Why becoming a carer in my twenties made me realise we need more support

Words by Kate Oliver, founder of The Caring Collective.

I still don’t really think of myself as a carer. I’m not sure whether that’s because sometimes it doesn’t feel like I ‘do’ enough, or because my brain hasn’t really bought into the idea we’ve been sold of carers being someone different from us. It’s taken me a long time to process all of this and get to the point of setting up The Caring Collective.

My mum first became ill in 2017, and since then we’ve dealt with the lowest lows depression and anxiety have to offer. When my mum first became ill, I was 25, and had some big plans on the horizon, which I delayed until mum was back on her feet. Sitting down now to unearth some of those ideas again after five years, I’m struck by how much of a journey I’ve been on. A mostly painful one if I’m honest, but one that’s really made me think a lot about where we stand as carers and how I’d like to contribute to changing that.

The first time I really stopped to think about it and admit I might need some help to manage everything that was happening, I remember picking up my phone at 2am, sleeping in my childhood bedroom, and feeling slightly humiliated as I typed into Google ‘caring in your 20s’. I felt even worse when I saw that the first two pages of results were variations on how to find the right skincare routine, and how to take care of my ‘youthful figure’, and quickly diverted to Instagram to remind myself what I should be doing instead. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted, lost and terrified — I got the memo that these weren’t things I should be thinking about right now.

Being a ‘young adult carer’ (a term so bland I despair) is hard enough when you’re battling the narrative of ‘do it while you’re young’ and ‘make the most of this time to yourself’, without the extra guilt of trying to figure out whether you should even be talking about this stuff at all. Was there any wonder that in the five years I’ve been looking after mum, I’ve only met a handful of people in a similar situation. If 1 in 4 of us have a mental health illness in our lifetime, how come we haven’t heard from any of the people supporting them?

As I grew slightly more confident in recognising what my role in our situation really was (not just a good daughter, thanks guys), I then stumbled into the second barrier that carers, and especially those who are younger, encounter all the time. My identity was tied to another person, and in accepting I was a carer, I had to accept that my experience of this situation was deeply rooted in someone else’s reality. In reaching out for support and saying ‘hey, this is difficult’, was I undermining my mum’s own struggle, and even worse, was I betraying her trust by speaking up and asking for help?

One of the big things I wanted to deal with when I started writing about our experiences — my experiences — of what happened to mum was starting the messy task of separating what was happening to me, from what was happening to her. It felt impossible to try at first, and the self censoring was so real it had me reading back old diaries going ‘but, it probably wasn’t as bad I made out, maybe I was just being dramatic’, lest I accept that sometimes doing an inherently good thing, motivated by love, can feel totally, utterly hideous.

In the end, that was the realisation that made me believe there is a place for something like The Caring Collective.  

It’s not a place where I claim to have all the answers (or in fact any on some things) but it is a place where the mixed middle of being a carer is brought out of the shadows. These are complicated feelings, never ever made any easier by a vow of silence we’re expected to take for fear we might say something that doesn’t fit with what we’re told: caring for someone you love is the easiest thing in the world, they’re the only thing that matters, and ‘you shouldn’t be worrying about something like that at your age’. It took me too long to realise that there are no rules with this stuff, it’s messy — but hearing so can be hugely helpful.

When I think about the power that something like The Caring Collective could have for liberating us all from the idea that you can’t talk about things like this, I feel incredibly hopeful — and for someone with experience of managing complex mental health issues — that is no small thing. 

It’s likely that I will be caring for my mum in some capacity for a very long time, if we’re lucky. I don’t want that side of my life and everything I’ve learnt to be condemned to the pile of ‘not relevant’ just because it might not fit with what we’ve come to expect. Instead, I want everyone who sees themselves in some of what I describe to know it’s ok to want to share it. It’s ok to take up that space, and I’d actually really love it if you came and joined me.

Kate Oliver is a writer and charity professional, originally from Rotherham in South Yorkshire. Despite migrating south, she still spends a lot of time in the North supporting her mum, who is her inspiration for setting up ‘The Caring Collective’ and sharing her experiences of being a carer. When Kate isn’t in transit, she spends as much time as she can in cold water (but draws the line at the River Don).


