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A Soothing Song and a Relaxing Read

By Marilu Isabelle. March is in full bloom and signals the arrival of two celebrations to light our creative sparks - World Book Day and U.S. Sing with Your Child month. The positive effects of reading (or listening to stories) and singing have been well documented, with both psychological and physiological benefits. In honour of these March celebrations, we shine a light on the hard work UK charitable organisations are doing to provide access to musical opportunities and a joy of reading to children who may be harder to reach because of their circumstances. Doorstep Library This charity “recruits and trains volunteers to go into some of the most disadvantaged areas of London to help introduce children from ages 0-11 to the pleasure of reading and inspire them with it.” Volunteers visit homes reading with children and their families. Since the introduction of the first lockdown they have been providing weekly e-visits. Fairbeats Fairbeats work with refugees, asylum seekers, newly arrived migrants and their families. They “bring people together through music-making and other artistic activities in a way that is creative, relaxed, dynamic and fun.” Coram Beanstalk This national charity train and support volunteers to work in early years, primary and secondary school settings to help children become ‘readers.’ They also equip adults and young people e.g. parents, grandparents, older siblings to ‘do better’ reading at home with their children. Youth Music This national charity invests in music projects to support children and young people aged 0-25, working in particular with “those who don’t get to make music because of who they are, where they live, or what they’re going through.” Bag Books Bag Books provide multi-sensory books and storytelling for people with severe or profound and multiple learning disabilities. Stories are told through voice and emotion rather than words and pictures. Nordoff Robbins Nordoff Robbins is the UK’s largest music therapy charity, trained therapists use music to “enrich the lives of people with life-limiting illness, disabilities or feelings of isolation.” The love of books and music can change lives; from the wonder-years through to the yonder-years, keep exploring and learning as you grow!

You are a Light

By Marilu Isabelle. ‘You are a light’ (Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, John Lewis, 2017) - the first four words taken from a powerful quote by legendary U.S. Civil Rights activist John Lewis. Lewis met Dr King at the young age of 18 years and continued to devote his life to racial equality and justice until his passing last year at age 80. As we near the end of Black History month in the U.S., it’s a time to reflect on how we continue to embed an informed understanding of Black history and use it to actively challenge racial injustice in our daily lives. Whether you’re a long-standing activist or beginning to learn more about Black history and inequality, here are 3 thought-provoking quotes from Lewis to help keep you inspired on your journey: 1. ‘You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light.’ (Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, 2017). Whether we observe or personally experience racism, bias or prejudice, this quote helps us to keep in mind the importance of our individual rights and the rights of others. A key feature in being anti-racist is being able to ‘sit with discomfort, putting courage, compassion and vulnerability over comfort’ (Greater Good Science Center Berkeley 10 Keys to Everyday Anti-Racism). 2. “We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize” (Taken from the speech given during the Selma to Montgomery marches, 1965). As there is still a long way to go before we see effective change against racism in all aspects of our society, it helps to be reminded of the need to persevere and stay determined. 3. “I believe it is possible to come to that point where we create a sense of oneness” (Interview with National Geographic when asked whether a post-racial society was possible). As the youngest and last survivor of the “Big Six” civil rights activists, a statesman, a senator and congressman; Lewis dedicated his entire life to creating a more fair and just society. This quote serves as a hopeful and positive reminder of our destination towards greater racial equality and justice. Learn more about Lewis’ inspirational life in his TEDTalk interview #BlackHistoryMatters

Do Daffodils make you smile?

