This Labradoodle saved a stranger from suicide attempt on bridge  

In a bittersweet tale of hardship and happiness, an adorable dog named Digby helped save a young woman who was about to take her own life.

The three-year-old Labradoodle assisted in defusing the emergency in Devon after police negotiators struggled to bring the individual back to safety over the railings.

Over in America, emotional support animals are recognised under law as a type of animal that provide comfort to help people with a mental disability.

This means US residents are allowed to take their emotional support animals wherever they might need, including airplanes, restaurants and offices.

[Credit: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service]

Here in the UK, we are slowly waking up to the realisation that human and animal connections hold huge power and these relationships are being introduced into various therapies.

Recognising the value that animals can bring in critical situations, the progressive minds at the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have welcomed Digby aboard their squad.

Proudly sharing the news of their furry friend’s abilities, the team tweeted of his triumphs online while also wishing the woman involved all the best in her recovery.

They wrote: “This is Digby. Today he did something amazing and helped save a young woman who was thinking of taking her own life on a bridge over the M5 near Exeter.

“We were at the incident as part of a multi-agency response. Police negotiators were speaking with the woman, but the situation was becoming increasingly worrying.”

They continued: “One of the fire crews had the idea to bring along Digby, our ‘defusing’ dog. Digby helps crews who have been exposed to trauma during talking therapy diffusing sessions.

“When Digby arrived, the young woman immediately swung her head round to look and smiled. This got a conversation started about Digby and his role at the fire service.”

The woman was then asked if she would like to go and meet Digby if she came back over the railings, which fortunately she did.

Following Digby’s intervention, the woman was then escorted away by mental health professionals after she was safely off the bridge.

[Credit: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service]

Speaking about Digby, a spokesperson for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said he not only puts a smile on the crew’s faces, he also boosts their physical health too.

The spokesperson said: “Therapy dogs are simply themselves and people automatically feel at ease and comfortable engaging with a dog that is comfortable being stroked and made a fuss of.

“This is known to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn helps the defusing process.”

We always knew dogs are a person’s best friend, but it seems they’re remarkable therapists too.

For confidential advice, you can contact the Samaritans website, email jo@samaritans.org, and/or call 116 123 at any time of day or night.

[Credit: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service]

Oxford Street is getting a makeover and you won’t want to miss it

The hustle and bustle of Oxford Street seems like something that exists in another reality.

Yet London’s most iconic shopping district is getting a brand spanking new makeover to entice buyers back to the capital’s hotspot.

Better yet, it won’t come in the guise of more department stores, but a stunning new landscape at neighbouring Marble Arch with a beautiful, climbable hill.

[Credit: Jamie Davies]

The taste of Mother Nature will allow people to take a break from their Primark pilgrimage, inviting them to venture along a walking path and view the city from a platform at the top.

In particular, visitors will be able to overlook the glorious Hyde Park which boasts 4,000 trees and endless greenery that will leave you forgetting you’re in the heart of the Big Smoke.

There will also be an exhibition and event space in the base, thanks to a generous £150million cash injection from Westminster City Council to overhaul the retail mecca.

While the hill is not in place yet, work is expected to start in the next few weeks just in time for peak summer and the looming ‘Freedom Day’ set for July 19.

[Credit: Krists Luhaers]

Be sure to get in quick for your Instagrammable moments though, as the project is to take place for six months only before it is taken down and relocated to other parts of the local community.

In addition to the hill, the fashion and entertainment hub is also undergoing a major transformation along the main street, with wider pedestrian spaces and more greenery.

There are also plans to introduce more restaurants and pop-up shops in creative ways to support small and medium sized enterprises who previously would not have got a look-in at such a sought-after location, considering the extortionate cost of Oxford Street rents.

Speaking about the venture, Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan said she was delighted her team are part of an ambitious plan to reinvent the famous destination.

[Credit: Westminster City Council]

Rachel said: “This is something we’d committed to long before the pandemic, but the last year has underlined why it’s so important.