Getting to know Eleanor Churchill: fibre artist

Most business owners will tell you that the first year in business is the hardest. Creating a product is just the start; being able to align your own values and capture an audience in the depths of social media is no mean feat. Where ordinarily support and sales may spring from in-person networking and browsing customers, for the businesses starting in lockdown, their entire base has been enclosed within the four walls of home.

Eleanor Churchill, a fibre artist based in Manchester, is now the owner and designer at Ellamé Designs. What started as a way to keep her plants away from her cats and to decorate a newly purchased home, has led to an influx of macrame orders from eager shoppers. But, Eleanor’s business seems to have popped up at the right time – not only are her customers making a space for themselves that’s practical for working and comfortable for living, Eleanor’s seen a huge shift in her own wellbeing through its creation.

Could you tell me a bit about your background first of all?

Eleanor Churchill, Owner of Ellamé Designs

Yes! I’m Eleanor (Ellie) – I’m a fibre artist, drummer and cat enthusiast from Manchester.

Of course, we have to hear more about your feline friends…

Sure! I have one very fluffy ragdoll called Avalon, he loves eating peppers. He’s also the size of a small dog. My other cat is a European shorthair called Jefferson Bootsie Collins (Boots), he’s an absolute terrorist to be honest, but incredibly affectionate and cute. It’s lovely having them as work companions.

How did you go from a genius hack to setting up your business?

I’ve worked in Digital Content Production in various places including the BBC and Hull City of Culture 2017 and I fancied a change. I worked a couple of very different roles whilst at the BBC and the one left me feeling a bit deflated as it was in Production Management and to be honest, it was draining and a bit boring. I preferred my time working on CBeebies and in my previous Digital Content roles. Because of this, I ended up being even more creative than I was and I tried out making a plant hanger for the first time; it went well, so I made more.

I eventually moved on to wall hangings, and everyday accessories which led me to setting up my Etsy shop. I worked a full time job and came home to work on my macrame every night, most lunches were spent in the post office! I found the response to my work overwhelming and by October last year I left my Content Producer job at the British Council as I felt ready to take the plunge.

How did it feel to receive your first commission or sell your first piece?

The first time I sold something was actually on Facebook marketplace, I couldn’t believe somebody wanted to actually buy it! The first time I was asked to do a commission I actually felt really confident because I’d been knotting away for so long I felt comfortable doing it. It felt great though.

How have you found the physical act of crafting and making during the pandemic? Has it contributed to your wellbeing?

Yes, so much. I can be a very anxious person at times even when I don’t necessarily show it. Macrame helped me relax when I felt stressed in my last BBC role, it gave me more of a sense of purpose a little like my drumming does and it helped keep my mind from overthinking about everything. I’ve certainly had my dose of anxiety over lockdown, but if I didn’t have my business keeping my brain occupied I’m not sure what I would be like right now.

How do your products make a difference to people’s spaces now we’re spending so much time living and working in the same area?

It gives me a lot of satisfaction knowing that people are buying my products during lockdown especially. Their home is their personal space that I’m helping to make a brighter one for them. Whether it’s a guitar hanger, wall hanging or even a small plant hanger, I like the thought that someone will be looking up at it everyday and it could make them smile.

What challenges and successes have you faced developing a new business during the pandemic?

It’s been a year since I first started selling my products and I’ve already gone full-time with it, which to be honest I didn’t think would happen this early. So I would say that’s a success.

The challenge I had was working a full-time job to support what I was doing in the early stages as I was literally working all the time, day and night, I was very tired but I just persisted with it and knew I could succeed in it if I kept trying. I did a lot of research into Etsy as well, I don’t think a lot of people realise that it’s pretty much a big search engine so it operates differently to how they might think it does. In order to sell on there it isn’t enough to have great products, you have to understand its thinking and how to get your products seen. I find stuff like that really fun though, thankfully!

If you had free reign to create one mega bespoke design for a northern business which would you choose and why?

There’s a really lovely bar I like to drink at in Manchester called Wolf at the Door, it’s a pretty boho kind of place with heaps of plants and I love the interior, it’s really cosy. Upstairs they have a large piece of art that covers the whole wall and I remember thinking I would love to create something that huge for that space when I was last there. Perhaps something geometric and modern with some of my metallic rope.

You can find Eleanor @ellamedesigns on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

The Edit: In Conversation with L’Oréal Blackett, Journalist and Broadcaster

What does it mean to be influential in today’s digital world? Is success only measured by how you’re perceived online? And if you have influence, how do you use it for good?

In the midst of lockdown and eager to find out the answers to these questions, journalist and broadcaster L’Oréal Blackett, created her own podcast, The Edit, which delves into the world of influencer culture. Unpacking the truth behind the likes, shares and hashtags, L’Oréal is using her voice to find out what it’s really like to have a personal brand, exploring the impact of having a popular presence online and how this has affected the individuals and brands dominating our social media feeds. 

Having worked for the likes of the BBC, Bustle and Body Confidential, in a variety of reporting and broadcasting roles, alongside a number of gigs as an ambassador and presenter for businesses including Bumble, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, L’Oréal is by some people’s definition an “influencer”.  However, like many women in journalism, she sometimes struggles with the idea of curating her own brand. Hence the creation of The Edit, a way to better understand the realities and expectations of influencer culture and the role that we all play in this shifting digital narrative. 

Born and bred in Manchester, L’Oréal knew from a young age that she wanted to work in the media, “I was just set on it, it was either that or be a dancer”, she tells me over zoom, seemingly the most popular medium for conducting interviews, podcasts and webinars under lockdown. Taking a traditional route into the industry, she studied Broadcast Journalism at the University of Leeds before landing a placement aged 21 at MediaCity, the BBC’s Salfordian home, and as they say, the rest is history.

Well not quite, because to gloss over L’Oréal’s various career achievements, which include an editorship at Body Confidential, would diminish the hard work and determination that she, and many other women working in journalism – an industry dominated by white males – have put in over the years.

According to a report written for Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism by Suzanne Franks, a professor of Journalism at City University London, women substantially outnumber men in media training but very few secure senior jobs and the pay gap between female and male journalists remains considerable. In another study by Reuters, released in 2016, it was reported that journalists were 94% white. Whilst publications such as gal-dem, Black Ballad, FEM Zine and Yellowzine have sought to make media and its reporting more diverse, recent events show just how much work still needs to be done in order to create a more representative media landscape. 

For L’Oréal, a regular contributor to online platform Bustle, the roadblocks to success were apparent very early on. “It took me a while to really understand that media is a business before anything else,” she says. “From the SEO, to the clicks and links and everything like that, as much as some media organisations want to show themselves as quite radical, or tell the kind of taboo stories, you know the reality is they’re quite scared – scared of offending their core audience.”

Just a few weeks earlier, L’Oréal had written a piece for Bustle, who she credits as one of a number of platforms giving writers such as herself, a space to write about her own experiences and those of other women of colour, about the lack of mental health provision for black women and why it is imperative that this is put on the agenda. Exploring the narrative that Black women are stronger than others, L’Oréal sought to show that this doesn’t tell the whole story and that provision, access and representation with regards to mental health services is simply not where it needs to be to positively help and support women of colour. 

 L’Oréal explains that she feels now is the time to delve deeper into these subjects, which, in the past, she didn’t feel she could because the conversation wasn’t yet open enough. “Obviously the industry has changed. I would still write about mental health but in a broad way, but as a  journalist it now feels like the right time to talk about something that does resonate with me but also with a lot of people,” she explains. “It’s great when I’m working with Bustle or other womens’ magazines, they’re open to sharing a wealth of stories, so I feel empowered by that. I feel comfortable writing about those things.  I’m pleased to be able to speak about something that can be quite difficult in the black community.”

Part of the reason L’Oréal remains hopeful – in spite of both the racism and sexism she has faced in the industry – is because of her strong relationship with her family, who have always supported her dream to be journalist or fashion editor. “Maybe it’s a weird naivety in me but sometimes I feel I will always succeed, it’s been drummed into my head from my parents,” she says with a smile. “I never thought I couldn’t do something, but I did realize soon enough that it might be slightly more difficult. I wouldn’t say I’m thick skinned but I am so determined.” This dedication to her craft is supported wholeheartedly by her family who she credits for always inspiring and uplifting her, especially during the earlier phases of lockdown – a time that gave her the chance to press pause and consider her next steps.

Despite her year not getting off to the start that she had planned, the arrival of lockdown set off something inside of L’Oréal, who after taking some time out to focus on her health and wellbeing, through running and outdoor workouts, began to consider new ways to channel her media skills, which eventually resulted in the creation of The Edit podcast. 

“Not to diminish what the virus is at all, but lockdown has grounded me and made me think about what I do. I think of ideas all the time and I don’t know where to put it sometimes,” she says taking a sip of her freshly brewed coffee. “You like talking so just do the podcast. I started there and just focused on one project. I centered in on the things I want to do and the podcast has been a natural fit and also a great distraction; what a time to explore another facet of yourself that you’ve never had time to do.”

Applying what she had learnt from her time in broadcasting, L’Oréal began to ask, what does it mean to have an influence in today’s digital world, speaking to guests such as Haçienda legend DJ Paulette, designer of positive vibes Zara Khalique and tech entrepreneur Melissa Snover about their experiences of influence, the sacrifices they have taken to keep up appearances and what it means to have a voice in today’s society. The podcast has also led the esteemed journalist to examine her own online presence and the side effects of time spent online.

“Instagram is a minefield, especially when it’s so image-led. I struggle with that. I love fashion, music, all of it, but I love to write and read, but I don’t always know how to marry it,” explains L’Oréal. “With the podcast, that’s me being me, you have to be yourself. That’s what a personal brand should be.”

Having seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of social media it seems like L’Oréal is already understanding what it means to have a significant degree of influence and has made sure to use it to challenge stereotypes and ask the difficult questions that need to be answered in these particularly polarized times. Meanwhile, she advises those looking to pursue a career in media to use Instagram and other platforms on their own terms. “There’s so many more opportunities for journalists now thanks to social media. Go get more than you ever could, whether it’s talking on panels, speaking, doing courses – you can supplement your income using it,” she concludes. “So don’t be afraid, don’t be controlled by how everyone else is using it, don’t let it be a negative thing, because it doesn’t have to be.”

You can read more of L’Oréal’s articles here and listen to the latest episode of The Edit here.

Interview: Jenna Campbell

Images: Courtesy of L’Oréal Blackett

Amelia Florence: Florist

Name: Amelia Florence

Job title: Florist

Ideas & Planning: With events and weddings it’s really a collaborative decision process from the initial meeting hearing the ideas, producing mood boards, samples and then execution. I love planning and executing events and visualizing how a display will look. I’m fortunate that I have a lot of experience working on large and small scale events from being a visual merchandiser before becoming a florist. 

When it comes to weekly bouquets I try to choose a different colour palette each week, using seasonal ingredients. I get stock from the Netherlands and from British growers so it depends what is available. I’m usually am inspired by one particular flower that week which I use a base and find complimenting colours and shapes.I have always worked better under pressure, being in lockdown has really highlighted this for me. I like to have busy days, which usually start very early at the flower market, it’s a real bonus to be able to see your progress at the end of a day and be surrounded by flowers

Finance: I started my career in floristry in Canada working in florists so I’m not too sure on the salary in the UK. Since moving back here I have been solely working for myself which comes with a lot of expenses. I also only knew a few people in Manchester when I moved here, It takes time to get your name out there when you move to a new city before you start making an income. I knew this would be the case and was happy to put my money into my business as I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. 

Networking: I have collaborated with Cecily Shrimpton in creating my screen printed packaging, which I absolutely love! I work with some local businesses to provide them weekly flowers, event flowers and have collaborated with Reserve Wines for Mothers day with a wine and bouquet bundle.

Unfortunately some projects were cancelled due to Covid but I have some collaborations in the pipeline which I’m very excited about!

I’d love to go to some creative meet ups when we are allowed, as I generally work on my own it’s always great to meet people who are in a similar situation and people who can inspire me.

Quote to live by: Be kind, be patient and stay hydrated.

You can visit Amelia’s Instagram page here.

A beginner’s guide to yoga in lockdown

Words: Rachael Chrystal

There are very few people who have been untouched by the change, uncertainty and fear that the pandemic has brought. This has had a huge impact on our mental well-being, with significant numbers reporting stress, anxiety and low mood associated with lockdown and COVID-19. Our usual exercise routines have been disrupted, meaning that lots of us are feeling the lack of physical activity and the resulting negative effect on our mental health. 

This has led many people to look for ways to manage their psychological well-being as well as bring more movement into their day. As the lockdown restrictions are lifted, this brings new stresses and worries as we try to work towards a new normality, despite things being very different.  

Never before has yoga been more needed – yoga provides us with the space and time to relax and connect with ourselves, as well as giving us some much needed time for physical movement. For me, time on my mat gives me time for my brain to unravel and lets me release the tension, fear and unknown of the ongoing situation through movement and my breath. It simultaneously gives me energy and helps me to calm my anxious thoughts.  

Rachael Chrystal

The good news is that you can do yoga anywhere and you don’t need to get changed or gather any special equipment. You can use whatever time you have – starting with as little as 3 minutes – and you will notice the benefit to your physical and psychological well-being after just a few short sessions. 

Yoga alone is not a cure for mental health difficulties and it is recommended that you also seek professional support via your GP or appropriate local services if you are struggling. Yoga can however be used alongside more traditional treatments to support good mental health.  

Here are my tips for starting a home yoga practice, along with a simple but effective routine to settle your mind and gently move your body. This is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned yogis – the poses are still beneficial whether you are doing them for the 1st or the 1000th time. The sequence below will take 5-20 minutes depending on how long you choose to stay in each posture.  

How to set up your space for yoga: 

Ideally find a quiet, private space where you have space to move around. In an ideal world we would all have a luxury yoga studio adjoining our houses, but in the absence of this find a space that works for you – it most likely won’t be perfect but that’s ok. It’s nice to add a candle which you might light whenever you practice, or some plants – making the space inviting adds a certain sense of ceremony for when you do practice and can make it feel extra relaxing.  

Use a yoga mat if you have one, or you can put a towel or rug down on the floor. A blanket and a cushion can be helpful to have handy to use to help you feel comfortable.  

Grounding and arriving:

Start off by lying on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can place your hands on your belly. Breathe in and out through your nose gently, without forcing anything, just feeling what comes naturally. Continue to breathe here for a couple of minutes, closing your eyes if you wish.  


This pose is great for bringing your attention back into the body and gently mobilising the spine. It is simple and quick and makes a huge difference to how your back feels! 

Come onto your hands and knees, with your hands under shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.  

Inhale and lift the tailbone and the chest, arching the back, feeling the collar bones open – this is “cow” pose. From here, exhale, rounding the spine, pushing the floor away with your hands, looking down at the floor, coming into “cat”.  

Continue to move through cat and cow, guided by the breath for 10 repetitions.  

Extended Child’s Pose: 

Child’s Pose

This pose is my go to for whenever I need to switch off and focus on my breath. Because of the inward energy a Child’s Pose creates, it works really well for calming anxious thoughts. It’s also a good stretch for the back, shoulders and hips.  

From your hands and knees, sit back onto your heels, with your forehead resting on the mat. Keep your arms outstretched in front of you, palms flat on the mat and feel a stretch under your shoulders. If your hips don’t easily rest back on your heels, placing a pillow or cushion under your hips can really help. Feel the breath move through the body and notice the upper back expanding with the inhale. Rest here for as long as you need – anywhere from 5 breaths to 15 minutes. 

Downward Facing Dog:

Downward Facing Dog

A yoga staple, this is an energising pose which stretches out the whole body.  

From extended Child’s Pose (above), come back up to all fours, then tuck your toes under, pressing through the hands and lift up your knees, coming into Downward Facing Dog. Bend your knees as much as you need to start with, keeping the back long. Once you are comfortable, straighten your legs, bringing the heels towards the floor. Gently roll the shoulders away from your ears and feel your shoulder blades down your back. Hold here for 3-5 breaths or longer if you feel comfortable. To come down, exhale, whilst bending your knees and lowering down to the floor.  

