The 5 Ways to Wellbeing • Take Notice (3)

So this one definitely doesn’t involve you running miles or seeking out someone with whom to have a meaningful conversation.

It’s perhaps the simplest way to do something that can change our health and mental wellbeing. Being in sync with our sensations, thoughts and feelings and the world around us (sometimes called “mindfulness”) not only raises our self-awareness but boosts sensory connections, firing nifty little neurons through creaky pathways and making way for the release of those all-important feel-good chemicals.
Often something as easy as asking yourself why? can clear your head a bit. Seeing this in relation to Connect, i.e. where you might express how you are feeling to a friend, it’s equally important to acknowledge your emotions, take notice of how you feel and allow yourself mental “breathing room”. It can also help us enjoy the world around us more as well as understand ourselves better.

Some good tips for ‘taking notice’ can include:

• Getting a plant for your desk/workspace
• Having a cleaning/decluttering day.
• Observing your interactions and those of others (without looking like a stalker!)
• Trying a different route to work and taking in a different view. We’re not talking miles here, but a reroute can help change perspectives.
• Creature of old habit? How about checking out that new place for lunch?

Find out more about mindfulness here. Interested in improving your levels of self-awareness? Here’s a handy place to start.


5 Key Tips for Cooking in Bulk

Cooking in bulk, or batch cooking as it’s often called, is a great way of economising on meals and time, especially if you freeze portions for another day. Here are some useful tips:

1. If you can, buy all the ingredients in one go and know exactly what you need to buy, to avoid overspending. Larger quantities of a food generally cost less per unit than the smaller equivalents, so it’s better to spend a bit more on one occasion as a way of saving overall. To add to this, buying and cooking food all in one go is a useful way of using up veg before it goes off, which also ensures you’re having healthy meals, even when money runs out.
2. Try and find recipes that use similar ingredients, especially with spices. It’s frustrating to have to splurge on a whole jar of chilli powder to just to use one teaspoon for that curry recipe.
3. Thank about bringing in variety to the meals you’re eating. As delicious as that shepherd’s pie is, you might not want it four nights in a row. Consider giving up a day on the weekend to cook two or three recipes in bulk, and if you’re hoping the meal will last beyond the week, freeze it. This infographic provides a really useful breakdown of the recommended freezer storage time for specific foods and this table provides a more general outline and also gives recommended fridge storage times.
4. Portion and label the food you’re freezing, especially when you’re using one recipe for different dishes – for example, you will use less of that chilli con carne with your jacket potato than you will with rice.
5. Substitute meat with other foods. Just because you’re doubling the quantity of food you’re producing doesn’t mean you need to double the meat. Easy and cheap fillers can include extra veg, potatoes and lentils.

The best free museums in London!

Stuck for what to do on a rainy day? Why not head to one of these museums for some free and educational fun!

British Museum – Open daily 10am – 5.30pm (Fridays until 8.30pm), located in Bloomsbury. Peruse its 8 million works documenting the history of human culture from its beginnings to the present day. They also organise a range of free tours, talks, and activities for all ages!

Bank of England Museum – Open Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm, located in central London. Discover the history of the Bank and its buildings from its foundation in 1694 to present day. A small museum that’ll take about an hour to get around, with plenty of interactive activities. You can even hold a real gold bar!

Horniman Museum and Gardens – Open daily 10.30am – 5.30pm, located in Forest Hill. A museum open since Victorian times and packed with a range of exciting things to see, including a gigantic stuffed walrus, musical instruments, and an aquarium. All surrounded by 16 acres of gardens!

Imperial War Museum – Open daily 10am – 6pm, located in Lambeth. A museum covering conflicts from WWI to the present day, including history of wartime experience. Explore a recreation of WWI trenches and marvel at the many tanks and planes on display.

Museum of Croydon – Open Tue – Sat 10.30am – 5pm, located in the iconic Croydon clock tower. Discover the history of Croydon through objects and stories of local people, sorted into various themes such as “work & play” and “life & love”.

Museum of London – Open daily 10am – 6pm, located on the London Wall. One of the world’s largest urban history museum, discover London’s turbulent past from pre-Roman to modern times through a range of artefacts and interactive displays. They also run a range of free events for all ages!

Museum of London Docklands – Open daily 10am – 6pm, located at West India Quay. Linked to the Museum of London, but focussing on the history of London as a port. From whale bones to WWII gas masks, there’s a range of exciting things to see. They also have an interactive gallery dedicated to children!

