Girlboss. That says it all really.

Bringing to you the ultimate girl-power series, Netflix has just released the trailer for the up-and-coming must-see-series Girlboss. We’ve figured we might as well start calling it ‘Netflix and chic’ because we don’t think we’ve ever seen a trailer so ridiculously cool.

Inspired by New York Times best-selling book (also called “Girlboss”), Netflix has turned founder of clothing brand Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso’s entrepreneurial tale into 13 episodes documenting her rags-to-riches journey from eBay teen to fashion queen.  


Building a $250 million dollar business, Nasty Gal began with Amoruso, aged 22, trawling around vintage shops in California, haggling items and selling them on her Ebay store ‘Nasty Gal Vintage.’ Growing from $200k to $23million in the space of three years, Amoruso was named as one of the richest self-made women in the world by Forbes in 2016.


The two-minute trailer which was released April 3rd features American born actress Britt Robertson in her first ever lead-role portraying Sophia as a kooky-teen with the type of fringe dreams are made of.

In the trailer, Amoruso manages to haggle a metallic Western-print jacket down from $12 offering $9 along with some “free business advice.”

“This is an original 1970’s East-West katzkin motorcycle jacket in perfect condition. Know what your shit’s worth, because you just got played.”

girlbosssub.pngNow I don’t know about you, but that might possibly be the coolest quote I’ve ever heard in my life. Sassy and bad-assy, we just know this fashion flick is going to be the new Netflix-fave.

Mia Sheperd, 21, a student from Manchester said: “I’ve just finished reading her book… I’m really excited to see her story put into film. It’ll be good to see a strong female character like Sophia being shown – she’s sassy, funny and inspirational.”

Created and produced by Kay Cannon, the writer of Pitch Perfect, the series will premiere at the end of April. Featuring the queen herself, RuPaul, this literally couldn’t get any better.


Sophie Sprittles, 22, from Colchester, a third year fashion and textiles student who quit her part-time retail job to sell clothes on her incredibly successful Depop page thegirlboss told me how much she looks up to Amoruso. “I found it amazing how she built the Nasty Gal empire from selling on Ebay in her bedroom.” With over 13k depop followers, Sprittles is on her way to becoming Essex’s girl boss herself. “I see Sophia as a huge inspiration to women with a small business idea. I am so excited for the Netflix series!”

The Independent recently wrote a review on the trailer, picking up on the fact that the “business woman” character is often portrayed as someone who’s pretty much a narcissistic bitch. They said “it’s great to see a show that attempts to place the same lens on the world of a business woman.” YAS!

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the soon to be Netflix-obsession already then, we advise you to watch it below RIGHT NOW









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Amara Howe

Understanding mental health within the Black community.

By Youna Kabongo


Photo credit: Youna Kabongo

In April this year, Prince Harry opened up about his mental health, paving the way to more communication about the stigma that surrounds the disease. The silence surrounding mental illness seems to have broken as this showed that it is not a discriminatory disease. It can visit you regardless of social class or race. So why emphasize mental health in the black community as a different and more complex matter?  

According to the organisation, Mental Health Foundation, which is based in the UK, mental health is often thought of as ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.

This organisation goes on to state that, ‘We all have mental health which is just as important as our physical health. The World Health Organization defines mental health with similar terminology.

The Foundation also  says, ‘Good mental health helps us to:

  • make the most of your potential
  • cope with life
  • play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends.

The Mental Health Foundation continues to advise of the change in mental health status and the associated stigma by stating:

  • ‘Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.’
  • Again, it says, there’s a stigma attached to mental health problems. This means that people feel uncomfortable about them and don’t talk about them much. Many people don’t even feel comfortable talking about their feelings. But it’s healthy to know and say how you’re feeling.

Accordingly to the Mental Health Foundation, ‘Different ethnic groups have different rates and experiences of mental health problems, reflecting their different cultural and socio-economic contexts and access to culturally appropriate treatments.’

