The Marine Conservation Society is making changes to its annual Great British Beach Clean in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Marine Conservation Society is making changes to its annual Great British Beach Clean in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 


Instead of the large beach clean events where hundreds of volunteers get involved, the Society is asking people to come together in small private groups to clean beaches, adopting a stretch of beach to tackle. 


The event will take place on the 18-25 September and the website makes it really easy to sign up. If you’re looking for guidance and support, their friendly Beachwatch team is happy to lend a hand.


Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch Officer, says: “As more of us are looking to stay local this summer and head to the UK’s beaches, it’s even more important that we all take ownership of keeping them beautiful for everyone.”


We’d love to see more people than ever before signing up to organise their own beach clean. The more organisers we have, the more beach cleans we can run throughout the week and the more data we’ll have to push for policy which will reduce ocean pollution in the future.”


Data collected by the Society’s  volunteers has been instrumental in the creation of policies which stop single-use plastic pollution at source. Examples of this include the 5p single-use carrier bag charge, the ban on plastic coffee stirrers and straws and the commitment to a Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland, to name just a few. 


This year the society is also asking volunteers to record how much personal protective equipment they find on the UK’s beaches, including gloves and masks. This information will show how prolific PPE has become and help us assess the danger it poses to the marine environment and wildlife.


Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas says: “Single-use plastic has been used increasingly during the pandemic, but we need to ensure this is not a permanent backwards step. At the same time, we’ve seen people spending more time outdoors and enjoying our beaches. We’re calling on the government for a truly green recovery, fit for a low carbon future.”


Everyone can play their part in the Great British Beach Clean this September, even when far from the coast as 80% of the pollution on beaches around the UK is from litter which has travelled from our towns, parks and rivers.  


To get involved head over to to find out more about conserving our beaches. 


By Ellen Jones


Asylum seeker slept on buses during lockdown

The Sisters Not Strangers coalition has surveyed 115 refugee and asylum-seeking women about how they have survived during the pandemic.


The results demonstrated that women who were already living in poverty before the outbreak had been made even more vulnerable to hunger and ill health.


Of the women surveyed, three quarters went hungry during the pandemic, including mothers who struggled to feed their children. Furthermore, a fifth of women surveyed were homeless, relying on temporary arrangements with acquaintances for shelter, or sleeping outside or on buses.


The survey was conducted by Sisters Not Strangers, a campaign led by refugee and asylum-seeking women with the purpose of building solidarity for women who have come to the UK to seek safety but have instead been made destitute.​


Many of those who come to the UK to claim asylum are unfairly refused due to difficulties amassing evidence needed, the difficulties in finding a good lawyer or because the Home Office did not make a fair decision. 


When a person is refused asylum they can be left without any support, any housing, or any right to work. Many of those initially refused do get leave to remain in the end after years of struggle, but the destitution they face is incredibly difficult especially for women. Women who are destitute are frequently abused, exploited, suffer ill health and become depressed. 


The recent pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities already faced by these women.  More than 20 of the women surveyed said they did not feel able to go to the NHS even when they or a family member had COVID-19 symptoms. A staggering (82%) said that their mental health had worsened during the crisis, because of isolation and being cut off from support services.


Lo Lo*, an asylum-seeking woman who was homeless in London during lockdown said, “I have serious health conditions that mean it would be particularly dangerous for me to catch the virus. For a week during lockdown, I slept on buses. I went from one side of London to the other, because it was free to travel on the bus then.”


“I would like the government to respect us, let us be safe and treat us with dignity as human beings” 

The coalition who created the report are all ones that have supported women trapped in abusive or exploitative situations during the pandemic, including women forced to do unpaid work for shelter and women living with violent partners.


​As Natasha Walter, director of Women for Refugee Women notes, this is not the first time research into the conditions asylum-seeking women live in has been done. 


“Previous research has established that almost all women who seek asylum in the UK are survivors of gender-based violence. Even before this crisis, we have seen how they are forced into poverty and struggle to find safety.


“During the pandemic they have too often been left without basic support including food and shelter. It is now vital that we listen to these women and ensure that we build a fairer and more caring society.”

