Equality Wellbeing

The Trevor Project, has issued a report exploring the impact of coronavirus on LGBTQ+ youth

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ+ young people has issued a report exploring the impact of coronavirus on LGBTQ+ youth. 

Although youth and young adults are estimated to have a lower mortality rate from COVID-19, they are not immune to its consequences. LGBTQ+ youth even prior to the pandemic experienced poorer levels of mental health and were at higher risk of suicide, self-injury, anxiety and depression.  These risks are even more pronounced among youth who are transgender and/or non-binary. 

Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading organisation in the US providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people under the age of 25. The Trevor Project provides a range of services with a high success rate. In an external evaluation of Trevor’s crisis services, over 90% of youth with suicide risk during their interaction with Trevor were successfully de-escalated. 

A new report by The Trevor Project emphasises both the reasons for the increase in poor LGBTQ+ youth mental health as well as strategies to help tackle this. For example, social distancing has resulted in a decrease in positive social connection which is known to protect LGBTQ+ young people from suicidality.  The full report can be found here

All of their services are remaining open 24/7.  LGBTQ youth seeking community while physically distant from usual support can join TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth. It provides LGBTQ youth and allies with a safe, affirming community and the opportunity to connect with people who might be going through similar experiences. Finding a safe community online can be a powerful way to deal with physical isolation, receive support, and explore their identity.

TrevorText, TrevorChat, and TrevorLifeline, provide 24/7 support to youth in crisis. LGBTQ youth who experience anxiety and concerns over their physical or mental health or their economic situation can find a trained adult ready to listen and support them.

The Trevor Project is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ youth are supported throughout this pandemic by providing 24/7 access to an affirming international community for LGBTQ young people and trained crisis counsellors to talk directly with youth with youth in crisis. We hope others will join us in helping LGBTQ youth know that they are not alone and provide the social, economic, and mental health support they need during these unprecedented times.

As a charity, The Trevor Project relies on donations being made to ensure that they are able to continue their work

By Ellen Jones

Equality Wellbeing

The MAVEN Project works to support frontline providers

In the US, many people do not have access to healthcare due to a lack of insurance or because they live in rural areas. As a result, community clinics function as a lifeline for people who are uninsured or underinsured, making certain that they can access basic primary care. However, for patients with more complex conditions, the support they need is not always available. The MAVEN Project works to support frontline providers by connecting volunteer specialists with community organisations through Telehealth.


Meghan Guidry, Vice President, Communications & Donor Engagement for the MAVEN Project explains ‘We recruit physician volunteers with a focus on specialists in fields that everyone might not have access to like cardiology, neurology and endocrinology. People might have access to a community health centre or a charitable health clinic, but that provider might not have a specialist in the issue they are facing. 

In light of the pandemic, their work has become even more important. They have continued to provide their core programming to ensure there is no disruption to their services but have also launched new initiatives to provide information and amplify response efforts. Each week they are hosting COVID-19 update sessions for their clinic partners and providers led by a volunteer infectious disease specialist, followed by Q&A with a panel of volunteer physicians of diverse specialties including pulmonology, gynecology, psychiatry, and more. 

They are also running educational sessions led by psychiatry specialists to front line providers on managing anxiety for themselves and their patients during this difficult time. Additionally, the project has partnered with the Massachusetts Medical Society to recruit and aggregate volunteer physicians for state response efforts.

Meghan continues that ‘Our hope and our goal is that the MAVEN Project is part of the solution that increases access locally in communities where there is not healthcare access or there are insurmountable barriers to accessing speciality care.’

The MAVEN Project anticipates a greater need for their services not just during the pandemic, but afterwards too as in the US, healthcare access is tied to employment and many people have lost jobs whilst others have put off seeking help from healthcare providers out of fear of catching the virus, resulting in conditions worsening without treatment. 

The MAVEN project urgently needs support in the form of donations as well as support from volunteer physicians to continue their vital work. 

By Ellen Jones

Equality Wellbeing

Three Things Remember This Mental Health Month

This month, Smiley has partnered with Dessert Dreamer to help support  To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. 

This Mental Health month, they are highlighting three statements they believe to be non-negotiable in the fight for better mental health for all. To them, these statements are Black and White. 

Amber Gardner, Director of Partnerships for To Write Love On Her Arms, gives us some insight into the statements the organisation has chosen and why they are so significant. 