National Maritime Museum – Open daily 10am – 5pm, located in Greenwich. A museum dedicated to all things nautical, filled with inspirational stories of exploration and endeavour at sea! See the uniform Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar, and Turner’s sea-inspired artwork.

Natural History Museum – Open daily 10am – 5.50pm, located in South Kensington. Promoting the discovery and enjoyment of the natural world through hands-on exhibits and unique collections. Favourites are the earthquake room and the dinosaur gallery.

RAF Museum – Open daily 10am -6pm Mar – Oct, 10am – 5pm Nov – Feb, located in Hendon. If you’re a fan of aviation, head to this museum and get up close to 100 different aircraft and enjoy interactive exhibits.

The 5 Ways to Wellbeing • Be Active (2)

This is where things get physical. I know that’s something we don’t always want to hear – unless it involves dashing down to the local Chinese for some Dim Sum – but it’s exactly what we’re trying to stop you doing (or at least get you to do less of).

It’s generally agreed that some form of regular exercise can help prevent a nasty bunch of health issues coming on earlier – or later – in life, as well as increase your overall wellbeing. This involves doing either 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of non-strenuous aerobic activity per week, which can include getting on your bike instead of leaving it to rust in the garden shed, or fast walking. Add to that some basic strength exercises, like working on your chest, shoulders and arms at least twice a week (baked bean tins make great alternative hand weights) and you’re well on your way to feeling a whole lot better.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try an hour and a quarter’s worth of vigorous activity? Running, playing a game of tennis or cycling fast or on hilly terrain all help to get your heart pumping. And there’s the two or more days of strength building again, too, don’t forget that. The key here is that, apart from getting fit, you’re enjoying it; if that’s not happening, the motivation to carry on will most likely fade quickly.

Mixing and matching’s never been bad if you’re into that; try 2 parts vigorous and 1 one part moderate exercise or vice versa. If you’re finding this a particularly difficult habit to pick up, here’s a tip to help build it into your routine: how about dividing your exercise into 30 minute chunks throughout the working week? Easy peasy! And you’ve got your 150 mins recommended in there. Who knows, maybe after a week or two you’ll actually not sigh at the thought of doing exercise but – shock! – actually go at it for longer than you needed to.

This is five-part series of articles, to help you cope with whatever challenges life throws at you. Click here to view part 1 – The Five Ways to Wellbeing • Connect (1)

Cooking on a budget

• Plan your meals for the week

Be organised plan what you are going to eat through the week and prepare what you need. Buying food on a daily basis can be expensive.

• Shop at the end of the day

If you shop later in the day there will be more food discounted, particularly when you go to the fish and meat counters. Buy it and put it in the freezer (the less space/air in the freezer, the cheaper it is to run).

• Cook in bulk

Batch cooking isn’t just a time saver it is also cheaper. Cook a couple of days’ meals in one go (e.g. a chilli con carne or pasta sauce), then freeze the extra portions for use later (see above about that freezer). Here’s more about cooking in bulk.

• Be adaptable

Don’t be a slave to recipes, swap ingredients for cheaper alternatives or something that’s on special.

• Shop around

Different shops offer different foods at different prices, it’s worth doing that extra ‘leg work’ for cheaper deals (that could include looking online, try MySupermarket). Also remember specialist food shops maybe cheaper than your local supermarket.

• Use shopping apps

There are a lot of apps on the market now that can help you make savings on your weekly shop, whether this is by highlighting special offers (BasketBuddy) or through providing cashback on items (shopitize). It’s worth downloading a few of these apps to maximise the impact.
• Buy supersize

This takes a bit of planning and storage space (unless you buy with a group of friends and spread the cost). Buying basic items in bulk reduces the overall cost while increasing the value for money. Things like toilet roll become cheaper the more rolls you buy. The same can be said for some veg, if you buy from a greengrocer – especially root veg like parsnips, potatoes and carrots – which also last a bit longer!

• Use leftovers

Before you throw away the remains of tonight’s meal, think about whether it could be used again. This becomes easier to do when you have planned your meals for the week, for example cooking a roast chicken on Sunday night and using the chicken to make a curry on the Monday and a risotto on Tuesday (boiling bones to make stock makes it go even further).

• Stop throwing food out!

Just because unused food has gone beyond its ‘best before’ date doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown away, it could be used in different ways. If your carrots are looking a bit floppy, put them into a soup or stew. Remember, however, you shouldn’t eat food that’s past its ‘use by’ date or that has gone mouldy!

