Your chance to support trans joy this month

This month, it’s time to celebrate moments of trans joy – and help a trans-led charity while you’re at it.

Sounds intriguing. Tell me more.

We Exist is a charity led by trans people, for trans people, to help platform their work, their ideas and discuss issues affecting the trans community.

On 27th February, to celebrate the end of LGBT+ History Month, We Exist will be running an online fundraiser event to help support their Trans Healthcare Fund.

What is the fundraiser?

Supported by Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest and Dalston Superstore, a queer venue, the fundraiser features a huge lineup of trans and gender non-conforming performers and work from We Exist’s artists in residence.

Plus, films from Fringe!, followed by a big, queer dance party run by Dalston Superstore.

The whole event is online, so get dressed up, follow along and enjoy!

For more information on Trans Day of Joy, visit the event page

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


City’s first night shelter solely for LGBTQ+ people

Brighton has opened its first-ever night shelter specifically for LGBTQIA+ people.

Tell me more.

The shelter will run for 10 weeks as part of a pilot scheme to highlight just how badly affected the UK’s LGBTQIA+ population is by homelessness – and how important it is to have safe spaces to help them.

The shelter opened on January 23rd 2023 and has 10 beds available on a referral-only basis.

How does it work?

People can access the shelter for anywhere from a couple of nights to two weeks, and staff at the shelter will help them find longer-term accommodation.

The shelter provides hot food and showers, beds and communal spaces, as well as access to resources to help people fleeing domestic violence and more.

How is it being set up?

A number of charities have come together to set up the shelter in the UK’s ‘gay capital’.

Led by Charity Switchboard, The Rainbow Fund is helping by donating funds. Meanwhile, Stonewall Housing has provided a housing advocate and The Outside Project is helping with the model the shelter is based on.

To find out more about the night shelter, visit the Switchboard website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


YouTuber covers cost of 1,000 eye surgeries

The largest cause of blindness worldwide is cataracts, a cloudy region on the lens of your eye. They become increasingly common as we get older – more than half of all Americans over the age of 80 have some form of cataracts. 

The condition can be cured with a 10-minute surgery, but the issue is that the procedure can be incredibly expensive, ranging anywhere from a minimum of $3,000 to $5,000 per eye.

To help, YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, announced that he has paid for cataract surgeries for hundreds of patients who couldn’t afford the procedure in the video, titled “1,000 Blind People See For The First Time.” 

“When patients go into surgery, there’s a chance that they can get their life back,” Donaldson, who is the most-followed individual YouTuber in the world with 131 million subscribers, says in the video.

“I wanted to provide this to as many people as possible.”

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


A climate conscious alternative to the housing crisis

The housing crisis in the United States cannot be overstated. In 2021, home prices rose faster than ever. The median sales price for an existing home was $346,900, up a whopping 17% from the prior year.

People can’t find places to live and the market they’re diving into isn’t sustainable – that’s where Eclipse Cottages hopes to make a dent.

Eclipse Cottages is a sustainable home company focused on affordability and efficiency, environmental impact and community. 

“Having a family, having kids, and the way that we live our lives affects what my thinking is these days,” Eclipse founder and CEO Justin Draplin tells Smiley News. “Quite frankly, banks and government are making housing more difficult and more expensive, so we’re coming up with solutions to address that.”

A journey through New York City seeing and hearing the stories of homeless people who are struggling to meet the consistently growing demands of US metropolitan areas had a particular impact on the work he wanted to do. 

“They all had a heartbreaking story and most of them were straight up being ignored,” he says. “I get it, there are millions of people there and you can’t save everybody, but it was one of those things that greatly affected me as a person and the way I think about things.”

The biggest focus on making these affordable homes was making them with quality and sustainability in mind. To Justin, there are ways to make cheap houses but the final product is often much lower quality than it could be.

The houses themselves come in a few different models, each relatively small cottage size adobes around 400 square feet, that sit in small villages with a focus on community and accessibility. 

To craft these homes, they shirk a traditional homebuilding route looking for affordable alternatives that make the buildings more sustainable and just as structurally sound. 

The roofs are made with a solar-integrated material and the foundations are built with steel framing and a specific custom siding with insulation efficiency in mind. They claim that you can even live fully off the grid if you so please. 

