Donations app offers free service to charities

Offering a well-needed boost to charities hit by the pandemic, donations app Sustainably has announced it will drop its joining fee and offer free sign-ups to charities.  

Founded on the principle that doing good should be straightforward, the pioneering app allows users to make a positive difference just by carrying out their daily shopping. Its creators Loral and Eishel Quinn (pictured) set up the initiative so that the app connects to users’ banks, to securely round up payments to the nearest pound and donate the difference to causes they care about.  

Co-founder and CEO of Sustainably, Loral said: “We really want to be part of the solution, by supporting as many charities as we possibly can to continue their great work and we are proud to be using our expertise with technology for good, making it easier for people to give on their own terms and see the impact they are making. 

“The Demos report also points out how charities will need to shift their priorities to building digital skills. We truly believe that by waiving our joining fees for charities joining us before 21st June, we will be able to support them greatly towards becoming stronger and more resilient in 2021 and beyond.” 

Buying into a good cause

Due to the pandemic, charities require support such as free services from social enterprises like Sustainably, more than ever before. A recent report by independent educational charity Demos revealed the extent of damage wrought by the pandemic on non-profit organisations. 

“Charities have been at the sharp end of the Covid-19 crisis,” it stated. “From NHS charities working hard to support burnt-out hospital workers, to domestic abuse hotlines experiencing spikes in call rates, to food banks supporting millions of families through the worst recession on record. 

“And they have been doing all this while shifting face-to-face support services online, with little to no preparation time, at the same time as thousands of fundraising events have been scrapped and charity shops have closed across the UK.”  

But it gets worse. The funding gap between income and expenditures in the third sector could reach £10 billion, leading to 60,000 redundancies, according to Pro Bono Economics.

Hoping to tackle this problem, Sustainably already supports over 40 charities, including major organisations such as Macmillan, Shelter, British Heart Foundation, Social Bite and The Rainforest Trust. It is a free app that permits users to donate to causes of their choice.  

If you work for a charity interested in benefiting from the free offer, find more information on how you can do so here.


General Assembly to offer refugees free training

Opening up a world of digital career opportunities to refugees, the education provider General Assembly (GA) has partnered with refugee charity Breaking Barriers. The collaboration will offer free training and career services to those who have fled disasters in their countries of origin.

Thanks to the for-profit education provider’s generosity, Breaking Barriers’ clients can access training in areas including Software Engineering, Data Analytics, Product Management and Digital Marketing.

“The reason we are so excited about this partnership is that we don’t have any other tech partners that offer training in areas such as software engineering and coding,” explained Emily Hancock, partnerships manager at Breaking Barriers. 

“It’s a notoriously difficult sector for our clients to break into and GA has links to tech companies like Microsoft  and Google that our clients now have the opportunity of securing employment at, as a result of our partnership.”

Accessing work in a digital age

With conflict and climate catastrophes causing mass displacement worldwide, supporting refugees is increasingly necessary. The UK had over 133,000 refugees and over 60,000 pending asylum cases at the end of 2019, according to statistics by the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency). Many of these people will face challenges finding employment due to restrictive labour market conditions, poor digital access, and limited education opportunities. 

Covid-19 has only exacerbated this situation, as suggested by recent research by Breaking Barriers. Their data revealed that 32 per cent of refugee respondents lost work due to the pandemic, while unemployment rates for the country in general were expected to increase from 4 per cent to 10 per cent. 

The report also showed refugees seeking work in the UK require digital training more than ever, in the pandemic, making the General Assembly’s intervention particularly timely. According to the study, society’s increasing dependence on the internet throughout the health crisis has heightened the need for digital devices in order to access work, with many refugees mentioning it as a primary support need.

“We know that refugees are being disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but we also know that there’s an effective way to address these challenges through collaborative and innovative partnerships like the one we’ve formed with General Assembly,” said Matt Powell, CEO and Founder of Breaking Barriers. 

