How to take hold of your climate anxiety for the better

You’ve no doubt heard the phrase climate anxiety – maybe even climate dread or eco-anxiety. Either way, it means the same thing: a persistent feeling of anxiety around climate change, or the environment. Sounding familiar?

At Smiley Movement, we profile the very best individuals, groups, and organisations who are doing their best to take action for the sake of our planet, so it’s not all doom and gloom. 

In fact, a 2022 study by the University of Bath found climate anxiety is not always negative, and it can be a “motivating force for taking action” to reduce emissions, and adapting our high-carbon lifestyles to become more environmentally friendly. Because, despite everything, there are ways to combat climate anxiety – and help the planet while you’re at it.


There’s something to be said for going out into nature, touching grass and putting an end to the doom-scroll for a while. Take it one step further and start taking care of what is around you – prune a tree, water a flower, or even plant some produce and grow your own food. 

This is something you can do whether you live in a house with a garden or the 50m2 box flat you’ve been in since uni. Studies have shown gardening helps relieve stress and improve mental health, so the fact that it helps the environment (and you’re shopping extremely locally) is a bonus.

Start small, with easy-to-grow herbs like mint – then branch out (pun totally intended), and add a chilli plant in there. Give yourself small successes, get back in touch with nature, while doing your bit for the planet, and give yourself the space to breathe.


We all know exercise has positive effects on mental health, as does volunteering – so why not go ahead and mix the two together?

“People making changes themselves in their local area gives them ownership over those places,” said Autumn Barlow, Communications and Press Officer for The Wildlife Trust and their Nextdoor Nature project. “That makes a difference. We know from lots of studies that being in green areas […] has a measurable impact on people’s health and wellbeing.”

The Nextdoor Nature project works with communities to benefit people and nature, which makes it a great option for anyone struggling with climate anxiety. 

Green Gyms, run by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) is another great option. They’re fun, free, sessions where volunteers get to help transform local green spaces. This gives you the opportunity to combine exercise with helping the environment – and puts you in touch with like-minded people who share your concerns about the climate crisis. 

“I think a lot of the climate crisis has been [because of] loss of our connection with nature, and forgetting that all this – what we do – has such an impact on the natural environment.“ said Rachel Hoyes, the Health Development Manager with TCV. 

You can find your local Green Gym. Or get involved in the Nextdoor Nature project.


The fashion industry has quickly become one of the most detrimental industries to the climate, which is a tough pill to swallow for most people. But fear not, there are things you can do to make your fashion habits more sustainable, without sacrificing your style.

We spoke to Jen Charon, co-founder of LOANHOOD, a peer-to-peer clothing rental app, which set up by Jen and two of her friends, Jade McSorely and Lucy Hall, as a way for people to rent out fashion items online. Not only is it much cheaper than buying clothes new – it’s much better for the environment.

“I think that’s what’s going to help make big changes – people power,” said Jen. “Lots of people making a small change, adding up to something bigger.”

The textile industry is notoriously bad for the environment – pumping between 1.22 and 2.93 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, according to the Ellen McArthur Foundation.


One of the best ways to make yourself feel better is to help other people – it’s cliche, sure, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Connecting with others is good for your mental health, as is building relationships. Not only can they help you, but you can help them – and sometimes that’s even more important.

Evidence shows helping other people can have a positive effect on our mental health – not only can it lift your mood, but studies show it can relieve stress, too. So if you’re struggling with climate anxiety that’s all the more reason to reach out to others who might also be struggling.

Reach out to your friends and family, and talk with them about your climate anxiety and your fears for the future. Not only does venting to loved ones have a huge impact on your emotions, but it opens up important conversations. And, if you can’t find a community near you that shares your climate anxiety, why not make one?

“Find a tribe – find people to talk to,” said Rachel Knox, the Social impact development officer for the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Cardiff Metropolitan University. “Find your voice and speak the truth because you’re not on your own. [Climate anxiety] affects everybody – it affects people of all ages and we’re all looking for a solution.” 

“We need [young people] to be activists and changemakers – we need them to speak out and it’s easier to do that if you find your community and speak out with them.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


At 19, a bird activist is helping transform nature

At 19, Mya-Rose Craig has a unique name for herself: BirdGirl.