“On every aspect of our build, we’re at the cutting edge of the existing technologies from a sustainability standpoint, and just from a construction quality standpoint,” Justin says.

Depending on the model you choose and potential upgrades to that model, Justin says that the homes can range anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000 dollars with the goal of getting their financing as low as $99 a month. 

“We’re going to make these phones so much more affordable than what currently exists,” Justin says. “No matter what you look at whether you’re looking at single-family homes, manufactured homes, housing, apartments, condos.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.

Equality Wellbeing

Blind children learn to read with braille book club

National Braille Press has been working on and has made a name for itself providing reading materials that blind and hard-of-seeing people can read. 

“Braille is literacy by definition for blind or low vision person. If they don’t have that skill it’s hard to learn sentence structure and grammar and becoming more independent in life,” said Brian MacDonald, President and CEO of the Braille National Press.

With that in mind, the National Braille Press started a children’s book club to help kids that might not be able to see still learn to read. Every month, the organization sends out classic children’s books with custom braille pages put together by staff and volunteers at their facility. 

“We promote literacy for blind children through outreach programs and we encourage the teaching of braille to blind children by providing age-appropriate braille reading and support materials for caregivers and educators,” they write on their website.

Beyond children’s books, the National Braille Press is the largest producer of training materials, information pamphlets, and even tests in braille for the United States.

“Nothing substitutes for the ability to read. For blind people, braille is an essential tool in the process of becoming literate,” the NBP writes.

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


Cornwall Pride: Creating A Community For Everyone

🌈🌈🌈 We LOVED speaking to Matthew Kenworthy-Gomes, CEO of Cornwall Pride

“Love who you want to love, be who you want to be.”

Cornwall Pride is a charity with a wealth of knowledge from community leader trustees all subject mater experts supporting the entire community.

They have a working group made up of amazing people that work tirelessly throughout the calendar year to provide events throughout the year and to help delver on Cornwall Prides charitable objectives.

They also work with LGBTQ+ groups throughout the Duchy to hold regular events in places that are accessible to all to highlight acceptance, tolerance and acceptance whilst facilitating safe spaces for people to come together, meet new friends and enjoy being themselves.

Find your voice and support Cornwall Pride:


The feminist coffee changing the industry for better

Since we can’t seem to shake the winter weather in the UK, this week’s business roundup is all about… hot drinks.


In a male-dominated industry, Chimney Fire Coffee is a B-corp trying to do its best to make things more equal. Female-led farms only make up about 30% of the industry, and CFC’s mission is to work with as many of those farms as possible.

They support ethical and eco-friendly practices and donate 25p from every 250g bag and £1 from every 1kg bag of all Discovery Coffee sales to Re-Cycle, a small charity that recycles bikes from the UK and ships them to rural communities in Africa. Find out more.


Choc Affair makes great hot chocolate – from the beginning of the process, right up to the very end. Beginning with small farms and local co-operatives, Choc Affair makes sure that people are getting the money they need, and that it’s going to all the right places.

All of the cocoa is responsibly sourced and sustainably grown – meaning that everything in the process is well cared for – from the planet to the people. Find out more.


Girls Who Grind Coffee is a brilliant company that describes itself as a ‘womxn-led, anti-patriarchy specialty coffee roastery and rebellion movement’.

They source all their coffee exclusively from change-making womxn producers in a bid to create more equality and visibility within the coffee industry.

10% of the sale price of their retail coffee bags goes right back to the womxn who created it, helping to make the business that creates the drink we all love a better and more equal place. Love! Find out more.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership For The Goalls.


Black Girls Hike – and they do it well

After an accident several years ago where she was nearly run over, Rhiane Fatinikun was diagnosed with PTSD. 

“After that, I just wanted to find something new to do – for my wellbeing more than anything,” she tells Smiley News, on a train journey through the Peak District.

Rhiane would have the idea to go hiking – and now, that idea has blossomed into Black Girls Hike.

“I made it a group for Black women because you don’t see much representation of us in the outdoors,” explains Rhiane. “What I really wanted to do was create a space where we can engage more of our community and inspire more people just to get outside and be that representation for people who are a little bit apprehensive.