By Kia Clark. The Daffodil goes by many names. Its botanical name, Narcissus, comes from Greek mythology. Narcissus was a beautiful young man who was tricked into falling in love with his own reflection. He is said to have leant over lakes to see his mirrored face, akin to the Daffodil’s arching stem. But whether you call them Lent Lilies or Daffodilly, the sunshine yellow flower is a sign of new beginnings. "Daffodowndilly" She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: "Winter is dead.” ― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young The first sign of new life, the Daffodil makes its way above ground through wind, rain and snow to see the sun. The flower is strong and resilient, a reminder that even through the darkest of times, positivity can bloom. Have you spotted any sprouting Daffodils yet? While walking is about all we’re able to do right now, why not head out on a search for the green shoots? Country File has compiled a list of Britain’s best daffodil walks, which will be alive with colour come March. Or better yet, grow your own sunshine! Daffodil bulbs can be planted in September or you can buy pre-potted plants at your local garden centre. They thrive just about anywhere, in pots, borders and grass. Colours range from milky white to butter yellow and are guaranteed to brighten balconies, windowsills or flower beds. The Royal Horticultural Society can tell you more about planting your own golden garden. The Daffodil has long inspired artistic minds to bring us poems such as: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, by Wordsworth. When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne. And Paintings like Van Gogh’s: Undergrowth with Two Figures. Perhaps try your hand at some Daffodilly crafts in anticipation of Spring? A paper chain of yellow flowers hung in your window could easily brighten someone’s day! To find out more about Daffodils check out this National Trust article or Country File’s Brief History of British Daffodils. Spring is in the air! (well maybe soon) Sources/external links: Britain’s best daffodil walks, Country File https://www.countryfile.com/go-outdoors/days-out/britains-best-daffodil-walks/ How to grow daffodils, RHS https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/popular/daffodils/growing-guide I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, Poetry Foundation https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45521/i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud Daffodowndilly/When We Were Very Young, All Poetry https://allpoetry.com/Daffodowndilly Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth, Cincinnati Art Museum https://www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org/vangogh Discovering daffodils: stories behind our favourite spring flower, National Trust https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/discovering-daffodils-stories-behind-our-favourite-spring-flower A brief history of British daffodils, Country File https://www.countryfile.com/wildlife/trees-plants/a-brief-history-of-british-daffodils/

St Valentines Day!

By Aaina Chopra. Valentine’s Day is known as a day to express your love and care; mostly saying it with flowers, cards, chocolates or some special treat to say "I love you". Ah, how sweet! Whilst some of you might be celebrating with significant others or having a cosy night in with loved ones, family or a furry best friend; we thought it might be fun to share why this date is globally recognised as the day to celebrate the essence of love! St Valentine's Day The story of Valentine’s day can be traced back to the legend of St. Valentine, but there are several stories of who he was. One of the stories traces back to Saint Valentine to a Roman priest who conducted secret weddings against the wishes of the authorities in the third century and got arrested for doing so. However, other stories trace back the legend of St. Valentine to the Bishop of Terni, who was also known to conduct secret weddings. Many historians have studied the history of Valentine’s Day, but they argue that it is unclear where the story actually came from. There are different origin stories, you can read more about the history of St. Valentine's Day on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2 https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/valentines-day-ideas/a26863/valentines-day-facts/ Valentine’s Day only came to be as we know it today in the Middle Ages. In 1537, England's King Henry VII officially declared Feb. 14 the holiday of St. Valentine's Day. It's association with love was a product of the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer, through his poetry, explored romance stories between members of the nobility and knights. Later other poets, inspired by Chaucer began to write poems – which they called ‘valentines’ – to their love interests. And so, the story of sending Valentines begun… Today Roses, Chocolates, Cards or Dinner out are high on the to-do list for the day. A newer growing trend is for Pet Parents to buy their little furry ones little treats to also say "I wuff you and you are just purrfect". How cute! So what is Galentine's Day? Galentine's Day started when Amy Poehler's character "Leslie Knope" from the Parks and Recreation TV Series said 13th February (Valentine's Day Eve) was a time for her gal-pals to get together and celebrate some "girl-time". Interestingly Galentine's Day is growing in popularity and is fast becoming a strong online shopping search item~ another date for the diaries Ladies! https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/valentines-day-ideas/a30390455/what-is-galentines-day-parks-and-rec/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galentine%27s_Day Singles' Day Singles' Day in China was originally known as Batchelor's Day, a day to celebrate being Single! The 11th November has now become the largest online Shopping event in the world. Alibaba and JD.com had combined sales of over 115Billion (USD) for the eleven day shopping festival in 2020 and keeps hitting new Sales records for each year ~ talk about a mega Shopping frenzy!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singles%27_Day https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/singles-day/ This year might be a slightly different, due to restrictions of the pandemic, however, we hope you are still able to have a positively lovely and amazing day! Love is in the air!

