Categories
Equality

Stormzy donates £10m to black organisations in the UK

Stormzy – world renowned British rapper –  and his brand #Merky have revealed that he will be donating £10m ($12.6m) over the next decade to Black organisations in the UK. 

 

In a statement issued by #Merky, the company said that the financial commitment will go towards “organizations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK”.

 

“At #Merky, we have always used our brand to elevate, support and amplify issues and the voices of the black community,” said #Merky. “To continue and expand upon our activism and philanthropic work, today we announce that Stormy pledges 10 million pounds, over 10 years, to organizations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK.

 

In a statement, Stormzy said: “The uncomfortable truth that our country continuously fails to recognise and admit, is that black people in the UK have been at a constant disadvantage in every aspect of life – simply due to the colour of our skin.

 

“I’m lucky enough to be in the position I’m in and I’ve heard people often dismiss the idea of racism existing in Britain by saying ‘if the country’s so racist how have you become a success?!’

“And I reject that with this: I am not the UK’s shining example of what supposedly happens when a black person works hard. There are millions of us.

 

“We are not far and few. We have to fight against the odds of a racist system stacked against us and designed for us to fail from before we are even born.

 

“Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it.”

 

Stormzy’s financial commitment to fighting racial inequality comes as protests that have swept across the world started in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and part of the wider part of the Black Lives Matter movement which began in July 2013. 

 

#Merky Books is Stormzy’s own imprint collaboration with Penguin Random House, launched in July 2018. It is due to publish the autobiography of Malorie Blackman, the author of the internationally renowned Noughts And Crosses books, in 2022.

Categories
Wellbeing

Centre for Mental Health published a report that looks at the inequalities in mental health during the pandemic

Alarmingly, the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic might be worse than feared, entrenching and exacerbating existing inequalities in mental health for a generation unless action is taken to close the gap according to a report published by Centre for Mental Health and supported by 12 mental health charities.

 

The charity has over 30 years’ experience in providing life changing research, economic analysis and policy influence in mental health. Through disentangling complex experiences and finding big ideas that can be shared, they have developed a reputation as the people who make sense and can provide evidence that helps and makes a difference in real time and in real life.

 

Covid-19: Understanding inequalities in mental health during the pandemic found that the unequal impact of the virus and the lockdown are putting greater pressure on groups and communities whose mental health was already poorer and more precarious before it hit the UK.

 

Groups of people whose mental health is at greatest risk include those with existing mental health problems, people with long-term physical conditions, women and children experiencing violence and abuse, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. 

 

The combination of existing structural inequalities and the unequal impacts of the pandemic mean that people whose mental health was at greatest risk prior to Covid-19 are likely to bear the brunt of the emergency longer term. Poverty and financial precariousness, racism and discrimination, and trauma and isolation have all been heightened at this time.

 

The report calls on the Government to take urgent action on mental health inequalities in its planning for recovery from the pandemic. It calls for action to address race inequality in mental health, including the urgent need for funding for organisations working in communities that have been affected most deeply by the pandemic. It calls for action to ensure people with mental health problems have access to food and medicine as well as continued financial safety-nets for those at greatest risk from the virus. And it calls for longer term action, including to build on the positive steps that have already been taken to prevent homelessness and improve the benefits system.

 

“The pandemic is putting pressure on many people’s mental health. But we are not all in it together. Stark inequalities have already been laid bare by the virus, with higher death rates among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and among people living in deprived areas” said the Centre for Mental Health deputy chief executive Andy Bell. 

 

“Sadly, we can expect to see the same with the mental health impacts in the months and years to come. The Government has an opportunity now to put mental health equality at the heart of its plans to help the nation to recover from Covid-19. This has to extend across the whole of government, as well as civil society and public services including schools, hospitals and the justice system. Helping society to heal from Covid-19 must start with what we can all do now to bring about greater social justice and better mental health for all.”

 

You can read the full report and find out more about the Centre for Mental Health and their work on their website.

