Uk Retailers Remove ‘staggeringly Offensive’ Mental Health Costumes From Sale

The UK’s rail network is set to get faster broadband in 2019

STORY HIGHLIGHTS Walmart subsidiary Asda and retailer Tesco were selling mental health themed costumes The British retailers apologized and withdrew them from sale after a social media outcry Mental health charity Mind said the sale of the costumes had been “extremely misguided” Soccer player Stan Collymore tweeted about the effect of mental health stereotypes (CNN) — British retailers have removed “psycho ward” and “mental patient” Halloween costumes from their online stores after criticism that they were offensive to people with mental health conditions. Walmart subsidiary Asda showed a man in a blood-stained white coat brandishing a meat cleaver to advertise its “Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume.” Tesco’s advertisement for its “Psycho Ward Costume” showed a man in an orange boiler suit branded “PSYCHO WARD” brandishing a hypodermic needle and wearing a mask similar to that of Hannibal Lecter in the film, “The Silence of the Lambs.” An Asda spokeswoman offered the company’s “sincere apologies for the offense” the costumes had caused. “This was an unacceptable error and the product was withdrawn immediately,” she said in a statement. “We take our responsibilities very seriously which is why we will make a sizable donation to Mind.” Tesco also issued an apology, saying in a statement: “We’re really sorry for any offense this has caused and we are removing this product from sale.” Mental health charity Mind welcomed the withdrawal of the costumes, saying the retailers had shown themselves to be “extremely misguided” by offering them for sale. Slept in. Have @asda withdrawn their ‘mental patient fancy dress’ costume or are we going to organise a protest at HQ? #timetochange Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) September 26, 2013 Alastair Campbell “It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” spokeswoman Sue Baker said in a statement . However, Baker said the outcry the costumes provoked on the social media site Twitter was encouraging. “We hope this will urge Asda, Tesco and other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fueling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population,” she said. Mind and the group Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Change campaign to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. One of the campaign’s supporters is Alastair Campbell, who was former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s media chief and who has publicly spoken of his battle with depression . Campbell was among those who tweeted his displeasure at the “brutally stigmatizing outfits.” “@asda and @tesco should sign up for one of the @mindcharity @Rethink_ @TimetoChange mental health training courses,” he tweeted . Campbell alleged that Amazon still carried mental health patient costumes and called for people to tweet the company, asking it to withdraw them. But in response to an inquiry from CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said: “The item you refer to is not available on Amazon.co.uk.” Soccer player and broadcaster Stan Collymore who has also spoken out on depression, also took to Twitter to criticize the stereotype he said Asda and Tesco’s costumes had promoted.

The housing market – a national obsession in Britain – has shown increasing signs of recovery, supported by a healing economy and official programmes to bolster lending to consumers and firms. Stronger demand is being reflected in rising prices. House prices in England and Wales posted their biggest month-on-month gain in more than six years in September, a survey showed earlier on Monday. The new mortgage guarantee scheme, part of the broader Help to Buy programme, which was originally set for launch in January, should boost demand further. “The government’s announcement that the Help to Buy mortgage indemnity scheme will start three months early will probably give further upward momentum in coming months,” said BNP Paribas economist David Tinsley. Monthly mortgage approvals could reach around 70,000-75,000 by the end of the year, he said. That compares with a monthly average of around 90,000 before the 2008 financial crisis. Aiming to help people unable to put up a sufficient mortgage deposit, the government will provide 12 billion pounds in guarantees to encourage lenders to extend mortgages of up to 95 percent of the value of properties being bought. Cameron said state-backed banks Lloyds (LLOY.L) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) would take part in the programme. Britain’s other major banks have said they are considering whether to join. Last week, Chancellor George Osborne asked Britain’s central bank to play a bigger role in making sure that Help to Buy does not fuel a new property boom. The Bank of England has so far said that it does not see signs of a bubble in the housing market because activity remains below its levels before the 2008-09 recession. While consumer spending is driving Britain’s economic growth, business lending remains weak. It fell by 3.76 billion pounds in August, the largest fall since December last year, despite the authorities’ year-old Funding for Lending Scheme, which aims to channel more credit to companies. However, the outlook for corporate lending is brighter, economists say, noting a recent turnaround in the economy.

UK mortgage deals at five-year high

Photograph: ATM/Barcroft Media Proposals forfaster wireless broadband on the UK’s train network would mean that by 2019, 70% of rail passengers will benefit from speeds of up to 50 megabit per second (Mbit/s). The upgraded “high-speed mobile broadband” network will initially concentrate on the busiest 30% of the UK’s rail network, tackling a series of ‘not-spots’ along rail corridors suffering from poor or intermittent mobile phone signal. The infrastructure will be provided by the existing Network Rail (NR) communication network, which is currently involved in a five-year 1.9bn fibre upgrade to support up to 192,000 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) connections and is set to be complete in late spring 2014. The beginning of the end of poor coverage “There are few things more frustrating than trying to phone a friend or access the internet, only to be thwarted by bad signal,” said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, unveiling the plans. “Be it hardworking commuters preparing for the day on their journey into work or leisure travellers making final plans for their weekend away, todays announcement marks the beginning of the end of poor coverage on our railways,” McLoughlin continued. Partnering up Network Rail will provide the backhaul required for the network through its existing rail communications network, which relies on masts placed at strategic points along the rails to wirelessly connect to trains. It will then partner with a customer-facing operator to provide internet services to train passengers, in a similar manner to the Virgin Media Wi-Fi offering that is currently available in London Underground stations. The wireless connection will be provided over Wi-Fi or 4G LTE, with Network Rail currently in talks with suitable partners. An official announcement is due in “months not weeks”, according to a Network Rail spokesperson. Will it be included in your mobile data subscription? “Having solid and fast backhaul is a major issue for mobile networks, and it is therefore potentially a very important step if Network Rail can provide it. But it is just that – only potentially important at the moment – as we don’t know how the consumer-facing access to the train-based internet will be handled,”said John Delaney, associate vice president for mobile devices research firm IDC.