SAY YES TO TESS: Yorkshire grit on show at Leeds Playhouse

Say Yes To Tess, a hilarious and uplifting new musical based on a true story of activism, Yorkshire grit and learning to vote for yourself co-directed by Tess Seddon and Harry Blake.

Inspired by theatre-maker Tess Seddon’s real-life experiences in the world of UK politics as a Yorkshire Party candidate, this entertaining and accessible musical is for those who don’t think politics is for them. It follows the 30-year-old Labour voter’s return from London to Leeds to try and win back her boyfriend. Temping at a call centre and trying to survive a frosty house-share, she feels lost and lonely until she meets the Yorkshire Party and is inspired to stand in the 2017 General Election as a candidate for Leeds North East.

Thrust into the spotlight, Tess takes the Yorkshire Party’s passion for people, park & rides and devolution to the streets, finding friends in unlikely places. But with the General Election growing closer, she starts to question whether she’s doing the right thing.

Here Corinna @connectwakefield shares her view:

I was over the moon to get tickets for the Musical “Say Yes to Tess” at Leeds Playhouse on Friday night.

Written by and starring Tess Seddon, who was an accidental Yorkshire Party candidate in the 2016 General Election.

As someone who finds politics overwhelming, the show spoke to me.

Tess had moved back up to Yorkshire from London for work, and somehow found herself at a meeting for the Yorkshire Party (whose branding was all in Comic Sans!)

After much persuasion and encouragement, Tess went from feeling hopeless and thinking there was no point in trying to do anything in such a messed up political system, to realising the most hopeful thing people can do is actually take part, and ended up campaigning for Yorkshire to break away from Government in London.

Her campaign resonated with a lot of people and she realised that change really does start at a grass roots level.

Despite the cast only containing five members, there were multiple characters portrayed, from the staunch Labour-voting dad, to the grumpy apathetic housemate, to the erotic-novel writing, cat cardigan-wearer.

The songs were a joy and we couldn’t help but hum them with a chuckle as we enjoyed a few drinks after the performance.

This is a real feel-good show, and a great night out, whether you’re political or not!

Say Yes to Tess opens at Leeds Playhouse before transferring to Camden People’s Theatre in London.

Top TikTok tips for businesses from motoring star

  • Bradford-based skin specialist becomes TikTok star with her passion for cars 
  • Abigayle Andre, 29, has landed deals with some of the UK’s largest motor brands after going viral on the popular social media platform, launching this month.
  • The car consumer expert has skyrocketed in popularity alongside the rise of electric cars sales in Europe which overtook diesel models for the first time in December. 
  • Abigayle who grew up with a fascination with cars, later worked in the industry before setting up her own businesses, is “living the dream” since being inundated with opportunities in the motor industry.
  • Abigayle who has a predominately female client base with her businesses knows that Women are also the fastest-growing market of car buyers in the UK. Plus women are involved in 85 percent of buying decisions.
  • From Tiktok to transforming her career : Abigayle has gone from talking on TikTok to presenting for London EV show and for commercials as well as pursuing her career as motor journalist. 
  • The TikTok star who used to work for the Volkswagen group accelerated into the spotlight shortly after setting up her channel in the second Lockdown.
  • Abigayle manages to appeal to all sexes from her platform. She received 12 million views to her She Talks Cars TikTok channel in the last month alone.

TikTok has transformed the life of a Bradford-based businesswoman who shares her passion for cars on the popular social media platform. 

Abigayle Andre, 29, started sharing her motoring knowledge in the second Lockdown and has since accelerated to success, landing deals with the UK’s most popular brands after going viral on the popular social media platform.

Abigayle said: “I have always had a love of cars and would read every motoring magazine and newspaper as a child.  I started working for the Volkswagen Group in customer relations which sewed the seeds to where I am today.” 

Abigayle continued her love of working with clients but as a beautician before setting up her own businesses.

“My love of motors never subsided and I discovered I would not just be working with women in my businesses, but recommending the perfect car for them too.”

Entrepreneur Abigayle who had a predominately female client base, quickly understood that Women are in fact the fastest-growing market of car buyers in the UK as well as being involved in 85 percent of buying decisions.

She said: “It has always been a male-dominated industry internally but fortunately more forward-thinking brands now realise how important women are in the market.” 

Trailblazer Abigayle who has become a brand ambassador and presenter for a range of selective brands, after launching @SheTalksCars on TikTok in Lockdown Two. 

She said: “I just wanted to give consumers the confidence to buy or, as I often advise, lease a vehicle, that is both value for money and stylish. 