Categories
Equality Planet Wellbeing

RSPB is calling on  England’s City and Metro Mayors to lead green recovery from Covid-19

The RSPB – the UK’s largest nature conservation organisation – is calling on  England’s City and Metro Mayors to lead green recovery from Covid-19, as new survey shows overwhelming public support for protecting and investing in nature. With more and more time spent inside, access to nature and the outdoors has never been so important in the mind of the public, with 4 in 5 respondents agreeing the Coronavirus outbreak has shown the importance of protecting and restoring nature  

  

The report reveals that nature and access to natural green space have been seen as important for people’s health and wellbeing since the Coronavirus crisis began, and that there is overwhelming public support for protecting and investing in nature and increasing accessible natural greenspace as part of our recovery from Coronavirus. 87% of respondents in England agreed living near nature is or would be beneficial during the Coronavirus outbreak and 84% support the suggestion that Government should increase the number of accessible nature-rich areas in the UK. 

 

The report also points to inequalities in access to nature between those in the highest and lowest income households, and between households in urban and rural areas, suggesting the impact of the Coronavirus crisis has not fallen equally across society. 

 

The survey results suggest that UK households with an annual income under £10,000 are 3.6 times more likely to have no outdoor space where they live, and about 40% less likely to live within a 10-minute walk of any publicly accessible natural greenspace, than people with a household income of £60,000 or more.

 

“The results of the survey are striking in the sheer level of public agreement about the importance of nature, not only in the middle of the Coronavirus lockdown, but as we look forward and plan for our recovery from this crisis’ says Emma Marsh, Director of RSPB in England. “They also highlight the inequality that exists in people’s access to nature, with the least well-off also the most deprived of nature where they live.

 

“City and Metro Mayors have a key role to play in leading the recovery from Coronavirus in their constituencies, which include many of the big cities and metropolitan areas where people’s access to nature is most restricted. As they start to plot a route to recovery, Mayors have a chance to dramatically improve people’s health and wellbeing and the resilience of communities by supporting and prioritising measures that increase nature and natural greenspace at the same time as creating jobs and investment, and stimulating the economy.”

Categories
Wellbeing

LUNGevity and EGFR Resisters partner up for Cancer Research Award Program

LUNGevity Foundation – the US’s leading lung cancer organization focused on improving outcomes for people with lung cancer through research and patient-led group EGFR Resisters, has launched a new partnership: the EGFR-Positive Lung Cancer Research Award Program  which will fund new research. 

 

This year, one award worth up to $200,000 will be funded. The funding will go towards research that is translational and directly related to improvement of patient outcomes and/or lead to a clinical trial. 

 

EGFR Resisters was founded in 2017 and comprises 2,000  EGFR-positive lung cancer patients and caregivers across 70+ countries. In the US, 10%-15% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer are EGFR positive. They work to research questions and fund novel research and clinical trials into their specific mutation that may ultimately save and improve the quality of their lives. The goal of the research is to transform EGFR-positive lung cancer into a manageable chronic disease.

 

“We are very excited to be part of the scientific process to select and fund innovative research for EGFR-positive lung cancer,” says Dr. Ildiko Medve, co-founder of the EGFR Resisters and an EGFR-positive lung cancer patient and advocate. “Patient input in this project will ensure that the research selected will have a meaningful impact on the lives of those in our community. We are thrilled to partner with LUNGevity to bring this project to fruition.”

 

Members from the EGFR Resisters community raised funds for the award program. As a unique aspect of the collaboration, EGFR community members will be able to contribute their own tissue and data directly to the project, if needed.

 

“We are honored to partner with the EGFR Resisters on such an important program. Using LUNGevity’s scientific mechanism to solicit and evaluate research proposals will help ensure that only the most impactful science is funded. The proposals will also be assessed by a medical board of EGFR-positive experts and by members of the EGFR Resisters for their alignment with the priorities of EGFR-positive patients,” says Andrea Ferris, President and CEO of LUNGevity Foundation. “The research selected will be that most likely to benefit these patients based on their priorities.”

 

The deadline to submit a letter of intent for the EGFR-Positive Lung Cancer Research Award is Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The award announcement will be made January 2021. For more information about this award, visit www.LUNGevity.org/EGFR-RFA.

Categories
Equality

Vital Meals is feeding vulnerable people across London

London-based catering chef Ayesha Pakravan, 26 has launched Vital Meals, a new service which produces over 200 meals a day to feed vulnerable people across London during the Covid-19 crisis. 

When Ayesha’s new catering company, The Plattery, was affected by the coronavirus pandemic, she put her resources to good use and helped her local community in South West London. Since its conception in mid-March, Vital Meals has cooked and delivered over 4,500 nutritious meals. 

