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At the heart of what we do: The UN Sustainable Development Goals

Smiley Movement is a platform for change – one that hopes to inspire optimism, help charities better engage with the public, and drive forward positive impact in our world.

We share stories about people who go above and beyond and push boundaries to make our world a better place to live.

And while we might share stories about those who are passionately protecting our environment, or helping reduce inequality in their community, there is one thing that ties everything we do together: the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Since Smiley Movement was launched, these have been our north star. Everything we produce, everything we strive for, matches the UN’s 17 goals. They are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Set up in 2015, the UN General Assembly hoped the goals would be achieved by 2030. As that date nears closer, we want to platform the people, the businesses, and the organisations who are striving towards them, too.

You’ll see all our articles are tagged with four main categories – planet, equality, wellbeing, and culture . All the UN goals fit within these four main contain pillars

PLANET: Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy; Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production; Goal 13, Climate Action; Goal 14, Life Below Water; Goal 15, Life on Land.

EQUALITY: Goal 1, No Poverty; Goal 2, Zero Hunger; Goal 5, Gender Equality; Goal 10, Reduced Inequalities.

WELLBEING: Goal 3, Good Health and Wellbeing; Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation.

CULTURE: Goal 4, Quality Education; Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; Goal 17, Partnership for the Goals.

We are always looking for ways to help spread the message of the UN SDGs. If you, or someone you know, is working towards them, too – we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing editorial@smileymovement.org.

Categories
Planet

Pet oxygen masks are trialled in London

 Special oxygen masks designed for pets are being trialled in London. 

The equipment has been donated by the non-profit Smokey Pets to the London Fire Brigade and each kit includes three sizes of domestic pet oxygen therapy masks, two rope leads and two sizes of muzzle.

A cat in Paddington was rescued from a house fire and became the first animal to receive this groundbreaking treatment. Thanks to the kit provided by Smokey Pets, the cat was able to recover.

“Crews did a great job in challenging conditions to tackle this house fire and then were able to focus on the pets they had rescued,” said Station Officer Nathan Beeby, who was at the scene. “Having something specially designed made so much difference as the mask is properly sealed around the animal’s muzzle and all the oxygen is going into their lungs.”

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“The crews all thought it was a great piece of equipment that was easy to use with the training they had all had, quick to get to work with and ultimately saved the cat’s life,” added Nathan. “Having the specialist equipment there also put the occupier at ease and they were really happy with the outcome.”

The kits are being trialled in the London boroughs of Battersea, Paddington, Richmond and Hammersmith and, if the trial is a success, they will be rolled out to fire services across the city.

“Of course a firefighter’s priority is always to save any human life, but we know how precious people’s pets are to them and we also know owners will put their own lives at risk by trying to return to a burning building to rescue them,” said Dave O’Neill, The Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Operational Policy.

“This new equipment will allow our crews to safely provide oxygen to any animals which need medical attention in the immediate aftermath of a fire. They will also bring a bit of hope and positivity to families in a traumatic situation.”

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Choose to financially support Smokey Pets, and help fund the creation of more oxygen masks designed for pets.

 

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Equality

Tokyo says ‘yes’ to same-sex partnerships

Japan is moving closer to inclusivity, as Tokyo plans to legally recognise same-sex partnerships starting in November 2022.

While this doesn’t make same-sex marriage legal, it is hugely positive.

Japan is the only G-7 nation who hasn’t legalised same-sex marriage, though recent opinion polls show the majority of Japanese citizens hope for it to happen.

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So what does this mean?

Though nothing is finalised yet, there is speculation. It has been announced that a draft will be presented to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in June, so that partnership certificates will be available in November.

To apply for a certificate, which people will be able to do online to protect their privacy, both members of the couple will need to be adults, as well as at least one needing to be in the LGBTQ+ community.

According to Kyodo News, the Japanese government is considering including benefits such as being able to make medical decisions for their partner in an emergency, and to apply for housing together. Applicants with children will also have the option to include their children’s names on the certificate, it was said.

No matter the details it is certain that this decision brings us one step closer to having same-sex marriage legalised in Japan.

And in further good news, Nintendo, the Japanese gaming company, has made the decision to recognise the same-sex marriages of their employees, despite the fact that same-sex marriages are still not legal in Japan. 

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: Smiley Movement has put together a list of charities who support LGBTQ+ people in the UK.

GET INVOLVED: Support the Kaleidoscope Trust, who are working to make same-sex marraige legal across the Commonwealth.