Year of the Ox

By Maya Potter. Strength ~ Determination ~ Steadiness Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is an annual celebration based on the lunar calendar and begins when the new moon rises anywhere between the 21st January and the 20th February. This year the celebration will take place on Friday 12th February. The Chinese calendar rotates in 60 year cycles based on 12 earthly branches, with each year relating to an animal sign. There are also 5 element years — wood, fire, earth, metal and water. This year is the Year of the Metal Ox, for the first time since 1961. The last Year of the Ox was 2009 with the element Earth. Celebrations last for 16 days, starting from Chinese New Year’s Eve and concluding with the Lantern Festival. In preparation for New Year, it is tradition to clean your home and put up red decorations and lanterns. Typically fish and dumplings are served as a family dinner to encourage prosperity in the coming year. It is also a custom for adults to give children red packets containing money, as a symbol of luck. The festival period is usually the world’s largest annual human migration which sees millions of people travelling thousands of miles to get home for New Year celebrations. However this year, with global travel restrictions and lockdowns still in place, here’s some ideas of how to celebrate safely: Cook a delicious Chinese New Year Feast Why not try out some new recipes or recreate your favourite dish at home. Some ideas can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/occasions/chinese_new_year. If cooking isn’t your thing, you can always support your local Chinese restaurant by ordering a takeaway meal too. Make some handmade lantern decorations Get creative and make some decorations to bring the feel of the Lantern Festival to your home. There are lots of easy tutorials to follow, such as: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tRNTx604OIU. Attend a virtual event There are lots of free, virtual events to attend over the Chinese New Year period. The Museum of London has a whole weekend of activities planned, from traditional puppeteering to dragon-mask making: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/families/lunar-new-year-2021. Burgh House in Hampstead will also be running a free online festival later in the month, including live Kung Fu, Chinese calligraphy as well as arts and crafts: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/burgh-house-chinese-new-year-online-celebration-tickets-136948030245. If you are celebrating the Spring Festival this year, we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year and Happy Year of the Ox!

Love isn't cancelled!

By Hayley Brennan. It’s that time of year again, when we start thinking about all things lovey dovey! Buying roses by the dozen, writing soppy cards and letting that special person know just how much we love and appreciate them. With ‘Gift for him’, ‘Gift for her’ and ‘Engagement rings’ among the most popular current online searches; Valentine’s Day will no doubt hold an extra special meaning to those couples making the ultimate commitment this year. How exciting! And from the moment you become engaged, your imagination goes into overdrive! The dress, the bridesmaids, that venue you’ve always had your heart set on, the favours, the wedding breakfast, the guests. The list is endless! It’s such an exciting time for a couple; just starting to make plans and embark on that journey together. But, understandably, the last year or so has been quite a different experience for engaged couples. Presenting challenges in every country, culture and industry; with the wedding sector being no exception. But rather than being disheartened, let’s find the positives! After all, love isn’t cancelled :-) So whether you are newly engaged and planning, or you’ve postponed your big day, or you’ve decided to compromise on a micro wedding, here are some reasons to stay optimistic: ● You can restart your countdown! Remember the excitement when you started that first countdown to your big day? Well you get to relive that experience! Count-down the days on a calendar, or download an app on your phone. ● You have more time to grow out your lockdown hair! If your other half/ turned lockdown hairdresser cut your hair a bit shorter/ wonkier than you’d planned, it’s okay because postponing your big day means more time to grow it out! You can grow it, nourish it and have beautiful locks by the time your wedding comes round. ● You can take some time out from the wedding planning and de-stress. Planning is stressful at the best of times and with many couples facing numerous changes to their original plan, it’s important to take time out to reassess and de-stress. Reschedule things, then take a step back. Take a break from emails and wedmin to take care of yourself. ● Compromising doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, altering your plans could make you reassess the most important factors of your wedding day. (Spoiler alert: It’s not the shoes/ cake/ favours. It’s the people you love the most that make the day special) ● Remember why you’re doing it. You’re either postponing or having a micro wedding for the health and safety of your guests. It doesn’t get more important than that. Give yourselves credit for making such difficult decisions at such a difficult time, for the best possible reasons. ● It shows the strength of your relationship. Having to create wedding plans from plan A.. right through to plan Z...shows what a team you are! You can have those challenging, planning conversations and you both make it work, together. That’s marriage material right there! ● Personally, this year has offered a great deal of perspective on life and love. Allow yourself time to reflect on your own journey so far. Rediscover what is important to you and your other half and what you both want from the future. Times are challenging right now, but they will get better. Write a list of your shared dreams and goals to look back on when you’re married. Cheers to you and your partner; you’ve got this :-)

