The Bridge Homelessness to Hope

On a typical Sunday more than 100 homeless people sit down to lunch with Keith Lawson-West and his team at The Bridge in Leicester.

As well as a hot meal they also have access to showers, clothes and toiletries. And throughout the week the charity provides their clients with a wide array of advice and support, from legal advice to health check-ups and yoga sessions.

It’s all part of their drive to help some of Leicester’s most vulnerable residents go from homelessness to hope, in a city where more than one in five of the residents live in a household classed as ‘income deprived’.

Keith, who set up The Bridge in 2009 explained: “We’re revolutionary in many ways.

“We’ve started a fitness group because if you’re feeling better about yourself you can engage with more learning. We’ve got funding to start art and therapy groups, we’re going to start a gardening group – things designed to make people feel better about themselves, to build hope.

“It will take five years for these people to realise their potential but we can see the vision we have is going to work.”

The Bridge work from a hub based close to the city centre where they invite student doctors, legal students and the Job Centre to come and work with the city’s homeless, and they regularly have around 150 people looking for help and support at any one time. They also raise much-needed funds from their mobile coffee wagon, financed by a grant and loan from social investment group Key Fund.

Patrick Harris, 52, is an outreach worker with the charity, who was inspired to help others after he lived on the streets for four years.

He said: “The Bridge is part of my life. I’m here six days per week, I know how much it’s needed.

“I get up at 4am, ride my bike into town – say come down, get them something to eat, a shower, a change of clothes, ask them questions – do you have a doctor, are you on benefits? When they’re in the building we can slowly work with them.

“It’s about love. These guys are missing the love. Someone to sit down and talk to them and say how’s your day, how do you feel – it’s just that love.”

The Bridge need donations of clothes and toiletries for the homeless people they help as well as unwanted furniture which will help those moving into homes from the street.

For more information see

Connect on social:


Twitter: @LeicesterBridge

Instagram: @leicesterbridge

Original Article by Jenna Sloan

Culture Equality

Audiobook Charity Seeks To End Isolation and Make Reading Accessible For Everyone

FOR anyone feeling lonely or isolated, the pleasure and escape of reading a book can be invaluable – especially for children.

But for kids with special educational needs who struggle with reading, trying to get to grips with a story or even a set text on their school curriculum can instead become a source of stress and anxiety.

Listening Books, a small audiobook charity, saw how pupils with learning difficulties were missing out on reading, and decided to launch their Sound Learning programme.

It started in 2002 as a pilot with 25 secondary schools in London, and a further 100 individuals around the country. The results showed how much students with learning difficulties benefited from being able to access the same stories and books as their friends and peers.

The project now records more than 30 educational books and stories a year, all aimed at children aged seven to 16.

Louise Barling is the charity’s library manager. She explained: “Our Sound Learning project is invaluable for those children and young adults who cannot access the written word.

“As well as all the wonderful fiction we buy, we also ensure we provide those books that are set texts and aren’t already available in audio so that the children who need them can have the same opportunities and the same chance at achieving the same grades, and love of literature, as their peers.”

Parents regularly report that audiobooks have had a hugely positive impact on both their children and the wider family.

Catherine’s daughter Sophie was anxious about school and refusing to attend before they started the project. She said: “At the same time we joined Listening Books, we moved to a more supportive school.

“From that moment I think Sophie has listened to Listening Books every day. She loves it. She listens to it every day in the bath and at bedtime and usually falls asleep listening to a story. It has become her oasis of calm.”

And Sophie feels more confident thanks to the project. She said: “Life would be hard without it as I listen to it to get myself to sleep. It helps in English as I know bigger words and what they mean.”

Now Listening Books want to spread the word about Sound Learning and make sure every child who would benefit from listening to an audiobook can take part. To do this they are appealing to anyone with a marketing background to volunteer a few hours in order to help them put in place a marketing campaign to achieve their goal.

