Jump back July – this month’s Action for Happiness calendar


Every month, Action for Happiness produces a calendar packed with daily actions we can take to increase our own happiness and that of others around us.

This July, the charity’s calendar focuses on daily activities to help us be more resilient in challenging times

The calendar begins with a quote about responding to difficult situations, ‘We can’t control what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond.’

The calendar is free to download as a PDF or image file (JPEG) in 16 different languages. You can also download the actions straight to your calendar using a Google Calendar or iCalendar file.

Download the January 2020 Action for Happiness calendar

Celebrating 72 years of the NHS


This Sunday 5 July marks 72 years since the NHS was first established. In what is being called the ‘most challenging year’ of its history, leaders are calling for people to use the birthday as an opportunity to recognise, reflect, and remember.

At 5pm on Sunday, the public are encouraged to come together to applaud frontline workers as part of the NHS’ #ThankYouTogether campaign.

To celebrate, renowned photographer Rankin has taken portraits of 12 NHS staff members who have played a critical role in managing the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The portraits are of staff in a variety of NHS roles, including an ICU consultant, a COVID-19 critical care nurse, a midwife, a psychiatrist, a hospital porter, a COVID-19 ward cleaner, a paramedic, a GP, a pharmacist, a district nurse, a 111 call centre worker, and a Chief Information Officer.

As part of the project, Rankin includes a story from each of the 12 individuals, detailing their experience of working on the frontline during the pandemic.

View Rankin’s project and find out more about the NHS’ birthday.



Let’s work together and make some noise


For more than three months, FHT members have been diligently following government guidelines in order to protect the NHS, save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is therefore completely understandable that so many of you are feeling extremely frustrated by the government’s recent decision to reopen hairdressing and barbershops in England on 4 July, while other close contact services – including beauty, sports/massage therapy, and wellbeing and holistic services – have been told to remain closed ‘until further notice’ (see page 3 of these guidelines for more information).

While we all knew that the therapy industry was unlikely to get the ‘green light’ any time before 4 July, what we didn’t anticipate was that the government would reopen some close contact services ahead of others, without providing any scientific rationale as to why they were doing this.

In addition, the ‘road map’ for England seems to have dropped off a cliff, with no review dates announced or published by the government that go beyond ‘Step 3’ (4 July).

So, we think it’s time to make some noise. Together.

Throughout the pandemic, the FHT has been working closely with other professional organisations and stakeholders in the industry, both as a Core Member of the Integrated Healthcare Collaborative (IHC), and more recently through meetings with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing (APPG-BAW).

As such, we have already sent four letters to the Prime Minister and different Secretaries of State to represent the interests of our members (see our coronavirus statement for more information), but now we’d like to ask you for your support.

Sign this petition

Along with 20 other organisations and stakeholders in the complementary, traditional and natural healthcare industry, the FHT is a Core Member of the recently formed Integrative Healthcare Collaborative (IHC).

For seven weeks, the IHC has been waiting for approval of a parliamentary petition (a process that usually takes up to 7 days), asking the government to work with the IHC and its Core Members to produce guidelines for COVID-19 secure workplaces in this industry, and prioritise a safe return to work as soon as possible.

As the situation is now time critical and we cannot wait any longer, a petition has been launched on behalf of the IHC on change.org.

Read and sign the IHC petition

Email or write to your local MP

We have two template letters for you to choose from, both of which you can adapt and personalise, which will carry much more weight.

To get the most out of your letter:

  • Find the name and email address of your local MP at https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP
  • Address you local MP as ‘Mr/Ms/Dr’, writing MP after their name – for example, Mr Bloggs MP
  • Include your name and address – MPs only listen to concerns from their constituents, so will need your address and postcode to confirm that you are a constituent.
  • Make it personal – edit the letter to make it more personal and to reflect your own situation. Where indicated, use your own words to explain your contribution to the local industry and explain your concerns. This will help to make the letter more impactful.

Download a template letter written in collaboration with the IHC 

Download a template letter written in collaboration with the APPG-BAW 

Thank you for your support.

Collaborative letter to PM questions government’s inconsistent policies and lack of clarity


The Integrated Healthcare Collaborative (IHC), of which the FHT is a Core Member, has written to the Prime Minister to demand the government explains its scientific justification for preventing complementary healthcare workers from returning to practice.

The complementary, traditional and natural healthcare industry has been fully supportive of, and compliant with, the government’s measures to control the spread of COVID-19. As such, the majority of practitioners and therapists have been unable to provide consultations in person, although many have continued to support clients remotely where possible.

However, in recent weeks, the government has allowed professions, such as physiotherapists and podiatrists, who practise in a setting and mode of practice akin to complementary, traditional and natural healthcare workers, to return to work. In addition, hairdressers and barbers, who also provide close contact services, have now been told by the government that they too can return to work, as long as they take precautions.

The IHC is concerned that there does not appear to be any logic, clarity, or scientific basis to the government’s decision-making in this area. Indeed, many complementary healthcare workers believe that this policy is unfair, inconsistent, and discriminatory. The result is that this valuable sector of the healthcare workforce, and clients who use their services, continue to suffer.

Healthcare professionals in this sector contribute to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of millions of people across the UK. They want to return to practice as soon as possible, but cannot, because of this continued confusion and non-science-based policy-making by the government.

The IHC has asked the Prime Minister to publish the government’s scientific advice and justification for continuing to prevent the return to practice of this sector of the healthcare workforce, and to provide clarity on when they will be able to do so.
The FHT is working hard with its colleagues in the IHC to hold the government to account in this matter, and to take action so that our members can return to work quickly and safely.

