CARBON-NEUTRAL COMPANIES: TOP TIPS TO GO GREEN

As a start-up enterprise or new business, we have a lot to juggle from staffing to implementing systems and of course, securing sales. So when it comes to offsetting our carbon footprint, it can feel like an extra headache. 

But with the United Nations’ climate change conference well underway in Glasgow (COP 26), AD:VENTURE ambassador and business magazine editor Sophie Mei Lan spoke to fellow entrepreneurs who have sought start-up support from AD:VENTURE whilst reducing their impact on the environment. 

One of those is Matt Wheeler from madeby.studio who alongside his business partner Sam Taylor is on a mission to not just remain ‘carbon-neutral’ as a company but to be ‘carbon-negative.’ 

 “We’ve always been environmentally aware,  then two months ago when we read a recent IPCC report on climate change, we vowed to do something as a small start-up company,” explained Matt who leaves his car at home and accesses his Leeds City Centre office via foot or public transport. 

 “I have even adjusted my diet to be more plant-based, so it was a natural progression to ensure our company as an ethical team that we actively did this. The digital design and development studio credits their success on AD:VENTURE support through an accessible business advisor and funding during lockdown. 

“Our advisor was just a phone call away so it has kept us proactive and actually being totally digital as a company has meant that we were sustainable and even thriving throughout the Pandemic thanks to the funding and support we were able to access.” 

madeby.studio have found they have worked with like-minded ethical clients even more as shared values of doing business ethically forge a sustainable future for the environment but for business relationships too. 

“It was easy to do by signing up to a subscription service starting from £15 per month so it has been easy and affordable to not just offset our footprint but to negate it.” 

Matt explained that they are evaluating everything they do to make adjustments to become as ethical as possible as a team. 

He hopes that other companies follow in their footsteps as it is “really easy and essential that we all play a part by making small changes. 

As Matt from madeby.studioexplained, that just by starting to make these small adjustments from encouraging staff to use public transport, walk to work or car sharing to going paperless where possible can equate to making a huge difference in the environment as well as boosting team morale. https://madeby.studio/

North Sky Yurts (http://www.northskyyurts.co.uk) another eco-friendly local business supported by AD:VENTURE agrees as they made the decision to plant a tree for every booking. 

Co-founder Becca said: “We have been part of a Leeds Council Electric van trial and are conscious about methods we use when working such as avoiding single-use plastic, everything is re-used or reclaimed and we are passionate that we stay local to Yorkshire and recommend other suppliers if outside of our area.” 

These are just two of the Leeds City Region’s purpose-driven companies already making an impact with their success and sustainable core too. Proving that reducing our carbon emissions is not only cost-effective for the world, but it actually forges collaborations between like-minded companies, which is at the heart of AD:VENTURE too

What does your business do? Or what do you vow to do today? 

If you need support in building a sustainable ethical business combining profit with purpose, you can tap into the free start-up support AD:VENTURE offers.

Top tips to go Carbon Neutral 





– Download charity apps such as Charity Miles “for your team. The app tracks your stance and donates money to your chosen charity for every mile you move. The Nature Conservancy, The National Park Foundation and WWF are among those you can pick,” explains the Evening Standard. 


- Use reuseable bottles for water refills, reusable coffee cups, make your own protein shakes/smoothies and use your own shaker and prep food for tupperware rather than takeaways  


- Ethical gym wear clothing: Shop for ethical brands from vegan trainers to recycled fabrics 

– Reduce travel i.e. walk or jog to work rather than drive or catch a bus 

– Maybe swap your holiday abroad for somewhere closer to home 

– Adjust your diet: Eat more plant-based food can be great for your health and it needn’t cost the earth too. Buy groceries from surplus food projects or your local allotment for example. 

– Get outdoors more: From your garden to park or just going on a walk or jog is simple, easy and gives you chance to stretch outside or do some grounding 

Obviously a lot of businesses are digital first nowadays and it can seem easier for solely digital businesses to track their footprints and reduce them too. But there are a number of ways all businesses can try and reduce their carbon footprint, such as, going paperless, walk to work initiatives, signing up to carbon neutral sites and making pledges to offset their footprint e.g. planting a tree. 

Whilst the digital world can still be harmful to the environment it doesn’t equate to the save on the planet that ‘going digital’ offers. 

– Ban single-use plastics 

– Paperless admin: go digital where possible 

– Encourage recycling or digital correspondence 

– Save on electricity and gas where possible and reduce your own bills too 

– Charity challenges to help with environmental charities 

– Incentivise healthy eating, moving and living with challenges 

– Reduce travel: From carpooling to walking or using public transport where possible  

– Encourage team building activities outdoors and maybe even ones that help the local area or a clothes swap 

With more millennials looking for purpose-based activities over the ‘new accessory’ – not only can becoming carbon-neutral help the planet but also your business and team spirit too. After all, we all love businesses with shared values and it can really help foster relationships locally. 

WELLBEING AT WORK AND IN LIFE – REAL BUSINESS

If we are in the privileged position to connect with seldom-heard communities, let’s actively hear their stories and support better mental health in an unequal world.

Me must support wellbeing for all at work and in life… it is a human right to have access to good mental health care so let’s campaign for more equality…

Mental Health campaigner Sophie Mei Lan the editor of this magazine https://SparkleUpNorth.com, writes with this year’s World Mental Health Day in Mind…

Elderly people, adults with learning disabilities, and asylum seekers are some of the most seldom-heard ‘invisible’ communities where I live and nationwide. So it’s important that not only do we acknowledge them but ensure their voice is heard too.

I am acutely aware of the need to platform a range of voices after being brought up in an impoverished part of Yorkshire where our community richness shined through in the tapestry of people which made up our neighbourhood. We shopped for food, created communities, and forged relationships over our shared feeling of inequalities – most of the time this cultivated wonderful cuisine at community festivals, support for one another seeking support, and an array of shops.

