Big Issues Invest Benefits from £325k investment books


Big Issue Invest, has benefitted from a £325k investment boost from the Places Foundation to support up to 20 social enterprises in England and Scotland over the next five years. The Places Foundation is an independent charity that is supported by the Places for People Group, a leading placemaker in the UK.

The first round of investment has, in turn, been distributed by Big Issue Invest to nine social enterprises to support them in tackling a range of social issues including young people’s mental health, youth inclusion and social isolation.

Hey Girls, a Scottish based social enterprise tackling period poverty through the distribution of free sanitary products was one of the successful recipients.

Established in 2017, Hey Girls tackles period poverty by giving a girl or woman one pack of products for every pack bought. Over 137,000 children in the UK missed school due to period poverty in 2018. 1 in 10 girls have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues. In the past twelve months they have donate 2.4 million products.

“We are delighted to receive support from Big Issue Invest which will enable the company to grow and expanded our social reach.  The support both financial and non-financial has been fundamental to our achievements to date”. Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls said. 

Danyal Sattar, CEO at Big Issue Invest, said: “It is great to be working alongside Places for People. This is a new and exciting relationship which gives us the opportunity to reach and support more communities across the UK. As part of the Big Issue Group with a focus on homelessness we recognise the important role housing associations play in helping to turn around disadvantaged communities. This is a partnership which focuses on the core social mission of both our organisations”.

“Our partnership with Big Issue Invest enables us to provide additional finance to support a wide range of social enterprises that use creative approaches to make a real difference to their communities.” Marcus Hulme, Social Value Director, Places for People Group said. 

“The Places Foundation which is supported by the Places for People Group aims to help people fulfil their potential and the finance will be used by Big Issue Invest to support up to 20 social enterprises over the next five years. The investment builds on our existing commitment to the Corporate Social Venturing programme which has been a great success”.

Planet Wellbeing

China Is Rolling Out Single-Use Plastic Bans

On Jan. 1, 2018, China stopped importing almost all plastic waste from other countries, after decades of being the world’s dumping ground for trash. And now, two years later, the country is ramping up initiatives to decrease plastic pollution by announcing bans on a variety of single-use plastic items.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment published a document outlining the new regulations this week, according to China Daily. As the news outlet reported, stores and restaurants located in capital cities will have to significantly restrict single-use plastic bags by the end of 2020, and across the rest of the country by 2022. Then by the end of 2025, there will be a total ban on single-use plastic bags.

By the end of this year, there will be a few other restrictions on single-use plastic — stores will be banned from selling disposable Styrofoam tableware and plastic cotton swabs, and restaurants will be banned from distributing single-use straws. Production of household chemicals (or presumably personal care products) containing plastic microbeads will be prohibited by the end of the year, and selling products including microbeads will be completely banned by the end of 2022.

Additionally, China plans to scale up recycling measures across the country, and introduce policies that promote sustainable packaging in the e-commerce industry.

“The ban will not be imposed all of a sudden, but phase by phase. The current production capacity (for substitute products) in China will not fail to meet the market gap caused by the ban,” Weng Yunxuan, secretary-general of the China Plastic Processing Industry Association’s degradable plastic committee, told China Daily. Hopefully by making the transition away from plastic a gradual one, China will be successful in significantly reducing its plastic pollution.

For several decades, China was importing about 7 million tons of plastic waste every year (700,000 tons of which came from the U.S). In total, China was taking in about 70 percent of the world’s plastic waste. As explained by NPR, this began after someone noticed the empty shipping containers that would sit docked on the west coast of the U.S. after a delivery came of goods made in China. Instead of sending the containers back empty, the U.S. started filling them with our trash and actually selling it to Chinese millionaires who would create recycling businesses, according to NPR.

In 2015, a study published in the journal Science found that China was producing almost 30 percent of the world’s ocean plastic, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

According to Climate Action Tracker, China is responsible for approximately 27 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making the country the largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet. Not only do China’s various measures to reduce plastic hold the potential to help curtail ocean pollution, but they could also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help the country achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and help curb the climate c — at least, we can only hope they will.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh  Source Green Matters

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

To find out more about the Clima Action Tracker and ways to get involved, go to their website.


Recyke y’bike

Recyke y’bike are a charity based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne who work to save bikes from being sent to landfill.

Instead volunteers recycle, repair and fix up unwanted cycles to redistribute to community groups in their local area who need them.