The service, which started as a mission to feed the elderly and high risk individuals, now offers meals to anyone in need including NHS staff, key workers, children unable to access cooked meals, people on low income, homeless shelters and more. Each person is provided with a minimum of six meals ensuring a supply of food  that can be frozen and used throughout a week in confinement. Meals include sausage casserole with haricot bean mash, chilli con carne, lentil dahl with homemade flatbreads, soup and homemade focaccia, Lasagne and Veggie lasagne.

“When all of the bookings for my catering business were cancelled, I knew I couldn’t sit by and see people go hungry which is why I created Vital Meals.’ Says Pakravan. “I now want to offer our help to even more Londoners and we are fully committed to helping those who can’t get to the shops, are unable to order food online, and who don’t have the support of friends, family or their neighbourhood. I urge those in need to reach out to us.”

Ayesha has already expanded her network by collaborating with chefs in North and East London, and now, as the UK lockdown has been extended, the service is pledging to help even more people and is seeking more donations.

Initially, Vital Meals was entirely funded with small profits from Ayesha’s catering business, The Plattery. In order to ensure demand can be met for the service, Ayesha is asking the British public to show their support by making donations to Vital Meals. 

Ayesha continues: “We are committed to helping as many people as we can and hope that the British public can offer their support, so that we never have to say no to someone who needs our help. Donations, however small, can make a huge difference to someone in their time of need.”

Additionally, Vital Meals is working to expand its offering to include two additional services including Parcel to Plate and Vital Voices. Parcel Plate – inspired by Ayesha’s mum who lives with arthritis – aims to reach those who receive  food parcels but are unable to cook at home for themselves. Instead, the ingredients are cooked up by Vital Meal chefs and home-cooked meals are re-delivered. Vital Voices is a telephone service for anyone receiving support via Vital Meals who may be feeling lonely during this isolating time. 

For more information or to make a donation to ensure this service is able to continue running please visit Vital Meals Go Fund Me page. Just £10 will provide four nutritious meals to someone in need. 

Anyone who needs access to the service can do so by visiting http://www.vitalmeals.org/ or by emailing hello@theplattery.com. The service currently operates in London across all West and Southwest and also some North and East postcodes. 

All donations go towards ingredients and petrol for deliveries. A £10 donation will provide four nutritious meals to someone who needs them

Categories
Wellbeing

The Navajo Water Project is bringing water to an area in desperate need

DigDeep is a human rights nonprofit working to ensure that every American has access to clean, running water. They are a frontline service provider on the Navajo Nation through their Navajo Water Project

 

Prior to the pandemic, DigDeep had already installed running water systems filled by truck in nearly 300 homes on the Navajo Nation. Currently, the team is focused on continuing uninterrupted water deliveries to those families during this pandemic. Their work has changed to include emergency relief actions, such as using water trucks and other vehicles (outfitted with temporary tanks) to deliver clean water to homes in areas not already served. 

 

Historic inequities have compounded the spread of COVID-19 across the Navajo Nation, including a lack of basic infrastructure and adequate healthcare facilities. There are only 46 ICU beds for a population of approximately 173,000. With only thirteen grocery stores on the reservation, many must travel for 30+ miles to buy bottled water, only to find store shelves empty. Those who cannot afford to travel that distance have to fill up containers at public spigots, or even from surface water or livestock windmills. 

 

Annie Lascoe, Chief Relationship Officer at DigDeep, tells us that ‘Unfortunately, lack of water access has been an issue for these communities for quite some time as a result of historical and geographical factors.’

 

‘On the Navajo Nation, which has the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the US, more than 30% of residents lack access to clean running water.  While we were already working to solve this issue, the resulting change from the pandemic is the level of urgency. ‘

 

There are  2.2M+ Americans without running water at home who prior to the pandemic were potentially able to find workarounds using public access water supplies and community spaces.  In the pandemic, when cleaning has become of the highest importance, this lack of water access becomes a public health issue. As Lascoe notes, ‘How are you supposed to safely shelter at home when you don’t have running water to drink, cook, and clean?’ 

 

Indigenous-led Navajo Water Project has partnered with Nestlé Waters to distribute a donation of 252,000 gallons of water in a coordinated  emergency response. This emergency water supply is being distributed through a network of volunteers from nonprofits, mutual aid groups, health clinics and Navajo government agencies. They are driving the ‘last mile’ to elders, people infected and under quarantine, and others without personal transportation. 

