Random Acts of Kindness Day – 17 February 2021

Who knew there was an international day for this? You may be thinking everyday should include a random act of kindness – and you’d be right.

But for some who run through life on automatic pilot they don’t always see the importance of kindness – to themselves or others.

Having an ‘International Day’ focuses a spotlight of awareness on this important area.

Being kind to someone not only makes them feel great, it makes us feel great too. Now, a random act of kindness can be even more impactful as it wasn’t expected!

What will your Random Act of Kindness today? Who will be recipient? How great will you feel?

Maybe a Random Act of Kindness can morph into an integral part of our thinking and behaviours every day? What a great world that could be where #KindnessRocks!

Fear the vaccine?

Covid 19 Vaccine Fears – understandable or illogical?

It’s perfectly natural to question whether to have the vaccine or not.  There is a lot of fake information circulating on Social Media, within our communities and by own family/friends.  Mainstream media news is full of doom. All of this can make it hard to think clearly and logically.  Whirling thoughts can keep us awake at night, physically and emotionally draining us preventing us from thinking clearly.

So what can we do ourselves?

1.      Ensure we listen only to qualified sources.

2.      Look at the national and global evidence.

3.      Discuss any fears with our GP.

4.      Make your decision based on what is right for us, not what those around us say.

Points to consider:

1.      Fear sells. In 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield wrote a paper stating his research showed a connection between the then new MMR vaccine and the development of   Autism. This research was later discredited.  Dr Wakefield was struck off.  Today, 23 years later, some parents still fear his research -even though it’s been discredited and choose not to have their child vaccinated.  The consequences for some have been devastating. Dr Wakefield is now working in the USA, mixing with celebrities and supporting the anti-Covid vaccination groups there.

2.      Some believe the rumours of dubious ingredients in the vaccine. To find out what it’s really made of go to www.gov.uk and use the search box to find the ingredient list for each vaccine being used in the UK for Covid19.

3.      Any adverse effects to the vaccines are reported by the public and can be viewed by everyone under MHRA’s Yellow Card site: https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk click on the Covid19 tab, scroll down you will see a link to a published report of side effects.  Reported side effects are the usual symptoms people get following all vaccines.

4.      If the Covid vaccines are so harmful, why is the world using them and the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsing them to be used in the way the UK is? BMJ (British Medical Journal) has lots of reference information https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n338 WHO website gives a global view www.who.int

Above all, take a breath.  Think clearly. Make the right decision for you

Misinformation/Fake News

Is there a difference between fake news and misinformation?

The damage both do can be devastating as we see in the press coverage this morning BAME take-up of the #Covid19 vaccine has been so poor the hub in East London has reduced it’s opening hours.

Without giving clear, factual information, paths are left open to sow the seeds of doubt and confusion to such an extent people no longer believe the facts when they are finally presented.

Instead of listening to factual scientific research and evidence, people listen to voices in their communities saying the vaccine contains pork or foetal derivatives for example. Who questions these thoughts?

Professor Geoff Palmer from Life Sciences at Heriot-Wyatt University shared on Sky News this morning why he felt this situation arose. Of Jamaican descent himself, Professor Palmer explained as a child he had queued for hours for polio etc vaccines. With his professional background he knows the power the Covid-19 vaccine will have in unlocking freedoms.

He shared a couple of views on why the situation leading to the low uptake of BAME resulting in the East London hub reducing it’s opening hours might have occurred:

  1. Clear information was not given at the start by experts from all ethnic diversity groups
  2. Misinformation was allowed to drown out facts – initially it was felt BAME had a higher tendency to contract Coronavirus developing into Covid-19. Then it was proved this wasn’t the case but poverty and those working in low paid, front line roles.

So how do we rectify this and get more BAME people in East London and beyond to feel comfortable and accept the vaccine? Apart from engaging community leaders to share the facts, Professor Palmer had an interesting thought. The only reason he said he and his family and friends had accepted the vaccine as a group of people over 70 was not for themselves but to protect others becoming ill and possibly dying.

People fundamentally want to do the right thing. Maybe thinking of ways to protect our families and friends at the same time getting our freedoms back is to accept the vaccine.

Now is not the time to discredit the doomsayers or the fake news peddlars. Now is the time to look at the evidence and make an informed decisions to protect ourselves, our communities our lives.