Black History Month Matters

By Aaina Chopra. Whilst every day should be dedicated to fighting racial injustice and inequity in this world. There are key times of the year that brings focus, learning and sharing about Black History that can be celebrated. The month of February (USA) and October (UK) are considered an extra special time to read, understand and appreciate more about Black History and how it is inherently embedded in society today; and where we still see the very real need for radical changes of mindsets, systems and behaviours. Here are Positive Bunch’s five recommendations for you to watch or read this Black History Month: 1. “The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Race, Gender and the Origins of the L.A. Riots” by Brenda Stevenson. This book effectively explores the concept of intersectionality by exploring the different roles that race, class and social status have. The 199s L.A. Riots are a pivotal moment in American history, making this a must-read book this Black History Month. https://bookshop.org/books/the-contested-murder-of-latasha-harlins-justice-gender-and-the-origins-of-the-la-riots/9780190231019 2. “Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter” by Shani King. Aimed at educating children, this book is equally important for adults, to celebrate Black accomplishments throughout history. This includes accomplishments in art, politics, literature and medicine. The book is a perfect read for any young person, but an equally good read for any adults who want to know more about the exemplary achievements of Black people throughout history. https://www.amazon.com/Have-Ever-Black-Lives-Matter/dp/0884488896 3. “13th” on Netflix. This documentary explores race, justice and mass incarceration by looking at how the American prison system disproportionately affects African Americans. Touching on important historical moments, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the documentary focuses on the nation’s history of deep racial inequality. https://www.netflix.com/ae-en/title/80091741 4. “Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights” by Tananarive Due and Patricia Stephens Due. This award-wining book is a powerful memoir of Patricia Stephens Due’s own experience as a civil rights activist, exploring her commitment to the cause and her hope for the future. An amazing read! https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/43433/freedom-in-the-family-by-tananarive-due-and-patricia-stephens-due/ 5. “When They See Us” on Netflix. This series is based on the real-life story of the Central Park Five, as group of Black and Latinx teenagers who were convicted wrongly of rape and assault in the 1990s. The series explores the disadvantage that people of colour have experienced in the very flawed American justice system. https://www.netflix.com/ae-en/title/80200549 Learn, share & celebrate!

2021 and the simple things!

By Tiah Harrison. Congratulations! You made it to 2021. I know, you’re wondering if it will be any better? We here at Positive Bunch like to… well think Positive! Each day has been a lot. Truly, but we're here with something that we hope will uplift your spirits for at least an hour or two each day. So, as this is being written, it's looking like we should only be leaving home for food, complete necessities and close proximity exercising. That’s fair due to where we're at right now, we couldn’t expect anything more. BUT, I promised something uplifting right. Reading. Some of you might be feeling like this was a bit of an anti-climax. Hear me out. In a time where we can’t escape what’s going on, literally and physically, what better way to escape than through a book? Whether you’re transported to the snowy fields of Winterfell, or the booming and aromatic markets of Lagos, or even the smog filled streets of London (in a time where COVID isn’t even a word), just make sure you’ve been taken to a land far far away. Distraction is a necessity right now and can be used as a healthy coping mechanism. For anyone that hasn’t ventured into the pages of a book for a while, you might need some direction. You’ll want some kind of encouragement and assistance. For you and anyone else that’s interested, there are book clubs. Something that might once have been associated with stay at home parents/partners and school children, is now becoming much more popular thanks to online video meets. (shout out to anyone has shares in Zoom!) These are some book clubs that might tickle your fancy. (Try it, you might like it) Reese Witherspoon's Book Club #RWBookClub Now disclaimer: this is more of a reading list than a club, but can be a good place to start if you need help. Reese posts the books on her social media accounts and her followers have a hearty conversation in the comments. All of Reese’s selections have a woman at the centre of the story. Why not pick up a selection and join the conversation? The Guardian’s Reading Group https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/reading-group More interactive than Reese’s, you can put your suggestions to publisher Sam Jordison on the first Tuesday of every month and they will host an online discussion around the book's origins and often with the book's author. Titles vary from literary classics like Dickens, to modern reads like a Brief History of Seven Killings. OKHA online/ PRIM @Prim.black Labelled as a platform for storytelling, OKHA or PRIM host events and discussions on arts composed by Black African, Carribean, Afro-Latinx, Trans, Queer and Non-binary writers. With lockdown, they’ve moved to having online discussions with live author Q&A’s. Good Reads Book Club https://www.goodreads.com/ They have a lot of clubs so you’re bound to find your tribe here and pick up a few along the way. If you read our last few articles of the year, there was a running theme of enjoying the simple pleasures. This is one of them. Princess Diana's Book Diana: Her True Story - In Her Own Words: The Sunday Times Number-One Bestseller By Andrew Morton This Book has nearly gone completely out of stock around the world since the airing of The Crown Season 4! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4786824/?ref_=ttep_ep_tt 25th Anniversary Edition, where has the time gone... Princess Diana will always remain timeless and one of the most beautiful souls to us all! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diana-Story-Sunday-Number-One-Bestseller/dp/1782437444 So whether you prefer hardbacks, paperbacks or ebooks, taking yourself away within the pages of a book is a great way to spend time; just for you! Happy reading friends!