The British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, and diversity activist started her now-popular blog, BirdGirl, at age 11. By 17, she had become the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

“I was just an 11-year-old girl into bird watching,” she tells Smiley News. “It was a nerdy hobby!” She saw other kids her age starting blogs, so wanted to join, too. But she never realised it’d turn into what it did – including authoring her own book of the same name.

What was it about birds that fascinated her? “My mum struggled with her mental illness when I was growing up,” she says. “My family spent a lot of time travelling to do bird watching – it made us feel better, kept us together. That’s why I got involved at such a young age, I was already very into nature.”

The love of birds has always been there, she says. “They can fly, which is very cool. They’re beautiful, I love their feathers, and there are just so many species. There are just under 11,000. I love how abundant they are – birds are everywhere when you start looking.”

A pivotal moment for Mya-Rose’s activism came in 2014, when there was a terrible oil spill in Bangladesh in the Mangrove Forest, an important habitat for birds and animals who live there. “I remember as a kid thinking it’s awful and so major, they will surely talk about it on the news,” says Mya-Rose.

But they didn’t. There was nothing. After a few days, she decided to do her bit and raise awareness. It snowballed into a big article in the US, and raising a lot of money. “It was a weird, exciting experience,” she says, “after being constantly told your voice doesn’t matter, you can’t make a difference, I think learning as a kid that I could and I don’t have to feel helpless was a big moment.”

After this, Mya-Rose started talking about the issues she cared about more: conservation, birds, wildlife, our planet. And the blog grew. She now has nearly 30k followers on Twitter and more than 23k on Instagram.

From 13 onwards, Mya-Rose started to really begin her activism: attending real-life events, speaking at a climate change rally (“It was terrifying,” she says, “but so exhilarating!”) – being around passionate people who really cared made her feel better about the state of world, when it’s often all too easy to feel miserable.


Mya-Rose’s love of birds turned into a force for good when she created her own nonprofit to give back, “kind of by accident”. When she was 13, she heard in the US they had summer camps that included bird watching and nature camps. “I wanted to do it!” she says, “there was nothing in the UK so I organised my own weekend.”

Loads of people signed up, but she realised every person was a white teenage boy – she already knew there were diversity issues with access to the countryside, but this made it even more evident.

So she changed tact and turned it into a camp getting kids from the middle of Bristol into the countryside who didn’t often have access. It was a huge success, and the feedback was largely that it needed to be a long-term initiative. Black2Nature was born: a campaign for equal access to nature, concentrated on Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) communities who are excluded from the countryside.

They run nature camps, arrange nature activities, organise race equality in nature conferences and campaign to make the nature conservation and environmental sectors ethnically diverse. It’s all free for those involved.

Mya-Rose, not just the BirdGirl, works across a range of issues: climate change, indigenous people’s rights, biodiversity loss and rewilding, as well as reintroducing beavers to their natural habitat. But this is all meanwhile being a full-time student, in her second year of uni, doing anthropology.

“No matter job I end up doing, I’ll be involved with campaigning in some way. I’ve always been someone who takes it upon myself to try and make things better.”

“One of the things people ask me is, how do you have hope?” she says. “I have hope for so many reasons, one of them is genuinely all the other amazing people I’ve met over the years who are involved in making the world a better place.

“I just love meeting people who are trying,” she says, “and succeeding. It’s so easy to have a negative miserable perspective about state of planet and future, actually such a potential for things to get better, so many projects going on.”

Follow Mya-Rose on Twitter to keep up-to-date with her journey. You can also find out more about Black2Nature and how to get involved.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land and Climate Action.


The woman who spent 100 days spreading good news

TikTok is well known for its popularity but, like any form of social media, it can also be home to negativity and stress. 

That’s why one woman is hoping to change that; one TikTok video at a time.

Meet Victoria Cardenas, better known as A Positive Take. Sick of negative news bringing her, and others, down, the 24-year-old Canadian-turned-Londoner is on a mission to spread good news. Her TikTok channel is a force of positivity in a world where much of the news we read is doom and gloom – and she has more than 50,000 followers on the journey with her. 