“I talk a lot about electric cars too because consumers are more conscious these days and I want to help them discover a motor that embodies all their needs because your vehicle says a lot about you.

“It’s been a whirlwind receiving so many offers from brands and opportunities but I am selective about who I work with as I have to believe what they do as my followers come first to me.”

For the first time in December Electric car sales in Europe surpassed diesel models. 

More than a fifth of new cars sold across 18 European markets, including the UK, were powered exclusively by batteries, according to data compiled for the Financial Times by independent auto analyst Matthias Schmidt, while diesel cars, including diesel hybrids, accounted for less than 19 percent of sales.

Abigayle also felt a surge last month with 12 million organic views to her TikTok account in which she posts short helpful videos a few times a day. 

“I feel like I am living the dream,” said the down-to-earth car fanatic who recently presented at the London EV show, the UK’s most important Electric Vehicles Conference & Expo Live. At the event, she interviewed the likes of Quentin Wilson and Transport for London. 

Abigayle who has acquired 55k followers within months receives tens of messages daily from grateful customers who have purchased or in most cases, leased their ideal vehicle off the back of Abigayle’s advice. 

“Leasing is rightly becoming one of the most popular ways of owning a car because it is much cheaper than financing options and buying a car because you’re only paying for the depreciation value.“I also react to the news such as the rise in fuel prices and how to save money or to make the most out of electric vehicles. I am always listening out for what will help people the most.

“My followers deserve honest up-to-date advice and I take that responsibility seriously.”  

For more information, go to: follow @shetalkscars 

Abigayle’s top three TikTok tips are below: 

  • Give Value For FREE 

What do you know about it? What are you passionate about? Use your channel to educate others on that topic, you may think people already know this stuff. But you’d be surprised how much value YOU have. 

  •  Put Your Audience FIRST 

Always create with the audience in mind, this can be hard to figure out at first. So get started on what you think will help others and what you’re passionate about and as people start asking questions or talking about specific things, lean into that! 

–  Be Consistent 

Post 3-4 times per day for at least the first 2-4 weeks. Then make sure you post every day and keep the theme of your channel consistent. 

SPICING UP THE CUPBOARD BASICS: Leeds entrepreneurs ensure that those in need have some flavour in their lives 

·        A husband and wife team who create Indian Spice blends, donate sachets of their homemade product to ‘spice up’ food parcels given out by the Salvation Army. 

·        Inspired by his single mother who lived on the breadline and made the most of her empty fridge by spicing up baked beans and scrambled eggs, Dave Singh set up Go Indian Spice with his wife Lucky Kaur. 

·        The Leeds-dwelling pair hope their affordable blend will help other families like theirs to batch cook and eat healthily on a budget while donating a portion of their profits to charity. 

·        More families are struggling to make ends meet with a rise in fuel and energy prices “but that doesn’t have to mean bland food,” explains Lucky Kaur. 

·        Their first ingredient in business is spice blends which they hope will be their recipe to success and then they will start their own charity.

Uninspired by the spices on supermarket shelves as well as the bland offering of affordable food, a husband and wife team decided to spice up cupboard basics in the hope of inspiring others. 

Dave and Lucky from Leeds, are on a mission to spice up the lives of families living on the breadline, after experiencing their own hardships growing up. 

Dave said: “I was brought up in a poor part of Glasgow with a single mother and often we didn’t know if there would be food on the table.

“But when there was food, even if all she could afford was some eggs and baked beans, she would make us baked bean curry or masala scrambled eggs.” 

Dave who now lives with his own 9-year-old daughter and wife has his sights firmly set on creating his own empire out of their small kitchen.

He said: “Being a foodie doesn’t have to be just for the wealthy, all of us deserve to taste flavoursome food. 

“My mum used to be so creative, she inspired me to make the most of everything.” 

So after years of making their own spice blends at home, Dave and his wife decided to follow their dreams and set up their own business. 

“Our whole ethos is to give back. Yes we want to build a business but it’s with the goal of starting a charity,” said Dave. 

Initially, the hope is that the product will encourage and enable more healthy eating and for families to batch cook nutritious food. 

“With price hikes, a lot of families are being forced to cut their shopping budget but this doesn’t have to mean unhealthy bland food.”

Dave who works in finance and his wife Lucky works part-time in a doctor’s surgery aspire to succeed in their business to give their daughter a better life and others. 

