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Cambridge ed-tech, scale-up Wonde ranked #5 in UK Deloitte Technology Fast 50

"What about free school meals?" When Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked how the government was going to help feed vulnerable children as the nation went into lockdown in March 2020, he had to react quickly. Peter Dabrowa, founder of Wonde, immediately engaged with the Department for Education (DfE).

"We spoke to them on the Thursday to fully understand their requirements, and we started work on Friday," he recalls. "By Sunday, we were ready to help UK schools support their families."

Serial EdTech entrepreneur Dabrowa was uniquely positioned to help, thanks to Wonde's innovative school data management platform already providing schools with the ability to manage, maintain and control their data and their relationship with third-party applications.

"Via our platform, schools have the capabilities to identify children eligible for free school meals and enable them to distribute supermarket vouchers so parents could still provide for their children."

Wonde sent out a single email, notifying schools they could now provide voucher support to their eligible families via their Wonde dashboard.

The response was overwhelming.

"We thought that a few hundred schools would opt in," says Dabrowa. "But we underestimated how much this provision was needed. We had over 4,000 schools register on the first day resulting in millions of pounds worth of voucher orders. "

The whole 80-strong company had to pitch in, working through the night to ensure schools were fully supported in the purchase and distribution of vouchers. Whilst the voucher solution provided essential support for the most vulnerable families, Wonde was also instrumental in the ability for schools to manage the immense challenges facing them in the continuity of education during school closures.

Remote learning was something schools needed to adopt overnight. Thanks to Wonde's existing provision and the introduction of secure login protocols, staff and teachers could safely and securely access their systems no matter their location, ensuring they were present for pupils. Dabrowa's lightning-fast response to the significant problems facing schools in the UK, has helped the company to grow from an ambitious start-up to a profitable GBP200m-turnover technology superstar in just 12 months, "Our relationship with the supermarkets, enables us to provide the solution at no cost to schools or the DfE," explains Dabrowa.

He has continued to design and build several voucher solutions, helping local authorities distribute clothing vouchers to asylum seekers, for example. Wonde was created in 2015 to address a challenge that Dabrowa had encountered in his previous start-up, the learning platform, eSchools.

"We found that schools use multiple applications to manage data, and often have to send CSV files or input data manually into each application," he explains. "We wanted to find a better way of accessing school data through an API, meaning a reduction in the administrative burden for schools as well as increased security, and no one in the UK was currently doing it, so I thought I'd give it a go."

Wonde now works with over 23,000 - "We're the largest company in our sector by school penetration in the UK" - and Dabrowa has international ambitions. Wonde has expanded into Australia, where it holds 20% market share after launching there just 18 months ago.

"Our API doesn't care where you are in the world," says Dabrowa. "If there's a student, a parent, or a class, Wonde can add value to how schools support them."

Dabrowa has always been entrepreneurial: "I used to pinch apples from the church orchard and sell them at the bottom of my road," he says.

He started his first business aged 18 and this venture grew to become the UK's largest student website.

"I've built many businesses and nothing beats the joy of creating something," he says. "It's never been about making money.

I find the combination of growth and impact thrilling."

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Here’s my dirty little secret about picking UK shares

At heart, I'm an investor focused on the long term. I choose stocks according to attractive fundamentals and aim to hold them with the same tenacity as someone who owns the entire business. Such business-perspective investing is the meat and gravy of well-known investors and fund managers, such as Warren Buffett.

And he learnt much from people that had gone before, such as Benjamin Graham and Philip Arthur Fisher. 5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50 Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic... and with so many great companies trading at what look to be 'discount-bin' prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains.

But whether you're a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be a daunting prospect during such unprecedented times. Fortunately, The Motley Fool UK analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global upheaval... We're sharing the names in a special FREE investing report that you can download today.

And if you're 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio. Click here to claim your free copy now! The roll-call of other well-known investors who made their names focusing on business fundamentals includes Lord John Lee, Neil Woodford, Jim Slater and his successful investor-son Mark Slater.

My secret's out

My approach to investing in UK shares and other stocks fits well into the tradition established by such eminent fundamentals-based practitioners.

But I've got a dirty little secret -- I do stock timing. In other words, as well as aiming to identify great businesses, I aim to buy their shares at opportune moments. But, sometimes, I reckon investors pay little attention to timing.

I often hear a school of thought along the lines that aiming to time the markets is a waste of energy. And worse, it could lead to missing out on gains. Time in the market, people argue, is more important than aiming to time the market.

And I agree with the overall thrust of that argument. After all, my aim is to pick good and growing businesses, then hold their shares for a long time. But I don't just buy the stocks of great businesses and allow the passage of time to hopefully sort out my lack of attention to timing.

But neither do many other fundamental investors. One of the great devices often used by investors to time their entry into and out of stocks is valuation. Buffett, for example, looks for wonderful businesses selling at fair prices.

He doesn't look for wonderful businesses selling at any price. And he's well-known for selling stocks when he thinks a company's valuation has become too high, or if a stock has risen enough to remove a valuation anomaly that he was trading. His investment in PetroChina a few years back is a good example.

Other stock-timing methods

So Buffett and other investors such as Peter Lynch tend to time their investments according to valuations.

But there are other methods as well, such as watching the moves of the general market. For example, when there's been a decent sell-off, or bear market, there's often a better chance of finding decent value among stocks. Last year's market crash because of the pandemic is a good example of that method of stock timing.

One of the most respected fund managers of recent times is the UK's Anthony Bolton. He ran the Fidelity Special Situations Fund and delivered an annualised return of around 20% over 25 years. You couldn't ask for an investor to be more based in fundamental analysis than him.

