Let’s start talking…period!

Let’s start talking…period!

At Leila & Geoffrey we support a range of artists, charities and creative businesses. We especially like to advocate social enterprises that make an impact. 

Menstruation. Periods. Being On. 

It’s often considered an embarrassing topic, even a taboo subject in some parts of the globe, but half of the world’s population bleeds every month. For some women they purchase sanitary products, cope with their body’s changing hormone levels and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and then, perhaps, forget about it for a few weeks.

For some it’s not as easy as that. Over 2.5 billion people globally lack access to basic sanitation and hygiene, and the United Nations has recognised menstrual hygiene as a global public health and human-rights issue.

But that’s just in developing countries, right? 

Wrong. In March 2017 the BBC published a report that revealed UK children were regularly missing school because they couldn’t afford to buy menstrual products. Shockingly, some girls were wrapping socks around their underwear to stop the bleeding or using newspaper. 

The term ‘period poverty’ refers to being unable to access menstrual products because of financial challenges, which according to charity Plan International UK, is 1 in 10 girls. This really only came to light after charity Freedom 4 Girls, originally providing menstrual products to schoolgirls in Kenya, was forced to redirect some of their deliveries to schools in Leeds.

In the UK, research has shown that women spend over £18,000 on their periods over the course of their lifetime. This includes essential sanitary items and pain relief but also new underwear. Additionally, they are still paying a 5% VAT as feminine hygiene products are deemed a ‘luxury item’.

As poverty and governmental cutbacks bite and there’s a growing dependence on food bank handoutsmenstrual products have, for some, become an unattainable luxury rather than a monthly necessity. 

Finally, many women are also suffering the prolific shame and embarrassment around their periods in silence, and feel unable or reluctant to ask for help.

Thankfully, there are organisations that channel their horror into action. 

Free Periods is on a mission to ensure no girl in the UK is living in period poverty. Headed up by Amika George, who balances homework with a radical call to action, Free Periods is on a mission to make sure that no girl in the UK is living in period poverty. 

Before eating her breakfast before school back in 2017, Amika was so shocked to learn that girls her age and younger were missing out on an education because of the lack of sanitary support they receive, it propelled her to take action; and she started Free Periods from her bedroom. 

In December 2017, the movement organised a 2000-people protest outside Downing Street, calling on the Government to end period poverty. £1.5 million was given in funds (proving that activism really does work) but Amika believes the fight for #freeperiods is far from over and they want more; specifically, for the Government to make a statutory pledge to end period poverty by providing free menstrual products to all girls in the UK on Free School Meals. 

They also want to normalise the conversation surrounding periods and end the silence and stigma that comes with it – feelings which are likely to be even worse for women facing period poverty.

“Ultimately, it’s a women issue and we live in a patriarchal society with a patriarchal government” says Amika. “There’s this idea that, because only women have periods, they can be swept under the carpet”.

Free Periods have outlined ways in which you can help:

  • Support their Partners (including Bloody Good PeriodFreda and Freedom 4 Girls)
  • Write to your MP
  • Tweet Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, to demand that all girls on free school meals should receive free sanitary products
  • Sign the change.org petition

Further information is available on the website here.

Amika and the Free Periods feminist movement is on a mission to rid period poverty from our schools and our history. In the movement’s words, “It’s damaging. It’s undignified. It’s unacceptable, and it must stop”. 

We support them every step of the way. Menstrual hygiene is a human right. Period.

WEBSITE: https://www.freeperiods.org/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/AmikaGeorge

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/pinkprotest/


Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

At Leila & Geoffrey we support a range of artists, charities and creative businesses. We especially like to advocate social enterprises that make an impact. 

“Loneliness is hallmarked by an intense desire to bring the experience to a close; something which cannot be achieved by sheer willpower or getting out more, but only by developing intimate connections”. 

Olivia Laing, The Lonely City (“Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman published by Harper Collins).

Loneliness has become a modern epidemic, with the potential to cause serious damage to our physical and mental health. Studies have emerged that link loneliness to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer and some scientists believe it is as dangerous to our health as obesity or smoking.