Categories
Equality

Man spends inheritance on inclusive kids’ book

A man from the Greater Manchester area has spent his inheritance creating a children’s book that celebrates our differences, and encourages people to be more kind and understanding.

The book, called Joe and Dusty Save The World, is written by Rob Martin, and tells the tale of a young disabled boy called Joe and his trusty sidekick and support dog, Dusty, an English bull terrier.

It features forewords by actor and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh and Sarah Gordy MBE, a TV and stage actor who has Down’s Syndrome.

“What a beautiful idea this is to put a child with learning differences and his dog companion at the centre of the action,” said Julie, who is best known for her role as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, and who recently set up her fundraising group 500 Acts of Kindness.

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The book is 100 pages long, and tells the story of Joe and Dusty as they fight against alien invaders, and teach them that kindness, love and laughter are the way forward.

“Heroes come in all shapes and sizes,” said Sarah. “We need different people to make the world better in lots of different ways.”

Rob, who already had the idea for the book in mind, was inspired to complete it in verse at his mother’s funeral, where his sister read a poem. For Rob, who grew up on the Wirral, the decision to write a book starring a disabled character was very personal. Aged just six, Rob lost his disabled sister Pauline, who lived with multiple conditions and spent much of her life in hospital, and was just a teenager when she died. 

‘Suddenly, everything started to make sense’

The loss had a huge impact on the rest of the family, including Rob and middle sister Carol, and he says he is still affected by it today, 50 years later.

The book became even more personal for Rob when, just a week after Joe and Dusty Save the World was published, he was diagnosed with autism.

“Suddenly everything started to make sense,” said Rob. “Even I could spot that I shared many traits in common with Joe, and when I asked my sister and my husband if they had ever suspected I was autistic, they both said that they had.”

“Joe and Dusty is a book about a young boy who just happens to be disabled. I deliberately don’t name Joe’s disability because it is not a book about what he finds difficult or can’t do. The story’s happy ending relies entirely upon Joe’s strengths.

“Joe and Dusty shines a light on the positive contributions disabled and neurodivergent people make to their families and to wider society,” he said.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Give to Scope, to help make the world a more equal place for disabled people.

SUPPORT: Sign Scope’s open letter to the government to help create more inclusive playgrounds for disabled children.

 

Categories
Wellbeing

The pharma CEO who still treats his patients

Dr George Magrath, 38, is the CEO of Lexitas, a 140-person company which partners with pharmaceutical firms to develop novel eye care drugs by running clinical trials. But he is a CEO with a difference – as he does pro bono work to support others.

Eye surgery is an incredible field. We have patients with conditions which can lead to poor vision and for many of these conditions, we have surgeries and procedures which can dramatically improve their vision. Does it get any more rewarding than that?

It’s the reason why – in addition to my busy work as CEO of Lexitas, a company which runs clinical trials for pharmaceutical firms – I’m still rooted in both my original practice of ophthalmology and pro bono treatment projects. Poor vision is devastating and I’m very fortunate to play a small part in helping some patients using techniques and procedures I’ve learned from my mentors. 

I recently got back from a trip to Belize City where I was the lead surgeon carrying out manual small incision cataract surgery, a form of cataract removal treatment commonly used in developing countries. It’s a procedure which has likely been performed millions of times by many amazing ophthalmologists around the world, who have worked tirelessly to perfect the treatment and give people in remote parts of the world access to this life-changing procedure. 

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It’s a wonderful surgery because it can be done almost anywhere. It doesn’t require special machinery and can be done with inexpensive, simple and elegant instruments – and it gives very good results for most patients. We treated 30 patients during our recent trip, but just as importantly we were able to train two additional surgeons on the beginning of their journey to learn this procedure.

Training talented surgeons is a passion of mine and one of the most powerful methods we have to ensure that more people have access to quality care.  

Closer to home in the Carolinas, I’ve also been working with a team to provide remote screening of diabetics for eye damage, which is a leading cause of blindness in US adults. 

In swathes of the US – and this is a real thing in a first world country – many people have no access to eye exams because they either have no insurance or there is no availability of doctors. To counter that, five years ago we received a grant from the Duke Endowment to deploy six teleimaging cameras in rural parts of South Carolina as a way of identifying problems early.

Over this period, myself and my colleagues have been sent more than 10,000 images to read, allowing us to issue medical recommendations where necessary. Being able to (hopefully) proactively preserve a person’s sight is an amazing privilege – and also comes with an amazing cost-saving benefit to society.

