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Stepping into Spring - a poem by Lauren Steele

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Stepping into Spring - A Poem by Lauren Steele

28/03/2021
Stepping into spring
Is listening to the young birds sing,
Or smelling the fresh cut grass
As you wander through this mass
That is the world that we live in, the world we've learnt to treasure.
During this year of despair, nature has granted us pleasure.

The sun spreads his smile for a few more hours,
Subtly nudging the young budding flowers
To yawn and stretch, open up to the world;
Their stems growing strong, their petals unfurled.

Cold wind will still sting your cheeks
But it adds a rosy glow.
Some joy, a flushed excitement,
As you watch the flowers grow.

This past year has been unlike anything we've known,
But it has allowed us to slow down, and look at how we've grown.
To appreciate the world we live in, notice the nuances in a day,
And now spring is here, nature has so much more to say...

If you happen to take a step outside today,
Stop, take a breath, and look at the plants on display.
All clamouring to make your day a little brighter,
To ease the stress, make the weight feel lighter.

Spring is a time of hopefulness, anticipation
And I hope that you too can feel some elation.
This year has been difficult, but you will get through
With nature by your side, sharing a cheerful view.
 

Mind's 27 27 Challenge - Francesca's Story

21/03/2021
UK mental health charity Mind are running '27 27', a challenge designed to raise awareness for the 27% of students who report having a mental health problem at university. Participants are challenged to run 27 miles in 27 days from 1st-27th March 2021, raising money for Mind to provide vital resources to struggling students.
Francesca Holt, who graduated from the University of Surrey in 2019, decided to get involved after she became aware of Mind's fantastic work while completing her Youth Mental Health First Aid training with MFA England. She explained why she signed up for '27 27': 'Firstly, I am aware of how much stigma there still is regarding mental health and how this is prevalent with children and young people. This comes from a lack of education and conversation surrounding the subject, which is why I believe that mental health first aid courses should be essential in schools across the country. By taking part in this fundraiser I will not only raise money to help such an amazing charity, but most importantly it will raise awareness which helps kickstart the change that is needed.
Secondly, when I was a student at drama school I reached out to the university's Well-Being Centre; therefore contributing to the 27% of students reporting a mental health problem at uni. At the time I felt ashamed for having problems and the only reason I reached out for help was because my family and friends realised I needed to speak to somebody. Although I managed to reach out and speak to someone, I didn’t feel that I was very well informed and didn’t receive much advice with where to go from there. If I had been informed at the time about the likes of ‘Mind’ and all of the other incredible charities and organisations out there, I wouldn’t have felt so alone and probably wouldn’t have pushed my problem to the back of my mind. The Well-Being Centre on my campus had a very long waiting list leaving a lot of people without support and feeling that this was the only way that they could receive help; me being one of them. I believe that universities can create better relationships with their students by reaching out for support from these charities. 27 27 is a great way to do this as it connects universities across the country with the charity ‘Mind’ enabling them to offer more accessible support and advice for all students.'
Through her research, training and own personal experiences, Francesca has developed a passion for raising awareness about the mental health crisis for young people in the UK: 'If we open up the conversation and educate the younger generation it gives them more awareness and knowledge for when they do grow up and go off to either further education or their working environments. This course left me feeling inspired and motivated to create change.' Mind's 27 27 campaign has identical goals to Francesca by recognising that we all need to take our mental health seriously and pledging to fight for information, support and services to be easily available to all.
Francesca has made an incredible start, already smashing her initial fundraising target of £127, with £205 raised so far! She is also enjoying the physical challenge, especially as it is a reason to embrace the outdoors during lockdown: 'This challenge is not only going to keep me motivated to exercise in lockdown but it is also getting me outside which is incredible for my mental health. I have to admit, the only time I run is when I hear the opening credits for ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’ so yes, I feel like this will be a real challenge! I’m able to take each run at my own pace and I can even walk each mile with my two furry dog friends, Dexter and Hugo. Here’s to 27 miles for an amazing charity and cause!'
Good luck for the rest of your challenge Francesca, here at Pretty Good News we are virtually cheering you on all the way!
If you would like to contribute to Francesca's fundraiser, please visit her page by clicking the button below!
To find out more information about Mind and how they can help you, please visit their website: https://www.mind.org.uk/
 

Royal Northern College of Music #choosetochallenge - Fundraising for Brass for Africa