In the last 12 months alone they have saved more than 1500 bikes from being dumped, and in turn have helped local children learn how to ride, given young offenders a new start by helping them learn cycle maintenance skills and donated bikes to asylum seekers and refugees who could not otherwise afford transport.

Sara Newson is the general manager at Recyke y’Bike. She said: “I’m incredibly proud to be able to contribute to an organisation that tackles multiple issues, including throw away culture, over use of landfill and access to affordable, sustainable and healthy transport.

“We also provide access to practical training and learning opportunities that bring people together and provide employment opportunities with just one core activity – recycling bikes.”

The charity started in 2006 with the aim of recycling bikes and donating them to asylum seekers and refugees in the community. Since then Recyke y’bike have grown to include 13 members of staff and 50 volunteers, and now provide bikes and cycle training to dozens of community groups in and around Newcastle.

They also work with young offenders in Deerbolt Prison in Co Durham, teaching them cycle repair and maintenance skills and helping to grow and improve the prison’s bike workshop.

Del Fiddes, industry manager at Deerbolt said: “The continual supply of bikes from Recyke ensures that we can engage young men in purposeful activity, increasing the employability options of an individual when released.

“The partnership between Deerbolt and Recyke y’bike is having a direct impact on the rehabilitation provision which we provide, with the aspiration of changing people’s lives by reducing the harm that crime causes and consequently reducing the number of victims within our society.”

But in order to continue their success Recyke y’bike need three things – donations of old bikes, volunteers and financial donations.

Sara said: “We really want to invest in training of our volunteers and staff so that they can develop their education and training provision, working more closely with the local community to give even more people the skills to maintain and fix their bikes.”

If you think you can help visit their website at for more information or find them on social:

Twitter @RYBike


Instagram @recykeybike


By Jenna Sloan


How One African Country Is Working to Eliminate a Neglected Tropical Disease

Robina Nali had eye problems for as long as she could remember. Throughout her childhood, she had difficulty seeing and was taken to various hospitals for treatment, but issues with her vision persisted.

In adulthood, it worsened, with her eyelashes irritating her to an extent that the issue prevented her from carrying out daily tasks.

“I could not see properly when writing. I was having problems cooking and farming, and staying in the sunshine was a problem,” she told Global Citizen. “I would go to the hospital for treatment, but no one could explain what it was.”

People in her community who claimed to be health workers — she later found out they were not — said they could help.

For 20,000 Ugandan shillings (US$5.50), Nali would visit them and have her eyelashes plucked off in what she thought was a medical procedure, which she did several times.

It helped alleviate the irritation temporarily, but in a matter of weeks, her eyelashes would grow out and she would once again be in pain and unable to complete her day-to-day chores.

Last August, Nali heard about a health initiative that was recruiting volunteers to help identify trachoma cases and she chose to participate. The program was part of an initiative by Uganda’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and organizations like Sightsavers Uganda, which has been working to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the East African country for the last 65 years.

Trachoma, an NTD, is the leading cause of preventable blindness of infectious origin in the world. Infection spreads through personal contact and by flies that have been in contact with discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected person. It begins as a bacterial infection and worsens if not treated — eventually it lines the inside of the eyelid with scars and forces the eyelashes to turn inward, which affects vision, causes pain, and can lead to blindness.

During the training, volunteers took turns examining one another to prepare for the community screenings. When it was Nali’s turn to be examined, she found out she had trachoma and was a suitable candidate for the surgery.

“After corrective surgery, I didn’t have any problems. I could see normally, my pain was relieved, and I resumed my [responsibilities],” she said.

Fred Tibamwagine, a senior medical clinical officer with the Ministry of Health in Uganda, says the partnership with the WHO and Sightsavers, which began in 2016, is a major reason why trachoma has nearly been eliminated in Uganda.

There are two stages of trachoma: active and chronic. Active trachoma is an early stage of the disease, exemplified by red eyes and discharge, is found in children under 10 years of age, and it is treated through medication. As trachoma develops in adults, it becomes chronic, which impacts a person’s eyelids and eyelashes, causes pain, and must be treated with surgery — a simple and quick 15-minute procedure that prevents blindness.

Tibamwagine, who was trained as an ophthalmic clinical officer, would perform up to 10 surgeries per day.

“We would call it the disease of the poor because the ones who were marginalized and neglected suffered a lot,” he said.

