US child poverty rate hits 50-year low

There has been an unprecedented decline in child poverty in the US, which is news to celebrate.

Wow, just like that?

The cost of living is a struggle for many at the moment, but it’s worth noting that child poverty has been consistently declining for over 25 years.

Today, roughly 1 in 10 children live in families whose economic resources are considered below the poverty line, a 59% drop over the last 26 years.

What’s causing the shift?

In some ways, lower unemployment and fewer stay-at-home parents have contributed, as well as fewer teenage pregnancies, smaller family sizes, and increases in the rates of children living in two-parent households.

But those factors aren’t the primary reason for the decline. 

A report showed all the contributing factors and the biggest ones that stuck out were social safety nets, specifically two social safety net programs, the Earned-Income Tax Credit, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The report shows that between 1993 to 2019, poverty rates declined at similar rates for nearly every subgroup of children examined.

Now that’s something to share and celebrate.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.


This floating city will help combat climate change

A floating city in the luxurious Maldives has been given the green light – in a bid to combat rising sea levels and climate change.

What exactly is a ‘floating city’?

Well, there will be 5,000 housing units, tethered to a 500-acre lagoon. Why’s this a good thing, we hear you ask? Because it has been designed to preserve and enhance its natural and cultural ecosystem.

The city will also have hotels, shops, and restaurants – but there won’t be any cars. Only bikes or noise-free scooters.

Waterstudio/Dutch Docklands Maldives

How is this helping climate change?

Well, the city has been built as a solution to rising sea levels, as well as to combat overcrowding in the capital city. Did you know the Maldives is one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change?

The “floating city” has been proposed as an eco-friendly, sustainable city solution.

The project (apparently 10 years in the making!) is a joint venture between the government of the Maldives and Netherlands-based architecture studio Waterstudio.

Tell us more…

The design, by Waterstudio, was thought through in great detail. The city will be “a nature-based structure of roads and water canals resembling the beautiful and efficient way in which real brain coral is organised.

Waterstudio/Dutch Docklands Maldives

It’ll also stimulate coral growth with artificial coral banks, and will not require any land reclamation.

What else do I need to know?

The city will start being built in January 2023, and likely take around five years to complete.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action and No Poverty.


Denver gave millions to get people on e-bikes

Denver has spent more than $4 million to encourage more people onto e-bikes – and you know what? It’s working.

How have they done it?

A rebate program was put into place to incentivize Denver citizens to buy electric bikes.

A standard rebate was $400, $1200 for low-income people, and an extra $500 for those who buy an electric cargo bike. 

How popular was it?

The first set of 3,000 vouchers was all claimed within a few days of the initial launch in April, and an additional 1,100 vouchers or so were re-released in July, and “they were gone in 22 minutes,” says Grace Rink, the city’s chief climate officer.

“We thought it might be popular. We just didn’t know how popular it was going to be.”

And how’s the program doing now?

The people behind the program thought that funding would last for upwards of three years, but most of the funding was gone in just over six months.

To date, over 4,100 vouchers have been shared, worth a total of more than $4.1 million, and have been redeemed at local bike shops. Local officials are already working to allocate more funding for the program this fall.

Now that’s the way to get people out of cars and onto e-bikes.


Social activities prescribed to boost youth mental health

Doctors in the UK will soon be prescribing surfing, rollerskating and dancing to teenagers with social anxiety.

Wait, seriously?

Yep – and a bunch of other activities like rollerskating, gardening and more will be on that list too.

Tell me more.

With hundreds of young people on the waiting list for mental health services through the NHS, GPs are turning to other, less traditional, methods to help out. It’s called ‘social prescribing’ – a phenomenon that is becoming more and more popular. 

So, what exactly *is* social prescribing?

Social prescribing is exactly what it sounds like – doctors prescribing social activities that have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. The activities being suggested by doctors often include some kind of physical movement, which releases endorphins, as well as a level of social interaction.

Okay, but is this going to replace treatments like therapy and medication?

Not at all – in this case, social prescribing is a way to prevent mental health conditions from worsening while on a waiting list for other services. For some people, the activities suggested by doctors will have a huge effect, and they may no longer feel the need to pursue other treatments.

