Q&A: Sociology on the Syllabus

We spoke to the founder of the Sociology on the Syllabus campaign, Alex Buckley.

The goal of their campaign is to have sociology introduced as a KS3 subject in the UK, giving students better skills to deal with data and having a better awareness of the society which they live in.

Why did you decide to start this campaign?

I started this campaign in my head some time in 2016, but officially we were off the ground in July 2020. It occurred to me in 2016 whilst I was doing my degree that I had learned so many fundamental skills during my sociological studies; ones which I had not even touched on whilst studying other core curriculum subjects, that it made absolutely no sense that sociology didn’t feature as part of those core subjects which we’re taught as we’re developing the key life skills we take with us.

I got the kick up the bum I needed to get this on to the internet in July 2020, after the BLM protests had occurred. We live in such a divided society and this became very clear around then. I really believe that if people were given the opportunity to learn about the root causes of division and the lived experience of people who they perceived to be different to them, it would go an awfully long way to creating more cohesive thinking amongst citizens.

What are some of the most interesting things you’ve learned studying sociology for the last 9 years?

I haven’t technically been studying for the last two years but once you’ve been gifted the sociological imagination, you’re always learning, observing and theorising. In those 9 years, my favourite things to study were the traditional sociological perspectives of society (structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism and conflict theory).

I look at everything through these lenses now as a reflex, particularly the latter two, and it’s really nice to have a framework to use to think about and explain things that seem incomprehensible sometimes.

What would it look like, in an ideal world, having sociology on the KS3 syllabus?

I resolutely do not think it’s up to me; in an ideal world, once this campaign has made considerable headway and reached enough people, we would recruit a diverse panel of sociologists to make recommendations about what could and would be covered.

Criticism exists about the current sociological curriculum; that it is over-populated by outdated thinking, so this is something which we would definitely not overlook. Sociology is the study of society and it needs to reflect the changing nature of it.

What are the main obstacles in the way of your campaign’s success? How can they be overcome?

The main obstacle is probably the lack of awareness of what sociology is or how it could be of benefit to students. I think people often consider it to be a Mickey Mouse subject because they don’t really understand what it is – as my Grandma likes to quote from the 80’s TV ad, “It’s an ‘ology!”. The Gran in the ad (not my Gran) then goes on to console her disappointed grandson, who has failed his exams, by exclaiming “You get an ‘ology, you’re a scientist!”. This makes me both chuckle and want to cry at the same time, because that really sums up how people view social science.

We accept that maths and biology are crucial to the development of the modern world, because they are the studies which favour ‘objectivity’ and ‘fact’ and produce tangible findings which advance fields like medicine and engineering. But when we think about policy, about Big Data, about media and countless other fields which shape the way we experience our lives, every single day, how do we imagine this is being developed?

The answer is through the social sciences, by sociologists, data scientists and social researchers. Sociology has existed for too long as an underutilised subject, but now is the time to get the word out about how important it is, and how much benefit it could bring to society if the social scientists and policy makers and data analysts of tomorrow are given the opportunity to be inspired by sociology from the age of 11.

The other small obstacle is that I need to eat so I have a job and do this in my spare time, and so don’t have all the hours in the day to devote to getting the word out.

What does the future of your campaign look like?

The next step in the campaign is to secure a meeting with the Education Secretary, to convince them that this is a worthwhile cause. We also want this to be considered for a debate in parliament, so the government can go about changing National Curriculum policy. To do this, we need 100,000 signatures, which is nothing when you think of the 67 million of us all sitting around doing nothing for the next month during lockdown. Surely getting 0.15% of the UK population to enter their email address and a few details into the parliament petitions website is a breeze, you say? Unfortunately it isn’t, which is why I need help!

I want to put together a team of sociologists who are passionate about making this happen, to help promote, organise and lobby. I know how devoted and clever and creative social scientists can be, from working among them for the best part of the last decade. I need to channel these people’s resources so this campaign can gain the traction it needs to be taken seriously.

Lastly, what can we do to help?

I’m looking for help in any shape or form that people can offer it in. I’m looking for volunteers to work on the campaign with me, so if this is something you or someone you know would be interested in (whether you are a student or the Director of a think-tank or if you read Animal Farm ages ago and thought it was making a good point), please get in touch with me.

If working on the campaign sounds a bit intense or you wouldn’t know where to start, simply signing the petition and sending it on to a few friends, or sharing in on Twitter, would also be a huge help.

Thanks to Alex for talking to us about this! Don’t forget to sign this petition to do your bit.

You can follow them on Twitter and Instagram or have a look at their website for more information.

Words by Briony Brake with answers from Alex Buckley
Images from the Sociology on the Syllabus campaign

The Anthem Gift Guide for 2020

It’s that time of year again!

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know that every year we share at least one gift guide in the winter season full of great gift ideas that are usually from one, if not all of, the following: female-owned, feminist, Black-owned, eco-friendly, sustainable or independent businesses. We released our book special last week, and here we are with the rest! Get stuck in.

Christmas Gift Box, £20 from Flamingo Soap Co.

A bamboo soap dish and three delicious smelling festive soaps? Yes, please. Flamingo Soap Co., a one-woman company based in London, create natural, handmade artisan soap which are palm oil free, vegan, eco-friendly and zero waste! Individual bars cost £5.50, while gift boxes are around £15. There are even options for sensitive skin. Shop here.