If you have time, you can repeat the sequence up to this point so far as many times as you like, depending on how long you have to practice. Following this, move on to the below:  

Bridge Pose:

Bridge Pose

This pose helps to open the chest muscles and increases mobility in the spine, and is great if you have been on the laptop for too long.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hands resting by your sides. Inhale and tip your pelvis forward slightly, press through your feet and lift your hips as high as is comfortable. Hold here for 3-5 breaths, pressing through your feet and engaging your glute muscles to support your hips. Slowly lower down, rolling down each vertebra at a time.  

Legs up the wall:

Legs up the wall

This pose is deeply restorative and rejuvenating perfect –  just before bedtime or whenever you need a rest.  

Sit sideways against a wall, then lie down and swing your legs up so that your legs are outstretched, your feet resting on the wall and your back is flat on the floor.  Get your hips as close as is comfortable to the wall. Rest your hands at the side of your body or on your belly. Close your eyes and rest here for as long as is comfortable, up to 10 minutes.  

Why not aim to try this sequence three times over the coming week? Commit to when you plan to do this in your diary at the start of the week, which will make you more likely to stick to your plan.  Making a note of how you feel at the start and end of the session and any improvements can be helpful.  

If you enjoyed this short sequence, please do get in touch and let us know how you got on. 

About Rachael:

Rachael Chrystal is the founder of Conscious Calm Yoga + Wellbeing. She helps individuals improve their health and wellbeing through an intuitive process using yoga and related practices and firmly believes that yoga is for all bodies regardless of ability or size.  Rachael also works with corporate organisations to help them to develop the wellbeing and happiness of their staff and clients, as well as teaching specialist public yoga classes in Manchester (currently online).  The rest of the time Rachael is busy working as an NHS GP, where her interest and expertise in helping people improve their health stems from.    

For more information or to join one of Rachael’s online classes, go to: www.consciouscalm.co.uk

Follow @consciouscalmyoga

Getting to Know Jessicarr Moorhouse: Doctor, Physiotherapist and Personal Trainer

Whether you’ve brought your trainers out of retirement, purchased a new mountain bike or woken up to the sound of PE with Joe Wicks over the past few weeks, chances are your attitude towards exercise has been affected by the Coronavirus crisis. 

Life under lockdown has brought even greater attention to the benefits of movement and physical activity and many of us have turned to cycling, walking and running to keep active outdoors. According to Sport England across the first six weeks of lockdown, 63% of people  found exercise to be pivotal to their mental wellbeing and many have turned to new health and wellness rituals to keep active whilst staying at home.

Not surprisingly, the fitness industry was one of the quickest to adapt to the UK’s quarantine measures and within a matter of days a swathe of home workouts, led by some of the country’s top personal trainers and fitness brands, were made readily available for people across the nation to get stuck into. From Instagram live HIIT classes, to Youtube yoga tutorials and virtual PE lessons, resources for at-home exercise have never been easier to access. 

Cue Jessicarr Moorhouse, a Manchester-based Doctor, Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer and Founder of TRIBE.MCR– an innovative health and wellness initiative specialising in group workouts, personal training sessions and specially curated corporate wellness programmes – who has been keeping her clients motivated throughout the crisis with her weekly workouts and impromptu fitness raves. 

Image: © Madeleine Penfold

Jessicarr established TRIBE.MCR in 2018 after deciding to take a step back from full-time medicine and pursue other career opportunities in the field of movement and exercise – two things that she has always been extremely passionate about. Building upon her extensive knowledge and time spent in hospitals learning about physiology, exercise prescription, gait analysis and postural assessment, Jess ventured into the fitness industry and gained her personal training accreditation, which then led her to create TRIBE.MCR. 

Image: © Madeleine Penfold

“It was about establishing a tool for helping people to feel good mentally and to be able to do that with meaning in an environment that felt inclusive,” explains Jessicarr. Rather than focus too much on the aesthetic outcomes of a fitness routine, the doctor-turned-personal trainer has an honest and holistic approach and is one the city’s biggest advocates of exercise that boosts people’s wellbeing and social connection to others.

