Positivity must win out.

As the news coverage is consumed by the fallout from Oxfam’s handling of sexual misconduct cases in Haiti during its 2011 post-earthquake relief efforts, which has followed hot on the heels of the Presidents Club exposé, it feels charity and society in general is sitting in the middle of an existential crisis.

The UK has always had a strong relationship with charity; whether that’s throwing some coins in a bucket, volunteering at a project, setting up a direct debit, running a marathon or offering a stranger help in the aftermath of a public tragedy – as a nation we love to help. However, it feels like charities are under more scrutiny than ever and our relationship with giving is changing.

As a company we work really hard to bring positivity and enthusiasm to the work we do, elevating the charities we work with and celebrating the difference they make. When something comes along that questions the public’s trust in charity giving, it impacts the entire sector. No one wins.

Our commitment to charity started on day one. I founded EastofEden to promote talent-led, brand-awareness and engagement campaigns for charities. Our campaigns and events are grounded in positivity and celebrating the amazing achievements made. We’ve worked with international charities who promote volunteering for young people, through to health charities who are shining a light on an issue that can devastate lives if not caught early enough. No matter what the cause – it should be highlighted and celebrated. With everything that’s happened, we’ve looked at how we approach what we do and are firm in our position that positivity must win out.

Giving is good. It makes a real difference to people’s lives and we need to celebrate that. Yes, elements of the sector require change, culturally or otherwise, but fundamentally we give because we know we can play a part in changing someone’s life for the better.

Time to Talk

Today is Time to Talk Day, an initiative from mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, aimed at breaking the silence around mental health. Organisations and individuals up and down the country are helping to spread the word about this fantastic initiative and with great reason to. On our doorstep, Huckle the Barber has been offering free tea, coffee and donuts this morning for anyone who just wants to pop in for a chat. It’s really inspiring to see.

Despite one in four people in the UK being affected by mental health issues, talking about them openly is still a taboo subject. It is frankly outrageous that a society such as ours – world-leaders in all kinds of of medical research and treatment – can’t grasp mental health as a comfortable subject.

Whether it’s something that impacts an individual’s self-esteem, relationships or completely dictates someone’s day-to-day life, mental health problems can be debilitating to both the sufferer and those around them; it’s time to talk.

Ultimately, mental health is personal. It’s the most personal thing we have. Your mental makeup defines you and is the core of who you are. Of course, the idea of sharing can be daunting and should always be a personal choice, however the bigger issue is that as a society we don’t make it the norm to talk about mental health and as such the acceptance isn’t there.

We should do more to encourage people to talk, not to retreat. Let’s make a change. Let’s lose the throwaway phrases that mean we don’t have to deal with what might be going on. Let’s replace the comment about your friend being “too sensitive”, “volatile”, “lairy”, “antisocial” or a “recluse” and replace them with something simple. “How are you feeling mate?” or “Are you OK?”

#timetotalk

#SmearForSmear

As part of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, today we see the launch of the #SmearForSmear campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and encourage women to attend smear tests.

Now, let’s get this out of the way first – cancer does not discriminate. Anyone who’s had a loved one suffer from any form of cancer will tell you that it’s harsh, destructive and incredibly cruel, yet, if caught early enough it is treatable and a potentially harrowing journey can be stopped in its tracks.

1 in 4 women in the UK don’t attend their scheduled smear tests and that drops to 1 in 3 for women between 25 and 29. This needs to change.  A study from the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that embarrassment was a key reason for not getting tested.

Whether male or female, the prospect of letting someone clinically analyse your bits and bobs can be daunting and can feel embarrassing, but just remember, they couldn’t care less! Doctors and nurses aren’t there to pass judgement or criticise; when it comes to smear test, their job is to potentially save your life.

Get tested. Be safe. Be happy.

Simple.