For others, it may simply be enough to tide them over until they can receive the necessary treatment. In any case, it’s definitely meant to be used with other treatments, not as a replacement.

Phew! Now, where do I sign up?

Hold on – we’re not quite there yet. Trials have been performed in several cities across the UK since the 2010s, and the University College London is about to embark on the biggest yet. The study will be performed on 600 11-18 year olds who are on the waiting list for mental health treatment and, based on the results, the NHS may adopt similar procedures nationwide.

What did those other studies find?

Previous studies have been successful – social prescribing was found to improve people’s personal and mental wellbeing, especially for people who were struggling with loneliness. So, while we’re still only at the trial stage, it looks like there is hope.

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


The shoe made from carbon emissions

It’s no secret that more of us are being conscious where we shop – we’re aware of the climate crisis, we’re aware of the hardships many people experience, and we want companies to be aware of this, too.

And many of them are – because more seem to be committing to green climate pledges, supporting charities through their profits, and aligning with the goals that aim to make our world a happier and healthier place to live.

So each week, we highlight the ones doing their bit.

1. Bank pledges to stop funding fossil fuels

Bank with Lloyds? (Yep, us too). Well, the Lloyds Banking Group announced it would stop funding new oil and gas projects. And it’s the first major UK bank to commit to this. 

In a statement, Lloyds said: “We will not provide financing to new clients in the oil and gas sector unless it is for viable projects into renewable energies and transition technologies, and clients have credible transition plans.” Good stuff.

2. Network Rail helps the homeless (and fast fashion!)

Did you hear people were shopping preloved on their commute? Network Rail teamed up with Shelter and gave them free space for pop-up boutique charity shops to encourage more people to shop secondhand. 

Charity shops don’t have big marketing budgets, and often need more opportunities to showcase their pre-loved fashion. So, they’re targeting commuters. By attracting hundreds of people to each pop-up, it allows Shelter to introduce Shelter shops to new customers and gets the conversation started around sustainability.

3. The shoe made from carbon emissions

Yes, you read that right. Swiss sports brand On has created the first shoe made from carbon emissions, called Cloudprime. They made a new foam material called CleanCloud™, which was formulated using carbon emissions as a raw material.

Apparently, On is the first company in the footwear industry to explore carbon emissions as a primary raw material for a shoe’s midsole, specifically EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam. So that’s a big thumbs up from us.

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


Love Airbnb? Here’s another reason to

We all know and love Airbnb for letting us book blissful holiday destinations, without the impersonal backdrop of a hotel.

But today they’re in the news for something more than facilitating our beachside getaway.

Airbnb has donated a generous £1.25 million to English Heritage, a trust which maintains and protects some of England’s most important historical attractions.

Wow! Tell us more.

Well Amanda Cupples, from Airbnb, said they wanted to make the contribution to “benefit both local communities and tourists”, so they can enjoy England’s cultural history, including hidden gems in some of the less-visited rural areas and countryside.

So, what does English Heritage actually do?

From Bolsover Castle to Stonehenge, English Heritage cares for over 400 historical sites and attractions in England – including ones you might know from TV and film.

Recognise the Bridgerton family home, anyone? Or maybe The Avengers at Dover Castle is more your speed?

The charity supervises both historical sites and artefacts, helping to preserve them so that they’re available for future generations.

And they also help visitors to learn through a hands-on approach, encouraging a love of history in people of all ages.

Where will the money go?

The money donated by Airbnb will go towards making sure that English Heritage has the funds necessary to preserve these historical sites for years to come. Nice work.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


These shower buses provide help for the homeless

In Brooklyn, US, shower buses are providing access, dignity and help for the homeless – in the best way possible.

How did this come about?

Well, making necessities such as showers and other basic services accessible is something Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) Health, Housing and Homelessness Solutions Division and the Community Assignment, Inc. have been working together to provide.

To address the issue, BCS has rolled out a mobile care and shower unit in the Flatbush neighborhood of New York City.

What’s included in a ‘shower bus’?

The bus features access to a hot shower, restroom facilities, food, socks, undergarments, and a change of clothes. Support services for mental health, peer counseling, housing, employment, and other social services are also available as needed.

“We’re hoping that by us being here every week, we can develop their trust,” CEO and President of Community Assignment Ramona Sargeant said.

And how’s it going down?