 

Dig Deep welcomes  financial donations of any size via their website digdeep.org and all of public donations go directly toward water projects in the US. Corporations wishing  to provide emergency supplies can reach out to them  at info@digdeep.org to discuss further.

 

If you can’t contribute financially, there are still plenty of ways to get involved including sharing their work and raising awareness of the fact that over 2 million Americans are living without access to clean running water in their homes. Released in their 2019 study, Closing the Water Gap, many are still unaware that this is an issue within the United States.

By Ellen Jones

 

 

Categories
Wellbeing

National School Sport Week at home is helping young people through the pandemic

Usually at this time of year, students across the country would be taking part in Sports Days. But with millions of young people set to miss out on this opportunity, the Youth Sport Trust’s annual National School Sport Week campaign will this year be opened up to parents and families and reinvented as National School Sport Week at Home.

 

Taking place from 20 to 26 June, the UK-wide campaign gives families, communities, schools and sports clubs the opportunity to engage in a series of virtual sporting challenges which help young people capture the enjoyment, competition and camaraderie they have been missing out on during weeks of school closures and social distancing.

 

People can still register to take part in the campaign today and anyone signing up will receive videos and activity cards to help them plan a series of challenges across the week for their families, neighbours, friends or colleagues.

 

In previous years National School Sport Week has seen thousands of schools join in a week-long celebration of school sport and Physical Education, and their important role enhancing young people’s wellbeing.

 

The Youth Sport Trust and Sky Sports share a passionate belief in the power of sport to change lives and unite us, even through the most difficult times.” said Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver. “We are delighted that Sky Sports will be partnering this summer’s National School Sport Week at Home, helping us to support the millions of young people missing out on a school sport day this year.”

 

“Right now, young people are missing their friends and missing the sense of connection they get through sport. Sport has such a crucial role to play in promoting young people’s wellbeing and this has never been more apparent than it is now. After weeks of isolation we hope that YST National School Sport Week at Home 2020 can help bring families, communities, schools and sports clubs back together.”

 

The campaign builds on the Youth Sport Trust’s #StayHomeStayActive campaign which has been supporting schools, parents and young people with daily free resources to get young people moving and enjoying the PE curriculum while at home.

 

Everyone who registers will be provided with free videos and activity cards to help plan a series of challenges across National School Sport Week at Home. The active challenges will all have an emphasis on togetherness, inclusivity and wellbeing and there will be things you can do within the home. 

Categories
Equality

‘Help Refugees’ has a better use for your Glastonbury tent this year

This weekend – the 27th and 28th of June –  would have been the time that thousands of people would gather for the world-renowned Glastonbury Festival. But instead of dancing in the fields, Help Refugees UK are asking their UK based supporters to donate any unwanted tents in support of refugees and displaced people in Northern France via their partners there, Collective Aid.  

 

Help Refugees have 19 incredible local partners across the UK that have agreed to open up their collection points for the weekend of the 27th and 28th June to enable them to do this. 

 

The charity’s model is pioneering and works to provide long term solutions and emergency aid where they are needed.

 

To do this, they ensure that 89% of donations go straight to the frontline and are currently supporting over 120 projects in 15 countries. Help Refugees works with local organisations to provide whatever they need whether that is funding, volunteers or in this instance, tents. 

 

Help Refugees is encouraging people to get family and friends involved to donate any unwanted tents that might be sitting at the back of a cupboard or unused in a shed, as they could provide much needed shelter for refugees. If you have a tent to donate can head to the  website to find your nearest drop-off point and email them to book a time slot. 

 

For those who are unable to travel or do not have tents to donate, it is also possible to buy tents and other supplies for refugees in need through the Choose Love store. There are a whole host of other ways to support Help Refugees including via donations (financial or material), fundraising or by joining the 35,000 people who have volunteered with Help Refugees over the last for years. You can find out more by heading to their website and following them on social media @chooselove

Categories
Culture Equality

BLAM is working to ensure that Black History is included in schools

Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health UK (BLAM) is a Black-Led community organisation and mental health charity working to provide educational resources to children across the UK in addition to free advocacy support for black parents across London. 

BLAM formally began as a community outreach event in the spring of 2017 as the brainchild of six young women. The first event garnered a high level of community interest due to its acclaimed panel (which included Diane Abbott MP, Karl Lokko and Viv Ahmun) and the compelling debates which took place.

