London’s the first ever National Park City – here’s what that means

One charity is hoping to make London greener, healthier and wilder.

Tell me more!

The National City Park Foundation operates with one goal in mind – to apply the principles of National Parks to our cities, in the hopes of making life better for us, for the planet, and for life upon it.

Specifically, London National Park City is hoping to make life better for all in London. In July 2019, the Mayor of London signed a charter making London the first-ever National Park City.

What does that mean?

There are four main aims that come from London being a National Park City – to connect more people to nature and the outdoors, create more high-quality green and blue space, promote the rich cultural life enabled by the outdoors – and inspire more cities to become National Park Cites!

It’s amazing that there is a charity out there that is completely dedicated to taking care of the nature that exists in urban areas. If you want to get involved with the National City Park Foundation, whether you are based in London or somewhere else, you can find out how on their website.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Climate Action, Good Health and Wellbeing.


Europe’s food ‘social security’ scheme

Europe is making waves by experimenting with food ‘social security’.

Tell me more.

At the heart of it is a plan to move away from food as something you purchase and trade for – something you need privilege to buy.

Schemes proposed by France and Belgium suggest a fixed sum of money being given to each person (or parent/guardian for minors), perhaps on a card, that can be redeemed like a bank card. Suggested amounts include around €100-150 ($106-159/£88-133) per month for adults and €50-75 ($53-80/£44-67) for children.

Where does the money come from?

Like socialised healthcare (the NHS, for example) the money would come out of taxes. Belgium has suggested adults earning €3,000 ($3,190/£2,650) per monthly would contribute €150 ($159/£133) every month, and that the amount put into the pot would be adjusted based on how much a person earns – less for less income and so forth.

However, each person would still receive the same amount towards food – effectively helping to redistribute the wealth within the country.

Other suggestions include state funding and more – but one thing is for sure, and that is that the idea of food social security isn’t going away.

If you want to help people in the UK with food security today, you can do so by donating to charities like the Food Foundation.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


Festability: The disability-inclusive music festival

Music is for everyone – it’s a well-known fact and one that music festivals are built around. People from all walks of life coming together for a passion they all share is a beautiful thing.

Unfortunately, for some, festivals don’t feel all that inclusive. That’s a problem that has effectively been fixed, thanks to three mums from Kent and their brilliant inclusive nonprofit festival – Festability.

Debs, Vanessa and Carrie are all mums to children with extra needs. For Debs the motivation was simple – she wanted all of her children to experience live music in a way that was as equal and inclusive as possible. Each of her three children has extra needs, and all experience the world in very different ways.

“My youngest son is blind [and] we can take him anywhere – his white stick gets him all that ‘ooh, bless him’,” Debs tells Smiley News.

“Usually, we end up backstage because the band want to meet him. And if he rocks when he dances, nobody cares.

“But then my eldest son, he rocks when he dances but he doesn’t have the right stick. You always walk away knowing he’s been judged or somehow made him a point of interest. And I wanted an event where he could just go out and be himself – because he’s fab!”

Debs saw a video on Facebook of a small, inclusive festival that took place elsewhere in England and shared it on her timeline.

Never one to shy away from a challenge (or from something that she knows needs to be done), she asked her Facebook friends if anyone would be interested in doing something similar in Kent.

Festability was born.

Festability is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and takes place in Quex Park, Kent, every year. Aimed at everyone, regardless of ability or impairment, the goal of Festability is to create a safe space for people to enjoy music without having to worry about the issues from traditional festivals that can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, or even dangerous for people with disabilities.

“We have one young boy who comes to us every year,” she explains. “I bump into him in town and he’s so excited when he sees me because I am Festability for him – it’s just so lovely!

“I love watching the parent carers relax. You see them walk in, especially the first time, and they’re not sure. And then you see them go, ‘Hang on this is fine; he can do whatever he wants to – because nobody cares!’”

Debs has families who have been to the festival every single year. “They buy the tickets as soon as they go on sale,” she says. “They’re the first ones there, they come in with deckchairs – it’s something I’m super proud of.”

