A 19-Year-Old Journalism Student at Newcastle University has published her debut poetry book, ‘Cool, Cruel World‘ on Amazon Books, which discusses the ‘melancholia’ behind tragic images of womanhood.
The poetry book written by young writer, Iona May Todd, discusses ‘trials and tribulations of femininity, with the themes of growth, freedom, and sexuality, of a woman’s experiences,’ according to the book’s description.
Featuring 21 poems across the span of 31 pages, poems such as ‘Pink Bathroom Tiles’ and, ‘I’m So Cool, I’m Dead,’ use blue tones and melancholic images to discuss one perspective of confinement in womanhood.
This book by the writer is hoped to be the first of many. Her second, literary fiction novel already completed, she is currently seeking representation once more.
Tell Me About It spoke to Todd about how her debut book. “I’ve been building up a repertoire of poetry for years now, and I think lockdown gave me the push I needed to finally do something about it,” Todd said. “Creating images is what I love, and I want to really make people think about themes that are important to me, that being the tribulations of womanhood on this occasion.”
“I self-published a fictional novel on Amazon called ‘North of Kent’ when I was thirteen, but I was young and naive at the time,” Todd continued. “Although I’m glad that I did it, it’s now that feels like the right time to start releasing the years worth of work which I cherish like a baby, because I feel like it represents the truest parts of me.”
Todd continues to look for representation for her second book.
After revised guidelines, pregnant women are now allowed a ‘support person’ of their choice at scans, during labour and at birth.
Since the pandemic, many pregnant women have been expected to undergo their pregnancy journey alone, though new guidance reports that, “Pregnant women value the support from a partner, relative, friend or other person through pregnancy and childbirth as it facilitates emotional wellbeing and is a key component of safe and personalised maternity care.”
These new measures instruct trusts to facilitate that women should have “access to support at all times during their maternity journey.”
New decisions on access are to be left to maternity staff to decide, in order to keep COVID levels as reduced as possible.
Earlier this year, a petition to allow partners at birth in all hospitals was launched to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, to urge this new change, and has since seen almost 600,000 signatures.
NCT, the UK’s leading charity for parents, released a statement saying, “We appreciate how important it is that maternity staff are kept safe and are pleased to see NHS trusts urged to use testing capacity and other strategies to help mitigate infection risks.”
“We encourage everyone involved – trusts, care providers, pregnant women, their partners and parents of newborns – to work together and take all the care they can to keep themselves and others safe,” the charity added.
Tell Me About It spoke to a pharmacy student from Houghton, Lara Barron, 19, on what she thinks of the new guidance. “Women, especially if it is their first time [giving birth], need to give birth in a comfortable environment, and having someone there who they love can put them at ease…The role of a birthing partner is pain relief in itself.”
“Birth involves two main people – the mother and the father. It is vital they are both present,” Barron added. “Women can become lonely or stressed when left to give birth alone, and this can make a negative experience, and that should never be the case.”
Tell Me About It also spoke to Jade McLauchlin, a dance teacher, who is a mother and 30 weeks pregnant with her new baby girl. “Being this far along myself, the news has come at the perfect time and I am now not as scared for labour.”
“It’s terrifying enough without the added pressure of having to do it by yourself,” she added. “Not only have too many women had to go through one of the most painful and stressful situations in life alone without any support, but fathers have lost out on one of the greatest moments in theirs.”
McLauchlin is also raffling her house, where, once all tickets are sold, she plans to give £10,000 to Tiny Lives Trust, a trust which gives support to premature and sick newborn babies, and their families.
Tell Me About It also spoke to Kalen Neilson, 19, Jade McLauchlin’s brother, and uncle to the new baby. Take a look at the clip below on how this news affect his family home.
Ironically, it is those we have been striving to protect the most, who seem to be suffering more than anybody else this Christmastime.