“I originally started this channel when Covid-19 started, because I was fed up with only reading really bad news,” she tells Smiley News. “I started focusing on the good and thought others would want to read it too.”

However, she got shy about posting and stopped after just a few videos. Then, in 2021, she decided to give it another go, with a newly-formed ‘100 days of good news’ project. 

“It was a way to force myself to stick with it because I had already started a countdown,” she says.

Victoria would scour the news each morning to find uplifting stories to share with her followers – including animals coming back from extinction, brands moving towards pre-loved fashion, and  the “super grannies” taking some serious climate action

The 100th day – back in July 2022 – captured Bill Gates donating $20 million to a foundation, and a Barbie made out of recycled plastic.

Although those 100 days are over, Victoria hasn’t stopped her quest to bring positive news to your FYP. 

“There have been so many positive comments from people on every single video,” says Victoria, whose videos have accumulated 1.5 million likes. “Some of the comments I love reading the most are when they say, ‘Wow this really made my day,’ or ‘Never stop making these!’ It’s incredible to see how just three good news stories can make a change in someone’s day. 

“I know it can change mine, but clearly, it’s not just me who feels happy after hearing the stories.”

“These positive stories have an important role to play in our lives.”

These positive stories aren’t just a way to keep up with the best of the world – they may have a much more important role to play in our lives. Studies have shown that happiness has a positive effect on our physical and mental health, which goes far beyond a daily pick-me-up.

Good news makes you happy, and, as multiple experiments have shown, happiness equals health. Research has found happiness has a positive effect on you in a variety of different ways, from heart health to your immune system, and even the length of your life

“I noticed a great change in myself,” admits Victoria. “Good news is still dramatically outnumbered by regular news stories, but I will say [that] even reading one or two good news stories a day can really change my mood and spark a different outlook on the world.”

Though there’s been a push to ‘break the bad news bias’, particularly in the UK, it can still feel as though the negative news still reigns supreme in mainstream media. This is just one of the reasons content creators like Victoria are making such a huge difference in people’s lives – people need good news.

“I think creating a better balance can inspire more good in people because it can be very overwhelming to only be exposed to negative stories,” explains Victoria. “So if people are subscribed to newsletters, subscribe to a good newsletter or magazine as well, like Smiley Movement, that can only be a good thing.”

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


The inspiring rise of this cookie shop, set apart from the rest

Everyone faces struggles throughout their lives. And for some people, it makes them fight even harder.

Collette Divitto has Down’s syndrome, and never let it change how she navigated life. After high school she went to Clemson University, but years later hit a wall when she started applying for jobs.

She’d get interviews, but every one ended in a similar way: “It was great to meet you, Collette, but at this time we feel you are not a good fit for our company.”

Let down, she decided to lean back on a passion that she developed during high school: baking. She moved to Boston, took her cookies to a pop-up market… and the rest, as they say, is history.

“[People] always told me to sell my cookies and when I finally did they sold out very quickly and [someone] wanted an order of 100 by the end of the week,” Collette tells Smiley News.

“Whoa, Collete, you have to make a lot of cookies!”

Collette’s mom, Rosemary Alfredo, was there every step of the way. 

“When she came home and said, ‘Oh, they want 100 packages by Friday’, I was like, ‘Whoa, Collette you have to make a lot of cookies,’, says Rosemary. “[And I told her] you need to have a logo, a sticker label on the bag, insurance and a business that exists. So we spent the next seven days cramming together.”

After that week Collettey’s Cookies was born.

A market owner allowed Collette and her mother to use their restaurant kitchen, since they didn’t have the resources to make cookies in bulk. It took a little trial and error to begin with.

“I’m not a baker, I can’t bake for my life!” says Rosemary. “I went in there with Colette and I was like ‘How many cookies do you need, 1200?’ And I said ‘okay, then take your recipe and times that by 10.’ So we did that and it was horrible.” 

“Yeah, the cookies were so bad,” Collette adds. 

Once they perfected the recipe, they got to work and within one week they had an extra 4000 orders.