If you think you can help go to for more information or find them on social:


Twitter: @ListeningBooks

Instagram: @listeningbooks


Original Article by Jenna Sloan


Caring Cooks – Teaching Primary School Kids How To Cook

FROM trying new foods for the first time to making new friends, teaching kids how to cook healthy and nutritious meals is a skill that will stay with them for life.

And it’s a skill that the charity Caring Cooks want every child in their home of Jersey to be able to develop.

Their Let’s Get Cooking programme puts cookery teachers into selected primary schools across the island and teams them up with children aged five to 11.

Starting with simple tasks such as using a measuring spoon and buttering bread, by the time they get to their final year in school many of the pupils are confidently making meals such as risotto for their families.

Melissa Nobrega is the charity’s CEO. She explained: “It is becoming increasingly clear that individuals are becoming reliant on convenience food and are less able to cook healthy food from scratch.

“This is a major problem for future generations who may never learn basic cookery skills or the fundamentals of nutrition, because their families often don’t have that knowledge themselves. “With one in three children leaving primary school either overweight or obese, Caring Cooks wanted to do something positive to empower children and their families to live healthier lives and understand how to take care of their own wellbeing.”

Learning how to cook healthy, nutritious meals can not only be beneficial for children’s health and wellbeing, but also for their future career choices. Making sure kids develop cookery skills from a young age is particularly important for an island like Jersey, where many jobs are connected to the hospitality and tourism industry.

Melissa added: “Hospitality is one of the major employers in Jersey, and at Caring Cooks we believe that imparting culinary education not only encourages wellbeing, but also begins to create a generation that can fill the many hospitality jobs on the island.”

Parents and children who have attended the programme have also seen a difference in how they eat as a family. One parent commented that their child now enjoyed foods such as cucumber, avocado, prawns and tomatoes while one pupil said they now enjoyed ‘helping mummy more’.

While the programme has been a success so far, Caring Cooks now want to be able to go to every primary school in Jersey and give every child the opportunity to learn how to cook.

Melissa said: “We have fantastic cookery teachers ready to deliver the lessons to schools, and schools who would love to come on board and participate, but we lack the funding needed to deliver the teaching.

“We would be grateful for any financial help or sponsorship as we would eventually love to deliver this initiative to every school in Jersey – giving every child an equal opportunity to learn and benefit from these lessons.”

To find out more visit or find them on social:


Twitter: @CaringCooks

Original Article by Jenna Sloan


Big Issues Invest Benefits from £325k investment books


Big Issue Invest, has benefitted from a £325k investment boost from the Places Foundation to support up to 20 social enterprises in England and Scotland over the next five years. The Places Foundation is an independent charity that is supported by the Places for People Group, a leading placemaker in the UK.

The first round of investment has, in turn, been distributed by Big Issue Invest to nine social enterprises to support them in tackling a range of social issues including young people’s mental health, youth inclusion and social isolation.

Hey Girls, a Scottish based social enterprise tackling period poverty through the distribution of free sanitary products was one of the successful recipients.

Established in 2017, Hey Girls tackles period poverty by giving a girl or woman one pack of products for every pack bought. Over 137,000 children in the UK missed school due to period poverty in 2018. 1 in 10 girls have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues. In the past twelve months they have donate 2.4 million products.

“We are delighted to receive support from Big Issue Invest which will enable the company to grow and expanded our social reach.  The support both financial and non-financial has been fundamental to our achievements to date”. Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls said. 

Danyal Sattar, CEO at Big Issue Invest, said: “It is great to be working alongside Places for People. This is a new and exciting relationship which gives us the opportunity to reach and support more communities across the UK. As part of the Big Issue Group with a focus on homelessness we recognise the important role housing associations play in helping to turn around disadvantaged communities. This is a partnership which focuses on the core social mission of both our organisations”.

“Our partnership with Big Issue Invest enables us to provide additional finance to support a wide range of social enterprises that use creative approaches to make a real difference to their communities.” Marcus Hulme, Social Value Director, Places for People Group said. 