 We Need Your Presence, Not Your Perfection

‘We’ve been conditioned to place value on personal achievement, to highlight and boast about our successes while masking our “slip-ups” and “failures.” We’ve been taught to aim for perfection—at work, at school, as parents or siblings, as people. But to put it quite plainly: we disagree. Even in your faults, your mistakes, your mishaps, you have made this world more beautiful. Through your struggles, your heartache, your pain, you have brought humility and encouraged grace to grow in spaces that craved honesty. Today and always, we need your presence, not your perfection.

Hope Remains

Hope is many things: it’s universal. It’s real. It’s life-saving. Hope, in the face of fear, is defiant. Since our earliest days, hope has been the most central virtue. Hope remains in the ebb and flow of recovery, the patient expectation of the day your story encourages another. Despite circumstance, despite distance, despite doubt—hope remains.

No One Else Can Play Your Part

To this day, with all the ways you’ve learned to bloom and grow, you continue to bring a certain energy that we, and this entire planet, are grateful for. A world where you don’t exist is not one we care to imagine. Your absence would not go unnoticed or unfelt. After all, no one can see the world quite like you. Nothing can break through silence quite like your voice. And no one else can play your part.

If you or someone you know is struggling, we encourage you to reach out for help. For those living in the US, we invite you to use our FIND HELP Tool to locate local, affordable resources simply by entering your zip code and the level of care you’re seeking. For international resources, visit our FIND HELP page for a collection of options listed by country.

Throughout the month, TWLOHA will be sharing new content in honor of Mental Health Month across their social media channels and you can follow them on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Equality Wellbeing

During mental health month NAMI launches campaign ‘You Are Not Alone’

For Mental Health Month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched a new campaign -You Are Not Alone- which focuses on the power of connection. 

More than 40 million people in the U.S. face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental health condition and NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organisation dedicated to improving the lives of these individuals and their families. 

The You Are Not Alone campaign features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to reduce stigma, inspire others and educate the public on available online resources. NAMI is asking the public to share their own experience with mental health conditions by submitting their stories on their website.

The campaign also builds connection and increases awareness through digital tools, such as social media platforms, online support groups and the NAMI COVID-19 Information and Resource Guide, which is available in both English and Spanish. These resources make connection and community possible despite the current global pandemic.


‘Especially during this time of isolation, uncertainty and tragedy, it is vital that no one feels alone in their mental health journey,’ said Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of NAMI. 

‘The COVID-19 crisis not only shines a spotlight on our need for social connectedness, but also our need for real mental health resources. This Mental Health Month, NAMI is raising awareness to change our fragmented mental health system into one that serves everyone, so people can get the care they need.’

NAMI have seen an increase in service demand and are also calling for donations to be made to their website to ensure their work can be continued.


For the NAMI COVID-19 Information and Resources Guide (in English and in Spanish), please visit For You Are Not Alone resources, please visit

By Ellen Jones



MHFA England is providing mental health training during the pandemic

At a time when mental health awareness and knowledge is more important than ever, Mental Health First Aid England are adapting their approach to ensure people are supported through the pandemic.  


Evidence from the Mental Health Foundation and LinkedIn research shows an increase in poor mental health as a result of working from home, and the Office for National Statistics reported an enormous increase in reported anxiety since the coronavirus pandemic began. 


MHFA England is a social enterprise with a vision to improve the mental health of the nation through training 1:10 of the adult population in mental health skills and awareness. Most of this training takes place face to face, which now can’t happen in the pandemic with social distancing measures in place and has resulted in the organisation having to shift their approach. Individuals or organisations can sign up for online training courses which vary in their depth and information, from being ‘Mental Health Aware’ to being a trained Mental Health First Aider. There is also a course specifically designed for managers supporting their workers at this time. 


Simon Blake, the Chief Executive of MHFA tells us that ‘the core focus of our work these last few weeks has been ensuring as many of our courses can be delivered online and in a virtual classroom. My team has been nothing short of outstanding – determined, creative and absolutely focused.’ 


Simon tells us that MHFA England have seen an increase in demand for their services as organisations realise the importance of mental wellbeing now more than ever. They have contributed to a larger than normal number of blogs, webinars, podcasts and that the pandemic has provided ‘an important opportunity to share knowledge about wellbeing, mental health and self-care whilst working at home/through the pandemic.’


Mental Health First Aiders, trained by the social enterprise, are helping to support people experiencing mental health difficulties right now. 


Simon explains how the importance of Mental Health First Aiders will continue after the pandemic: ‘We know that worry and uncertainty about health, jobs and finances, increases in domestic abuse, experiencing violence at home, bereavement, the pressures of continuing frontline work and many other things will continue to have a profound effect on the mental health of the nation way beyond the time we find a vaccine.’


