Four Positive News Stories Filled with Community Spirit
James Gill updates us on the inspiring news stories from the past week, and shows us that social justice and community spirit are still rife despite lockdown.
EQUALITY – Making waves in the wellness industry
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MEANINGFUL CHANGE Public interest in racial inequality has piqued, following a series of high profile, racially motivated incidents that have become global news. Where apathy once lived, the public is calling for greater transparency and meaningful change from consumer brands. There is a call to ensure that Black and minority groups are treated fairly and existing roadblocks due to systemic racism are taken into consideration when making products, services and events available. Unfortunately, racial diversity, inclusion and accessibility is not widespread within the wellness industry. Health and wellness have undeniably been linked to privilege and status. We are asking Black and minority wellness practitioners (whether your a registered dietitian to a personal trainer or health coach) to join with us and sign this call to action for Wellness Businesses to commit to our industry-wide racial diversity, inclusion and access charter. LINK IN BIO *We need more than virtue signalling. We need meaningful industry wide change* By encouraging wellness brands to sign-up to this charter we will have a specific framework to hold the industry accountable to – moving away from optical allyship and leaning into action. #wellness #businessofwellness #diversityinwellness #diversityinsports #diversityinnutrition #diversityinfitness #diversityinbeauty #healthandwellness #healthandfitness #blackfitnesswomen #blacknutritionist
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement and increasing attention on the wellness industry, more than 150 Black and minority wellness professionals have rallied together to sign the Wellness Diversity Charter – the first of its kind – calling for actionable change in the UK.
“Systemic racism affects all industries and the wellness sector is no exception,” says Sarah Greenidge, founder of WellSpoken, the organisation that launched the charter. “For too long Black and minority wellness professionals and consumers alike have been disadvantaged by this, whether it’s in the form of a pay gap, not being able to afford wellness products or services, or not seeing themselves represented to the outside world via ad campaigns and social media. Over the last few weeks we have seen many brands make a commitment to tackle the lack of diversity in the wellness industry. While we applaud this first step, for there to be real change we need an industry-wide, unified approach to raise the standard across the sector and we need to see ongoing action. We hope the charter provides a clearer idea of what action to take, for organisations that are in support of change but not sure what their next move is.”
After all, as Gina Obeng, a PT and founder of #Traintoslay, adds: “We’ve been waiting too long for something like this – we need to demand to be treated equally and not as a token gesture, or the designated ‘person of colour’ seated at the table. Getting wellness businesses and brands to commit to change for the long-term would not only improve health outcomes for Black and minority communities but it would be a significant win on this long road to combatting structural and institutional racism within the industry.”
COMMUNITY SPIRIT – Marcus Rashford the hero
I don’t even know what to say.
Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
If you’re not into football but would like a new favourite player as the 2019/20 season finally grinds back into life, then here you go: Marcus Rashford. Not only is the 22-year-old very good at football, but the Manchester United and England ace is clearly a life-affirming human being. A true example of community spirit, the forward has raised £20 million to supply 3 million meals to vulnerable people as a response to the government not extending the free school meal voucher system into the summer.
On writing to the government to ask them to do more, Rashford says: “As many of you know, as lockdown hit and schools were temporarily closed, I partnered with food distribution charity FareShare to help cover some of the free school meal deficit. Food poverty in England is a pandemic that could span generations if we don’t course correct now. Whilst 1.3 million children in England are registered for free school meals, one quarter of these children have not been given any support since the school closures were ordered.
We rely on parents, many of whom have seen their jobs evaporate due to Covid-19, to play substitute teacher during lockdown, hoping that their children are going to be focused enough to learn, with only a small percentage of their nutritional needs met during this period.
This is a system failure and without education we’re encouraging this cycle of hardship to continue. To put this pandemic into perspective, from 2018-2019, nine out of 30 children in any given classroom were living in poverty in the UK. This figure is expected to rise by an additional one million by 2022. In England today, 45% of children in black and minority ethnic groups are now in poverty. This is England in 2020…”
And Rashford adds: “My mum worked full-time, earning the minimum wage, to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table, but it was not enough. The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.”
NEWS JUST IN – he only went and did it, with Downing Street announcing on 16th June that All children eligible for free school meals in term time in England will be able to benefit from the “Covid summer food fund”, for the six-week summer holidays. A true example of the power of a bit of community spirit! And contrarians please note: this behaviour is not uncommon for Rashford. He once learned sign language purely so he could judge a poetry event at a deaf school and launched a campaign to help the homeless.
KINDNESS – Showing compassion during quarantine
Britain is a kinder nation because of lockdown, according to new research. Granted, if you spend 10 minutes on Twitter at the moment, you might disagree; yet this research goes a little deeper than tit for tat spats, and looks instead at the growth in compassion and community spirit that lockdown has played a part in.
More than a third (36 %) of Britons believe they are kinder now compared to pre-lockdown, 92% have carried out acts of kindness throughout lockdown, while just under 9 in 10 (89%) say they’ll continue to be kinder to themselves once lockdown is lifted. This is according to research by global leader in meditation and mindfulness, Headspace.
And there’s more: 17% feel they now have a better work/life balance, more than a quarter (27%) of people have dropped off food for a friend, family member or neighbour and 31% were polite or friendly towards strangers more regularly. As BALANCE has repeatedly said on our podcast: the pandemic is obviously a global tragedy, yet it is possible for some of us to learn and grow from the experience.
Renate Nyborg, General Manager Europe at Headspace, says: “Moments of kindness are a silver lining in the pandemic. Taking time for your mind is a gift for yourself and others – be it five minutes of serenity before homeschooling, a 10-minute stress buster between video calls, a mindful run after lunch or a soothing Sleepcast in bed.”
The study marks the launch of a new partnership between Headspace and health and beauty retailer Boots UK to release exclusive gift cards offering mindfulness and meditation content; these are now available on Boots at £30 for six months’ access to one of four themed mindfulness content collections: Health, Mind, Sleep and Focus.
And Renate adds: “Boots UK has supported households and families with their wellbeing for over 170 years, and working with them to ensure mental health takes its rightful place within the health ecosystem links firmly back to the Headspace mission. In good times and bad times, mental health is for everyone.”
ENTERTAINMENT – The power of music
Introducing our Connecting Stars initiative!
We are offering residents in care homes across the country virtual performances from some of the UK's finest musicians.
In order to keep doing this important work, we need your help: https://t.co/W0mBRuSn9l pic.twitter.com/eZDy4lqhCy
— Constella OperaBallet (@ConstellaOpBal) June 10, 2020
Here is a beautiful coming together of two worlds: the elderly, who are struggling with loneliness, and artists, who are struggling to make ends meet. This Connecting Stars initiative is the brainchild of Constella, the world’s only dedicated opera-ballet company, and sees artists perform virtual one-on-one gigs for the elderly – and getting paid to do so (BALANCE literally wiping away a tear while typing). A true example of how great a bit of community spirit can be for all.
Patron and world-famous bass baritone Sir Willard White CBE says of the idea: “I’m excited to be part of Constella’s commendable work taking world class music to people who are usually unable to access it and hope that everyone will join me in pledging their support.”
And Constella founder, Leo Geyer, adds: “Our ambition is to support as many artists as possible and to channel their talent by giving heart-warming performances to the most vulnerable people in society. We hope that by connecting with one another we will become a beacon of positivity, happiness and unity.”
Connecting Stars will help artists who have worked with the likes of The Royal Opera House, The National Theatre and Glyndebourne, while working with care homes across Britain.