How important is office design for productivity?

Maximising productivity is really concerned with getting the best from your workforce, or from yourself if you work at home. This translates into making sure the environment is easy to navigate and conducive to helping employees to enjoy what they do, as then they will do it better. In this respect, the physical environment is just as important for morale as the smooth running of systems and procedures. Here are a few things to bear in mind when aiming to boost productivity through office design.

Fit for purpose

The design elements you choose should be appropriate for both the type of business undertaken and the age and character of the property. Then you need to consider how many members of staff are to be accommodated and how efficient their physical position is in terms of day-to-day operations. There would be little point in locating a staff canteen, for instance, at the far end of a building from the kitchens, and in just the same way, employees who need to communicate frequently are better placed in reasonably close proximity to one another.

Along with good air quality and low noise levels, the availability of natural light is an important feature of employee wellbeing. Poor lighting can cause eyestrain, fatigue and headaches. Dark spaces can result in irritability and even depression.

Décor and furniture

Paler colours are said to convey a sense of airiness and light. Warmer tones such as reds, oranges and yellows are supposedly associated with creativity, while cooler hues (blues, greens and purples) are said to create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere. Think of using these colours in appropriate spaces; for example, cooler hues in a chill-out zone for busy employees or in a guest waiting area, where all you really need in terms of furnishings are some comfortable chairs, an elegant coffee table and perhaps an attractive potted plant.

These days, office furniture tends towards more ergonomic designs, particularly chairs and desks, the better to keep workers healthy and avoid problems such as repetitive stress injury (RSI). Just like adapting design elements to the characteristics of the workforce, or your own preferences if working from home, furniture should reflect the tasks to be carried out and follow recommended best practice. This means considering desk height and selecting adjustable chairs plus any accessories required by those spending a lot of time in front of computer monitors – for example, protective screens or footrests. Standard health and safety regulations should be followed and sensible precautions taken.


Last but not least, storage areas need to be considered if you want to keep your productivity levels high. These should be tailored to the nature of the office work and might include some or all of storage for paper, equipment, computer peripherals and other basic supplies. Again, try to make sense of the location and keep items close to where they will be needed.

If you can get these ingredients to work together successfully, either at home or in your place of work, you will be rewarded with increased productivity and a happy workforce, yourself included.

Gloria Jones launches fundraising plans

Marc Bolan School of Music’s Money to Bring Music and Dance to Sierra Leone Children

The Marc Bolan School of Music has revealed its efforts to raise £40,000 and its plans to build an inspirational new music and dance school in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

All funds raised will be shared with the British Red Cross to continue to combat the Ebola crisis in the region.

Gloria Jones, the 1970s Motown sensation who appeared in the Oscar winner “20 Feet from Stardom”, Marc Bolan’s partner and co-founder of the Light of Love Foundation UK, the organisation set up to raise funds for The Marc Bolan School of Music, said, “I am passionate about bringing the chance to embrace music and dance to the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised people, in a place that I hold so fondly in my heart, Sierra Leone, West Africa. We need to raise over £40,000 to build the school and to support The British Red Cross to help them continue to fight the Ebola crisis.”

Gloria Jones launches fundraising plans

Gloria Jones launches fundraising plans

Gloria joined forces with Jed Dmochowski, a singer-songwriter, to create the fundraising initiative in Marc Bolan’s name. Supporting the cause is Bolans Architects, based in South London, who revealed the plans and designs for the school which will include an outdoor film school, music rooms, musical instruments, classrooms, a community cinema and a library.

Jed said, “We are all so passionate about giving the children of Sierra Leone an opportunity to create an inspiring and motivating environment that will give them a sense of security and purpose. The students will be nurtured by teachers who will give them faith in their abilities, in the value of childhood and learning. The music and poetry of Marc Bolan will live on.”

Lanre Falase, Architect, Bolans Architects, revealed the plans for the school and highlighted the unique design. He said, “We are delighted to offer our professional design services free-of-charge to the Marc Bolan School of Music initiative in Sierra Leone. The school has been designed with community in mind, using a creative structure to enhance the practicalities of each room, including an open-air amphitheatre. The materials recommended are practical, functional and sensitive to the surroundings. The school will be a wonderful place for the children to learn.”