MHFA England has also put together a variety of resources to support those they work with and have some recommendations as to what might help. Simon encourages people to look after themselves, to look after their mental wellbeing and practice self care and notes that MHFA England have some helpful resources for those working from home. He also notes that it is imperative that people look out for their friends, family and communities and to check in with them regularly. 


Mental Health First Aiders can consider how they might use their skills to help their communities and advice and guidance on how to do this can be found here. For those who are not yet trained but who are interested in learning more about it, you can find more here. You can also keep up to date with the latest news by following MHFA England on Twitter and Instagram.


By Ellen Jones

Culture Wellbeing

This charity started with a story. Now it’s a global movement.

To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to finding hope and help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. They do this through a combination of encouraging, inspiring and investing directly into treatment and recovery

Their founder, Jamie Tworkoswki, never intended to start a non-profit but instead wanted to help his friend tell her story. When Jamie met Renee Yohe, she was struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. He wrote about the five days he spent with her before she entered a treatment center, and he sold T-shirts to help cover the cost. When she entered treatment, he posted the story on MySpace to give it a home. The name of the story was “To Write Love on Her Arms.”

For Mental Health Month, Desert Dreamer have teamed up with the Smiley Company to release a limited edition ‘Peace of Mind’ collection which opens the conversation about mental health. For the entire month of May, Desert Dreamer will be donating 10% of net sales to TWLOHA. 

Since the organization’s start in 2006, they have invested $2.5 million directly into treatment and recovery for individuals who otherwise would be unable to afford the professional help they need. Last year alone, TWLOHA sponsored more than 2,600 counseling sessions and is aiming to cover the costs of even more this year. 

Across social media platforms, the organisation reaches over 8 million people worldwide, spreading their message of hope. They have been able to platform over 1,200 stories of mental health and healing on their blog and the To Write Love on Her Arms Podcast has created a new way to hold space for these conversations about mental health. 

In September of 2018, TWLOHA launched the FIND HELP Tool which connects people to free and reduced-cost mental health services in every zip code in the U.S. Since the launch, they have seen 60,000 program searches. For every four searches, someone will take the next step to make an appointment for a counseling session, attend a support group, or reach out to a helpline. They hope to be able to continuously expand their resources, including their International Resources, in order to get people connected to mental health services all over the world.  

Since 2006, they have traveled 3,952,590 miles bringing the message of hope and help to festivals, colleges, and community events. We meet more than 1 million people face to face with this life-saving conversation at the 100+ events we do every year. 

Amber Gardner, Director of Partnerships for TWLOHA, tells us that ‘while the work we do is always important, it feels extra necessary right now.’

The pandemic has resulted in increased levels of anxiety even amongst those who have good mental wellbeing, as causing loneliness and also reducing the number of coping mechanisms people have access to. ‘As we look ahead to what a post-pandemic world looks like, we’ve questioned what’s important to share, remind, instill, or revisit. We know that now more than ever, there is a need for messages of hope, and a space for real conversations about mental health.’

‘Times of crisis—whether personal or global—make for a rather difficult terrain to navigate. But what they do present us with is a chance to lean hard into deep truths—an opportunity to reflect on what is non-negotiable and undebatable during unexpected shifts.’

A spokesperson for Desert Dreamer said ‘We hope our donation to TWLOHA will aid the charity in reaching more people to normalize the topic of mental health and encourage people of all ages and situations to reach out for help and to help others. 

‘We are by no means experts on the topic, not even close, but if you’re struggling there are so many resources available to help you. TWLOHA is a great place to start. You matter.’

Throughout Mental Health Month, across social media channels TWLOHA will be delivering exciting and informative mental health content which you can find on their TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. They will also be exploring different types of mental health challenges every week on their blog and premiering mini-episodes on the TWLOHA podcast inspired by this year’s Black and White statements*. 

To find out how to access their resources and give your support through donations, visit the TWLOHA website.

By Ellen Jones

Equality Wellbeing

NCOA is supporting America’s local ageing organisations

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has launched a COVID-19 Community Response fund to immediately begin raising and distributing funds to hard-hit community based organisations directly serving older adults during the pandemic. Founded in 1950, the NCOA has worked with the same mission – to improve the lives of millions of older adults, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of supporting 40 million adults by 2030. 

The new Fund, launched in light of the pandemic, will support qualified local non-profits meeting the needs of the older adults ensuring that they are safe, secure and well during the crisis. Grants will be provided to organisations working with underserved populations such as women, LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, low-income and rural people who are all at higher risk of being admitted into hospital or nursing homes or dying as a result of Covid-19. 