That was all in 2016 and since then the business has only grown. Collette now does over $500,000 a year in revenue. Collettey’s has even gotten to the point where Collette has been offering jobs to other people who have disabilities like herself. 

Of the 40 in her employ, at least 15 have a disability. 

The workers are split between two kitchens, one larger and one smaller, which produce over 80,000 and 3,000 cookies a day. 

Since starting her business, Collette has become completely independent, paying her own bills and living on her own. Rosemary spoke of her pride in Collette and how she thinks her story can speak to others.

“It’s very inspiring,” Rosemary says. “For someone to think that their child maybe one day could live independently, because when you have a baby, you have no idea. You have no idea if they’re capable unless you see other stories and see that they are capable.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


‘Behind every great company is a team of women who hold it together’

Kiran Kaur and Amna Akhtar, from Birmingham, are business partners with a purpose – but they’ve been friends for a lot longer than that: nearly 20 years.

After college, Amna went to uni for a week and dropped out. Kiran was on a gap year, and supposed to become a dentist, she tells me. But during that time, something shifted.

“We had a profound conversation about what the future looks like, not just for us, but for young women of colour who have less access to opportunities,” says Kiran, speaking to Smiley News.

If there was more support to help these young women navigate that journey in life, thought Kiran and Amna, the results could be incredible.

“We didn’t have that, it wasn’t around, we couldn’t see it,” adds Kiran.

The pair decided to do away with their previous plan, and start volunteering and mentoring in secondary schools to support young girls of colour with their future aspirations.

The ‘spark moment’

“We had that moment,” says Kiran, “where we were like, ‘this is it’. We wanted to rewrite the rules and say we can be anything we want to be as long as we have access and support – we wanted to build that.”

GirlDreamer was born to give young women of colour a better shot at life. On a random day, says Kiran, they registered GirlDreamer with no knowledge about business or finance – but a strong vision.

That was six years ago. Now, GirlDreamer is a fully-fledged non-profit organisation that supports the personal, professional and communal development of young women of colour to pursue their dreams. Kiran and Amna used their lived experience and deep cultural understanding to create more pathways and access to opportunity.

How do they do it?

For the professional development, they fund mico-grants to other young women of colour-led organisations leading on social change (around five organisations per quarter), providing accelerator programmes and mentoring. The mentoring programmes last 6-12 months programme, where young women get paired with women in senior position in different industries.

And for the personal development, they create events, a wellbeing focus and community-led spaces to help people connect with themselves and others around them.

After launching in Birmingham in 2016, they decided to roll out their programme nationally in 2019 – and in 2020 everything went online. “Now, we get applications from young women of colour in South Africa, America, Middle East,” says Kiran.

During the first four years, GirlDreamer was supporting around 400 women a year – but now some of their resources are online, too, that’s gone into the 1000s.

Everything is free for women, and the aim is to get women of colour to be leading on social change. The impact has been incredibly encouraging for Kiran and Amna to see.

“We finished a programme on increasing the number of women of colour on boards,” says Kiran, “and we had three of them come back six months post-programme and they’re serving on boards of charities in the country.

“We remember interviewing them – and now they’re making a change. It’s amazing to see.”

They’ve also had people apply for their funds, who have then gone on to becoming social entrepreneurs with registered organisations within a year. “It’s really special,” says Kiran, “you get to see people at the beginning of what their idea and hope is – and then we see them come into fruition.”

Spreading the message

Kiran spoke at Anthropy on 3 November in a session, ‘You Can Be What You Can’t See’, which aimed to fire the starting gun for new social ventures that will help shape society in years to come.

“We all came from the version of what we wanted to be without that representation,” says Kiran, about the session. “We built it first so that others could benefit.

“I never knew anyone in this space – the social sector – who looked like me. I knew I was going to have to go out and make it myself.”

Kiran wanted to get across a message of hope for the next 30 years, but also the need for action. “At a lot of these events, we all talk a lot,” she says, “and for me, we need to go out and starting doing this stuff so we can eventually stop having these conversations.

“Eventually, I wanted to stop coming to these events, I don’t want it to be a problem anymore.”

Smiley News is a media partner at Anthropy.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


How to get young people to lead on our future

Young people need to be in the forefront of conversation about the future of the UK, as they are the future workforce.