“Through this joint effort, we will be able to provide our clients with alternative pathways to meaningful careers by connecting them with the training and resources they need to succeed in today’s evolving job market. Working alongside GA, we can also offer more career advice, technical support, and access to an extended network of hiring partners.”

Overcoming obstacles to work

Breaking Barriers supports people from 57 countries around the world, to access work as a valuable tool to integrate into society. They offer tailored, one-to-one assistance that ranges from job interview training to English language support. 

In the last 12 months alone, the charity has supported nearly 600 individuals, and offered education to over 150 people of refugee backgrounds.

To help them continue this vital work, donate here


ASOS calls for law to reinforce Modern Slavery Act

After ditching Boohoo for exploiting its workers, ASOS is taking further steps to build an image as a leader for protecting workers’ rights. The online fashion retailer has called for the introduction of human rights due diligence legislation in the UK to strengthen the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, as part of the publication of its fifth Modern Slavery Statement.

If introduced, the amendment would require companies to prevent risks and protect vulnerable people working in their factories, in line with the UN Guiding Principles for companies. Currently being developed by the European Commission for the EU, the legislation would ensure transparency and hold businesses accountable for their actions. 

“There is absolutely no place for modern slavery in today’s world,” said ASOS CEO Nick Beighton, “and after an incredibly challenging year for the fashion industry and for garment workers worldwide, all companies and brands must now share the risks they have identified and the actions they have taken to ensure we can work together to deliver effective change.”

Building better working environments for all

The world’s oldest international human rights organisation, Anti-Slavery International, has advised the retailer on its modern slavery policies, in-country programme work and practices since 2017.

Applauding the company’s efforts, Anti-Slavery International CEO Jasmine O’Connor OBE said: “We welcome ASOS’ call for a new UK law to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses. 

“We hope other UK companies across all sectors follow ASOS’ leadership, and that the UK Government responds to the growing calls from civil society, trade unions and business to go beyond the Modern Slavery Act and introduce stronger laws.”

Beighton added: “We’re incredibly grateful to Anti-Slavery International for providing commentary and constructive challenge for this year’s statement and look forward to continuing our partnership as we seek to drive further change over the years to come.”

ASOS’s fifth Modern Slavery Statement details the measures taken to protect their workers from Covid-19 and how they will ensure transparency about their activities.

The company has also pioneered the Migrant Resource Centre in Mauritius, part of a joint project between ASOS, Anti-Slavery International, IndustriALL Global Union and local affiliates2; it has distributed a human rights handbook for workers in Bulgaria with local IndustriALL affiliates; and strengthened its policies and procedures to protect its workers and suppliers.

At the forefront of the struggle against exploitation, Anti-Slavery International partners with lawyers, NGOs trade unions and other organisations to protect tens of thousands of adults and children from slavery each year.

Help tackle slavery and exploitation by donating to Anti-Slavery International here.


Grassroots activist needs help to keep app online

A disability activist who launched an app for disabled people to look at a building before they visit has issued a plea for help to keep the service running.

Marg McNiel has taken more than 500,000 images of buildings around the UK, with the aim of uploading them to his website and app See Around Britain, an interactive service which allows people to see a picture of a place or building before they arrive.

This helps people with mobility issues in particular to feel comfortable and safe when visiting a new place, and the platform also includes reviews and remarks about venues’ accessibility from previous users.

Marg is now trying to raise funds to improve the features on the website, as well as develop more than 4,300 35mm colour films taken by disabled volunteers, so they can be added to the archive.

Marg, who was born with a mobility impairment and has suffered from ME since 1992, said: “Seeing is believing and a photograph saves a thousand words, and gives citizens the confidence and reassurance about visiting a venue.

“The website and the app are so useful in these uncertain times, and will allow those with disabilities to venture out safely as shielding comes to an end for our most vulnerable people.