Prior to lockdown, Jessicarr hosted weekly outdoor workout sessions in Manchester’s Sadler’s Yard situated near to Victoria train station, as well as weekend classes in the picturesque Marie Louise Gardens located the suburb of West Didsbury, and through hard work and a positive attitude, she has been able to establish a friendly and welcoming offering for anyone wanting to keep fit and look after their mental and physical wellbeing. 

Image: © Madeleine Penfold

Rather than an exclusive club for fitness fanatics and cardio converts, Jessicarr created TRIBE.MCR to show people how movement can be a medicine rather than just a way to lose weight or reach a new personal best. 

Over the past two years she has collaborated with a number of like-minded individuals to spread this message even further working with the likes of Sacha Lord, Manchester’s Night-Time Economy Advisor to offer free monthly group training sessions for those in sector; Photographer and Yoga Teacher Madeleine Penfold and Creative Strategist and DJ Alice Woods to curate Shake Your Soul, an event combining feel good moves, yoga flow and live music; and healthcare providers and charities such as Greater Manchester Moving and Manchester Cares, to engage with people of all abilities and ages. 

Like many others, Jessicarr has adapted her offering for the digital realm during lockdown, pivoting toward zoom workouts and sharing her own fitness routine via Instagram. She has also continued to work for the NHS, fitting locum shifts around her PT work, which has helped keep her busy and active amidst the ongoing crisis. 

TRIBE.MCR captured by Madeleine Penfold

“I personally find the public support fantastic, however the news and narrative around the pandemic is constant and can be stressful, there’s no respite, she explains.” And yet despite the current circumstances, Jessicarr is grateful to still be teaching and connecting with her clients and even thinks she could utilise these online platforms post-lockdown. With less commuting and rushing between appointments Jessicarr has also found time to establish some better eating habits, doing a weekly shop rather than eating on-the-go and grabbing takeaway coffees (though Greater Manchester does have some brilliant independent coffee shops, so we can’t blame her). 

Driven by her passion for movement and desire to make people feel good, Jessicarr also shared some of her wisdom for keeping mentally and physically active during lockdown. From embracing the warmer weather and getting outside, to making sure to always do a warm-up and warm-down when doing more vigorous exercise, she believes that now could be the perfect time to adopt a new exercise habit, as you can do as little or as much as you like.

Despite these uncertain times, Jessicarr continues to be a positive influence for her existing clients and those just starting out on their fitness journeys. A champion of movement as medicine and exercising for feel good vibes, we’re sure that she will continue to be force for good in Manchester’s wellness community during and post lockdown. 

To find out more about TRIBE.MCR and Jessicarr’s weekly workouts and one-to-one session visit the website here.

To book a session with Jessicarr visit her booking page here.

Words: Jenna Campbell

Instagram isn’t all that bad, is it?

Shahed Ezaydi discusses the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Instagram and how curating your own media streams could ensure that in the future we look to use social media platfroms as a tool for good.

Words: Shahed Ezaydi

It’s a funny old thing, Instagram. It is not honestly something I thought I would still be using in my mid-20s, or any form of social media for that matter. I first logged on to Instagram in 2013 and I genuinely thought it might just be another trend, like Bebo, that would be all the rage for a couple of years, and meet the same demise as its failed predecessors. But, here we are. We are approaching a brand-new decade and we are STILL obsessed with Instagram. I mean, I can count on one hand the people I know who are not on Instagram. They are a rarity and I wholeheartedly commend them for resisting the overwhelming tide of snaps and stories. 

Of course, Instagram (and social media in general) has garnered quite the bad reputation in recent years. And rightly so. We spend more and more of our time looking at screens and scrolling through various social media apps. We are being overloaded with content all the time, and this over-consumption has led to us as a society having to face some nasty truths. 

Instagram was highlighted a couple of years ago by the charity, Ditch the Label, as being the social media platform where cyber-bullying was most rife. As Instagram is an image-based platform, it makes sense that cyber-bullying and harassment would be more common on there – it has created a space where people can visually compare themselves with others. It could be centred in appearance or body image or maybe in showcasing the perfect social life.

By Make Room Zine

The endless scroll through Instagram feeds can also have a negative impact on our mental health. I know it certainly has for me in the past. I think we sometimes forget that Instagram is something a person carefully curates and only shows others what they choose for them to see. 