Yet a read of his book, Investing Against the Tide, revealed to me that he was a big stock timer too, using various methods. But attempting to time stocks and analysing valuations will not guarantee a successful investment outcome. However, I'm keen to have as many strings to my investment bow as possible.

And I'm weighing up whether my timing is right for these stocks right now...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50

Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic... And with so many great companies still trading at what look to be 'discount-bin' prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains. But whether you're a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be a daunting prospect during such unprecedented times.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool is here to help: our UK Chief Investment Officer and his analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global lock-down... You see, here at The Motley Fool we don't believe "over-trading" is the right path to financial freedom in retirement; instead, we advocate buying and holding (for AT LEAST three to five years) 15 or more quality companies, with shareholder-focused management teams at the helm. That's why we're sharing the names of all five of these companies in a special investing report that you can download today for FREE.

If you're 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio, and that you can consider building a position in all five right away.

Click here to claim your free copy of this special investing report now!

Kevin Godbold has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro.

Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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Coupons & Offers

Here’s my dirty little secret about picking UK shares

At heart, I'm an investor focused on the long term. I choose stocks according to attractive fundamentals and aim to hold them with the same tenacity as someone who owns the entire business. Such business-perspective investing is the meat and gravy of well-known investors and fund managers, such as Warren Buffett.

And he learnt much from people that had gone before, such as Benjamin Graham and Philip Arthur Fisher. 5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50 Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic... and with so many great companies trading at what look to be 'discount-bin' prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains.

But whether you're a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be a daunting prospect during such unprecedented times. Fortunately, The Motley Fool UK analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global upheaval... We're sharing the names in a special FREE investing report that you can download today.

And if you're 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio. Click here to claim your free copy now! The roll-call of other well-known investors who made their names focusing on business fundamentals includes Lord John Lee, Neil Woodford, Jim Slater and his successful investor-son Mark Slater.

My secret's out

My approach to investing in UK shares and other stocks fits well into the tradition established by such eminent fundamentals-based practitioners.

But I've got a dirty little secret -- I do stock timing. In other words, as well as aiming to identify great businesses, I aim to buy their shares at opportune moments. But, sometimes, I reckon investors pay little attention to timing.

I often hear a school of thought along the lines that aiming to time the markets is a waste of energy. And worse, it could lead to missing out on gains. Time in the market, people argue, is more important than aiming to time the market.

And I agree with the overall thrust of that argument. After all, my aim is to pick good and growing businesses, then hold their shares for a long time. But I don't just buy the stocks of great businesses and allow the passage of time to hopefully sort out my lack of attention to timing.

But neither do many other fundamental investors. One of the great devices often used by investors to time their entry into and out of stocks is valuation. Buffett, for example, looks for wonderful businesses selling at fair prices.

He doesn't look for wonderful businesses selling at any price. And he's well-known for selling stocks when he thinks a company's valuation has become too high, or if a stock has risen enough to remove a valuation anomaly that he was trading. His investment in PetroChina a few years back is a good example.

Other stock-timing methods

So Buffett and other investors such as Peter Lynch tend to time their investments according to valuations.

But there are other methods as well, such as watching the moves of the general market. For example, when there's been a decent sell-off, or bear market, there's often a better chance of finding decent value among stocks. Last year's market crash because of the pandemic is a good example of that method of stock timing.

One of the most respected fund managers of recent times is the UK's Anthony Bolton. He ran the Fidelity Special Situations Fund and delivered an annualised return of around 20% over 25 years. You couldn't ask for an investor to be more based in fundamental analysis than him.

Yet a read of his book, Investing Against the Tide, revealed to me that he was a big stock timer too, using various methods. But attempting to time stocks and analysing valuations will not guarantee a successful investment outcome. However, I'm keen to have as many strings to my investment bow as possible.

And I'm weighing up whether my timing is right for these stocks right now...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50

Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic... And with so many great companies still trading at what look to be 'discount-bin' prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains. But whether you're a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be a daunting prospect during such unprecedented times.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool is here to help: our UK Chief Investment Officer and his analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global lock-down... You see, here at The Motley Fool we don't believe "over-trading" is the right path to financial freedom in retirement; instead, we advocate buying and holding (for AT LEAST three to five years) 15 or more quality companies, with shareholder-focused management teams at the helm. That's why we're sharing the names of all five of these companies in a special investing report that you can download today for FREE.

If you're 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio, and that you can consider building a position in all five right away.

Click here to claim your free copy of this special investing report now!

Kevin Godbold has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro.

Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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Coupons & Offers

Gift card warning: avoid getting stuck with a worthless voucher this Christmas – Which? News

Two in five people with gift cards for retailers that went bust in the past year were unable to spend their full balance, losing an average of GBP25 per voucher, Which? research has revealed.* Our survey of 2,000 UK consumers found an estimated two million people have unused gift cards that were given in the last year. In addition to retailers going bust, others told us they hadn't yet got around to spending their voucher or couldn't find anything they wanted to spend it on.

Gift cards might be an easy solution for those hard-to-buy-for family members, but they can be risky. If the retailer you've bought a voucher for collapses, the administrators can stop accepting gift cards entirely. Unexpected fees and expiry dates can also catch you out when you go to spend your vouchers.

Here, Which? looks at the scale of unspent gift cards and explains why you might think twice before gifting one this Christmas.

Shoppers left high and dry by bust retailers

A string of retailers have fallen into administration over the past year. Since the start of the pandemic, 7% of UK consumers have found themselves with a voucher for a retailer that's gone bust. And almost two-fifths (38%) of these consumers were unable to spend the full balance of their voucher.