People in the area were reluctant to use the service but became more comfortable with it the longer the bus was there. Many of the people that use the bus don’t like to use shelters for one reason or another. BCS wants to give them an option even without shelters. 

“This is the interim,” Ramona said. “Even if you don’t use shelters, you still need a shower and clean clothes – we fill that gap.”

“You really have to love doing this to be out here. It takes a lot of patience to work with some of our individuals as mental health is also one of their issues that we’re dealing with, but BCS helps with that.”

This article aligns with the UN SDGs No Poverty and Reduced Inequalities.


Bringing secondhand fashion to your commute

Secondhand fashion is not only good for the planet – it’s good for your wallets, too. Which is why changing the narrative around preloved clothing is pretty important.

That’s why Network Rail has been bringing secondhand clobber to train stations, thanks to a partnership with Shelter.

So, I can shop secondhand on my commute?

Yes! Well, people have been.

Shelter has developed a partnership with Network Rail and have been running a number of pop-up boutiques in London train stations. They handpick some great donated items and showcase them in a mobile boutique to use within the stations.

And why’s this a good thing?

Everyone is looking for ways to be more sustainable right now, so Shelter wanted to show people how great shopping secondhand can be. The thing is, charity shops don’t have big marketing budgets, and often need more opportunities to showcase their pre-loved fashion.

So, they’re targeting commuters! By attracting hundreds of people to each pop-up, it allows Shelter to introduce Shelter shops to new customers and gets the conversation started around sustainability.

Sounds great! Any other benefits?

Well, Network rail generously donated the spaces in the stations for free, as part of their Routes out of Homelessness charity partnership.

As part of Network Rail’s charter to tackle rough sleeping on the rail network, Shelter also works with Network Rail to support people who sleep rough in and around four major train stations to access accommodation.

Where can I visit one?

They’ve been pretty limited editing. The pop-up in Waterloo ran from 11-13 October, 18-20 October in London Bridge, and 25-27 October in Charing Cross.

But you can still shop secondhand, of course. Find your local store on Shelter’s website.

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


Massive pride of Lions airlifted from Ukraine

A pride of lions have been airlifted from Ukraine to Colorado in what has been called the “biggest-ever war zone rescue of lions”.


Yes, lions. They’ve been airlifted to the US from the Bio Park Zoo in Odessa, located in southern Ukraine has been greatly affected by the war. 

For fear of their safety, seven adult lions, and two cubs were transferred to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado. They weren’t taken straight to Colorado though, first making a stop at the Targu Mures Zoo in Romania. 

And why is it so significant?

This is the largest warzone rescue of lions ever. It may not seem like a lot but with everything else bad happening in the war a little good news can go a long way. 

What did the Colorado sanctuary have to say?

Pat Craig, the Executive Director of the Wild Animal Sanctuary made a point to note just how difficult international animal rescues can be.

“International rescue operations are almost always more complex in nature, but then you are factoring in a variety of foreign governments and timelines for permitting, some of those with active warzones,” he said. 

But he also made a note that just saving the lions was worth the work.

“We are thankful we could get all the lions out in time and save them. That’s what matters. They will live out the rest of their lives in pristine, large, natural habitats.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life On Land.


Wait, there could be a cure for cancer?

What’s the deal?

So, the news is vaccines that target cancer *could* be available by the end of 2030, scientists have said.

Who said this, then?

It was Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci who cofounded BioNTech, the german firm that partnered with Pfizer to produce the Covid vaccine.

They said they’d made a “breakthrough” which gave them hope for creating a cancer vaccine in the next few years.

What did they actually say?

The husband and wife team were speaking to Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC, and Özlem Türeci discussed how the Covid vaccine could potentially be used to attack cancer cells (instead of coronaviruses).

Uğur Şahin said they “could be available before 2030”.

Wow, that’s quick!

Well, yes, but BioNTech was working on mRNA cancer vaccines before Covid hit in 2020 – so it’s been in the making.

They now have a couple of cancer vaccines in clinical trials. These will hopefully develop treatments bowel cancer, melanoma and other cancer types, they said.

But, we have to be cautious?

Yes, to an extent. Özlem Türeci added: “As scientists we are always hesitant to say we will have a cure for cancer. We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them.”

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