Just like the grubby exterior of the retail offering which had been ‘forgotten’ and neglected from the funding in more affluent areas where inside you could discover some of the most unique goods and incredible people, this served as a metaphor for so many forgotten communities.

While the shops looked run-down and abandoned, in many ways we had all felt this inadequacy in an unequal world, where you only needed to head a mile towards the other side of the city to see a very different picture.

At times such inequalities even led to people pitching against one another when they faced a ‘divide and rule’ leader through fear, lack of healthcare, and isolation.

The impact of such isolation is felt by many ‘invisible’ communities, leading to unemployment, further ill health, and forgotten voices.

Mental Health itself is a silent isolating pandemic not to mention experiencing mental health problems when living in such an unequal world.

So if we are in the luxurious place of being heard, it’s important we act to support such hearty humans becoming more visible as well as appreciating what such diversity offers. Hearing powerful stories helps us all to learn about history, cultures and connecting us all as one community we can learn so much from one another and share skills.

From tea dancing and folk dance to creative crafts and a plethora of talent. 

I witnessed glimpses of this wonderful world over the past week which has involved delivering digital journalism workshops to adults with disabilities, one of whom was preparing to adorn a sandwich board at that night’s ArtWalk event with signs declaring who they are as a community and human beings. I then finished the week teaching a special Yoga session to adults with learning disabilities, warming them up for their physical theatre performance inside The Ridings Shopping Centre on a busy Saturday when it is full of shoppers. That night I attended Wakefield Community Foundation’s Unsung Hero Awards showcasing such voices of inspiration, those who served others even in a period of hardship. Then at the weekend I took the kids to Wakefield Cathedral for Messy Crafts where we were given the most abundant welcome by volunteers who had their own experiences of isolation such as the unwelcoming experience of seeking Asylum and now helping other refugees while generously giving their time, skills and care to many families including ours through free crafts, stories, and food too.

Sunday marked a national day for older people with Silver Sunday where I witnessed the power of intergenerational communities. Not only was it more important than ever to showcase our support for older people in such a time of enforced isolation but to share song, dance, Sunday Dinner, and browse craft stalls. The shopping centre chimed to the music of Alzheimer’s UK dementia-friendly choir, dancing together and to the musicians aligning the shopping area, mindfulness crafts for mental health, and an old-school Sunday Dinner from Ruby Lous’ traditional looking pub, another lost community in many areas is pubs and clubs. But to showcase where older met younger, we finished off our roast with insta-friendly waffles from a Belgian grandma’s ‘secret recipe.’

As we devoured the waffles amongst the cozy pub and grub offering, we chatted to staff and fellow punters as the clan of kids I was looking after from fellow single parents showed them how they create TikTok videos.

The girls were so impressed too by the antique shops and the ‘cool stuff’ they even made TikToks in there, without subtlety realising they were learning about history and the generations that made us.

Now the volume is turned down, the events have finished and now it’s important to continue and recognise World Mental Health Day which this year is poignantly themed on Mental Health in an Unequal World, which means limited accessibility for communities who vitally need it. This can lead to further isolating issues such as addictions, debt, unemployment, and further ill health.

Not only is mental health an invisible disability and ‘Cinderella service’ when it comes to funding but more issues are faced by many of our wonderful communities who already have been isolated.

All is not lost, however, because we have the power of shared knowledge of how to recognise and understand the need to seek support for people. Not to mention the community groups who work hard, often made up of people from similar backgrounds, to help others.

If we are in a privileged position to speak up, I urge you too not just to promote one special day but to demand better funding, services and ensuring we welcome one another with open minds and hearts. This is the human spirit.

What is World Mental Health Day 2021 and what is the theme?

World Mental Health Day 2021 is on Sunday 10th October 2021. The theme this year is “Mental Health in an Unequal World”.

What does Mental Health in an UnEqual World mean? 

The wealthier are still becoming wealthier and the poorer are still becoming poorer. It also means that there’s an inequality due to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender as 2020 highlighted.  Between 75% to 95% of people with mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries are unable to access mental health services at all, and access in high-income countries is not much better. Lack of investment in mental health disproportionate to the overall health budget contributes to the mental health treatment gap.

Many people with a mental illness do not receive the treatment that they are entitled to and deserve and together with their families and carers continue to experience stigma and discrimination. The gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ grows ever wider and there is continuing unmet need in the care of people with a mental health problem.

Accessibility reporter Dan from https://YorkshireFamilies.co.uk thoughts on Mental Health: You never know what’s going on inside another person’s head so be kind to them and ask them if they’re OK and if they’re not, ask them what you can do to help them.

If you’re in good mental health, you can:

·     Make the most of your potential

·     Cope with life

·     Play a full part in your family, workplace, community, and other friends.

A few stats about Mental Health:

Anxiety affects 284 million people in the world.

Depression affects 264 million people.

Alcohol use disorder affects 107 million people.

Drug use disorder affects 71 million people.

Bipolar disorder affects 46 million people.

Schizophrenia affects 20 million people.

Eating disorders affect 16 million people

#MENTALHEALTHAWARENESSWEEK

Fitness fits all shapes and sizes: Let go of loathing your body, just move more

Gymwear is not normally seen on the catwalk nor is it modeled by a range of body types but our obsession with images depicting body sizes actually prevents more people than ever from beginning their fitness journey. You may feel ‘too fat’ or ‘too skinny’ to leave the house following lockdown let alone be able to attend a local fitness class, gym, or sports club and not know where to even begin online.  

But when the opening spoken word artist at the catwalk talks about how we are often shamed as being ‘too fat or skinny’ I find myself nodding profusely as so many of us are judged on our size or weight by others and eventually ourselves with conflicting messages throughout time from ‘strong is the new skinny’ to ‘lose weight in 10 days’ or ‘banish the bulge.’ 

Men and women alike are fed such images, but instead of avoiding exercise or neglecting your health because size, weight, and BMI are NOT clear indicators, here’s what I have learned to get ‘back on track’ or how to begin your mind and body fitness journey: 

1. Take small steps in order to be able to stride with pride like the activewear models at the Met Gala fashion show who are real women who worked with West Yorkshire life coach and organiser Carron Cummings in the months prior. So quite literally start walking before you try to run (or you could try fartlek training) but it is mind over matter. This show also made me reflect on the power of joining online or offline community groups to get active and what to wear…

2. Find a walking group or sports club: There are lots of free groups across Yorkshire. In Wakefield where I live the council has walking groups across the district from Nordic Walking to child-friendly trails, check out Wakefield Wellbeing and Experience Wakefield because there are so many gems you may not have heard of. Sports clubs in your local area tend to have activities on too, we try to share lots on https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk

3. Activewear that fits your body and style: Having the correct gear can inspire you to move more throughout the day and give you some confidence to attend a new class or group. Workout with Wake and EL Obsession all have fab mantras and clothes. Wake Bespoke also makes tailor-made gear for those who don’t fit the off-the-shelf active gear range. 

4. Find a friendly activity hub that suits you. From specialist workshops at The Sanctuary Health and Wellbeing to free table tennis and the ArtWalk at The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield. 

5. If in person, doesn’t work for you then there are a number of online fitness communities from Women’s World of Wellbeing (formerly Squats and Sparkles) and for men https://getleanonline.co.uk

6. Listen to your body and discover what you need and enjoy from Yoga, Qi Gong, Burlesque, and Bellydance (what I’ve trained in as well as fitness) to weight lifting at home or in the gym and Zumba Strong online or offline.

Sadly those less well versed in the pros and cons of our professional-personal blurred world of fitness stereotypes,  has been a place of depletion along with the relative impact of the Pandemic on individuals. It is important to not just genuinely join together to evolve but also to start viewing our own minds and bodies as one. 

I have noticed an increasing appetite to fragment our minds and bodies into ‘parts’ where we have become increasingly fragmented about ‘hang-ups.’ 

From a need for more people embracing their bodies and going from the previous status quo of ‘size zero’ models vibe for women specifically. I myself at times have been swept up by this ‘anti-institutional vibe which was needed for a shift in order to present a range of ‘body types’ in the media – but now we are in danger of demonising many of our bodies from whatever you class as a ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy figure.’ 

Whilst we cannot control infections or our bodies per se … what is in our power is to make the connection within ourselves and acquire the knowledge (I too have learned the hard way), that photos, body types, and our own perceptions need not focus on one data point showcasing an array of purely aesthetic stories. Whereas our minds and bodies are internal memories and sketches of maps for aspects of our lives as we evolve like nature. Let’s move to a world of wellbeing, optimal health… mind, and body neutrality. It may not sound as ‘sexy’ as other fads or headlines… but even if I have to change the name each time so it’s more appealing! None of us get the balance right all of the time but ignore everyone else and begin within. Only then can we be the true masters of our own lives rather than letting society, culture, and our world of excess take control, making us feel in a deprived state of never ‘being enough.’ 

Our bodies are perfect in their own unique way, our weight, size, or appearance online or offline does not define us as humans. If others judge us, all they do is show they are judging themselves as I tell women I teach Bellydance to and soon Yoga, that everybody is a perfect body so dance, train and move in your own unique way. Regardless of age, size, shape, gender, hang-ups – we should celebrate being alive and strut out of this pandemic as if we are all on a metaphorical catwalk (or physical!). 

Read more from me https://www.mamamei.co.uk/

Did you know

Meditation is an active clarity of the mind whereas sleep is where the mind shuts off.

The definition of spirituality for yogis is solitude (rather than loneliness): The sign of a pure mind is being comfortable in your solitude.

Life Hack

Laugh for one minute a day, it is so good for your health and the throat chakra which connects to your heart.

Mind Challenge

Declutter our space to create whether it be work, life or our minds using meditation.

A good way to physically declutter:

Use the organisation triangle –

– Find one home for everything in a certain category

– Place like with like

– Something in, something out

More declutter tips:

– Donate 5 items a day to start with then try at least 1 per day

– Make yourself accountable to someone

– Declutter quick each morning, set yourself a timer.

– Have 4 boxes: 1 to keep and sort, 1 to keep and store, 1 to throw away & 1 to donate

ARTWALK: Free creative walk for all to network Wakefield, West Yorkshire 

ArtWalk is back making art and creativity accessible to all as you walk, through The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield which connects to an outdoors walk onto the heart of Westgate and winds around our beautiful home city of Shakey Wakey, home to The ArtHouse. 

From retail outlets to community hubs, creative arts workshops and free activities from table tennis to large indoor chess and an outdoor car park allotment – it’s rare that a shopping centre is home to such independent and creative flair, not to mention free performances from local talent, tea meet-ups for the elderly, mental health groups, crafts clubs, car boot sales and even an outdoor space for markets inside All Saints Yard. 

That’s not to mention plenty of places to meet, craft and eat! And we return to our new base as we walk around the centre which has art, sculpture, nature and even Instagram-friendly angel wings for one of our favourite free events for all ages, The ArtWalk! From free workshops to exhibitions, to performances and art on offer to buy, enjoy and inspire – no one size fits all – and that’s what’s great about the diversity and friendliness of Yorkshire creatives! 

HTTPS://YORKSHIREFAMILIES.CO.UK accessibility reporter Digitally Active Dan who attends CoActive Arts charity inside The Ridings, watches sport in the food court and loves performing will be participating in ArtWalk again this month with his self-advocacy group for adults with learning disabilities before a WordFest performance on Saturday inside The Ridings Make Space hub next to Poundland where CoActive and Stride Theatre are based! 

Can you believe it’s that time again already…….?

Artwalk is back just a couple of months after the last one and here’s  just some of what’s on this time:

One thing that could be of interest for people is on the top floor of the Ridings there is a self-advocacy group called Speak Out Go Out and they are going to be walking posters as they will wear something on their body to show what they are, and what they want to do, which is to be able to speak up for themselves and when they go out, they want to be safe and not bullied. Their unit is based on the floor where the Reel Cinema is and they will be there from 5-7pm as that’s the time they do their sessions. 

Artwalk September 29th 2021

Fiona Grady – Meeting Points

Fiona Grady is a site-responsive artist.  Her colourful geometric artworks are architectural interventions that transform the physical spaces they are situated within.  Her new piece ‘Meeting Points’, commissioned by Artwalk Wakefield, is composed of translucent coloured vinyls and will be installed onto the skylight windows of Wakefield’s Ridings Shopping Centre.

Beth Morgan – A Walk in Wakefield

A Walk in Wakefield is a new permanent mural in The Ridings Shopping Centre, created by artist Beth Morgan, inspired by the natural landscapes around Wakefield.

Commissioned by Artwalk Wakefield.

Look Up Westgate

Look Up Westgate is a project led by Edgelands Arts on behalf of the Westgate Heritage Action Zone. Funded by Wakefield Council and Historic England.Communities from across the Westgate area have worked with Edgelands Arts to create images of buildings along the street. These have been turned into a series of coasters and vinyl window stickers, which can be seen and collected in various locations on Westgate and the immediate vicinity.

Mohammad Barrangi: On The Path To Happiness

Mohammad Barrangi is a UK-based illustrator, printmaker and athlete originally from Iran. Barrangi’s work combines Persian calligraphy, storytelling, text, and touches of humour. The inspiration for this mural, On The Path To Happiness, comes from Barrangi’s lived experience of immigration and the welcome he received in Wakefield from organisations such as Wakefield Cathedral and The Art House.

Ranya Abdulateef – Honouring our refuse collectors

Artist Ranya Abdulateef is honouring our local refuse collectors in a new textile art work exhibited in the atrium case at Wakefield One. The piece has been created through the use of some recycled fabric and various textile techniques such as quilting, hand embroidery and printing, incorporating personal stories of the worker

A World of Good

A World of Good is a new exhibition based around the work of pioneering 19th century environmentalist Charles Waterton, who built the world’s first nature reserve. The exhibition is a multimedia experience of sculpture and sound, featuring paper sculptures by local artist Andy Singleton, animated by Charlotte Blacker, and a newly commissioned film about Charles Waterton’s nature park. Talented singer/songwriter Ali Bullivent will also be performing her new song, The Earth is Singing.

2SureThreads – ‘Women’s Work’

Head to 2SureThreads’ Stitch Stack in The Ridings this September Artwalk for an exhibition of antique, vintage and contemporary stitched works and accessories. They will be inviting visitors to jot down any memories the pieces evoke and add them to the display.

Fred Tschida – CIRCLESPHERE

The Art House and Neon Workshops have partnered to bring the work of neon artist Fred Tschida to Europe for the first time ‘CIRCLESPHERE’ marks ten years since Neon Workshops was established in Wakefield, and 20 years since its founder – artist Richard William Wheater – was introduced to Fred Tschida’s alternative explorations in neon, as his student at Alfred University.

Inspire Art Group Exhibition

We are a peer led arts and wellbeing group offering a space to create, relax and chat.  For the September Artwalk we will be opening our doors in our new Makey Wakey space, showcasing artwork by some of our members and discussing the work we do.

Spectrum People, led by Dawn and Adrian – Art in Recovery

This September Artwalk, Spectrum People, Dawn Bland and Adrian Atkinson will be displaying a selection of art works created during a series of Art Groups which they have run throughout Summer 2021 at The Art House.  A celebration exhibition of the work participants have created in response to their recovery journeys overcoming barriers from a range of issues including childhood trauma, on-going mental health difficulties, addiction, social isolation and more.

YSI – Leaf, Line, Lump

Leaf, Line, Lump is a collaborative project with young people from Rycroft Leisure and local artists Helen Thomas and Julia McKinlay. This project is part of Yorkshire Sculpture International’s Summer Programme supported by Wakefield Council as part of Festival of the Earth.

Where is God?

A display of artwork produced by 160 Wakefield school pupils aged 7 to 14 as part of a competition launched by Wakefield SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) with the theme of Where is God?

More information can be found on artwalkwakefield.co.uk

https://artwalk.org.uk/event/

Supporting independent creativity in Wakefield

Since launching in 2008, Artwalk has offered Wakefield’s creative community opportunities to exhibit their work, meet, and sell to a growing number of visitors.

A bi-monthly evening of art, performance, music, heritage and socialising, the events are hosted across a variety of independent venues in Wakefield City Centre (when allowed by government guidelines) and via our website and social media platforms online. Artwalk offers a range of free events for all to enjoy, but it also gives our creative community a vital opportunity to share their work, meet fellow artists and connect with audiences. 

Like many other cultural festivals, events and venues, throughout 2020 and early 2021, Artwalk Wakefield had to adapt our programme to a virtual one. But that hasn’t stopped us from shining a spotlight on local artists, celebrating inspirational projects and giving our communities access to art and culture for free.

Yorkshire’s back in business and friendlier than ever

They used to say never mix business with pleasure, but that doesn’t resonate with us friendly Yorkshire folk who not only have the best accents but manage to merge the two as we collaborate together more than ever – from my first public speaking gig since Lockdown at Elland Road for Leeds Digital Festival (LDF) to report on the Real Women fashion show at The Royal Armouries. From facilitating mindfulness workshops at the creative business hub inside The Ridings Shopping Centre and reviewing shows at Leeds Grand Theatre and Leeds Playhouse. I’ve been lucky enough to not only immerse myself back into some form of normality but reacquaint myself with my love of ‘doing business’ in God’s Own County.