One in five (21%) of those with vouchers for bust retailers had a gift card for an Arcadia Group retailer. Some of these retailers, including Topshop and Miss Selfridge, only allowed customers to pay for 50% of their order total using gift card credit after they fell into administration after Christmas last year. Shoppers had to front the remaining half with their own money.

Unfortunately, when administrators take over a collapsed company, they are legally allowed to refuse gift cards at any point in a bid to save the troubled retailer. We saw this with Debenhams when the administrators decided to stop accepting gift cards just before Christmas last year on 20 December. One in eight (13%) people in our survey said they had a voucher for the troubled department store.

Half of consumers' gift cards don't clearly state expiry dates

Gift cards normally have expiry dates, typically a year or two after the date of purchase.

But some retailers are better than others at clearly stating when the voucher will expire. Our research revealed half of people (53%) who received a gift card in the past year had an expiry date clearly stated while a quarter (27%) said the expiry date wasn't clear. It's worth double checking expiry dates on any gift cards you receive this year as not all retailers will be generous enough to extend them.

'We didn't have that special shopping trip'

Laura (a pseudonym) was disappointed when Marks & Spencer refused to extend the gift card she'd been waiting to spend during lockdown.

Her husband bought her a GBP100 voucher in April 2019. Following a car accident in 2015, Laura is her daughter's carer while also working as a civil engineer. 'Life is demanding to say the least, so this voucher meant the world to me,' she told us. During the pandemic Laura decided to wait and spend the voucher on a shopping trip with her daughter when shops reopened.

In October she went to spend the gift card and discovered it had expired. She asked Marks & Spencer whether they'd consider extending it but they said no. 'I explained how hard it's been for me to come into town over the last 18 months and that I felt the pandemic, as well as my personal circumstances, should be a valid reason to consider extending it,' she told us.

Marks & Spencer told Laura that M&S Foodhall was open and accepting gift cards during the pandemic. It also said she should have partially spent it on something which would have renewed the expiry date. 'I wasn't aware of any of this,' Laura said. 'I was too upset and we didn't have that special shopping trip.'

She reached out to them on Twitter but wasn't happy with their response. 'All replies have been around what I could and should have done differently. I've been made to feel foolish as I didn't want to spend a voucher intended as a treat for me on weekly food shops or school uniforms.' Marks & Spencer told us its gift cards carry a two-year expiry date from the last transaction - which can just be a balance check - so it can account for the spend.

Its customers service team will be contacting the customer about a gesture of goodwill.

'You don't expect to be charged an inactivity fee'

Alongside expiry dates, it's worth checking the small print for any sneaky fees. Some cards, such as One4all which can be used with multiple retailers, charge you a monthly inactivity fee of 90p after 18 months of owning the card. Jen Gillanders, Midlands, was shocked to find the balance on her One4all gift card, which she'd been waiting to spend during lockdown, was almost nearly gone due to the monthly charges she'd been incurring.

'It is stated on the back of the card that you'll be charged a fee after a certain amount of time, but the expiry date on the card was 2023,' she said. 'You don't expect to be charged for a gift card so you're not looking to find out information about it.' One4all agreed to re-credit Jen's card after she complained, but the fees have put her off buying their vouchers in future. 'I won't be recommending the gift card to other people,' she told us. Alongside inactivity fees, one in ten in our survey said they'd had to pay to register the card or were charged a transaction fee.

Before buying a voucher, or if you receive one this Christmas, it's worth reading the small print to make sure there aren't any surprising fees or charges. One4all told us a small monthly charge is incurred to cover the operational costs of processing gift cards which aren't covered if vouchers aren't spent. It says most regulated gift cards carry inactivity fees and that it's operating a 'no quibble' policy for the small minority of card holders affected by these charges due to Covid restrictions.

The Gift Card and Voucher Association told us gift cards are often the most convenient and safe option for shoppers looking to avoid disappointment this Christmas, while significantly cutting down on festive waste and unwanted gifts. To ensure people get the most out of their gift cards, whether buying or receiving them, it's published online advice to help people get the most out of their gift.

What are my rights with gift cards?

Here's what you need to look out for if you receive a gift voucher this Christmas.

  • Always check the T&Cs on the voucher and the packaging around it, looking for information on expiry dates or fees (remember they can be nestled in the small print). With vouchers for experience days, find out whether you need to book and actually do the experience before the expiry date.
  • Check how to extend your gift card, simply checking your balance online or spending a small amount on your voucher could renew the expiry date.
  • Spend your voucher quickly if the retailer falls into administration.

    Remember, the administrators can decide to stop honouring gift card credit at any point.

  • Make a Section 75 claim if you buy someone a voucher for someone and the retailer goes bust, you may be able to put a claim in with your bank if you paid by credit card.

*Which? surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK between 15th and 19th October 2021.

Fieldwork was carried out online Opinium and data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).

4 per cent of those surveyed said they had not spent money on a gift card, which equates to roughly 2 million of the UK population.

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Coupon Book Spread Conspiracies—and Sparked Furious Backlash

At a glance, this fall's editions of £aver Magazine, a coupon book mailed to thousands of homes in the greater Charleston, South Carolina, area every few months, looked as innocuous as ever. But people who read the mailer in recent days noticed something new and disturbing amidst its usual barrage of hokey design and special offers. Instead of ads, one random page sported a banner reading Our American Republic, a disclaimer ("The following are only my opinions. You decide and research for truth yourself."), and a wall of typo-riddled text promoting a melange of near-incoherent, wild conspiracy theories, many focused on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"It is obvious that America is under attack. And by our own employees, the government!" the rant opens. "That our personal freedoms are being stolen and the Constitution being trashed. Everything is upside down!"