Looking to get into work but not sure how?

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 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.


The 5 Ways to Wellbeing • Connect (1)

Connect is the first of a five-part method to help you cope with whatever challenges life throws at you. It’s about our interactions and having good healthy relationships.
Having empathy and sympathy in our bonds with others has been shown to make us a happier bunch, importantly it provides a safety net of belonging. This is true especially for those feeling down in the dumps (Monday morning, anyone?). Building stronger, wider social connections can also help us feel happier and more secure, and can give us a greater sense of purpose.

Taking simple, effective steps will allow you to build up confidence too, in the face of a busy and ever faster paced life. Ever wondered what the cashier’s day has been like?

But this isn’t just at the shops, it’s about seeing opportunities in all parts of our life, at home, the gym, in your community. Talk to people, it can be as simple as that.

Social DIY

Sometimes it’s hard to share our feelings and problems. However, opening up to people you trust, like friends and family, is proven to have a beneficial effect on our mental health. Just recognizing that you need a chat can help – and the person you speak to might be glad to share something with you too.

Here are a few other practical tips to connect:
1) Pick up the phone and speak to someone rather than texting or emailing
2) Join a class or a social group – a great way to meet people with a shared interest
3) Have lunch with a colleague
4) Volunteer at a local community group or hospital

Be self-aware:
Just as your body uses hunger to tell you that you need food, loneliness is a way of your mind telling you that you need more social contact.
Struggling to cope? Seek advice, it’s better to get on top of things before they get on top of you.

7 handy tips for cooking on a budget

1. Work out how much money you’re spending each month
That way, you can identify items you can cut back on. And yes, I do mean that cheeky latte from Starbucks.
2. Check what’s in you cupboards
Before shopping, always check to see what you already have at home. Do you really need three jars of marmite?
3. Make a list
A good tip is to write out all your meals for the week and extract ingredients from your planned meals. You will avoid buying unnecessary items that increase your weekly food shop.
4. Shop around
Whilst it might be easier to get everything from one place, it can often be cheaper to buy your weekly shop from a number of different locations.  Also don’t forget your local market and butcher, often sell produce for less than in a supermarket and can recommend cheaper cuts of meat that you may not be aware of.
5. Beware of special offers
Our previous article highlights how many ‘special offers’ don’t actually save you money!
6. Don’t impulse buy
Keep to your list and think carefully about adding the extra item to your shopping basket.
7. Make the most of Vouchers and Cashback Apps
Discounts and vouchers can go a long way with your monthly finances. Cashback Apps can be downloaded to your smart phone and can be used to give you money back on items that you are buying. Remember, it is only a saving if it is on your shopping list!

If you need further help with your finances and managing budgets tap on the chat button and speak to one of our mentors.




Basic Bank Accounts

Now, more than ever, it’s time to set up a bank account (if you haven’t already)

If you’re worried that your credit rating might be too low to set up an account, fear not, this is where Basic Bank Accounts come in.

What is a basic bank account?
Unlike current accounts, you can still set up a basic bank account with a ‘not so good’ credit rating.

Basic bank accounts do not come with a credit check, the only eligibility criteria are:
• that you’re 16 or older;
• live in the UK and have a permanent address; and
• have documents proving your identity, like a passport, driving licence or utility bill.

How do they work?
They are not too different from current accounts in that they will allow you to do the following: –
• Use a bank card – some accounts will offer you a debit card, which you can use to make purchases, others will offer a cash card, which you can only use to withdraw money from cash points.
• Pay Bills – you can set up direct debits and standing orders to cover regular payments. This can include, gas and electricity bills, Council Tax or transfers into a saving account.
• Receive Payments – your employer or the Job Centre Plus can pay your wages/benefits directly into your account. You can also receive other bank transfers or pay in cash/cheques.

How is it different to other current accounts?
The main difference between current accounts and basic bank accounts is that basic bank accounts do not come with an overdraft facility. This means you can only spend what is in your account and you cannot borrow additional money from the bank.
You will also not receive any interest on the money you hold in a basic bank account.

How do I get one?
Most banks and building societies now offer basic bank accounts. Bear in mind, banks don’t generally advertise them, so you will need to go into a branch and specifically ask for one; alternatively you can apply online. Below is a list of the top 15 providers compiled by independent consumer magazine, Which?

Bank accounts List