A 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness – which aims to start a national conversation about the scale and impact of loneliness in the UK – shone a powerful light on the fact that more than 9 million people in the UK often or always feel lonely. 

Such is the concern about the prevalence of loneliness in the country that in January 2018, the Prime Minister announced not only her government’s plans to tackle the issues and combat isolation but also the appointment of a ministerial lead on loneliness. Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society leads a cross-government group that has responsibility for devising policies connected to loneliness and developing a national strategy. 

Feelings of alienation or sadness about being alone are indiscriminate and can affect everyone; whether single men and women, parents on Shared Parental Leave, tech-savvy millennials or the elderly. A study from the Office for National Statistics found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were “always or often” lonely – the highest proportion of any age group. 

Yet, across all the measures and categories in the report, research shows that people aged over 75 are “63 times less likely to report loneliness than those aged 16 to 24 years”. Age UK, the UK’s largest charity working with older people, highlights that “for a growing number of people, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define their lives and have a significant impact on their wellbeing”. 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone and 1.9 older people often feel ignored or invisible. 

Thankfully there are charities that tirelessly campaign to help counter feelings of solitude and desolation – like The Silver Line. It operates the only free, confidential and national helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people aged 55 and over. It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Callers to the Helpline can receive help from a specially trained team who can:

  • Offer information, friendship and advice.
  • Link callers to local groups and services.
  • Offer regular friendship calls.
  • Protect and support older people who are suffering abuse and neglect.

In addition, the charity offers invaluable befriending services including the Silver Letters friendship scheme for those with hearing issues or who might just prefer the written word and Silver Line Telephone Friends, a scheme that matches volunteers with older people based on their interests and means that an older person can enjoy a regular weekly friendship telephone call. Silver Connects provides more intense support, advice and help by connecting people with their local services, such as finding lunch clubs and advising on financial concerns and Silver Circles offers group calls for people with shared interests. 

The charity – proud to be a member of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness – was founded by Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, who had written about her own feelings of isolation as a widow living alone for the first time at 71. She believes that older people keep families functioning, (one third of all working mothers depend on grandparents for childcare), that they form the bedrock of the charitable sector and that in the workplace their skills and experience make an invaluable contribution. The Silver Line believes that if older people become isolated and vulnerable, it is the nation’s responsibility to make them feel valued, to include them, empower them, and connect them back to their communities – and this is what they hope to achieve. 

They believe that human connection is key and for many of their c10.5k weekly callers, 90% live alone and the majority have no one else to speak to – this is an incredibly distressing statistic. Loneliness can cause serious damage, both physically and mentally and the gnawing feeling of isolation can affect anyone at any time. 

So, if you’re looking for a worthwhile volunteering opportunity get in touch with The Silver Line. One phone call and a ‘friendly chat’ could provide a lifeline – and make someone’s day just a little bit easier. As the late Jo Cox once said, “I will not live in a country where thousands of people are living lonely lives forgotten by the rest of us.” We agree.

WEBSITE: https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/

PHONE LINE: 0800 4 70 80 90

TWITTER: @TheSilverLineUK

DONATE: Text SILVER to 70660 to DONATE £10


Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.

Discover Streetlink

Discover Streetlink

At Leila & Geoffrey we support a range of artists, charities and creative businesses. We especially like to advocate social enterprises that make an impact. 

The British weather is well known for being capricious. In just a few months the UK has experienced ‘The Beast from the East’ – a cold wave that brought heavy snowfall and arctic temperatures, ‘Storm Emma’, with fierce winds that caused landfall and a mini heatwave with temperatures soaring to 26C.

For most of us, the variable weather provides a chance to get outside and savour the warmth or, at worst, an inconvenience that disrupts our normal routine for a day or two or encourages us to travel more carefully. 

For others, it can be deadly. 

Regardless of the weather, even if unbearably hot or dangerously cold, rough sleepers risk their lives trying to get through the day or last the night. The unpredictable weather can make night times particularly difficult and even hazardous when it’s cold. 