“We’ve done alright for ourselves but my wife’s health isn’t great so she can’t continue cleaning. Plus, her heart is in creating our unique spice blends for our company based in York,” said Dave who felt privileged to be in a position to provide for his family. 

“We could always do better, but our journey is about taking others in need on the journey to reap the rewards of us doing better in life and business.” 

Their business journey started last September when they officially set up Go Indian Spice – a subscription box service. 

Since then, they have been offered to deliver demos at food festivals and have a goal of boosting their online sales to help families globally. 

What’s their secret this far? 

Lucky said: “We believe in great tasting, healthy dishes that make you feel fantastic and still pack a flavour punch. Being of Indian heritage, Indian cuisine has a particularly special place in our hearts and we’ve always loved experimenting with creating our own spice blends. 


“We wanted a way of bringing our homemade creations to kitchens across the country, to help everyone share the same joy and fun we have when we’re cooking. But we also wanted to make sure we were bringing something healthy and unique to the market too.”

Go Indian Spice mixes are all vegan, gluten-free and contain no artificial ingredients. They’ve also teamed up with a team of dietitians to provide general monthly health tips – all evidence-based – exclusively for regular spice box subscribers.

Lucky added: “Our spice blends aren’t just for Indian food either. They’re perfect for sparking inspiration, experimenting with your ingredients and creating some truly unique and wonderful fusion dishes. We can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.”

For more information, go to: 


In 2017, my wife Lucky and I were out shopping for spices. We were in our local supermarket and ended up buying a general curry powder mix. Once home, we created our meal using the mix we had just purchased and sat down to eat it with great anticipation. Sadly, our enthusiasm was quickly quashed and we were so disappointed with the (lack of) flavour that we got to thinking that we could do much better ourselves.

Today, Lucky and I consider ourselves to be very lucky indeed as we are now the proud owners and producers of Go Indian Spice blends. We simply cannot contain our enthusiasm for you to share in the enjoyment of trying out our wonderful spice blends of ‘Kickstart’, ‘Refresh’, ‘Boost’ and ‘Zing’. We are hopeful that you too will enjoy and join us in our passion for food and love of Indian cuisine when using our unique spice blends.

We have taken the utmost care to ensure that all our mixes are versatile because they are not just for curries, but can be used for fusion dishes such as our ‘Spiced Fishcake’ recipe in the recipe section on our website. Suitable for vegans, gluten-free and containing no artificial ingredients, our spice blends are also low in salt which many of us eat too much of in our day-to-day diets. Why do we need to reduce salt? Well, a diet high in salt can cause raised blood pressure, which can increase risk of heart disease and stroke.

The most important elements of a basic curry are usually onions and spices. Curries are not to be rushed and can be prepared in a large pot, saucepan or skillet. You can even prepare them in a slow cooker if you find that more convenient. Ring the changes with ingredients – use veggies, fish or meat depending upon your personal eating style.

We sincerely hope that you will share our love, passion, the joy of food and love of food when you try using our spice blends and would love to hear from you when you create something new and tasty with them.  

Dave and Lucky, Co-Founders of Go Indian Spice


Surely they can’t just want to help others? There must be something in it to help themselves? Our human brains are wired with a negativity bias so our primal instinct is to think ‘worst case scenario.’

But actually many people simply want to help. 

Yes, ‘giving,’ one of the five ways to wellbeing, results in a feel good factor,  but many altruistic people in our communities ‘give,’ all year round because everyone needs support in some walk of life. 

But can this be the case with business leaders? Whether they are driving a non-profit or a philanthropic organisation, money doesn’t always need to be a dirty word because actually the more these ‘brands,’ do good, the more good that can be done in the world, in the right hands. 

I didn’t always believe this, so I never desired to earn a lot of money as I just wanted to help people who felt unheard, until I discovered social enterprises and  I realised my poverty mindset was holding me back. Setting up as a nonprofit meant I needed to drive revenue and profit to be reinvested into the communities I wished to serve.

This is something that Leeds accountant and avid Yorkshire Evening Post reader Colin Glass has since drilled into me. His drive is not money which seems ironic as an ‘accountant,’ but it’s to enable businesses to flourish so that organisations prosper and reach their potential – “but we all need to live and deserved to be paid for our skills.” 

And even when such philanthropic leaders reach their potential, as I witnessed at the recent not-for-profit Yorkshire Society Awards, those leaders often use their platform to do more good. Such as those attending the awards who chose to fundraise on the night for Yorkshire Children’s Charity.

