‘Volunteering has given me a new perspective on life’

One very special puppy has graduated from university thanks to her foster parent.


Megan Davies, aged 21, from Cardiff decided to volunteer as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs Cymru while studying for a degree in Animal Health and Welfare. 

Her guide dog puppy, Cariad, was able to come to classes with her, and (unsurprisingly!) was a huge hit with everyone.

What was volunteering with Guide Dogs like?

According to Megan, “I would recommend volunteering to other students – it’s a lot of fun and I’ve met so many amazing people. It’s given me a new perspective on life.

“It was a proud moment when I graduated and Cariad came up on stage with me. She got the biggest round of applause of the day.”

Megan graduated last year and is now working as a PA for a local guide dog owner. She also takes part in fundraising for her local Guide Dogs group.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Guide Dogs UK. Guide Dogs is here to help people with sight loss across the UK, live the life they choose. Support them here.

Four Paws UK. This charity is an animal welfare organisation, working globally to help animals in need. Learn more here.

RSPCA. This is the leading animal welfare charity in the UK, and they specialise in animal rescue & furthering the welfare cause for all animals. Find out more here.

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

Culture News

We Met A Charity CEO In A McDonald’s Restaurant. Here’s why.

Ella Joseph is the Chief Executive of Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.

They provide free ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families with children in Hospital.

This means that families can be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments, whilst maintaining a degree of normal life and reducing emotional and financial strain.

They rely on the generosity of fundraisers to help them support families in their Houses. Their vision is for every child in hospital to have their families close by, and to ensure families are fully supported in their Houses and remain actively involved in their child’s care.

Visit the Ronald McDonald House Charities Website


Why volunteering is so important

It’s Volunteers Week, which is probably one of our favourite times of the year at Smiley News! We’ve got a whole host of brilliant interviews, articles, and videos coming your way in celebration – and this one is just the beginning.

Sarrah Fatima has spent a large portion of her life volunteering for various organisations – and, since settling down in her career, still regularly makes time for volunteering and giving back.

“I have been volunteering since I was 16,” Sarrah tells Smiley News. “This first started because of a credit requirement for my school, but I enjoyed my time working there so much and found it so interesting to meet different people, who I otherwise may not have had an opportunity to interact with.”

After that, Sarrah volunteered for a variety of organisations including Cancer Research, Guide Dogs UK, and the Samaritans, before she settled with St Andrews Healthcare.

Sarrah first volunteered as a Volunteer Assistant Psychologist. Her work helped her find employment, and she continues to donate her time to St Andrews even now.

“I was finishing my BSc in Psychology and was looking for a way to gain experience in the field,” explains Sarrah. “Psychology can be very competitive and this was a great way to enter the field and have a guided introduction to the different professions in MDT and understand how wards work.”

How can you have an impact as a volunteer?

For Sarrah, volunteering is an incredibly valuable way to learn more about her line of work, and to get a broader outlook on life.

“It’s a great way to learn more about how to interact with patients and understand how staff work together to provide efficient and effective care,” she says. “It was invaluable in allowing me the opportunity to network with staff working in job roles I aspired to be in, so gave me a great chance to pick their brain and seek advice I otherwise would not have had access to.”

What is the impact of volunteerism?

Studies have shown that, not only is volunteering useful for the charities you’re helping, it also has an amazing effect on the volunteers! It helps to decrease stress levels, as well as alleviating depression and anxiety. The act of giving back and seeing the positive effects of your actions is great for boosting your self esteem.

Plus, if you’re volunteering in a sector related to your career, it can give so many more benefits. When it comes to volunteering, the best thing to do really is to jump right in, see what you can make of it and experience what an incredible impact you can have on the world.

“You have absolutely nothing to lose [by volunteering] and everything to gain,” says Sarrah. “Not only are you able to learn how to interact with different population groups but also get exposure to different working environments, roles and procedures. This networking opportunity is invaluable.”

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

The Brain Charity. The Brain Charity provides free support for carers, friends and family of people with any form of neurological condition, including ADHD. Support them here.

Ripple Suicide Prevention. R;pple exists to ensure immediate mental health support is presented to individuals following a harmful online search. Learn more here.

Campaign to End Loneliness. This charity campaigns to make sure that people most at risk of loneliness are reached and supported. Support them here.

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


The Gen-Zers volunteering for refugees

One of the biggest problems facing refugees is that once they are somewhere safe it can be incredibly difficult to find work. Luckily, a huge network of volunteers is coming together to change that.