Among other things, the would-be treatise specifically insists that the IRS is "fraudulent and illegal." But the bulk of its focus falls upon official attempts to contain the disease that continues to kill hundreds of Americans every day, and the safe and effective vaccines with the power to prevent much of the suffering caused by this scourge. "The US government and the US military deliberately developed the bio weapon [sic] covid 19 aka wuhan virus," reads another section. "My understanding [sic] this bio weapon development began at Chapel Hill University, NC. And then moved over seas and partnered with the communist.

And then turned loose on America and the world. [sic]" (A spokesperson for UNC Chapel Hill did not respond to a request for comment on this long-debunked conspiracy theory.) "Within an hour of finding out about this, I got on the phone with the publisher." -- Chance Nyman

Elsewhere, the unnamed author falsely claims that masks and social distancing are all about stoking fear, that safe COVID-19 vaccines are somehow nefarious or dangerous, and that the entire pandemic is clearly part of a sinister plot to usher in "Satan's new world government." Echoing many months' worth of fact-free far-right panic, the screed also features baffling half-thoughts on Bill Gates's vaccine advocacy and attempts to equate America's pandemic response to Nazi policies. Oh, and it includes this gem: "Most politicians, both democrat and republican, judges, legislators, election officials, poll workers, law enforcement, military, the fake news media, INTERNET, newspapers ... are guilty of treason!

The punishment for treason is death!" Plenty of Americans have encountered baseless theories like these over the last 20 months. But many readers found their inclusion in the mailer uniquely jarring.

Perhaps, David Morris, a College of Charleston sociologist who has studied pandemic misinformation suggests, "because they didn't get on Facebook, where they know this stuff exists, or seek it out. It was in a place they wouldn't expect to see it." Several experts on conspiracy theory dissemination told The Daily Beast that indiscriminate mass mailing is a rare tactic to begin with, and none of them had ever heard of this kind of drivel showing up inside something as mundane as a coupon booklet.

Such an approach to spreading outlandish ideas is virtually unprecedented because it's unlikely to sway many locals. But it has already triggered backlash against the £aver's publisher, David Oser, in the latest bizarre case of pandemic misinformation sowing discord in a community. It's unclear if Oser, who did not reply to requests for comment for this story, personally authored the unsigned diatribe, just opted to run it, or allowed someone else to insert it into the mailer without his full awareness or engagement.

And despite its wide distribution, few people likely actually read the £aver's raving editorial, given the fact that most people trash such junk mail on sight, or after a cursory scan. A few locals who did read it told The Daily Beast that they just rolled their eyes, threw the mailer away, and didn't give it a second thought. Local officials canvassed for comment certainly don't seem too concerned about this specific instance of direct-to-mailbox misinformation.

When asked about it, Derrek Asberry of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control gave The Daily Beast a seemingly canned reply: "Conspiracy theories and other forms of misinformation are... steering unvaccinated people away from protecting themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated. The DHEC has and continues to urge residents to visit credible sources, such as DHEC and CDC websites, for information on COVID and the vaccine."

However, one disconcerted area resident posted about the mailer in a closed group of Charleston-area progressives on hyperlocal social-media platform Nextdoor, sparking a vibrant discussion among a few-dozen locals about how to respond to what felt like the intrusion of extremist ideas into their homes. "I left a message, explaining that we had received messages from community members who were disturbed by the piece, and that we would appreciate a call back." -- Brandon Fish

One group member, Chris Moore, took it upon himself to create and share a list of companies with ads and coupons in the £aver, as well as their contact information. He said in an interview that he was concerned that they might not have been aware of the mailer's conspiratorial turn, and about the damage association with that content could do to their brands, so he wanted to facilitate outreach and raise awareness. But some Nextdoor group members apparently came in pretty hot with dire warnings.

"On the 26th, a man sent me an email, and pretty much stated that my support of this could ruin my business, demanded my public rebuke [of the mailer's conspiracy content], and said that he wishes me all the luck in the world," Joe Harrison, the owner and sole operator of Optimal Power Washing, which started running ads in the £aver this spring, told The Daily Beast. Every business with an ad in the latest edition of the £aver that replied to a request for comment for this story categorically stated they had never seen any editorializing in the mailer before, were not notified about any plans to include the screed before it got sent out, and hadn't even seen it until consumers brought it to their attention. "We have been running the same ad for years, and the platform remained consistent," said Robert Word of Holy City Gutterworks. "Honestly, I quit reviewing the mailers after I confirmed [early on that] our ads were running as expected."

Low Country Saver

"Within an hour of finding out about this, I got on the phone with the publisher," added Chance Nyman, owner and operator of Lowcountry Roofing. "I said, 'You're not supposed to be into politics. You're supposed to print ads.

That's how you get paid.' "He just thought it was his right to run this, and this is what he believes," Nyman said of his conversation with Oser. "I said, 'I understand that, but I can't be associated with this... I've got people calling me and they're pretty upset.'"

Nyman said he decided, while on that call, to end his deal with the £aver, after 15 years of advertising, telling the publisher that his ideas were too extreme for his taste. Aside from advertisers, no one The Daily Beast spoke to who's tried to call Oser said they had any luck getting a reply. That includes the Charleston Jewish Federation, which took issue with the false and patently offensive equivalence in the £aver rant between the Holocaust and life-saving public health measures. "I left a message, explaining that we had received messages from community members who were disturbed by the piece, and that we would appreciate a call back," said the CJF's Brandon Fish, who hopes Oser will retract and never repeat those claims.