That was the important message that came from the Anthropy discussion ‘Preparing UK young leaders for generation global social impact’, hosted by One Young World.

Most businesses in the UK have four generations in their workforce, so how can we bring them together? “We tend to put the onus on young people to be the change,” said George Imafidon, founder of Motivez. “However there’s a systemic side of everything, and people need to partner with you in order to make that change happen.”

For the One Young World ambassadors, it was about finding ways to co-produce and collaborate. “For me,” said Meg Zeenat Wamithi, MindMapper UK, “if you don’t start something, who will? Sometimes we wait for the perfect time or moment or resource, but social impact can start with you.”

So how can we encourage young people to be engaged in global social impact – and lead on our future?

Become an ambassador

One Young World is a great way to do this,” says Rose, who works in CSR at Pfizer, and is a OYW ambassador. “The amount of connections that you get are a huge part of it. You mix with people who want to make an impact in the same space and do more together.”

It’s exposure, adds Meg. “Young people don’t realise what’s out there unless they’re exposed to it. It opens doors for young people. Sometimes all they need to be inspired is to be in the room.”

Reverse mentorship

Mentorship is important – and yes, senior leaders mentoring young people is beneficial, but reverse mentorship, where young people work with more senior leaders, to share their ideas, can be just as effective.

“It’s all about the cycle of exposure,” says Meg. “People can get value, advice, and insight from asking a young person about their ideas, background and learnings.” 

Youth boards

Youth boards, or shadow boards, can be a great way to inspire young people to make an impact, says George. “It integrates them into decision making and what businesses are doing – and they can delegate decisions to young people.

“It can be scary, but it makes sure young people are integrated into the communities they’re trying to serve,” he says.

However, adds Meg, there is the argument that young people shouldn’t necessarily be separated from everyone else. “Get young people on formal boards,” she says. “It shouldn’t be performative. We have to be intentional about where we utilise our voices and our strengths.”

Smiley News is a media partner at Anthropy.


A positive future? What Britain could look like in 30 years

Anthropy is all about being optimistic, said John O’Brien, as he introduced the Future of Britain talk at the three-day event at the Eden Project.

“We’ve got to have hope,” he says, “because without that, we have no future.”

He was proposing a question to the panel and audience: what do we want Britain to look like in 30 years? Here’s a snapshot of what they said.

A transparent media

Kamal Ahmed, founder of The News Movement, focused on how we can reinvent journalism. “How do we reinvent it? People are not engaging with the present offers they are seeing – it’s not for them,” he said.

“I do feel optimistic. I want to see journalism resurrected for those audiences. If we don’t have trusted, non-partisan journalism which allows us to develop conversations about solutions as well as holding power to account, we lose a fundamental part of democracy.

“We need new offers alongside brilliant journalism that is about engagement, solutions, onward journeys – and that’s true for younger audiences.”

A sense of hope

Kelly Beaver MBE, from Ipsos Mori, said: “We understand how the British public think and feel.”

When they asked the question what makes you proud to be British, it’s the NHS, the history, and our British institutions that came out on top. They’re proud of our contribution to scientific discovery, she says, including Covid and the climate crisis.

But, says Kelly, two in five people believe children will have worst lives than their parents have, and seven out of 10 of us believe our country is going in the wrong direction. “We need a sense of hopefulness about our place in the world,” she says.

“Leaders have a role in creating a sense of hope. There is a responsibility as a leader to create a sense of pathway to change.”

An investment in sport

Annamarie Phelps, from IWG on Women and Sport, says Team GB is the second most loved brand in the UK, to the NHS.

“Sport brings people together,” says Annamarie. “It raises a nation’s feelings and brings them together, but it also transforms lives and communities – as well as having the opportunity to change society if we use it in the right way.”

In the next 30 years, she says, we should invest and encourage more women and children to participate in sport. “Sport and physical activity will save the NHS,” she says.

“If, in 30 years, we have a community and a society that does stay active, it will reduce mental health issues, help reduce those suffering from heart disease, and more. If sport were a drug, it would be a miracle cure.”