At Smiley News, we have written about organisations helping refugees find work before – social enterprises like Nemi Teas are a great example of this. For BizGees, though, things are a little different.

BizGees is a social enterprise made up of volunteer professionals, helping refugees to build – and rebuild – relevant skills. The whole charity is steam-powered by volunteers who, in their professional lives, are pros at a specific vocational skill.

“The way we [work] is … to enable people to rebuild their skills and stay relevant in the job market,” explains Zufi Deo, Co-Founder at BizGees. “Our volunteers nurture a specific vocational skill that refugees can take with them into the job market afterwards.”

This week is National Volunteers Week, organised by NCVO – a whole week dedicated to showcasing the incredible volunteers that keep organisations like these ticking over. Without volunteers, so many charitable organisations wouldn’t be able to operate, and we would be much worse off for it.

Volunteering with BizGees is aimed at Gen-Zers, primarily students and young professionals, who are eager to give back to people in need of a helping hand. Many of these volunteers are in the perfect place to teach others important, employable skills, having just recently learned themselves.

The main goal of BizGees isn’t to find fast and easy, low-paying work for refugees in need, but to equip them with the tools they need to build a better life for themselves. By giving them a few months to work with volunteers, finding what they are good at, and passionate about, and then teaching them how to market that, BizGees are helping people to create long-term solutions.

On why young people are so important to the world of volunteering, and why they are so keen to give back, Zufi answered, “I think it’s just how young people are … we’re finding that we are very engaged in volunteering. I think it’s also a sign of the times where we are much more socially engaged in other than before.”

Volunteering is such an amazing way to spend your time, not only because it helps you give back to people and charities in need, but because it helps you as a person, too. Studies have shown that people struggling with mental health problems like depression and anxiety felt symptoms alleviate when volunteering.

Plus, volunteering with those from different walks of life than yourself is always good – it gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons, to understand the importance of diversity.

“It was very emotionally engaging because I started volunteering with big-ish foundation and learning about homeless people,” says Zufi, of his own experience with volunteering at the start of his career. “I got the opportunity to see what they’re about, rather than the perception you have. … Just by volunteering, you learn so much more about the kinds of issues that are going on.” 

If you want to learn more about BizGees and how to volunteer with them, you can do so on their website. If you want to learn more about National Volunteers Week, you can find out more on the website, or by visiting the NCVO site.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Reach Volunteering. The leading skills-based volunteering charity in the UK, Reach connects people, skills and good causes. Find out more here.

Small Charity Week. Come together and celebrate small charities all across the UK. Support them here.

NCVO. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations – championing the remarkable role of charities and volunteers. Learn more here.

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


Top 3 new businesses: From altruistic shoes to eco yurts

We’re back with a roundup of brand-new businesses that are dedicated to giving back!

This week we have mindfulness, wellness, and some stylish shoes that will help you give back while you strut your stuff.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!


The first on our list is Mindfulness for Learning. A well-being centre for educators and parents, Mindfulness for Learning is aiming to make the education system better for everyone. 

Sophie Smith-Tong, the founder who still works full time as a teacher, delivers kids yoga classes, child 1:1 well-being sessions and free online mindfulness for children over the school holidays.

As well as this, she hosts webinars for parents and teachers that are free or priced as low as £3, to help provide support and advice. 


Yurtshire is a luxury yurt resort in Yorkshire, which is home to premium amenities (such as hot tubs and pizza ovens) and beautiful interiors (fully equipped kitchens and stargazing ceilings – images attached).

Most importantly, Yurtshire is dedicated to sustainability, and has promised to plant 2,000 more trees with its own pledge to the environment. They are aiming to work with the nature around them and protect, restore and reconnect the site’s own varied natural habitats, while ensuring that wildlife continues to thrive. 


The classic shoe brand Toms gives back in a big way – by donating ⅓ of their profits to grassroots organisations to help provide mental health support to those in need. From this contribution, they have impacted 100 million lives so far and show no signs of stopping.

They are a B Corp that are dedicated to giving back to our planet and are always looking for ways to improve themselves and help others.

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


‘Story slam’ event has a donation twist

Something Smiley News likes to do is tell stories with a purpose, highlighting organizations and individuals trying to do good in the world or their communities.

PWPVideo is very similar in that they try to tell stories that have a purpose.  