“It also means that everyone, whether medically vulnerable, disabled or simply looking to go out post-lockdown, can plan their outings in advance, and that will help to keep everyone safe in a COVID world.”

But Marg has struggled to get funding for the project, and to raise the £3,000 needed to improve the site. He is also urgently looking for volunteers to write full descriptions of places which feature on the app, and to survey their local venues.

Marg added: “We keep hoping for support, from businesses, the government, other charities, or the public, but it’s been hard. We also need to keep uploading at a rate of least 1000 new venues a month until we get all of the backlog of more than 500,000 photos of venues online.”

To find out more information or to offer help with the project visit See Around Britain website or connect with them on Twitter.


Ballot Bin creators gain royal recognition

Best known for the novel idea of voting ashtrays, Hubbub Enterprise has received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category.  The social enterprise introduced “ballot bins” to our streets to combat discarded cigarettes, the most common form of plastic litter.  

Based on the nudge technique, for which a choice prompts a desired reaction, the bins permit smokers to vote on either one of two options by chucking their butts into the corresponding rubbish shoot. They offer choices such as ‘Brexit: yes or no?’ ‘This week’s gig: Blur or Oasis?’ or even ‘Will you marry me: Yes or no?’

Director of Hubbub Enterprise Alex Robinson explained: “It started with us looking at people throwing away cigarette butts on the streets, which was, at that time mainly men outside pubs and clubs. So for our first Ballot Bin we said ‘Who’s the best footballer in the world: Rinaldo or Messi?’ At that time especially, everyone had an opinion on that question and we reduced cigarette litter by 50 per cent.”

He added: “We are delighted that our work has been recognised with such a prestigious award. Our Ballot Bins have provided a playful and effective solution to tackle some of the 4.5 trillion cigarette butts which are littered worldwide each year.”

To date, more than 3,300 Ballot Bins have been sold in 38 countries, from South Korea to Macedonia. Over 500 of these were purchased by local authorities in the UK, where they are proving a highly effective means of tackling rubbish. For example, Southend BID’s 21 Ballot Bins have reduced cigarette litter in the area by 46 per cent, according to an independent study. 

Large corporations, including McDonalds, IKEA and Amazon, have also picked up on the impact these bins are having and have purchased ones to go outside their stores. 

Cigarette littering: a pain in the butt

As the most littered item in the world, cigarette butts are a huge environmental issue. Produced from the single-use plastic, cellulose acetate, their filters create toxic plastic waste that harms wildlife such as insects. To combat the problem, the Ballot Bins collect approximately four million cigarette butts per year.

But Hubbub Enterprise’s work doesn’t stop there. As the commercial arm of the environmental charity Hubbub, the company designs  products and services that motivate people to behave in more environmentally friendly ways. 

In addition to the Ballot Bins, they have produced recycled plastic fishing boats to tackle litter in waterways, launched recycling campaigns like #InTheLoop, and are at present supporting major UK businesses to promote sustainability among employees.   

“Our wider projects are going from strength to strength thanks to organisations keen to make a tangible impact on key environmental issues,” said Alex. “We’ve now taken over 2700 employees and school children out on our recycled plastic fishing boats to help learn about plastic pollution and remove litter from waterways. We’re also working with corporations like Investec and KPMG to engage employees with away days and long-term behaviour change campaigns and are providing consultancy to businesses across the UK”.  

To support Hubbub’s environmental work tackling waste and protecting the environment, visit their website


Social enterprise connects people to nature

A social enterprise launched during lockdown in February have completed their first woodland course connecting people to nature, all delivered online.

The Smithills Collective is made up of a group of community and nature-based practitioners based at the Woodland Trust’s Smithills Estate in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Together they believe in the power of nature connection to boost individual and community wellbeing, and using their skills and expertise to promote positive mental, physical and emotional health.

The group, supported by The Woodland Trust, designed their first project Wild REST to give participants – many of whom were keyworkers –  a space to reflect and build resilience over the course of seven weeks. Each week of the project followed a different woodland theme including cooking, foraging, mindfulness, fire making, crafts and green woodworking.