By staying involved on the ground, even in small and humble efforts, it reminds me why I’m doing what we’re trying to accomplish at Lexitas. But, most importantly, I’m able to use the training I’ve been so fortunate to have been given to try to help people see a little better.

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Categories
Equality Wellbeing

How to raise funds for hygiene poverty

The non-profit Toiletries Amnesty has come up with a unique fundraising campaign to help them in their mission to fight hygiene poverty.

Toiletries Amnesty, a nonprofit that accepts donations of toiletries including sanitary products, sold a collection of bracelets made by Feathers Futures, which brings women together into a connected community group, providing a safe, non-judgemental environment. 

In an effort to give back to and reduce waste while they do it, some of the ladies who have benefitted from the charity and Toiletries Amnesty came together. They taught themselves how to make bracelets from old, broken pieces of jewellery, and those bracelets are now sold on the Toiletries Amnesty website. 

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Toiletries Amnesty provided equipment, training and instructions to Feathers Futures for them to use to create the bracelets during craft sessions held by the group.

“The ladies involved in making the bracelets were keen to be part of the project as they had used our toiletries bank and wanted to give something back,” said Jo Critch, founder of Feathers Futures.

“They know that many of our donations come via Toiletries Amnesty and know the difference having toiletries and sanitary products makes to their well-being. The group met up each week, none had made jewellery before, so they supported each other to create the bracelets from the recycled beads.”

Toiletries Amnesty sells these unique bracelets on their website. Proceeds made from the sale of the bracelets help them support Feathers Futures and other organisations like them with providing access to hygiene essentials for their service users.

Future collections will be made by other organisations that Toiletries Amnesty supports.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To donate to the Broken Jewellery Project, items should be sent to the address listed on toiletriesamnesty.org.

SUPPORT: Visit the shop on the Toiletries Amnesty website to buy bracelets and find out how to donate broken jewellery.

 

Categories
Planet

McDonald’s goes carbon neutral – here’s how

McDonald’s UK and Ireland has become the latest member of the Zero Carbon Forum, in an attempt to reach carbon neutrality.

In October 2021, the fast food chain launched its “Plans for Change” strategy, in an attempt to make the food business more sustainable.

Now, in 2022, McDonald’s has entered the next phase by partnering with the non-profit Zero Carbon Forum, whose mission is to “empower its members to reach sustainability targets by working together at pace and as a united industry effort”.

“With over 1,400 sites across the UK and Ireland, serving over four million customers each day, we are delighted to welcome McDonald’s UK and Ireland to the forum,” said Mark Chapman, founder and chief executive of Zero Carbon Forum.

“Its expansive knowledge and learnings as a socially responsible multinational organisation will be invaluable to all our members as we continue to march onwards to reach net zero.”

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McDonald’s UK and Ireland are currently making large changes across the board in an attempt to decarbonise the business and achieve their goal of net zero emissions by 2040.

They’ve already made some revolutionary changes, such as reusing cooking oils to power their delivery trucks and opening a net zero standard restaurant in 2021. McDonald’s UK and Ireland are now committed to encouraging others in the industry to make changes too.

“We are committed to achieving net zero emissions across our entire business and value chain by 2040, as part of our new sustainability framework Plan for Change,” said Beth Hart, vice president of supply chain and brand trust at McDonald’s UK and Ireland.

“However, we know that this is a challenge the entire industry faces and that sharing best practices is paramount to ensure we all get there.

“Joining the Zero Carbon Forum signals our intent to take industry-leading steps in this space, share our learnings, and contribute to the wider effort to achieve net zero emissions to create real, positive change.”

Inspired to act?

GET INVOLVED: Make a change to Carbon Trust verified products in the supermarket so that you are supporting businesses who are committed to going carbon zero.

SUPPORT: Invite local, independent businesses to become part of the Zero Carbon Forum, or petition larger chains to join too, to fight against climate change.

Categories
Equality

4 disabled activists you should be following

In celebration of Disability Pride month throughout July, we wanted to round up some wonderful online disabled activists whose content we love!

These people have a platform to raise awareness, reduce inequalities, and empower people with disabilities themselves.