Maybe start a conversation with those in your family who haven’t accepted the vaccine yet and make sure they have all the facts. Choosing whether to have the vaccine or not is personal choice of course. But what is the alternative if we all refuse the vaccine – continuing lockdowns, crumbling economy, etc.

HIV Testing Week

I never realised there was such a thing as HIV Testing Week until watching Sky News and an amazing interview with Ian Green of Terrence Higgins Trust and George a student – diagnosed in 2018.

What surprised me was the dimming of the spotlight on HIV/AIDS since it’s devastating emergence on the world’s stage in the early 80s. Ian was around at that time and said the information commercials were fit for purpose for the time, however, over recent years there has been little information for the younger generations.

Knowing that HIV/AIDS is not curable but with massive developments in science, learning and treatments, people can live a long life with HIV/AIDS and no longer pass it on to partners. But what shocked me was the lack of sexual health education for our young people. George explained he knew nothing about HIV/AIDS until he got it.

Whilst both Ian and George were positive about living with HIV/AIDS the fact that we aren’t talking about sexual health in schools, colleges and universities is shocking to me in the 21st Century.

People can only make good judgements and choices if they are given all the information available. Why do we feel it’s ok to ignore HIV/AIDS again?

Time to re-think Mother’s Day gift?

Mother’s Day 2020 saw an estimated spend of £784 million on flowers averaging £22 per bunch. A staggering amount of money.

I know I haven’t considered the impact of giving flowers. It’s just been an automatic action. However, after reading a feature over the weekend, I will definitely be thinking differently.

The majority of flowers we buy in the UK are mainly flown in from Netherlands and Kenya. Equating the air miles to CO2 volumes, the feature illustrated each average bunch of flowers = 32.3kg of CO2 – compared to the air miles in giving an Australian bottle of wine at 1.4kg of CO2.

Mind boggling stats but there is something we can do.

Arena Flowers is completely plastic free and for every bunch of flowers sold they will plant a tress – http://www.arenaflowers.com.

Flowers From the Farm is a not for profit that informs you of flower growers near you – http://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk

Both enable flowers still to be given without such a massive impact on our environment. Now doesn’t that give a little glow for doing good in your gift giving?

CHILDRENS’ MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK – 1ST TO 5TH FEBRUARY 2021

Of course we need to be mindful of our young peoples’ mental health everyday but having a dedicated week focusses everyone to be more aware of what’s going on around them. Adults to be aware of any young people who might be struggling by noticing subtle changes and young people themselves finding the courage and strength to reach out.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has released a video on YouTube – see below

Figures released recently have shown an upward trend with the arrival of Covid-19 and yo-yoing lockdowns, school closures and the impact this brings on support structures and integration.

Cambridge University released figures showing 1:9 children in 2017 experienced mental ill health. This has risen to 1:6 by the end of 2020.

Professor Ellen Townsend of the Self Harm Research Group at Nottingham University showed a three fold increase in young people experiencing anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders and suicidal idealation.

Domestic murders almost doubled according to the Met Police who investigated 22 domestic murders in 2020 up from 16 in 2019. Worryingly still was the increase in child murders by a parent up from 7 in 2019 to 12 last year.

NSPCC released data showing child abuse referrals were up 43% and domestic violence up 49%.

All of these stats are uncomfortable to hear. However, ignoring the issue drives down support for the children and increases stigma exponentially.

Starting conversations with our children, as with anyone, can be difficult. I-act training delivers multiple tools in their accredited training. Including a quote wall. A simple but effective tool:

In addition, lets keep our awareness in tune with silent suffering that might be going on around us.

Introducing the latest I-act accredited Managers!

From various sectors including education and corporate facilities management, all featured in the photo above manage teams. Now more than ever it’s been essential to ensure both they and their teams are as resilient as possible. This in turn will make their workplaces also resilient, profitable and enhance their brand reputations.

Kicking off earlier this month with the Royal College of Psychiatrists accredited I-act course all learnt tools for self and team care. Prevention is always better and more cost effective than cure!

One of the managers asked for a member of their HR team to do the other leading course from I-act – Understanding and Managing Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing designed for non-managers to evaluate which course would be the most beneficial to their business.