But the lockdown meant the programme had to be delivered online, and instead of being supported face to face participants went to green space near their homes, as well as taking part in online workshops, receiving a weekly newsletter and joining an online Facebook community.

Despite the challenges presented by the lockdown, the project was a resounding success, with participants reporting increased levels of wellbeing and feeling more relaxed and optimistic about the future.

One commented: “I wanted to get outdoors more and I have definitely achieved that. I am walking every weekend and some lunchtimes, even in the drizzle!

“It was lovely to meet new people and spend time with others who have various interests and hobbies different to mine, and some who are very relaxed and chilled out. I hope I use that experience to slow down and try new things”

Another added: “I really learned that I needed to take time for myself, to focus on what calms me, and to involve nature within day to day life. I realised that I deserve to have time each week to focus on myself.”

Head of Development and Estate at Smithills, Tracey Garrett added: “Working to support the creation of the Smithills Collective, and allow the organisations within it to build a business has been one of our key objectives. Making a living from using the estate and also doing good in the process is a win win for everyone.”

To find out more visit the Smithills Collective website or follow The Woodland Trust on Twitter.


To tackle knife crime “invest in love and nurture”

PRESS RELEASE: Former gang member Sephton Henry, North London educator Gerry Robinson and community worker Suraya Miah came together to deliver their insights on knife crime in a Smiley Talk on 14th April. Aimed at addressing barriers to creating strong institutions and peace, the talk is available to watch online for free here.

Following an in-depth discussion analysing the causes of knife crime, the three panelists came to a consensus on how to tackle knife crime: young people should be considered victims rather than criminals and should be supported not suppressed if we are to combat the root causes of the problem.

Headteacher at Haringey Learning Partnership Gerry Robinson explained: “Rather than criminalising young people and investing in more criminalization, we need to invest in positive experiences, in love and nurture, and in building relationships.”

Echoing these sentiments, former gang member and community worker at the charity, Gangsline, Sephton Henry said: “In the UK we live in a loveless society. We build businesses before loving our own kids. And it’s not because we don’t love them but we’re too busy trying to make a living, that they end up getting neglected.”

Having lost years of his freedom due to involvement in gangs, Sephton has a firsthand experience of the problem. “I’ve spent nearly 11 years in prison. I’ve been shot out. I’ve been stabbed in my leg and then stabbed in my head,” he recounted. 

“I now work for a company called Gangsline where we go into schools and prisons up and down the country. I also am the founder of Unity. I’ve traveled to America to visit some of the prisons over there. So I’ve really got an insight into this problem, being involved in it as a perpetrator, and then also as a victim.”

Also contributing to the discussion was Suraya Miah, the lead organiser at Take Back the Power, a youth group tackling structural discrimination faced by young people in UK communities. 

“What makes people give up guns and revert back to normal life, is just to give opportunities to young people,” she explained. “If you actually give options to people to make legitimate money and qualifications and work their way up the employment ladder, they have something to look forward to and if not offered those opportunities, then how can you expect them to do so.”

Strengthening communities from within

Three major themes emerged from the event, which included dismissing the misconception that young people involved in knife crime have a criminal mentality. In fact, they are just vulnerable young people with experiences of trauma or caught in a poverty trap. Finally, the panelists suggested that reversing the impacts of deprivation requires investing in support networks in local communities.

As an example of what can be done to tackle knife crime, Suraya told viewers about The Power Circle, an anonymous listening service that allows victims of knife crime to unload trauma. Participants benefit from discussing topics and sharing stories amongst their peers rather than professionals who might be detached from their lived experiences.

The Smiley Talk came to a close on the proposition that governments should invest more in similar social services and provisions for strengthening communities in order to prevent young people from getting drawn into knife crime.

For more information about upcoming Smiley Talks, visit Smiley Movement’s website.