Along with Carrie and Vanessa, Debs has come up with a bunch of different activities to make the festival more enjoyable, and more accessible, to families who have members with additional needs. From messy play (with staff on clean-up duty!) to a VR gaming station for the older ones, Festability is designed for families who need something for everyone – created by people who understand.

Perhaps one of the most important adjustments made by the Festability team is presence of employees who can cover for parent carers so they can enjoy the festival too.

“Carrie manages a charity called SNAAP that’s all about activities for people with disabilities, so we pay their staff to come in for the day,” explains Debs, who knows the struggle well as a parent carer.

“Plus, the whole venue is barriered off, which not only stops people coming in, but people getting out. So, even if your child is a runner (and sometimes they’re a runner and you’re not!) we’ve made sure that they can’t escape.”

It wasn’t until the night after the first Festability that Debs, Carrie, Vanessa and their families really began to realise the full effect of what they had done. 

“We sat there in the dark, scrolling through our phones – the feedback started to come in and it just blew us away,” she says. “It was people saying things like ‘this is the most fun you can have in a field without alcohol’ … the one that really hit me was a mum who contacted us and said, ‘I hope you know that today. You make dreams come true.'”

Festability 2023 takes place on 10 June at the Quex Park country estate in Thanet, Kent. If you want to buy tickets to Festability, or wish to help them out by volunteering, you can do so on their website. To keep up with everything Festability related you can follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


Bower Recycling: it pays to recycle

Thanks to a new app recycling can be good for the planet – and for your wallet.

Ooh – tell me more!

Bower Recycling is an app designed to encourage people to recycle. While everyone knows that recycling is good for the planet, people may find it too complicated, or think it is too much to do on an already busy day.

The app gives people a reward through money or coupons for charitable causes when they recycle everyday items.

Does it work?

In countries like Germany, Finland, Norway, and Canada, which have already implemented financial incentives, the recycling rates are above 90%. Alternatively, only 44.4% of household waste in the UK was recycled in 2020.

If you’re interested in using Bower Recycling, you can do so by downloading their app. Additionally, if you want to support a recycling charity, you can give back to Recycle Now to help encourage and optimise recycling in the UK.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


‘London Lonely Girls Club’ helps bring people together

A club tackling loneliness in London is now sitting at 31,000 members.

Amazing! Tell me more.

The London Lonely Girls Club was founded on Facebook in 2018 by Holly Cooke when she moved to the city.

At the start of 2022, they had 10,000 members – now, five years later, after the COVID-19 lockdowns, they have seen around 20,000 new people join.

Why has this happened?

One in 12 Londoners is affected by severe loneliness, according to a report published by the Campaign to End Loneliness.

When people move to London from other places, as Holly did, it can be difficult to make new friends. Since COVID, Holly has set up a few face-to-face meet-ups per month – brunches, picnics and more – and they will be booked up in 5 minutes.

Holly hopes that she can continue bringing people together and tackling loneliness in the capital – through the power of brunch, cocktails, and puppy yoga!

If you’re interested in getting involved with the London Lonely Girls Club, you can do so on their website. If you want to help people who are struggling with loneliness, you can give back to the Campaign to End Loneliness.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


This charity telephone box is for the grieving

Sue Ryder is encouraging people to ‘Be Honest’ about their emotions surrounding grief.

Tell me more.

Sue Ryder, a charity that helps people with bereavement, among other things, has launched a new campaign to get people talking more frankly about their grief.

The campaign urges people ‘To Be Honest’ and share their true emotions associated with grief, without judgement. 

How does it work?

A telephone box for people who are grieving was launched at The Deck on Brighton Seafront this morning, to mark the start of Sue Ryder’s new campaign.

The telephone box – which will be open to the public from 22nd-23rd March – has been designed for those who have lost someone to share how they really feel.

New research from Sue Ryder shows that 74% of bereaved people say that their emotions around grief make them feel guilty on a weekly basis, while 69% of people have been scared or embarrassed to talk about their emotions whilst grieving.

It is hoped that the campaign will help people feel less embarrassed about their feelings of grief, and open up new conversations about bereavement.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


Lifeboat charity saves lives every day

The RNLI has announced that they saved 506 lives in 2022.