For city dwellers in particular, seeing a rough sleeper can be, sadly, an every day occurrence and it’s natural to offer food or money, both of which may be appreciated. However, it can be difficult to know the best course of action, especially when many people who are begging are not sleeping rough and equally, not all people who sleep rough, beg. In the longer term, giving money to people who are begging may aid harmful or destructive behaviours.

That’s where StreetLink can help. Operated in partnership between Homeless Link and St Mungo’s and funded by local government grants, StreetLink is an initiative operating across England and Wales that exists to help end rough sleeping. Its website, mobile app and phone line enables members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them. 

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, you can be ‘the eyes’ of local services and use StreetLink’s website, mobile app or phone line to send an alert.  

Callers are asked to provide the following information which is sent to the local authority or outreach team concerned:

  • The location of the rough sleeping site – using a map to pinpoint the exact location and providing a written description of the location as people tend to sleep in quieter locations rather than exposed ones. 
  • The time the rough sleeper has been seen at the location – rough sleepers usually sleep at night but if someone is seen during the day they can be signposted to daytime services.
  • The activity – whether someone is sleeping, begging or being engaged in street activity. 
  • Description of the rough sleeper – such as their gender, approximate age, what they look like and what they are wearing.

People from Streetlink’s trained outreach team, commissioned by the local council to provide a service in the area, will then try to look for a rough sleeper they have been alerted to. On average this is a maximum of three times over a ten working day period.

When a member of the public sends an alert, they receive details of the action the local authority normally takes when informed someone is sleeping rough in their area and an update on the outcome of the alert within 10 working days (if you requested).

With a initiative like this, an alert could lead to a person sleeping rough receiving support, taking into account each different situation. The services team will normally first undertake an assessment and then work with the individual to find agreeable solutions to try to end their rough sleeping, such as temporary accommodation. 

Anyone can become homeless, and sleeping rough is not only dangerous but can also have a long-term effect on an individual’s health. One small action taken by you today could have important consequences, so if you see a person sleeping rough, maybe this time don’t walk on, look down at your phone or simply give them a sympathetic smile. There’s a way to help.

Nobody should be sleeping outside, whatever the weather.

WEBSITE: streetlink.org.uk.

PHONE LINE: 0300 500 0914


Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.


Gurls Talk

Gurls Talk

At Leila & Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact. 

With only a few weeks of 2018 underway, mental health issues continue to dominate the headlines. According to figures from NHS Digital, one in ten teenage girls is being referred for specialist mental health services and an alarming rise in self-harm is reported, with a 68% increase in cases since 2011 amongst teenage girls. 

These make for concerning statistics, but thankfully coincide with heightened awareness of mental health issues, positive aims to reduce the stigma surrounding it and high-profile figures openly discussing matters that affect so many people.

Like award-winning Ghanian-English supermodel and activist, Adwoa Aboah. The Vogue cover star and winner of the 2017 Fashion Awards’ Model of the Year accolade has been searingly open about her battles with depression and addiction. An activist for mental health issues, she has spoken about the attempt to take her own life in 2015 and participated in a moving and courageous interview with her mother, Camilla Lowther, for the Heads Together campaign.

With her own journey through mental health issues, Adwoa created Gurls Talk, an online platform to educate and inform women across the UK and provide a safe space for them. Gurls Talk is a community and movement that encourages young girls and women to talk, without judgement or stigma, on a subject that is troubling them or that they need more information about. Topics include, but are not limited to, addiction, sexuality, body image and racial diversity and young women are encouraged to tell their story or share a poem or illustration for submission on the platform.

Gurls Talk began in 2015 as an Instagram account where women were encouraged to share their stories and has since grown into a community of over 139k and events including day-long empowerment festivals with talks by Adwoa, relationship experts and psychologists. The platform tackles subjects ranging from anxiety, sexual misconduct and negative thoughts and signposts its followers to charities and enterprises that can help, like mental health charity Mind. 