The Light of Love Foundation has launched a fundraising website at

For more information about the school, visit

The vital role of strong leadership when a business faces a crisis

The most successful, strong leaders have the ability to appreciate the events going on for what they are and make the best choice for the organisation, not for themselves. They have an excellent eye for detail, and are able to consider multiple options while putting together a strategy for handling the problem. Strong leaders are calm and positive. They take ownership of the problem, whatever it is, but have the ability to work with others to form a solution and the decisiveness to take risks, admit mistakes and make difficult choices.

The human touch

In some circumstances, handling a business crisis really comes down to doing the right thing, the human thing, while also thinking of the welfare of the entire company. Noted for its exceptional treatment of its employees, Starbucks was faced with the unthinkable in 1997 when three employees in Washington, DC were killed during the course of a robbery. Faced with such a terrible tragedy, the company’s CEO, Howard Schultz, chose to fly to DC himself, spending time with the families of those lost, as well as with the employees of the store.

Another great example involves Toro, a company that manufactures lawnmowers, trimmers and other equipment used in landscaping and golf course management. In the late 1980s, Toro was experiencing a lot of financial turmoil, mostly due to lawsuits; the company was experiencing an average of 100 lawsuits involving serious injuries every year. After Ken Melrose was appointed CEO, a change was made in the handling of lawsuits that not only cut costs, but improved the image of the company. Under Melrose’s direction, Toro began sending a representative of the company to meet with the injured party and their family, providing sympathy and assistance in person. The results were impressive, indeed; since 1991, the company has had only a single lawsuit.

Leadership in adversity

Max Mosley, former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), was truly tested during his tenure in office. As the head of the body that oversees Formula One racing, Mosley had to lead the organisation during a critical crisis: the tragic death of beloved Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna in 1994. That grim weekend resulted in numerous safety measures and track changes that may have saved thousands of lives. Under Mosley’s direction, crash testing became stricter and the driving speeds were reduced. Barriers were improved from the straw bales of the past and helmets became safer, more regulated. Many of the circuits were modified in cooperation with European governments and institutions, and the cars themselves saw design modifications to improve safety. The openness to safety changes and progress that Mosley began during his tenure have continued today, as seen during the recent Jules Bianchi crash in Japan. Max Mosley’s books allow him to continue to make his strong voice of leadership and experience heard in the F1 world.

Being a strong leader may come naturally to you, or it may be a skill you have worked hard to build and foster. When confronted with adversity in your business, having the confidence to approach the crisis with strength and confidence will enable you to handle it in effective, and at times unique, ways.

BBC Radio DJ Sara Cox and Teapot Trust Founder

BBC Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox, a supporter of Scottish charity the Teapot Trust, visited Great Ormond Street Hospital on Thursday 29 January, to meet the charity’s founder Laura Young.


Sara Cox with Teapot Trust founder Laura Young

Sara Cox with Teapot Trust founder Laura Young


The Teapot Trust was founded by Laura Young and her husband John in 2010, after seeing the gaps in the care of their daughter Verity, who suffered from Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) and also cancer before her tragic death in 2009, aged just eight years old.

Since then, they have provided art therapy to hospitals throughout Scotland. In November 2014, the Teapot Trust was invited to start providing art therapy to children in the Rheumatology Ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London – the first time that the charity has worked outside of Scotland.

Since it began its work at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Teapot Trust appears to have had a positive impact on the lives of many of the children on this ward who have taken part in the therapy.


Laura Young meets a child who has taken part in art therapy

Laura Young meets a child who has taken part in art therapy


Dr Clarissa Pilkington, Lead Rheumatology Consultant at GOSH and President of the British Society of Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology (BSPAR) said, “We have been delighted with the input of the Teapot Trust’s art therapist in our clinics.

“Rheumatology is one of the least well-known of the hospital’s specialisms, and is often side-lined in service provision by better-known diseases.

“Our patients are often on very strong drugs with lifelong and sometimes life-limiting conditions.

“The art therapy has been a great support for the children and their families, giving an alternative focus to their visit to hospital so it’s not just about seeing me, having blood tests and their treatment regime.”

Since its inception the Trust has grown rapidly, and now provides art therapy to children in five Scottish hospitals – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and one hospice at Kinross, as well as Great Ormond Street Hospital.


Art therapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Art therapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital


Sara Cox, speaking about her support of the Teapot Trust, said, “I first met Laura when I judged Tesco Mum of the Year, and was delighted that she won the Tesco Charitable Mum of the Year award.