The British Red Cross recently released statistics stating a, “sharp rise in the number of people who are too lonely to cope with the Covid-19 crisis,” with, “35% of UK adults concerned their loneliness will become significantly worse.”
“You can be too old for a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid,” – Marley, Home Alone (1990).
What might a grandparent suffering from loneliness look like?:
● They feel unseen, and unheard ● Social isolation may have lead to a lack in meaningful relationships – read more about the difference between social isolation and loneliness, here. ● It has been some time since they have had any meaningful conversation with someone ● They have little people around to speak too/spend time with
On March 23rd, 83-year-old Doreen Shaw sat in her usual spot on the sofa, tapping for her tea to go tepid before sipping it. It was her last tea-bag, you know, got to make the most of that last one. Pursing her lips to blow against the steam, with one fragile fingertip she turned the volume to high, watching alongside the nation, to Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
And the first thing she thought was – ‘How I am going to get out for my tea-bags?’
Marmalade Trust, a charity dedicated to supporting those loneliest in society, reported that, “This year has been particularly difficult…It has exposed more people than we could have imagined to the experience and concept of loneliness.”
“I didn’t leave the house for four months,” Doreen told Tell Me About It. “That’s hard work.”
Tipping Point at 4pm. The Chase at 5pm. Then it goes the news, to Emmerdale, to Corrie, and the day starts again for Good Morning Britain starting at 6am. And it stays like that, the same times, the same day, over and over again.
Doreen sat, in her usual spot, in some sick kind of Groundhog Day – one where the air outside was toxic and the people were diseases. The once inundation of visitors she had once experienced daily had stopped, and just like we all know too well, Coronavirus does not say a jolly goodbye just for Christmas.
“I live in a street, and we’re all elderly people here. We have benches outside our houses, where people pass us coming home from the shops. Since the shops have opened up for Christmas, we have them passing, to wave and chat too, that helps a lot.”
“I read my magazines, I watch the television. What else is there for me to do when no one is allowed round?” Mrs Shaw added. “I can’t get out for my food and it gets difficult just being stuck – all I can do is rely on people.”
“And now, at Christmastime, we elderly people must be careful. After this year, and the risks, I think now I’d prefer just to be left alone. I don’t want to think about it, because it’s so hard to believe it’s happening. Something has just gone so wrong.”
“There’s nothing around here for us to do. I can’t go out the house by myself, because I kept falling down, but now I can’t even go out with a friend or a relative even if I wanted too.”
“You’d feel pretty sad if you woke up tomorrow and you didn’t have a family,” – Kate McCallister, Home Alone (1990).
How might you help a grandparent suffering from loneliness this Christmas time?:
● Hold holiday Zoom calls ● Send homemade gifts to older family members, like Christmas cakes, or Yuletide biscuits – anything to brighten their day ● Invite an elderly family member out for a socially distanced walk ● Register an act of kindness on charity page Re-Engage ● Volunteer as a ‘Telephone Befriender,’ here
“The worst thing that could happen is if we go into another lockdown,” Mrs. Shaw added. “So we must rely that the young people are abiding by the rules, for the sake of all of us.”
If you are feeling lonely this Christmas time, please find help below:
This is fine, this is normal. “I can’t eat that, I’m eating healthy.” “I can’t eat today, I haven’t earned it.” “I can only eat foods I love on my cheat day.” Have you heard it? Said it? Thought it?
And I kept thinking I’m fine – this is normal, please just believe me, I can’t eat that, I can’t eat that, I’m like anyone else, ask them, they think the same thing, I swear, I promise, I even checked my TikTok, and I saw a video of this girl. Talking about it now, it sounds like the start of some shit joke. “Doctor: You have tested positive for Coronavirus, you may lose a lot of weight…” “Me: but *emoji* skinny *emoji*.”