Loraine Mponela, chair of Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group says “this research is so important because when we speak as individuals it can sound as if we are trying to dramatise the situation.
 It’s not drama, it’s real life. These are the problems that we are going through on a day-to-day basis as asylum-seeking women”.


“We need to build solidarity to carry us through this crisis and also enable us to work together after the pandemic to create a more equal and safer society for women.”


To find out more about the Sisters Not Strangers campaign and to read the full report head to

*names have been changed to protect privacy 


By Ellen Jones


The Lewis Foundation sources, packages and hand delivers gift packs for free to adult cancer patients in hospitals

During the coronavirus pandemic, adults are having to face cancer treatment alone as a result of the social distancing measures. As a result, the support of The Lewis Foundation who deliver free gift and support packs to patients in hospital and the community has never been more needed. 


The Lewis Foundation sources, packages and hand delivers gift packs for free to adult cancer patients in hospitals in the community weekly. These are items that patients might find difficult to buy themselves or simply cannot afford – and that brings people happiness and comfort at a difficult time. For many people in hospital and the community, The Lewis Foundation volunteers are their only regular visitors. 


The charity was founded by Lorraine and Lee after Lee’s mum was hospitalised with cancer at Northampton General Hospital. Recognising the fear, upset and loneliness faced by individuals undergoing cancer treatment and their loved ones, the pair  were determined that their charity would make a real difference. Today with a team of 50 community volunteers (70% being their beneficiaries) and community supporters, The Lewis Foundation has grown from delivering 80 gift packs to one hospital, to delivering over 2,500 to seven hospitals in the Midlands per month. 


At the hospital, each patient picks a gift pack of their choice from our gift trolley and there are 32 different packs to pick from. Packs range from toiletries, puzzle books and miniature radios. Once the gift is received, the volunteers then spend time with people to reduce loneliness.


‘We have been overwhelmed by the support and donations still being made to us and are delighted that we have been able to continue our services against all the odds.” says Founder Lorraine Lewis. “Local businesses and supermarkets have been even more supportive than ever during this time, contributing items for our gift bags as well as making monetary donations which is incredible – especially when their stores have been stripped of essentials recently.”


“Like all charities, we have had to adapt our processes. We can no longer host our weekly packing sessions, so a small number of volunteers now pack gift bags in their own homes which are then collected to be delivered.”


 We’ve also created alternative drop off points to minimise social contact and have been working very closely with all our hospitals to adjust the way we deliver the support packs to the wards. The hospital staff now kindly hand them out for us and we have been giving them care packages for the amazing work they do.”


“We have also been making up emergency packs for cancer patients who are self-isolating in the community, which we have never done before.”


The parcels have been gratefully received by patients and family alike: “My dad had to undergo his chemo treatment alone today but luckily the gift bag he received from The Lewis Foundation included puzzle books. Thank you so much for giving him much-needed distraction.”


To keep this service going, The Lewis Foundation needs your support. This could be by Sending a card/letter to someone going through cancer treatment, fundraising or donating a monthly gift. 


The Foundation also needs donations for gift packs from companies. They also encourage n family, friends, colleagues etc to donate what they can or to buy from their amazon wishlist. 


The charity also needs help with digital marketing to help raise awareness and generate more support on social media and encourage you to get in touch if you can help. 


Charity Shelter confirms housing benefit discrimination has been judged unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act

In a landmark ruling handed down at York County Court, housing benefit discrimination has been judged unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act, confirms housing charity Shelter. This is a huge breakthrough for the charity’s End DSS Discrimination campaign.


For many years, so-called ‘no DSS’ policies have stopped hundreds of thousands of people like Jane from renting homes they could afford – simply because they receive housing benefit. In fact, a staggering 63% of private landlords say they don’t let, or prefer not to let, to people who receive housing benefit. 


Shelter’s research clearly shows that ‘No DSS’ policies put women and disabled people at a particular disadvantage because they are more likely to receive housing benefit.


District Judge Victoria Elizabeth Mark declared for the first time that “rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability, contrary to […] the Equality Act 2010.”


The historic hearing took place virtually on Wednesday 1 July, involving Jane*, a single mum-of-two. After a letting agent refused to rent any properties to her because she receives housing benefit, Jane contacted Shelter’s Strategic Litigation Team to take on her case.