As a consequence of the first public forum, BLAM could see the need to provide a space for all members of the local community to engage in thoughtful discussion and help communities to create pragmatic resolutions to social issues that threaten to fragment the community spirit of London.

BLAM operates three core projects: The Rooted Project, the free Black History Summer school; The Grounded Project, their school-based termly Black history and culture project, and their advocacy project which provides free support for Black Parents whose children are excluded from schools in London. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic they have supported 140 young people to access Black History resources through their online version of The Grounded Project  

They also host quarterly events and create safe spaces for Black British community to come together and discuss pressing issues with an intergenerational, expert panel. The charity often focuses on mental health, racism, collective action and community building in their work. 

BLAM UK is committed to the wellbeing of people of African descent, which has been affected globally due to racism and racial trauma. Through their work they hope to dismantle the historical misrepresentation of black people, through our community outreach projects. These outreach projects provide critical engagement for the African and Afro-Caribbean diaspora. 

BLAM is working to ensure that Black History is included in schools, providing free African and Afro-Caribbean History worksheets to parents for children aged 6-16 that can be accessed by emailing hello@blamcharity.co.uk. Teachers can also find out more about training sessions to help give educators across the country the skills required to embed Black history within the curriculum, bringing about grassroots change. Additionally, people are also encouraged to join the School’s Campaign by sending an email to their local or former schools to raise awareness of the need for Black History to be taught in schools and the work BLAM is doing. 

Founder, community activist, writer & barrister Ife Thompson tells us that they need further funds to continue their work; ‘As we are a Not-for-Profit we heavily rely on grants and donations to sustain the free nature of our work. We also need schools to partner with us to deliver our Black History workshops or to use our resources, so Black history can be taught on more regular basis.’

You can find out more about the work of BLAM by following them on Twitter and Instagram You can also subscribe to their newsletter and donate to all of their projects by clicking here

By Ellen Jones

 

 

Categories
Wellbeing

Scream, yell our shout at this building and watch it respond

With social distancing still in place and tensions continuing to rise, London-based artist Marcus Lyall has transformed a soon-to-be-demolished office block in London Bridge into an interactive public artwork. Commissioned by and in partnership with Illuminate Productions, this piece is part of a collaboration with New Art Projects – the contemporary gallery of Fred Mann – and  Nursery Theatre who are an improvisation and training school in London.

As part of this new work, Lyall invites participants to join a Zoom call where you can scream, yell, shout or otherwise vocalise your feelings and in response, a huge, monumental light installation reacts and illuminates in different ways. The louder and longer your shout or scream, the bigger the response from the building. Each voice is reacted to uniquely by the installation meaning the experience is unique for each guest. Any device which supports the Zoom app can take part.  

 

 

The artwork is designed as a safe and constructive excuse for people to release their inner tension. ‘Primal Scream therapy’ has long been investigated as beneficial for psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. 

 

The artist Marcus Lyall who has worked creating experimental film and interactive projects for 20 years  said ‘I developed the artwork to provide a cathartic release for people isolating at home, by providing a big colourful object to yell at – Under these extraordinary circumstances, vocal profanity is permitted.’  While Lyall makes no medical claims, a long and loud shout may be a good way to relieve inner tensions.

 

The project is being produced by Illuminate Productions, a London-based not-for-profit arts organisation who develop opportunities for artists to create ground-breaking, high impact art installations and interactive experiences in unusual spaces. Through its participatory projects, Illuminate Productions has commissioned over 200 exhibitions and events which engage, educate, challenge perceptions and make a positive impact in the community. 

The Nursery is an improvisation theatre, training in school and charity in London with over ten years’ experience performing and teaching improv around the world. They believe that, as well as being a lot of fun, improvisation can help anyone be more creative and confident. They also believe that financial barriers should never prevent anyone from getting access to quality improvisation training. The Nursery produces podcasts, blogs and materials for improvisers old and new. In Spring 2020 they will be releasing Improgo, an integrated improv training app with an exercise database, scenes engine and materials.

The event takes place between 16th June and 4th July 20-20 between Tuesday and Saturday 8.30pm-12.30am. The installation can also be viewed in person at 55 Southwark Street near London Bridge. More information can be found at the Scream The House Down site