While Nyman and a few other businesses seem content to pull their ads from the £aver and walk away, Moore's still searching for ways to hold the mailer accountable for spreading misinformation, and in his eyes implicitly defaming dozens of major local businesses. In a post on a legal-advice forum, he asked if anyone knew whether he could report the mailer to any specific authorities. He's also urged local business owners "to sue for breach of contract and possible defamation."

But Anuj Desai, an expert on the intersection of free-speech law and the usage of the U.S. postal system at the University of Wisconsin Law School, explains that the mail is considered a conduit for the free flow of ideas. In other words, the First Amendment protects people's ability to mail out even baseless conspiracies and falsehoods freely. "Part of the United States Postal Services marketing is that direct mail is a good way to reach a lot of people with your political message," Desai stressed in an interview.

He added that this is why "those of us in purple states get political mailers full of falsehoods every four years." "If some other law prohibits what you're doing through the mail, like making threats, the USPS cannot stop you from sending that," Desai told The Daily Beast. "But authorities might be able to get a warrant to tap your mail, so to speak," for evidence of a potential crime. However, the £aver never clearly advocated any actual criminal activity; while it called for people to unite and rise up against supposedly sinister forces, it actually took a hard stand against violence.

Although it's part of an advertising mailer, since it's not trying to sell anything, solicit donations, or run any discernible type of scam using the disinfo it pedals, the rant doesn't run afoul of ad regulators either. No legal expert The Daily Beast spoke to was sure advertisers would have a legitimate case against the £aver either; that likely hinges on the exact wording of each ad contract, and wonky arguments about and precedents on reasonable expectations and provable damages. The only clear recourse for consumers disturbed by the £aver is to request not to receive it anymore, and for jilted businesses is to pull their ads.

Conspiracy theorists and anti-vax misinformation crusaders have made good use of this laissez-faire framework to conduct mass mailing campaigns in the past. But most such campaigns are far more targeted, often towards people campaigners want to intimidate. According to Amy Pisani of Vaccine Your Family, a pro-vaccination advocacy and education group, direct-mail campaigns trying to convince targeted groups to align with a conspiratorial belief or misinformation cause also tend to be better focused, designed, and argued (albeit using pseudoscience that only sounds authoritative) than the £aver's wild hand-waving.

These campaigns are rare, though, because over the last two decades it's become painfully clear that it's far easier--and cheaper--to spread misinformation to wider malleable audiences using social media. The £aver's Wake Up Sheeple style of evidence-free rhetoric especially plays best in digital echo chambers and amplification channels. Imran Ahmed of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which tracks pandemic misinformation, actually reads the screed as "a bizarre example of malicious actors taking the psychological tricks behind social-media misinformation... and applying them to a pre-digital publication."

This incongruence, alongside the £aver screed's (even by conspiracy-theorist standards) slapdash presentation and weak rhetoric, leads Ahmed and others to suspect it won't gain much traction. However, Morris of the College of Charleston does note that, "while Charleston is a pretty progressive city for South Carolina, we obviously have people here with negative views of masks and stuff that might resonate with this." Even reinforcing the convictions of--or deepening connections between--staunch pandemic conspiracy theorists and misinformation agents may pose serious complications to efforts to curb the deadly pandemic.

Low Country Saver

Pisani added that, outside of businesses that specifically cater to conspiracy communities, we almost never see companies double-down on anti-vax or pandemic misinformation in official materials, like the £aver apparently just did--because it's a great way to alienate a huge portion of a general audience. "If I'd received this, I would probably never open the coupon magazine again," she told The Daily Beast.

Holy City Gutters' Word, who said he canceled his longtime deal with the magazine as of Thursday, added, "I have 18 employees who work hard and support their families through this business.... It would break me if their livelihoods were negatively affected based on the assumption that we support the spread of this information." No one knows why or how Oser, the £aver's publisher, might have decided to publish such a significant and dangerous piece of content.

But on the £aver's website, which appears as if it has not been updated, aside from new issue uploads, since late 2020, he does note that the pandemic shook his business to its core; massive social and personal upheavals often drive people towards conspiracy thinking. This fall's £aver editions also include an ad for the South Carolina Assembly, a group whose materials claim that "American [sic] went off the rails during the civil war and our lawful states were turned into corporations," and that it is the true "lawful" government of the state. The group did not reply to a request for comment.

However, their language echoes that of the sovereign citizen movement, a loose philosophy that holds that the vast majority of laws passed since the mid-19th century are illegitimate. Believers often claim that America is secretly run by foreign corporations, trade supposedly brilliant tricks they believe will make them legally untouchable, and pull dumb public stunts to try to demonstrate their self-perceived constitutional genius. The £aver's editorial rant includes a handful of common sovereign-citizen talking points, as well as a URL, typed out, that leads to a video that features common sovereign-citizen arguments.

So, its author and/or publisher may have drifted into a radical community that's goaded him into extreme action. "When I called, he was like, 'Oh, I'm surprised you're calling. I had a lot of people tell me [the article] was great--a lot of people liked it,'" Nyman recalled of his conversation with Oser.

On the call, Nyman added, Oser made it seem like he didn't care if he stayed in business. But later that day, the local business owner said, he got a text from the publisher, stating that reactions to his rant had inspired him to keep on putting out the mailer the way he wants, even if he loses all of his customers. Nyman's not sure how Oser would actually be able to do so, if he loses all or most of his clients.

It's not cheap to send out a mailer to thousands of homes four times a year.

So the roofer--and everyone else in the greater Charleston area--will just have to warily watch their junk mail to see if the diatribe keeps dribbling in.

