5 Inspiring News Stories From This Week
From student action to combating air pollution, James Gill updates us on the inspiring news stories from the past week.
MENTAL HEALTH – A cut above the rest
This is the sort of Good News story where, upon reading, you might say out loud to yourself: “Genius.”
That’s because The Lions Barber Collective has teamed up with the NHS, Health Education England and the South West Mental Health Clinical Network in order to train hairdressers to give them the skills to better the mental health of their clients. After all, your hairdresser can be someone you really find yourself opening up to.
The Lions Barber Collective is an international collection of top barbers who have joined forces to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide and, as founder Tom Chapman explains: “We are more than just a barber or hairdresser. These last few months have been incredibly challenging for all of us. We have all been having our own experiences of emotions and if you have been feeling it, so have our clients. As The Lions Barber Collective we feel a sense of duty to help prepare the industry in some way for these conversations they will be having and our BarberTalk training can help prepare them. The hair industry is accessible to most with no stigma and on every high street from the biggest city to the smallest village and we truly care about those who sit in our chair. We help, for some, we may be their only human contact and we even save lives. We face a new way in which we as hairstylists will have to work within our businesses. We are keen to get back to providing a service and do this in a safe way. I am in contact with my clients about what measures I will be taking when cutting their hair, which includes the wearing of a face covering to reduce the risk of infection.”
What an inspiring yet simple idea – and hopefully one that can spread across the industry.
SPORT – Making a Marc
Who’d have thought that a Manchester United player could bring so much universal joy? Look, Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides were formidable, but they were hardly beloved in the eyes of neutrals (possibly because they kept winning and we were all just jealous, but that’s for another time).
Well, Marcus Rashford has managed it. This remarkable and inspiring young man achieved more in the space of a couple of days than most politicians could dream of in a lifetime, successfully forcing the government to perform a U-turn on free school meals to vulnerable people into the summer. “Future captain, maybe of England and Manchester United,” his United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, said last week. And, of the six-week extension, Rashford said: “Look at what we can do when we come together.”
The scheme will cost the government around £120 million and, after he’d spoken with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rashford added: “He was just grateful that someone had an opinion and shared it with people. Being that voice for people who didn’t really have the platform to speak out as much as they would like to.”
INSPIRING CAMPAIGN – Learning curve
Joey might not quite have worked as a spin-off from Friends, yet Frasier – the awards-soaked off-shoot of the similarly excellent Cheers – proved spin-offs can be a great thing.
And so proves the case with Studenteer – the sister project of Furlonteer (as referenced in this very weekly Good News franchise) – which matches students with opportunities with charities, causes or small businesses who are in need of voluntary support during such unprecedented times.
After all, opportunities for students have been scythed due to the pandemic: 27% of employers are recruiting fewer graduates, and hiring 31% fewer interns and placement students. The inspiring team behind Studenteer are here to help change that.
Sam Tasker-Grindely, co-founder of Furlonteer, explains: “Students are up against it. It feels very similar to the fall out of the financial crisis where opportunities for students were few and far between. We want to do our bit to help open doors for talented and enthusiastic students. Studenteer will be run by students for students. It’s a very exciting project for the team to express themselves and hone their skills.”
Rebecca Moy, who has helped work on the initiative, says: “Due to COVID-19, many graduate job offers and internships have been revoked and students, like me, have consequently been prevented from taking the next step in life. We’ve pursued an academic career and studied hard for several years, to now find ourselves unable to put these skills to use. We are launching Studenteer to provide students with work experience and opportunities I believe are imperative during this time. The idea is simple; We partner students with each other, furloughed professionals and charities or small businesses, creating opportunities to share skills and work on volunteering projects. Whilst the class of 2020 may be forced to take work outside of their industry, they can continue to develop their professional skills until the job market improves. We have been overwhelmed by the support. So many people want to help; through volunteering as mentors or helping us to build Studenteer and we are grateful to work with such a dedicated team.”
BLACK LIVES MATTER – Kaep it off in style
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We are excited to announce a new partnership with @kaepernick7 and his publishing imprint, @kaepernickpublishing. Colin will also be taking a seat on Medium’s executive board. From our CEO, Ev Williams: “Colin's voice and actions have led the discussion on racial justice, and the world is finally catching up to him. He's an incisive, independent thinker, whose integrity as an activist and athlete has inspired so many. We've enjoyed collaborating with Colin so far, and look forward to tapping into his perspective, as a partner and leader." Tap the link in our bio to read the full announcement.
One vitally important and inspiring figure who cannot be overlooked is Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who first famously took a knee during the pre-game national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality. The move might have helped trigger a positive tidal wave of feeling yet, ultimately, it has cost a talented quarterback a career in the NFL.
He was released by the San Francisco 49ers and has been a free agent ever since; given when we all take a knee in solidarity, it is, essentially, a tribute to Kaepernick’s brave stance, it is remarkable that he has lost out on what should have been some of the best playing years of his life – after all, he is now 32.
Yet there was good news for Kaepernick this week when he joined the board of Medium – becoming the board’s only minority member.
Medium CEO Evan Williams says: “Kaepernick Publishing’s mission is to uplift and elevate voices for Black and Brown communities, something that has been desperately needed in the publishing space. Through this partnership, Colin will be publishing across Medium’s platform, including a collaboration with Medium’s editorial team leading Level and Momentum. He will be sharing his thoughts on anti-Black racism in our society, and Medium and Kaepernick Publishing will co-publish thought-provoking feature stories from diverse writers of color.”
And Williams adds: “I know he will bring valuable insights and leadership to Medium, especially in this moment when the world is finally catching up to his vision on racial justice. I couldn’t be more happy to welcome Colin to Medium. He’s an incisive, independent thinker, whose integrity has inspired so many. The world needs more of that.”
And it doesn’t stop there for Kaepernick – a long overdue return to the NFL could be on the cards with the San Diego Chargers expressing an interest: “I haven’t spoken with Colin, not sure where he’s at as far in his career, what he wants to do, but Colin definitely fits the style of quarterback for the system that we’re going to be running,” says Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. “I’m very confident and happy with the three quarterbacks that I have but you can never have too many people waiting on the runway.”
ENVIRONMENT – Time to clear the air
OK, this might not yet be good news – but will hopefully lead to better times. That’s because a group of inspiring lawyers have written to the government to implore them to better combat air pollution.
And, with links being made between COVID-19 death rates and air quality, the time for action is now, as Jolyon Maugham, the director of the Good Law Project, explains: “When there is a risk of harm to human life, the government must take measures to alleviate that risk. With evidence piling up that links dirty air with cases of Covid-19, it is the government’s legal duty to conduct an urgent review. The government says they are listening to science. They must prove it.”
And Jemima Hartshorn, from campaign group Mums for Lungs, adds: “Air pollution is linked to cancer, respiratory illnesses, stunted lung growth, diabetes, cardiac diseases, strokes and many other diseases. In the midst of a respiratory pandemic, the government has to finally take the necessary action to ensure clean air for all.”