In fragmented uncertain times in work and life for many of us, I too was extremely nervous about emerging out of my comfort zone of a home office where I have spent almost two years nervously logging on to Zoom meetings, typing away at the lonely blue screen and leading workshops and delivering speeches with a jacket thrown on, clutching at my out-of-shot pencil pot filled with ‘video make up,’ as I awkwardly apply it to allay “you look poorly” comments from humans who knew this lass in the flesh.

Luckily my accent is strong, my smile beams, and apparently despite my sweating brow thanks to computer ‘updates,’ I look energetic and composed on the video call.

I have tried to use this time to form some semblance of community online such as refreshing a community-run accessibility blog Yorkshire Families and creating Sparkle Up North business magazine after sponsorship from Leeds City Region’s AD: Venture programme for start-ups – both are hubs to share unheard stories from northern families and the other businesses across the region.

So as soon as ‘live events’ invite me to speak, review and attend, I seize the opportunity.

Until I realise that I need to fully dress, present myself as unphased by this lapse in work and confidence, a pivoting time in business, but I haven’t celebrated the new opportunities due to feeling stifled by solitary confinement.

I feel anxious and emotional at the thought of attending events where I hope to pretend that I exude professionalism and clarity.

But despite wearing a mask, when I arrive at familiar regional venues, my eyes give it away because I don’t even have my smile or muffled accent to cover it up.

Luckily instead of awkward sympathy as I ‘network,’ or lead sessions, others share their stories and journeys of arriving here at this professional outing.

The diverse throng of humans in the flesh I have met so far tend to be more authentic than ever and at ease with not ‘faking it’ in favour of a perceived professional stereotype.

Theatres are staffed by the most welcoming of staff who wait in anticipation to give us the warmest welcome possible. The behind-the-scenes crew at events breathe deeply as they navigate running a smooth event, despite more admin and organisation than ever before, not to mention the pressure to deliver instructions to guests and anticipate challenges.

When speaking about YouTube for brands at Elland Rd for Digital Knowledge Exchange as part of LDF, I radiate off the live human faces behind the SMEs across the region rather than relying on performance adrenaline alone. The other speakers also have a spring in their step too after an energetic back-to-reality day.

No more Wifi lapses, just purposeful verbal pauses, as speakers’ have the pleasure of sharing their business stories and skills as well as interweaving their life experiences. Conversations and contributions are more heartfelt than ever before as we experience the pleasure of ‘doing business’ and life again with that Yorkshire grit but most of all friendly openness as we support one another to thrive.

That same week I brush off a dress to report on the Met Gala-style real women fashion show in which Leeds lasses strutted down the catwalk in an empowering evening attended by many female-run brands in Yorkshire. Again, I am able to openly chat to brands bossing it on social media who I am able to meet in human for the first time. And as the organiser Carron Cummings who runs Simple Ladies business community is so honest about juggling motherhood and work, I felt able to invite my eldest daughter as my plus one for the first time at an event such as this.

I am by no means digitally adverse but as we entrepreneurs pivot to serve our communities and inspire our own teams, I know there’s only one county I want to be restarting my enterprising journey in.

Now, I feel ready to enjoy and embrace the new synergy of working from home and across Yorkshire.

Read more from Sophie Mei Lan and other entrepreneurial humans at https://sparkleupnorth.com, https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk and https://mamamei.co.uk

BUSINESS IS PLEASURE UP NORTH: PUBLIC SPEAKING AND BRAND BUILDING ON YOUTUBE

They used to say never mix business with pleasure, but that doesn’t resonate with us friendly Yorkshire folk who not only have the best accents but manage to merge the two as we collaborate together more than ever – from my first public speaking gig since Lockdown at Elland Road for Leeds Digital Festival (LDF) to report on the Real Women fashion show at The Royal Armouries. From facilitating mindfulness workshops at the creative business hub inside The Ridings Shopping Centre and reviewing shows at Leeds Grand Theatre and Leeds Playhouse. I’ve been lucky enough to not only immerse myself back into some form of normality but reacquaint myself with my love of ‘doing business’ in God’s Own County.

In fragmented uncertain times in work and life for many of us, I too was extremely nervous about emerging out of my comfort zone of a home office where I have spent almost two years nervously logging on to Zoom meetings, typing away at the lonely blue screen and leading workshops and delivering speeches with a jacket thrown on, clutching at my out-of-shot pencil pot filled with ‘video make up,’ as I awkwardly apply it to allay “you look poorly” comments from humans who knew this lass in the flesh. 

Luckily my accent is strong, my smile beams, and apparently despite my sweating brow thanks to computer ‘updates,’ I look energetic and composed on the video call.

I have tried to use this time to form some semblance of community online such as refreshing a community-run accessibility blog Yorkshire Families and creating Sparkle Up North business magazine after sponsorship from Leeds City Region’s AD: Venture programme for start-ups – both are hubs to share unheard stories from northern families and the other businesses across the region. 

So as soon as ‘live events’ invite me to speak, review and attend, I seize the opportunity. 

Until I realise that I need to fully dress, present myself as unphased by this lapse in work and confidence, a pivoting time in business, but I haven’t celebrated the new opportunities due to feeling stifled by solitary confinement. 

I feel anxious and emotional at the thought of attending events where I hope to pretend that I exude professionalism and clarity. 

But despite wearing a mask, when I arrive at familiar regional venues, my eyes give it away because I don’t even have my smile or muffled accent to cover it up.

Luckily instead of awkward sympathy as I ‘network,’ or lead sessions, others share their stories and journeys of arriving here at this professional outing. 

The diverse throng of humans in the flesh I have met so far tend to be more authentic than ever and at ease with not ‘faking it’ in favour of a perceived professional stereotype. 

Theatres are staffed by the most welcoming of staff who wait in anticipation to give us the warmest welcome possible. The behind-the-scenes crew at events breathe deeply as they navigate running a smooth event, despite more admin and organisation than ever before, not to mention the pressure to deliver instructions to guests and anticipate challenges. 