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How to claim free school meals voucher for children this half term

Councils in England can use the Government Household Support Grant to provide food vouchers during half-term to families entitled to benefits-related free school meals. The councils can use the Government's Household Support Grant to provide GBP15 food vouchers during half-term to families entitled to benefits. Most, but not every council, are providing free meal support over the half term.

West Berkshire council is among those who will not supply food to eligible schoolchildren. How to claim While some councils are providing cash payments, others are providing supermarket vouchers worth GBP15-20 per schoolchild.

It's worth checking out your local authority's website, or getting in touch with your school if they haven't already provided information on whether your child is eligible, and how to claim the vouchers or cash.

Half term free school meals support, listed by areas with the most need Blackpool: Lancashire County Council has got in touch with schools in the city to support eligible pupils with a GBP15 voucher to cover the one-week holiday. The families of children and young people from reception to Year 11 will receive the vouchers.

Thanet: Children across Kent County Council will be entitled to benefits-related Free School Meals this October half-term. Each eligible child or young person will receive one GBP15 food voucher to be used in supermarkets and local shops. Schools will provide the vouchers.

Tendring: Essex County Council will paying for meal vouchers during the October half term. The vouchers are for children and young people aged 5 to 19 who are registered for free meals with their school or college. Coventry: Those eligible and registered children will automatically receive support towards food costs over the October half term via Huggg supermarket vouchers via Warwickshire County Council.

Waveney: Food vouchers will be offered to families whose children are eligible for free school meals this October half-term holiday.  The vouchers, which are worth GBP15 per child per week, will be provided for families whose children would normally get free school meals during term time, which can be ordered by schools on behalf of families. Kingston upon Hull: School children who live in Hull and are currently receiving free school meals will be given a GBP15 voucher for this October half term.

Around 12,500 families currently receive free school meals in Hull and these families will be sent a text or an email asking them to choose the supermarket of their choice, vouchers for their chosen supermarket will then be sent directly to the family. North East Lincolnshire: There has been no public confirmation Lincolnshire County Council will provide free school meals this half term. Burnley: Schools in the Lancashire town will provide food vouchers worth GBP15 use to buy food at a range of supermarkets, including Aldi, Asda, McColl's, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Company Shop Group and Iceland, including The Food Warehouse Stores.

Mansfield: Nottinghamshire County Council has announced it will continue to fund Free School Meals in the October half-term. The GBP15-per-week vouchers will be distributed to those eligible by their schools. Blackburn with Darwen: Families will be provided with free school meal vouchers to use in the markets over half term.

All children in Blackburn with Darwen who are eligible for free school meals will receive the vouchers throughout half term which families can use to shop in Blackburn or Darwen markets. Schools will provide the vouchers. Great Yarmouth: Norfolk County Council received additional Household Support Funding from the Government.

It will provide vouchers worth GBP15 per child via their school, or families can redeem vouchers either via online or printed voucher by post, collection or delivery if they don't have internet access.

Some extra help Some schools, charities and businesses across England are providing additional meals for those in need. In Knowsley, Merseyside, charity One Knowsley will be providing 3,000 hot and cold meals in partnership with the Merseyside council.

More details will be announced on Knowsley Council's website. School Food Matters will provide more than 500 breakfast boxes to school children at five institutions in the London borough of Newham. Pupils at Brampton Manor Academy, Rosetta Primary School, Cumberland Community School, and Upton Cross Primary School - which has two locations - are eligible.

Preston North End Community and Education Trust will provide a free meal service in October half-term with the aim of supporting children who are eligible for free school meals. Lunches will be available for collection on a first come, first served basis from the community offices at Deepdale, Preston located at the back of the Alan Kelly Town End on Alan Kelly Walk, between the hours of 12 noon and 1.30pm from Monday 25th October to Friday 29th October. The packages will contain a sandwich, crisps, a piece of fruit and a bottle of water, meals can be collected without any prior contact or registration.

In London food retailer Tossed, children can ask for a free wrap and juice this half-term. Parents can speak to a manager to order a wrap for their child with a filling of their choice, and a juice or a fresh smoothie outside of the hours 12-2pm. Fitzrovia vegan burger restaurant, Flower Burger, will provide a free burger and side for pupils up to 12 years old any time from 12pm.

For parents looking to keep their kids busy next week, several councils are also offering free activity clubs for pupils eligible for free school meals.

In Essex, parents can click on Essex Activate's website to find out what clubs are available.

Categories
Coupons & Offers

How to claim free school meals voucher for children this half term

Councils in England can use the Government Household Support Grant to provide food vouchers during half-term to families entitled to benefits-related free school meals. The councils can use the Government's Household Support Grant to provide GBP15 food vouchers during half-term to families entitled to benefits. Most, but not every council, are providing free meal support over the half term.

West Berkshire council is among those who will not supply food to eligible schoolchildren. How to claim While some councils are providing cash payments, others are providing supermarket vouchers worth GBP15-20 per schoolchild.

It's worth checking out your local authority's website, or getting in touch with your school if they haven't already provided information on whether your child is eligible, and how to claim the vouchers or cash.

Half term free school meals support, listed by areas with the most need Blackpool: Lancashire County Council has got in touch with schools in the city to support eligible pupils with a GBP15 voucher to cover the one-week holiday. The families of children and young people from reception to Year 11 will receive the vouchers.

Thanet: Children across Kent County Council will be entitled to benefits-related Free School Meals this October half-term. Each eligible child or young person will receive one GBP15 food voucher to be used in supermarkets and local shops. Schools will provide the vouchers.

Tendring: Essex County Council will paying for meal vouchers during the October half term. The vouchers are for children and young people aged 5 to 19 who are registered for free meals with their school or college. Coventry: Those eligible and registered children will automatically receive support towards food costs over the October half term via Huggg supermarket vouchers via Warwickshire County Council.