Jane, who works part-time, was looking for a new home in October 2018 after receiving a Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction from her landlord. After weeks of searching, she found a suitable two-bedroom house for her family, but the letting agent told her she could not rent it because of their long-standing policy of not accepting housing benefits. This made her homeless and she was forced to move into a hostel with her children.


Jane* said: “When the letting agent wouldn’t take me because of a company policy, I felt very offended that after all those years, when I have prided myself on paying my rent, paying my bills, being a good tenant, it just meant nothing. When I realised we were going to be homeless because I couldn’t find anywhere, I felt sick to my stomach.”


“Getting this result is the end of a chapter – actually, I can close the book entirely. I live in a social home now and I am relieved to have a permanent home for my family. I hope I’ll have helped people who aren’t able to be as determined as me. It’s completely unfair to treat people like this, and I hope this will prove that letting agents can’t discriminate any longer.”


Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “This momentous ruling should be the nail in the coffin for ‘No DSS’ discrimination. It will help give security and stability to people who unfairly struggle to find a place to live just because they receive housing benefits. Shelter’s ‘No DSS’ campaign has had a tough fight for people’s right to a safe home.


 “Congratulations to everyone involved for this huge win; it will change so many lives.”


*Jane is a pseudonym,


Asian Woman Festival hosted the UK’s first-of-its-kind festival smashing stereotypes and stigma to empower and celebrate Asian Women

Birmingham founded Asian Woman Festival launched its inaugural 2020 Powerlist, which celebrates South Asian women across the world who have made their mark, raised their voices and are expectational representations of the community. 

It was an intensely competitive process;14 women from across the world have been selected from various industries and creative backgrounds – all who have used their platforms to bring awareness of the stereotypes that South Asian women have been reduced to and highlight that they are in fact the opposite. 

The power list features the likes of Amika George who at the age of 17 started the Free Periods campaign from her bedroom to end period poverty in the UK. She received global recognition for her campaigning work including receiving a Goalkeepers Award by Bill & Melinda Gates, in conjunction with the United Nations, and was listed by TIME magazine as one of the 25 most influential teenagers in the world.

Founder of Asian Woman Festival and proud Brummie, Shani Dhanda who is an award-winning disability specialist who has most recently fronted Linkedin’s first TV campaign #InItTogether, and is the founder of the Diversability, says “The launch of the power list comes at a time when the world is focusing on racial equality. Asian Women are multifaceted individuals facing multiple layers of stigma due to our gender, race, ethnicity and religions. We are one of the largest ethnic groups in the UK, yet our experiences as an Asian woman are not always reflected or celebrated in the same way as others. Representation is more important than ever and true representation is intersectional.

Asian Woman Festival hosted the UK’s (and quite possibly the world’s) first-of-its-kind festival smashing stereotypes and stigma to empower and celebrate Asian Women.  The annual festival takes place in the West Midlands and is a jam-packed day of panel talks, workshops, art exhibition, live performances, marketplace, street food and much more. Through the power of events, Asian Woman Festival brings together the South Asian community across the UK and internationally through our online platforms.

As the Asian Woman Festival has grown into a fully-fledged platform to empower South Asian women around the world through events, an online community and our latest addition, our support directory, we wanted to shine a spotlight on Asian women who are creating positive change in the world. That’s why this year we launched our first-ever power list. 

For too long Asian women have been reduced to the stereotype of being submissive and obedient, but we know just how powerful, diverse and influential we are. With this list, we hope to not only honour the individuals chosen but also inspire others to take action, however small.” 

The women on this year’s power list can be viewed here 


With the nation’s physical and mental health suffering, British menswear brand Luke1977 will donate 20% of sales from their Smiley collaboration to the charity Papyrus

British menswear brand Luke 1977 has debuted a collaboration with Smiley for SS20 with a percetange of profits going towards youth suicide prevention charity PAPYRUS


In the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of young people of all genders under the age of 35. Papyrus work to create a society that speaks openly about suicide and provides a range of support to those who experience suicidal thoughts. 


PAPYRUS was founded in 1997 by a mother, Jean Kerr, from Lancashire following the loss of her son to suicide. Since 1997, PAPYRUS has continued to listen to and learn from the experiences of those personally touched by young suicide. 