The Mental Health Foundation states, ‘In general, people from black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK are:

  • more likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems
  • more likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
  • more likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment
  • more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.’

The Foundation, states that ‘these differences may be explained by a number of factors, including poverty and racism. These differences may also exits because mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to non-white British communities and which meet their particular cultural and other needs. It is likely that mental health problems go unreported and untreated because people in some ethnic minority groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services. It is also likely that mental health problems are over-diagnosed in people whose first language is not English.’

Advice provided by the National Health Service (NHS) via: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Blackhealth/Pages/intropage.aspx states that, ‘People from African and African Caribbean communities are more likely than others to be admitted to hospital for mental illness. The same is also true for people of white and black mixed ethnicity. The NHS website advice continues by saying, ‘Most of us have problems at some time in our lives, such as money worries, stress at work or the death of a loved one, which can affect our mental health. Black communities in the UK are still more likely than others to experience problems such as bad housing, unemployment, stress and racism, all of which can make people ill.’

Part of the problem is that the black community in the UK is not taking leadership in tackling the issue.  Further research needs to be conducted by institutions such as BAME in order to get the people in the government to release funds to train the police and social workers in understanding issues in the black community.

Many Black people didn’t come to the UK by choice but by force, often because they fled from war.  Upon arrival,   they go through the asylum seeking interrogation process, this without getting counselling. The process of being granted asylum status can take years, and in the meantime there is no access to any help and one just has to continue living while still dreaming of being able to go back home.

“As a black person, I had to fight for everything. I flew from my own country to live in the UK as a refugee. To get entry to university was hard because I was not British. After I graduated, I sent countless job applications but was rejected so many times. And when I finally got a job I had to listen to bad jokes about immigrants. It’s a wonder I am still considered sane”, said writer JJ Bola.

“Black people don’t talk about mental health because it is a cultural thing not to talk about emotions; we have been brought up to bottle things up. Admitting that you need help means that you are weak,” said Social Worker, Rachel Tchahatt.

“From my experience working with vulnerable people for five years, black people are more likely to be sectioned than offered counselling, “she added.

One of the reasons that black people are more prone to mental health is that the majority have witnessed violence at one point. Whether it is from their country of origin, in the street, or at home.

Family psychotherapist from Ichthus Family Foundation Liz Mensah said,”the reason why we have so many of our young people sectioned is because there are no adequate help mechanisms available. Many black people and patients I see would like to be seen by someone they can relate to, for instance a black psychologist who has a similar background and who will understand the anger better.

As a society, it must be asked, why mental health needs to be better understood.  It needs to be better understood as it affects the harmony and wellbeing of society as a whole. Likewise understanding mental health affects:

  • how effective the UK government is in implementing its policies.
  • how effective the Police and law authorities are policing predominantly African Caribbean communities and the African Caribbean presence in the prison population.
  • the level of educational attainment of children and youth from African Caribbean communities, as well as employment rates in this community.
  • the number of people unduly detained in the NHS system who could otherwise be treated better.

If more training and expertise is applied to counselling, mentoring and providing support for those in the African Caribbean community with mental health challenges, then it would be an opportunity to resolve many societal issues more effectively. With more expertise and resource applied, the society would most likely see the increase in the effectiveness of government policy implementation, the reduction of crime, the reduction in prison population, an increase in the educational attainment in children and youth in these communities, an increase in employment rates amongst African Caribbeans, and a reduction in the number of individuals from this community stuck in the NHS.

Rachel Tchahaatt, social worker Shacabrook@yahoo.co.uk

JJ Bola, Poet and Writer 07446282677

Liz Mensah Family Psychotherapist, info.iffoundation@gmail.com

Extract of JJ Bola Interview here: https://youtu.be/fQJAQ-m1iwM

fashion, HOME, NEWS

Is fashion becoming more sustainable?

