Less Stuff, More Happiness – Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.
Apparently we’re a curious bunch! Well there’s no denying that when it comes to who’s done what in the last episode of Broadchurch. But on to more serious stuff; just like TV shows and entertainment, having an interest in something is a good incentive to learning more about it.
When we learn a new skill or gain knowledge we create brain pathway connections that weren’t there before, and ones that were weak are made more resilient, stronger. Not only does this help your self-esteem but it provides a personal sense of achievement. Add to this the importance of continued learning in later life (‘lifelong learning’ has been described as like a health club for your brain) and you have a recipe for good mental health at all times.
There are many ways to get started, like joining a class to pick up a new skill, researching something you like online or in the library or working your mind with a Sudoku or a crossword. It doesn’t have to be all books and notes, even starting a new hobby or reconnecting with an old one counts. From the moment we’re born we start developing our knowledge and skills through informal learning – not like at school or university, but an ongoing curiosity about the world around us and things we’re strongly interested in.
There are many online resources and, best of all, a lot of them are free. The websites below, for example, are a good start for anyone who wants to brush up on grammar, literacy skills, and maths or get back into reading.
Lastly, if you’re eligible for extra support like the Learning Fund, make sure you claim it. We’ve also provided some useful information on where you can find this: Access to Learning Fund.
This is five-part series of articles, to help you cope with whatever challenges life throws at you. Click here to view part 3 – The Five Ways to Wellbeing • Take Notice (3)
The Hidden Power of Smiling – Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior.
Incorporating physical activity into your day to day life at every opportunity is the easiest way to keep fit. From taking the stairs to cycling to work, try out some of these free activities!
Get running! – Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. Every Saturday morning, they are held across 49 different locations in London alone (Parkrun Locations) If you’re not feeling up to running 5km yet, the NHS have a series of podcasts called “Couch to 5k”, a free plan to get you up and running in 9 weeks!
Go to an outdoor gym – The Great Outdoor Gym Company have free outdoor gyms all over the UK (London locations: London Outdoor Gyms) For every piece of gym equipment installed, a tree is planted; not only is it free to use, it’s good for the environment too! Follow this link for video demonstrations on how to use the gym equipment: How to Use
Get fit on your commute – Cycle or walk to work! If it’s a long way, do part of your journey on foot or by bike by getting off a few stops early. Here is a handy map with walking distances between tube stations on the same line: Walking Tube Map. If you don’t have your own bicycle, you may be able to get one through the Cycle to Work scheme. Or check out Cycle.Land for local bike rentals (currently up and running in Oxford, Edinburgh and Cambridge).
Exercise at home – If you’re feeling self-conscious about exercising, there are plenty of ways to keep fit within the comfort of your own home. Youtube is a goldmine for exercise videos, like Yoga with Adriene. Try out one of her 30 day yoga challenges! You could also download a fitness app to your phone. For example, the Nike+ Training Club app has hundreds of free no-equipment workouts ranging from 5 to 45 minute routines.
Explore London on foot – See what London has to offer and keep fit at the same time by following one of the routes in the Walk London Network. They are all easily accessible by public transport and split into sections so you can walk as little or as far as you want! Walking for just 20 minutes per day can help to improve your health and wellbeing, and reduce the risk of a range of health problems.
Join a local fitness group or sport team – Motivating yourself to keep fit can be hard, especially when you’re exercising solo. So why not join a local fitness group or sport team? Contact your local authority or leisure centre as they may well be offering free exercise classes. Another option is the website Meetup.com, where you can find and join a running club, fitness group, or a whole range of other activities in your local area! You could also check out Ourparks; they organise free exercise classes with professional trainers in parks across London.
Join a Green Gym – This outdoor alternative to the gym will have you working up a sweat digging, planting trees, or even establishing a wildlife pond. Run by The Conservation Volunteers, you can improve your fitness at the same time as gaining practical skills, helping the environment and your community, and being social!
Ealing Central Library
103 Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, W5 5JY
Thursdays 1.15 – 3.15pm
8, 15, 22 February 2018
1, 8, 15, 22, 29 March
5, 12, 19, 26 April
3, 10, 17, 24, 31 May
No appointment necessary – Call Caroline Wolff
on 0800 432 0077 for more information
Bored of your clothes? Tempted to impulse buy or nab the latest trends? Check out our tips for updating your wardrobe without spending a fortune!
1. Asses your current wardrobe
Go through each item in your wardrobe and think carefully about its use; how often do you wear it and what does it go with? You might rediscover some old gems! Sort into the following categories:
- Can’t decide: make a note of these items and if you don’t wear them within the next 6 months, get rid of them.
- Donate or sell: Take it to a charity shop or, if it’s in good condition, sell it on eBay or Depop.
- Throw out: (preferably in a recycle bin) anything not worth donating or selling!
2. Set a budget
Now that you have a better idea of what’s already in your wardrobe, you’ll know what items you need and what will go with what. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on clothes each month or each season and stick to your budget. Before buying anything, think about whether you really need it, how often you would wear it, and whether it will go with what you already have.
3. Shop sales and buy off-season
This is a no-brainer, pay attention to sale periods! You can join a store’s mailing list to find out when their sales start and grab that bargain! It might seem impractical to buy a bikini at the beginning of winter, but you’ll thank yourself when summer comes around!
4. Shop second hand
Among the grandma cardigans and faded jeans, find hidden gems and designer brands for a fraction of their original price. If you’ve got the patience to rummage, that is! For some of the best areas to hit the charity shops in London, check out this article. It’s also worth searching on eBay for second hand bargains!