“They talk about all of these barriers to the outdoors … our mission is to help overcome the barriers.”

Four years after their inception, Black Girls Hike has had success after success. From TED Talks to visits to Windsor Castle, to joining forces with the Duke of Edinburgh award, Black Girls Hike is opening up the countryside and proving that nature is there for everyone.

“There’s this assumed knowledge that everybody knows how to access the outdoors,” says Rhiane. “[But] if you’re from like inner city London for example, you’re not going to know.”

Though it started off as a hiking group, helping to educate people and engage them in the outdoors, Black Girls Hike has grown into something so much more. Members give career and personal advice and are committed to seeing each other succeed.

From a group about nature, they have built up a community of women who support and uplift each other.

“Initially when I started the group, it was just supposed to be a meet-up group,” says Rhiane. “But then I realised that it had the potential to be a community development organisation and wanted to make sure that we [were] reaching everybody.”

But why outdoors in nature? Rhaine has an answer for that, too.

“Nature’s like the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?” laughs Rhiane. “You grow in the outdoors and not just physically – it’s mentally. It helps you overcome so many barriers in your mind and really brings you out of your comfort zone.”

Not only is getting out into nature great for your mental health, but creating a space – especially for Black women – has been incredibly freeing for everyone in the group.

“A lot of the time like most of the people that come to our group, work in a space where they’re not represented,” explains Rhiane. “[Black Girls Hike] is kind of like taking off a mask.

“You don’t have to contextualise things. It’s less exhausting.”

As for the future of Black Girls Hike – one of the things Rhiane is most passionate about is getting young people involved in the outdoors.

“I can see the young people are the future and the future of the outdoors,” she says. “They’re so impressionable – it’s a great opportunity for you to mould them, inspire them and to kind of like really open up their eyes and their aspiration.”

It is this passion that sparked the collaborations between Black Girls Hike and The Wildlife Trust, aimed at getting young people involved in the nature that is all around them.

“We’re working with young people in the London area aged 18 to 25. And we’re trying to … find new ways to engage them in nature in creative ways,” explains Rhiane. “We’re doing photography workshops, mindfulness sessions, drawing.”

For many young people of colour, Rhiane explains, the outdoors has an image she is desperate to dispel – that the outdoors is only for older, white men. 

“What we really want to do is we want to change that scrap that image. [The] outdoors is for everybody, and we really want to encourage people to see it as a space for them as well.”

You can see Black Girls Hike events on their webpage, and follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can support Black Girls Hike by making a donation, to help them support black women and youth in the outdoors.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities.


OnlyFans star starts affordable housing scheme

An OnlyFans star who earns £100k per month has said she is going to start an ‘affordable housing scheme’ for low-income families.

Tell me more.

Rebecca Goodwin, who is popular on the content subscription site OnlyFans, has decided she will be using some of the money she earns to rent out affordable housing to low-income families.

The mum of two joined OnlyFans in 2019, as she was forced to rely on food vouchers to feed her kids. She was heavily in debt and struggling to support her family.

Fast forward to today, and Rebecca is raking in around £100,000 each month from her content – and she’s decided to use it for good.

What will the ‘affordable housing scheme’ look like?

Rebecca says her plans so far are to purchase eight houses outright and rent them out at a low rate.

The plan isn’t to turn a profit, she says, as she has no mortgage and has plenty of money to spare.

Instead, the scheme is designed to set up an inheritance for her own children, at the same time as helping families who are in the same position she once was.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.


King Charles III redirects crown funds to UK public

King Charles III has redirected funds that would ordinarily go to the royal family, so that they’ll be donated to charity.

Tell me more

Profits from windfarms owned by the crown estate, which usually generates £1 billion a year, will be given to ‘wider public good’ at the request of King Charles III.

That sounds brilliant.

It does! With the taxpayer-funded sovereign grant, the King currently gets 25% of the crown estate’s annual surplus. 

His decision to put these funds towards the UK public means that approximately £1 billion will be earmarked to help people, which is all the more important during the cost of living crisis, which King Charles highlighted in his Christmas broadcast.

There’s no word yet on what exactly the money will go towards, but we do know that it will be for the benefit of the UK public.

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