The profits from the Luke 1977 will help fund the vital services the charity provides including confidential support and advice for  young people and concerned parents, friends and teachers through their helpline HOPELINEUK.


With need for the charity growing, PAPYRUS have established themselves across the UK, with offices in Warrington, London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Belfast but their support is still urgently needed across the country. To access these communities and provide them the support they need, equipping them with the tools and resources needed to prevent suicide, requires funding. The Luke 1977 collaboration will ultimately ensure that fewer lives are lost to suicide. 


The capsule collection itself  blends the lifestyle and musical heritage of both brands to create an effortlessly cool range of T-shirts, bucket hats and towels that feature large Smiley prints. With music and pop subcultures at the heart of both brands, the collection combines Luke’s modern lad influences with Smiley’s 90’s street culture iconicity. 


With a fun play on the two brands’ logos, while graphics are clean with a slightly rogue feel, perfectly pairing both brands’ ethos of adding a fashion twist to ‘everyday men’s separates.

The collection – aimed at young men – will impact a demographic who are more likely to die by suicide than any other cause and who are often less likely to talk about mental health. 


Richard Stuttard is set to walk 40 miles today to raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice

Richard Stuttard is set to walk 40 miles along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal today Saturday 25th July to raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Keighley, who cared for his father David.


The 24-hour challenge, which is taking place shortly after Richard’s 40th birthday, will be in memory of his father, David, who was cared for at the hospice before he passed away in May. The 40-mile route will see him walk from the village of Riddlesden in Keighley to East Marton near Barnoldswick, and back.

Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice provides expert palliative care, advice and support for people who are living with life-limiting conditions. Richard, who lives in Haworth, said: “The care provided by the whole team at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice during the five weeks my dad was there was absolutely amazing and I genuinely do not know what we would have done without them. This was not just medical and practical care, but incredible emotional care shown to both my dad and to me during an unbelievably sad time.


“The most positive thing I feel I can do is try to raise some desperately needed money to help keep the hospice running. The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating impact on its funding and I would be extremely grateful for any donations to this important cause.”


With fundraising events cancelled for the rest of this year and no clear indication of how long it will take for Sue Ryder charity shops to return to normal trading, Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice anticipates a funding gap of £1.5m for this financial year and urgently needs both financial donations and fundraising to ensure their work can continue. 


Hayley Ibbotson, Senior Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice said: “We’d like to say a big thank you to Richard for taking on this incredible fundraising challenge in memory of his dad. During this challenging time we urgently need ongoing public support to continue to be there when it matters for patients and their loved ones.”

Richard has currently raised over £3,000 for Manorlands Hospice through his 40th birthday challenge. You can donate to his JustGiving page. To find out about Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, the expert palliative care they provide and further ways you can help support them here.



This 11-year-old is raising money for two charities

An 11-year-old from Salisbury is clocking up 45 miles of running and cycling every week until September to raise money for two charities – Little Troopers and Blood Cancer UK.


Daisy Sears decided to take on the mammoth fundraising challenge when her Dad, who serves in the Army, was deployed to the Outer Hebrides at the start of lockdown, 671 miles away from home. 


Daisy, who was already a keen cyclist and country runner, decided to use the distance as a fundraising target and has already raised more than £2,500. The money will be split between Little Troopers, the military children’s charity and Blood Cancer UK.


To reach her target, Daisy is going out every day to complete a 10K run or cycle, as well as juggling her school work at home. With no exercise bike or treadmill in sight, Daisy is completing the whole challenge outside, whatever the weather. She has even roped in some of her neighbours to join her for social distanced runs or to cycle alongside her if they can’t keep up!


“It is very challenging and some days I don’t feel like going out, but I always enjoy it once I’m out there and I’m really determined to reach my target.” Daisy said. “Little Troopers is a charity that supports all children with parents in the British Armed Forces and they were an amazing support for me and my sister during times when my Dad has worked away from home, so it’s a charity close to my heart. I also wanted to support Blood Cancer UK after two family friends have been diagnosed with the disease including my neighbour Gayle, who is one of my biggest motivators on this challenge.”


Little Troopers support children with parents  serving in the British Armed Forces, regular or reserve as these children often face unique challenges including frequent house and school moves, as well as regular periods of separation from their serving parents for varying lengths of time due to exercises, training and operations. 