“At PWPvideo we tell stories for a living,” they write. “We’re ‘Video with a Mission’ and we specialize in telling the stories of people on a mission to make the world a better place. It is part of our DNA to give back to the community in which we live and work.”

It’s a for-profit corporation, working as a certified B Corp, but its main focus is on organizations doing good, non-profit or otherwise.

“Our primary focus has, for many years, been nonprofits but as we entered the B Corp world, we also started to focus on other sustainable organizations,” PWP Founder, Michael Schweisheimer tells Smiley News. “And we create all video-based communication pieces for organizations like that, but depending on what they need they tend to range from educational videos to PSAs.”

PWPVideo also works to give back to the community helping tell their stories. One of the biggest ways they do that is with their event, Mission Story Slam.

Mission Story Slam – what is it?

Mission Story Slam is an event they host an event where they invite people to come and tell their stories. Storytellers compete by telling a 5-minute true story on a theme. A panel of 3 judges selects the best story to win a $250 donation to their favorite nonprofit. The audience also votes for the crowd favorite story to win a $100 donation.

Storytelling events became very popular in the area around PWPVideo in Philadelphia through organizations like First Person Arts and they wanted to use the popularity and bring people together.

“So we just combined the two things and we go out to a bar that has really good beer and tell stories with friends,” PWPVideo producer and Mission Story Slam co-founder, Dave Winston, tells Smiley News.

“As human beings, we have done that around the campfire since we crawled down out of the trees, so that was kind of like combining the commerce of what we do with the desire to really build community among people we share values with.”

They hold the event twice a year and they view it as a bonding event for community members and people that are part of a non-profit to come together. They also record the stories that people tell and post them online for them to share hopefully bringing some spotlight to the causes they’re trying to cover. 

“Sometimes we need to take a break and, and share in our successes or maybe even talk a little bit about our challenges and failures sometimes and it’s really energizing,” Michael says. “It’s a very energizing night.”

They’ve since expanded their offerings to something like a Mission Story Salon, inspired by Jeffersonian Dinners where people get together and discuss a specific guest of honor or topic. 

They also have a podcast where they try to cover people who have been through the Story Slam.

“That was something where we were looking for more shareable content,” Dave says. “To give everybody who comes out an opportunity to tell their story, taking a five-minute story you’re telling and here’s a half an hour to go deeper into it.”

Michael is happy to be where he’s at today.

“At PWP we’re very lucky that well, we also create our own luck, we do good work, I’m very proud of the work that we do and the team that we’ve put together in our 20 years,” he says.

Check out First Person Arts and Mission Story Slam more if you’re interested and maybe look to start a storytelling night in your community.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


‘Simply the best’: Tina Turner’s activism

This week, legendary musician Tina Turner passed away after a long bout of illness. In her 83 years, she revolutionized soul and rock, earning the monicker, the ‘Queen of rock ‘n’ roll.’ But she was also renowned for campaigning against domestic violence.

In a recording career that spanned six decades, Turner found fame both as a solo artist and in a duo with her first husband, Ike Turner. Turner won six of her eight Grammy Awards in the 1980s. In that decade she landed a dozen songs in the Top 40, including “Typical Male,” “The Best,” “Private Dancer” and “Better Be Good to Me.”

She was busy off the stage as well. Being an abuse survivor at the hands of her ex-husband Ike, she advocated for those who have experienced domestic violence.

“Tina’s story is not one of victimhood but one of incredible triumph,” singer Janet Jackson wrote about Turner.

She was seen as an icon across eras and an inspiration for many. 

“Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like,” actor Angela Bassett said. “Her final words to me – for me – were ‘You never mimicked me. Instead, you reached deep into your soul, found your inner Tina, and showed her to the world.’”

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Path Home. This organization helps families facing homelessness in Portland, Oregon. Find out more and support them here

Hope South Florida. They help people affected by homelessness across the tri-county South Florida. Find out more
National Coalition for the Homeless. They aid homeless people around the country through their many branches. Support them here.

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


84 year old hits £1M target for Macmillan

The Man With The Pram has reached his fundraising goal of £1 million for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Tell me more!

Smiley News has covered John Burkhill before, but this news deserves its own story!

Affectionately known around his hometown of Sheffield as ‘The Man With The Pram’, 84-year-old John Burkhill, has reached his goal of raising £1 million for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Why does he do it?

Since 2007, John has been raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of his wife and daughter. With his green pram, bright green wig and foam finger, he is a well known figure in Sheffield, and at various marathons and events he attends to raise money for Macmillan.