20/03/2021
Becky Rose is one of many students at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) participating in the 'Race for Equality' challenge for music charity, Brass for Africa. Read on to find out more about the challenge and how the funds raised will provide life-changing support for young women in Uganda.
Brass for Africa is a community charity designed to empower disadvantaged children and young people in Africa by providing music tuition and transferable life skills training. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda has seen a huge increase in female unemployment whilst the number of girls staying in school is decreasing drastically. To coincide with International Women's Day on 8th March, Brass for Africa launched their #choosetochallenge campaign with the aim of providing 50 young women in Uganda with one year's worth of music and life-skills education.
Becky Rose, student at RNCM, explained how she came across the challenge: 'The idea of this charity and event was first put to me (and the rest of RNCM) by our Student Union president. The aim was to create a "Team RNCM” and collate our distances as well as any funds we raised. I must admit this is also a bit of a competition between RNCM, RAM and Guildhall to see who can go the furthest in distance and who can raise the most funds! In terms of my own personal reasons for doing this, I have always had a soft spot for spreading music education to those that would otherwise not have access due to background, lack of funds or gender. So when the email came through I was instantly inspired to do this so that I can fund at least one girl’s musical education.'
Becky plans to run a minimum of 36km over the course of the month by running around 3km 3 times a week with the 'Couch to 5k' programme. However, she plans to push herself even further by running on extra days too, and she hopes this will help raise even more money for the charity, whilst simultaneously improving her own fitness: 'I think this will be a lot of fun, and will have a lot of positive health benefits as a result. Due to the distance being split up into three runs a week for the month it will be very manageable, however the runs each week will also increase in difficulty due to the nature of couch to 5k as a method of being able to run any significant distance. So while it may become difficult in the later weeks I do believe that the overall goal is entirely doable and I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead!'
Becky is hoping to raise £350 individually, as this will enable one girl to have access to a year of music education. Brass for Africa is hoping to raise a total figure of £17,500, which will allow 50 girls and young women to become involved with the scheme. However, with the support of fundraisers at RNCM, the charity has raised over double that figure with several days still to go! This massive effort from everyone at the Royal Northern College of Music will have a monumental effect on the charity, allowing them to improve the lives of hundreds of young people in disadvantaged areas.
If you would like to support the RNCM Student Union in raising a life-changing sum of money, you can donate by clicking the button below.
Find out more about Brass for Africa's work here: https://www.brassforafrica.org/
 

The Lovely Letter Exchange - Stationery lovers spread positivity

03/03/2021
Established in 2013, Martha Brook is an online business selling beautifully individual stationery which is designed to uplift and inspire. Since it's humble beginnings as a small start-up seven years ago, Martha Brook has grown to become a household name in the stationery industry, with their products featuring on This Morning and rave reviews in a variety of national newspapers and magazines. Something that makes Martha Brook stand out as a brand is their focus on positivity and this year is no different. Every week this year, the company has launched a new idea to spread joy to their customers. There have been quizzes, lettering workshops and even golden ticket gift vouchers added to orders! The latest addition, the Lovely Letter Exchange, has been a huge success with over 300 people signed up, and there is still time to get involved!
So how does it work? The idea is simple: you send some lovely mail and receive some lovely mail in return! Here's how you can get involved:
  1. Sign up by midnight on Thursday 4th March - use the button at the bottom of the page to be directed to the sign up page.
  2. An email will be sent to you with instructions on how to send your letter, along with inspiration on what to send in your letter.
  3. Write your letter and post it off! Once Martha Brook receives all the letters, they will re-distribute them at random, no personal information given.
  4. Wait a few days, and receive your own lovely letter which is guaranteed to make your day brighter!

Marketing Manager Christie Brewington explained how this wonderful idea came about: 'On one of our zoom calls, we were trying to find ways to spread joy, positivity and happiness to our community throughout lockdown. We wanted to give back and do something that could really perk people up! It's an idea the team have had for a long time and after some fine-tuning, we were delighted we could finally bring it to life! Launched at the end of last week, we've been amazed that over 300 people have signed up so far, a testament to the fact that there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten letter in the post.'
If letter writing isn't your thing, but you would like to spread some happiness to the people around you, Martha Brook has a wide range of products designed to bring a smile to your face. One of their latest products is called the 'Pocket of Pick-Me-Ups' and consists of 10 beautifully designed positivity postcards slotted into a gold-embossed envelope. A perfect gift to send to a loved one to remind them that they are in your thoughts! To see the full range of Martha Brook products and to find out more about this delightful business, please visit their website: https://www.marthabrook.com/
 

Want to read more inspirational stories? Click here to find out what amazing things happened in previous months!