Amazing! Tell me more.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity designed to save the lives of people in danger in UK waters. In 2022, they were able to save 506 lives – that’s more than one life saved every day of the year!

Plus, in 2022 the RNLI lifeboats launched 9,312 times– an increase of 5% on 2021. Because of this, the RNLI is calling for people to take part in their Mayday Mile fundraiser.

What is the Mayday Mile?

The charity is putting out its own ‘Mayday’ call, urging the public to take part in the Mayday Mile fundraiser – taking on the challenge of covering a mile a day for the month of May. All money raised will help to provide the vital training and equipment that is needed to keep its lifesavers safe, while they risk their own lives to save others.

So walk it, run it, skate it – even skip it if you’d rather! But sign up for the Mayday Mile Fundraiser, and raise funds for the RNLI to help keep people safe on our coast.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.


11-year-old wins RSPCA award with this amazing pic

An 11-year-old photographer has been announced the winner of the RSPCA’s Young Photographer of the Year.

Tell me more!

This nature-loving 11-year-old from Kearsley in Bolton has just been crowned People’s Choice in the RSPCA’s Young Photographer of the Year.

Ellie-Grace Braidwood had been walking on a local farm with her parents when she spotted the inquisitive sheep that became her winning picture.

Titled ‘Ewe looking at me?’ the winning picture was taken on Samsung Galaxy S10,

What does winning mean?

Ellie-Grace will receive £100 worth of vouchers from, an RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2022 trophy and a certificate. 

The competition is supported by Nature’s Images, Camtraptions and

Entries for the main RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2023 will open on Thursday 4th May 2023.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.


What a night! The 6th Charity Film Awards

Studded with stars and incredible films, the Smiley Charity Film Awards 2023 was a night to remember. 

Hosted by comedian Tom Allen, we had the likes of Arlene Phillips and Jason Watkins, as well as TV presenters AJ and Curtis Pritchard, who were ecstatic to come and celebrate these wonderful charities.

At the beginning of the night, our CEO Nicolas Loufrani addressed the audience, giving them an introduction to Smiley Movement and all the things we are doing to spotlight charities – from our Smiley News articles to our videos highlighting charity work.

And then, it was straight into the winners’ ceremony. What a night it was!

There were so many truly incredible awards given out. Some of the highlights include our overall Charity Film of the Year 2023, won by the Welsh Refugee Council for their film Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary, as well as our People’s Choice Film of the Year 2023, which went to Brooke and their film Unbreakable Bonds.

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to watch all the winning films at the ODEON Luxe, Leicester Square, surrounded by charities whose hard work deserves all the celebration it can get. We know how hard these charities work every single day of the year, so each part of the evening was designed to make them feel like the stars they are.

From goody bags to photo ops, to our yellow carpet walk, there was so much going on. One thing’s for sure, our minds were opened even more to the causes these charities support, and just how important each organisation is for the work they do.

To everyone who was up for an award last night, and even those who were watching along at home – thank you so much, and we hope you had a blast!

The winners of the Charity Film Awards 2023:

Charity Film of the Year 2023

Welsh Refugee CouncilWales is a Nation of Sanctuary

People’s Choice Film of the Year 2023

BrookeUnbreakable Bonds

Bicester Collection International Impact 

Winner: World Connect Inc.The women fish farmers of Ndombo Sandjiry, Senegal

Silver: L’ENVOL – ‘Vanessa facing her children’s illness’

Bronze: Barretstown – ‘Alex’s Story – Press Play with Barretstown’

Corporate Cause

Winner: AsdaThe Real Self-Checkout

Silver: Industrial Metal Services – ‘Giving Back’

Bronze: Samsung Global Goals – ‘We Are The Future’


Winner: Barnardo’s – The Big If

Silver: Save The Children UK – ‘A Celebration of Girls’ Rights’

Bronze: Guide Dogs – ‘One Second Every Day | Making memories with Nell, a six year old with sight loss’

People’s Choice: Canal & River Trust – ‘Our Story’