We all know as ‘leaders,’ in any area of life that while we may have blossomed out of our own adversity that we too needed support along the way. And actually we still do. 

Last week, for example, we launched our first professional Impact Podcast with business support organisation AD: Venture and while we shared tips on where to find support, both our guest Rebecca. Hopwood Youbee Media and I shared how we too were receiving support from AD: Venture to grow our enterprises.

IMPACT PODCAST: Connecting with your challenging cheerleaders so you can better serve others

Even that morning before recording, I had a mental health appointment and that evening I attended a Yoga class because I know what I need to do to stay as well as possible. 

One of the ways we can help ourselves is by practicing “gratitude,” explains Leeds-based The Joyful Coach Sophie Cliff at the first WECAN business conference held to empower female leaders. 

“Gratitude is taking positive emotions and swirling them around in your mind.”

Sophie transformed a tragic bereavement into her new business in which she now uses positive psychology to transform the lives of others. 

In a hyperconnected world, we can all feel disconnected, so safe places brining people together to support one another and challenge each other to prosper, which means we can better help others. 

And as Ali Ward from Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber said: “I don’t like the term ‘not for profit’. Instead, it should be ‘profit for good’ as a social enterprise sees their ‘profit’ as a way to direct some good.”

Let’s start giving to ourselves and others this Lent and beyond. 

Photo: “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”Mayor Tracy Brabin at WECAN Conference


A lot of us struggle to adjust to new seasons in life and business as we age, we feel unsure and have periods of instability. Especially when it comes to running an enterprise.

We look back with rose-tinted glasses and social media ‘memories’ don’t help either as they are often a collection of images that gloss over the grit of reality. 

Even birthdays can feel stressful with so many options available to us to mark another year of life and more responsibilities. 

With 35-44 year-olds tending to be the most ‘stressed out’ in the UK due to work, health, and a range of other issues including housing and finance.

Can you imagine, however, fleeing a war-torn country and finding yourself in situations where your life is at risk at home?

While our issues are relative, appreciation for having such choices can help to allay stress.

We may have ‘distanced’ ourselves from such realities facing asylum seekers in the past, but with the abhorrent war in Ukraine, it is much closer to home. Finally, people are united in ‘relating’ to human beings who find themselves in such a hellish reality. 

More optimistically however are the ‘olive branches’ that pioneering folk from Yorkshire have offered to those seeking sanctuary before the media coverage of this disaster. 

Sheffield was the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, Leeds which is now also a City of Sanctuary plays host to the UK’s first Theatre of Sanctuary Leeds Playhouse and Wakefield has the first Studio of Sanctuary at The Arthouse, as well as Theatre Royal Wakefield who has become a Theatre of Sanctuary. 

It’s easy to take these venues for granted as we busily scurry past, but actually, inside contain life-changing offerings. 

Such cultural hubbubs have not only created accessible activities for a range of people from marginalised backgrounds, but they actively offer a welcome to refugees and Asylum Seekers who are part of our community, our family. 

It’s one thing to build a bridge between English-speaking locals and these cultural institutes but how do they cater for many of those seeking asylum when English isn’t their first language?  

Particularly as many people’s lives can be transient as these human beings have no choice but to be ‘dispersed’ across the UK. Fortunately, places of sanctuary can offer some respite and hope. 

As drama practitioner Gemma Whelan explained that ‘play’ is a universal language. Much like dance, art, and creative story-telling. 

Gemma, who works for the Theatre Royal in Wakefield which runs the Conversation Cafe, said: “I’ve had the rare and wonderful joy of working alongside families who are new to the country that I call home. 

“As a drama practitioner the core of the work I do is using play and storytelling to explore the ‘now’ we find ourselves standing in and I was tentative, to begin with as I didn’t want to press any bruises and exploit any heartache. I needn’t have worried as play is a universal language one understood the world over and offers moments of reprise. There is freedom and release found in joy.”

The theatre has created such a ‘place to belong’ for the new locals that despite the chaotic nature of their reality, many people escape this uncertainty temporarily with the anchor of this Theatre of Sanctuary. 

Gemma added: “I could talk about the heartbreak and harrowing experiences the people I work with have endured but that’s their story to tell not mine. So I will leave you with the moment that I was stood with a young man from Sudan who came to the session on his 17th birthday and when I asked if he’s had any special plans, he’s said ‘this is my special plan, you are all my family, this is home, here with you all.’

As I finish writing this while watching BBC News on loop as the situation evolves, I look up to see a mother’s video of her daughter’s birthday being celebrated underground in Ukraine.