5. Learn to mend!
Pick up an inexpensive sewing kit on the high-street, like this one from Wilko, and learn to sew on buttons or mend holes, to make your clothes last the distance! If you’re feeling brave, you could even try altering something!
6. Think investment pieces
If it’s something you’re going to wear often, invest in a good quality item that will last a long time. Spend more money once to avoid having to buy the same thing several times on the cheap!
Budgeting apps are an easy and accessible way of keeping track of your finances, allowing you to track your spending and built up savings. This list has been confined to mobile apps that are free and available on both the App Store and the Play Store.
1. Mint. Takes the hassle out of making a budget. By linking the app to your bank account, Mint creates a personalised budget for you. You can access your bills and money all in one place and also gain access to your credit score.
2. Money Dashboard. This is a good app for managing your money more generally and you can link it directly to your bank account(s). Your spending is categorised into tags, such as ‘groceries’ and ‘electricity’. You can then tag any transactions that haven’t been automatically recognised and get a general overview of where your money is going.
3. Wally. With this app, you can see what comes in, what go out, what you’ve saved and what you’ve budgeted. Whenever you enter an expense, Wally will also try and guess where you are and connect your expense to that place. This app is good if you feel uncomfortable linking your bank account to an app and would rather enter your expenses manually.
4. Level Money. This app subtracts recurring bills from your balance and tells you how much you have left to spend on non-essentials, like coffee or eating out. You can connect the app to your bank account and set goals for spending and saving.
If you’d like to further research the options available, a good place to start is GottaBeMobile’s list of 13 best budgeting apps.
Are you 16 or over?
Not in paid employment?
Living in London?
Have the right to work in the UK?
Love London Working is an exciting new training and employment programme to help unemployed people over the age of 16 into work. No matter how long you’ve been out of a job or what barriers to work you may be facing, such as health, disability or single parenthood, our team can assist you.
With Love London Working we’ll support you all the way from offering training opportunities, financial support through to developing key skills like IT and work related training. We also offer individual support with job applications, CV writing and interview practice. Plus, we have a wide variety of jobs and work placements ready for you to apply to across London.
Love London Working is a three year London-wide programme led by Clarion Housing Group, in partnership with 15 other housing associations. However, you don’t need to be a resident to take part. So, with a dedicated team ready to help you take those first steps to get back to work, what’s stopping you?
Get in touch today. The only thing missing is you…
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Love London Working is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) programme for 2014-2020. ESF in London is managed by the Greater London Authority.
One of the most daunting prospects I was faced with when moving away from home was the task of having to cook for myself. Here are some of my favourite recipes that I’ve learnt to make, and the price per serving using the cheapest ingredients.
- Spaghetti Bolognese, 23p. Bolognese tomato sauce mix in a jar is a great when you’re not wanting to spend hours slaving over a hob. All you need to do is add the minced meat, and maybe chop up half an onion and some garlic for flavour. Great for when you’re cooking for lots of people.
- Old Paso Fajitas, £1.75. Another really straightforward, but delicious dish. You can buy fajita packs for £3.30, and in them there is salsa, seasoning for the meat and enough wraps for 8 fajitas. In addition, you’ll need to buy meat, peppers, and an onion. Overall much cheaper than going out to a Mexican restaurant!
- One-Pot Chicken Pasta, 76p. A slightly more sophisticated version of pasta in tomato sauce. I always add a few mushrooms alongside the other ingredients, and use Arrabbiata sauce from a jar rather than making my own.
- Mixed Veg Egg Fried Rice, 49p. Good easy dinner, also works well as a leftovers meal – feel free to diverge from the recipe and just chuck in whatever vegetables you have left in your fridge.
If you’d like to explore some of the best budget food bloggers, have a look at this article which’ll give you some pointers.
As a general practice, I’d recommend starting an excel spreadsheet or document with your favourite recipes, and adding the cost per serving of your meal. That way, if you find yourself cutting it close with your finances towards the end of term, you have an easy way of figuring out which meals are the cheapest. Also, it’s a handy way of keeping track of things you like to make!
What is the Benefit Cap?
Simply put, it is “the process of setting a limit to benefits claimed that does not exceed a maximum limit” These limits are:
• In a couple or with children and living in London: £442.31 a week
• In a couple or with children and living outside London: £384.62 a week
• Single and living in London: £296.35 a week
• Single and living outside London: £257.69 a week
FACT: In November 2017, over 60,000 people lost benefits due to the Benefit Cap in England and Wales. If on average each person lost £68 per week, claimants would have lost over £4 million per week.
But did you know that you may be receiving certain benefits that mean you won’t be affected by the Benefit Cap?
If you don’t think your benefits should have been reduced
You should challenge the decision if you think a mistake has been made when calculating your benefits, or if you claim or are in receipt of any of the following :-
- Working Tax Credit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- The support component of ESA
- Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent war disablement pensions and payments under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
Get a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your rent
If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn’t cover all of your rent and you need more money, you could make a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). A DHP is extra money from your local council to help pay your rent.
Get employment training and/or assistance to increase your hours or to
find a new job
By increasing your hours to a minimum of 16 (and being over 25) you can receive Working Tax Credits, which will then remove the Benefit Cap.
By working with employment officers, you can receive training, CV tips and potential jobs, as well as grants to assist with training, work clothing and lots more.
For further information, send us a message through Ask David.