5 positive news stories to bring light to the darkest of times
In light of all the bad news surrounding us, James Gill brings us five positive stories to give us hope and drive us forwards.
GOOD NEWS – The Power of Positivity
A Good News story within a Good News round-up? Have we been watching The Matrix too much in lockdown? Well, this comes in the form of something positive catching a very big break indeed. That’s because John Krasinski’s beloved Some Good News show – which has proved a low-budget smash on YouTube – has been sold to ViacomCBS in a big-money move. The star of the US Office, horror hit A Quiet Place and the Jack Ryan TV series had struck big with his endearingly lo-fi feelgood show, which has clocked up millions of views in just a couple of months.
After all, people need good news during a global Panny D. But with Krasinski stepping aside to make way for a new host due to his busy schedule, he explains: “I have these other things that I’m going to be having to do very soon, like Jack Ryan. More than that, writing, directing and producing – all those things – with a couple of my friends, was so much.” And he adds: “I knew that it wouldn’t be sustainable with my prior commitments. I would love to keep doing the show from my office forever, but it wasn’t sustainable… I’ve received the most amazingly kind notes about how much that show meant to everyone, but the truth is, it meant no more to anyone than me,” he said. “That’s probably the most emotionally fulfilled I’ve ever felt in my entire life.” Wow, just imagine that – a small team of people working hard to deliver something positive and uplifting, only to land a big-money deal so they can keep spreading their message to a much bigger audience. Incredible and it really makes you think. Anyway… if you’d like to work with BALANCE, please drop our commercial team a line at email@example.com
VOLUNTEER – Upside to lockdown
Being furloughed sounds great in theory – “Wait, I get paid to not work? Yes please!” – but we’ve all experienced or heard of stories of mental health taking a decline; the first few days are pleasant, but once you’ve essentially stared out of a window beyond the first two weeks, the devil tends to make work for idle hands. And that’s where the frankly incredible Furlonteer comes in. The site is a place where furloughed workers can sign up for remote volunteer opportunities for charities and good causes; charities signed up so far include UN Women, Duty to Care, Nourish Britain, Meals for the NHS, The Big Give and UK Community Network, helping elderly and vulnerable people who are self-isolating.
The initiative was conceived via a Zoom curry and catch-up between Hamish Shephard, co-founder of Hello Fresh and founder of Bridebook, Rosie Shephard, founder of the Luxury Communications Council and Sam Tasker-Grindley, Director at accounting firm RSM UK. Sam explains: “Furlonteer.com was born from a simple idea: we realised that so many causes need help, while at this time so many people want to help them, and have time to do so. We decided to bring them together. The novelty of being furloughed has worn off for many, and we’ve had an incredible response so far with a huge number of skilled and talented people willing to volunteer, either in charities or to help create the Furlonteer.com team. Using digital platforms like Zoom, it’s amazing to see a group of strangers in lockdown with a common passion coming together, combining their expertise to create a movement like Furlonteer.com within days. We’re growing and excited to see what the future holds, both for Furlonteer.com and for the charities we’re able to help.”
SCIENCE – Bask in Robbins
There is a line in the frankly beautiful John Cleese film Clockwise that goes: “It’s not the despair. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.” And that probably sums up how we all feel whenever we read about yet another potential breakthrough in the war on coronavirus. And so we write this fingers crossed: researchers at the University of Oxford (and, given the antics of certain former Oxford graduates of late, the fabled institution could do with the positive PR right now) have teamed up with clinical collaborators from NHS hospitals to trial a new drug – funded by LifeArc – aimed at combating the C-word. The aim of the drug is to raise oxygen levels in the blood of COVID-19 patients with a view to helping overall blood flow.
“We know that almitrine can increase oxygen levels in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome by constricting the blood vessels in regions of the lung where the oxygen is low,” explains lead researcher Professor Peter Robbins. “We want to see if almitrine will also have this effect in COVID-19 patients.” And Professor Robbins adds: “If almitrine can add to the overall effectiveness of respiratory support, then the hope is that clinicians will need to mechanically ventilate fewer patients, and that they will be able successfully to support more seriously ill patients throughout the course of their illness. People can recover from COVID-19 in the same way that they recover from other viral illnesses. That’s by fighting off the virus with the body’s normal defence mechanisms. But if the lung becomes so damaged that blood just doesn’t pick up enough oxygen, then the body never gets the chance to finish the job and the patient dies from the low level of oxygen. So, what we are really trying to do with supportive therapy is help the patient to continue to function whilst their body fights off the infection in the normal way.”
PARENTING – Making a splash
If you’d always dreamed that your baby would be the new Rebecca Adlington (or, in reality, simply a bit more comfortable in water) then help is at hand. That’s because Water Babies, the world’s leading baby swim school, is starting free live daily sessions for parents and babies from today (1 June). Granted, it’s incredibly unlikely that you have a swimming pool (ours is currently getting cleaned… please know this is a joke), yet these activities will prove the next best thing to getting your little one into the water.
aul Thompson, founder of Water Babies, says: “Parents with young children, especially newborns, are always at risk of feeling isolated and now so more than ever. While we’re unable to run our swim sessions as normal at the moment, we wanted to use our fantastic network of relationships and brilliant Water Babies squad to offer fun, engaging, helpful activities for parents and their babies to help them stay connected and learning. It’s open to all and we can’t wait to get started.” And Dr Amanda Gummer, psychologist and founder of goodplayguide.com, adds: “It’s normal for new parents to feel isolated and activities such as swimming are beneficial to parents as well as children. In the current lockdown, parental isolation is even more of an issue so, it’s great to see opportunities for parents to interact digitally and gain the support and advice they are after, to help them feel less alone and more confident in their own abilities as a parent.” Tune into Water Babies Live Sessions at 2pm daily on Zoom, Instagram and Facebook. Details and the daily schedule can be found on the website.
PROTEST – Mike drop
Right, BALANCE is obviously not suggesting we all get together and lob a supermarket trolley through a window. We are not saying that. But we are saying that if you are to find a positive in what is happening right now, then it’s that standing up to power and oppression can be a good thing. In the US, protests continue to rage, while over here in Britain keyworkers staged a silent protest outside No10 Downing Street during the final Clap For Carers on 27 May.
As anyone who’s watched rolling news this weekend can attest, protests can obviously turn sour and spill over into something unsavoury; yet, at the same time, great people are being heard. Take Killer Mike; the US rapper and activist delivered a memorably powerful speech in the wake of the death of George Floyd, when he appealed: “We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes, because if we lose Atlanta, what else do we have? If we lose Atlanta, what else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize and to properly mobilize. I want you to go home. I want you to talk to 10 of your friends. I want you guys to come up with real solutions. It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It’s time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs.” If you would like to get involved, there are ways in which you can help: visit blacklivesmatters.carrd.co to find out more.