As I soon mark another year of life I no longer feel overwhelmed by emotions thinking of what I should have been doing by now in my life, instead, I count my blessings.

Perspective and pauses can help us to reanalyse our own situation.

Read more from Sophie at

Photo: Yorkshire artist Panni Loh has created cards all proceeds going to Ukraine – Contact


We all know that we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to stay well and boost immunity, but with our already hectic lives, most of us find this a challenge. 

Fortunately, two entrepreneurs are on a mission to make feeling healthy affordable at a cost of £1 per day and attainable with their pioneering immune-boosting products, 7immune. 

Sam Ahmed said:

“I loved my career working with Premiership footballers and Boxers,  I have been always passionate about sport, nutrition, and our health. 

“But sports pros have the money and team to stay as healthy as possible and watch everything they consume. But for the everyday person, it can be really challenging.

“I learned a lot from my time working with professional athletes, but I knew that the everyday person needed help urgently,” said Sam together with Rassam have spent the past 3 years working on his immune-boosting products.  

“A friend introduced me to a chef who came up with the idea of an immune-boosting ice cube. While it was revolutionary, all the ingredients were 100 percent natural and pure. 

It’s not about profit for me and Rassam it’s about supporting people to be the best version of themselves.” 

Dad of Two Sam thanks his humble roots of being born in Birmingham and bred in innercity Toxteth, Liverpool, for inspiring him to help the wider public, supporting them to feel like “world champions.” 

Rassam and Sam knew they wanted to create a recipe that was all plant-based and with only pure ingredients, which is when 7immune was born. Consisting of seven ingredients: Valencia Orange, Soursop, Pineapple Core, Ginger, Ginseng, Arrowroot, and Turmeric.

While his costs were high, he wanted to ensure the products were affordable so he needed investment to create them on a larger scale. 

It was then he asked childhood friend  Rassam Muslah, to invest. 

Dad-of-four Rassam also born in Liverpool and grew up in Toxteth said: “I was sceptical at first although I trusted Sam, so I tried a sample. 

“Within a week I had to go back I wanted to be apart of this exciting new project  even though there so so much work still to do.

The pair then ensured the product went through 8 months of vigourous lab testing and implemented the right procedures to get a consumable product off the ground. 

Sam said: “I had been helping some incredible boxers and footballers achieve their peak, I put the same effort into managing the ingredients of this product. It was all about precision.”

Then when the Pandemic hit Sam and Rassam knew it was time to really try to help those on the ground. 

7immune launched the world’s first immune-boosting ice cube, their signature product with the help of celebrity endorsements, the cubes made a noise online and it became so popular that Rassam and Sam offered a subscription model too. 

7immune is a blend of 7 natural, organic ingredients that have been specifically selected and prepared to maximise potency, allowing all nutrients to focus on your immune system and help your body function at its peak.

Sam said: “People were raving about us on Trustpilot and any initial scepticism was quashed”.

Rassam said “You can certainly taste all the ingredients as it’s all plant-based and jam packed with antioxidants.” 

After their global online launch proving popular, Rassam and Sam who have both stayed living in the area they grew up in, wanted to make sure they were re-investing their success into the local community too. 

“We regularly donate bottles of 7immune with the ice cube trays to the local care home. And we continuously raise money for Cash for Kids.” 

Not ones to get complacent however, as Sam and Rassam have since launched a 7immune tea and Grab & Go brownie range as well as setting their sights on more products combining their essential ingredients. 

But it was their signature ice cubes that caught the attention of the popular Shankly Hotel in Liverpool City Centre. 

The Shankly which is a tribute to footballer and manager Bill Shankly, leading Sam back to his pro sport roots. 

He said: “They approached us having heard and tried our ice cubes, to design a hangover station for guests in the hotel foyer. 

“We know the ice cubes are much better for you and can help cure hangovers instantly – we’ve research and tested the product on a number of people and had amazing feedback.

7immune not only can support the immunity of hungover revellers or those struggling to get their five a day, it can help anyone.

Rassam said: “As two avid gym-goers we know how hard it is to fuel up on something healthy when you’re on-the-go, so we are launching 7immune in gym vending machines too.” 

Now with a strong throng of fans behind the products, Rassam and Sam are looking forward to rolling new punches with a range of other products which are in the pipeline.

For more, information, go to: follow @7immune

Key Facts:

  • Sam Ahmed who managed premiership professional footballers together with Rassam Musleh property developer/ Retail sector, have created a product worthy of the limelight.
  • Liverpudlian entrepreneurs Rassam Musleh 43 and Sam Ahmed 45 both directors and founders have a range of transformational immune-boosting products called 7immune.
  • 7immune is a blend of 7 natural, organic ingredients that have been specifically selected and prepared to maximise potency, allowing all nutrients to focus on your immune system and help your body function at its peak.
  • From immune ice, the world’s first immune-boosting ice cube to tea and now Brownies.
  • Childhood friends Rassam Musleh and Sam Ahmed launched 7immune at the start of the first Lockdown.
  • The philanthropic pair of entrepreneurs donate their products to some care homes across Liverpool as well as raise money for Cash For Kids.

International Women’s Day: New Power offers a world of hope for women 

While the Pandemic has hit young people and women the hardest financially, it has also seen the rise of new power. With diverse voices coming to the forefront thanks to online platforms. 

‘The battle between old and new power is determining who governs us, how we work, and even how we think and feel.’ explains Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms in New Power. We have witnessed this through the rise of community media outlets online since the world wide web was born. The internet began with a philosophy of ‘empowering the individual.’ It has since enabled often marginalised communities to join together to provoke positive action in the world. 

A perfect example of this is the #MeToo movement which fought against the old power of Harvey Weinstein. No longer could he rely on his powerful status and the hierarchy to be ‘untouchable.’ More recently social media has helped us connect with the brave human beings in Ukraine and to hold those in power to account. Dragon Den’s Star Deborah Meaden has been using her half a million Twitter followers to campaign to help Ukraine and has held the government to account.  

New power evidently isn’t just about giving people a platform, but it enables people to create a movement. 

But can we really feel connected in a hyperconnected world? 

No matter how large or small their mission, it has been wonderful to witness other content creators aka leaders, largely women, find their voice online locally. 

From Leeds-based Simply Ladies, an online community holding a real women fashion show and awards to champion women in business to Wakefield entrepreneurs Fanfare Music and WF Web design who have joined forces to create a charity fashion show in aid of Wakefield Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund. Inclusivity campaigner Mel Ellyard also set up Include Me to bring people together to campaign for a more diverse and inclusive world of entrepreneurship. Not only have these pioneers turned their own adversity into success stories but they are now using this ‘new power’ to help other women. 

But sadly the story is twofold with so much online discrimination, abuse, and harassment. For women, this is largely based on gender. “I’ve been offline for a bit because my mental health can’t stand the abuse,” I see another female leader I write online. While we all need an online sabbatical for our mental wellbeing at times, it riles me that so many women who have a strong voice and gain recognition, get attacked by such ‘old power’ mentalities. 

On the one hand, we have promising more democratic platforms but on the other we see these platforms breed hatred and even create old power leadership with those at the helm of social media platforms. 

New power however has created strong movements such as International Women’s Day on March 8th which celebrates the achievement of women while campaigning to #BreaktheBias. I am optimistic that the more women and allies to gender equality join forces we can truly harness our power to create change online, in the media, and most of all within our communities.  

This is why community media is so important because it is about harnessing often marginalised voices and enabling them to be empowered by creating media with meaning to promote positive social change – changing lives and changing minds. Connecting human beings with their community and with others across the globe. Read more from Community Media advocate, social entrepreneur, and mental health campaigner Sophie Mei Lan at

Photo: As my daughter who was due on International Women’s Day marks her 10th birthday, I have a duty to champion women’s voices for a better future for all. My ‘new power’ vehicle is the media.

Collaborate don’t compete: The power of local businesses uniting

For too long we have been fed business advice that talks primarily about beating competition rather than focusing on what the customer wants. And nowadays we are witnessing a rise of conscious consumerism where people want to shop locally and as ethically as possible. 

A simple solution to serving audiences who also have little time is with such collaborative models. Not only are they a great way for new, independent, and small businesses to prosper and boost the local economy but they have a fabulous array of goods on offer for buyers who want to do good and shop local but have little time.

CASE STUDY: The Ridings Shopping Centre, Our Sparkle HQ

Whether you’re searching for a handmade gift for a special occasion, a bespoke item, or furniture, or perhaps you’re hungry for a sweet treat… some of the best places to shop local are at the new hubbubs of independent businesses. Marketplaces, where local makers, producers, and creatives sell their goods, offer some incredible finds. From Made and Found’s trendy Yorkshire-themed memorabilia and gifts, Created in Yorkshire’s artistic offerings and Wakefield Antiques Centres quirky historical goods from local sellers to delicious donuts and bakes at Arrowfresh, there is a range of unique goods on offer at The Ridings Shopping Centre.

Not to mention their regular markets and events which bring more yet local suppliers and talented professionals together under one roof.

Here’s a lowdown of what’s on offer 


Local crafters and artists share the space to showcase their creations, so items change on a regular basis.

Official stockist of Frenchic paint.


  • Arrowfresh: Arrow Fresh, opened their first on the mall kiosk, outside of Leeds at The Ridings, selling delicious Yorkshire-baked goodies such as Doh-boy Donuts. 


There’s also a wide range of independents, charity shops, and ethical goods on offer throughout The Ridings Shopping Centre. Read what’s on at and go to

Storytelling facts and why its so powerful for brands/businesses and children

Here are some facts about storytelling that you need to think about when writing a story:
In the 14th century, the word story was referred to an account believed to be true. The earliest use of it was an anecdote in 1425.

Very little is known about the author of Aesop’s Fables except that he was a storyteller and slave who lived in Ancient Greece around 500BC.

Over 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day.2021 Storytelling Stats You Need To Know – Contentworks
Video continues to raise the bar in visual storytelling. Did you know that Facebook video posts garner 135% greater organic reach than photo posts? If you have basic video knowledge, video is a great way to get your brand noticed. 16 Statistics that Make the Case for More Visual Storytelling in Law Firm Content Marketing — Harrington – Thought-Leadership Marketing for Lawyers and Law Firms (

Visual storytelling can help you remain at the top of mind of your audience. According to this infographic from HubSpot, 80% of people remember things they see or experience. 16 Statistics that Make the Case for More Visual Storytelling in Law Firm Content Marketing — Harrington – Thought-Leadership Marketing for Lawyers and Law Firms (

National Storytelling Week is always held in the week of 3rd February, the feast day of St Blaise. St Blaise lived in Armenia in the fourth century. He was a healer of throats and a physician of souls.

Stories have power- they help us understand ourselves and those near to us. 25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling – Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

A good story is a good story regardless of genre. 5 Things You Should Know About Storytelling – Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Always ask, why do I want to tell this? – Know why you’re telling it 5 Things You Should Know About Storytelling – Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

It’s an ancient art- as old as human language. Five facts about Storytelling. What do recent events such as political… | by Romain Pittet | New worlds, new rules, new routes. | Medium

Why is it so powerful?
There are many reasons why storytelling is powerful, so for example for businesses/brands:
Stories about the founder, stories about clients, stories about the staff. Stories that connect an organisation’s vision and mission are extremely powerful at helping every single employee to understand the role they play in achieving those goals.

Storytelling connects the data with experience – an example is the “experience gap”. They connect data with people’s experiences. Consider what we’ve been advised during this pandemic: to maintain a metre and a half distance, wear a mask, use hand sanitiser. These are instructions based on scientific data. This leaves room for “it doesn’t apply to me” and “I don’t want to do it because I’m being told to do it” thinking.

Storytelling is understood by all- stories can be understood by anyone and everyone regardless of age, gender, experience or cultural background.

They take what would be abstract concepts into four intelligences – analytical, emotional, somatic and field intelligence, which help decision making and generate action .

Why Is Storytelling So Powerful? Business Leaders Take Note (

Why Storytelling is so powerful? (

What do stories teach us?
Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others.
Storytelling is a unique way for students to develop an understanding, respect and appreciation for other cultures, and can promote a positive attitude to people from different lands, races and religions.

Why is storytelling powerful and important for children?
Why stories are important

Learning to read is important, we all know that. Research shows that people without good literacy skills do worse in education and are more likely to be unemployed or even suffer from health and relationship problems.
But there’s evidence to suggest that the benefits of being read to frequently as a child go way beyond just literacy skills.

The stories we hear as children shape our view of the world.
Most small children live their lives in quite a limited environment. Reading stories to children can show them far-flung places, extraordinary people and eye-opening situations to expand and enrich their world.

It can also be a great way of helping them deal with real life situations that they need help to deal with. Researchers have found that the brain activity that occurs when we read fiction is very similar to experiencing that situation in real life, so reading about a situation helps children work out how to solve it in reality.

It improves their vocabulary , it improves their listening skills, it develops their imagination and creativity

Crafting an Inclusive Culture in work and life – it’s #TimeToTalk

Culture can be changed or modified in two directions from the collective to the individual and the individual to the collective. The whole concept of mental health is a great example of this two-way change process. For far too long, mental health didn’t even have a term. If you were female, any challenges you were experiencing were simply dismissed as gender bias or put down to the menstrual cycle. If you were male, you were expected just to man up. Both were derogatory and useless in helping anyone. But over time, our collective understanding of issues most of us face from time to time changed, allowing individuals to express themselves more and seek assistance when needed. 