“Community organisations that serve older adults are heroes on the front lines of today’s pandemic,” says Anna Maria Chávez, NCOA Interim President & CEO. “They have been historically underfunded and understaffed, but that has not stopped them from stepping up to meet the increasing needs of older adults in their communities during this crisis. Every day, they are delivering food, enrolling people into needed benefits programs, providing mental health services, and developing creative virtual programs to combat social isolation. They need our support, so they can continue supporting our older family members, friends, and neighbors.”

The NCOA are looking for leading corporations, foundations and philanthropic organisations to help support local nonprofits through the fund. The money will go directly to organisations who must be both non-political and not-for-profit and who work with older adults in some way, for example providing a senior centre or benefits counselling. 

Renée Cunningham, Executive Director of Centre in the Park, an NCOA-accredited senior centre in Philadelphia says “We are facing multiple challenges, but we are committed to our mission,” said For home-delivered meals, both our staff and older adults are fearful of contact, even though this service is so vital to older adults’ health. Many of our staff must learn to work virtually, and some don’t have access to the internet to continue providing services. Funding is also a concern as we’ve had to close our centre.”

The Fund is also providing grants to organisations that are organising coalitions to address the crisis and who are being forced to shift resources and adapt to remote working, as well as those driving awareness and action campaigns. 

“More than any other population, older adults have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus. If your organisation is looking for a way to make a difference for them, I encourage you to support NCOA’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund,” Chávez said. “If you are a local nonprofit serving older adults, NCOA is here for you.”

You can learn more about supporting the Fund at the NCOA website.

By Ellen Jones

Culture Equality Wellbeing

Celio x Smiley collaboration contributes to CKDB

The charity CéKeDuBonheur (This is Happiness) works to help improve the life of hospitalised young people across France through enlisting the help of volunteers who are able to bring joy to the kids. Across France, 150 volunteers visit hospitals, bringing games, books, stationery and company into what can be a scary and an unnerving environment for children.

Right now, the work of CKBD is more important than ever, as families and other visitors are not permitted to visit hospitals due to the pandemic. Life for young people in hospitals has become even harder as paediatric units have been forced to take on adult patients, and wards have become a much more difficult place to grow up. This has also meant that the charity have had to adapt the way they work to ensure that the young people are supported as best as possible.

Sonia Boa Guehe, General Coordinator at CKDB told us that the charity is providing magic sound boxes into which families of hospitalised children can record a message or read to them. “Hospital environments can be overwhelming and clinical and thus these boxes provide a much welcome relief to the sounds of the medical machines” said Guehe. For teenagers, CKBD are providing tablets so that the young people are able to continue their education as well as keep in touch with friends and family. 

Fashion brand Celio has joined forces with Smiley once again to create a collection designed to bring joy and good vibes. For every purchase of an item in the collection, 1€ will go to CéKeDuBonheur.

Hélene Sy, President of CKBD is thrilled about this collaboration and says there are great synergies between the brands and charity, stating “…we all want to bring smiles and happiness in one way or another…”.

Profits generated through the collaboration will go towards buying things for the children which will tangibly benefit their lives, whether through entertaining or entertaining. On social media CKDB are encouraging people to use the hashtag #CKDBChallenge, on which people can leave messages of support for the young people, some of whom have access to phones which is significantly boosting their morale. 

Celio has always championed social action and regularly has ‘Feel Good Days’ where staff participate in charitable activities. Helping people in need is part of their DNA, and they hope to be a positive influence on other companies. Aline Pihier, Director of CSR and Internal Comms for Celio tells us that the collaboration in aid of CKDB came about after a staff survey said they wanted to support a children’s charity. Prior to lockdown the staff would visit the hospitals to interact with the children, and even organised a t-shirt customisation workshop. Pihier emphasises ‘we would like to see more brands and corporations getting involved with social action”.

Celio has developed an in-store scheme where people can donate irrespective of item purchases ensuring as much money as possible can be raised for the charity.

Culture Equality Wellbeing

UWS is keeping Manchester’s vibrant music and entertainment scene active through the pandemic

United We Stream is a new streaming platform broadcasting home-grown Manchester art, music and culture to audiences around the world during the global pandemic. Although the services are free to watch, viewers are encouraged to donate what they can do to help support Manchester’s night-time economy, cultural organisations and charities. 


The event, created by Sacha Lord alongside the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local and national partners, offers a range of cultural entertainment.