“The Places Foundation which is supported by the Places for People Group aims to help people fulfil their potential and the finance will be used by Big Issue Invest to support up to 20 social enterprises over the next five years. The investment builds on our existing commitment to the Corporate Social Venturing programme which has been a great success”.

Culture Planet

Girlfriend Collective Releases “The Wash Bag” to Keep Microfibers Out of Oceans

Girlfriend Collective, the trendy and relatively sustainable activewear brand known for making its matching workout sets from recycled plastic, has just introduced a new product to help lower fashion’s impact. In an email to subscribers on Wednesday morning, Jan. 15, Girlfriend Collective unveiled the Wash Bag, a portable mesh washing bag that traps microfibers your clothing releases in the washing machine, and keeps the synthetic particles from entering waterways.

The Wash Bag is made from monofilament similar to fishing line, so the bag itself will not shed in the washing machine, and it won’t let any microfibers escape — instead, it will only let soap and water in and out. The bag is notably similar to the Guppyfriend bag, which was previously the only (or at least the primary) microfiber washing bag on the market.

But while the Guppyfriend bag retails for between $29.75 and $42, Girlfriend Collective’s Wash Bag retails for $18. The lower price is reflective of the product’s size (the Wash Bag is 15″ tall and 12 1/4″ wide, while the Guppyfriend is 27 9/16” tall and 19 11/16” wide), as well as Girlfriend Collective’s direct-to-consumer business model (Guppyfriend is sold by a variety of retailers, including Patagonia, Reformation, and Package Free Shop).

To use the Wash Bag, fill it up with synthetic fabrics no more than three-quarters of the way full, zip it closed, and throw the entire bag into the washing machine alongside your natural-fiber clothes. (You can also use the bag to hand wash synthetic clothing in the sink.) After washing, hang the Wash Bag to dry, and scrape out microfibers into the trash. This is obviously not ideal, but better in the landfill than in rivers or oceans. To ensure that the fibers remain contained, you can scrape them into a bottle or container, and once full, putting the bottle itself into the trash.

Interestingly, the Wash Bag is Girlfriend Collective’s second product designed to help consumers keep microfibers out of the ocean. The company also sells the Microfiber Filter, a $45 microfiber filter that can be installed on your washing machine. For people who do their laundry in a shared washing machine, installing a filter is not an option — so something portable like the Wash Bag (or the Guppyfriend or the Cora Ball, which retails for $37.99) may be more accessible.

How Do Microfibers Shed?

When fabric rolls around in the washing machine, it sheds microfibers, which are are teeny-tiny fibers (less than 5 millimeters in diameter). This is only a concern when washing fabric made from synthetic materials (think polyester, nylon, spandex, rayon), which will not break down (unlike fibers from natural materials such as cotton or bamboo, which will break down in the water).

Why Are Microfibers Bad?

Microfibers are also a kind of microplastic — so when these tiny fibers shed in the machine, they enter the water pipes, and flow to waterways like oceans and rivers; once there, they become plastic pollution, and are often consumed by fish and other sea animals. An estimated 100,000 synthetic microfibers are shed during every wash cycle, according to Wired.

How to Keep Laundry From Shedding Microfibers

There are a variety of ways to lower the amount of microfibers your laundry cycles release, even if you don’t have the Wash Bag or a similar product. According to Plastic Pollution Coalition, you can: run loads as full as possible (full loads cause less friction and less microfibers to shed); wash with cold water, which encourages less microfibers to release and uses less energy; wash your clothing less often; and wear clothing made from natural materials instead of synthetics.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh –  Source Green Matters

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

To find out more about Plastic Pollution Coalition and ways to get involved, go to their website.


Big Book Club

The benefits of reading stories for children are huge; it fires up their imagination, encourages creativity, helps family bonding and can provide an escape from tough situations.

But it’s not just children who enjoy reading stories; older people aged 65 plus are the most frequent group to visit libraries.

And new charity the Big Book Club aims to bridge the storytelling gap between the two generations.