By developing an inclusive culture, that works for all, we create a healthy place that people enjoy being part of. 

Sir Madge Mee writes…

I love words and I always feel there’s a clue in the word to help us find the meaning. The first thing I noticed about the word ‘culture’ is that there are two ‘u’s’. The first ‘u’ represents you the individual, your knowledge, beliefs, customs, capabilities, and habits. The second ‘u’ is everyone else within your group be that family or at work. 

Below are three great ways to create a nurturing, supportive and inclusive culture so we can all shine, individually and collectively:

1. Be More Bilbo  

I recently lost my best friend Bilbo, a 12 and half-year-old Springer Spaniel. Often people who have never had a dog find it difficult to understand the devastation of losing a pet, but he really was my best friend. He never complained, growled, or moaned, he just lived life to the full. He was always happy to meet new people and saw the best in everyone. Everyone was a friend he just hadn’t sniffed yet. He was welcoming and loving every morning and was content with the simple things – a nice tennis ball, a walk on the beach or a cosy snuggle. The feeling I have for him is one of absolute admiration, respect, and love. He was joy itself and my life is far emptier without him. Although I’m incredibly sad right now, I am also so grateful he shared his life with me. And I’ve vowed to Be More Bilbo from here on in.

I think we should all Be More Bilbo. The poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  So true. Bilbo always made my life feel better, especially after a tough day. I don’t remember anything other than those wonderful feelings. 

Take a minute to think about how the culture you live in makes you feel? How, in the course of your day, do you make others feel? Are you uplifting and supportive, or grumpy and demanding? How are you contributing to a positive or negative culture in your home? Be More Bilbo. 

2. Embrace Change

We might like the idea of things staying the same, but they never do for long. Life is change. Besides we would just get bored if everything were always the same and we were always the same. All great cultures adapt. Or they die out. It’s as simple as that. 

The greater we are at adapting to change, the richer our lives become. I’m often asked how I deal with change and have been called a change expert. To me I accept what is, and I adapt to what is happening without trying to fight it. The more we resist the more things tend to persist.

As adults, we have to become much more comfortable with failure. It’s the same issue as our unwillingness to ask. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck refers to the differences as the growth and fixed mindset. Children naturally have a growth mindset: they try, fail, try again and ask a million questions about everything. Adults try, fail and cover up any attempt they even tried and refuse to ask anything in case they look foolish. The kids have it right. 

Take a minute to think about the last time you resisted change? How did it turn out? Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Change is inevitable, so we may as well embrace it and enjoy the journey. 

3. Be the Best You Can Be

Always give your utmost and fully turn up in whatever you are doing. Athletes often say: trust the process and the outcomes will sort themselves. In other words, just do the work, be the person you want to be, hold yourself to a higher standard and the results will follow as surely as night follows day. We can’t always control the outcome. Everything is always changing around us, but we always have control over what we do in that change and who we are. Sure, sometimes we will do our best and it still won’t work out, but there is still a quiet satisfaction to be gained from knowing we did all we could. 

We should celebrate our own difference, whatever that may be. And we should also make space for difference and diversity in all our cultures. Let’s celebrate the wonderful diversity we have in our families, our communities and the wider world.

No two paths are the same and everyone’s path to happiness, greatness or whatever your ness is, is different. But there are constants: perseverance, passion and principles.

Take a minute to think about the last week. Can you point to at least one example where you were your best self? The more we demand that of ourselves the quicker cultures will change around us. 

Creating a culture that allows for enquiry and exploration is surely better for us as individuals and as collectives. Everyone matters, regardless of who we are or where we come from or where we are heading. There are 6909 languages spoken in the world and an astonishing 3814 distinct cultures. That’s a whole world of diversity and difference that needs celebrating and embracing. 

By taking just a few minutes a day to check how we are impacting the others in our environment we can all develop better, stronger and more inclusive and supportive cultures at home.

And don’t forget to Be More Bilbo!


Sid Madge is a transformation and change specialist and founder of Meee. Meee draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people embrace change and achieve extraordinary lives.

From pupils to CEOs, we’ve helped thousands find their magic to transform themselves, their communities and their organisations. From leaders of PLCs and SMEs to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates we help people excel.

Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.