Choose Love: Artwork to brighten up your home that will also save lives

Art is often thought of as a luxury, with pieces exchanging hands for thousands, even millions, of pounds.

Yet now you can purchase some eye candy that will also be saving lives.

This means, treating yourself or a loved one to a beautiful design this Christmas will also result in helping raise funds for refugees around the world.

All you need to do is get yourself to the Big Smoke to check out the Choose Love exhibition in Carnaby Street, pick your unique print or photograph, then voila.

[Credit: Magda Archer]

It’s all thanks to humanitarian aid charity Choose Love joining forces with Print Club London, a printing studio and contemporary online gallery.

Together, they are collaborating to raise awareness (and cash!) for displaced people.

So far, they have already donated £5,000 worth of diapers to refugees in Moria camp, Greece, which is home to 8,000 people even though it was only created for 1,500.

They have also given £8k for medical care, £9k towards food packs, and £10k for hot meals to other people struggling across the country.

[Credit: Caroline Tomlinson]

Here in the UK, it is certainly not a case of out of sight, out of mind, with renowned artists creating exclusive pieces, surrendering all profit as proceeds will directly support the work of Choose Love.

All of the pieces take inspiration from the iconic ‘Choose Love’ slogan, created by activist and fashionista Katharine Hamnett in the 1980s.

Speaking about the project, the Print Club London team said they are proud to have raised over £150,000 for the charity so far.

The crew said: “This couldn’t have been possible without the generosity of our artists using their talent to produce a one-off piece of art for our gallery.

“Also, our customers who invested in the beautiful art and the cause.”

[Credit: Craig Keenan]

To grab yourself a piece, pop to the Choose Love Store on 3 Carnaby Street until December 21, any day Monday to Sunday between 10am and 7pm.

If the art is out of budget, you can still visit the shop which sells urgently needed products and services required by vulnerable people, from hot meals to mental health support.

While you would technically walk away empty-handed, the gifts you choose to pay for are then delivered to those who need them most in different parts of the world.

For more info, click here: Choose Love.

Pub gifts FREE three-course meal and wine so no one is alone this Xmas

If you had to draw an image of Christmas Day, what would you doodle; perhaps everyone opening pressies or tucking into food around the table?

For some folk, their December 25 looks very different, with just themselves for company.

However, to help repaint their picture of isolation into one of connection, a London boozer is inviting people to enjoy a free three-course meal and wine on them.

[Credit: The Alexandra]

You read that right, no catch, The Alexandra in Wimbledon is serving complementary food and booze so that no one has to fly solo this year.

It’s actually a tradition they have been honouring since 2014, on their mission to beat loneliness for those who happen to be without loved ones over the festive season.

With their friendly door left wide open, you don’t even need to book ahead.

Simply turn up on Christmas Day between 12pm and 3pm and you’ll be gifted a delicious meal, alongside some vino, and the chance to socialise on tables of four, six or eight.

[Credit: The Alexandra]

Shouting about their upcoming feast, a member of the team tweeted: “Our ‘don’t be on your own on Christmas day’ dinner is going to be bigger than ever.

“No strings, no catch, if you’re going to be on your own on Christmas Day, don’t be.

“Come to us instead for a FREE dinner, with FREE vino. COME!!”

Offering a further olive branch, after one social networker replied saying they live in Islington and will struggle to travel to Wimbledon, the pub said they would organise a lift.

[Credit: The Alexandra]

As if sprinkling their Yuletide cheer isn’t enough, the bar also hosts MeetUpMondays, with a spread of free tea and coffee, free bingo, and free sarnies – and, crucially, a good old chinwag.

Seriously, what heroes.

So, to chow down on some turkey and all the trimmings while pulling a cracker or three, get yourself to this address on Crimbo: The Alexandra, 33 Wimbledon Hill Rd, SW19 7NE.

Happy holidays!

Cook up a ‘£1 wonder’ to make food go further in your home

It’s all very well telling people to eat healthily, but when free-range meat and organic veg are treble the price of the regular produce, what do you do?

Well, the next best thing is learning to be creative with what you can afford.