It was while watching a TV show where four-year-olds meet residents of nursing homes that Lee Price and his wife Katie decided to set up the project.

Lee recalls: “Both Katie and I sobbed our way through the show. Seeing the amazing impact that children reading stories had on older people was inspiring.

“The TV show was a one off project, but we both wanted to make something similar happen in our community on a more regular basis.

“Our daughter Astrix is almost three, and seeing how much pleasure she gets from reading stories with her great-grandparents, and them from reading to her, made us want to create that experience for older people in our local area who may well feel lonely or isolated.”

The pair recruited a series of trustees and formed the charity. Their pilot project will take place in the coming weeks at a local nursing home in Milton Keynes, Bucks, and they then plan to increase their scale and reach.

Lee said: “The Big Book Club is an opportunity to get away from screens, get away from division in society and, most importantly, get into a good book.

“The benefits of children spending time with elderly people are profound, on both parties. While the value of reading almost goes unsaid.

“What we do is really very simple – we encourage reading, learning, and sharing. As well as exploring the books we provide, we think there’s just as much, if not more, to gain from the time spent with someone from a different generation.”

But what they now need are books. The project wants to create a library of stories which both young children and elderly people will find engaging and enjoyable, which they can use on their visits.

In the future The Big Book Club also want to donate books to schools whose stocks may be tired or out of date, giving kids the opportunity to read new and modern stories which reflect the work around them.

Lee added: “We want to make sure the books we use are exciting and treasurable. We only get one shot at a first impression, we don’t want to turn children off from reading.”

If you could fund a children’s book for the project then The Big Book Club have a wishlist at Amazon here:

You can also visit their website to donate:

By Jenna Sloan

Culture Planet

Green Climate Fund to Step Up Support for Projects That Tackle ‘Loss and Damage’

MADRID, Dec 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — As pressure grows on rich countries to help vulnerable nations cope with worsening weather disasters and rising seas, the Green Climate Fund expects to expand its backing for projects that can tackle such “loss and damage,” said its executive director.

“We are, in a lot of regards, already helping countries to take steps in that direction,” Yannick Glemarec said in an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Madrid.

He said countries can apply to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for finance to put in place early warning systems, weather insurance, or infrastructure resilient to climate stresses, for example — and funding of such projects would likely increase in the coming years.

The question of where the money will come from to cover the growing costs of economic and other losses linked to global warming is a hot topic at the UN Summit, with wealthy countries reluctant to agree to any new forms of funding for it.

The GCF, created at UN negotiations in 2010, is the biggest global climate fund, and has a mandate to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate shifts — but dealing with loss and damage is not specified as part of its mission.

UN work on loss and damage only began in earnest after a mechanism to tackle it was set up in 2013.

But developing states and aid agencies have complained in Madrid that the mechanism has achieved little in terms of offering real help and will struggle to do so without dedicated finance.

Omar Figueroa, Belize’s minister of state for environment, said loss and damage from climate change was an “existential issue” for low-lying island nations hit by bigger, more frequent storms and rising seas.

Damage from those was costing decades of development gains, he said.

“It is time to make this [UN] mechanism deliver,” he told journalists at the talks.

Ideally, many developing states would like to see a new fund set up specifically to help them address loss and damage.

But with that looking politically impossible, a proposal was tabled in Madrid for the GCF to provide assistance with some aspects of the problem.

Those include longer-term pressures, such as rising seas, forcing coastal dwellers to relocate.

Glemarec said the GCF’s mandate could only be changed by UN negotiators, but he emphasised it had already begun work to help vulnerable nations deal with problems, such as land loss.

In the low-lying Pacific country of Tuvalu, for example, it is giving a $36 million grant to protect the atoll nation’s coastlines from intensifying cyclones and encroaching oceans through measures such as rebuilding beaches and putting in place sea walls and barriers to prevent erosion.

Glemarec, a former senior UN official, said he hoped the GCF could start its first regional program for the Pacific in mid-2020 to help island states make their infrastructure and economies better able to withstand climate change impacts.