By Noa Mokhnachi

The fashion industry is one of the biggest players in the global economy and carries a heavy responsibility to help protect the environment and be as sustainable and ethical as possible.

After the tragic events that occurred at Rana Plaza almost four years ago, in which a near-derelict garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,134 people, has the fashion industry changed?


Capture d_écran 2017-06-01 à 19.35.10
Rana Plaza in 2013

The fashion and textiles industry is the most polluting industry in the world, second to oil, according to an article in Business of Fashion published in 2015. More recently, companies have started to be more transparent in sharing their code of ethics with their customers, and organizations have raised serious concerns and demanded changes.

With the rise of fast fashion and globalization, consumers have been buying more and more clothes, only to throw them away a few years later. Fast fashion brands like Zara or H&M produce new collections almost on a monthly basis, pushing customers to buy more items in order to be “trendy”. Those high street brands offer cheap versions of runway looks, which consumers wear for a few months before moving on to the next trend.

Capture d_écran 2017-06-01 à 19.40.06“There are some improvements overall in an environmental context. Ideas such as utilising resources in a smarter way and switching to alternative supply chain (which happen to be ‘cleaner’) such as for cotton mean that some elements of baseline (or first rung) sustainability now have mainstream traction. But we are very hazy on figures,” said Lucy Siegle, a 42-year-old environmentalist journalist.

It can take more than 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton, which would be equivalent to one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Worldwide, up to 8,000 different chemicals are used to produce clothes, and to turn raw materials into items of clothing.

And despite all the resources used in the garment industry, a lot of the clothes end up being thrown away. In fact, the UK alone throws away an impressive one million tonnes of clothing every year, according to wasteonline.

As awareness of sustainable fashion is growing, key leaders in the industry are beginning to question the impact of a model built on careless consumption and fast fashion.

Stella McCartney has been one of the first advocates of ethical and sustainable fashion. An outspoken activist, she creates collections using environmentally friendly materials and participates in environmentalist events. She was one of the first designers to publish the first environmental report: Stella McCartney Environmental Profit and Loss, which opened the door for many other luxury designers to publish their code of conduct.

The giant luxury group Kering published a brand new code of ethics in 2013, along with a five- year social and environmental plan, where they vowed to focus on the reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions, reduce paper waste in their packaging, and source raw materials and optimize the use of water. The group is now sourcing 100% of its paper from certified sustainably managed forests and is avoiding using PVC.

Even though it seems like the luxury industry is making considerable progress in terms of ethical and sustainable conduct, high street brands don’t seem to follow its footsteps.

Children as young as 13 are often employed in manufactories to produce clothes for some of the biggest names on the UK high street. The Guardian reported in early 2017 that brands like New Look or H&M were using factories that employed children in Myanmar. They were paid as little as 13p an hour to produce clothes for the UK high street brands. Countries like Bangladesh or China have also been accused of employing children to lower labour costs. Unicef reported that about 170 million children are involved in child labour in the world, with many working in textiles factories to produce garments for the American and European market.


Capture d’écran 2017-06-01 à 20.01.31.png
Piktochart made by Noa Mokhnachi showing child labour facts



“I avoid Primark and Zara as much as possible now, I am much more informed and I can’t pretend not to know about what is happening in the factories in Bangladesh for example. After the Rana Plaza disaster we can’t ignore these issues,” says Hayley Oliveira, 31, a stay-at-home mum of one.


After the tragic incident that killed 1,134 people and injured thousand more, companies, trade unions, and workers’-rights groups agreed to make the factories safer for the workers and improve their conditions within the next five years. But four years later, it seems that not much have changed. Children are still being employed and the conditions in the factories are still far from being ideal. Sociologist Jennifer Blair, told the Atlantic: “It’s very unlikely that all of the Accord and Alliance factories would be fully remediated by that deadline”.

After having her first child, Olivera is much more aware of what clothes she dresses her daughter in. “You can find online retailers selling made in the UK clothes for kids, sure they might be slightly more expensive but it is worth it,” she said.

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Price seems to be one of the main issues for young people not investing in sustainable clothes. High street brands offer a wide range of clothes at a very competitive price whereas sustainable brands seem to be more expensive as the cost of production is more elevated.

If clothing in the fast fashion industry was produced in a more recyclable and sustainable way, the fashion industry would become suddenly more sustainable as fast fashion retailers are the leading clothing retailers in the world.

By definition, dematerialisation and lowering consumption are two central tenets of sustainability. It is clearly impossible to achieve true or deep sustainability without these factors. Two factors that high street brands like Zara and H&M are struggling to achieve.

“Zara is highlighted as the fastest brand (and most successful according to analysts and pieces including Forbes magazine) and the one that has ‘revolutionised’ fast fashion by cutting the time from design to market. That business model cannot in my view be considered or be made to be truly sustainable,” said Lucy Siegle.

The fashion retailer H&M has started to make considerable changes in its code of conducts by introducing an ethical project in 2012 called H&M conscious. Every spring for the past 5 years, the Swedish giant showcase a capsule made from organic and recycled materials such as organic cotton, the collections is proposed in stores all around the world. But the brand might not be as sustainable as it seems.

“Is Zara the brand that worries me most? No, because they do not really message sustainability. That honour goes to H&M who loudly proclaim to be sustainable and supply chain re-inventors while continuing to pursue (aggressively) the same rapid production, turbo charged, high-profit business model,” shared Lucy Siegle.

Small sustainable brands are rising on social media and are starting to slowly become more important but they are far for being able to compete with high street brands.

To learn more about sustainable fashion watch the documentary The True Cost:





Amara Howe

“Florals for Spring? Ground-breaking.” If you don’t remember this bitch of a quote then I don’t know where you’ve been. Just to reiterate it’s Meryl Streep playing the role of Miranda Priestly, the editor of Runway magazine, a prestigious magazine which is basically a cinema version of Vogue in fashion-film The Devil Wears Prada.

 movies fashion meryl streep spring the devil wears prada GIF

Priestly is your typical-boss-bitch, she’s a Cruella De Vil of the fashion industry and she doesn’t take no for an answer. She leisurely orders around dorky intern Andy played by Anne Hathaway, compiling impractical tasks (including getting hold of the unpublished final Harry Potter – srsly?!) and does so in a manner so harsh you wonder why she hasn’t been burnt at the stake yet.

Consider most boss women within film: Margaret Tate in The Proposal, Katherine Parker in Working Girl. They’re cold, unsympathetic and slightly unrealistic. Of course, it’s film and if the boss wasn’t so evil we wouldn’t have had half as much fun watching it.

It’s true, some female bosses are absolute bitches, as are male. That’s just capitalism – but let’s consider the role of the girlboss. You know, that girlboss thing that everyone’s obsessed with at the moment.

Feibi McIntosh girl boss lady girl power GIF

If you type ‘girlboss’ into Urban Dictionary you get this:

“A woman in control, taking charge of her own circumstances in work and life. Someone who knows her worth and won’t accept anything less. She is not a “mean girl” in fact, she hates “mean girls”. She is empowering and inspiring to those around her. She kicks ass!”

OK, that’s great and all – these woman totally exist in real life, but do they exist in film?

Let’s consider the new Netflix series GirlBoss which is, quite possibly, the most marmite series we’ve seen in a long time. To recap, it’s a show about Sophia Amoruso, played by Britt Robertson, a young twenty-something who manages to become a millionaire business woman in the space of a few years all by setting up her on Ebay business. Pretty cool right?

 netflix britt robertson sophia girlboss know what your shits work cause you just got played GIF

Young Sophia is cool. Really cool. She’s got a fringe, she wears flared jeans, she eats pizza all the time and never gains any weight and yeah, she runs a business. But she’s also a bit of a dick. She’s a bitch to her best friend, she’s rude as fuck to everyone in the name of ‘cool’, she eats food with her feet and she cares about no one but herself. All in the name of a girl boss.

Sure, maybe she’s just a new breed of girl boss but whatever happened to nice bosses?

Alex Crabbe, 26, who’s currently doing a masters in Film, TV and Screen industries said “By portraying a character under a negative light, the character arguably carries more weight in the plot development. Memorable characters in film are often remembered for the fact that they antagonise the protagonist and encourage a character arc by introducing problems that the audience want to see solutions to.” Crabbe, who studied an undergraduate course in film noted, “I remember being told that antagonists are more memorable than protagonists because they drive the plot. Darth Vader is a prime example, everyone remembers him.”

 vader GIF

He’s got a good point but what if the boss isn’t the main protagonist. Wilhelmina Slater from Ugly Betty for example. She has that cold bitch attitude we’re all to knowledgeable of, but why is her ‘mean’ role necessary? Why does the media continue to portray female bosses in a negative light?

Well according to Ryan Thomas*, 23, a personal MI, his ex-manager was pretty much as bad as the movies. “She would only look out for herself. Constantly taking priority on holiday’s, even if you’d already had it booked off. She flirted with all the guys and used her role as an excuse to be lazy – she literally didn’t do anything. And if she didn’t like you she would make sure that you didn’t have as many opportunities as others.”

But Francesca Simms*, 26, personal assistant in an insurance company, says otherwise. “Female managers have to be tough. We’re still at the place where sexism still exists and female bosses still aren’t taken seriously. She’s constantly in work mode and a lot of the people in the office think she’s a bit of a bitch, but I know she’s not like that out of work.”

So us at STANCE figure it’s a thing the media are doing to show that women are tough. Yeah, we are fucking tough, but tough doesn’t have to mean bitch.

Sara Andreasson girl power boxing adidas GIF

Nadia Salmi, 36, a manager of an independent boutique in Angel said: “Retail seems to get a stigma. I don’t know whether it’s because retail is a predominantly female industry but people automatically assume it’s a bitchy environment. I don’t tolerate any bitchiness in my shop.”


“woman are better leaders” – businessinsider.com


So let us differentiate between the two. There’s good bosses and there’s bad bosses IRL. But when do you ever see good bosses in film? Umm… NEVER.

The BarkPost  dogs srsly barkpost woof GIF

We think it’s about time the film industry starts introducing empowering female bosses who aren’t typical bitches and aren’t your new quirky, doesn’t-give-a-shit-about-anyone-because-she’s-too-interested-in-herself-types. We want an empowering boss who’s worked her way up in the world without being a bitch in order to get what she wants.

  • names have been changed

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The Instagram age – is it almost at an end?

By Hannah Ledden

Instagram. Like many other social networking sites it has become a big part of daily life. You would have to go far to find someone who doesn’t use the site, or at least know about it. But like anything in the technology age, crazes come and go, with only a few things hanging on for the duration. So has Instagram reached its peak, or is it permanently installed as the key way to interact and promote?

Without realising it, we Instagram addicts are all subjected to numerous posts on a daily basis, which either show how great the newest beauty products are or the best place to buy those seemingly sold out festival tickets. Many argue that this suggests a negative side to the popular picture-sharing app, turning it into more of a marketplace than creative platform.

So does this bring an end to trusting the content you see – if the sole purpose behind it was the large pay cheque?

The facts about Instagram
The facts about Instagram. Infographic created by Hannah Ledden using Canva

With humble beginnings as a small start-up for budding photographers, Instagram has risen, culminating in a sale to Facebook worth $1 billion back in 2012. It’s certainly a success story, not only in the world of social media. It is now used by everyone, from the regular Joe posting holiday pictures to major companies promoting their latest products.

Recently, however, the site has shifted its focus to ‘micro-influencers’, people with a moderate following who promote products or brands to grow awareness – for a fee. Instagrammers with even a relatively modest following of a few thousand people can now make a significant income from a few sponsored posts per week.

The price of influencers on social media
Table showing the amount of money to be made by influencers on social media. Data courtesy of Cosmopolitan. Table created by Hannah Ledden

We can’t all reach the number of followers held on the most popular pages, such as that of Kim Kardashian West, who just celebrated reaching 100 million followers, or US pop-star Selena Gomez, who holds the crown with a whopping 120 million. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all sign up and create our own online profiles in the millions – after all, Instagram boasts 600 million users worldwide.

“The benefits of social media for business growth are exponential.”

While the army of so-called micro influencers are in the shadows of Instagram-leaders such as Kardashian West, they have found a new use for the site: to promote their work in the way of an interactive CV, and to interact with like-minded creatives.

Kim Kardashian West Instagram
Kim Kardashian West Instagram. Image courtesy of Instagram


Selena Gomez Instagram
Selena Gomez Instagram. Image courtesy of Instagram

Holistic health coach Melissa Rosenstock, 42, from Santa Monica in California is one business owner using social media to grow her brand. “I am new to the entrepreneurial world, so having access to marketing at my fingertips is a great thing,” she said. “The benefits of social media for business growth are exponential, due to the vast amount of people using these platforms whom are seeking something – to learn, grow, achieve or buy.”

It seems this is bringing the site back to its original use, as explained by co-founder Kevin Systrom. “For the idea to be a hit we knew we had to focus on being really good at one thing,” explained Systrom. “People loved the way it made their photographs unique and how it’s not bogged down with personal information or a list of friends and interests,” he told Fortune.

“We looked at is as instant telegrams when a new picture was posted which is where the name came from.”

This is exactly the element that has drawn many creatives to focus their personal marketing to the site, where new work and content can be viewed by the masses, for free, almost instantly. And alongside occasionally advertising the work of other businesses or brands as a brand ambassador, many focus on using the site as a platform for their own careers.

Photographer and budding filmmaker Richard Murphy, 27, is one of those who uses Instagram to promote his work. A current following of 15.1k shows the success Murphy, originally from Nottingham but living in London, is having on the platform.


Richard Murphy Instagram
One of Richard Murphy’s Instagram posts. Image courtesy of Instagram

“Instagram is my primary way of sharing photos and videos,” he said. “I use hashtags to share my work for the change to be featured on other pages, or I make use of the Instagram stories feature to reach out to a wider audience.”

Richard is one Instagram community member who disagrees with the ‘selling culture’ where brand ambassadors promote numerous products as a means of income. “People who promote products that they don’t believe in, or don’t use, send out a false advertisement to their followers. Content creators should only promote products that they can properly support or that fit with their personal brand.”

He is proud to say that his hard work has paid off, and that he’s beginning to receive invitations to work with brands and companies after garnering publicity through Instagram. “I recently sold one of my images for a couple of thousand pounds to a tourist company. Companies reach out to work with me because their brands fit with the style of my work, which is something I would be interested in because it makes sense with my brand.”

“Something in a niche industry gets a great reception.”

Melissa has a similar view to Richard on the topic of brand ambassadors who don’t use or believe in the products they are selling. “I take issue with that because I personally think that lacks moral and ethical vibes. If someone is promoting something for their financial benefit that they don’t even use, then I think that screams unauthentic,” she said.

“I strongly value authenticity as well as moral and ethical values, so that is why I have a really big issue with people who use Instagram like this,” Melissa adds.

Parkour athlete Eric Moor, 21, from Slough is another creative making a name for himself on the photo sharing site. A following in the excess of 31,000 regularly view his videos and pictures showing his training and current work projects.

Eric Moor Instagram
One of Eric Moor’s Instagram posts. Image courtesy of Instagram

Moor suggests that Instagram is in fact becoming a saturated community with many people trying to repeat the success of others. “There is definitely a lot of people on Instagram trying to do the same thing, like photographers, but something in a niche industry gets a great reception and ends up with a much larger following.”

As with any success, there comes a point where other people want to reap the rewards – without the commitment. Having work copied or replicated is a problem both Eric and Richard have encountered. “This has happened to me a few times and the worst one was where my image was stolen by someone and posted on one of the biggest pages on Instagram and that guy got all the praise,” explained Richard.

Adds Eric: “There isn’t much you can really do to stop it happening but Instagram does let you put watermarks on your original content but I don’t see much use in that, people still find a way.”

It seems the use of Instagram has had a beneficial effect on both men’s careers. They would argue against the opinion that Instagram is drying up. “Instagram is definitely not past its prime,” says Richard. “It is definitely still growing with more features continuously being added. There is a lot of content on the site now but that just means you need to be unique and stand out from the crowd.”

It seems across many industries, from the sports world to creatives, that social media age shows no sign of slowing up in helping people succeed. There is no doubt that in time to come there will be further developments and people may move on but in the immediate future, the road to success includes getting online.


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NEWS, Uncategorized

Beauty pageant winner: Young, gorgeous – and HIV positive

Horcelie (1)

By Youna Kabongo

A typical beauty contestant would choose to hide a secret which could harm her prospect of winning. But Miss Congo UK 2017 stunned the public by revealing her HIV positive status

Fine Arts student Horcelie Sinda, 21, who is to graduate this year from Chelsea College of Arts, was born with HIV. But she only found out about her status at the age of 11.

“It has certainly made my childhood different from others. Though I appeared confident, I was an emotional wreck. It took me ten years to get to where I am now and it hasn’t been easy. HIV is not a joke, it’s a serious matter,” she said.

The World Health Organisation defines the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as a virus that affects the immune system by destroying white blood cells which are responsible for fighting the disease. It can then progress to AIDS.

Back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, people were bombarded with information about HIV/AIDS. Science has made huge progress in tests and treatment, allowing people to live a good and long life with the disease.

Cases of HIV progressing to Aids have been reduced. However, it still remains a major health issue in the UK.  According to the charity Averting HIV and AIDS, there are an estimated 101,200 people living with HIV in the UK. This is mainly because it has fallen off the radar.

Sinda has been campaigning to end HIV stigmatisation and to encourage people to get tested. Her work includes volunteering at Youth Stop Aids and ICS (international citizen services). Before the competition which took place in April, she traveled to South Africa to raise awareness.

She said that she entered the competition with just one goal in mind, to use her title to break into the black community and educate people about HIV. The kind of empathy and support that she received since “coming out” gave her more strength to go out there and not to be ashamed of who she is.

Vava Tampa, founder of the charity saved the Congo here in the UK, mentored the contestants for seven months and also deals with youth HIV in Hackney, welcomed Sinda’s move.

“It’s certainly is commendable on her part to put herself out there, and this has had a positive impact on the all community.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan pledged to make HIV prevention a top priority while campaigning to become mayor.

“While treatment for HIV sufferers has improved rapidly over my lifetime, we can’t afford to be complacent about HIV prevention. We need a renewed focus on the prevention of HIV to match the huge progress made in the 1980s and 1990s,” he said in the statement to Pink News.

Sinda learned of her status when she was eleven. She was taking medicines every day and one day just asked her parents why, and they had to tell her the truth.

“This was by far the best competition. Previous winners have gone to become ambassadors of certain issues faced by our people back home. But this relates to us directly here in the UK. It has empowered many and the taboo surrounding HIV/AIDS must stop,” said Francois Tshimpuki, founder of the pageant.

Since winning the title Horcelie Sinda has attracted  lots of press coverage such as the BBC. She urges people to get tested so that they can start treatment early in case they are infected.


NEWS, Uncategorized

Autism: More support in schools needed

D3By Youna Kabongo

According to the National Autistic Society, around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. This equates to 1 in 100 and 2.7 million families living with autism every day.

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. Although it affects people from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds, more females than males suffer from the condition.

With adequate support from an early age, autistic children are able to develop into responsible adults, contributing to both society and the economy. But currently, with schools overcrowding and funds being cut, many children are not getting the support needed to develop into such adults.

“I have been fighting with Cuckoo Hall School in Enfield, north London, for two years for my son’s speech therapy referral and he doesn’t have an experienced teacher. They keep saying that because of school’s funding cut, they are not able to provide a specialist teacher,” said 37-year-old Aphonsine Bendji, a sales assistant at Iceland whose 5-year-old son was diagnosed two years ago.

“Now I have to pay £400 for six sessions of speech therapy by myself as I cannot delay it any longer. It’s really hard with my salary but my child is my priority,” she added.

“There was so less support from the school that I had to educate myself about autism. And even after learning a lot, I felt that my son Daniel’s potential was not being used to the fullest, said Nadine Wauters.  She received training in education and relocated to her native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. There she opened a school for autistic and special needs children, Les Amis de Daniel, which means Daniel’s friends in French.

“Ever since Daniel started attending the school, he is a much happier child. I don’t regret my decision. He is getting the type of education I wouldn’t have been able to give him here in the UK,” she said, adding that she currently splits her time between the two countries.

Michelle’s -declined to give her last name to protect her child identity- eight-year-old daughter, was excluded from Keys Meadow Primary School, also in Enfield, for behavioural problems. After joining a different school, she was diagnosed with autism.

“She is a totally different child, much happier and doing well in school. In a way, I am glad she was excluded because we managed to find out the root of the problem and give her the support she needs,” Michelle says.

Children with autism don’t develop skills at the same rate like other children. Some are affected more than others. For example, a child might take long to learn few words while another but might speak like children of his age but unable to interact with others.

“I left the school I was teaching because the funding which was allocated for children with special needs was being used for something else. I just couldn’t take it anymore”, said Shikira Alleyne-Samuel from Kreative Pursuit.

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“Now I run my own business, Kreative Pursuit, working with parents and their autistic children through enhancing mental wellbeing with the use of creativity and artistic expression”, she added.

Both Cuckoo Hall and Keys Meadow school declined to comment, stating that they do not comment on individual cases.

It is advised to get a child tested at the earliest If you think your child might suffer from autism

autism in UKmap

Courtesy of Autism UK                                    Enfield Map: Youna Kabongo

events, HOME

Fighting to stay fit!

By Noa Mokhnachi

Did you ever want to try out boxing but couldn’t really afford it? well, you can now attend free classes in London.

On Tuesday 9th of May, the activewear retail Sweaty Betty partnered with a local Personal trainer to offer their customers a free boxing class in their Fulham store to introduce them to the boxing world.

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The event was run by Carly a Fulham based boxing teacher with over 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Ladies of all levels and ages were invited to attend the class followed by healthy advices given by the Sweaty Betty staff and goody bags with Chia Coconut water and healthy treats.

“Carly told us that she wanted to ran a free class to introduce women to boxing and we were more than happy to partner with her. Plus it was free, normally boxing class are very expensive, it’s a great way to try out boxing without spending a fortune,” said Bethany Thomas, 24, assistant manager at Sweaty Betty.

The class lasted for more than an hour and hosted more than fifteen guests. The attendees, all females, were ranged from 20 to 40 years olds with different boxing levels. The atmosphere was in full swing and Rihanna’s songs were shaping the rhythm of the boxing movements.

“I had never done boxing before and I have always been hesitant to buy classes because I found them so overpriced especially around Fulham so to be able to try out for free was a great,” said Monica Gilbert 24, investment banker assistant. She also explained that the fact that it was women only made her feel much more comfortable and powerful.

Sweaty Betty isn’t the only activewear offering classes; Lululemon also offers free yoga classes in their stores. It is a good opportunity for the stores to attract new customer who will hopefully purchase items or at least come back to browse the selection.


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source: piktochart made by NoaMokhnachi