Good news stories to brighten up your week
In these hard times, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye out for the good news. From an extra button here and there to a surge in local community good deeds, James Gill takes a look at some of the positivity surrounding us this week.
FASHION – Sew good
Estelle Williams is product director with one of the most coveted fashion brands on the planet (we won’t name the company, but whenever you’ve seen that A-lister rocking that stunning dress at the Oscars? Bet your bottom dollar this fashion house is behind it). And so when Estelle’s mum was hospitalised with coronavirus, she knew she could do something, and tells BALANCE: “During mum’s time in hospital, she met a nurse called Alice who was wearing a headband which was made by the mother (a woman who goes by the sobriquet of Granny Smith) of a colleague called Katie Southwell. As we have all heard on the news, hospitals are short of PPE and a lot of them are having to wear ‘over the ear’ masks. These seem to be hurting them – a lot. Granny Smith decided to make head bands with buttons at the sides, where the straps can be attached, instead of their ears. I contacted Katie and said that I would like to help.” And so Head Bands For Heroes was born, with Estelle and Jude Paternoster – a friend who works in communications – setting up sewing bees in order to create the comfier option on a much wider scale.
“I’ve organised and recruited the teams, sourced fabric and trims, supplied the pattern and so on, while Jude is in charge of the communications and fundraising,” explains Estelle. “We have 37 of us on board for sewing, and our team keeps growing. It started with colleagues and ex-colleagues, then friends and family. Now our team is spread out all over the country. The first batch of around 350 headbands were collected on Friday (17 April). So in just over a week of starting this, we’ve done well. We will then be sending them to Warwick (where Estelle’s mum thankfully recently checked out) and Coventry hospital. After this we are starting to distribute to other hospitals, with requests for them coming in thick and fast. It is amazing, but we need this production line to be moving even quicker. Now we have done a first round, we know how to manage the machine.” To find out more and donate, visit the gofundme page and follow the team on Instagram @head_bands_for_heros #Headbandsforheros
FOOTBALL – Roman reigns
There is a quote in the frankly underrated Batman Begins: “It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” And so proves the case with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has emerged as one of the – dare we say it, unlikely – heroes of the global pandemic. After all, we Britons don’t always associate Russian oligarchs with heart-swelling acts of generosity. And so kudos to Abramovich for shushing any doubters (including the person writing this piece!).
In March, Abramovich effectively handed over Chelsea’s Millennium Hotel to NHS staff, offering free accommodation to help those working shifts. And now he’s doubled down, opening the Copthorne Hotel and its 160 rooms. The west London club is also offering 78,000 meals for health and social care workers. “The meals, which are free of charge, are being prepared by our catering partner Levy and distributed daily for an initial period of six weeks, with 13,000 meals per week given,” says the club. “The initiative is aimed at helping NHS staff who are working long shifts and therefore may find it difficult to obtain good-quality food on a regular basis, and also forms part of our continued effort to support the most vulnerable in our community during the global coronavirus pandemic.” No wonder manager Frank Lampard was positively beaming with admiration. The Blues icon says: “I am very proud to be manager of this club and the way Chelsea have handled it. They were very quick to respond to help with the hotel, and a lot more of the work they have done with the foundation. Links up, getting in touch with fans, putting tutorials on. There are a lot of people at Chelsea who have stood up and put in a lot of good work.” Perhaps one to remember the next time we’re all allowed back into grounds. Chelsea, you sense, may get a deservedly warmer reception moving forward.
ALCOHOL – Putting the think into drink
If you’ve been boozing your way through the lockdown, help could be at hand. That’s because scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina have located the specific region of the brain that could control binge drinking. In Britain, the concept of binge drinking has often been seen as a spot of harmless boozy fun, yet the health impact can be hugely damaging on both mind and body, and may even lead to alcohol dependency. “Binge drinking is a destructive behaviour,” says JR Haun, part of the research team. “And our goal was to curb that. Through our investigation, we found a brain region and a system that we can manipulate to decrease binge drinking.” Research shows that by turning off kappa opioid receptors in the brain, the desire to binge drink goes away. And Haun admits: “It’s not entirely clear why. But what we do know is that kappa opioid receptors play an important role in the negative emotional state that drives drinking when it becomes compulsive in alcohol use disorders.”
COMMUNITY – Smells like team spirit
A surge in community spirit during a nationwide lockdown might seem utterly paradoxical. Yet that is proving the case across Britain, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) – with more than two thirds believing people are doing more good deeds since the outbreak. Much of the surge in positivity is thanks to technology, with street WhatsApp groups being set up, as well as online support groups and seemingly endless Zoom chats. It means neighbours are looking out for each other, staying in touch and, more often than not, communicating for the first time. And, if you can’t be bothered to go to the shops to help that elderly neighbour across the road, think of it in selfish terms: doing good deeds is good for you and has a positive impact on wellbeing; the feel-good chemicals dopamine and endorphins can get a much-needed outing. It’s worth bearing in mind the next time Agnes at No158 asks if you could possibly please get her some washing up liquid.
SOCIETY – 100 not out
With BALANCE’s Good News section, we traditionally focus on stories that might have a profound impact on society as a whole, rather than what can feel like a local story. For example, a man walking lengths of his garden wouldn’t normally be the sort of thing we’d cover. However, Captain Tom Moore is no ordinary man and, given how the 99-year-old has captured the hearts and minds of people across the planet, his feats have proved the uplifting tonic we’ve all craved. The war hero has so far clocked up more than £20 million for NHS Charities Together by walking 100 lengths of his garden, and he says: “I say thank you very much indeed. I appreciate it because the object for which we’re donating is so important and so necessary. You’re all so kind and thoughtful contributing to this cause.” The fact that the NHS needs to be reliant on a 99-year-old to fundraise on such an epic scale is perhaps for another time, yet the Yorkshireman’s achievements continue to have a wonderfully unifying effect as Britain needs it most. A coronavirus-themed film seems a certainty at some point, and Tom’s tale could well be one to make it to the big screen. We’re opting for Jim Broadbent for the lead role. Oh, and make a note in your diary: Captain Tom turns 100 on 30 April. It’s one birthday we probably shouldn’t miss.
Have you heard of a story that you think we should include in Good News? Email deputy editor James Gill at email@example.com