Read IHC’s letter to the Prime Minister

Send a letter to your local MP using this template


A study on grass pollen could help hay fever sufferers


Researchers from Aberystwyth and Bangor universities are looking at the DNA of grass pollen to find out which types cause the most allergic reactions.

Looking at the DNA of these pollens is a new approach to research, it is hoped it will be more conclusive than the traditional method of using a microscope, which can make it very difficult to see pollen differences.

This information could help the 13 million sufferers of hay fever in the UK to know which types of fields to avoid when in grassy areas.

Find out more.

Reflexology reduces back pain following coronary angiography   


Coronary angiography (CA) is a procedure used to diagnose coronary artery disease. It involves the insertion of a catheter into the femoral artery, via a puncture in the groin area, and injecting a dye to assess the extent and severity of the condition.

CA requires the patient to have complete bed rest for several hours after the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding and other complications. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this immobility can lead to low back pain in many patients, however pain medication can carry with it undesirable side-effects, including vomiting, which would affect the patient’s ability to remain still.

The findings of a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the effects of foot reflexology on back pain following CA was recently published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (Kardan et al, 2020).

Conducted in 2018-2019, 120 patients were recruited to the study and randomly allocated to either a control group, receiving routine post-angiography care, or a reflexology group. Those in the reflexology group received an eight-minute treatment to each foot, which included a gentle two-minute warm up of the feet and ankles, including mobilisations, followed by a short routine that paid particular attention to the spinal column and solar plexus reflex points. Back pain intensity was measured using a visual analogue scale at the point of admission, immediately after the intervention, then at two hours, four hours and six hours after intervention.

The results showed that while back pain intensity significantly increased after CA in both groups, the pain intensity in the reflexology group at all post-intervention measurement time points was significantly less than in the control group.

The authors concluded that ‘foot reflexology is effective in significantly reducing back pain after coronary angiography’.

Read the full study.

Making a difference during loneliness awareness week


*Please note: this picture is of people closer than two meters apart. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to stay two meters apart at all times.

This week (15-19 June), is Loneliness Awareness Week. It couldn’t come at a more important time than now when more people are at risk of experiencing loneliness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone can feel lonely from time to time which is why it’s so important to know how to spot the signs of loneliness and to be there for others.

How to spot the signs of loneliness:

  • A sudden change in behaviour
  • Reluctancy to see people
  • Spending more time indoors
  • Feeling overwhelmed by small tasks
  • Tiredness and generally feeling drained

How to support someone you know:

  • Pick up the phone and take the time to listen
  • Send them a card
  • Go for a walk with them
  • Help them join a club or a group that might be of interest to them
  • Check in via email or on social media

Making a small difference to strangers:

  • Smile and say hello to people as you pass them
  • Speak to your neighbours and ask if they need any help with daily tasks
  • Be present and notice things around you. For instance, helping someone if they are struggling to reach something in the shop, or commenting to say you like a person’s outfit if it seems appropriate to do so – these small moments could make someone’s day.
  • Volunteer your time with telephone support services such as AgeUK or The Silver Line
  • Share these tips with friends and family. By encouraging them to try these small acts, you could be helping more people to feel less lonely.

Needless to say, please bear in mind social distancing and other guidelines provided by the government and the NHS when providing any of the support outlined above.

Find out more about #LonelinessAwarenessWeek. 

Blue light can disrupt sleep and cause damage to skin cells 


Exposure to blue light can disrupt the circadian rhythm and create damage in skin cells, according to a study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.  

The coloured light has been found to trigger cells in the skin to ‘think’ its daytime, even at night. 

Like other processes in the body, the skin is focused on repairing damage during the night and preparing for the next morning.  

This study measures the skin cell damage over different times of the day when exposed to blue light.  

Findings show an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, DNA damage and inflammatory mediators, all of which have been shown to accelerate the ageing process.

Read the full study.

Dietary and physical activity intervention reduces LDL cholesterol level in children


A reduction in LDL cholesterol in children was achieved through family-based physical activity and dietary intervention, according to a study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland.

The two-year study looked at the plasma lipids of over 500 children aged between six and eight years old. Researchers also examined which lifestyle intervention components had the greatest impact on plasma lipids.

Findings showed that lifestyle intervention had an impact on the LDL cholesterol concentration but no other plasma lipids. Decreasing the amount of fatty foods such as butter and high-fat milk is said to have played the most important role in decreasing the children’s LDL cholesterol concentration.

Researchers have suggested individualised and family-based dietary and physical activity counselling to help lower children’s LDL cholesterol, which could help to prevent artery wall thickening in later life.

Read the full study.

Open call by Sport England for ideas to tackle inequalities


Sport England are looking for innovative solutions to help reduce inequalities and support those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the next two weeks the charity is encouraging people to submit ideas that can help break down barriers to getting involved with activity, highlighting that these have long existed but have become more prominent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The solutions should address one of the following three challenges:

  • Changes in circumstances: those now facing financial pressures or caring responsibilities.
  • Mental health: certain groups who are likely to be experiencing new or worsening feelings of depression, stress or anxiety.
  • Digital exclusion: those without access to digital channels may not have the ability to be physically active at this time.

Sport England state that innovation can come in ‘all shapes and sizes’, it could be a whole new product, a new way of delivering an existing product or a tiny change with a big effect.

Find out more and submit your idea.