Tibamwagine recalls how trachoma would impact entire communities, saying he often saw cases where the elderly went blind due to trachoma, and children in their family would not go to school, in order to care for them. Things have changed drastically since then, he says.

“People now do their normal activities. The children who were helping the blind have gone back to school and now the hygiene, which was very poor, has improved. A lot of changes, positive changes have happened,” he said.

Johnson Ngorok, the country director of Sightsavers Uganda, says in 2006 when health workers surveyed people across Uganda, they found trachoma in all 50 districts of the country. Since then, it has been eliminated in 46 districts, with four districts remaining. All of them are in the Karamoja sub-region of the country, with a nomadic population that has been difficult to reach. However, treatment is ongoing with two remaining rounds of medication needed for those who have trachoma, according to Ngorok.

“The end is in sight,” Ngorok said. “We just need a little push to get over the cliff and reach elimination nationally.”

Although trachoma has been monitored in the country since 2006, a systematic effort to eliminate the disease was only put into effect in 2014, Ngorok explained, due to funding from the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which sought to eliminate the disease by 2019.

“At the moment, we don’t have funding so the program has stopped, which is really a shame,” Ngorok said. “But we would only need one more year … to eliminate trachoma in the country.”

Trachoma has blinded or visually impaired around 1.9 million people globally, and it is endemic in 44 countries, according to the WHO. According to the latest data, 142 million people live in trachoma endemic areas, putting them at risk of blindness.

Still, significant strides have been made to eliminate the disease. The number of people requiring surgery for trachomatous trichiasis, the stage of trachoma that is blinding, has dropped by nearly 70% from 7.6 million in 2002 to 2.5 million in 2019.


Original article by Jacky Habib  Source Global Citizen

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

To find out more about the World Health Organization (WHO) and ways to get involved, go to their website.

To find out more about Sightsavers Uganda and ways to get involved, go to their website.


The First-Ever Female Pakistani UN Peacekeeping Team Just Won a Medal

A small team of Pakistani women is receiving major recognition for being the first all-female group from the country to carry out a UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

South Kivu Province Governor Theo Ngwabidje presented the Members of the UN’s Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) Female Engagement Team (FET) the UN medal at a ceremony in South Kivu on Friday. The UN medal is awarded for participation in military and police operations that include peacekeeping, humanitarian efforts, and disaster relief.

“This team’s extraordinary endeavors to serve the UN is worthy of praise,” said a MONUSCO press release.

The DRC is currently involved in a civil war, and over 200,000 people have fled South Kivu to escape the conflict between armed groups and government forces. A coalition of militias who identify as “Indigenous” Congolese are fighting a Rwandan cattle-herding group for power and resources. Rebel groups from neighboring countries are also thought to be contributing to the violence.

The team of 15 women stationed in the DRC in June provide a range of resources to the region. They are psychologists, stress counselors, vocational training officers, gender advisors, doctors, nurses, operations officers, information officers, and logistics officers.

Local community members feel more comfortable sharing information with military groups that include women and men, according to the mission.

“Female peacekeepers act as role models in the local environment, inspiring women and girls in often male-dominated societies to push for their own rights and for participation in peace processes,” the UN says.

So far FET has launched many successful projects. The group is actively supporting South Kivu with vocational training and medical outreach, regular trauma support sessions for students, women, and teachers, and psychological workshops for Congolese authorities.

Despite the known benefits of female peacekeepers, and the UN’s efforts to increase female participation, women still make up the minority of these groups. Lieutenant Colonel Rachel Grimes, a senior British army officer who worked for the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC in 2014, said she spoke to over 200 female officers and the majority of them said low female participation is often due to women not knowing these opportunities were available.

Another 17 female officers will join FET in early February.

Original article by Leah Rodriguez Source Global Citizen

Photo by Sameer Akhtari on Unsplash

To find out more about the UN Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) and ways to get involved, go to their website.


City of trees

Three million people live in the Greater Manchester area and the charity City of Trees have an ambitious goal – to plant a tree for every one of them.

They believe that trees and woodland have an essential role to play in making sure towns and cities are prosperous, pleasant and healthy places to live, and that by restoring underused and unloved woodland in and around Manchester they can help connect people to nature.

One of the group’s key projects is Woodland Futures, where a team including volunteers and community groups aim to restore ancient woodlands around the town of Wythenshawe, south Manchester.

The project began in September 2018, and since then regular community events have included tree planting sessions, clearing paths, sowing wildflowers and making the woodlands a nicer place for both people and wildlife.

Andy Long, a woodlands officer from City of Trees explained: “The work the many hundreds of volunteers have done across the woodlands has made a huge impact.

“The woods are more accessible and welcoming to users and hundreds of wildflowers have been planted in additional to lots of bare areas sown with wildflower seed.

“Volunteers and local people have also tackled non-native invasive species, and in Sandilands Wood this has made a massive difference to the feel and appearance of the space as well as helping to make it more resilient for the future.”

City of Trees have also partnered with several community groups including schools, scouts and Back on Track, a local charity which helps people in the community who have experienced problems with their mental health, homelessness or drugs or alcohol to learn new skills. And the benefit to everyone involved has been huge.

Andy added: “The school and scout sessions have seen lots of young people making positive improvements to the local greenspace, and our sessions with Back on Track have helped spread wider the benefits of spending time and working in natural greenspaces.

“Throughout all the sessions, we talk about the natural heritage and history of the woodlands as well as explaining the importance of those woodlands today. “

Back on Track learners have also reported that the experience of working in the woodlands has led to big improvements in their mental health, confidence and building skills like teamwork.

City of Trees need volunteers to help on the ground with the Woodlands Future project and join in with their upcoming sessions, including tree planting and tidying up the woodland. No experience is necessary. They also need donations to help them towards their goal of planting three million trees in the Greater Manchester area.

Find out more at or on social:


Twitter: @CityofTreesMcr


By Jenna Sloan


Nepal’s Next Census to Count LGBTQ People for the First Time

KATHMANDU/NEW DELHI, Feb 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Nepal will count LGBTQ people for the first time in its next census, a move that campaigners on Monday said could help sexual minorities gain better access to education and health plans.

The census — scheduled for June 2021 — will help end stigma and challenges that LGBTQ people face in accessing support and welfare programs, said Dhundi Raj Lamichhane, an official at the Central Bureau of Statistics.

He said people would need to identify themselves and their family members as either “male,” “female,” or “others (sexual/gender community).”

There will be no follow-up options to choose which sexual orientation they identify with in the census — a trial of which will be held in March.

The move will allow planning for social security and other rights, including government quotas, guaranteed to LGBTQ people in the constitution — which was passed in 2015 — Lamichhane told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But gay rights activists voiced concern over the Nepalese government’s plan to combine sexual orientation with gender identity in the survey.

They cited the last census in 2011 when authorities added a “third gender” category for the first time and counted all LGBTQ people under it.

But the number of people willing to identify themselves as a third gender to a census enumerator — or have their family members do so — was too small to be included in the final population count, said Kyle Knight of the Human Rights Watch.

“The government would do well to remember that ‘third gender’ can encompass a range of behavior and identities, and also leave out many people who do not identify with the term.”

The socially conservative Himalayan nation has become increasingly progressive regarding LGBTQ rights since a decade-long Maoist civil war ended in 2006, and a feudal monarchy was abolished two years later.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ordered the government to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and put in place measures to guarantee their equal rights as citizens.

Along with Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh legally recognize transgender people, which often include intersex people and eunuchs as a third gender.

Nepal and India have conducted national surveys with the third gender option.

But despite legislative changes, homosexuality remains taboo in Nepal, where an estimated 900,000 LGBTQ people still face harassment and discrimination, campaigners say.

Sarita K.C., an LGBTQ rights activist who was part of government consultations on the census, said authorities were lumping together sexual orientation and gender identity due to a lack of space on the form and because they wanted “rough data.”

“There are plans for a more specific, detailed survey exclusively for LGBTI (people)…hopefully by 2022. It will give more accurate data,” said Sarita, head of LGBTQ charity Mitini Nepal.

In the 2021 survey, she explained, if someone is LGBTQ, they would have to tick the “others” option irrespective of whether they identified as “male” or “female.”

The exercise will allow LGBTQ people “to benefit from social security plans and quotas set for minority groups” including in civil services, army, and police, she said.

She said while she worried that the results may not reflect the real number of LGBTQ Nepalis due to confusion, identification problems or stigma, she and other activists were planning to raise awareness in the run up to the census.

“We are hoping for the best.”