Daisy’s mum, Claire, adds: “We are so proud of Daisy. She has always been into her sport and enjoys running and cycling but even by her standards this is a huge undertaking. She’s still got a long way to go but we are behind her every step of the way and we know that she has the determination to succeed.”


Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, said: “We are honoured that Daisy has chosen Little Troopers as one of her charities in this incredible challenge. It’s amazing to see someone so young be so self-motivated and inspiring. We wish her lots of luck in reaching her target and we’ll be cheering her on to the end.”



Overcoming MS Help Thousands With New Webinar Series

Overcoming MS have launched a series of successful webinars – Refresh with OMS – with over 2000 people registered to watch the series and with over 1000 attendees to the webinars from 55 countries around the globe.

MS or Multiple Sclerosis is a condition affecting the brain and spinal cord resulting in a wide range of symptoms. It is a lifelong condition and although there are treatments that can help, life expectancy for those living with MS is often reduced.

The Refresh with OMS series included five weekly webinars plus supporting digital content including podcasts, articles, infographics, videos and personal stories. The aim was to keep the MS community talking during the current global health crisis, connect thousands of people and share experiences and hope, so that no one with MS ever felt alone or unsupported.

The charity was formally established in 2012 with the goal to reach everyone diagnosed with multiple sclerosis around the world and provide them with evidenced-based information about lifestyle changes that have benefited people in their recovery from MS.

As part of Overcoming MS’ webinar series, two polls were also launched to gauge the habits of their audience during the pandemic, which showed 35% of attendees were doing at least 3-5 hours of exercise each week and separately, fatigue is the most common symptom amongst those with MS (68% experienced). This information has helped the charity understand further how MS affects people in their day-to-day lives. 

“We want to bring people with MS together online and give them access to specialists who have evidence-based, up-to-date and relevant information. But more than that, we want to listen and answer questions to truly understand how the MS community is feeling so we can best adapt our support digitally.” Gary McMahon, CEO of OMS, said.

“People with MS live with uncertainty and have already had to adapt to new challenges and changing symptoms. We also know it’s important to be kind to yourself, to look after yourself physically and mentally, so when we can come together again we will be in good shape, positive and hopeful, ready for whatever health curveballs are thrown at us.’

To support Overcoming MS you can donate via their website, where you can also find out more about the charity’s volunteering and fundraising opportunities.  


A new global solution for the lack of diversity in the creative and cultural industries

A new global solution for the lack of diversity in the creative and cultural industries was launched this July. Designed exclusively for women and non-binary people, I LIKE NETWORKING aims to tackle the gender, racial and disability gap by promoting greater inclusion in the culture and creative industries across the world. 


Mentees will have sessions to develop their resumes, skills and personal brand, but will also be connected to the mentors’ network, who will personally introduce them to other key players in the industry, opening doors and building connections. Mentees will also be interconnected to encourage peer-to-peer support.


The initiative was started by Isabel Sachs who noticed how difficult it was to build a network in a new country. Losing her job to the pandemic but things into action. 


‘After over twelve years of experience in the culture industry, and loads of unpaid work, I saw myself – for the first time in ages – without a job’ says Sachs. ‘I confess, I dwelled on some self-pity but that wasn’t helpful.’


‘With the support of some wonderful women around me , the idea for I LIKE NETWORKING was born – I couldn’t change the world all at once, but maybe we could all do something to improve the diversity in the creative industry worldwide. We have an amazing group of mentors, people that I never met in real life, which goes to show how strong this community can be.’

Unlike other mentoring schemes, I LIKE NETWORKING has an international network meaning that it is not just a London- centric proposition. By connecting mentees with top class mentors worldwide, I LIKE NETWORKING aims to expand the pool of talent.


The mentoring scheme will be free for those elected through an online application form. 

Ultimately, the aim is to create a movement where mentees will eventually become mentors and have a huge community of members supporting each other throughout the career paths. Mentees will be able to advise on who would be their favourite mentors on the application. An advisory board will shortlist candidates.


The I LIKE NETWORKING applications launch in July and the programme starts in September. There will be four virtual encounters between the mentors and the mentees, going over skills, how to sell yourself, how to rebrand your resume and more.


For further information about the scheme visit: