International Opera Singer Caitlin Downie Returns for Fourth Celtic Christmas

International Opera Singer Caitlin Downie Returns for Fourth Celtic Christmas

Celtic Christmas returns to two new London venues and Downie is extending the tour to Hertford and Margate.

This festive and intimate music experience promises carols passed down from generation to generation, sung in an authentic way. This magical evening of yuletide song is guaranteed to put you in the Christmas mood. “Caitlin

“Downie gives a striking vocal performance.” Duncan Grindall, BroadwayBaby

Having both an Irish and Scottish heritage, Downie created Celtic Christmas to celebrate authentic Celtic music. She performs well-known festive carols, but with their original sound and using instruments used in years past (including the bouzouki, bodhran, low whistle and Uilleann pipes).

“There’s so much history and legacy in these songs because they’ve been with us for generations… you can’t help but love them”, Downie tells us.

Downie’s talent and love of music has also been passed down through the generations. Her grandmother, Marion Studholme, was a stalwart of Sadler’s Wells Opera and a regular on television and radio during the 1950s. As was her husband, Andrew Downie; a successful director, singer and actor.

“The highlight of the concert is the music, but also getting to work with my talented band, sing in some wonderful venues and meet the audience afterwards”, Downie says.

Downie’s band includes Tad Sargent (performed with Joglaresa, Kate Rusby and at The Globe Theatre), Dominic Henderson (from Teyr), and Jonathan Pease (composer, conductor and runs the East London Evensong Choir).

Downie has already experienced success herself, with her app, Sopranotron, reaching the Top 5 in the UK iPad charts and the Top 10 in the US. She’s performed on the Cabaret Stage of London Pride, had a sold out run at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, opened the SS14 Ted Baker Catwalk Show and sung at the Sugar Plum Fairy Foundation fundraising ball.

Celtic Christmas isn’t Downie’s only performance this festive season. She’s also performing as “the Opera Singer” in the new Sink The Pink Christmas show, How to Catch a Krampus.

Six Celtic Christmas tracks from the tour will be released in mid-December.

Tickets (£10 online, £13 on the door): http://caitlindownie.com/diary/
Tracks: https://soundcloud.com/user-537226691/tracks
About Caitlin Downie: http://caitlindownie.com

Keep CALM

Keep CALM

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

If you were asked what the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK was, what would you answer? Obesity? Cancer? Heart disease?

It’s suicide. In 2015, 75% of all UK suicides were male. Every week in the UK, 84 men take their own lives and 3 in every 4 suicides are male. These are deeply shocking and distressing statistics that we simply cannot ignore.

CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably – has no intention of overlooking the issue. The award-winning charity is dedicated to preventing male suicide and offers support to men in the UK, of any age, who are down or find themselves in a crisis. As well as a helpline and webchat service, they provide information on several topics including abuse, depression, eating disorders and racism.

For some men, it can be difficult to open up about dealing with pressure and so when they are feeling low, they tend to speak out less than women do and keep their emotions locked up. Indeed, CALM believes there is a cultural barrier which prevents men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times.

The charity wants to challenge the culture around mental health, gender and masculinity and to dispel the myth that a failure to be in control equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity. CALM believes that if men felt able to ask for and find help when they need it then hundreds of male suicides could be prevented.

With the support of high-profile ambassadors and collaborators including rapper and singer/songwriter Professor Green who lost his own father to suicide, The Duke of Cambridge as part of CALM’S ongoing support of Heads Together and musician Loyle Carner (who featured in a moving video for CALM’S #BestManProject), their eminent campaigns raise awareness of male suicide and provoke debate.

Their recent campaign, #Project84, tells the stories behind the horrifying statistics and reminds us that when a man feels so desperate that they take their own life, the impact is far-reaching. Working with internationally renowned artist Mark Jenkins, CALM created 84 individual sculptures to act a a poignant reminder of a real life lost and to make a call to society to take a stand against male suicide – you can read the stories here. The project also calls on the government to take action against suicide; there is currently no minister officially responsible for prevention and bereavement support and they want to change that. You can sign the petition here.

The charity provides a huge range of valuable services, including:

An accredited, confidential, anonymous and free helpline and webchat service, open from 5pm-midnight every day. Nationwide: 0800 58 58 58 or London: 0808 802 58 58
A directory of UK-wide organisations that can help with a number of topics.
Support to those bereaved by suicide, through the Support After Suicide Partnership (SASP), hosted by CALM, which aims to ensure that everyone bereaved or affected by suicide is offered and receives timely and appropriate support.
CALM believes in #StrongNotSilent and wants to help any man who is down or who has hit a wall get their life back. It is completely unacceptable that so many men are dying from suicide on a daily basis, yet so few people are talking about it.

Let’s start talking.

WEBSITE: https://www.thecalmzone.net/

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

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/theCALMzone

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/theCALMzone

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

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

Help Musicians

Help Musicians

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

Are you an emerging artist working hard to develop your talent and get your professional career off the ground? Maybe you’re an established musician experiencing a life crisis that impacts not just your career but your family too? Or, are you a retired musician in need of an extra hand planning for the future?

Whatever your genre, age or the stage reached in your career, Help Musicians UK [HMUK], the leading independent charity for musicians, is there to support you on your journey from just starting out through to retirement.

Offering practical and positive support, HMUK is there during the bad times when a crisis hits and the good; providing extra support to artists at a stage that could make or break their career. The charity’s mission is to provide help, support and opportunities to empower musicians at all stages and it is driven to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Every year HMUK helps more than 2,500 musicians from music teachers and violinists to singers. The broad scope of their work includes helping full-time bands navigate their way through the difficult and financially-challenging early days.

The charity uses its Talent Programme to expand gifted musicians into Europe or provide financial support towards study, preparing an artist for a career in their chosen field. HMUK also recognises that accident, serious illness or bereavement can have a devastating effect not just on a musician’s work but also those close to them and so provides a number of different support services.

In June 2017, HMUK partnered with Women in Music, the global non-profit organisation founded to support and empower women in the music industry, to create the first European chapters of the organisation – Women in Music Great Britain and Women in Music Northern Ireland. This will further establish HMUK’s commitment to promoting gender equality in the UK music industry.

The charity provides a huge range of valuable services, including:

Music Minds Matter. A mental health support line and service for the whole UK music community, offering free emotional support, advice and access to clinical pathways and professional therapeutic services. Access on 0808 802 8008 or musicmindsmatter.org.uk
Help in a crisis for working and retired musicians, including financial support, home visits and a free health assessment with the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) via its partnership with HMUK.
Information and support about hearing, mental and vocal health including the Musicians Hearing Health Scheme for all musicians in the UK, in partnership with Musicians Hearing Services and the Musicians’ Union. This gives all musicians affordable access to specialist hearing assessments and bespoke hearing protection.
A range of career-changing grants including the Transmission Fund, the Fusion Fund, the MOBO Help Musicians Fund and the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award for emerging jazz musicians and bands.

HMUK’s vision is a world where music thrives. Here at Leila & Geoffrey, as music lovers and with clients that include independent record labels and artists, we fully support that vision.

Music is a gift and, arguably, the most powerful form of entertainment in the world. Yet, being a musician is a uniquely demanding career. HMUK depends on donations to fund its work and the growing demands of those it helps, and relies on the generosity of existing supporters, as well as new ones.

If you love music and want to give something back to Help Musicians UK, you can donate, become a regular circle of supporters, fundraise or leave a Gift in Memory.

You never know, you might just be helping your future favourite band…

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

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/HelpMusiciansUK

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/HelpMusiciansUK

WOMEN IN MUSIC: https://www.womeninmusic.org/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

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

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/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

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

 

Inspiring the Future

Inspiring the Future

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

Like Inspiring the Future, a London-based charity that exists to help children aspire to be whatever they want – regardless of who they are and where they come from.

Young people strive to be what they see around them in their everyday life but it’s difficult to aspire to a future that you never see and don’t know exists. Inspiring the Future changes this. The charity believes that every young person can be whatever they want to be – wherever they live, whatever their parents do, whichever school they attend and however they identify themselves. 

They show young people exciting futures and give them the opportunity to meet face-to-face a wide range of role models that do interesting, exciting jobs – with the aim of inspiring and motivating them. The charity helps young people to understand that by aiming high, working hard and making an effort in school or college they can realise their dreams.

For their latest campaign, No More Female Professionals, they aim to create a future that is free of gender bias and full of equal opportunities. 

It’s a thought-provoking, authentic and empowering video that asks whether the language we all use when speaking about jobs is contributing to the problem of unconscious gender bias, which limits the opportunities that children perceive they have.

