Sleepless, hopeless, voiceless; an 18-year old's goitre-like ordeal

Living a normal life is a reality Grace Panyin cannot really relate to.

She has been struggling since she turned five years old because of a strange goitre-like disease threatening to keep her life hopeless, her plight voiceless, and her nights sleepless.

Grace Panyin lives in Mumford in the Gomoa West district of the Central region. Assembly man for Penkye electoral area, Samuel Koomson visited Grace's family and describes her plight:

"Flesh began to grow along her gums inside her mouth, and has grown further down her throat, enlargening her throat and pushing its way through the sides of her neck."

Photo Reporting

Smelly blood often ooze out of the mouth as and when the area enlarges.

Her fishmonger mother and fisherman father have sent her to hospitals in the Central Region with doctors unable to help her. They have referred her to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, a place where poverty prohibits them from going.

For the many times she has been to the hospital, Grace has fallen in love with the green and white uniforms of the nurses and aspires to be one too.

Easier said than done. But for Grace, it cannot be even easily said, let alone getting it done.

The painful growth, wrecking its havoc over a 13-year period, means the young girl has had to drop out of school since Class Five - saving herself from ridicule from her mates.

You cannot look at Grace without making a grimace.

She barely speaks, capable of whispers only her family and close relatives understand. She moves around the house doing normal chores in silence for greater parts of the day.

You wouldn't know if she is smiling or if she is happy - the strange disease is ensuring that the 18-year old girl can hardly communicate the state of her soul to anybody.

Except by looking into her eyes - and if you look long enough you could see the imprisoned anguish groaning for help.

Grace means unmerited favour; but surely this is one favour - help - Grace really merits after a 13-year suffering with no sign of ending.

Photo Reporting

Source:|Edwin Appiah|This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nursing Students Punished Over Mahama


Nursing Students Punished Over Mahama

SOME STUDENTS of the Mampong Midwifery and Health Assistants School were allegedly forced to kneel before Mohammed Kwadwo Aboasu, MCE of Asante Mampong, for drawing the attention of the President to their plight.

The MCE reportedly ordered the fear-stricken students to kneel before him as a form of punishment for what was described as offensive and unethical behaviour.

The students were said to have openly complained bitterly over their unpaid allowances to President John Mahama who had visited the area to inspect government projects on Saturday.

The nursing trainees also stood by the roadside displaying placards which had inscriptions that appealed to the President to come to their aid because they were suffering.

The peaceful protest embarked upon by the nursing trainees was said to have caught the eyes of the President and his entourage including the MCE whose convoy was passing by.

The MCE, who deemed the students’ action as insulting and offensive, therefore decided to show them where power lies, and therefore ordered them to go down on their knees after the President had left the area.

Commenting on the issue on Kessben FM, however, the MCE, Mohammed Kwadwo Aboasu, flatly denied ordering the students to kneel before him as a form of punishment over their protest to the President.

According to him, whilst the President’s convoy was passing by, he saw some students of the nursing school holding placards with inscriptions such as ‘We need our allowance.’

The Mampong MCE stated that the students’ action was unfortunate so he stormed the school after the President had left to admonish them not to repeat the act in future.

Mr Aboasu said he only told the students to report matters concerning their welfare to their school authorities in future, adding, “I did not let them kneel down as it is being bandied about.”

There were speculations with regard to the fate of the nursing trainees who were caught taking part in the demonstration.

Reports making the rounds indicated that the school authorities had suspended the affected students indefinitely.

Other reports said the school authorities had ordered the parents of the students that took part in the peaceful demonstration to appear before them.

Unconfirmed reports indicated further that the students would be ordered to sign a bond to be of good behaviour in future, else they would be sacked.

The NDC government owed them monthly arrears running into several months with plans to abolish the trainee allowance all together by next academic year.

Similar allowances for trainee teachers had been stopped for inexplicable reasons.

FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi

Source: Daily Guide/Ghana

Families hope 'Frankenstein science' lobby will not stop gene cure for mitochondrial disease

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Deniz Safak's condition continued to worsen until he died last year at the age of 23Families hope 'Frankenstein science' lobby will not stop gene cure for mitochondrial disease

Change to IVF rules could make Britain the first country to allow therapy to change DNA in embryos

Robin McKie, science editor

Deniz Safak was five years old when he first displayed symptoms of the disease that would later take his life. "He started being sick and had intense, stroke-like seizures," his mother, Ruth, recalled.

Doctors were baffled by the boy's condition and it took months before a diagnosis was made. Ruth and her husband, Erdhal, were told that Deniz was suffering from mitochondrial disease, an incurable condition that is passed from mother to child and can often be fatal.