I didn’t know that I needed to protect that part of me. I never knew that if I stopped eating, worked out for three hours a day, I could develop ovarian cysts. I could erode my teeth. I could make my heart just
Stop, wait, but I was falling. Yeah, I was climbing metal stairs and I fell. Wait, no, I fainted. I fainted. Thin skin ripped when I bounced on the floor. But, no, honestly, I can’t be starving, my stomach lining can’t be eating itself, because I saw another TikTok video, of another girl. I did! “Me telling myself: From today I’m gonna starve a little cause I wanna get SKINNY!!!”
This is called diet culture.
I know you’ve heard it. I know you see it happen. According to Isa Robinson Nutrition, diet culture can be defined as ‘valuing thinness,’ putting a, ‘socially constructed ideal of beauty above our health and wellness.’ And if you are reading this, if you are to take anything away from this piece, may it be this.
Diet culture managed to manipulate my tongue, my mouth, stomach and mind. I didn’t even realise. Have you?
Only now, do I notice the language of diet culture seeping into the sides of our society, and the stitches holding in Pro-Ana (pro-anorexia) communities are busting. Social media is playing a dangerous role in the survival of these communities.
I can scroll for miles and miles. I read the comment sections of TikTok’s of dancing girls and I can’t help but to think what this platform is doing to the precious parts of people – damaging the outlook that food is fuel. That being skinny is scintillating. “I was going to eat today, but now I’m not,” or, “I wish I was that skinny – I breathe air and I’m fat.” I could be out for a meal and a friend would tell me, “I can’t stand next to you, you’re too skinny.” I could even listen to ‘Prom Queen’ by Beach Bunny and hear, “Shut up, count your calories.” This is the diet culture language we intake daily. Did you recognise it?
I remember watching Skins Gen 1, watching how Cassie would give tips on how to eat without actually eating. I remember watching Netflix’s ‘Dare Me,’ where in episode 2, the ‘chew-and-spit’ sign of disordered eating was shown voicelessly onscreen. And it made me think, wait. Wait, other people are thinking this?
YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN YOUR WEIGHT. YOU ARE WORTH THREE MEALS A DAY. YOU ARE WORTH SNACKS. YOU ARE WORTH MEALS OUT WITH FRIENDS. YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN ENOUGH TO ENJOY YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS IN LIFE.
Food is our main energy source which helps us live the days we are blessed with.
Communities such as ‘#eatingdisorderrecovery’ on Instagram, focus on the side of those struggling with eating disorders – forever acknowledging that disorders are not dependent on weight, but on how they can attack mental wellbeing into villainising food enough to forget that carbohydrates are but the main source of energy, to fuel our brain, kidneys, nervous system.
Diet culture cons us into believing proteins are scary, forgetting they allow the repair of muscles, helping to coordinate bodily functions.
Fruit and vegetables give us fibre, vitamins, minerals. They allow us to be the best versions of ourselves we recognise. They do not will us harm.
The normalisation of eating disorders is one trend which must not be fuelled. We must not allow the perspective of social standards to dictate the strife in life which we strive so to be successful in.
We are worth eating birthday cake with those we love the most. I promise this is safe. I promise it won’t hurt you. You will be safe in trusting your body. I promise that seeking any kind of help can replace these disordered thoughts which have penetrated our health.
In the meantime, what we can do for those struggling is reinstate that no matter the body type we have been blessed with, it is ours to protect. To keep safe. The women, who have ovaries to protect, rivers of blood to nourish. The men, who have throbbing hearts to defend, tangles of nervous systems to nurture, puzzles of organs to feed. I have miles and miles of skin sown in silk, seeking to hold the person I love.
It is so important not to let diet culture win. It is so important to allow ourselves the foods we love. To bless our bodies with a break, because all that frame does is give. We are deserving, and so are you.
Hartlepool Giving Tree, an online platform where people pledge to donate a Christmas gift for a child or young adult, many of whom have escaped domestic abuse, has raised over 160,000 gifts, and counting.
Due to the pandemic, the organisation decided to move the campaign online. According to Middleton Grange, the campaign originally expected for ‘1,500 gifts to be donated. Just 10 days later, this total sits at 104,829.’