“The West End is the engine of the London economy and a huge employer which has been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19.”

She added: “We are confident that our bold plans will secure the district’s long-term success, running alongside our creative, interim plans to boost the capital’s post-pandemic recovery.

“We want to focus attention on this iconic centre of our city which has been increasingly overlooked and cement its status for the future as a key central London destination.”

As they say, when everything feels like an uphill struggle, think of the view from the top.  

[Credit: Sabrina Mazzeo]

‘Every child matters’ Helping kids get back on track after lockdown

There was a huge sigh of relief across the country when parents were told their children could return to school after pogoing in and out of lockdowns.

However, while our future generations were back in the classroom, a new set of problems arose as many were struggling to transition into mainstream education again.

Now, a real-life genie has flown from its lamp to support youth returning to their studies.

[Credit: Awaken Genius]

The incredible Awaken Genius partners with primary schools to help vulnerable students learn in a way that is relatable and fun, by mish-mashing creativity and academia with storytelling, theatre, and movement, as young people learn their core subjects like maths and English.

“We need every child to matter and to ensure that every child ‘fits into education’, irrespective of their barriers to learning.”

Michael Clarke, Awaken Genius founder

Speaking exclusively to InspoDaily about why he kickstarted the project, founder Michael Clarke said he believes that it is all about creating a classroom community where children experience learning rather than just memorising facts or listening without interaction.

Michael said: “I worked in a mainstream school in Haringey, London for 14 years. In January 2011, a student of mine was murdered outside of my school.

“This impacted my mental health and I had to take time off to receive counselling. Ever since, I’ve been committed to building a sense of community, and seeking how children learn best.”

[Credit: Awaken Genius]

Michael then started a Saturday school called ROPE (Rites of Passage Enterprise), in a bid to support black children in maths, English, and cultural studies.

During this venture, he soon discovered that “every child is a genius” and they just need the right environment to become one, so he changed the name of his company to reflect this.

Today, the revamped enterprise Awaken Genius strives to create an environment with ‘eduture’ at its heart, which means to bring out what is already within.

Michael said: “Our main purpose is to avoid the need for pupil referral units [children who don’t attend mainstream school], permanent exclusion, and similar punitive sanctions.

“We want to reduce wider societal issues of mental health and criminality in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

[Credit: Awaken Genius]

To broaden its mission, Awaken Genius has joined forces with MIND Haringey to address an ongoing challenge of wellbeing issues and school exclusion, particularly of Caribbean children.

Michael believes in the power of partnership and an all-hands-on-deck approach, which can significantly contribute towards tackling these issues, as even though similar organisations endeavour to do good it is common for charities and non-profits to want to fly solo.  

He continued: “Children with challenging behaviours deserve to be supported with a broader variety of intervention and alternative curriculum providers.

“We need every child to matter and to ensure that every child ‘fits into education’, irrespective of their barriers to learning.”

[Credit: Awaken Genius]

Awaken Genius use a variety of techniques to help young people ‘fit’ and manage their anxieties around learning, including the polyvagal theory –a powerful tool in neuroscience and psychophysiology that explores the vagus nerve’s [the major pathway between the gut and brain] involvement in emotion regulation, social connection and fear response.

Michael concluded: “We want to give reassurance that our most vulnerable children are being safeguarded and that the governmental slogan ‘every child matters’ is fulfilled.

“This is my life purpose.”

For more info, click here: Awaken Genius.

Cayenne peppers health benefits make them a weekly shop must-have

You may have heard us champion aloe vera, turmeric or ginger as natural remedies that are good for you, though cayenne pepper is being hailed as ‘the king of herbs’.

The tiny chili pepper packs a lot of punch, in flavour and in health benefits.

It is believed they have the power to support the immune system by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, aiding digestive health, and even minimising your risk of cancer.

[Credit: Cristina Anne Costello]

Sounds a bit too good to be true, right?!