When speaking about YouTube for brands at Elland Rd for Digital Knowledge Exchange as part of LDF, I radiate off the live human faces behind the SMEs across the region rather than relying on performance adrenaline alone. The other speakers also have a spring in their step too after an energetic back-to-reality day. 

No more Wifi lapses, just purposeful verbal pauses, as speakers’ have the pleasure of sharing their business stories and skills as well as interweaving their life experiences. Conversations and contributions are more heartfelt than ever before as we experience the pleasure of ‘doing business’ and life again with that Yorkshire grit but most of all friendly openness as we support one another to thrive. 

That same week I brush off a dress to report on the Met Gala-style real women fashion show in which Leeds lasses strutted down the catwalk in an empowering evening attended by many female-run brands in Yorkshire. Again, I am able to openly chat to brands bossing it on social media who I am able to meet in human for the first time. And as the organiser Carron Cummings who runs Simple Ladies business community is so honest about juggling motherhood and work, I felt able to invite my eldest daughter as my plus one for the first time at an event such as this. 

I am by no means digitally adverse but as we entrepreneurs pivot to serve our communities and inspire our own teams, I know there’s only one county I want to be restarting my enterprising journey in. 

Now, I feel ready to enjoy and embrace the new synergy of working from home and across Yorkshire. 
Read more from Sophie Mei Lan and other entrepreneurial humans at https://sparkleupnorth.com, https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk and https://mamamei.co.uk

BUSINESS WOMEN AND CONTENT CREATORS WANTED TO WRITE THEATRE CONTENT: OUR REVIEW OF LOOKING GOOD DEAD

Would you like the ultimate business retreat and spend a night at the theatre reviewing shows? If so, comment below or message us on social media @SparkleUpNorth, or our co-editor directly Sophie Mei Lan @thesparklecoach. 

And read her latest review directly, here: 

LOOKING GOOD DEAD: LEEDS GRAND THEATRE – REVIEW BY SPARKLE COMMUNICATIONS

In a digital age where my reading is Audible only, I confess in the midst of the summer holidays  One of my absolute favourite nights out is spent at the theatre for some much-needed self-care with a loved one and, I am lucky to be a scenic long bus ride away from Leeds Grand Theatre… but Looking Good Dead… was the title of this show?!  

My friend Abigayle and I, two online content creators (She Talks Cars and me Mama Mei) and business owners (Glam Aesthetic and Sparkle Communications) needed a night off to focus our minds and escape in the magic of the theatre (after a compulsory food stop in Leeds and digital shopping trip). 

In a world of predictability from Netflix to E-books and suggested shows online, I love nothing more than an utter theatrical surprise and that’s definitely what I got!… 

Looking Good Dead: What’s it all about? 

Cling to the edge of your seat: the world premiere stage production of Peter James’Looking Good Dead is set to thrill Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 September 2021.

Starring award-winning actor and EastEnders icon, Adam Woodyatt, and star of stage and screen Gaynor Faye (Emmerdale, Coronation Street, The Syndicate), Looking Good Dead is Peter James’s fifth novel to be brought to the stage and follows the hugely successful productions of The House on Cold Hill starring Joe McFadden and Rita Simons, Not Dead Enough starring Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore, The Perfect Murder starring Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, and Dead Simple starring Tina Hobley.

Premise: No good deed goes unpunished… hours after picking up a USB memory stick, left behind on a train seat, Tom Bryce (Adam Woodyatt) inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder. Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger. When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace becomes involved, he has his own demons to contend with while he tries to crack the case in time to save the Bryce family’s lives.

 

LOOKING GOOD DEAD: REVIEW

This exhilarating evening will keep you gripped until the final chilling moments.

There is no need to translate this whistle-stop Theatre adaptation of Peter James’ novel Looking Good Dead.

Featuring soap stars from screen to the stage at Leeds Grand Theatre as we read the layers of this thriller, originally published as a crime novel which has already been translated in book format to countries worldwide.

The layers of stories, the characters, and the script are set around a classic gripping story with the added dynamic of the YouTube platform being used to livestream the murder and subsequent attempted murder and kidnapping of the main three characters.

My confession: The twists and turns of the show live stream to all viewers this complex yet simple to follow literary adaptation. There is no need for translation, including for novices like me.

I have never read the novel nor have I heard of it and I was put off by initially by the book cover when I researched Looking Good Dead in the hours prior to my review.

But my friend and I who ironically both run YouTube channels, about unrelated topics such as well-being and cars may add, were swept along by this masterpiece for all.

If you’re new to crime novels, the Theatre or you simply need a night out at Leeds Grand Theatre, make sure you ease yourself back in with this burst of brilliance. There was no live stream countdown set for us, despite our short usually shot social media attention spans, as we were surprised when it was the interval as well as the end.

It left us wanting more and maybe even picking up this multi-layered book of complex simplicity.

FOLLOW LOOKING GOOD DEAD STARS: 

@grandtheatrels1 @AdamWoodyatt @MsGFaye Twitter: @peterjamesstage Instagram: @peterjamesonstage

Looking Good Dead Cast

Adam Woodyatt is the longest serving cast member in EastEnders having appeared continuously as Ian Beale since the show began in 1985. For his portrayal of the role he was honoured in 2013 with the Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2015 after the EastEnders 30th Anniversary Live episode, Best Actor at the British Soap Awards.

Looking Good Dead marks Adam’s return to stage in a play for the first time since 1982 as a 13-year-old at the National Theatre in Tom Stoppard’s On The Razzle. In addition to EastEnders Adam has also appeared on many TV programmes including Robot WarsDream HouseA Question of Sport, presented The National Lottery draw live and last year was a contestant on Celebrity Masterchef. He has also previously appeared in the pantomimes Peter PanSnow WhiteAladdinMother Goose and Cinderella.