Twine Basket Kit and Book, £37 from La Basketry

Tabara of La Basketry discovered basket weaving in Senegal and loved it so much she wrote a book about it. She then went on to sell handwoven baskets and homeware as well as a few DIY kits. This twine basket kit, available without the book for £26, gives you all you need to be able to make your own twine basket! Shop here.

Who Bloody Knows A4 Print, £18 from HAND and PALM

It was so hard to choose just one print to feature from Hand and Palm‘s online store but I felt this one was timely. This business is new this year and was set up by independent, London based artist Luci. Treat someone to a fun print like this one. Shop here.

The Stocking Filler Gift Set, £22 from Beevive

You might know that a little water and sugar can revive a struggling bumblebee but did you know that you can buy bee revival keyrings? With Beevive‘s gold and silver gift sets, you can gift a wildflower SeedBall and a bee revival keyring, and make sure we’re looking out for those important insects. Shop here.

Shell Candle, £8.50 from Pastel Palette

I’m a sucker for candles so this is an easy sell for me. Pastel Palette make gorgeous, hand-poured candles with natural soy wax in a number of shapes and smells. Whether you want a lime scented shell or a gingerbread scented Christmas tree, they’ve got you covered. Shop here.

Astro-Portrait, £18 – £30 from Courtney McMahon

Some of you know Courtney as a member of the Anthem team but did you know she is also an amazing digital artist? I bought an Astro-Portrait from Courtney a few months ago and love it. She can turn pictures of you, your dog, your boyfriend (or even a combination of all of these) into a really unique print. Shop here.

Lavender Mist Beanie, £16 from OutsideIn

‘Wear one, share one’ is the motto of OutsideIn, the streetwear brand fuelled by social impact. For every item of clothing you buy, whether it’s one of their fleeces or a beanie like this one, they will share one with someone experiencing homelessness. How good is that? Shop here.

Aztec Groove Macramé Coasters, £18 for 2 from Little Piggy Chic

When Millie was furloughed during lockdown, she began a passion project that sky rocketed! Little Piggy Chic create the cutest macramé décor by hand. Personally, I love these coasters, but she’s also recently uploaded a festive Christmas collection and has plant hangers for the green-fingered person in your life. There’s so much lovely stuff to shop here.

Divide Mug in Lavender Break, £26 from DMoonCeramics

Dani, of DMoonCeramics, creates “wheel thrown functional ceramics that are designed for everyday use with conscious and sustainable living in mind”. Their mugs are heavenly but they also have a festive winter collection to peruse. Shop here.

Zuri Pearl White Clay Hoop Earrings, £14 from Afton By Palm

Black-owned business Afton By Palm is run by Buckinghamshire based mother Bonnisa. This business is dedicated to handcrafted, minimalism and ‘slow made’ clay earrings and décor. Earrings like these will make for a beautiful gift! Shop here.

Upcycled Denim Jacket, £145 from Child of Oshun

Child of Oshun is a brand that’s all about sustainability and putting a stop to excessive fabric waste. From upcycling vintage denim with stunning works of art to hand making hats from recycled fabric and curating a gorgeous collection of one off vintage finds, they are committed to keeping you and the planet looking fresh! Shop here.

AOC, Angela Davis & Gloria Steinem Print Bundle, £30 from Rosa Kusabbi

Rosa Kusabbi is an animator and illustrator based in Liverpool. On her website, you’ll find totes, tea towels, t-shirts and amazing prints like these which you can buy individually (from £15) or in this great bundle of three! Shop here.

Lastly, we want to recommend, either for yourself or as a gift, purchasing a Jamii Card, which you can find here. Jamii is a discount card to help you discover independent Black-owned businesses in the UK and also enjoy a discount in-store and online.

Putting these gift guides together is always a highlight of the season for me. I love finding new businesses that are doing good work as well as sharing some of my personal favourites. I hope you got some inspiration from this guide and enjoy your Christmas shopping!

Words by Briony Brake with suggestions from Elisha Brown, Courtney McMahon, Pip Anderson, Eleanor Manley and Torinn Powles

The Anthem Gift Guide For 2020: Book Edition

That’s right. There are so many books we think you should gift to loved ones this year, we made an entirely separate list for it. Hooray!

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know that every year we share at least one gift guide in the winter season full of great gift ideas that are usually from one, if not all of, the following: female-owned, feminist, Black-owned, eco-friendly, sustainable or independent businesses. We’ll be uploading that list soon, but first, let’s get stuck into the books the Anthem team think you should be gifting this year.

Remember, where you can, to order books over the phone from independent sellers nearby or through sites like Hive, as well as Blackwell’s and Waterstones.

‘Love in Colour’ by Bolu Babalola, £16.99

Self-proclaimed pop culture scholar and romcomoisseur, Bolu Babalola is one of my favourite people to follow on Twitter. This year, her debut book Love in Colour was released, reimagining mythical tales of West Africa as well as Greek myths and ancient legends from the Middle East.

Jog On: How Running Saved My Life’ by Bella Mackie, £8.99

Apparently almost one million people downloaded the Couch to 5k app during the first lockdown* so Bella Mackie’s ‘love letter to running’, Jog On, is an ideal gift this year. In the book, Mackie also talks about her experience with anxiety. You can also buy the accompanying journal here.

‘Know My Name’ by Chanel Miller, £16.99

Everyone has heard of Brock Turner but too many people haven’t heard the victim’s name: Chanel Miller. Know My Name is Miller’s personal and moving memoir. The book has received high praise from critics and Anthem team members alike.

Such a Fun Age’ by Kiley Reid, £8.99

‘When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events’. Such A Fun Age has been on my list for months. Featured in Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and Glamour’s Best Book of 2020, this is a guaranteed winner.

‘Life as a Unicorn’ by Amrou Al-Kadhi, £9.99

Life as a Unicorn is the brilliant memoir of Amrou Al-Kadhi, a Muslim boy who would become a drag queen. The book follows his journey, from funny and emotional moments to seeing the world anew.

‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’ by Oyinkan Braithwaite, £8.99

This was very recently recommended to me by the Anthem team and I am intrigued. My Sister, the Serial Killer is a crime thriller fiction novel about two sisters and the lengths you might go for family and love.

‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’ by Candice Brathwaite, £16.99

If you’re not already aware of blogger Candice Brathwaite, you’re in for a treat. Her debut book I Am Not Your Baby Mother shines a light on the lack of black motherhood in media and parenting pamphlets. Part-guide, part-memoir, we can think of a few people who’d love this.

‘Freshwater’ by Akwaeke Emezi, £8.99

‘Her parents prayed her into existence, but something must have gone awry.’ Akwaeke Emezi’s contemporary fiction book Freshwater has been called a startling debut novel that explores the freedom of being multiple.

‘The Bi-ble: Volume One’ edited by Lauren Nickodemus & Ellen Desmond, £9.99

Anthem recommends doubling up and gifting both volumes one and two of The Bi-ble. Containing essays and personal narratives about bisexuality, The Bi-ble ought to be a welcome addition to any bookshelf, with so little published on the bisexual experience in recent times.

‘Dominicana’ by Angie Cruz, £8.99

“The harsh reality of immigration is balanced with a refreshing dose of humour” (The Times). Dominicana is another female-written contemporary fiction novel we want to recommend this year, as an important and stunning look at the immigrant experience of a young woman.

‘Ice Cream for Breakfast’ by Laura Jane Williams, £9.99

Do you or someone you love want to learn how rediscovering your inner child can make you calmer, happier, and solve your bullsh*t adult problems? Then Ice Cream for Breakfast is absolutely the one for you.

‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, £8.99

Praised by The Guardian for telling a great story while simultaneously adjusting the reader’s view of the world, Americanah is yet another brilliant novel from feminist writer and speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

’50 Queers Who Changed the World’ by Dan Jones, £10.99

So many of us could do with a little more education in LGBTQ+ history and Dan Jones’ collection of 50 Queers Who Changed the World is a brilliant and beautiful way to start, thanks to illustrations by Michele Rosenthal.

‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ by Caroline Criado Perez, £9.99

How much have you thought about how the world doesn’t always feel like it’s designed for women? Prepare to have your mind blown. Activist and campaigner Caroline Criado Perez has written an entire book on how the world, built by men, is systematically ignoring half of the population.

‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith, £8.99

White Teeth by Zadie Smith was chosen as one of the Best Books of the 21st Century. If you need more convincing than that (do you really?), this novel is funny, philosophical and life-affirming all at once.

‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo, £8.99

Girl, Woman, Other is another book that I’ve been waiting to read for a while now. It’s safe to say that a lot of people have read and loved this book this year but described as a “choral love song to black womanhood in modern Great Britain”, who wouldn’t want to read it?

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens, £8.99

Sian from the Anthem team reckons Where the Crawdads Sing is one of the best books she’s ever read. “It’s a tense thriller with social undertones, and is similar in style to To Kill A Mockingbird”.

‘Extraordinary Insects’ by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, £9.99

“A journey into the weird, wonderful and truly astonishing lives of the small but mighty creatures we can’t live without.” Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson’s Extraordinary Insects is a great option for nature and natural history lovers alike.

‘Winter’ by Ali Smith, £8.99

Eleanor from the Anthem team actually recommends all four books in Ali Smith’s ‘Seasonal’ series. You could bundle up and gift someone you love Winter, Summer, Autumn and Spring. This fiction series have been called ‘luminously beautiful’, ‘astonishing’ and ‘dazzling’. Count us in.

‘Dare to Lead’ by Brené Brown, £12.99

In Brené Brown’s most recent book, Dare to Lead, Brown uses research studies to teach us all about what leadership really means and how we can step into these roles without fear.

We hope our guide has given you some ideas, whether it be for a friend or family member, or for yourself. Big love from the Anthem team this winter season!

* Source: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/07/around-one-million-downloads-of-fitness-app-during-lockdown-as-people-stay-fit/

Words by Briony Brake with contributions from Eleanor Manley, Sian Brett, Amber Berry and Lauren Barnard
Images from Hive

World Mental Health Day – Don’t Forget About Yours

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Today is World Mental Health Day. Throughout the week people all over the world have joined in with the initiative, even if it’s been in a more virtual fashion. You may have seen how schools, colleges, universities and workplaces have encouraged us to don something yellow to spread awareness, using #HelloYellow to fundraise and spread the word of looking after our mental health.

In recent years the existence and acknowledgement of mental health and mental ill-health has gained more attention. It’s even more important right now to make sure we listen to ourselves and others, and pay attention to meeting our emotional needs. In the current climate of physical distancing and restrictions, it can feel even more difficult to meet even our most basic needs for self care. Lots of different individuals and organisations have been sharing how to stay on top of managing your mental health as we navigate COVID and approach the winter months.

Image by Vinzent Weinbeer from Pixabay

The importance of (virtually) getting together. At the beginning of all the restrictions there was a surge of HouseParty get-togethers and Zoom quizzes. Now, with more of us having to go back to work and everyone adjusting to a ‘new normal’ this seems like a distant memory. However, it’s important to nurture your relationship with loved ones. Wellbeing and loneliness are related, so trying to be a part of something, whether that’s a regular phone call with a friend, a Netflix party, or writing letters to family you can’t see at the moment, maintaining ways of staying connected during these difficult and rapidly changing times can help us ease our loneliness and still feel that sense of belonging.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Check in on one another. This kind of leads on from the first point, but sometimes we forget to catch up with one another, especially when socials and phones give the illusion of being forever available at any time. If you haven’t heard from that friend in a while, we should remember that communication is a two way street. But, that being said…

Image by KatinkavomWolfenmond from Pixabay

It isn’t selfish to have ‘me’ time. You can’t give from an empty cup. Remembering to nurture those fundamental needs we all have is crucial, even more so in times of uncertainty and bereavement. We all have basic physical needs like getting a good night’s sleep and a good diet, but there are psychological ones too; the need for privacy, control and attention (yes, attention is something we all need to feel mentally well, and this includes self-focused too!). Supporting your emotional and physical needs is summed up well here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Take things one step at a time. Sound cliché? There is a kernel of truth in this. If you are trying to manage your mental health, whether that be battling your anxiety around COVID, dealing with depression, or healing in a different way, don’t push yourself to get from 0 to 10 overnight. If you are feeling at about a 4 (and 10 is your best self), think about the small things you can build on to get to a 5. Small wins are still wins.

There are lots of initiatives and campaigns going around at the moment to promote positive wellbeing and mental health. A UK based one is Mind’s Do One Thing for mental health. Not only can we increase our awareness of our own mental health, we can also get involved in something in our own communities. Even in the confines of everything being physically distanced at the moment, we can still make a difference. For others, and for ourselves as well.

The most important thing of course is, if you are struggling, do not struggle alone. Talk with someone. A friend, a partner, a GP or a counsellor perhaps.

Different local communities will have their own mental health provisions and services, so if you need help you can always check out this NHS locator to find your nearest services.

Also remember that Samaritans is available 24/7 to help via phone, text and email, or you can text ‘SHOUT‘ to 85258 for a similar service.

If you would like some more practical tips for World Mental Health Day, and staying mentally well during these times, check out the below:

NHS Every Mind Matters

Practical changes you can make to your daily routine

Rethink Mental Illness

YoungMinds mental health support

Words by Lauren Barnard for Anthem Online

What Can I Do?

Anthem began as a means to amplify women’s voices online. One of the key messages we started with was that we would write about whatever women wanted to write about, and today, the Black Lives Matter movement is what I want to write about. While we only have a small platform, with that we have not just an opportunity to talk about what matters, but a duty.

I am not black and, as such, I am not the best person to tell you about the experiences of black people in this country or any. The best person to tell you about them is black people themselves, and in this article I want to do my best to point you in all the right directions to learn, to understand and to help, if you can. It’s important to remember (and to understand why I am writing this) that it is not the responsibility of black people to explain racism and privilege to us as white people, but our responsibility entirely. It is up to you to learn this and to help with the knowledge you gain.

To begin with, I feel like bringing our attention back to the Kayla Chadwick quote¹ that has been bandied about a lot in recent months: “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people”. To explain to you why you should care about the Black Lives Matter movement, I shouldn’t have to tell you how many people have been murdered and how they were all innocent; it should be enough that they are black lives and that they matter.

I don’t want to go on about why ‘All Lives Matter’ is counterproductive for too long, but essentially, while all lives do matter, white lives have it better. In the US, for example, where black people barely account for 13% of the country’s population, they are killed at twice the rate of white Americans². We cannot try to quieten the Black Lives Matter movement and claim their struggle is less than all lives collectively. It isn’t.

So how can you educate yourself and learn? The first and easiest step in most of our lives is to curate our social media feeds. Ask yourself the following questions when you next log in to Instagram or Twitter:

  1. How many of the people I follow are white, able-bodied and cisgender? Is there any diversity in who I’m seeing on my feed, whether celebrities, influencers or news sources?
  2. Am I following anyone who broadens my thinking?
  3. Am I seeing other experiences and voices being represented?
  4. When tragedy occurs, think about George Floyd in this example, is anyone I follow talking about it or hosting a conversation?

I learn so much from the people I follow on Instagram because I follow people who are different from me. I’m a firm believer in the adage that if you only talk to people like you, you’ll never learn and you’ll never grow. This is your job, and it’s an easy thing to do. 

As far as following accounts who actively share information and advice, I’ve listed some of mine and the team’s recommendations below. We’d love to hear your recommendations too.

  1. Reni Eddo-Lodge
  2. No White Saviors
  3. Rachel Ricketts
  4. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
  5. Layla F. Saad
  6. Munroe Bergdorf
  7. Candice Brathwaite
  8. Bolu Babalola
  9. Gurls Talk
  10. Donte Colley
  11. Chikalogy
  12. Stephanie Yeboah
  13. Dom Roberts

These people and outlets, and having greater diversity in your feeds will help you learn more on a regular basis.

View this post on Instagram

Swipe for resources. • Racial justice is a feminist issue and the deep disparity in how white women showed up for “all women” at the women’s march but haven’t showed up in the millions for the current uprising speaks to the @harpersbazaarus article I wrote back in 2018 titled “When Feminism Is White Supremacy In Heels” • My work has always been done through the intersected lens of race and womanhood. You can find more resources from me on this topic in my bio including the link to my article and the link to my recorded lecture Unpacking White Feminism. • White women I am demanding you tap into the radical empathy I mentioned in my public address yesterday. Move past “I’m so sorry this is happening to you” and ask yourself “how do I play into the pain the black community is doing and how do I hold myself and my community accountable for enacting justice?” Ask yourself what moved you to show up on the streets in 2017 but isn’t lighting a fire in you in this very moment. • Do you hear me? Drop a comment/emoji and tag who needs to hear this • #revolutionnow #manifest #racism #blm #soul #spirit #yoga #crystals #essentialoils #goodvibes #goddess #yoga #retreat #yogaretreat #seattle #nyc #la #marieforleo #gabriellebernstein #spiritual #success #lifecoach #bookclub #nyc #lululemon #doterra #wanderlust #teachersofinstagram #dogsofinstagram #catsofinstagram

A post shared by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle (@rachel.cargle) on

Next is understanding. I saw a post recently suggesting we all check on our black friends during all this. The way black killings are shown in the media spare absolutely no thought for the trauma they can induce. To be constantly bombarded by images of people who look like you being publicly killed and tortured is going to be horrifying and it’s going to take a real toll on your mental health. So be considerate when you’re sharing graphic imagery and be considerate of how the black people in your life are feeling at this time. It is not their job to teach you, it is your job to understand. 

Lastly, is how we can help. In the long term, we can read those books and listen to those podcasts and speeches to expand our knowledge. In the short term, Instagram user Das Penman shared some advice on what we can do in the UK to help the George Floyd case:

Further places you can donate include the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Women For Political Change Frontline Fund, Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.

Anisha Khullar said, “choosing to be apolitical in times of political and moral turmoil IS a political act, rooted in privilege.” This conversation is painful and triggering and uncomfortable but these are exactly the feelings we need to engage with. Don’t hide from them. Use them to drive you and together we can bring change.

 

¹ – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/i-dont-know-how-to-explain-to-you-that-you-should_b_59519811e4b0f078efd98440
² – The Washington Post’s database tracking police shooting since 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/

Words by Briony Brake with contributions from Jessica Yang, Amber Berry, Eleanor Manley and the whole Anthem team. 

Why It’s Ok To Do Nothing In Lockdown

The short answer to why it’s ok doing nothing in lockdown is because we’re in lockdown. It’s a scary time. We weren’t put in lockdown so we could finally finish that novel, we were put in lockdown so we don’t catch or spread a potentially life-threatening virus. Nobody said you had to use your lockdown time in any particular way.

We are in a bit of a weird situation right now (understatement) and nobody is expecting you to do anything other than stay home, stay safe, wash your hands and keep your distance. Yet, it’s only too easy to put ourselves under the usual pressure we put ourselves under by questioning why we’re not suddenly the most flexible yoga-doing women on the planet, or why we haven’t transformed into Nigella Lawson overnight.

As always, it is essential to remind ourselves that social media isn’t the truest account of someone’s life. I know that I’ve posted a happy picture moments after having a meltdown and crying, so I’m certain people with millions of followers have done the same. Nobody has found this easy.

As far as my lockdown experience goes, I have bought a resistance band and proper sports leggings, but I also took a week off exercising to handle my cramps. If I exercise, it will be minimal because I’m quite a lazy person, but I will do it once or twice a week for the sake of my sunlight deprived brain. I have not cooked a grand meal or baked anything exciting but I have eaten over half of everything my sister or mum has baked or cooked. I eat, I don’t cook.

I haven’t finished my novel, I’ve opened it and closed it because I wasn’t in the mood. I took part in Escapril for personal practice, writing quite poor poems, and gave up halfway through the month. I haven’t kept up with any of my writing books or diaries but I did read a book with my sister-in-law, catching up over FaceTime once a week, and I am on a pretty decent Duolingo streak (I’m still not good at the language though).

I could do more. I could try harder to write my novel or to start meditating but I don’t feel like doing it and I don’t see the need to force myself. I’m getting occasional fresh air, social company (with my household or virtually – don’t forget the 2-metre rule!) and I’m eating regular meals and drinking water. I’m lucky enough to still be employed so a lot of my time is spoken for, and my schedule hasn’t changed much.

As much as it’s a popular coping mechanism to keep yourself busy in times of stress (I’m guilty of this), it is just as important to make sure you rest. You need to be kind to yourself and take that time out every now and again. What you do to rest and to look after yourself is individual. You don’t need to feel pressured by your friends or family to be doing more or constantly working on a project. We’re in a pandemic, you’re allowed to binge-watch a television show and eat what you feel like.

Ultimately, this is me, on behalf of Anthem, promising that you don’t need to feel bad for not doing things in lockdown. If you want to craft, you craft, if you want to exercise, you exercise. If you want to, and can have a lie-in, or enjoy a movie marathon then you do that too. Whatever you want to do is okay. For now, I’m going to try to read some books, practice no more than 5 minutes of German a day (sorry Duolingo), and continue eating all the cakes my family produce.

 

Words and images by Briony Brake for Anthem Online.

Apps To Help You Through Lockdown

We’re locked in, we can’t see anyone for who knows how long, so naturally our phones have become our main link to the outside world and source of entertainment. In case you need a few more apps on your phone, I’ve put together a few to help you through this lockdown.

ZOOM/HOUSEPARTY (free)

These two apps are now household names as more and more people have been using them to communicate with friends and family. We’ve been using Zoom to speak to my Granny, others have held pub quizzes, stag dos, birthday parties, group workouts and family game nights. Houseparty even comes with some games built-in, so you can play Heads Up, quick draw and trivia games. These two apps, along with FaceTime, have become a real saving grace in this time of isolation providing us with that much-needed face to face interaction.

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PSYCH (free w. in-app purchases)

In a similar vein, Psych is a great app for connecting with friends across the country. This game was created by Ellen DeGeneres, and the aim is to ‘psych’ your opponents and get them to pick your answer. You don’t have to be close to each other to play, you just need the code for your game and you’re away –  I have spent many a time cry-laughing because of this app which is something we could all do with right now!

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JENNIS (subscription)

Jennis is a workout app created by gold-winning Olympian Jess Ennis-Hill, so she really does know what she’s talking about. I’ve been using this for a few months now but it’s become more important to me since I’ve been in self-isolation – it gives me a huge psychological boost when I complete a workout, which has been every day recently, whether it’s a 5 minute blast or a full 20 minute routine. Exercise has always been important to me, but I think now more than ever more and more people are finding it a useful tool for coping with this bizarre situation.

One of the major selling points for me is that I have found this app to be really human; she does the workout with you and you can hear her getting out of breath just as you are, whereas I have tried other workout apps before and the trainer stays perfect throughout which can be a bit dispiriting sometimes. There is also a pregnancy and postpartum section on the app which will be really useful to all the mums who are having to limit what they can do whilst wanting to remain active.

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COUCH TO 5K (free)

Similarly, more people are turning to running for their one piece of outside exercise. This is a great app by the BBC and NHS to get you into running gradually so that you can have a positive, injury-free experience. As the name suggests, the aim of this app is to get you running 5k over the course of 9 weeks. You can pick who guides you through it (I had Sarah Millican) and the experience is a really positive one; I always felt really positive for completing my runs and even if I was struggling at points, to have Sarah Millican in my ear gave me that extra boost to reach my goal.

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BBC SOUNDS/ACAST/PODCASTS APP (free)

Podcasts are a great thing to listen to anyway, on your commute to work, on a run, in the gym or just at home – at home is pretty much the only option right now I’m afraid (unless you’re a key worker). BBC Sounds, Acast or the Podcast app on iPhone have some great ones to listen to whilst you’re re-organising your wardrobe, cooking or perfecting your nervous twitch. I always feel like I don’t have enough time to listen to my favourite podcasts so I’m really taking advantage of this time to catch up a bit.

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CALM (subscription)

Calm is a meditation/mental health app and something we could probably all do with at the moment. I first got Calm back in 2016 when I was really struggling with my mental health – I now mainly use it for its sleep stories which knock me out cold, but it has some fantastic mindfulness courses which I have also found incredibly useful over the past four years. My favourite feature of this app though is the emergency calm feature which is designed to talk you through a panic attack and bring you out the other side. I have found this incredibly useful when I have had to use it and I think it’s something which a lot of people could find useful right now; it’s a weird time and we don’t know how our brains are going to react to this situation so sometimes it’s nice to know there’s something there to help just in case.

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HOLD (free)

Whilst we are all understandably using our phones more than normal, it is still a good idea to give ourselves a break and stop us looking at the news all the time. This app was introduced to me by one of my friends and I love it! The idea is that you put your phone on hold and for every 20 minutes you get 10 points, these points can be traded for rewards like reduced cinema tickets (when they’re open again), or you can enter competitions, you can also donate to a mental health charity with them. The longer you hold, the more points you get and the more rewards you can claim – it’s a simple idea but so so effective!

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Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay Home!

 

Words by Eleanor Manley for Anthem Online.

Things To Do On Lockdown

Introverts rejoice! Lockdown has arrived and I’m all for it; it’s the best thing to do in order to protect everyone as much as possible and reduce the strain on the NHS but that’s not to say we won’t all go a little mad. Some of us are with friends and family and some of us are by ourselves – either way it can be a lonely and lengthy experience so I’ve written up a list of a few things to help distract you from the news cycle and the constant checking of the time (it’s only been 4 minutes since you last looked by the way).

LET’S GET PUZZLIN’ 

It’s time to embrace your inner granny – get out those chunky cardigans, pull on the slippers and set yourself up with a good jigsaw! I haven’t puzzled in many years but there is definitely something calming and therapeutic about them.

Other things which are equally calming and great for killing time:

  • Painting by numbers
  • Sudoku
  • Crosswords
  • Hama beads (I did this one at work and it took 14 hours – time well spent)

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I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT

I’m sure you’ve all heard this one a billion times already but walking and running are fantastic for your mental and physical health and when we’re stuck inside, a brief reprieve to get out into nature could be a lifesaver. I find that running is fantastic for my mental health, it gives my brain a break from everything and gives me a sense of calm and accomplishment – something we might all be looking for in the coming weeks. If your one piece of exercise outside isn’t cutting it for you, you can also try a workout at home. Lots of people are running live sessions which could be great to join in – whether it’s yoga, circuits or a dance party in your kitchen, that extra physical boost could help you in a moment of despair.

I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF

If you’re like me, you’ve been saying “I’ve got so many books to read” or “it’s on my watchlist” for ages! This is literally what we’ve been waiting for – no work, can’t leave the house, and a lot of time to kill. Read all the books, watch all the films, listen to all the podcasts, binge watch till your heart’s content and get really into Animal Crossing again…

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ALL BY MYSELF 

With us all turning to social media perhaps more than before, now is a great time to review what/who we’re following; do you genuinely enjoy and engage with the accounts that pop up on your feed? Since we’re more reliant than ever on our phones, now is a great time to make sure that you’re having a positive experience when you open Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.

The likes of Zoom and Houseparty have never been so popular as more and more of us are turning to them for some face to face interaction – I’ve seen virtual pub quizzes, group workouts, book clubs and concerts all from the comfort of your living room, so why not host your own?! Now is also a great time to reconnect with some friends you’ve lost contact with/neglected; send them a message and see how they’re holding up with all this as well.

Last but definitely not least! Don’t forget to check in with yourself, this is a really weird time and none of us are used to living this way. One of the biggest challenges ahead will be our mental health – it’s going to take a toll on all of us so we need to make sure we are there for each other and ourselves.

Stay Safe, Stay Sane, Stay Home!

 

Words and images by Eleanor Manley for Anthem Online.

Stop Underselling Yourself

Something that I believe unites a lot of us, is that process of having a conversation, going home and being kept awake by versions of that conversation which could have been. I’m always thinking about what I want to say to people, and I almost always get it wrong and wish I’d said something else.

It’s pretty normal but when you start to put preventative measures in place when talking, it’s possible to put limits on who you are. You can become more cautious and get too worried about sounding like you’re bragging or boasting or just being a bit of a tit. I find myself telling people that my work, or something I’m proud of, is not that great or that I had a lot of help to achieve it. That’s how easy it is to undersell yourself.

To undersell yourself means to make out as though you aren’t as talented or skilled or as valuable as you actually are, most likely so that you don’t seem big-headed or boastful or rude. Everyone is capable of underselling themselves, but it is a phenomenon that has been particularly linked to women in their professional spheres. That’s a problem. How do we stop underselling ourselves, whether professionally or not? How do we even know if we’re underselling ourselves, to begin with?

In terms of knowing whether you’re guilty of underselling yourself, it really helps to surround yourself with supportive colleagues, friends, and partners, because, from experience, they will tell you. I’ve been told by colleagues, friends, and by women I’ve just met, that I should hype myself up more or that I shouldn’t talk down the good things I’m doing. It can be difficult and even embarrassing, but those people are right, and listening to them will help you.

If you’re starting sentences with “It’s not much but”, “It’s just a little thing” or “I’m not the only one who can”, “I had a lot of help” then you’re probably like me and trying to turn down the impact of the things you’re talking about. But you shouldn’t. If you’ve put work into something, and energy and effort or skill and passion, and you have something to be proud about then why would you want to downplay that? It’s not logical when you lay it out like that but it can be an automatic response to do so.

So how do we stop? Start by keeping those friends who support you around. Continue to listen to them. If you don’t have them, I can’t encourage finding them enough. Surrounding yourself with smart, impressive women who will lift you up is so morale-boosting, regardless of whether you feel like you deserve it. I often feel like my friends are being silly if they boost me up, but it’s what they are there for, especially when you’ll do the same back to them without even questioning it.

Context matters, but a lot of the time, it’s key to remember that people are asking what you do, and by telling them what you do, you’re not being a bit of an arse, you’re just answering a question. I don’t know that I’ve ever fully explained what my job entails to people, or showed my super-proud and happy approach to Anthem when asked because I’m terrified of seeming like I’m showing off. I always bring up luck and good timing but I have also always worked very hard, and now I’m a few years out of university, I’m noticing people measuring my worth by what I’m saying (“no big deal”, “I had help”) rather than what I’m doing (being very exhausted from working very hard).

Sometimes, it bothers me and I complain to myself because I wish people knew how hard I was working. But it’s my own doing, and that’s why it’s on me to start talking about myself more fairly. You don’t have to start shouting from the rooftops that you did your job well today (unless you want to, of course). You just have to say to yourself and to anyone who genuinely asks you that you did your job well today.

Sometimes, people want to know your skills and passions so they can utilise them and I have found since being more open about what I’m good at, people have asked me for help in those areas. No-one has called me big-headed, and I’ve certainly not been shouting about it, and yet I’m now able to help other women working on their skills.

Find what works for you and test the waters with friends or performance reviews at work. Tell a family member if that’s easiest. But stop selling yourself short for your sake You have worked so hard to be where you are. Celebrate that.

 

Words by Briony Brake for Anthem Online.

An Eco-Friendly Gift Guide For 2019

It’s time for another festive gift guide! This list is all about gifts that are sustainable, recycled or eco-friendly in some way.

I know I’ve got some eco items on my Christmas list this year, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites that might inspire you, whether shopping for a loved one or looking to treat yourself (or both!).

BATOKO Lobster Swimsuit, £50

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While the entire collection of recycled plastic swimsuits from BATOKO are brilliant and stylish, the vegan-friendly brand recently partnered with the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow, Cornwall who will release a baby lobster back into the sea for every one of these swimsuits bought. A double win!