Silver: RSPCA (England & Wales) – ‘The gift’

Bronze: RNLI – ‘A bedtime story’


Winner: NacroCell Street Repeat at Christmas

Silver: Jewish Care – ‘We Are Open’

Bronze: Shelter – ‘The Drive’

People’s Choice: Anthony NolanOne Little Boy’s Lifesaving Legacy

Silver: Mind – ‘The Fight for Mental Health’

Bronze: Nacro – ‘Cell Street Repeat at Christmas’


WRAP Recycle NowLet’s Get Real About Recycling

Silver: Breast Cancer Now – ‘Real Talk’

Bronze: Groundwork UK – ‘Taking control of rising energy costs with Green Doctor: John’s Story’ 

People’s Choice: Prior’s CourtAutism, the performing arts and Jamie

Silver: Samaritans – ‘Break the silence’

Bronze: Barts Charity – ‘Barts 900’


Martlets HospiceMarc’s Story

Silver: Dementia UK – ‘I live with dementia’

Bronze: Children With Cancer UK – ‘When I Grow Up – Eve’s story’

People’s Choice: The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA)International Working Animal Day 2022

Silver: Havens Hospices – ‘Dying Matters at Havens Hospices – 2022’

Bronze: Dementia UK – ‘I live with dementia’


Charity: WaterWalk for Water

Silver: Child Bereavement UK – ‘Puddle Jumping’ 

Bronze: Justice and Care – ‘Car wash’

People’s Choice: Animals AsiaNo Bear Left Behind

Silver: Great Western Ambulance Charity – ‘Stay with us’

Bronze: Kinship – ‘#ValueOurLove’


Young Westminster FoundationThe Hand That Helps

Silver: Children and Families Across Borders – ‘Finding Home’

Bronze: Care4Calais – ‘Care4Calais – Safe Passage’

People’s Choice: UK Sepsis TrustRaising Awareness in the Farming Community

Silver: The Listening Place – ‘The Listening Place – Volunteers’

Bronze: Waverley Hoppa Community Transport – ‘Waverley Hoppa Community Transport promotional video’


My Life My ChoiceMLMC Travel Buddies Franchise

Silver: Solving Kids’ Cancer UK – ‘Luke’s Legacy’

Bronze: Kidscape with Giants Live – ‘What does STRONG mean to you?’

People’s Choice: Action for Stammering ChildrenMe & My Stammer

Silver: Wheels For All – ‘We Ride Together’

Bronze: Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide – ‘The Ripple Effect’


Harry Kane Foundation Harry Kane: Resilience

Silver: Carney’s Community – ‘Carney’s Community Film’

Bronze: Mankind Initiative – ‘Men, You Are Not Alone’

People’s Choice: Pregnant Then ScrewedBirth during lockdown

Silver: Brighton Table Tennis Club – ‘Bly’s Story’

Bronze: Their Future Today – ‘My Life in Foster Care – An Animated film, based on the true story of Richard Farleigh’

Under £100k

We Care CampaignThe Ones Who Care

Silver: MindFood CIO – ‘BUD’ 

Bronze: Book Clubs in Schools – ‘Books are not just about reading’

People’s Choice: Friends Of Kirkby Fleetham CE Primary School – Watch Us Grow

Silver: T-21 Charity – ‘Birch Tree Cafe – What we are about’

Bronze: Save A Kill Shelter Dog – ‘Benjamin and Eira’s Story’

Longform £20m+

Action Aid International Perfect Storm

Silver: Alzheimer’s Research UK – ‘Ray & Mariel’

Bronze: Parkinson’s UK – ‘Parkinson’s, DBS and Me – Decision Day’

People’s Choice: Parkinson’sDBS and Me – Episode 8: Decision Day

Silver: Alzheimer’s Research UK –‘Ray & Mariel’

Bronze: Action Aid International – Perfect Storm

Longform £5m-£20m

Teenage Cancer TrustFrancesca’s story – Royal Albert Hall 2022

Silver: Royal Trinity Hospice – ‘Royal Trinity Hospice: Every Moment Matters’