Gaynor Faye played the role of Megan Macey in Emmerdale for seven years. She is also well-known for playing Judy Mallett in Coronation Street and most recently played Cheryl Armitage in the BBC1 drama The Syndicate. Her many other TV credits include Fat Friends and Playing The Field. Gaynor’s stage credits include Celia in the original West End production of Calendar Girls and Rose in the recent UK premiere and tour of Band of Gold. Other stage credits include the Narrator in Jonathan Harvey’s comedy play Corrie! and Cathy in Wuthering Heights for Hull Truck.

Additional cast includes: Harry Long (Roy Grace), Ian Houghton (Jonas), Leon Stewart (Branson), Gemma Stroyan (Bella), Luke Ward-Wilkinson (Max Bryce), Mylo McDonald (Mick) and Natalie Boakye (Janie)

Looking Good Dead Creatives

Peter James’ Looking Good Dead is produced by Joshua Andrews and Peter James and has been adapted for the stage by Shaun Mckenna. An award-winning British dramatist, Shaun’s previous theatre credits include Ladies in LavenderThe Lord of The Rings musical and Peter James’ The Perfect Murder, Dead SimpleNot Dead Enough and The House on Cold HillPeter James’ Looking Good Dead is directed by Jonathan O’Boyle, designed by Michael Holt with Lighting Design by Jason Taylor. The Composer and Sound Designer is Max Pappenheim.

Peter James is a number one bestselling author of crime and thriller novels and the creator of the much-loved Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, now a major ITV series, GRACE. He has topped the Sunday Times best seller list 18 times and has achieved global book sales of over 21 million copies which have been translated into 37 languages.

Synonymous with plot twisting page turners, he has garnered an army of loyal fans throughout his storytelling career which also included writing for TV and producing films. He has won over 40 awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award, Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger and a BAFTA nomination for The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons for which he was an Executive Producer.  

 


 

Peter James’ Looking Good Dead is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 September 2021

Book online at leedsheritagetheatres.com or call 0113 243 0808

OH SO WRONG BUT BRILLIANT COMEDY FLIES INTO LEEDS GRAND THEATRE WITH PENN AND TELLERS “MAGIC GOES WRONG”

As the raptuous applause subsided, the protagonist of the show aka the loveable yet intelligently silly ring master, turned to us as a fellow creative, enthusiastically closed the show with a simple yet powerful sentence embodying exactly what these experiences mean to us: 

“Thank you for returning to live theatre!” Cue even more applause and the odd tear of joy. 

Sometimes the art of simplicity is much harder to craft, making complex scenes look easy or de-flowering unnecessary language. But not only were we all beaming under the veil of our masks this was an awesome return for us all to Leeds Grand Theatre. 

Different in many ways but the same familiar awe of one of Leeds’ best loved venues. 

In many ways it sums up this fantastical crafted piece of theatre which cleverly interlaces slapstick humour and magic show favourites whilst also managing to make fun of them yet remaining respectful and downright hilariously done. 

It was the perfect warm welcome back into my favourite night out… theatre! And a bit of dancing at the end! It was a first for my eldest daughter first who may not have got all the ‘in’ jokes of old school magic, but the beauty is that there are so many layers of this light but skilful cake that Penn and Teller manage to bring they’re back with magical bang… just watch out for which way they fire the canon! 

Magic Goes Wrong: Mon 30 Aug – Sat 4 Sep 2021

Olivier award-winning comedy favourites, Mischief, and magic legends Penn & Teller are set to cast a spell on Leeds Grand Theatre audiences from Mon 30 August to Sat 4 September with their first ever tour of Magic Goes Wrong.

Mischief’s biggest and most daring comedy catastrophe to date follows a hapless gang of magicians as they stage an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity. As the magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and so does their fundraising target!

Mischief’s other West End successes include The Play That Goes WrongPeter Pan Goes WrongThe Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Groan Ups and Mischief Movie Night. Their hugely successful six-part TV Series, The Goes Wrong Show, aired in the UK on BBC ONE and on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada and Australia. The show received a 2020 TV Choice Award nomination for Best Comedy and has recently been nominated in the Comedy category at the 2021 National Television Awards. Series two is currently in production.

Looking Good Dead: Mon 6 – Sat 11 2021

Cling to the edge of your seat: the world premiere stage production of Peter James’ Looking Good Dead is set to thrill Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 September 2021.

Starring award-winning actor and EastEnders icon, Adam Woodyatt, and star of stage and screen Gaynor Faye (Emmerdale, Coronation Street, The Syndicate), Looking Good Dead is Peter James’s fifth novel to be brought to the stage and follows the hugely successful productions of The House on Cold Hill starring Joe McFadden and Rita Simons, Not Dead Enough starring Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore, The Perfect Murder starring Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, and Dead Simple starring Tina Hobley. 

Premise: No good deed goes unpunished… hours after picking up a USB memory stick, left behind on a train seat, Tom Bryce (Adam Woodyatt) inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder. Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger. When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace becomes involved, he has his own demons to contend with while he tries to crack the case in time to save the Bryce family’s lives.

This exhilarating evening will keep you gripped until the final chilling moments.

OH SO WRONG BUT BRILLIANT COMEDY FLIES INTO LEEDS GRAND THEATRE WITH PENN AND TELLERS “MAGIC GOES WRONG” – REVIEW

As the rapturous applause subsided, the protagonist of the show aka the loveable yet intelligently silly ring master, turned to us as a fellow creative, enthusiastically closed the show with a simple yet powerful sentence embodying exactly what these experiences mean to us: 

“Thank you for returning to live theatre!” Cue even more applause and the odd tear of joy. 

Sometimes the art of simplicity is much harder to craft, making complex scenes look easy or de-flowering unnecessary language. But not only were we all beaming under the veil of our masks this was an awesome return for us all to Leeds Grand Theatre. 

