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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 23 3 Alcohol-related hospital admissions hit new high 4-5 Meeting for Sufferings:
Radical resistance and the state 6-7 A Gordian equation:
liberating Libya Jonathan Doering 8-9 The Gandhi of Korea Kim Sung-soo 10-12 Harriet Beecher Stowe Paul Millward 13-15 Letters 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: One of the engravings from the second British edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852. See pages 10-12.
Correction: The Yearly Meeting Clerk to the Assemblée de France is Kate de la Mare. Jeanne-Henriette Louis is a former clerk.
Image this page: Eliza’s escape from Haley. As cover.
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the Friend, 10 June 2011 News
Alcohol-related hospital admissions hit new high
Quakers have expressed alarm that the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in the UK has reached a record high. The NHS Information Centre reported that the number of admissions topped one million in a year for the first time in 2009-10.
Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs (QAAD) said that society is paying the ‘human costs’ of both cheap alcohol and social attitudes.
QAAD’s Helena Chambers was quick to challenge stereotypes associated with alcohol abuse. She told the Friend, ‘This is not just a problem for the young; the peak age for hospital admissions directly related to alcohol consumption is 35-54’. She is nonetheless worried that 3,700 of the admissions were for people under sixteen.
She also pointed to evidence that ‘the poorest drink less than the richest, although they are also most likely to suffer health and social harm’.
Alcohol Concern suggested that if the figures rise at the present rate, they will reach 1.5 million per year by 2015.
On the same day that the figures were published, Scottish first minister Alex Salmond promised ‘early legislation’ to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol. The news was welcomed by QAAD, who have long campaigned in favour of the policy.
Similar legislation was proposed by the Scottish government last year, but it was defeated in the Scottish Parliament. The measure looks set to pass now that the Scottish National Party have an overall majority.
‘We have confused our appetite for fun with a hunger for self-destruction,’ said Alex Salmond. ‘We tolerate a race to the bottom of the bottle, which ruins our health, our judgment, our relationships, our safety and our dignity.’
The UK Home Office recently promised legislation on alcohol pricing in England and Wales (see ‘Minimum pricing – a pointless policy’, the Friend, 28 January). QAAD and the Methodist Church argued that the Home Office’s plans will be ineffective because they limit the price of certain drinks rather than units of alcohol. In contrast, the Scottish policy will mean that the cost of a drink is related to the amount of alcohol it contains.
Helena Chambers noted a slight increase in the number of people in the UK who drink very little or no alcohol. About a fifth of men and a third of women fall into this category.
She suggested that the British government ‘may be misjudging the potential support there is for addressing alcohol problems’.
Friends in north London have fallen prey to scrapmetal thieves three times in the last couple of months. Over twelve square metres of lead has been removed from the roof of Winchmore Hill Meeting House, a listed building.
There was one theft in April, another in May and a third in the past coouple of days. The lead has been taken from several different areas of the roof. It has been estimated that the cost of replacing it could be over £8,000.
Friends from Winchmore Hill explained that they had reported the incidents to the police but Enfield police said that no arrest has been made.
Lead roofs are relatively unusual in Quaker Meeting houses, being more commonly associated with Anglican churches. The Church of England said in
December that its churches had made around 8,000 insurance claims for lead theft in the previous three years. The cost of the claims totalled £23 million.
the Friend, 10 June 2011