It’s all thanks to the ingredient capsaicin, that not only gives them their hot kick on your palette but also boasts pain-relieving properties.

When it comes to kicking cancer’s butt, the capsaicin can attack different pathways in the cancer cell growth process and even cause cell death in prostate, pancreatic and skin cancer patients.

[Credit: Payoon Gerinto]

Its popularity is now soaring with various creams and herbal products containing capsaicin on the market, though you can go direct to the root cause and eat the pepper itself.

Not only is it cheap and accessible, you can also enjoy its benefits on a daily basis.

As well as cooking with the peppers, LA Healthy Living founder Anya Vien recommends infusing powdered cayenne in your warm drinks.

[Credit: v2osk]

Anya said: “Start by mixing a quarter teaspoon with 8oz of water or fresh squeezed juice. Drink this beverage every morning for the first week.

“On week two, increase the cayenne amount to half a teaspoon in 8oz of fluid. Then increase the amount of cayenne by 25% until you reach one tablespoon.”

She added: “Once you reach this amount, use it for a at least a month to help clean out the arteries and maintain their health.”

The humble pepper, originating in Central and South America, has been used for millennia and is believed to have been used in both food and medicine dating back 9,000 years.

Male mental health: ‘We are losing our minds because we have disconnected from our hearts’

As a society, we are beginning to talk about male mental health more openly.

However, it is often when boys and men have already hit crisis point, rather than exploring ways to prevent them from reaching this stage.

This is where Alex Holmes swoops in, holding a microscope to mental health and masculinity to explore ways in which he can support future generations before problems escalate.

He does this by helping them develop emotional intelligence so they have the tools and language to understand what is happening to them if and when they hit difficulties.

[Credit: Alex Holmes]

Having experienced first-hand what it is like to resist feelings and push it all down, Alex, a trainee psychological therapist, knows the power of opening up over bottling up.

Speaking about his journey, Alex revealed he grew up in an environment where he learned that men do not to talk about emotions and that he was to ‘shut up unless you are spoken to’.

Alex said: “I spent most of my life going through school, university, and my career as a journalist, not talking about where I was at emotionally or mentally. It was life as I knew it.”

However, the traumatic experiences that Alex tried to squash began to build up inside and his relationships soon struggled as he wasn’t able to communicate what was going on.

[Credit: Alex Holmes]

Alex continued: “I was going with the motions, ignoring my emotional life and vulnerability, until I had three breakdowns, my body was reacting against me from the tension and pain I was holding.”

It wasn’t until Alex – who also hosts mental health and spirituality podcast, Time To Talk – found himself in therapy that his healing truly began.

Alex explained: “The moment I stepped into the therapy chair, I had to unpack all of the preconceived ideas of what it meant to be me.

“These parts involved race, masculinity, status, sexuality, materialism, emotional health, mental health, childhood experiences, and more. For every uncovering, there were more questions. For every question, there were deepening answers.”

[Credit: Alex Holmes]

Now, Alex feels galvanised to share his own experiences in a bid to tackle the devastating rise in suicides that make it the leading cause of death in men under the age of 45 in the UK.

Alex also strives to be a voice for black people, who are four times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious mental health condition and more likely to be arrested under the Mental Health Act.

He added: “We are living in an increasingly disconnected world. We need spaces to talk and explore our inner selves. Becoming emotionally resilient requires us to be both emotionally intelligent and aware, something most men don’t know how to be.”

Alex’s fascinating insight is also available to read in his book, Time to Talk: How Men Think About Love, Belonging and Connection.

For more info, click here: Alex Holmes.

[Credit: Alex Holmes]

Celebrating single parents and their power of flying solo with the kids

Being a single parent not only comes with the pressure of having to do everything alone, but also judgement from society; whether that be friends, family or employers.

However, a stunning new exhibition is celebrating the beauty of single parenting as well as the stories behind each family.