Bronze: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust – ‘Chimney Meadows wetland restoration project’

People’s Choice: Khalsa Aid InternationalFeeding Humanity One Meal At A Time

Silver: Cash For Kids – ‘The Block’

Bronze: Mountbatten Isle of Wight – ‘Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime’

Longform £350k-£5m

The Wave Project Victory of Determination

Silver: Niemann-Pick UK (NPUK) – ‘Invisible Manners’

Bronze: AfriKids – ‘How to Make a Difference in Africa’

People’s Choice:

Grief EncounterOut of Darkness

Silver: YGAM – ‘Do It For Her’

Bronze: Epilepsy Scotland – ‘Phil’s epilepsy story’

Longform Under £350k

Boys In Mind Will’s Story

Silver: Power for the People – ‘Remba Island: Creating Transformational Change with Handshakes not Handouts’

Bronze: Big Love Charity – ‘Resourcing Hope’

People’s Choice: Streets2HomesHelping Those Who Are Homeless

Silver: Phoenix Heroes CIC – ‘Tackling PTSD Carp Fishing’

Bronze: Withington Walls – ‘Make yourself at home’


8 ways you can spread joy for free

Whenever people suggest doing something nice for someone else, it can often come with a cost. Buying them lunch, driving them somewhere, sending a gift.

But kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing, as we all know. So, in light of that, we’ve come up with eight free things you can do to spread joy to others around you.

Because we could all do with a little more happiness in our lives, right?


It’s 2023, and unsolicited pics are out – unless, of course, they’re pet pics. If you know your mate is down, why not slide into their DMs with an adorable picture of your pet? Whether it’s your pup posing for the camera, or kitten pics for days, we know they’ll appreciate seeing what your furry friends are up to.


You might think this is low-hanging fruit – but there’s real science behind this one, honest! Smiling at strangers can boost feelings of social connectedness, and will help you feel happier for longer. Plus, who doesn’t like to see happy smiling faces when they’re out and about?


Spread joy to your neighbours, as well as local pets and wildlife by picking up litter as you go about your day. When people litter, it can be dangerous for wildlife like squirrels, foxes and birds, as well as pets like dogs and cats. Plus, we’ve all had that moment of horror when you step out in your new shoes, only to tread on chewing gum or a half-full drink can or something. Spread the joy – clean up your streets. Have a browse of CleanUpUK to find out more.


We talk a lot about volunteering at Smiley News – and that’s because it’s a really great thing to do. By just giving up a couple of hours a week or month to volunteer, you can bring joy to plenty of people and animals.

Plus, volunteering can help boost your self esteem and makes you happier, so you’re even spreading joy to yourself. Bonus points if you take a friend or two along with you and have some fun while you do it.


Not everyone is good at talking about their feelings, or even just letting loved ones know when they’re feeling down – that’s why it’s so important to check in regularly with the people you care about. If you want to spread some joy today, send a text to a family member or friend, ask them honestly how they are – and let them know how much you care about them.

Time To Talk shouldn’t just be one day of the year.


We’re all guilty of letting the washing pile up every now and again, especially when things get busy. But, when you live with someone else, it doesn’t always feel great. So if you noticed you’ve dropped the ball lately, pick up some of the slack – clean the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, or was up a few dishes.

Most importantly – do it without asking! That’s what makes it count.


If you’re baking anyway, why not take those leftovers and use them to spread a little happiness? Rather than keeping them to yourself and forgetting all about them until you eventually have to throw them away, drop them off with a friend, or a neighbour, or even take them to work and share them with your colleagues.

Home baking always spreads joy – and if you’re making it anyway, what have you got to lose?


Everyone gets gifts that they don’t like – it’s just a fact of life. Alternatively, we’ll be the first to admit that we can sometimes buy things we don’t need, and it can leave us with a desperate need to declutter. But rather than dropping it all off at the tip or selling it online, think about your friends and family first.

Do you have a book they covet that you no longer want? Or perhaps your niece and nephew get way more use out of that old swingset than you ever do? One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure – so maybe think about that before you throw things out, and see if you can make someone’s day.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.