And there are two genies floating out of the chip oil bottle to help you.

Say hello to Marcus Rashford and Tom Kerridge.

[Credit: Full Time Meals]

Marcus, you’ll likely know as the fancy-footed Manchester United player with a flair for philanthropy, who joined forces with FareShare to deliver free meals to kids over lockdown.

Tom, meanwhile, is also a homegrown talent you might recognise from weekend telly as the face of Saturday Kitchen, a presenting gig he earned from his Michelin-star culinary skills.

Together, they are a force to be reckoned with under the name Full Time Meals.

On their mission to “stop hunger in its tracks”, they have launched a year-long series of cooking tutorials, published weekly on Instagram and Facebook every Sunday.

[Credit: Full Time Meals]

The following day, they then feature a celebrity whipping up the same dish to encourage people to join in, with the likes of Russell Brand, Mabel, and Nick Grimshaw taking part.

With home comforts that will titillate tastebuds, such as mac ‘n’ cheese, hot dog pasta, and “£1 wonder” ham and pea risotto, you’ll be chowing down hearty meals not rabbit food.

Their ultimate goal is to prioritise affordability, with chef Kerridge saying he’s a huge fan of frozen veggies, and dishes that are “fun, tasty, quick, simple and relatable”.

[Credit: Full Time Meals]

Reflecting on his own humble beginnings, when he was brought up on a council estate by a mother who held down two jobs to keep the family afloat, Kerridge says that learning some basics at an early age can make all the difference to stay healthier and fuller for longer.

Kerridge said: “It takes a little bit of effort and energy, sure, but you can still create a healthy style of pizza, rather than buying a processed one, right?”

Chatting to Positive News, he added that making food kids “actually want to eat” is crucial to keeping them engaged with their nutrition and will help them make smart choices.

To get recipe inspo, click here: Full Time Meals.

The best Christmas lights brightening up the sky this December

They say the spirit of Christmas is in giving, so why not give yourself a treat?!

We don’t mean leaving yourself out of pocket after your Black Friday splurge, all you’ll need to access these treats is the tube fare there.

We’re talking an eye candy extravaganza, as London’s twinkliest hotspots exhibit their festive cheer with glorious light shows.

So, take a trip to the Big Smoke and soak in the magic of Crimbo.

The elves over at TimeOut have been busy putting together a top-notch list of hidden gems, all you need to do is check it out below, pick your fave, then head on over.

[Credit: Winter Light]

1) Winter Light at the Southbank Centre

With light and colour as this year’s theme, the artists use a dazzling array of techniques to explore ideas about nature, time, politics, society, and the act of looking.

You can expect a neon canopy, experimental projections, and eerily lit abandoned cars as Winter Light presents powerful artwork harnessing the full spectrum of light and colour.

WHERE: South Bank

WHEN: Until January 9

[Credit: Lightopia]

2) Lightopia in Crystal Palace Park

The award-winning Lightopia promises to be London’s finest festival of lights this season, bathed in glitz, alongside incredible installations.

There will even be a light trail, creating a winter wonderland of illumination that you can venture down with the family, friends, or even as an office Christmas party.

WHERE: Crystal Palace Park

WHEN: Until January 2

[Credit: Carnaby Christmas Lights]

3) Carnaby Christmas Lights

Over 600 sparkling 3D and 2D butterflies are fluttering through Carnaby this Christmas, each one hand-decorated with reflective wings and bright neon patterns.

The installation is in collaboration with charity partner, Choose Love, to support the urgent need to raise funds for refugees around the world, with an additional fundraising stream for Afghan refugees, with their butterflies a metaphor for spiritual rebirth, change and hope.

WHERE: Soho

WHEN: Until January 2

[Credit: Winterfest]

4) Winterfest

Celebrating togetherness, this year’s theme will be ‘Reunited in Light’ and play host to London’s tallest LED tree.

The gleaming rainbow tower will be made up of 100,000 kinetic lights which pulse to different rhythms and evoke the vibrancy and pace of a cityscape.

If it sounds Instagrammable, it’s because it is.