Photographer Polly Braden embarked on the project after becoming a single parent herself and began looking at prejudices and policies that impact the parent who remains with the kids.

With help from charities, law firms, community hubs, and women’s organisations, she began finding single parents to share their tales and be the subjects of her pictures.

[Credit: Fran with Penny and Dominic / Polly Braden]

Polly said: “I learned about their sense of adventure, optimism, creativity, ambition and resilience, transcending the often difficult situations they face.

“These photographs have been made in collaboration: some have even been taken by the parent themselves, after setting up the camera and lights.”

One of the women featuring in Polly’s collection is Fran, mum to Penny, 13, and Dominic, 11, who left her partner in a bold move when he went to work.

Fran said: “We took no clothes, nothing. We just walked. I went into a photo booth and took a photo of the three of us. I call it my liberation photo. I never looked back.”

[Credit: Jana with Izaan and Yanna / Polly Braden]

There is also Jana, who fled an arranged marriage with Izaan, five, and two-year-old Yanna, and left with nothing but her daughter’s car seat, milk bottle and some of their clothes.

Jana said: “Two years ago, if someone had told me I’d be living in London by myself, taking care of my children by myself and had a place at one of the best universities in the world, I would have never believed it. My old self would have never recognised who I am today.” 

Meanwhile, Gemma – mum to Freya, eight, Jack, six, and Elsie, two – met her partner at university, before they went on to graduate together, live together and find jobs together. Life seemed made.

Yet when he left her with the three children, Gemma panicked as to how she would survive.

[Credit: Harry Borden]

She explained: “I was always in awe of single mothers. I couldn’t imagine having to do it all by myself. Now I’ve come to realise that actually I was doing it all myself anyway.”

While 90% of single parent homes are headed-up by women, of course there are single dads too.

A new book by portrait photographer Harry Borden shines a light on this, similarly to Polly, celebrating single-parent families but with fathers at the helm instead.

In his book, Harry shares snapshots of single-parent dads alongside their stories of love and loss.

Harry said: “The image of the single dad is often distorted by out-of-date notions of masculinity – the strong and resilient father, the working father, the emotionally distant dad.

“I want this book to reflect on fatherhood and the role men play in their children’s lives, to contribute to the ongoing debate about what it is to be a man and to honour these men engaged in the singular and vital task of bringing up their children.”

Whether you are a parent or not, we guarantee both Polly and Harry’s work will leave you uplifted.

To grab a copy of the book, click here: Single Dad.

To check out Polly’s exhibit in June, click here: Holding the Baby.

London gets a slice of Caribbean sunshine as Limin’ Beach Club lands in the capital

If you’re feeling a bit down about not jetting off on your usual summer holiday this year, then fear not because there’s a new beach in town.

Limin’ Beach Club is located just off the banks of the River Thames, at Gabriel’s Wharf, and is the perfect place to hang out in the sunshine.

The epic space originally opened last year, but 2020 wasn’t exactly a normal year for everyone, so Limin’ Beach Club are putting all their energy into summer 2021.

The venue features three outdoor beaches, bars serving up beers and rum punch (in pineapples), and sizzling Caribbean barbecue dishes – such as jerk chicken, soft shell crab and barbecued sweetcorn – all to the backdrop of chilled-out Soca beats.

Limin’ Beach Club is the creation of Sham Mahabir – a Peckham resident who is originally from Trinidad.

Mr Mahabir promised to bring Trinidadian food to the UK masses pretty much as soon as he landed here 20-something years ago, and that’s exactly what he’s done.

The menu focuses on small plates such as masala chips, aloo pies, wicked wings, and great cocktails – Mr Rum’s Punch and Hemming-my-way are particularly popular.

Limin’ (pronounced ‘lime-in’) is Trinbagonian for relaxing in good company with food, drink, music and barrels of laughter – and it looks like that’s exactly what’s on offer.

In fact, Limin’ Beach Club have recently joined forces with Hedkandi and are bringing Londoners the ultimate beach party on Sunday 27 June.

The epic celebration will feature live DJ sets from Hedkandi founder Mark Doyle as well as Andy Norman, John Jones, Chris Hayton, and even live sax from Emma Frampton.

Gusts can sink their toes in powder-soft sand in the sunshine and enjoy a day and night of iconic beach beats and unforgettable memories at the very first Hedkandi event since the pandemic.

Sponsored by Black Tot Rum and Threeways Rum, the hedonistic party promises revellers a welcome drink and an array of cocktails and drinks, including Mr Rum’s Punch, Beach Tot, Piña Coladas served in pineapples, Threeways Rum & Tonic and Black Tot Espresso Martinis.

Tickets start from £35, with option of a VIP area too. Each ticket includes an eight-hour party, a welcome drink, Caribbean food, a goodie bag full of gifts from Black Tot Rum and Limin’ Beach Club, face painting, body glitter and live photography. For more information, click here.

So, what are you waiting for? Freedom Day might have been delayed, but summer certainly hasn’t been cancelled.

‘Ditching diet culture means freedom’ How to love the skin you’re in

While many of us might feel tired of the pressure to look a certain way or weigh a certain number just to feel validated, what are we actually doing about it?

Still, conversations continue about ‘I was good’ when we abstain or ‘I was bad’ if we indulge, before punishing ourselves with self-loathing in the days and weeks that follow.  

Yet Megan Richards is on a crusade to put an end to this once and for all, by smashing stereotypes and challenging our narrow ideals of beauty in her blog, The Authentic Girl.

[Credit: The Authentic Girl]

Megan is not anti-beauty, far from it, her female empowerment platform is dedicated to all things food and fashion; she simply believes there is a need for body positivity within it.

The self-love activist – who promotes the message that ‘all bodies are good bodies’ – wants to show women that diversity matters and there is no right or wrong way to have a body.

“This multibillion-dollar industry profits from our insecurities.”

Megan Richards, The Authentic Girl founder

Speaking about her mission to change the conversation, Megan said she believes that fashion and body positivity are strongly related, and by showing women of all shapes and sizes that their bodies are worthy of being celebrated, they can start to rebuild self-esteem.

The South African native also talks passionately about toxic diet culture, reminding people that they are not meant to be at a weight that they can maintain only through restriction.

[Credit: The Authentic Girl]

Megan said: “Ditching diet culture comes with a new level of freedom and happiness. Diets are not sustainable for the long-run nor do they have any long-term benefits.

“You don’t have to justify weight gain or loss. It’s your body, you control the narrative.”

Her top tips for ditching diets include doing regular social media audits to unfollow or mute any accounts that don’t make you feel good about your body; moving your body in a way that you enjoy, in particular to shift from the idea that exercise is a punishment; and to ban all dieting and start listening to your body by eating whenever you’re hungry or thirsty.

In addition to these, Megan also advises people to throw away the scales, become aware of your internal dialogue and silence that inner critic, all while enjoying the body you’re in.

[Credit: The Authentic Girl]

Megan added: “It’s a toxic system of beliefs that is harmful, especially to those who occupy fat, trans, disabled and black bodies.

“This multibillion-dollar industry profits from our insecurities. Body positivity co-exists with anti-diet culture, teaching yourself how to nourish your body, ditch diets and move joyfully.”

It might sound ‘easier said than done’ but if hating your body only makes you miserable, perhaps it’s time to try embracing it and see where that gets you instead.

To keep up with Megan’s tips, click here: The Authentic Girl.

Animals saved from slaughter as dairy farm transforms into sanctuary

We recently brought you the story of Rowdy Girl, a ranch selling cows for slaughter who took a dramatic U-turn to become a sanctuary.

And we’re thrilled to say, this compassion for animals is spreading like wildfire.

Now, a former dairy farm is also doing a 180 and taking care of their cows as they grow old.

It’s all thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that was launched to help support the farmers transition away from exploiting animals and towards an alternative way of making income.

