Author Archives: Michelle Del Rey

Banning single-use tents could leave charities without stock

According to The Independent, “The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) – an organisation that represents and empowers independent UK festivals like Shambala, Boomtown and Boardmasters – is urging retailers to stop marketing and selling tents as single-use items.” 

According to the AIF, the average tent is made largely of plastic and weighs approximately 3.5kg –  the equivalent of 8,750 straws. 

AIF also found that 10 percent of people attending festivals will leave their tent behind. 

Along with banning single-use tents, another proposition is to simply take them home and ensure that they will be used repetitively. However, this is left to the initiative of festival-goers as to whether or not they’ll actually carry them home long after the staged has been packed up. 

Help Refugees volunteer, Layla Fraser, believes that while banning single-use tents will be immensely beneficial to the environment, at the moment the charity she currently partners with is benefiting from the sea of forgotten tents. 

“You meet loads of cool people. Go around listening to music while doing the work. You can do it for one day, a few hours, or multiple days. You just do it until the charity isn’t there anymore or until most of the good tents are packed up.”

Though the tents go on to benefit charities like Help Refugees, the name of the charity that organises the cleanup is FWRD.

According to their website, they’re the first and only registered charity in the UK dedicated to helping the most vulnerable in society through the collection and redistribution of abandoned items at festivals. Registration to volunteer is available on the front page of their website. 

According to Layla, 50 per cent of the tents left at festivals such as Boomtown and Glastonbury, are able to be recovered.

When I mention to her that festival organisers are trying to ban single-use tents, she comments, “I think that is a really great step in the right direction. Realistically these non-plastic tents are going cost more so people are going to want to pack them down, and take them home. Festival organisers will save a lot of money on clean up teams that they could possibly put towards charitable stalls for refugees, homelessness, and more people will get involved.”

The impact that collecting single-use tents is evident through Layla’s work as a volunteer. “When we went to Calais in October, there were thousands of tents in the warehouse ready to be distributed. I’d say that anyone who lives near a festival should donate two days to volunteering. I know single handedly I cleaned up 50 to 100 tents.” 

Layla weighs 50 kg and stands at 5’1, proving that you don’t exactly need to be superhuman to donate a few hours of your time.  

According to a previous article written by WNOL, the French police are conducting evictions every 48 hours, which really goes to challenge how beneficial these tents are to refugees living rough in Calais and Dunkirk.

“The men in Calais who are living rough have a hard time during evictions taking tents. If they can have a tent that they can travel with quickly that they can take on their back. There’s less chance of their tent not being there when they come back,” says Layla. 

Though there is a likelihood that tents could be confiscated or slashed, Layla strongly discourages sitting back and doing nothing. “It’s definitely not enough but its on its way there. I guess the point is to just not do nothing. Everybody can have an impact, but its definitely not enough. The best thing to do would be to carry on donating tents, especially during winter, because it can actually kill people not having shelter. It’s saving lives.” 

“It’s also children and babies, newborn babies, that can be in the snow without shelter. We need to be more urgent about issues like these. It’s a life or death situation. The festival comes at a good time because they’ll have a stock of tents they can use towards winter.”

Can serial killers be ‘sexy’?

Netflix recently urged their viewers the other day over Twitter, to stop referring to Ted Bundy as “hot”, sparking debate on Hollywood’s portrayal of serial killers.

Online Tumblr communities romanticise serial killers. A cult following for the Columbine shooters called ‘Columbiners’ has emerged on the site and those who are obsessed with serial killers proclaim themselves to be ‘true crime enthusiasts’. 

Examples of such blogs are: 

https://serial-killer-wonderland.tumblr.com

https://tea-and-skeletons.tumblr.com/tagged/true_crime

https://ydnub-t.tumblr.com

According to an interview with NPR, Rhitu Chatterjee, a mental health professional, this type of material is likely to incite more mass shootings and acts of terrorism. She comments on the copycat appeal, “It’s a very human act. Now, we humans sort of instinctively emulate those around us, especially people we identify with, and we do this in ways we even often don’t understand or know. That’s how cultures spread. Now, if you take the case of these mass shooters, these individuals tend to be unhappy people. They’re dissatisfied, and they tend to have this us-against-them outlook about the world. Their social lives aren’t that great. They feel like they don’t really belong anywhere.”

“Now, you take somebody like this, they can go online and read up about the lives and actions of those who felt like them and who acted on their violent, dissatisfied thinking, and now they have somebody to identify with, and there’s a sense of belonging and purpose that comes with that identification, and they feel justified in how they think and what they want to act on. Another thing to keep in mind is that a significant number of mass shooters are also suicidal, and this sort of copycat phenomenon has been very well-documented in suicidal behaviour as well.”  

It has been made known that the Christchurch killer (who will not be named here for obvious reasons) was inspired by acts made by other white nationalists, “Now, we know from this man’s statement that he was enamoured with previous white supremacist mass killers, but this kind of idolising of previous shooters is not unique to white supremacists. It’s actually true for most mass shooters. Someone contemplating mass violence often will spend days or even weeks studying the lives and acts of previous mass shooters” says Rhitu Chatterjee in the NPR interview, which might be why New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, refused to name him in a statement to parliament.