You can follow them on Instagram – as well as other places on the internet – and see their incredible work for yourself.

jessicaoutofthecloset

Jessica is a disabled YouTuber and content creator who advocates for deaf and disabled visibility. Recently she has focused on her experiences as an LGBTQ+, disabled parent and giving parenting tips for those who, like her, are not able-bodied.

katestanforth

Kate is an ambulatory wheelchair user who owns her own inclusive dance studio. She is a model, dancer and activist who set up her own charity called Project Parent, which provides gift bags for the parents of chronically ill children at Christmas. 

chronicallyjenni

Jenni is a disabled model and creator who provides her followers with chronic illness hacks and mobility aid tips. In her posts, she often includes her thoughts about disabled access in the places she visits, such as theatres, and whether or not they are up to an acceptable standard.

eddiendopu

Eddi is a disabled activist, from South Africa, as well as an advocate for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. He strives for visibility and acceptance for disabled people, and to create a better, more inclusive world for those with disabilities.

 

Categories
Planet

A once thought extinct oak tree has been found

Photo credit: United States Botanic Garden

As extreme weather events become more common and the world becomes warmer, animals and plants are becoming affected just as much (if not more) than humans. 

With that in mind, it’s always uplifting when we find creatures that have otherwise been thought to be extinct like the Quercus tardifolia, known as one of the rarest oak trees in the world. 

The tree, last seen in 2011, was found in Big Bend National Park in Texas, where a group of 10 researchers from The Morton Arboretum in Illinois and United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. The 30-foot tree was described as being in “poor condition.” With its trunk scarred by fire and showing signs of severe fungal infection, scientists deemed it in “immediate need of conservation.”

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“This work is crucial to preserve the biodiversity that Earth is so quickly losing,” said Murphy Westwood, Ph.D., vice president of science and conservation at The Morton Arboretum. “If we ignore the decline of Q. tardifolia and other rare, endangered trees, we could see countless domino effects with the loss of other living entities in the ecosystems supported by those trees.”

The team that found the tree is currently working with the National Park Service to reduce an immediate threat to the tree, primarily wildfires.

Meanwhile, conservationists are planning a return trip to the tree to search for acorns for propagation while exploring other means to propagate the tree including grafting.

“In many ways, this tree is an ancient relic. Due to the changing climate, the world is completely different now than when it evolved,” Wesley Knapp, chief botanist at NatureServe, who participated in the expedition, said in a statement.

“It is incumbent upon us to learn from it and protect it while we still can in order to inform future conservation efforts. Nature rarely hands us a second chance, and I doubt we’ll get a third. We won’t waste it.”

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: If you like what The Morton Arboretum is doing you can donate to help support them. 

SUPPORT: The Morton Arboretum released a profile on the oak listed here. Read up on it and then other trees and explore how you can support them.

Categories
Planet

This dairy farm fights to go carbon neutral

One dairy farm is fighting to go completely carbon neutral – and has already slashed its carbon footprint by three quarters.

We all know cattle have a bad reputation when it comes to environmentalism. Even just the methane they produce leads to an upsetting carbon output that often feels impossible to come back from – other than by reducing the number of dairy farms.

But at Quicke’s Cheese, that simply isn’t good enough. “The climate emergency and biodiversity loss are the most important issues for our future as a species,” said Mary Quicke, the owner of Quicke’s Cheese.

“We are all responsible for our impact on this beautiful planet. We must work towards methods of making food, generating energy and using water that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.”

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Quicke’s Cheese is already managing to sequester more than 3000 tonnes of carbon, generated through cheese production, out of its annual output of just over 4000 tonnes. Mary said she is determined to deal with the outstanding 873 tonnes by 2030, taking their cheese production to net zero.

“Our challenge is to farm in a way that makes sure Planet Earth can feed us, now and in the future, in a way that balances our responsibility to steward the environment in a way that affords full consideration for our human and wildlife neighbours,” she said. 

One of the most important things to consider when looking to make any kind of farming more eco-friendly is the soil. Soil is a huge carbon sink, which means it is capable of absorbing and holding onto carbon from the atmosphere.

Because of this, Mary and her team have decided to implement regenerative farming. This means that anything that can be reused will be, to reduce waste, including returning manure, whey and used water to the earth to help regrow food for their cows.

“Even by growing grass for grazing, we can help the soil remain rich and full of organic life by rotationally grazing the cows from February to November on pastures with clover and some mixed swards,” explained Mary. “This system increases soil organic matter.” 

Quicke’s Cheese is working closely with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) to achieve many of their aims and go carbon negative. Just under half of the land owned by Quicke’s Cheese was rewilded in the 1880s, and is filled with forestry, which Quicke’s adds to every year by planting 7000 trees.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Give to Carbon Neutral Britain and help reduce the carbon in our atmosphere.

SUPPORT: Get involved with WWF and help reduce carbon emissions by making global changes.