WHERE: Wembley

WHEN: Until January 4

[Credit: Shard Lights]

5) Shard Lights

Featuring seasonal colours of gold, red and green, The Shard’s spire lights will flood London’s evening sky with rich, festive hues.

With the Shard Lights being the highest light show in western Europe, you will be able to see it across the capital, and may even be able to catch if from your office or bedroom window.

WHERE: London Bridge

WHEN: Until January 11

For the full article, click here: Christmas lights.

Cooking school for teens with ADHD: ‘Their first taste of sweet success’

While ADHD is often misunderstood as ‘naughty behaviour’, those with the condition are crying out to be heard.  

Often it boils down to them needing help with time management, knowing how to tackle the task at hand, or limiting distractions to keep focus.

And now they’ve been thrown a lifeline, by rapper Loyle Carner.

Not just through his music, but through cookery!

He has flung open his doors to a summer school where kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are invited to channel their energy and creativity into cooking.

[Credit: Chilli Con Carner]

Having grown up with ADHD himself, Carner – real name Ben Coyle-Larner – knows all too well how neurodiversity is as much of a blessing as it is a curse.

Often struggling to concentrate, Carner would end up in fights and mischief as a child.

Now, he’s rewriting the narrative, and says his London-based school gives teens who are “accustomed to a diet of failure and anxiety, their first taste of sweet success”.

Having joined forces with Mikey Krzyzanowski from social enterprise project the Goma Collective, the pair launched their Chilli Con Carner school five years ago.

[Credit: Positive News]

Today, it is going from strength to strength as they educate young people on how to make everything from dusty folds of fresh pasta to intricate California sushi rolls.

Speaking about their venture, Carner, 26, said it felt like a natural evolution after growing up around food and cooking, and the human connection that they bring.

Carner said: “It was just me and my mum for a lot of my childhood, so being around a table with loads of people, that was somewhere I wanted to be.

“It came from there, a love of community. The more I could keep people at the table talking about food… I’d cook everything, whatever people wanted, I was a people-pleaser.”

[Credit: Chilli Con Carner]

Meanwhile, Krzyzanowski, 24, explained that their students thrive from factual praise, which is typically in stark contrast to what they have been experiencing at school.

Krzyzanowski said: “We tell them they’ve done something great and they can taste for themselves that we really mean it.

“It undoes loads of the pain and negative wiring that some of their schooling and even the people around them have been subjecting them to for a long time.”

Chatting to Positive News, he added: “It’s so difficult to feel self-confidence as a kid… but with cooking, they start out thinking they can’t do it, and by the end of the day, they’re eating it!”

They had us at California sushi rolls.

To sign-up, click here: Chilli Con Carner.

Beat loneliness! Meet likeminded people on fun, free walking events

While working from home certainly has its perks, it also means more hours alone.

Over time, this can severely impact wellbeing and lead to chronic loneliness.

Yet a power duo to outshine all power duos (including Britney and Justin), are on a mission to conquer isolation by creating fun, free walking events across London.

[Credit: Talk the Walk]

Coining their meet-ups, Talk the Walk, co-founders Jake Williams and Charlotte Sinclair wanted to rally likeminded folk together and explore the city on foot.

Having had their own challenges with solitude, the couple were determined to give a voice to others struggling so they can feel connected beyond closed doors.

Now, the gatherings are attracting hundreds of people, as young and old unite to end loneliness.

Speaking about their triumph, Jake said: “I’ve done some crazy things to stop loneliness, like dog sitting for people and joining gyms, just so I can have more conversations with people.”

[Credit: Talk the Walk]

Chatting to MyLondon, he added: “I think that it’s hugely impactful for people who have been affected by Covid, by being forced to work from home and having that isolation.”

The walks cover some serious ground, with their latest venture stretching over three hours as they rambled from Angel to trendy Haggerston.

Meanwhile, previous missions have included treks across Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Canal.

While they are closing up shop for chilly season, the dream team vow to organise more hangouts soon, which always open with icebreaker games to break the nervousness.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

Not only could you find yourself making new friends (and nabbing some of the free chocolate that is gifted out), you’ll be giving yourself a serious wellbeing boost.