But, she says, sport needs to transform and step up in the right direction – as well as achieving more gender quality – to become the fantastic tool it can be used for.

“There’s a lot of work sports needs to do but I believe we can get there. Sport is the future of this country and we will all benefit.”

A more equitable society

Bina Mehta has been at KPMG for over 30 years – in that time, she says, so much has changed.

“Looking forward, what I want for my kids, is a Britain that is thriving, not just surviving,” she says. “We need a Britain where people, business and communities can do well.

“We want to be part of a connected world, but living in a country where there is access to opportunity that is better balanced around the country and within communities.

“If we think about what divides us, I would like to see more commonality around us, rather than division.”

Smiley News is a media partner of Anthropy.


Could this ‘Glastonbury for Good’ truly make a difference?’

It’s been dubbed a ‘Glastonbury for Good’ – but scrap the tents, and instead picture yourself at the Eden Project in Cornwall. 

The epic global garden – dubbed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by some – is, this November, home to Anthropy: what its founder, John O’Brien calls a “launchpad for change”.

Anthropy, which takes place from 2 – 4 November, is a gathering of people who have influence, who have a desire to change how our world operates, and a thirst for good. 

“We’re looking at the longer-term vision of our world,” John O’Brien MBE tells me. “We’re thinking, actually, we need to be able to hand this bit of the world on in a better state than we inherited ourselves. It’s really about trying to help shape what younger people, and their children, are likely to inherit.”

Anthropy was a lockdown lightbulb moment for John. In January 2021, after spending 30 years in business, he looked back on the first year of Covid – the loss of life, the damaged economy – and thought we could do better. “I thought, we need a national forum where we can build back better,” he says.

“I thought, we need a national forum where we can build back better.”

John thought about Davos, and the fact global leaders go there and have important, powerful conversations. He wanted to create that space here in the UK. He made two what he calls “risky” decisions, after sharing his ideas with people he trusted: one was to host the event in Cornwall, not London, and the other was to crowdsource the agenda. 

“Over 12 months, I had 200 organisations looking at what we wanted to talk about to move forward our thinking,” he says. “It was the largest ever crowdsourced agenda in the UK, that has led to 160 sessions with 300 speakers over 14 stages at the Eden Project.”

So what are John’s hopes for Anthropy and beyond?

“It’s not just the event, it’s the impact that comes out of it,” he says.

“I want people to come away thinking they’ve seen something and listening to something inspiring, or spoken to people they wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to interact with.”

John hopes people will go away and change the way in which they do things – whether that’s in their community, or leading an organisation. “I want people to go back and try and influence and make an impact,” he adds. 

“The thing that most interested me is reflecting upon what will be the outcome – and to see that change happen.”

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


With just over £5k, these kids’ lives changed forever

Four days, a little over £5k in donations, and a team hard at work – that’s exactly how these toilets and taps were transformed for kids in Nepal.

Let’s be honest, we don’t often see the direct impact our charity donations have had, but for the supporters of Child Rescue Nepal, it became super clear how needed the funds were.

The charity has worked in Nepal since 1999, Joanna Bega, the CEO in the UK tells me. All the staff are Nepalian, bar her and an assistant she has to help with the fundraising. 

So what do they actually do? 

Well, their aim is quite simple – and very powerful. “We rescue children who have been trafficked in Nepal,” says Joanna. “ We have a good track record of reuniting them with families and getting them back to school.”

A big part of their work is prevention, working in a Nepalian district prone to trafficking and sending staff on the ground into schools to do teacher training, renew school equipment, and give education boundaries.

“Every now and then, they’ll come back from a visit and say they’ve seen something quite shocking,” says Joanna. 

This is exactly what happened with the pictures above.

“They said the toilets were horrific, sent me a video, and it was just super grim – it was horrible,” says Jo.

Clean and viable toilets and taps are hugely important for children’s education. The charity’s wider work has shown having decent toilets with running water is a big factor in children attending school – and if they attend school, they’re less likely to be trafficked. “Some statistics we’ve had show running water at a school can increase attendance by 30%,” says Joanna. 