Better Together!

By Maya Potter. This week’s Spotlight News is illuminating the inspiring work of a charity called, The Together Project. The Together Project’s mission is to bring people of different generations together, focusing on fun and friendship. Loneliness has been a frequently used word over the past 12 months, with the Covid-19 pandemic limiting our interaction and socialisation with family and friends, and is affecting more people than ever. Older people can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation which can have a serious impact physical and mental health [1]. At the beginning of November 2020, 6.1 million people aged 60 and over said that they were feeling lonely [2]. Reducing loneliness and improving general wellbeing is at the heart of what The Together Project do and their activities are designed to tackle ageism and integrate communities. The intergenerational activities take place across the UK, bringing together people of different ages who may not normally meet, with a vision to encourage multi-age friendships across the nation. ‘Songs and Smiles’ is one of the activities run by The Together Project, bringing together pre-school children with care home and sheltered housing residents through weekly music sessions. Originally launching in London in 2017, the groups now run across the country, bringing joy and uniting hundreds of people. Due to Covid-19, these sessions have been unable to take place in person, however January 2021 saw the launch of ‘Virtual Songs and Smiles’ in 12 care homes across the UK, so the fun can continue safely. Another way people of different ages have connected over these difficult past months has been through the ‘Hand in Hand Together’ project. Children and care home residents have been getting creative and making handprint pictures to send to each other and sharing their stories. The activity has already linked over 400 people from multiple generations across the UK and beyond. It is clear that the work of The Together Project is valuable to so many. The activities are improving general wellbeing and creating positive connections, benefitting people both young and old. The Together Project are doing amazing work and their success proves that we are better when we are together (even if that means virtually for the time being)! Find out more: https://www.thetogetherproject.co.uk Sources [1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/loneliness-in-older-people/ [2] https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/articles/2020/11/loneliest-christmas-yet/ We are all in this together!

The new year of you!

By Megan Hall. It’s mid-January and maybe you’ve already given up on your New Year’s resolutions? Don’t worry we’ve all been there… Like many other people, I always set myself new year’s resolutions and normally I fail (like many other people). However, I have discovered some tips, that actually work, to help you actually achieve your goals this year! Start small This may seem counter-active but trust me, in the long term this method works best. If you set one massive goal to achieve this can be difficult to stick too and your resolutions are probably going to fail. Instead set an overall year goal but small sets to start with. For example, if your goal is to be healthier, this is a very vague resolution – there are many aspects of your life which you can change to be healthier. Start by setting smaller goals if you want to have a healthier diet, why not start by eating more fruit and veg, or if you want to be fitter, aim to do a home workout three times a week. Then once you’ve achieved these smaller goals you can reassess and set your next goals which will bring you closer to your overall New Year’s resolution of being healthier! The same can be applied to any New Year’s resolution – aim big but start small! Review every 3 months As mentioned above it’s best to start small with your New Year resolutions but to ensure you achieve your big goal it’s important to review and reassess. Also, the goals you set in January are going to be different to ones you might set in August – as we have learned from 2020 a lot can change in a year! I have started reviewing my new year resolutions every 3 months which I have found useful to make sure I achieve my goals. I write the date in my calendar to make sure I remember to do this and then I edit or adjust my goals if needed. If I am struggling to achieve one of my goals, I would adjust it to make it easier or look at why I’m not achieving it and assess if I can change anything to achieve this! You can review your resolutions weekly, monthly or every 6 months, depending on your lifestyle – the most important thing is that you review them throughout the year! Write them down To help you take your Resolutions seem more seriously, write them down! Once they are written down, they will change from thoughts to aims and aspirations which will hopefully motivate you to achieve them! You can make them into a pretty list, jot them down on scrap paper or type them up – whichever you prefer. The important thing is that you have a written or visual copy of them. Also having a written version of your resolutions will help with reviewing them and tracking your progress. Be persistent and be determined So now you’ve set your resolutions and written them down, it’s important to follow them! The main thing is to be resilient – there will be times that you don’t achieve your resolutions straight away. Especially with lockdowns, tiers and restrictions carrying on into the New Year, there may be obstacles in the way that you cannot avoid at times but don’t let this stop you – maybe pause your resolutions but as soon as you can, start following them again. If you need to set even smaller goals for lockdown times and re-start when you can. The main thing is – don’t give up! Be kind to yourself Lastly, it’s important to be kind to yourself with your resolutions! Resolutions should be things to make you feel better or things you want to improve on, but they don’t need to be a complete personality change for you. You’re doing great as you are! Use your resolutions to have a positive impact on yourself. Also, if you are finding any of your resolutions tough to stick to, that’s okay! It’s not easy to make changes, take some time to reflect and potentially adjust your goals so they are more achievable. Hopefully these top tips will help you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2021! Happy 2021!!

