Positive news to cut through the noise
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. This week, James Gill reports on the latest community and charity efforts.
MENTAL HEALTH – Family matters
For any parent or guardian currently home-schooling, it’s understandable to make it all about you: yes, you’re tired. Yes, it’s draining. And, yes, it can be incredibly frustrating (BALANCE has come close to screaming into a cushion more than once). But imagine how trying it must be for the children: they can’t properly interact with their friends, their freedom has been taken away and, crucially, they have to be with you 24/7 (we’re sure you’re great, yet BALANCE winces at the thought of being with their own folks for this stretch of time). It’s why YoungMinds – the UK’s leading children and young people’s mental health charity – has published a guide sharing advice for parents on how to support their mental health alongside their children’s during the pandemic.
Deirdre Kehoe, Director of Training and Services at YoungMinds, explains: “The last few months have turned the lives of many parents and carers upside down. This is a really difficult time, bringing added anxiety and increased pressure, especially for those looking after children and young people with existing mental health needs. The support available might be much more limited than usual and parents may feel like they’re on their own in dealing with their situation. This is why it’s important that we all pull together, and share our own tips and advice that might help others out during this difficult time, but it’s also important to look after yourself too. If you are feeling worried, or anxious, talk to someone you trust who can listen and support you. Alternatively, we’re here on our Parents Helpline if you need someone to speak to.” You can download the guide for parents and carers here. Or visit the YoungMinds online mental health hub for parents here.
CHARITY – The best medicine
Lockdown has seen some remarkable feats take place in the name of charity. Take comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean. Obviously, physical gigs are a no-go at the moment, so the comic – whose credits include Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News For You and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order – has been running a series of online shows at the “Covid Arms” and given proceeds to food bank charity the Trussell Trust, as well as comedians (whose income has vanished). And Kiri tells BALANCE: “I’m so proud of The Covid Arms; what started as a daft idea from a brother and sister (Jake and Jess Lea Wilson) I went to school with has turned into a weekly celebration of the best of British comedy and a beautiful community. It’s also raised £69,759.30 for The Trussell Trust and put thousands of pounds into the pockets of out of work comedians with no other financial lifeline. Between the weekly comedy nights and record-setting pub quiz we put on, we’ve raised £104,229.80 for charity. It’s the most amazing thing to be a part of and a great excuse to have a wash and pop some fake eyelashes on.” You can find out more here.
There’s also Clarke Stevens, of Haringey, who wasn’t going to let the fact his backyard measures just 9 metres stop him from raising money for suicide prevention charity Papyrus. The trainee acupuncturist ran 42km over nine hours to raise money for a cause that’s profoundly close to his heart; Clarke’s brother Lloyd took his own life in 1997. And Clarke says: “I couldn’t give up, I had set a target. It didn’t matter how hard it was, I had said I would do it and I wanted to show that your mind can keep you going, that you can control it.” To support Clarke and Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide, you can head to his fundraiser page here.
We all know how almost every industry has been ravaged by the pandemic. As you can imagine, hospitality has been hit particularly hard and, with social distancing, it could be some time before it returns to anything approaching normality. Uncommon Creative Studio and Earl Of East wanted to do something to help, and so joined forces by launching Scents Of Normality – a unique collection of scented candles to help raise money for charity Hospitality Action.
The range has been specially designed to encapsulate the three places we’re missing the most: The Local, The Cinema and The Festival. And Nils Leonard, co-founder at Uncommon, says: “As a studio, building products and brands that people genuinely care about has never felt more important. At Uncommon, we’ve created brands such as HALO Coffee, with sustainability and purpose at its heart. We’re thrilled to bring these products to bear and support the hospitality industry, who have been so dramatically impacted by Covid-19.” Niko Dafkos, Co-founder, Earl of East, adds: “Scent has a unique way of conjuring memories and transporting us to places we’d love to be. From the cobbled streets of Copenhagen to the Onsen baths of Japan, Earl of East’s scented candles are all inspired by travel. Whilst we can still dream about these far-flung destinations it’s actually the places closer to home that we miss the most. Having the opportunity to recreate the essence of these familiar haunts whilst also supporting an industry that has been hit so hard by the crisis is a real honour.” To find out more, visit the Earl of East website.
SCIENCE – An early breakthrough?
Based on the experience of putting together the Good News section this past few years, BALANCE would advise against getting your hopes up when it comes to medical breakthroughs (trust us: we’ve read some pearlers. Based on some of the “cures” we’ve read about, it’s a wonder there’s any disease left on the planet). After all, trials can be one thing; wider society another. However, recent research carried out at the University of Hong Kong showed promising signs when it came to treating Phase 2 (“mild to moderate”) of COVID-19. Professor Kwok-Yung Yuen explains: “Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 with a triple combination of antiviral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient’s body, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to health-care workers by reducing the duration and quantity of viral shedding (when the virus is detectable and potentially transmissible). Furthermore, the treatment combination appeared safe and well-tolerated by patients. Despite these encouraging findings, we must confirm in larger phase 3 trials that interferon beta-1b alone or in combination with other drugs is effective in patients with more severe illness (in whom the virus has had more time to replicate).”
We’ve all talked about “getting back into art” this lockdown, haven’t we? After all, art can combat anxiety, provide meditational escape and boost self-esteem. If you’re like BALANCE, however, pencil is yet to touch paper (the aforementioned home-schooling is our excuse and we’re sticking to it). Thankfully, MasterPeace – London’s first mindful art studio – is here to help us all while also raising money for domestic abuse charity Refuge. MasterPeace is the brainchild of Zena El Farra and is a new art initiative which delivers positive creativity, directly to your door. With seven pieces to choose from, £10 of all sales from one of the pieces (Affinity by acclaimed portrait artist Elena Gual) goes to Refuge. Zena explains: “Research has shown that even a small amount of creativity can sustainably boost our mood, help us cope with stress and even the management of depression. With our new At Home kits, we make it easy for people to enjoy some creative respite from home. We’ve emulated the in-studio experience as much as possible, including expert guidance from professional artists. Each virtual class opens with a short meditation and there’s a strong mindfulness focus throughout.” Inside each kit, you’ll find a painter’s palette, handpicked acrylic paints, brushes and a canvas board (pre-sketched by a professional artist with your chosen motif). There’s also a photo of the artwork with instructions from the artist. Crucially, each purchase includes a 40 minute virtual class with the original artist for real-time support, or access to pre-recorded tutorials in their mobile app.