 

TALA Activewear, from £25

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The second of influencer Grace Beverley’s three successful business ventures, six-month-old TALA aims to create not just sustainable but stylish and inclusive activewear. Their products are almost entirely upcycled (from plastic bottles and factory offcuts) with completely recycled and recyclable packaging.  Their tops and bottoms are on-trend and suit all figures so make a great gift for the sporty person in your life.

 

BECO Soaps, from £2.50

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Made in Britain, BECO soap bars, shampoo bars, and soap bottles are 97% organic and 100% eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free and hypoallergenic. One of the best things about BECO is that 80% of their staff are disabled when over a million disabled people are out of work, and the brand is encouraging other businesses to do the same. BECO’s products make a great stocking filler and are available in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, and Boots.

 

KeepCup, from £10

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KeepCups have been around for a decade, and are probably one of the most popular ecofriendly brands about. That being said, they are a fantastic brand who are still working incredibly hard to spread change by providing products to cafes going plastic-free, or larger scale companies hoping to reduce wastage. I prefer the glass cups, but they have a huge range of products in a variety of colours – you can even customise a cup with someone’s favourite colours.

 

Face Halo Makeup Remover, from £7

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I got a pack of Face Halo pads for Christmas last year, and I haven’t had to use a cotton pad since. If you know anyone who wears makeup (and I’m certain you do), then this is an easy win. Available online or from stores like Boots, these reusable makeup remover pads are washable; not just a rinse under the tap after use, but can actually be put in the wash. They can be washed up to 200 times and should replace the use of 500 traditional wipes – they can even be recycled when you’re done with it!

 

Zao Makeup, from £9

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Zao Makeup’s range of bamboo and refillable makeup products are quickly making a name for themselves for ridding their products of toxic ingredients and for being cruelty-free and vegan. It is unusual to find not only a bamboo makeup collection but also a refillable one. Zao stock everything you could want, from lipsticks and nail polish to foundation and blusher. They really have everything and are available on sites like Plastic Freedom, Beautifully Organic and Ecco Verde.

 

Smidge Bottle, from £10.99

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Similar to the KeepCup, reusable metal bottles like the ones made by Smidge are slowly taking over. I’ve definitely been guilty of buying multiple plastic bottles of water in a week, and when colourful bottles like this exist, there’s not really an excuse. Another great thing about Smidge bottles is that they keep your water cold all day, so they’re perfect for taking to work or school. Smidge also sell reusable camping and picnic gear if there’s an outdoorsy person in your life!

 

Critically Endangered Socks Amur Leopard Sock, £12

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Made from a blend of sustainable cotton and bamboo, there are currently 5 different pairs of animal socks available from Critically Endangered Socks; the Borneo orangutan, the Amur leopard, the Maui dolphin, the Sumatran elephant and the Hawksbill turtle. They produce a limited number of each style and donate 20% of the total sale price to a charity depending on the style you buy, so if you’re particularly passionate about the WildCats Conservation Alliance, you can purchase a pair of these leopard socks!

 

Wild Case Biodegradable Bamboo Phone Case, £11.20

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I didn’t know phone cases presented a problem with regards to waste and the climate until recently, and I definitely didn’t know biodegradable phone cases existed. My brother and sister-in-law were the ones who introduced me to them. They are a small market right now, and the leading brand seems to be Pela, who offer a massive range of nice colours but in the price range of £35-40. Wild Case offer just one colour and currently only fit iPhones but are available for a fraction of the price on Etsy.

 

Tabitha Eve Zero Waste Self Care Gift Set, £20

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Tabitha Eve creates plastic-free alternative products from ethically sourced fabrics. They promise good quality alternatives for your bathroom, kitchen, travel kit, and even for new parents. They offer three different zero waste gift sets, all at £20. The Self-Care set pictured above features 5 make up rounds, 5 nail varnish remover pads, 5 Loofah facial discs, and a Cotton & Linen Bath Pouf. All their gift sets also come with a free £5 voucher and are gift wrapped in a reusable 100% cotton furoshiki wrap.

 

Koi Footwear Vegan Shoes, from £20

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Koi Footwear‘s tagline is ‘100% Vegan Footwear’ and that’s really all you need to know. They make sandals, shoes, heels and boots that are completely vegan and PETA approved. Not only are they a brand who are trying to become more sustainable where they can but they have a huge selection of on-trend shoes that even go up to a women’s size 10 and 11. On top of all that, they have ASDA donation points around the country for you to recycle your old shoes.

 

Keep Leaf Reusable Sandwich Bag, £6

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These adorable little pouches from KeepLeaf are available on Not On The High Street and The Kind Store in the UK and are made of 100% cotton with a water-resistant polyester lining and velcro closure. Not only do they reduce single-use plastic wastage, but they are made through a women’s co-operative in India, giving them the opportunity to work and earn. The pouches are great for those packing lunches ahead of work or school, and can be washed under the tap, in the dishwasher or in a washing machine!

 

Thanks so much for reading this special gift guide on Anthem. I hope you’ve been able to tick some things off your list, or maybe add some to your own wish list.

Wishing you all a happy holidays from Anthem!

 

Words by Briony Brake for Anthem Online.
Images from BATOKO, TALA, BECO, KeepCup, Face Halo, Zao Makeup, Smidge, Critically Endangered Socks, Wild Case, Tabitha Eve, Koi Footwear and Keep Leaf/Not ON The High Street.