About Gangsline

Established in 2007, Gangsline is an organisation offering an outreach and mentoring service to young men and women involved in gang culture. They assist deprived sections of communities to tackle deeply entrenched social, educational, spiritual and family issues. Their ethos and achievements centre around a “proactive, spiritual and non-enforcement led” approach to gangs and violence impacting society.


About Take Back the Power

Take Back the Power is a group of young people from North London aged 15 to 20 investigating solutions to youth violence. The group was established by The Winch, an organisation based in Camden that works to create equal opportunities for all children. Members of Take Back the Power benefit from training and employment offered by The Winch in order to tackle injustices in their communities, including violence as well as issues such as racism in education.


About Haringey Learning Partnership

Created in order to streamline services for students in the London borough of Haringey, Haringey Learning Partnership supervises students requiring various kinds of specialist support. These include students at risk of exclusion, as well as ones struggling with mental health issues, social skills, emotional difficulties and more.


About Smiley™ and Smiley Movement

Smiley Movement (CIC) is a nonprofit, sponsored by the original Smiley™ Company, a Top100 License Brand and copyright owner of the original smiley face icon. With a mission of driving positive change, Smiley Movement empowers people and organisations doing good, connecting them to new resources and supporters via their online network, and through their Smiley Talks, inspiring other potential leaders and social innovators to create a better world for us all.


Disabled dogs given a second chance at life

A charity which rescues disabled dogs from around the world is fundraising to open a one-of-a-kind rehabilitation and adoption facility.

Wolfie’s Legacy was founded in 2017, and is committed to saving the lives of hundreds of disabled dogs a year who would otherwise have been put to sleep.

Their rescues – who come from countries including Hungary and Macedonia as well as from breeders and vets in the UK – are rehabilitated first by the charity and then adopted to new homes around the country, with ongoing support provided.

The dogs rescued by Wolfie’s have often been mistreated and needed to have amputations, or have genetic conditions limiting their mobility.

Founder Gill Daghistani has saved more than 500 disabled dogs since she started Wolfie’s, and now wants to expand the charity’s work into a £250,000 purpose built centre in Wales.

She said: “These dogs can live a happy life in residence at Wolfie’s, we will never turn a dog away for being too disabled.

“So many veterinary professionals default to recommended euthanasia when a disabled rescue dog comes into their surgery. There is an intrinsic fear of the unknown, scepticism for ‘who’s paying the vet fees’, and an inability to look beyond the x-rays and scans, at the life that dog could live, given a chance.

“The dogs we save go on to have the most fulfilled lives. I challenge anyone to meet a Wolfie’s dog and believe otherwise.”

Wolfie’s Legacy Rehabilitation and Adoption Facility is envisaged as a haven for disabled dogs, many of whom will find a forever home, while others will be long-term residents receiving round the clock care.

The new centre will also provide an opportunity for both trainee and experienced vets to learn about disabled dogs, and members of the public, schools, and colleges will also be able to visit and get involved with walking, bathing, and playing with resident disabled dogs.

Retired solicitor Pamela Leadbetter adopted her dog Faith from Wolfie’s. She said: “Faith is my unofficial therapy dog who is beyond compare. It is hard to put into words the benefits that a Wolfie’s dog brings, but I think they have special souls that bring out the best in everyone that comes into contact with them.”

To find out more about Wolfie’s Legacy visit their website or follow them on Facebook. You can also donate to their fundraising campaign for the new adoption centre.


School bus to tour UK tackling mental health issues

Offering well-needed respite from the trials of Covid-19, a glorious yellow school bus converted by community interest company The Heart Movement is touring the UK, tackling mental health issues in the population. 

Stepping into the Heart Bus’s welcoming interior, community members can access free mindfulness training, heart intelligence sessions and a listening space accompanied with a warming mug of tea or soup. To spread the benefits and broaden access to wellbeing tools, the bus will visit health centres, universities, charities, events, communities and town centres. 