“Laura really is an inspirational person – there’s a huge amount of sadness in her story, but also a lot of optimism because she has turned her adversity into an advantage for others.

“Art therapy is so valuable because it proves a great distraction and something else to remember from hospital apart from their appointments, and pictures they can show off and talk about.”

“I know that Laura and the team will continue to provide this vital service, and I’ll continue to support them in their work.”


Laura Young with Lead Reumatology Consultant Dr Clarissa Pilkington

Laura Young with Lead Reumatology Consultant Dr Clarissa Pilkington


Laura Young, who lives in East Lothian, Scotland with husband John and daughters Nina and Isla, said, “I have to thank Sara for her ongoing support of the Teapot Trust, as well as Dr Pilkington for her very kind words and collaboration with our art therapist.

“In 2015, we are reaching out to as many sick children as we can, so we’re going to need all the help we can get.”

The Teapot Trust needs £250,000 each year to run all of its services. It employs over a dozen sessional staff and has an administrator, all of whom Laura leads to fulfil the charity’s objectives.

Key links:

The Teapot Trust:

Great Ormond Street Hospital:

British Society of Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology (BSPAR)

Film of Sara Cox meeting Laura Young from the Teapot Trust:


Life Changes Trust Plans on a New Scotland

The Life Changes Trust charity was established with a £50 million endowment by the Big Lottery Fund to invest in ways which will transform the lives of people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.

Today the Trust publishes its Business Strategy, which sets out the Trust’s investment approach to achieve this aim.

Maddy Halliday, CEO of the Life Changes Trust said,

“The two groups of people the Trust will work with and support face significant challenges, including poor physical, mental and social well-being. They often experience stigma, loss and isolation and many do not receive the support and care they acutely need and are entitled to.

“The Trust’s vision is for a Scotland where all care experienced young people and people affected by dementia are valued as full and equal citizens, able to live good quality lives and receive the right support when they need it – now and into the future.

“Our strategy sets out the Trust’s top level plans for achieving our mission and has been developed in liaison with care experienced young people and people affected by dementia and a wide range of interested organisations.”

The funding, investment and support the Life Changes Trust will provide has never been more critical. In Scotland:

• It is estimated that around 88,000 people have dementia and, based on current prevalence rates, that number is projected to double by 2038*.
• Those who care for people with dementia are often unpaid and disproportionately suffer from extreme stress, mental health issues and experience isolation
• Dementia costs the country more than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together

Our investment priorities for dementia include:

• empowering people with dementia and their carers to have a stronger voice on what matters to them
• improving social support and inclusion of people with dementia and their carers through the development of ‘dementia friendly communities’
• improving access to befriending and peer support to combat isolation and help people affected by dementia to get the support they need when they need it

In Scotland, there are more than 16,000 children and young people who are “looked after”, as their parents are either not able to do so or need help. Often they leave care abruptly at a young age, with no life skills and no network of support. As a result:

• Care experienced young people have higher rates of suicide and reduced life expectancy compared to that of their peers
• Many care experienced young people are homeless
• 45% of young offenders have a history of being looked after

Our investment priorities for care experienced young people include:
• empowering young people to have a say in their own futures
• peer support and mentoring to improve young people’s education and employment
• supporting the development of local ‘Champion Boards’ which bring young people and care providers together to improve services and quality of life for all care experienced young people

Chair of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland Committee, Maureen McGinn said,

“The Big Lottery Fund invested £50 million in the Life Changes Trust because we believe it is possible to improve significantly the support given to care experienced young people and people affected by dementia. This strategy sets out the scale of that challenge as well as the opportunity for positive change with people at its heart. We look forward to seeing the impact of the Trust’s work in delivering this strategy.”

The full Business Strategy and Executive Summary are published on the Trust’s website:

Life Changes Trust Website

Youth Charity Snow-Camp launches ‘Ski 2 The Moon’

This winter season, Snow-Camp is seeking the support of thousands of passionate skiers and snowboarders to create history by being part of the biggest snowsports event ever launched – the Ski 2 The Moon challenge.

The event is unique because skiers and snowboarders all over the world can join in – they just download the Ski 2 The Moon app, set a personal goal and get skiing or snowboarding. Whether skiing in Breckenridge, Borovets or Bromley, the Ski 2 The Moon App enables everyone with access to a smart phone to participate in the Challenge. Every mile skied is tracked by the app and contributes to a grand total of everyone’s efforts in pursuit of the target distance – The Moon – 238,855 miles away.