The charity organisation has raised so many gifts this Christmas, that they are now working the charities across the UK to provide for less fortunate children.
Generous people select a ‘tag’ from the website, where the are told what a child – who has fled their home, and left their possessions behind – would like for Christmas.
The volunteers at The Giving Tree then match the item with children across the UK by ‘liaising with organisations and charities they are working with.’
Mark Rycraft, the founder of the organisation said, “We have been blown away by the success of this campaign, and we are incredibly grateful that the town, the country, and, it seems, the world has come together to support these amazing charities.”
“The Giving Tree is a campaign that allows us to work together as one,” Rycraft went on, “to alleviate the stress our fellow neighbours may have on their shoulders – and in a year as difficult as this one has been, this has never been more important.”
The scheme for 2020 has been so big, that the charity has seen donations from as far reaching as the US.
Hartlepool Carers, a community created to improve the lives of carers in Hartlepool and the surrounding areas, work in partnership with The Giving Tree. Tell Me About It spoke to Jenni, an IAG worker at Hartlepool Carers, asking why this scheme is so important.
“Every single one of our young carers will get at least one present – probably more…We’ve contacted a few charities and schools as Hartlepool Carers and Harbour, the women’s refuge charity who the Giving Tree were originally working alongside, now have more than enough for those who need it.”
“We’ll prioritise the families we know who struggle the most,” Jenni added. “We have three warehouses full of donations, with Amazon continuing to deliver daily. Some of our workers will go through the donations, and then staff will do the deliveries.”
“It’s a bit of a mission as we only have two weeks to do it, with 8 staff members, but it’s so worthwhile.”
Tell Me About It spoke to Emily Fellows, 22, a nursery nurse who donated to two children. “This could be their first Christmas not living at home, Covid has made Christmas hard enough as it is let alone for these families.”
“Some of the children are too young to understand,” Fellows added.
Tell Me About It also spoke to Annika Wile, who donated a to a Girl, 4 years old, who’d asked for a ‘Trolls’ gift from Santa. “It is not just giving a child a gift, but it’s giving them hope that someone out there does care about them.”
“It will give them a sense of belonging and kindness that should always be shown, and it’s even more important at Christmastime, Wile added. “It’s really amazing to know how many lives will be benefitted by the tree.”
The Hartlepool Giving Tree is still accepting donations for children by visiting their website, selecting a tag, and sending your gift to the address provided.
Let’s see if we can make it to 200,000!
What do you think about this campaign? Have you donated this Christmastime? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
Eastenders Actress and Strictly Come Dancing talent, Maisie Smith, has posted a collage of paparazzi photos to her Instagram, highlighting her major insecurities with her legs.
Posted on Wednesday 26th November, the 19 year old star captioned that posting this was an attempt to “help other people feel more confident about their own insecurities.”
“YOU ARE FRIGGING BEAUTIFUL,” Smith added into her caption.
According to statistics by Good Housekeeping, ‘61% of 10-17 year olds in the UK have low self-esteem.’
In an article published by Huffpost, it was supposed that social media had been linked to ‘higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism, and decreased social skills,’ all of which ultimately create a negative impact upon self-esteem.
Hannah Watson, 18, a self-proclaimed Strictly enthusiast, spoke to Tell Me About It on her response to Maisie’s post. “She is reminding us that it’s okay to have doubts about yourself, even celebrities do, but it doesn’t mean you can’t overcome those doubts and be happy with yourself in the future.”
Tell Me About It also spoke to Astrid Longhurst, founder of The Institute for Body Confidence Coaching, and author of ‘Romancing Your Body,’ a guide into falling in love with your body. “Maisie highlights the struggle that so many women have about their bodies, and yet she broke though her own body barriers…This is huge!”