Walking dramatically improves circulation, which helps reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, while also strengthening muscles, supporting your joints, and lightning your mood.

As they say, everywhere is walking distance if you make the time.

To get involved, click here: Talk the Walk.

The London café dishing up delicious food that is helping the community

We all want to do our bit to save the planet, though if eating sustainably means living off salad leaves, let’s be honest, it can feel a little dry at times.

That’s why a quirky café is proving to be the fairy godmother of quality nosh, so get yourself down to south London for a trip to Battersea now.

By specialising in sustainable dishes without sacrificing taste, Social Pantry is fast becoming the go-to hotspot for food conscious folk.

We’re talking tastebud ticklers such as smoked bacon and Marmite butter crumpets with poached egg and Parmesan; black pudding and potato hash with crispy fried egg, confit garlic, and spring onion; and chestnut mushroom on sourdough with crème fraîche and pesto.

[Credit: Social Pantry]

This café with a twist is also the leader for ex-offender employment in hospitality, closely working with local prisons and charities to offer people a second chance.

In a bid to prevent many from falling into old lifestyle ways and re-offending again, largely due to the lack of employment opportunities and the stigma surrounding ex-offenders, Social Pantry provides men and women with a trade that they can rely on for a lifetime.

Oh, and did we mention they’re vying to become the first zero-waste catering company in the UK!?

[Credit: Social Pantry]

They are striving for this title by joining forces with a sustainability consultant to make sure everything on their menu is as planetfriendly as possible.

The brainchild of Alex Head, who showcased her entrepreneurial flair at just 15 when she started selling sandwiches, she now runs a catering company and two cafés (the second in Peckham).

In what has been coined an “unassuming and cool approach to food” by none other than Vogue magazine, Alex brings heart and soul to all her creations.

So, either pay a visit to the Big Smoke or you can hire Social Pantry for a wedding, party, or event.

For more info, click here: Social Pantry.

[Credit: Social Pantry]

Meet the elves! Musicians struggling for work are delivering Xmas trees

Ever tried fitting a Christmas tree into your Ford Fiesta? It ain’t easy!

So, why not save yourself the drama and give Green Elf a little try.

In return, they’ll give you a whole lotta love by bringing your tree right to your door.

You can even live track your elf on the day of delivery so the magic can begin before you decorate.

[Credit: Green Elf]

Better yet, these are elves with a twist, ones that will not only brighten up your living room but also ones who are struggling to find work in the music industry.

This means, by simply buying a tree from them, you are supporting artists as they find their feet again following the pandemic.

Rewind to Christmas 2020, London company Green Elf Trees launched during the second lockdown as an olive branch for out-of-work musicians to make a few bob.

While all industries were hit hard, performers really had it rough as venues closed, shows were cancelled, and even teaching opportunities were axed.

Fast-forward to today and they are still going strong, lighting up homes with glorious trees.

[Credit: Green Elf]

Oh, and did we mention the trees are sustainably sourced from UK growers?!

There’s even the option to add in natural decorations, such as pine cones and dried orange slices, for a touch of class.

If you’re not sold yet, their removal service will sway you as they’re committed to coming and collecting your tree in January to avoid them being dumped on streets or landfills.

With each purchase, a £3 donation is made on the customer’s behalf to a charity of their choice: Mind, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Crisis, Dogs Trust or Age UK.

So, bid farewell to your inner Scroodge, it’s time to get festive!

To choose a tree, click here: Green Elf.

[Credit: Green Elf]

Have total control of your emotions with these skills to calm inner chaos

They say life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.

So, why do so many of us fly off the handle or turn to self-destructive coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with our problems?

Ultimately, because we’re not educated on emotional regulation at school or by our elders, and these behaviours must be taught as they are not always innate.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

You may be more familiar with the terms ‘self-care’ or ‘self-love’, all of which strive to achieve the same goal – regulating your emotions so that you can calm any inner chaos.

The knock-on effect to this is boosting your self-esteem, helping you feel your best, protecting your relationships, and improving your mental health.