Original article by Gopal Sharma and Annie Banerji for Thomson Reuters Foundation-  Source Global Citizen

Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash

To find out more about the Human Rights Watch and ways to get involved, go to their website.


These Global Citizens Are Bringing Clean Water and Sanitation to Rural India

Open defecation is a rampant issue in India — one that leads to widespread water contamination and can leave women particularly vulnerable to violence by forcing them to walk long distances in the dark to find a place to use the bathroom.

But efforts have been made in recent years to reduce rates of open defecation to zero.

Sanitation and Health Rights India (SHRI) aims to do just that by providing sanitary bathroom facilities and clean drinking water to rural India through the use of community toilets.

SHRI was co-founded by Anoop Jain — who was the very first winner of the Waislitz Global Citizen Award in 2014 — alongside Prabin Kumar Ghimire and Chandan Kumar.

Many communities in India don’t have accessible toilets and are therefore forced to go outside, often in or near bodies of water.

That is why the founders of SHRI decided to focus on community toilets. Community toilets are a cost-effective fix and depend upon community buy-in, allowing for behaviors to change over time, according to SHRI.

“But building a community toilet is not the only solution, because maintenance plays an equally important role,” Ghimire told the Better India. “And for that, you need money to keep it clean and employ staff.”

But they knew they couldn’t cover costs by charging for the use of the facilities because then people wouldn’t use them. Instead, the organization has made its community toilets self-sustainable — and turned them into “revenue generators” that cover the community toilets’ maintenance costs.

The human waste from the toilets is used to produce methane, which in turn is used to run a power generator. The electricity from that generator, meanwhile, is used to power a water filtration unit that creates pure, drinkable water that can then be stored and sold.

“Now people are so used to our facilities, that they queue up in front of it everyday,” Ghimire said. “I feel so happy to see that the place where people used to defecate, has become a playground for the kids of the community, today.”

So far, SHRI has built seven community toilets in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. The organization even keeps regular track of how many people use its toilets and drink its water on the “results” section of its website.

“Earlier we couldn’t go [to the bathroom] when it used to rain, or at night, but now we can,” one woman told The Better India about the community toilets. “We can go anytime we need to.”

Access to clean drinking water and sanitation has been recognized as a human right by the United Nations. A lack of access to clean water and sanitation is estimated to kill over 842,000 people every year. The implementation of community toilets like these could have a positive impact on these grim statistics.


Original article by Brandon Wiggins –  Source Global Citizen

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

To find out more about Sanitation and Health Rights India (SHRI) and ways to get involved, go to their website.


2 Billion Mosquito Nets Have Officially Been Delivered Worldwide to Fight Malaria

In a global effort to fight malaria, 2 billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been delivered across the world since 2004, according to a press release from the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

These life-saving mosquito nets have helped prevent nearly 68% of all malaria cases in Africa and are responsible for saving over 7 million lives.

Malaria is a deadly disease, transmitted through mosquito bites, that causes fever, headache, and chills. In 2018, there were more than 228,000 cases of malaria in the world and around 405,000 deaths.

Children under the age of 5 are most susceptible to the disease, making up 67% of all malaria-related deaths in 2018.

The nets, which cover up to two people per net, can last up to three years or 20 washes on average, and the number of women and children using them has doubled within the last eight years, according to the World Malaria Report 2019.

“Insecticide-treated nets have saved lives, prevented suffering, and brought us 2 billion steps closer to our vision of a malaria-free world,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in the press release. “With country leadership and global partnership, they will continue to play a vital role in fulfilling that vision.”

Various organizations and nonprofits, such as UNICEF, the US President’s Malaria Initiative, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, contributed to help achieve this global milestone by distributing mosquito nets and working with countries currently experiencing malaria epidemics.

In celebration of this milestone, RBM Partnership to End Malaria has released a new video emphasizing the collective effort that was required to produce and deliver the 2 billion life-saving mosquito nets.

The video features Kenyan high school student Clementina Akinyi, who praised the mosquito nets and vouched for the effectiveness.

“I don’t fall sick because I’m using the nets,” Akinyi said. “Me and my sister are now champions for mosquito nets, and we are now advising people at school to use the nets. I advise everyone to use nets to prevent malaria, because malaria is a deadly disease.”

Original article by Erica Sanchez  and  Catherine Caruso –  Source Global Citizen

Photo by Bill Wegener on Unsplash

To find out more about RBM Partnership to End Malaria and ways to get involved, go to their website.