“It cannot be underestimated the courage it takes to do something like this,” Longhurst added. “This strikes a deep heartfelt chord with every woman who has ever tried to hide their body because they felt it wasn’t good enough in some way.”
“This is the feeling that all of us are looking for,” Longhurst went on, “that fabulous sense of being able to wear our body proudly.”
Charly Stakim, 22, a model, personal trainer, artist, and known as ‘@thebodyconfidenceartist‘ on Instagram, took lockdown as her opportunity to paint beautifully artistic portraits of nude women. “I think Maisie’s post is SO important. Women don’t often see people’s ‘bad angles’ and instead see a photo-shopped, unattainable versions of what society sees as beauty. We need to learn to love our bodies – here, today, now.”
“For my personal training,” Stakim added, “I purposely don’t use before and after photos…this allows people to focus on how they feel, their health and their strength rather than looking like a random girl they found on Instagram.”
Chlo Hodgkinson, 24, a content creator who promotes self love and positivity on her YouTube channel, also spoke to Tell Me About It on this subject. “The more girls that talk about it and normalise it, the better!…Just a simple post that allows girls to feel like they aren’t alone makes such a huge difference to their confidence and their day.”
“Women in the public eye can often be seen as ‘having it all’ and girls compare lives, so seeing someone like Maisie posting realness helps other females feel like they aren’t alone,” Hodgkinson added. “It’s about knowing that even the days we don’t feel great or spot on, we’re still okay!”
If you are struggling with low self-esteem, you are not alone.
Sarah Louise, 31, of SarahLousKitchen is a home chef living in Newcastle, who 5 years ago began her lifestyle journey into fitness and food.
The Independent described her as “brash without offence, down to earth and homely, yet at the same time brutal, wise and enviable all in one. You literally get what you see with Sarah and that’s the beauty of her and what she’s created. How could you not love it?”, and Tell Me About It was able to hear all about Sarah’s journey, first-hand.
I spoke to Sarah, where we discussed how being in an unhealthy mindset can be the start to an unhealthy impact on the body. 5 years on, feeling the best version of herself, Sarah has created a platform for like-minded people, dedicated to sharing a community focused on health and wellness.
SarahLousKitchen gives you the ingredients to get started with your own healthy recipes from sultry Sweetcorn and Courgette Fritters to gorgeous Garlic Chicken Courgetti, mixing in private cooking classes which users can book in advance, adding a dashing consort of her community to help people settle into a healthier lifestyle, post-pandemic.
Healthy high-street restaurant and takeaway, NU TO GO, has been providing the North East Ambulance Service Trust with nutritious food across the period of Covid-19.
The NHS initially approached NU TO GO in 2019, interested in a partnership to supply food to the North East Ambulance Service Trust during working hours, and has occupied their on-site cafe since.
Due to impacts of Covid, NU TO GO has seen marketplace sales “plummet”, though with demand to provide for the NHS ever-increasing.
Tell Me About It spoke to Darren Appleton, 30, who owns NU TO GO alongside his partner. “We’re on the floor…just like any other restaurant at the minute,” Appleton told us. “Sales have naturally dropped, but we’re still delivering to the NHS.”
“We offer food to the key workers, front-line staff, paramedics, 999 and 111 call centres from our onsite cafe,” Appleton continued, “And we then deliver food and drink to NHS Trust sites all across the North East.”
In July 2020, the UK Government announced their ‘Better Health‘ Scheme – unveiled in an attempt to urge the public to lose weight through frequent exercise, and eating healthier food. This was done in order to protect the public from Covid, and to protect the NHS simultaneously.
In this report, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this statement: “If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against Coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”
In results from Statistica, it was reported that 20% of Brits had began eating healthier diets since the beginning of lockdown in March.
Appleton went on to discuss NU TO GO’s popular meal prep service, which has seen an increase in sales over this time.
“Our food trucks would visit business parks every day in order to provide healthy food for office workers. Now they are off the road, businesses have purchased our meal plans available at our website, where we deliver food to houses twice a week, allowing healthy eating from home.”