2020 ~ what a year!

By Maya Potter. During December it is natural to look back over the events of the past twelve months and what a year it has been! 2020 certainly did not turn out as we had all hoped for and planned... it had us scrambling to buy face masks, using hand sanitizer by the gallon and experiencing lockdown for the first time; and those are the lucky ones. To date, there has been 78.3 million* reported cases worldwide and very, very tragically, 1.7 million people have lost their lives. Our emergency and health care services have been pushed well over their limits and we all now know what a global pandemic looks and feels like... It has been a year like no other and everyone has had a different experience of Coronavirus, which still continues to impact our everyday lives. 2020 is the year that everyone around the world, shared a common-lived experience; fighting COVID. However, as we near the end of the year, we can reflect on the positivity that has shone through this difficult time. Community Spirit An increased sense of community has been one of the few constants throughout 2020. The Thursday night ritual of households bringing their pots, pans and noise makers to front doorsteps and balconies to show appreciation for carers, NHS staff and key workers, united people across the nation. Many households admitted that they had never spoken to their neighbours before the clapping custom began. Togetherness and solidarity have definitely been one of the silver linings this year and strong communities have been formed. Supporting Others Raising money and contributing to fundraising efforts; doing a food shop for an elderly neighbour; volunteering to help those who are vulnerable; or reaching out to someone who lives alone, are just some of the examples of how people have supported each other. These gestures of kindness have made a huge difference this year. Neighbours, colleagues, friends and family have been there for one another when it mattered the most. The Simple Things Lockdown gave some of us no choice but to slow down from our usual hectic routines. However, it did provide the opportunity to appreciate the simple aspects of life that can get overlooked day-to-day. Whether it was having time to learn new skills; the freedom to explore nature or finding value in new hobbies, this year has allowed us to take some time for ourselves, away from the noise of daily life, and focus our attentions differently. Although 2020 has been an extremely challenging year [and could be called 'the year of the Face mask'] and one that we will be pleased to see the end of, we can choose to take the positive aspects of the year into 2021. Maintaining a strong community spirit; supporting one another and appreciating the smaller things in life are all things we can continue into the new year. Wishing you all a safe and Merry Christmas; and a healthy and Happy New Year! * Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Angels of Positive Change!

By Aaina Chopra. Today we are shining the spotlight on an amazing organisation called Vitamin Angels. Vitamin Angels have a very special and vitally important mission: to improve health for vulnerable mothers and children. Most of us probably include taking vitamins to help support or improve our health on a daily basis. We have relatively easy access to many different types, formulas and brands that we probably take it for granted. For many in developing countries, access to essential vitamins and nutrients can be scarce, non-existent or unaffordable. There are many major deficiencies that if addressed at an early age can stop major life-threatening illnesses, developmental and growth issues. Ensuring everyone receives a chance at a healthy life is at the core of what Vitamin Angels do and thus their projects focus on limiting the impact of malnutrition through the use of vitamins. They currently work in 70 counties and deliver vitamins to millions of mothers and children. Their work ensures that mothers and children are supported, allowing them to have long-lasting good health. They do this through the delivery of vitamins, such as prenatal multivitamins and vitamin A, as well as through projects which promote nutrition and safer breastfeeding. Vitamin Angels is so important due to the vital role they play in filling the gaps. Whilst most governments provide health and nutrition services, often limited resources mean they cannot provide for everyone. That is where Vitamin Angels comes in, they aim to fill the gap and provide health and nutrition services to women and children who may have otherwise been excluded. They, therefore, provide services that complement and are coordinated with existing national health services. This is particularly important in developing states, where we can see that 30% of people do not have access to national health services. The method that Vitamin Angels uses is a unique, sustainable one because they ensure they build local supply chains and work with local non-profits to distribute the vitamins. Additionally, they ensure that the projects are locally funded and managed, meaning they are tailored specifically to the needs of the local communities. The work Vitamin Angels are doing is exemplary and life-changing for many! Find out more: https://www.vitaminangels.org/ A positively amazing cause!

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