Good news stories to kick-start your week
Each week, we unearth the best positive news stories to help you cut through the noise and negativity, in order to see the brighter side of life. From an ingenious “clap counter”, to much-needed job creation, this week, James Gill reports on the latest good news from around the world.
DIGITAL – Thank you, NHS
We’ve all, by now, posted something positive online about the NHS and key workers while privately thinking, “Are they even going to see this?” It can feel like the digital equivalent of writing undeliverable letters. Well, that’s all changed now thanks to an ingenious “clap counter” that will target NHS workers. The campaign will target major hotspots for COVID-19 patients and their carers, across screens and electronic billboards at places such as University College Hospital, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Bristol Royal Infirmary and several others across London and the UK. Many of our messages of positivity that have been posted across social media have been aggregated and can be seen here. Since 8pm on 26 March, there have been just under 700,000 digital displays of gratitude for the NHS, with the number ever-growing. And, now that you know these messages will be better-seen by NHS workers, hopefully, that figure will skyrocket.
“The UK public as a whole has already responded magnificently to the need of the NHS,” says Ellie Orton, Chief Executive of NHS Charities. “Public shows of thanks such as the 8pm ‘Clap for our Carers’ campaign and the rush to volunteer provide an enormous amount of motivational and emotional support to NHS and care workers at this difficult time. We hope that with the launch of ThankYouNHS.online we can also display the digital support for the NHS and use this to further communicate to care workers that we recognise and are thankful for their vital contribution.” What’s more, the site offers the chance to donate to NHS Charities Covid-19 Urgent Appeal fund or you can even click to volunteer via the Royal Voluntary Service.
CAMPAIGN – Arms wide Open
It’s hard not to think of Bob Hoskins’ impassioned “Touch of the Dunkirk spirit” speech from the denouement of The Long Good Friday, given the way various businesses and individuals have rallied round to launch Open Kitchen. And you can get involved too (more on that in a bit). With restaurant kitchens closed across the UK, a donation of £1.85 will be enough to provide a restaurant-quality meal to key workers and those in need. “What’s great about our model is the simplicity,” explains Alex Grundy, managing director of Open Kitchens. “We’re tapping into latent surplus capacity across two main pillars in the eco-system, that’s kitchens (supply of meals) and drivers/vehicles (distribution) lying dormant right across the UK. Our platform connects the supply, distribution and demand (charities and vulnerable individuals), real-time by leveraging technology and an army of goodwill from our team of volunteers. The pilot in Nottingham has been a huge success and we’ve had some amazing words of appreciation, we’ve delivered 3,000 meals and our funding has gone from £200 a day to £4,000 a day, now at a total of £30,000, that’s over 16,000 meals and without any pro-active marketing. We are now at a point to scale nationally. We have restaurants (plus distribution and beneficiaries) on stand-by which are ready to cook free meals, but it’s all dependent on donations coming in at £1.85 per meal, so the more traction we are able to get, the more people we can help.”
Adam Roberts, founder of online restaurant guide Go dine, has been a driving force behind Open Kitchen, and adds: “With a client-base made up almost exclusively of restaurants, we knew via the front line, and from the knock-on effect on our business, just how severe the impact of Coronavirus was going to be within days of social distancing measures coming into play. In searching for a point of reassurance for everyone involved, we came to realise that the facilities these restaurants already have in place offer huge potential for social good in a climate of isolation and food shortages. To get the idea off the ground as quickly as possible, we got the word out to as many organisations as we could think of in order to pool resources and the response from all angles so far has been phenomenal. Now we are putting everything we have into raising the funds required to get these kitchens up and running.”
TECHNOLOGY – Flights of fancy
Drones have had a bad rap, and perhaps with some justification: the unmanned flying crafts have invariably been portrayed as weapons of death in modern-day war films (Eye In The Sky is worth a watch if you’re looking for an entertaining lockdown movie. It has Dame Helen Mirren AND drones: what more do you people want?!), or are perceived a potential invasion of privacy (drones appeared in South Park’s satirical crosshairs in an outstanding season 14 episode Magic Bush). So it’s hard not to feel a pang of warmth towards the robotic rascals given they could be used to efficiently deliver test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) nationwide. With a £2.6 million fund being put together by the UK Space Agency to better utilise cutting-edge technology to help the NHS in response to the ongoing pandemic, professor Tony Young of the NHS national clinical lead for innovation, says: “This is a global crisis that would overwhelm any health service on earth without strong action from the public and their public services, which is why the NHS is looking to industries across the world – or indeed from out of this world – for new and exciting innovations that could help improve the care we provide to patients or help the NHS respond to this pandemic.”
BUSINESS – The power of positivity
Social-venture start-ups might seem like a pleasant concept but, beyond helping people, are they really bringing much to the table from an economic perspective? The answer, according to fascinating new research from Australia and Sweden, is a resounding YES. And, given the parlous state of businesses and employment across the world due to you-know-what, it’s something to bear as we look to the future. “It has long been acknowledged that the entry and growth of new firms contribute a large share of job creation in most countries,” explains Professor Martin Obschonka, Director of Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research. “Social venture start-ups, however, are mostly celebrated for their worth in helping the disadvantaged or solving social concerns – their role in job creation has not really been considered. Yet using an established method for tracking direct and indirect job creation effects across 67 regions in Sweden over an eight-year period from start-up entry into the marketplace, our findings show the average job creation effect per firm was larger for social start-ups than for their commercial counterparts. Job creation is often a major focus of the social mission of these start-ups, especially for marginalised groups including people with disabilities and long-term unemployed individuals.”
NATURE – Whale meet again
There is much to admire about Iceland: the multi-party system of governance is said to work well, there’s the stunning scenery, that irresistible run at Euro 2016 (yes, at the expense of England) while the people, based on BALANCE’s experience, probably won’t keel over from stress any time soon. Yet there is one blot on the copybook: whaling. However, it has been announced that no whales will be killed in 2020 – and that could remain the case indefinitely. Firstly, social distancing makes hunting incredibly difficult while – and this almost goes without saying – hunting whales is simply not a good look. “I’m never going to hunt whales again,” says Gunnar Jonsson of IP Utgerd, Iceland’s main whaling company. “I’m stopping for good.” The world will now turn to the two remaining countries who continue to hunt whales: Japan and Norway.
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