The information provided by Gurls Talk is not intended to be a supplement or alternative to health care such as proper psychological evaluation, diagnosis and treatment and the platform offers knowledge and support rather than therapy. However, licensed psychologist Dr Lauren Hazzouri has partnered with the platform and shares her perspective and offers evidence-based insights.

Adwoa is undoubtedly beautiful with a career in fashion most can only dream about, but she is also courageous and smart. Gurls Talk provides a safe space to share experiences and feelings as well as gain strength and hope from others and is an influential and movement to help raise awareness of mental health issues. The team at Leila & Geoffrey wish them all the very best.

WEBSITE – http://www.gurlstalk.com/ 

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/gurlstalk/ 

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/gurlstalk 

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/Gurls-Talk-1691798000864431/


Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola is a freelance music, fashion and lifestyle writer based in East London and has her own website, Material Whirl.


Getting Dressed for Success –  Women’s Charity Smart Works

Getting Dressed for Success – Women’s Charity Smart Works

At Leila and Geoffrey we support artists, charities and creative businesses and love to champion social enterprises that really make an impact. 

Like Smart Works, a UK charity that dresses and coaches women for interview success. 

Choosing what to wear for a job interview is a critical element of the overall preparation. While ultimately your skills, capability and experience should be the key factors to drive success, undoubtedly what you wear can also influence a panel’s decision. But what if you don’t have access to a killer wardrobe, are on a low-income or your confidence is depleted after being out of work for some time?

That’s where Smart Works comes in. They exist to help unemployed women into work, by developing their interview skills and providing them with professional clothes to boost their confidence. The charity welcomes any woman who needs their service, has a job interview secured and who has been referred by one of the hundreds of organisations they partner with including the local Job Centre PlusCentrepoint and Solace. 

At one of their six locations across the UK and with the help of 250 trained volunteers, women can enjoy a focused two-hour session with the Smart Works power team, comprised of two elements; (1) clothing advice and expertise from highly skilled and trained stylists and (2) interview advice from senior managers, HR professionals and executive coaches. 

At the end of the session, Smart Works clients get a complete outfit of clothes and accessories to keep and interview training to help them believe in their ability to succeed. If they bag that dream job, they can come back for more clothing to see them through to their first pay cheque. The clothes are high-quality and donated by other working women, high profile fashion labels and leading retailers including WhistlesEvans and Hobbs.

Patrons include fashion designer Betty Jackson CBE, comedian, writer and producer Jennifer Saunders and leading fashion retail figure Jane Shepherdson MBE. Charity Ambassadors include Barclays Director Caroline Graham, brand and image consultant / The Telegraph columnist Isabel Spearman and Samantha Cameron, Founder and Creative Director of contemporary womenswear label Cefinn, all bringing their unique drive, passion and style to the table.

It’s not just the team that are impressive, the statistics are too. Smart Works dressed over 2,800 women in 2016 in stylish, high-quality clothes and over 1 in 2 women get the job after using its service, with half the charity’s clients finding employment within one month. They were winners in the social care, advice and support category at the Charity Awards 2017 who rewarded their efforts in cross-partner working, addressing diversity and inequality issues and helping women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Smart Works helps women to feel confident, look fabulous, succeed at their job interview and move on with their life. The charity is on a mission to grow across the country and increase its reach to women who really need them. 

Women look in the mirror and see hope and potential; they see themselves again. It’s simple, practical and empowering and here at Leila and Geoffrey we wish them all the very best.

WEBSITE – http://smartworks.org.uk/

INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/smartworkscharity/

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/smartworkscharity/

IMAN in Wonderland

IMAN in Wonderland

We’ve had the pleasure of being able to work with the beautiful London-based singer/songwriter IMAN. Her songwriting credits include the likes of Ed Sheerdan, Rudimental, and Kanye West, and now she’s releasing her own music under her own record label, Shop Front Records. Growing up in a household where her goals of working in music were actively discouraged, Iman made the courageous move to leave home at 16 to follow her dreams. This powerhouse was recently featured in Wonderland Magazine, and spoke of how she got to where she is now. Read the interview here

Listen to the most recent single, Wishing, on Spotify