“It is one of our greatest ambitions to make sure we can play a supportive role,” he added.

Prevention Lags

Another gripe of some of the poorest countries is that accessing money from the GCF is a lengthy and convoluted process — one that is often beyond the limited resources and skills of their government teams.

“We are hearing it a lot — and it’s fair,” said Glemarec.

The young fund — which has only been operating for about five years — will simplify and speed up its project submission and approval procedures next year, he added, and offer new tools, including a manual on how to prepare proposals.

However, even though the GCF plans to step up its activities to combat loss and damage, it has only a limited amount of money to spend — and that will not be enough, Glemarec warned.

In October, it raised $9.8 billion in fresh funds from rich countries for the next four years. Glemarec said that total would soon reach $10 billion with expected new contributions.

Mami Mizutori, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said international funding to help countries cope with rising climate risks was sorely lacking. She encouraged the GCF to step in as its mandate and resources allowed.

Data compiled by her agency, which tracks human and economic losses from disasters, showed that, as of October, only eight wealthy countries had reported using foreign aid to help poorer nations cut disaster risks, to the tune of $1 billion in total.

In comparison, “We know that hundreds of billions of dollars worth of loss and damage is happening,” Mizutori told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the Madrid talks.

As the gap between what is needed to recover from disasters and what is being pledged widens, she urged governments to invest far more in preventing extreme weather from hitting people hard.

“The politicians and decision-makers have to have a longer vision of things, not only thinking about the next election cycle,” she said.

Original article by Megan Rowling from Thomson Reuters Foundation – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Li An Lim on Unsplash

To find out more about the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and ways to get involved, go to their website.


A South African Maths and Science Teacher Was Just Named Teacher of the Year

A South African educator has been named the teacher of the year by the Global Education Awards, which were held in Dubai over the weekend.

The teacher, Khangelani Sibiya, beat contenders from 79 countries to win the prestigious award.

Sibiya is a maths and science teacher from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The Global Education awards are given to educators who use innovation and creativity in the teaching and learning methods.

Sibiya fits the bill. He uses traditional music and indigenous languages to help teach his students maths and science.

The languages he uses to teach are Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu.

In general, only English and Afrikaans are universal in schools in South Africa — while indigenous languages are often only taught as subjects, instead of being the medium of instruction.

Meanwhile, a study by the University of South Africa states that using a child’s mother tongue is one of the most effective ways of teaching them to perform well cognitively.

Sibiya’s day job is at Siphumelele Secondary School in King Cetshwayo district. On weekends, he also offers lessons and other academic support to several schools in the area through his non governmental organisation, KWV Tutoring.

Sibiya founded KWV Tutoring in 2008 as a way to reach as many pupils as possible with his vibrant approach to teaching maths and science — and he says he has already reached more than 25,000 learners.

“Mr. Khangelani Sibiya is changing the face of mathematics and science from subjects most hated, avoided, and failed, into subjects that are loved, passed, and mastered by pupils,” said the department of education in KZN in a press statement.

The statement also praised his use of social trends like dance, sports, and popular songs in his teaching.

“It promotes global education that brings about change through creativity, participation, and innovation,” the department added.


Original article by Lerato Mogoatlhe – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

To find out more about KWV Tutoring and ways to get involved, go to their website.



‘Breathe With Me’ Art Installation Reaches Millions to Inspire Action for the Global Goals

For Danish artist Jeppe Hein, breathing is more than just an involuntary activity required to live — it’s a way to find balance in both his body and mind. That philosophy, and its global implications, can be found in his latest work, Breathe With Me.

Developed by Hein and ART 2030, a nonprofit working with art as “the key to achieve the UN Global Goals” and inspire action, Breathe With Me is an interactive art installation that highlights the impacts of climate change on the environment. And according to a new report released on Dec. 2 by ART 2030, the installation and its symbolic message have so far reached up to an estimated 93 million people around the world.