Jenny Jones and S2TM App


Snow-Camp Director, Dan Charlish said, ‘Over the years we have developed a number of snowsports events at Snow-Camp, such as the Alpine Challenge and the Snow-Camp Rally, which are great fun and have helped raise fantastic funds for our work. However, these events will always be limited to a set location, on certain dates and with specified targets – all of which restricts some people getting involved. We were inspired by the success of Movember – that wherever you are in the world you can grow a moustache, raise some funds and support a charity. We wanted to do something along the same lines but with snowsports – and the App now makes this possible.’

Snow-Camp was able to develop the Ski 2 The Moon idea after approaching Core Coders, the developers of the popular Ski Tracks app, now used by over 1.4 million skiers and snowboarders.

Charlish said, ‘I use Ski Tracks a lot, so we wrote to the developers, explained the idea and asked them if it was possible to deliver an app utlising their GPS tracking technology. They wrote back the same day, they loved the concept and their office happened to be 5 minutes down the road from Snow-Camp! They could have been anywhere in the world – we started thinking this was meant to be.’

Steve Wilson, developer of the Ski Tracks app said, “We are always looking to get involved with exciting and interesting opportunities, and Snow-Camp’s Ski 2 The Moon challenge seemed like the perfect fit. It’s great to be able to contribute our unique skill-set and market-leading technologies to benefit a worthwhile cause that’s in our line of work. This App has outstanding potential to massively increase awareness of Snow-Camp’s goals and hopefully generate lots of opportunities for the kids it supports. We are excited to be able to provide an easy and fun way for the snowsports community to get involved.’ ’

Seed funding for the new idea was generously provided by Gompels HealthCare Ltd, and after 6 months of development, is now available to download at App Store and Google Play. It’s FREE to download and available to everyone with a smart phone – Android or IOS. Importantly, it’s also FREE to use when on the slopes, as it does not require data roaming to operate.

The concept is simple. Wherever skiers and snowboarders choose to spend time on the slopes, they can download the app before they go and set a personal distance target and timeframe to achieve that goal. To start the challenge, skiers and snowboarders hit ‘go’ on the App to start tracking their miles and start helping towards the collective goal of the reaching the Moon.

‘What we like about the idea is it can engage everyone who ski’s or snowboards, whatever their level’ says Charlish. ‘If you are out in Alpe d’Huez with your mates – set a 200 mile target and achieve this over a week. If you are spending a day at Chatham Snow Centre – go for 5 miles in a day. If you are doing a season in Whistler – set a target of 3,000 miles skiing and a timeframe of the whole season. But the key is the event brings everyone together to achieve one shared goal – and we hope the snowsports community will get behind the idea. We currently have 34 fantastic partners signed up to support the App from across the snowsports industry and beyond, so we have already had a huge amount of support.’

Being powered by Ski Tracks, the Ski 2 the Moon app will provide participants with the very best Ski Tracks features in terms of measuring speed, total distance, vertical drop and GPS tracking which maps the route on Google maps.

It will also be fun! The team have developed a range of cartoon characters named after Olympians Jenny Jones (a snowboarding lady hare) and James Woods (a cool skiing tortoise) which pop up at various times during the challenge, encouraging skiers and snowboarders to keep going, congratulating them on reaching milestones towards their target and awarding various other achievements. There will be a range of awards and cups to collect as part of the App which keeps it really interactive, and of course everything is easily sharable across all social media, helping spread awareness to other snowsports enthusiasts. (#ski2themoon)


Mascots with Jenny Jones


Snow-Camp Patron and Olympic Bronze medalist Jenny Jones said, “It’s such a great concept and is so accessible to everyone – I’m really looking forward to supporting the event, getting people using the App and helping us reach the Moon! And growing up I was always being called an energiser bunny so I’m delighted to have Jenny the Hare named after me!”

Alongside the Hare and the Tortoise, other graphics within the App enable participants to see their own personal contribution towards the moon target and also the live ongoing progress of the whole event as each combined mile skied around the world is recorded – shown on a ‘totaliser’ screen alongside an animated rocket making its way from Earth to the Moon 238,855 miles away.