The campaign asks us to drop the ‘female’ prefix that is often used for traditionally male-dominated roles such as builders, soldiers, surgeons and CEOs. It challenges society to consider why we unnecessarily add a gender label to a female professional. After all, shouldn’t people be judged on their manner, skill and output?

The No More Female Professionals campaign is also an invitation for working people to sign up to www.inspiringthefuture.org and volunteer in state schools to talk to young people about their careers, what inspired them to follow their own path and what educational or learning route helped them to get to where they are. 

No More Female Professionals moves the conversation on from Inspiring the Future’s 2016 campaign called #RedrawTheBalance, an experiment that explored how gender stereotypes form in minds as young as the early years of primary school and that this is a global issue. Both videos were devised by creative agency MullenLowe London, part of the MullenLowe Group.

Watch Redraw the Balance

Landmark research by Education and Employers and their report, Drawing the Future, found that from as young as 6 years old, children start to form stereotypes about career aspirations. The campaign successfully shone a light on how gender stereotyping takes hold at a young age and the language we use in the workplace still paves the way for unconscious bias, which in turn can affect the dreams and aspirations of future generations. 

Inspiring the Future are here to correct that. Their latest No More Female Professionals campaign asks us to un-stereotype our language; because a female CEO is a CEO and a female soldier is a soldier.  By exposing children to a broad range of jobs and introducing them to real people doing them, it demonstrates to future generations that gender or socio-economics should not determine what they aspire to be.

You can help create this future by volunteering for one hour a year to talk to young people about your job and help create a future that is free of gender bias and full of equal opportunities. Same opportunities, same titles.

We wish Inspiring the Future all the very best with their campaign.

WEBSITE: https://www.inspiringthefuture.org/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/EducationEmployers

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/InspiringTF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Greenbrook

Nicola Greenbrook

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

 

Moments of Sense and Style

Moments of Sense and Style

In a digital age where we’re flooded daily with words, stories, and great hunks of content to digest, it’s not often an article can make you stop and think rather than swipe away. Syreeta Challinger’s ‘The Moment That Made Me’ for October’s Glamour Magazine did just that.

Syreeta’s tale begins in Sydney, Australia on the second night of a holiday back in 2014. She was 5,000 miles away from their Hong Kong home and laying next to her partner who had suffered a terrifying and near fatal brain haemorrhage, which then triggered a stroke. She had awoken to Rob staggering and screaming, clutching his head in agony before having a seizure and vomiting. He was 37.

What followed was a painful and unimaginably difficult set of circumstances; after intensive surgery, Rob was brought out of his coma unable to speak and with right side paralysis. He had to relearn fundamental life skills such as eating solid food and swallowing and needed assistance getting dressed.

Syreeta and Rob had built exciting and high profile careers; she a product development manager in fashion, he a brand agency director. Urban nomads, they travelled globally and frequently and enjoyed an active and creative life. In the blink of a moment, their lives were turned upside down in the most brutal of ways.

Leaving Sydney after three months, they returned to Rob’s home town of Lincoln to continue with his significant recovery. Syreeta commuted into London with the aim of preserving a connection to their former life, but it became evident that Rob’s recovery was impacted by her absence so she resigned and became his full time carer. 2016 was difficult and isolating, but while sorting through some possessions, Syreeta stumbled upon an old sketchbook where an idea they had for a concept store named Moments of Sense & Style (MOSS) sat patiently waiting.

She began working on the MOSS plan and brainstorming product ideas – like patterned notebooks, candles and art and carefully considered how her and Rob’s harrowing story could be reflected in their craft. 

Gradually, it came beautifully together. Born from a desire to create light out of the darkness, it became a stylish concept store with an innovative and conceptual approach to dealing with life changing events. Each scent of each candle is integral to the remarkable brand story. Syreeta’s main job is carer to Rob, who thankfully has made remarkable progress in the circumstances and helps with MOSS product design.

There is so much to take away from Syreeta and Rob’s horrific story. The importance of enjoying life when it is good, as we never truly know what’s around the corner. How acts of complete and utter selflessness, showing courage and strength during the most testing times and temporarily putting your life on hold for the person you love are the real Stories we should be sharing on social media.

We applaud both Syreeta and Rob and covert their considered design, high-quality products. This is accessible luxury with meaning and a reminder that creativity really can heal.

As Syreeta wisely reminds us ‘‘Play the cards you’ve been dealt, as best you can’.

WEBSITE – https://www.momentsofsenseandstyle.com/

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

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/moments_hello 

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

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/