The installation first launched in September inside the UN headquarters and in Central Park during the UN Climate Action Summit and UN General Assembly Week, which attracted thousands of visitors.

Activists, world leaders, passersby, and children “painted their breath” in long, blue brushstrokes, turning each breath into one collective body to demonstrate that “the air we breathe is our connected world and climate.”

Breathe With Me are breathing watercolors painted by the public that visualize the invisible — our breath and the resultant relation between us — reminding us to cooperate if we want to share this world together today and in the future,” Hein said in the report.

At the installation, audiences were able to participate in a guided breathing exercise, and they later listened to speeches by Hein, UN Chief of Communications Campaigns Nannette Braun, and ART 2030 Founder and Director Luise Faurschou.

Since then, Breathe With Me installations have spread across the world. One installation in Denmark received recognition during the C40 Mayors Summit in Copenhagen in October, where the world’s mayors, students, and more took part in the project.

Breathe With Me connects the most fundamental thing we all know — our breath — with the biggest and most complicated issues — as climate change,” Faurschou said.

In addition to the interactive art project, which ART 2030 said reached 69 million people through international media attention and an estimated digital reach of 14 million, Breathe With Me has an accompanying social media campaign called “First Breathers.” Described as an educational community workshop toolkit, it aims to encourage worldwide participation in Breathe With Me across various platforms, reaching more than 10 million people so far.

Hein and ART 2030 want to ignite a global movement by collaborating with international partners to facilitate Breathe With Me workshops and events across the world. The goal is to widen their reach and continue to raise awareness of the climate crisis and the Global Goals on a global scale.

“Life begins with an inhale, and ends with an exhale,” Hein noted. “In between, we all breathe and live different lives. And yet each breath keeps us all together, connected, sharing the same air.”

Original article by Catherine Caruso Source Global Citizen

Photo on Unsplash

To find out more about Breathe With Me – First Breathers and ways to get involved, go to their website.

To find out more about UN Global Goals and ways to get involved, go to their website.


Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex

WHEN cyclist Nigel Barclay was thrown from his bike after a car crash, his injuries were so severe that doctors did not expect him to make it.

Nigel, a dad-of-two and keen mountain biker, suffered multiple skull fractures, bleeding on the brain, a fractured pelvis, two broken legs and chest injuries.

But Nigel’s life was saved by the team from the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (AAKSS), who performed emergency surgery on him as he lay at the side of the road, first giving him an anaesthetic and then a thoracostomy, where a tube is inserted into the chest to release trapped air and blood.

Nigel, from Surrey, was then airlifted to the trauma unit at St George’s Hospital in London, where he made a full recovery.

He said: “If it wasn’t for the treatment I received at the scene of my accident, and the fast transportation to a London hospital, I would not be here today.

“When I went back to St George’s, they said I had defied all odds because they never thought I would make it.”

Without AAKSS it’s unlikely Nigel would have survived – and he is just one of more than 2,000 people in the area who they help each year.

The helicopter is on stand by with a crew 24 hours a day, and can reach anyone in their community within 20 minutes.

But the AAKSS is a charity, and relies almost exclusively on fundraising events and donations in order to continue. The service costs around £11m a year to provide, and just eight per cent of that is met by Government funding.

Leigh Curtis, executive director of service delivery at AAKSS, said: “For our patients, every second really is precious.

“In many cases survival can depend on how quickly they receive a time-critical treatment such as being placed into an induced coma after a brain injury, having chest surgery to breathe again or being given an emergency blood transfusion if they are bleeding.

“These interventions are complex and as a result normally only available in a hospital. However, despite the additional challenges of performing these procedures at the site of an incident, often at night, and then managing them in a helicopter flying at 150mph, our doctors and paramedics safely bring the skills of the hospital to the patient’s side, delivering these life-saving treatments sooner to hundreds of patients a year.”

The charity need fundraising, volunteers and financial donations to be able to keep saving lives. For more information see

By Jenna Sloan