Waveney: Food vouchers will be offered to families whose children are eligible for free school meals this October half-term holiday.  The vouchers, which are worth GBP15 per child per week, will be provided for families whose children would normally get free school meals during term time, which can be ordered by schools on behalf of families. Kingston upon Hull: School children who live in Hull and are currently receiving free school meals will be given a GBP15 voucher for this October half term.

Around 12,500 families currently receive free school meals in Hull and these families will be sent a text or an email asking them to choose the supermarket of their choice, vouchers for their chosen supermarket will then be sent directly to the family. North East Lincolnshire: There has been no public confirmation Lincolnshire County Council will provide free school meals this half term. Burnley: Schools in the Lancashire town will provide food vouchers worth GBP15 use to buy food at a range of supermarkets, including Aldi, Asda, McColl's, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Company Shop Group and Iceland, including The Food Warehouse Stores.

Mansfield: Nottinghamshire County Council has announced it will continue to fund Free School Meals in the October half-term. The GBP15-per-week vouchers will be distributed to those eligible by their schools. Blackburn with Darwen: Families will be provided with free school meal vouchers to use in the markets over half term.

All children in Blackburn with Darwen who are eligible for free school meals will receive the vouchers throughout half term which families can use to shop in Blackburn or Darwen markets. Schools will provide the vouchers. Great Yarmouth: Norfolk County Council received additional Household Support Funding from the Government.

It will provide vouchers worth GBP15 per child via their school, or families can redeem vouchers either via online or printed voucher by post, collection or delivery if they don't have internet access.

Some extra help Some schools, charities and businesses across England are providing additional meals for those in need. In Knowsley, Merseyside, charity One Knowsley will be providing 3,000 hot and cold meals in partnership with the Merseyside council.

More details will be announced on Knowsley Council's website. School Food Matters will provide more than 500 breakfast boxes to school children at five institutions in the London borough of Newham. Pupils at Brampton Manor Academy, Rosetta Primary School, Cumberland Community School, and Upton Cross Primary School - which has two locations - are eligible.

Preston North End Community and Education Trust will provide a free meal service in October half-term with the aim of supporting children who are eligible for free school meals. Lunches will be available for collection on a first come, first served basis from the community offices at Deepdale, Preston located at the back of the Alan Kelly Town End on Alan Kelly Walk, between the hours of 12 noon and 1.30pm from Monday 25th October to Friday 29th October. The packages will contain a sandwich, crisps, a piece of fruit and a bottle of water, meals can be collected without any prior contact or registration.

In London food retailer Tossed, children can ask for a free wrap and juice this half-term. Parents can speak to a manager to order a wrap for their child with a filling of their choice, and a juice or a fresh smoothie outside of the hours 12-2pm. Fitzrovia vegan burger restaurant, Flower Burger, will provide a free burger and side for pupils up to 12 years old any time from 12pm.

For parents looking to keep their kids busy next week, several councils are also offering free activity clubs for pupils eligible for free school meals.

In Essex, parents can click on Essex Activate's website to find out what clubs are available.

Categories
Coupons & Offers

Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Obesity

Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Government to launch pilot in England in January, aimed at motivating people to lose weight

Runners in Andover, Hampshire, in July 2021. The scheme could reward activities such as Parkruns. Health editor Fri 22 Oct 2021 00.01 BST

Last modified on Fri 22 Oct 2021 05.30 BST

Ministers will offer rewards such as clothes vouchers and discounted theme park tickets in return for exercising and eating healthily, under plans to tackle Britain's obesity crisis.

The anti-obesity scheme, which uses an app to help people make changes to their diet and physical activity, will launch next year, initially in a pilot scheme, the government has announced.

Participants will wear Fitbit-style devices that can generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count, eating more fruit and vegetables and reducing portion size.

Those increasing their exercise by taking part in organised events such as parkruns or walking to school or work may accumulate extra points in the app.

Under plans being discussed before the scheme's planned launch in January, the app could also be used to monitor supermarket spending, rewarding those who cut their calorie intake and buy healthier options.

Participants will collect points for their healthy behaviours, which will unlock rewards that could include gym passes, clothes or food vouchers and discounts for shops, cinema or theme park tickets.

After a competitive tender process, HeadUp has been chosen to deliver the scheme, with GBP3m coming from the Department of Health and Social Care to provide incentives in the pilot.

Evidence suggests financial incentives can improve rates of physical activity and inspire healthier eating. HeadUp will work with a range of organisations to provide rewards such as vouchers, merchandise, discounts and gift cards.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said: "I want to ensure we're doing as much as we can to tackle health disparities across the country, and this new pilot will pave the way for developing innovate ways to improve the lives of individuals, and also help to reduce strain on the NHS.

"The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is driving forward our levelling up agenda for health and ensuring prevention is a vital part of everything we do.

This pilot is an excellent opportunity to find how best to inspire people to make small changes to their daily lives that will have a lasting positive impact on their health."

The UK has one of the worst records for obesity in western Europe, with two in three adults overweight or obese, and one in three children reaching this stage by the time they leave primary school. Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS GBP6bn a year and fuelled death rates from Covid.

Sir Keith Mills, the entrepreneur behind Air Miles and Nectar points, was brought in by ministers to advise on the development of the app. Mills said: "This scheme is a fantastic opportunity to explore how government, business and the third sector can work together to deliver a new and engaging way of supporting the public to make healthier choices.

"Through the pilot we will have exciting and innovative partners on board will help motivate people to want to earn incentives, but also should help them overcome barriers to making healthy decisions in future.