Different in many ways but the same familiar awe of one of Leeds’ best loved venues. 

In many ways it sums up this fantastical crafted piece of theatre which cleverly interlaces slapstick humour and magic show favourites whilst also managing to make fun of them yet remaining respectful and downright hilariously done. 

It was the perfect warm welcome back into my favourite night out… theatre! And a bit of dancing at the end! It was a first for my eldest daughter first who may not have got all the ‘in’ jokes of old school magic, but the beauty is that there are so many layers of this light but skilful cake that Penn and Teller manage to bring they’re back with magical bang… just watch out for which way they fire the canon! 

Magic Goes Wrong: Mon 30 Aug – Sat 4 Sep 2021

Olivier award-winning comedy favourites, Mischief, and magic legends Penn & Teller are set to cast a spell on Leeds Grand Theatre audiences from Mon 30 August to Sat 4 September with their first ever tour of Magic Goes Wrong.

Mischief’s biggest and most daring comedy catastrophe to date follows a hapless gang of magicians as they stage an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity. As the magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and so does their fundraising target!

Mischief’s other West End successes include The Play That Goes WrongPeter Pan Goes WrongThe Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Groan Ups and Mischief Movie Night. Their hugely successful six-part TV Series, The Goes Wrong Show, aired in the UK on BBC ONE and on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada and Australia. The show received a 2020 TV Choice Award nomination for Best Comedy and has recently been nominated in the Comedy category at the 2021 National Television Awards. Series two is currently in production.


Looking Good Dead: Mon 6 – Sat 11 2021

Cling to the edge of your seat: the world premiere stage production of Peter James’ Looking Good Dead is set to thrill Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 September 2021.

Starring award-winning actor and EastEnders icon, Adam Woodyatt, and star of stage and screen Gaynor Faye (Emmerdale, Coronation Street, The Syndicate), Looking Good Dead is Peter James’s fifth novel to be brought to the stage and follows the hugely successful productions of The House on Cold Hill starring Joe McFadden and Rita Simons, Not Dead Enough starring Shane Richie and Laura Whitmore, The Perfect Murder starring Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, and Dead Simple starring Tina Hobley. 

Premise: No good deed goes unpunished… hours after picking up a USB memory stick, left behind on a train seat, Tom Bryce (Adam Woodyatt) inadvertently becomes a witness to a vicious murder. Reporting the crime to the police has disastrous consequences, placing him and his family in grave danger. When Detective Superintendent Roy Grace becomes involved, he has his own demons to contend with while he tries to crack the case in time to save the Bryce family’s lives.

This exhilarating evening will keep you gripped until the final chilling moments.


Magic Goes Wrong is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 30 August to Saturday 4 September 2021

Peter James’ Looking Good Dead is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 6 to Saturday 11 September 2021

Book online at leedsheritagetheatres.com or call 0113 243 0808

Northerners leading the way in Digital Creativity – Get ready to meet Meta Humans on our doorstep

The glaring screen of the computer, endless broadband blips and phone calls have left a lot of us feeling more isolated than ever, craving the human spirit. 

Resulting in whole teams of work-from-home professionals feeling stressed, lonely, and digitally overloaded. 

“As a digital journalist, most of my work is online or facing a lens. But in Lockdown I began loathing my laptop which had initially empowered me as a freelancing home bird. 

So it’s no surprise that there is often reluctance with technological leaps such as making digital ‘meta’ humans in a matter of minutes and projecting humans into a TV studio instead of travel. 

Has this period triggered my ultimate transformation from a tech-lover to an outdoors explorer?” 

Our multi-platform editor Sophie Mei Lan shares how technology can serve us rather than stifle human connectivity, developing communities and relationships by incorporating both the digital and real-world…

“What we become is up to you” as the Amazon Prime documentary Above Human states. 

We, humans, are the inventors of how we use and develop digital technology when it comes to fostering community spirit, connections, and even ways to enable real-life communication. My only fear has been digital accessibility and being left ‘behind’ as we need more diversity in technology to reflect in the future ‘digital model.’

But I for one feels reinvigorated, after having my creative mind sparked by a journey exploring a new extended reality (XR) studio at the XPLOR facility, in Production Park, Castleford. No need for me to be beamed into a studio for once, as we now have one of the best facilities around thanks to Production Park a Live Events Campus. If it’s good enough for Lady Gaga, Metallica, and Hugh Jackman, it’s not a million dreams away anymore for me. 

I discovered more about meta-humans, XR technology that merges virtual reality with the real world to showcase live events, dynamic shows, and sporting events such as the Olympics with BBC using the old-school green screen to attempt this and ITV using the latest in LED. The technology is so advanced that at times it’s hard to decipher between the two worlds. 

XR acts as an ‘add-on’ to existing technology that can create connections with communities near and far in real-time. You could be on-air interviewing one person in a studio and another in a different country as if you were all together as well as simultaneously having a live audience and tv viewers watch. 

Rather than ‘replacing’ communities, XR is forging more connectivity amongst people who may not have first ‘related’ to one another with introductions being filtered avatar photos. It also allows for these deeper relationships to be more accessible, overcoming barriers such as travel, disability, and personal responsibilities. 

Some see it as a threat to the world as we know it, but people are always reluctant to change and I am enthralled to embrace this opportunity that will transform traditional media for us all. Plus with more nationals and creative hubs like Tileyard North set to open on my doorstep, bridging the gap for the creative industries up north, it feels like for once us Yorkshire folk may be spoilt for choice. 

In need of inspiration or enlightenment? Head down the road to Cass. You may even find this digital journalist beaming guests live and pre-recorded for her latest Youtube documentary. 

I am making sure however I continue to support digital accessibility with our new project Digitally Active to connect, support, and share advanced digital skills with disabled tech-lovers who want to work in the industry yet face barriers. You can find out more at yorkshirefamilies.co.uk or contact Sophie directly through her vlog https://mamamei.co.uk