NU TO GO offers balanced, vegetarian and vegan options, included with macro information. They offer curbside collection from their Gateshead store, as well as delivery which you can order from their website.
Emma Minto, 38, a teacher in Newcastle, told Tell Me About It on how NU TO GO is significant to her lifestyle. “I love their food…they have such good variety that you don’t feel deprived, or like you’re missing out on anything. I like how it doesn’t make me feel bloated or sluggish afterward, unlike a normal takeaway.”
Tell Me About It also spoke to Fresh Prepare, a meal prep and takeaway service in the Washington, who also provide balanced options to the public at this time, macro and calorie counted for a quick, takeaway meal of, “cleaned up classics without the guilt.”
Gareth Walker, 37, director at Fresh Prepare, discussed this year as being a demanding one. “Whilst we’ve seen less of a demand for meal prep, we’ve seen a lot more demand for takeaways. There’s been a lot of changes in the marketplace.”
“A lot more people have been at home this year,” Walker went on, “being a lot more sedentary than normal, so a healthy diet combined with exercise even at home, can be very beneficial. But if that takeaway option was preferred, we provide that, minus the guilt.”
You can contact Fresh Prepare on their website, where they provide 20% off for new subscribers. You can also order Fresh Prepare for delivery, through their trusted partners on Just Eat and UberEats.
You can contact NU TO GO through their website, or order online. You can also order NU TO GO on UberEats
Co-founder of Our Streets Now, Gemma Tutton, has launched the #CrimeNotCompliment campaign, which calls for all forms of public sexual harassment to become a criminal offence.
The campaign is set to change attitudes towards “women, girls, and marginalised genders” being, “followed, shouted at, touched, groped and grabbed.”
Our Streets Now is working in partnership with Plan International UK in this mission. Plan International reported on statistics from a survey conducted, revealing that 51% of women and girls over the summer had experienced public sexual harassment in some capacity.
Tell Me About It also conducted a recent poll on Instagram, finding that a staggering 88% of followers had experienced public sexual harassment in Newcastle.
According to Citizen’s Advice, sexual harassment is defined as, “unwanted behavior of a sexual nature which: violates your dignity, makes you feel intimidated, creates a hostile or offensive environment…”.
Sam Thomson, Engagement Officer at Survivor’s Trust UK spoke to Tell Me About It on this matter. “All forms of sexual violence, including public sexual harassment, can be incredibly traumatic for a victim-survivor of all genders and ages,” Thomson told us.
“Yet, unfortunately, experiences of sexual harassment can be invalidated and minimised by our media and legal frameworks,” Thomson continued. “Knowing that legislation could be put into place to help more members of society recognise the damage and severity of public sexual harassment is a welcome step forward in supporting victims and/or survivors of sexual violence.”
Tell Me About It also talked to Katie Merrington, 19, a student at Northumbria University, about how public sexual harassment severely affects her in daily life. Listen all about it in the Podcast Episode 2, below.
In a report published in 2019, by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on sexual harassment in public places for women and girls, it stated how they recognised the “rigid gender stereotypes” which can hold back “women and men at work and in society, and can create an environment that enables and normalises sexual harassment.”
This report went to state further how the Government Equalities Office (GEO) would take “initial exercise to explore which method or methods would work best to raise awareness and tackle harmful norms that can lead to sexual harassment.”
If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual abuse and are looking for support, you can contact these helplines –
Welcome to the Episode 1 of Tell Me About It’s Podcast. This week, I journeyed into a case study, asking the question, ‘How Does Meditation Affect The Human Body Over a 30 Day Period?’.
Using Kalen Neilson’s experience over these 30 days, guided by spiritual practitioner, Jake Maloy, together, we discussed what meditation is, what it does to us, and just why it is there for our daily use.
Take a listen to the podcast below, and hear what Neilson and Maloy had to tell me about.