I'm looking forward to see how this scheme develops."

The pilot will launch in January and run for six months in a location in England yet to be decided.

Ministers hope to then roll out the scheme nationally.

Topics Reuse this content

Categories
Coupons & Offers

Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Obesity

Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Government to launch pilot in England in January, aimed at motivating people to lose weight

Runners in Andover, Hampshire, in July 2021. The scheme could reward activities such as Parkruns. Health editor Fri 22 Oct 2021 00.01 BST

Last modified on Fri 22 Oct 2021 05.30 BST

Ministers will offer rewards such as clothes vouchers and discounted theme park tickets in return for exercising and eating healthily, under plans to tackle Britain's obesity crisis.

The anti-obesity scheme, which uses an app to help people make changes to their diet and physical activity, will launch next year, initially in a pilot scheme, the government has announced.

Participants will wear Fitbit-style devices that can generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count, eating more fruit and vegetables and reducing portion size.

Those increasing their exercise by taking part in organised events such as parkruns or walking to school or work may accumulate extra points in the app.

Under plans being discussed before the scheme's planned launch in January, the app could also be used to monitor supermarket spending, rewarding those who cut their calorie intake and buy healthier options.

Participants will collect points for their healthy behaviours, which will unlock rewards that could include gym passes, clothes or food vouchers and discounts for shops, cinema or theme park tickets.

After a competitive tender process, HeadUp has been chosen to deliver the scheme, with GBP3m coming from the Department of Health and Social Care to provide incentives in the pilot.

Evidence suggests financial incentives can improve rates of physical activity and inspire healthier eating. HeadUp will work with a range of organisations to provide rewards such as vouchers, merchandise, discounts and gift cards.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said: "I want to ensure we're doing as much as we can to tackle health disparities across the country, and this new pilot will pave the way for developing innovate ways to improve the lives of individuals, and also help to reduce strain on the NHS.

"The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is driving forward our levelling up agenda for health and ensuring prevention is a vital part of everything we do.

This pilot is an excellent opportunity to find how best to inspire people to make small changes to their daily lives that will have a lasting positive impact on their health."

The UK has one of the worst records for obesity in western Europe, with two in three adults overweight or obese, and one in three children reaching this stage by the time they leave primary school. Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS GBP6bn a year and fuelled death rates from Covid.

Sir Keith Mills, the entrepreneur behind Air Miles and Nectar points, was brought in by ministers to advise on the development of the app. Mills said: "This scheme is a fantastic opportunity to explore how government, business and the third sector can work together to deliver a new and engaging way of supporting the public to make healthier choices.

"Through the pilot we will have exciting and innovative partners on board will help motivate people to want to earn incentives, but also should help them overcome barriers to making healthy decisions in future.

I'm looking forward to see how this scheme develops."

The pilot will launch in January and run for six months in a location in England yet to be decided.

Ministers hope to then roll out the scheme nationally.

Topics Reuse this content

Categories
Coupons & Offers

Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Obesity

Anti-obesity scheme to offer voucher rewards for healthy living

Government to launch pilot in England in January, aimed at motivating people to lose weight

Runners in Andover, Hampshire, in July 2021. The scheme could reward activities such as Parkruns. Health editor Fri 22 Oct 2021 00.01 BST

Ministers will offer rewards such as clothes vouchers and discounted theme park tickets in return for exercising and eating healthily, under plans to tackle Britain's obesity crisis.

The anti-obesity scheme, which uses an app to help people make changes to their diet and physical activity, will launch next year, initially in a pilot scheme, the government has announced.

Participants will wear Fitbit-style devices that can generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count, eating more fruit and vegetables and reducing portion size.

Those increasing their exercise by taking part in organised events such as parkruns or walking to school or work may accumulate extra points in the app.

Under plans being discussed before the scheme's planned launch in January, the app could also be used to monitor supermarket spending, rewarding those who cut their calorie intake and buy healthier options.

Participants will collect points for their healthy behaviours, which will unlock rewards that could include gym passes, clothes or food vouchers and discounts for shops, cinema or theme park tickets.

After a competitive tender process, HeadUp has been chosen to deliver the scheme, with GBP3m coming from the Department of Health and Social Care to provide incentives in the pilot.

Evidence suggests financial incentives can improve rates of physical activity and inspire healthier eating. HeadUp will work with a range of organisations to provide rewards such as vouchers, merchandise, discounts and gift cards.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said: "I want to ensure we're doing as much as we can to tackle health disparities across the country, and this new pilot will pave the way for developing innovate ways to improve the lives of individuals, and also help to reduce strain on the NHS.

"The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is driving forward our levelling up agenda for health and ensuring prevention is a vital part of everything we do.

This pilot is an excellent opportunity to find how best to inspire people to make small changes to their daily lives that will have a lasting positive impact on their health."

The UK has one of the worst records for obesity in western Europe, with two in three adults overweight or obese, and one in three children reaching this stage by the time they leave primary school. Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS GBP6bn a year and fuelled death rates from Covid.

Sir Keith Mills, the entrepreneur behind Air Miles and Nectar points, was brought in by ministers to advise on the development of the app. Mills said: "This scheme is a fantastic opportunity to explore how government, business and the third sector can work together to deliver a new and engaging way of supporting the public to make healthier choices.

"Through the pilot we will have exciting and innovative partners on board will help motivate people to want to earn incentives, but also should help them overcome barriers to making healthy decisions in future.

I'm looking forward to see how this scheme develops."

The pilot will launch in January and run for six months in a location in England yet to be decided.

Ministers hope to then roll out the scheme nationally.

Topics Reuse this content