The App is free, but as a charity event users will be encouraged to create a simple Just Giving page detailing their personal Ski 2 The Moon challenge, which they can easily share with friends and family. There will also be other ways to support the event and charity through text giving, with all funds raised supporting Snow-Camp’s work with inner city young people.

Charlish said ‘This event could make a massive difference and we are excited about it’s potential. If we can get thousands of people involved, Ski 2 The Moon could play a significant role in helping us achieve our vision of expanding Snow-Camp’s work to support many more young people in cities across the UK.’

The App is available on the App Store and Google Play and can be downloaded from the 20th December 2014. The event will continue until the end of the season – or until we reach the Moon!

Visit: for more information and to download the app

‘Profound and severe case’ of animal neglect jails Father and son

A father and son, Robert and Conor McAleenan from Country Antrim in Northern Ireland, have today been given custodial sentences and banned for keeping horses for 25 years on 17 animal cruelty offences. The pair had pleaded guilty to the charges brought by the PSNI following a rescue case in November 2011 in which 66 horses, ponies and donkeys were removed from their farm off the Lisnevenagh Road and a separate site nearby. Conor was sentenced to 22 months and will serve 7 months in prison, while his father Robert was given 20 months’ and will serve 4.5 months in prison. The judge also issued a deprivation order so all the animals can now be signed over into the permanent care of the charities who rescued them.

Toast at farmPSNI Sergeant Allison Liddle and vet Nicolas de Brauwere from Redwings Horse Sanctuary attended two sites on 25th November 2011 and found a number of horses and donkeys in a state of suffering and many more living in pitiful and highly unsuitable conditions. Many were starving hungry and one horse was so weak that it had to be euthanased on welfare grounds. Another piebald mare was so emaciated that she was unable to stand up and despite the best efforts of the rescuers over the next few days, she never recovered. The horses had been left without food or water, many were standing in their own waste with no clean bedding and they were suffering with worm infestations, overgrown hooves and infections such as strangles.

With help from the police, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, the Donkey Sanctuary and Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary spent several days removing all the horses and donkeys from the site and taking them to places of safety. After several days at a holding yard to regain their strength under the care of Redwings Welfare Vet Nicola Berryman and a team from Crosskennan, 23 of the horses and ponies were transported to Redwings HQ in Norfolk.

Redwings Head of Welfare and Senior Vet Nic de Brauwere, who was the lead witness for the prosecution in the case, said: “The welfare concerns I identified were profound and the suffering inflicted on the equines was as severe as it is possible to encounter. I believe Robert and Conor McAleenan fundamentally failed to protect the welfare of their horses and donkeys. They failed to address even their basic health and husbandry requirements and allowed several of the animals to suffer profoundly and for an extended amount of time. I am absolutely delighted to see that justice has finally been done but speaking frankly, this should never have happened in the first place.”

The group rescued by Redwings all made a full recovery and have been named after Breakfast items including, Jam, Muesli, Benedict, Waffle and Croissant. They will be guaranteed a home for life at Redwings, either living at its sanctuary sites or rehomed through the charity’s Guardianship Scheme. Several can be visited at the Redwings Oxhill visitor centre in Warwickshire. One of the cobs, Marmite, has also become the poster boy for the charity’s Strangles awareness campaign after arriving from the farm infected with the disease.

Toast after

PSNI Sergeant Allison Liddle said: “This was one of the most harrowing things I have ever seen both as a police officer and an animal lover. The sight of the awful conditions that these animals were forced to endure will stay with me forever. The tragedy of having to destroy those who had suffered too much was heart-breaking for everyone who was involved in this case. I was joined by Constable Sarah Reid who diligently and professionally built a solid case for these animals and I am delighted that someone has been brought to justice. Animal cruelty has no place in our society. There is no reason why animals should suffer. I would urge anyone who suspects that animals are being harmed or kept in dangerous or unhealthy conditions to call their local police so the appropriate action can be taken swiftly”.

Lyn Friel, founder and manager of Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, said: “We were delighted to have been able to help the horses and ponies from the yard at Lisnevenagh, which was the worst case of horse cruelty we had ever witnessed. The sights will stay with our volunteers forever. All of the horses rescued have lovely temperaments and we have spent a lot of time on their rehabilitation and preparation for rehoming. Four of the Shetlands have just moved to their new home this week. We are very grateful to Redwings for answering our plea for help when the scale of the case became apparent. It was a real team effort to save as many of these cruelly treated horses as possible.”

Michael Crane, Head of Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes the serious sentence given to this father and son which reflects the extreme suffering they inflicted on their animals. Our Welfare Advisers were shocked and appalled to find emaciated donkeys living in squalor without food or water, fighting for survival  with other neglected donkeys and ponies and alongside the carcasses of dead animals. Since their rescue, seven of the ten donkeys have made a full recovery at our farms in Devon and two of them have started a new life with a foster home in Surrey, England. We are grateful to the PSNI for contacting us to help rescue these animals and to give them a fresh chance at life. They are now guaranteed sanctuary for life with The Donkey Sanctuary.”

Redwings provides direct care to over 1400 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules with a further 500 living out in loving guardian homes across the country. Please visit or call 01508 481000 for more information. To donate text code RWHS00 followed by the amount you want to give (e.g. ‘RWHS00 £5’) to 70070.

Landmine heroes receive signed guitar donated by Elbow

Christmas has come early for Elbow fans who will have the chance to snap up an incredible gift after the band donated a much-loved guitar to a Manchester-based landmine charity.

Signed by all five members of the band, the Godin Montreal guitar has been used in their live show for the past eight years. The star item is being auctioned on eBay along with lots from Mercury-nominated GoGo Penguin, The Prodigy, Lenny Kravitz and Stephen Fry in aid of MAG (Mines Advisory Group).

Proceeds from the ‘Music Beats Mines’ auction will go to fund MAG’s lifesaving work across the world to clear war zones of landmines and weapons, helping men, women and children gain access to food, water and aid.


Long-time supporters of the Manchester-based charity, Elbow used MAG’s logo on their 2014 chart-topping album The Take Off and Landing of Everything, and have lent their track ‘Colour Fields’ to a MAG video , first aired at Glastonbury this year

Frontman Guy Garvey is encouraging people to grab some one-off music memorabilia in time for Christmas, whilst supporting a charity close to his heart.

He says, “We’ve been huge admirers of the work MAG do for over a decade now. They risk their lives to piece back together war-torn communities. Supporting MAG means that we get to feel like heroes without leaving the safety and comfort of our armchairs”.

“All you have to do to be one of those heroes is bid in their auction. So go on… support MAG this Christmas, and be a hero.”

Elbow Guitar

Some of the music world’s biggest names have donated signed CDs, posters and other one-of-a-kind musical merchandise to MAG for its Music Beats Mines online auction, kicking off this week.

Marilyn Manson, Billy Bragg, and Grammy award-winning country superstar Nanci Griffith have all donated to the online charity auction, starting on Thursday 27 November.

The auction goes live on eBay at 9pm on Thursday 27 November and ends at 9pm on Sunday 7 December 2013. The auction shop can be accessed here .

Collections Unlocked interactive learning sessions explores Questions of Truth

Religious communities in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Northern Nigeria and Sudan are among those currently facing increasing levels of intolerance and even persecution from groups determined to impose their version of religious truth at any cost.

Whilst these events may seem very distant from a British perspective, “Questions of Truth” – the next event in York Minster’s “Collections Unlocked” interactive learning sessions will compare and contrast contemporary events with the English Reformation – one of the most traumatic, turbulent and intolerant periods in the history of the British Isles.

The Reformation was a turning point in history that changed our country and sent it spiralling into almost 100 years of religious turmoil and persecution with some of the effects still being dealt with today.

Canon Chris Collingwood and the Minster’s Historic Collections Team will explore the impact of the Reformation through discussion and investigation of six of the most significant objects and books in the Minster’s Collections – items that represent this period of intense struggle and learning.

“Questions of Truth” will look at:

  • how history can be rewritten depending on which “truth” you choose
  • how propaganda can be used to manipulate the truth
  • how control can exert a particular truth.

Chris Collingwood said:

“The upheavals that we are seeing in the world at the moment have a direct historical parallel in the English Reformation.  In “Questions of Truth”, people will be able to consider the modern context for religious violence and then get up close and personal with objects from the Reformation that will illustrate religious intolerance, persecution, violence and control of hearts and minds.

“We are pleased that the session will take place in the middle of Interfaith Week 2014 and that it will take its place in a UK-wide series of events that will focus on developing and strengthening relationships between faiths, increasing awareness and tolerance of difference and embracing people with religious and non-religious beliefs”.