[Credit: Namigni Animal Sanctuary]

The farmers, based in Colombia, were blown away when the public raised $26,000 (£19k) so that they could use the money to fund more ethical practice and allow the cows to retire peacefully.

In what is being hailed as the first farm in Latin America to take the leap, it will stop producing 300ltrs of milk a day and selling it to the largest dairy company in the country so that it can nurture the animals across 70 acres of beautiful native forest.

After 25 years of dairy production, the farm has officially stopped all activity and their herd has been integrated with a larger herd of a local sanctuary they have teamed up with.

[Credit: Namigni Animal Sanctuary]

The wildlife is already reaping the benefits, with two older dairy cows, a 10-year-old dairy goat, and a donkey all joining the sanctuary last December in an unprecedented move that would previously have seen them sent to a slaughterhouse for no longer being productive.

Meanwhile, the male calves will also have a chance to live whereas before they would have been killed as is often the way for them in the dairy industry as they do not produce milk.

Miguel Aparicio, co-founder of the sanctuary helping the farmers change direction, said he was delighted that they have nearly 100 cows now the farm and sanctuary have merged.

[Credit: Namigni Animal Sanctuary]

Miguel said: “We can only do this if people help us because we need to deliver $26k to this family of dairy farmers so that we can formally have the animals surrendered to us and so that their change of economic activity is made sustainable.

“When it comes to giving animals the respect they deserve, veganism is the answer, but we need to find pragmatic solutions to help animals in exploitation farms and the farmers too.”

He added: “This only works if it’s a win-win and sets an example of how such important change is possible and backed by the animal rights community.”

To offer support or donate, click here: Namigni Animal Sanctuary.

Awesome café aim to ‘normalise kindness’ with their unique staff

We see ‘be kind’ scribbled all over social media, T-shirts and adverts, yet sometimes words don’t equal action.

One little café with a big mission is determined to be the change they want to see and are striving to put kindness at the heart of everything they do.

To do this, La La Land Kind Café are hiring foster youth as employees to give young people a chance to flourish and spread joy to the guests who walk through their doors every day.

[Credit: La La Land Kind Café]

By practicing that they preach, and giving disadvantaged kids a stepping-stone of opportunity, founder Francois Reihani hopes normalising kindness will have a ripple effect.

Francois initially set out to help foster youth after learning about what happens to them when they get kicked out the system at 18, with many left on the street.

His first project We Are One, created in 2017, aimed to provide the young people with everything they needed to become self-sustaining adults, from housing to mentoring to therapy.

However, it wasn’t working!

[Credit: La La Land Kind Café]

Francois soon learned his mentees struggled to get or maintain jobs, and without this, the whole house of cards would collapse.

He explained: “Employers were not willing to hire youth with no experience or did not have the patience to teach them.

“If no one was going to hire our youth, we set out to do it ourselves.”

And so, the kindness café concept was born offering an eight-week internship for foster youth, during which they learn life skills, on-the-job training, and customer service.

[Credit: La La Land Kind Café]

For most of us, La La Land is synonymous with Hollywood or perhaps the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone film, but what about its link to kindness?

The name was chosen to represent a dream world, where people walk in and feel a true sense of joy for life and feel accepted for who they really are.

As if their ethos is not enough to be admired, the mouth-watering menu is heavenly.

Their drinks come in a range of quirky flavours, including The Butterfly Latte (blue butterfly pea flower, espresso, milk), while their food boasts dishes like Cacao Banana Chia Seed Pudding (cacao, honey, Nutella, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut milk, banana).

[Credit: La La Land Kind Café]

While you’ll have to be a US resident to enjoy the perks – with three stores currently in Dallas – there are plans to open more on the mission to spread kindness like wildfire.

The team also hope that other businesses around the world will adopt a similar ideology by using social enterprise opportunity within their brand to help the local community.

For more info, click here: La La Land Kind Café.