Vickie below embraced the unique opportunity to undertake this non-managers course on a 1-2-1 basis seen below with me.

The global pandemic has taken a lot out of all of us and will leave scars for many. Equally, it’s an opportunity to reflect where we are on the resilient scale and ensure we are as healthy as possible for what lies ahead as restrictions lift and a return to full-time workplaces return for many used to working from home or being furloughed for almost a year.

Are you keeping a check on your resilience?

Resilience Rules

Once the pandemic is over, how do you build back a resilient business and team?

The number one priority has surely got to be rolling out virtual workshops now to focus on building your team’s resilience.

Many have been working remotely at least part of the working week. Some have thrived, others not so. Some are now running on empty and dreading a return to the physical workplace. Ask yourself, ‘will your team thrive when they return?’ because if you have any doubt they will, you risk negatively impacting your reputation and profits.

Insightful employers are building resilience within their teams to ensure a seamless return to their workplaces now with innovative workshops and accredited courses that I deliver.

Two accredited courses focussing on building resilience in teams and thereby business that I’ve run over the past two months virtually has delivered the following thoughts from delegates across different levels and sectors…

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Of course when spending money in the current climate, employers want to make sure they not only have the right course but also the right instructor. I share the feedback delegates have given me over the past two months in delivering these two bespoke resilience building programmes:

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If you are are interested in making sure your teams are resilient in all areas, let’s have a conversation….

Pandemic = tech opportunities

‘It’s not what happens to us that affects us but how we look at those things”

Naturally, for many of us the global pandemic has brought pain and misery to many – both physically and mentally.

For the tech industry, the pandemic has brought opportunities for innovation and good business.

Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight – https://www.ccsinsight.com explained some of the new solutions appearing at the CES Tech Expo – for the first time being held virtually 11-14 January 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55582236

Ben explained some of the ideas presented at the expo are a direct result of the pandemic. These include specially coated tech protected from picking up the virus, a desk light which cleans keyboards etc every hour, face masks with integrated purifiers.

Robotics have been around for over 50 years. We’re used to seeing these in car manufacturing plants. Recently we’ve seen food delivery companies use robots to deliver food in smaller areas. Robots are used in corporate setting to direct visitors, used for contactless service and payment. Future plans include use in the care sector for administering drugs but also to stave of the killer of loneliness.

Innovation and opportunity often springs up from adversity. Let’s not be scared of that adversity but grab it for the opportunities it presents.

Remember – ‘It’s not what happens to us that affects us but how we look at those things”

Profiteering or good business?

That’s a question I asked myself this morning listening to a news item about the provision of meals to children who would normally have free school meals to have food sent to their homes during this pandemic.

Is ignorance a good enough defence? I am sure I’m not alone in not questioning how this provision worked. Listening to Zane Powers Assistant Head Teacher at a school in Grimsby, I was frankly shocked at the profiteering during a pandemic at the cost of children’s wellbeing.

Zane has been all over social media throughout the pandemic. He and his team brought and delivered food and tech to their vulnerable pupils at their home. This enabled them to check how they were doings if their parents were ok and support them with homework etc socially distanced at the gate. Of course, this came out of the school funds so getting the package from Central Government sounded like a good solution. Schools could decide if they wanted packed lunches or vouchers for their children.

Sounds a good choice? Mmm not as Zane went on to explain. Vouchers means parents have to go out and get the food which defeats the ‘stay at home’ advice. It also prevents teachers checking their pupils and families are really ok. The packed lunches were provided in bulk items being delivered to the school who then had to make the packs up and deliver them. However Zane said the contents for each child was pretty poor with little choice: either a cheese or ham bun, small packet of raisins, one piece of fruit and possibly a cookie. The cost of this was double that of a hot school meal! Zane said for the quality and content, he could do better. Zane’s lucky – his local Sainsbury gave him £150 to help so they added variety to the packs before delivering them.

Of course private companies have to cover their costs and make a profit but is there a fine line between making an honest profit and delivering an inadequate product for a massive profit? especially in these times.

Children are the future. If they aren’t nourished they won’t realise their full potential and contribute positively to society. Is that acceptable?

How would you feel if you had to eat the same packed lunch every day?

Doesn’t this look better? How much more would it cost? How much better would it taste?

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