Collections Unlocked – “Questions of Truth” – takes place at 7.00pm on Wednesday 19th November in the Upper Hall of the Old Palace, Dean’s Park York. Tickets for the event cost £5.00 and can be booked in advance online from or by telephone on 01904 557208.

For more information about Collections Unlocked and York Minster’s Adult Learning programme please visit .

For more information about Interfaith Week please visit .

The Wisdom of Kids artwork

Theo Paphitis invites Soula to sell her ‘Wisdom of Kids’ books for Children In Need

The Wisdom of Kids book in Ryman stores supports BBC Children in Need

Retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis has invited a designer Soula Zavacopoulos to sell her ‘Wisdom of Kids’ books in 98 Ryman stores to raise funds for BBC Children in Need.

Ryman nor Soula Zavacopoulos will make a penny from the venture – because all of the profits will go directly to the charity.

A special price of £4.99 (£2 off the normal retail price) has been set for this fundraising campaign and at least £4 from the sale of each book will benefit BBC Children In Need, helping disadvantaged children across the UK.


BBC Pudsey and The Wisdom of Kid

BBC Pudsey and The Wisdom of Kid

The book will be on sale from 11th November in stores and online at with BBC Children in Need benefiting from all 100% of the profits of the book sales during November 2014.

The book is full of funny sayings from children and has a strong celebrity fan base following, including pop star and former X-factor judge Dannii Minogue. Earlier this year, she took photos of the book, posting them on her Instagram page and also recommending the book to her 1.23 million Twitter fans.

“Dannii thought the book was very amusing,” says Soula Zavacopoulos, “It’s full of the hilarious and unexpected things children say.”

Soula Zavacopoulos, who works in both London and Devon, has been collecting humorous comments and quotes from children for the last seven years, and has collated her favourites in The Wisdom of Kids book.

“The book captures children’s innocent view the world and their disarming honesty, making for some of the most amusing insights and (often unintentionally) hilarious remarks that will have you in stitches!”


Theo Paphitis and Soula Zavacopo

Theo Paphitis and Soula Zavacopo

Theo Paphitis likes the book so much he is even quoted on the cover: “Love it, love it, love it!” Even before the book was published, Theo Paphitis had recognised the potential of The Wisdom of Kids when in 2011 he selected Soula Zavacopoulos as winner of his “Small Business Sunday” award that he runs each Sunday on Twitter.

At the time, The Wisdom of Kids existed solely as a range of greeting cards that Soula had created and published herself through her design company, The London Studio.

Soula sold cards direct to retailers and having supplied stores including Selfridges, Harrods, Fenwick, Bentalls, Paperchase and Harvey Nichols, she impressed Theo with her innovative products, proven to be excellent sellers.

In the three years since winning Theo Paphitis’ SBS award, Soula has won several other awards including the Smarta100, with her company, The London Studio, being named one of the Top 20 Small Businesses in the UK today.

Soula has been busy developing The Wisdom of Kids range and expanding it into gifting, including mugs, coasters, calendars and the gift book. Last month Soula launched The Wisdom of Kids at the top licensing show, Brand Licensing Europe at Olympia, London, and has already signed licensing deals with three major licensees, with new product launches planned from mid 2015 onwards.

“It’s an exciting time for The Wisdom of Kids” says Soula, “I’m thrilled at how fast it’s popularity is growing now and I’m delighted to be able to use it to help raise money for BBC Children in Need this month”.


The Wisdom of Kids artwork

The Wisdom of Kids artwork


Money raised for BBC Children in Need can help children in lots of different ways, for example:

• £1 could prevent a child from going hungry at breakfast time for a week
• £2.50 could help supply a special pack for premature babies with life-limiting conditions
• £5 means a 5 year old boy in hospital and anxious about his treatment can giggle and laugh at a magical entertainer
• £7 gives a child in a refuge who has witnessed frightening domestic abuse a session of personal support to work through their feelings
• £8 gives a young carer whose daily duties include lifting and bathing their Mum a break each week at a children’s club where they play freely with their friends

To help raise vital funds please buy The Wisdom of Kids book from Ryman stores or online from where 100% of profits from sales of the book during November will benefit BBC Children in Need. That means at least £4 from the sale of each book will go to the charity and help disadvantaged children in the UK.

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