In hot countries like Nepal, schools without water suffer. Teachers spend half their time fetching water, and therefore not teaching. Water really can become a huge hindrance, as well as help, in terms of education. This is especially true for girls – if they don’t have decent toilets, they won’t come to school on their period, which is five days lost every single month. “Girls having an education is really important in Nepal in terms of their future employability,” adds Joanna. 

On 4 February, Child Rescue Nepal put out an appeal to raise £5,667 for the new toilet block and taps at this school. Children had been going to the toilets in bushes, not washing their hands, and getting sick as a result. By 8 February, their target had been reached. 

The team shared videos with their donors along the way of the progress – and the money was hugely well spent. “Donations we receive really go on things that make a difference,” says Joanna.

Their most recent appeal was for two new classrooms to be built – a project they’re underway with. 

If you want to do one small thing to help? Sign up to their newsletter, says Joanna, and be the first to hear about their appeals for support to truly make a difference. 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Clean Water and Sanitation and Quality Education.


Meet Yasmin Benoit, the UK’s award-winning asexual activist

Out of all the letters in LGBTQIA+, the ‘A’ is one of the ones which often gets forgotten. Still a novel concept to many outside the LGBTQIA+ community, ‘asexuality’ – a lack of sexual attraction to others – is perhaps dismissed the most in a world that revolves around sexual attraction.

Yasmin Benoit, 26, activist, heavy metal fan, lingerie model and cake hater, feels very differently. From a young age, she knew she didn’t feel romantic or sexual attraction in the same way her peers did – but it took until her mid-teen years to discover the term ‘asexual’ on the internet… and even longer to decide if it applied to her.

Now? She’s partnered with one of the largest LGBT rights charities in the UK and is working tirelessly to make a difference.

Combatting stereotypes from a young age

“I was largely unsuccessful in coming out until I was about 22,” explains Yasmin, who had tried to come out as asexual to family and friends before. “And the only reason people believed me that time was because it was printed in a two-page spread in the Metro newspaper.”


Since coming out, Yasmin has worked tirelessly to not only raise awareness of asexuality in mainstream media but also to fight the stereotypes that come along with it.

As a black lingerie model, she already doesn’t fit the stereotype of an asexual or aromantic person – something she’s acutely aware of. 

“The people who are most likely to identify as being asexual in particular … tend to be Gen Z. They tend to be in the UK or the US. They tend to be white,” explains Yasmin.

Even within the LGBTQIA+ community, there are stereotypes about asexual people, though some are a little more lighthearted. “In the ACE community, there’s a whole thing about how if you’re asexual you must like cake,” laughs Yasmin. “Honestly, the food I like the least is cake. I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t like cake.”

Ultimately, her decision to come out as AroAce and become an activist had nothing to do with wanting to air her private life on the internet, and all to do with her desire to make a difference in the world.

Becoming an activist to make a change

“It felt hypocritical of me, as someone who had a platform, to complain I wasn’t seeing any kind of representation out there that I could relate to,” explains Yasmin, of why she became an activist. “My initial motivation was just to kind of throw a spanner in the works and see what I could contribute. I didn’t expect it to become anything bigger than that.”

Once she saw people were interested, she understood why they were interested: because they felt like they needed more voices and they felt like there needed to be more awareness. “That kept motivating me to do it and made me understand just how impactful it can be,” she says.

Charity partnerships for a better future

Since coming out as asexual and beginning her activist career, Yasmin has helped to launch the world’s first official International Asexuality Day, which took place on April 6, 2021. In June 2021, Yasmin won the Attitude Pride Award for her activism, making her the first openly asexual-aromantic person to win an LGBTQIA+ award.

Since then, Yasmin has partnered with Stonewall to launch the UK’s first-ever asexual rights initiative. The Stonewall x Yasmin Benoit Ace Project works to research the problem of ACE discrimination in the UK, in the hopes of making this a better, and more accepting world.

Research conducted as part of this initiative will build a picture of ACE communities’ experiences, needs, and priorities for change, with a focus on employment, healthcare, and education. “Our findings will be launched in a report which will provide a clear set of actions for policymakers, companies, and charities to better support ace people,” says Stonewall. Find out more about the partnership.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.