We’re so chuffed for John that he finally met his goal, and his money is going to such a brilliant cause!

If you want to help John surpass his goal of £1 million for Macmillan, you can do so by donating to his JustGiving page. If you want to give back to Macmillan by doing your own fundraiser or volunteering, you can find out more on their website.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Macmillan Cancer Support. They provide specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer. Learn more here.

Cancer Research UK. This charity provides information for anyone affected by any kind of cancer. Support them here.

Maggie’s. Offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and the people important to them. Find out more here.

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


Meet the banks that are doing good

Gone are the days of Granny hiding rolled up 20s under a loose floorboard or stuffed in her pillowcase – in 2023, we all need a bank.

That being said, it’s no simple task to pick the right bank for your needs, especially if you want to trust your money to a company that matches your own values.

So don’t fret – here are five banks that give back.


Kroo is a digital bank, and right from the beginning, customers start making an impact. As soon they set up their account, Kroo plants two trees for every new customer.

Kroo’s tree planting initiative focuses on growing communities through their partner, One Tree Planted. They have two projects they currently support: combatting food insecurity through fruit trees in India through planting trees, and improving biodiversity and climate resiliency in Guatemala by restoring 1,025 hectares of mangrove ecosystem.

Plus, in April 2023, Kroo customers will be able to choose in-app which project their trees contribute to. We love it.

Kroo has partnerships with companies to help support employees and their mental health. They also chose to treat their debit cards with an additive to make them degradable, helping the planet and their people.


CAF Bank is run by CAF Group, of the Charities Aid Foundation, which helps connect vital organisations, institutions and individuals to help provide for our future. The aim of CAF Bank is to provide social enterprises and charities with the affordable, repayable finance they need to sustain and grow their social impact.

Through their Social Business Impact Programme, CAF Bank is committed to helping small business owners from minority communities grow and thrive, diversifying the UK.


Lloyds does more than just let us watch emotional trailers featuring beautiful horses – they have huge amounts of charitable efforts going on. Since 2018, there has been £110 million donated to Lloyds’ own Charitable Foundation, 2 million trees planted with the Woodland Trust – and an incredible £15 million fundraised for Mental Health UK.

Plus, they have a huge amount of available programmes and resources aimed at different communities, to give people the best possible financial education.


Hampshire Trust Bank, is part of the Neighbourly network, a platform which connects enterprise sized businesses to local charities and community groups. Amazingly, all Hampshire trust Bank employees each get 1 day a year of volunteering through their ‘People Power’ campaign.

Thanks to Neighbourly, Hampshire Trust Bank has so far supported 23 good causes through 172 volunteering hours since November 2022 and is targeting over 1,600 hours to make a difference in its local communities.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Culture Equality Planet

Angelina Jolie announces new sustainable fashion brand

People often find interesting ways to cut down on pollution and trash. Companies have incorporated large amounts of recycled material into their supply stream. There are countless stories Smiley News has covered about people removing trash from the system. And now international celebrity Angelina Jolie joins that group.

Jolie has teased a ‘purpose-driven’ sustainable fashion brand called Atelier Jolie, which has the goal of democratizing fashion, allowing more artists to break into the industry, while cutting back on waste.

The label will only use leftover, quality vintage material and deadstock while encouraging consumers to repair and upcycle pieces from their own wardrobes.

“Fashion is an art I’ve had the opportunity to play with over the years. I’ve designed clothes and learned about shapes with many of the best tailors,” Jolie said in a letter. “Designers often sketch or approve designs, but it is the tailors who make the difference and who I truly love creating with. And yet, these makers rarely receive the credit and respect they deserve.”

To see the vision Atelier Jolie will aim to allow customers to have access to a collective of emerging designers and master artisans.

“We hope to create a community of creativity and inspiration, regardless of socio-economic background,” Jolie continues in the letter. “We will spotlight the people who play a part in each creation. We will bring together a diverse team, including apprenticeships for refugees and other talented, underappreciated groups, with positions of dignity based on skill. And as we work with global artisans and creators, we hope to help share the richness of their cultural heritage and support the development of their own businesses.”

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Beacon Food Forest. This is one of the largest food forests in the country. Find out more and support them here

Cultural Survival. They are an indigenous-led nonprofit focused on empowering indigenous Americans and helping the planet. Find out more

American Forests. A conservation organization focused on preserving and protecting American forests. Support them here

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.