Lord – who has worked as a promoter for twenty-six years throughout Manchester – and is most well-known for his ParkLife festival – watched as night-time businesses were left near ruined within days of Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson’s advisory statement that people should stop going out to pubs, bars and gig venues. 


Many people working in the nightlife industry were not eligible for government support schemes and so slipped through the cracks. Lord recounts how one well-established technician working with global bands had now had to get a job stacking shelves in the supermarket to keep a roof over their head. 


“I want to keep our vibrant Manchester music and entertainment scene active,” explains GMCA Night-Time Economy Adviser Lord: “ I am absolutely overwhelmed by the response and also by the enthusiasm and diversity of the talent we have lined up.’


The United We Stream model was pioneered in Berlin by the Night Tsar Lutz Leichsenring. Lord has been working tirelessly to ensure that Greater Manchester could be the second city-region worldwide and first in the United Kingdom to launch the concept. Other regions are following suit, too, with Amsterdam, Madrid, Vienna, Sydney and Melbourne all expected to launch United We Stream platforms shortly.


“The programme will be announced every week and we’ve tried to make sure that there’s something for almost everyone. Performances take place at artist’s homes, gardens, or from selected venues around the region, and all performances adhere to government advice around isolating and distancing,” said Lord.


Manchester is well known for its vibrant nightlife and UWS has been overwhelmed by the support from performers and the public alike, who have raised £260,000 to date. This money is going directly to a relief fund, with 70% going specifically to support the Greater Manchester night-time economy including music venues, bars, freelancers and cultural organisations whose work has been halted by the pandemic. 20% of the donated funds with be going to the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s charities and 10% will be donated to Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Charity. Lord says that “as well as helping our local night-time and creative industries, it’s great to give support for Nordoff Robbins, a national music therapy charity, who have a base in Greater Manchester, and offer music therapy for those affected by life-limiting illness, isolation or disability.”


“This is a free streaming service available to entertain everyone. However, I encourage as many of you as possible to please make a small contribution to watch. Anything will help, whether that’s £1 or £50. It’s only by working together as a community that we can be at our strongest.” Added Sacha Lord.


Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “Supporting our culture and music organisations, venues and artists is so important through this difficult time. We want to be entertained and still be able to see bands and performances, but it’s important to do this within the Government guidelines and from our own homes”.


Smiley is excited to have teamed up with United We Stream to develop a t-shirt and hoodie range featuring the iconic Manchester Bee alongside the Smiley Logo, which will be launched as part of their Hacienda live-show this Saturday 9th of May. All profits from these sales will go to charity, details of this can be found here.  


Health and wellbeing during the pandemic

In the pandemic, health and wellbeing is on everyone’s mind. One area that is often overlooked in discussions around healthcare access during the pandemic is sexual and reproductive health and consequently, many are left at risk, anxious and unsure as to what to do when faced with a healthcare issue.

Planned Parenthood, the leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable healthcare for young people and the largest provider of sex education – has expanded its Telehealth service to ensure no person goes without the support they need during this time. 

Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood said: “Sexual health needs don’t go away, even when our country is in crisis. Planned Parenthood is proud to redouble our efforts to make sure people can still access the care and information they need”.

By the end of April, in all 50 states, people will be able to access healthcare by phone or video, ensuring people can get the support and information they need without delay and oftentimes without needing to go to a health centre at all, reducing the likelihood of infection. 

Planned Parenthood have also developed new digital resources which provide medically accurate answers to the questions facing people right now as it pertains to sexual and reproductive wellbeing – such as what to do if birth control is about to expire or if it is stil possible to acces an abortion during the pandemic. 

Additionally, Planned Parenthood has added new information to Roo, its sexual health chatbot and to it’s chat/text programme so that people can still get the information they need about maintaining good health during the pandemic. 

‘We know this pandemic has increased barriers to health care for many of the communities we serve — at exactly the time when people need that care the most. Through Telehealth, Planned Parenthood is providing the high-quality care and information people need to stay safe and healthy, even as our everyday reality is rapidly changing.’

Dr Raegan Mcdonald Mosey, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood notes: ‘Planned Parenthood providers are proud to offer Telehealth services so that we can continue to provide health care to the patients who rely on us the most — including people of color, people with low-incomes, LGBTQ people, and immigrant communities’

To ensure that they can continue their work, Planned Parenthood needs donations which can be made through their website. You can also access up-to-date information on Telehealth services available at your local Planned Parenthood health centre and to make an appointment, visit

By Ellen Jones