Just like your body regulates internal temperature by making you sweat when you’re too hot or shiver when it’s too cold, emotional regulation requires that you adjust your thoughts and behaviours to balance what’s going on around you that is causing that emotion.

Our friends over at Fingerprint for Success, a professional and personal development platform to make amazing things happen at work and in life, have collated the top tips so you can master this.

Check them out below!

[Credit: Sydney Sims]

1) Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

You may’ve heard of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which helps people change their thoughts so they can feel differently, but what about DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)?

DBT is often used to help people who are struggling to manage emotion by teaching them tools to regulate these intense feelings so they can improve interpersonal relationships.

By delving into mindfulness and distress tolerance, these key skills can help regulate emotions and send emotional literacy skyrocketing.

[Credit: Tengyart]

2) Learn to master self-compassion

Someone who is reacting with compassion recognises the suffering in someone else and is moved to ease their pain. Self-compassion is doing that for yourself.

If your friend was upset because someone else at work got the promotion they wanted, would you shame them for feeling anger? Would you tell them they were being ridiculous? No, you would sit with them and say it’s understandable they feel this way. You’d ask if they’d like to talk about it.

Extend the same compassion to yourself the next time you experience unpleasant emotions.

[Credit: Stefano Pollio]

3) Address the need/desire behind the emotion

When we experience an intense emotion, we often jump to conclusions about the situation or the person toward whom we feel this emotion. But, what if we withheld judgment and looked at what that emotion is trying to tell us about our needs and desires?

Jackie Schuld, a therapist who works with women experiencing overwhelming emotions and helps them express them through art, says emotions are helpful messengers from our body.

Schuld explained: “When an unsettling emotion begins to arise, I teach clients to acknowledge the emotion without judgment. We make an initial emotion even larger when we add judgmental thoughts such as, ‘I can’t believe I’m upset again’ or ‘I’m broken’.”

She then encourages them to get curious about the need behind the emotion to understand why it is present so they can move through it instead of spiralling into emotional dysregulation.

For the full article, click here: Emotional Regulation.

You’ll never believe how red phone boxes are now being used

For those of us old enough to remember a time before smartphones, you’ll have a special place in your heart for red phone boxes.

Whether it was chucking 20ps in to call a taxi, using a phonecard to chat to your crush away from your parents’ landline, or using reverse charges for help.

So, you might feel a little sad to hear that the iconic UK kiosks are being decommissioned after usage plummeted a staggering 96%.

However, some of them are being given a new lease of life!

[Credit: The Community HeartBeat Trust]

A selection of boxes, from Cornwall to Shetland, are metamorphosing into lifesaving mini medical centres and have been repurposed to house defibrillators.

As anyone who watched the dramatic scenes unfold during the Euros this summer, when Christian Eriksen dropped to the ground during a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s opening game against Finland, it was a defibrillator that shocked him back to life.

When it comes to using one, timing is everything and the more devices that are dotted around in everyday places, the higher the chances of saving someone’s life.

Speaking about their initiative, The Community HeartBeat Trust spokesperson said: “To save a life after a cardiac arrest is time-dependent.

“As telephone kiosks are in the centre of communities and are easily recognisable and generally feature on satnavs, these make great locations for defibrillators.”

[Credit: PA News]

Joining this incredible feat, another red box has become the UK’s smallest nightclub.

This means, if you don’t like dancing away against sweaty bodies or queueing at the bar, then this is a dream come true as there’s only room for one!

You can boogie with your own disco lighting and glitter ball to tracks including Blondie’s Hanging On The Telephone and Telephone Line by Electric Light Orchestra.

Speaking about the box in Kingsbridge, Devon, local councillor Chris Povey said they were “determined to keep it, but also wanted to do something really eye-catching”.

[Credit: Annie Spratt]

The miniature nightclub also raises funds for charity, charging revellers £1 per track and giving profits to help adults who have learning difficulties.

In addition to this, several boxes have been converted into mini community libraries that encourage small donations of 50p per book so they can also donate to charity.

Meanwhile, in areas where there is poor mobile coverage, a high accident or suicide rate, red phone boxes will remain as a lifeline to those in need.  

We wonder how long it will be before one turns into a tanning booth?!