“The impact of Covid-19 on mental health has been severe, but we’re unlikely to be able to measure its impact on society for generations. It’s a huge task and a massive vision, but our Heart Bus is going to take help and support to the places it’s needed most,” said Ri Ferrier, managing director of Heart Based Living Initiative. 


Help get the wellbeing bus on the road

The bus is set to hit the road, but The Heart Movement still requires funding to staff it and provide visitors with support. They have launched an Indiegogo fundraiser, which they hope will secure an additional £90,000 to finalise the national tour of the Heart Bus, kicking off in May 2021.

“We’ve already funded an iconic American Bus, but we need your support to fill it with a great selection of tea and soup, experienced mindfulness teachers, and the biofeedback devices that will prove beyond doubt its efficacy and benefits,” explained Ri.

“These amazing little devices can measure the impact of our mindfulness sessions for individuals, groups and even local communities. They show in real time that when we cultivate emotions of appreciation, love, and compassion our heart rhythms become more coherent or consistent.  We have always believed in the benefits of mindfulness – it is amazing to have the scientific proof to back it up.” 

Rollin McCraty, director of research at the Institute of HeartMath added: “Studies with many thousands of people have shown that accessing the intelligence of our heart can make a significant improvement to our mental health and wellbeing. I am delighted that The Heart Movement is taking our scientifically validated technology, tools and techniques out across the UK and offering this for free, during these difficult times.”

Ri continued: “We want to connect with as many diverse groups as possible. The more backing we get, the more towns and cities we can visit, and the more lives we can bring calmness, connection, and wellbeing to. And as we expand the road tour to touch as many lives as we can, we are asking for pledges to the Heart Bus crowdfunding campaign to support the greatest and most heartfelt road trip ever attempted.”

To help offer people across the country free mental health provisions and put the Heart Bus on the road, donate to their fundraiser here.

For more information about the Heart Bus, visit The Heart Movement website.


Free counselling and text service for young people

A free service to help young people manage their mental health has been launched by youth charity Snow-Camp, after research revealed that three out of five believe lockdown has negatively impacted their mental health.

The Stop.Breathe.Think service offers young people aged 21 or under up to 12 weekly one hour counselling sessions with no wait times, and access to a team of more than 40 specialised counsellors.

And if young people need support in between their counselling sessions Stop.Breathe.Think also offer a free 24/7 text support service.

The research also revealed that for 82% of the younger generation the pandemic has made them feel anxious or worried, and three quarters feel overwhelmed, meaning the service has never been more needed.

Dan Charlish, founder of Snow-Camp said: “Stop.Breathe.Think is a service unlike any other, with the potential to meet a rapidly growing need and ensure that every young person who wants to talk, has someone there to listen and support them. There are no waiting lists, it’s completely free and is available 24 hours a day.

“The service is co-provided with JHD Counselling who share our vision and passion. Their 40+ counsellors ensure we can provide a perfect match to the right counsellor, qualified to support the young person’s needs, be it for grief, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, domestic abuse, self-harm, anxiety, depression and more. 

“We believe we have found a way to make a significant difference during the pandemic, and in the years to come when young people are recovering from the impact caused during this period.”

Young people are encouraged to register at, and are then contacted within 24 hours to arrange a check-in, leading to six initial counselling sessions.

Those who have tried the service already have reported positive changes in their mental health and wellbeing. A young person from Manchester reported: “Stop.Breathe.Think has given me tools to actively work on my mental health and deal with low points in the future. I’ve felt listened to unconditionally which has made me talk about things I never thought I could.”

A young person from London added: “I felt like I couldn’t breathe or smile or do anything without waves of doubt and regret and guilt over nothing and everything – and now I can see a bright future. Now I can see it is okay for me to be positive and happy. And I know I have a long way to go but now I have the strategies to help me on my journey.”

For more information see the campaign website or follow Snow-Camp on Twitter.