But, it’s not all bad. There are some positives to be gained from the world of Instagram. Although it has made me anxious and I do still sometimes find myself comparing my life to others, it has also had a positive impact on my state of mind. It has pushed me through some low points through just knowing that there are others who are feeling the same things that I’m feeling. The simple act of knowing that you are not alone is sometimes enough.

By Melody Hansen

The huge positive with Instagram is that it is such a necessary and needed tool for education and awareness. There are countless people, organisations, and platforms using Instagram for the good. To share knowledge and resources on topics and issues that I for one was never taught at school. From intersectionality, to the reality of fast fashion, to colonialism and our whitewashed history. Stories and narratives are shared and given a platform – one that the mainstream media might not have given them and consequently, I might not have heard or read these stories. It has educated me a great deal. I once read somewhere that our Instagram feed should be built up as though we are reading a magazine or a newspaper. So that when you are scrolling through, you pick up information about a wide range of topics and interests, and you gain something from your time on there. And this is definitely something I have tried to incorporate into my own digital feed.

They say with knowledge comes power. In this case it is not so much power, but I found that there was a need within myself to want to do something to help in some way. You learn about all the injustices and inequalities in the world, and for me, this education formed into a process of action. I have been able to use Instagram to talk and engage with different people and groups that I might not have had the chance to meet offline. For example, this is how I ended up joining SheFest – by coming across their Instagram account and seeing all the wonderful work they were doing locally in my own backyard.

By Rachel Cook

Like anything, Instagram comes packaged up with both good features and bad. Obviously, it shouldn’t be the one and only place we get our information and knowledge from. But it was such a useful entry point for me. You can uncover art and articles and organisations and campaigns, things you might not have seen or heard of otherwise, that can then lead you elsewhere (probably off Instagram) where you can learn more about the world. And really, isn’t that what all any of us want to do?

And so, here are some of my recommended Instagram accounts to follow that showcase perfectly how women in the North are taking action:

SheFest: A Sheffield based not-for-profit organisation that champions self-defining women’s rights and gender equality, through a whole host of inclusive events. They also run an annual fringe festival, in line with International Women’s Day, providing a female fronted addition to the North’s cultural calendar.

Aurelia Magazine: An online magazine based in Manchester/Liverpool that is dedicated to showcasing the personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences of women and non-binary people. 

Salvaged Project: Lauren, based in Sheffield, has created a community that both promotes second hand fashion (sells some really cool clothes!) and raises vital funds for projects working with those affected by war. 

Every Month: A Manchester based charity that provides free menstrual products to those living in poverty. Their period packs contain tampons, pads and a chocolate bar. Plus, their Instagram provides really useful and educational content around periods and period poverty.

Girl Gang: Spanning across the North, – in Sheffield, Manchester, and Leeds – Girl Gang has built up quite the community and hosts an array of events and workshops. They focus on inclusivity, creativity, and breaking down social barriers.

Love for the Streets: Based in Manchester and co-founded by Lily Fothergill, LFTS is a driving force for social change in young people. They aim “to empower 5.2 million young people to make an impact in their local community.” Their Instagram gives you a chance to see and learn from the work that they, and the young people they help, are doing.

Getting to Know: Kimberley Robinson Founder of Keep Real

Keep Real is a Yorkshire-based social enterprise devoted to promoting better mental health amongst young people. Founded in 2017, the brand has collaborated with a number of local organisations, run its first mental health workshop in Sheffield and now they are just weeks way from celebrating the first birthday on the 27th of July at Headrow House in Leeds, which is sure to be a fantastic night all in aid of a great cause. We asked founder of Keep Real, Kimberley Robinson, if she could write us a little something about herself and her enterprise to find out why raising awareness around mental health is so important to her and many others.

Continue reading “Getting to Know: Kimberley Robinson Founder of Keep Real”

Tyni song to make big change for music industry

“Blood stains; the deepest cut. Heartache and we’ve had enough. Shoot us down and we get back up” sings Tyni, a 22 year old singer from Sheffield. The lyrics mark the beginning of a collaboration between Tyni and the leading independent music charity, Help Musicians UK (HMUK).

Continue reading “Tyni song to make big change for music industry”