{sidebar id=12 align=right}Deniz's condition continued to worsen. By the time he died last year at the age of 23, he had become deaf, suffered intense migraines and was confined to a wheelchair. "That is how he spent his life at the end," said Ruth, who lives in Sunderland. "He was very bright and he knew what he was missing from life." There is no cure for mitochondrial disease and, although its symptoms vary in their severity, the condition is often fatal. Health officials estimate that there are several thousand people in Britain affected by the condition, which is caused by mutations in the DNA in the mitochondria, which exist inside the cells of their bodies.

"Mitochondria are the little power packs that provide our cells with energy and they have their own DNA," said Professor Douglas Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University. "The disease particularly affects cells that use a lot of energy, including those involved in hearing, pumping blood and firing nerves. About a third to a half of those who have the condition face an early death."

It is a grim scenario. However, hopes of tackling mitochondrial disease will be raised in a few weeks when the government announces regulations that will permit the use of an IVF technique that should rid affected families of the disorder. If these plans are approved by parliament, Britain will become the first nation to permit germ-line gene therapy, which will change the DNA of future generations in order to eradicate the condition.

The technique involves taking an egg with healthy mitochondria from a donor female. Its main set of nuclear genes is then scooped out and replaced with those of a woman affected by mitochondrial disease but whose basic nuclear DNA is healthy. The egg is then fertilised using her partner's sperm. In this way an embryo is created that has the central genes of the two parents but no longer carries the mutated mitochondrial DNA once carried by the mother. The technique is known as mitochondrial replacement. It has never been tried on humans, but has worked in animal studies.

Most scientists and doctors, particularly those who work with families touched by mitochondrial disease, support the introduction of the technique. However, some groups vociferously oppose its use. "The social benefits for a relatively small number of women … do not come near to justifying the potential health risks from these techniques to the child and the risks to global society that stem from human genetic engineering," said the campaign group Human Genetics Alert.

Anti-abortion groups also oppose mitochondrial replacement, while some tabloid newspapers have described the creation of embryos using the nuclear DNA of two parents and the mitochondrial DNA of a third-party donor as "three-parent babies" and have claimed that this represents a slippery slope to a "Frankenstein future".

This last claim particularly infuriates researchers. "It is wrong to say this produces three-parent babies," said Turnbull. "More than 99.9% of DNA is nuclear DNA and that will not be affected. Mitochondrial DNA accounts for around 0.1% of our total DNA. We are changing only mitochondrial DNA. We are not changing a person's hair or height or eye colour."

The potential of mitochondrial replacement is demonstrated through another of Turnbull's patients: Marie Austen, also from Sunderland. Her son, Adam, was seven when he was diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA disease. His heart was subsequently found to have been damaged but, before he could have a transplant, Adam's condition worsened and he died last year at the age of 13. "I wanted to see Adam grow up, but that has been taken from me," said Marie.

Austen has another child, a daughter, who at present has no symptoms. However, the disease varies in the severity of its symptoms as it passes from generation to generation. This poses problems for Marie's daughter. "One day she may want to have her own kids, but she will not be able to have them safe in the knowledge that this disease will not kill them when they are young. That is why I want this new technique to be given the go-ahead, so my daughter will have healthy mitochondria and can have children who will not die when they are teenagers, as her brother Adam did."

The disease is passed through the maternal line because men do not pass on mitochondrial DNA to future generations. Only women do that. However, the mutated versions do so with unpredictable consequences. Both Ruth and Marie have severe hearing problems, for example. However, the version picked up by their sons was far worse in its effects.

Last year the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) completed an extensive public consultation on mitochondrial replacement and found widespread support for it. Now the proposed regulations that will allow it to be carried out, under licence from the HFEA, are to published. Interested parties will give their views on these regulations before they are debated by parliament, probably on a free vote, later this year.

Alison Murdoch, professor of reproductive medicine at Newcastle University,hopes that parliament will approve the new regulations – though she is only cautiously hopeful. "This is controversial in some people's eyes and there will be attempts to block the regulations. My fear is that the government could still get cold feet and delay the vote, which would not be good news given we will have a general election next year.

"The trouble is that the people who oppose this work are much better organised and proactive than the people that actually need the treatment," Murdoch said. "They claim that around 30% of the population is against this kind of medical intervention. But when you actually sit down with a group of people and explain what you want to do, they all say the same thing: why not?"

Ruth Safak will also be watching the forthcoming battle over the implementation of mitochondrial replacement therapy. She is passionately in favour of the procedure. "When you lose a child, there is not enough time to get over it. This thing wipes out your life. The point is that if this treatment had become available for me when I was beginning my family, I could have had Deniz and he would still be with me now."

Source: The Guardian UK