A teenager who stabbed two to death in Colchester, Essex in 2014, was known to have glorified the acts committed by the Yorkshire Ripper, according to The Independent. Providing a first hand account that serial killers are in fact inspired by those who have been given notoriety in the past for their crimes. 

Perhaps, the most famous incident of copycat crimes were those acted out by the B.T.K killer, with BTK standing for “blind, torture, kill”. He had left letters for police and media to find all around the city of Wichita, according to Oxygen. One he had taped to the back of a stop sign and the other inside a book in a public library. 

His killing spree inspired A Good Marriage, a novela written by Stephen King, which was later turned into a movie. For the years leading up to his arrest he taunted police by sending letters to media outlets local to Wichita until his capture in 2005 when police traced a disk back to Rader. He was famously quoted saying, “The floppy did me in.” 

Though documentary evidence should be allowed to criminology students and those who study psychology it is up for debate as to whether or not movies such as Netflix’s, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile a movie based on Ted Bundy starring Zac Efron is appropriate. Also whether or not such notoriety could play a role in inspiring similar crimes in the future. Though, not something I particularly have the answer to, it’s worth contemplating when reflecting on today’s culture of creating infamous serial killers. 

World Press Freedom Day: 95 journalists murdered in 2019

95 journalists were killed last year according to the International Federation of Journalists.

Figures from the International Federation of Journalists report that 95 journalists were killed last year. 

The IFJ concluded in their report that the most dangerous countries to practice journalism are: Afghanistan, Mexico, US, Syria, Yemen and India. 

MAP WORLD

 

Five journalists were killed last year in the US due to a terrorist attack at the Capital Gazette in Maryland, Virginia, a local newspaper. The suspect was said to have tried to sue the newspaper multiple years earlier. 

Nine journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan had died after going to the site of a bombing to report on the scene, according to the BBC. Another journalist, BBC reporter Ahmad Shah, was killed in one of a series of attacks in Khost Province.

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Washington Post correspondent for Saudi Arabia, was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last October. 

Last month, journalist Lyra Mckee, died on the streets of Londonderry reporting on a riot that had broken out. 

The IFJ told the BBC, “Increasing intolerance to reporting, populism as well as corruption and crime are now important factors.” 

2016 saw the highest amount of imprisoned journalists at 259, according to Press Advocacy Group. The number has slightly dropped to 251, which is the number of journalists who are currently in prison. 

The countries with the highest number of imprisoned journalists include: Turkey (68), China (47), Egypt (25), and Saudi Arabia and Eritrea with (16) each. 

The most shocking has been the opposition against journalists in the US. Reporters Without Borders describes the situation in the US as “problematic”. 

According to the BBC, The US has now slipped down in the RSF’s rankings for press freedom as well as Brazil and India. 

However, Russia, Venezuela, and China have worse scores for press freedom.

Aid workers speak out on Calais

Help Refugees is a non-profit organisation working on the front lines of the ongoing refugee crisis in Calais.

Here, teams do what they can with little resources they have, to distribute as many items a week as possible to refugees. 94% of all donations go directly towards fighting violations of basic human rights around the world. Including what is happening right now in the forests of Northern France. 

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 21.15.32

Currently, just under 2,000 refugees live in various areas around Calais, many of them from either Asian or African countries.

According to Help Refugees, at the time of our interview, the Gendarme and National Police had been conducting evacuations every 48 hours. Stripping refugees of basic human necessities that now only seem like unattainable luxury items. 

In order to have a full understanding of what exactly was the picture behind the headlines, we reached out for an interview. Laura, a welcome volunteer for Help Refugees, and a part-time worker for Project Play responded.

Originally a Canadian native, Laura found herself working in the Calais camp after a summer of inter railing throughout Europe. She decided to stay in Calais for a few weeks, and without her anticipating it, weeks turned into years. 

Laura and I sat down in a makeshift wooden office that reads ‘Welcome’ right outside the Help Refugees warehouse. With the inevitable Brexit just around the corner, I decided to dive in, searching for reasons as to why refugees are so determined to reach the shores of the United Kingdom just in time before Britain’s departure from the EU. 

After taking a deep breath, she responds, “Northern France is the most racist and the most xenophobic. There are other reasons as well, so many people have friends and family who live in the UK or friends of friends in the UK. So they’ll say, ‘Oh my uncle’s cousin is in the UK and I can go to him and he can help me.’ That’s the biggest one, that people are going to have some kind of family ties.”

Upon arrival in the UK Laura says a lot of people claim asylum immediately and if they’re lucky they can be put into the system and the asylum process can be started. She refers to her ‘friends’ who have made it in the UK, and how they’re currently struggling. 

“They’re in really small places all over England, and they get a card which they’re allowed to buy certain things with every week, and you’re not allowed to use the leftovers, which I just found out. Which is super fucked up, and now they’re waiting, now it’s the waiting game, for interviews, for the thing to happen and it takes so, so, so long.”  

When I ask her about refugees being smuggled out of Calais, she immediately looks exasperated. “I don’t know” she says. Then I probe again, but this time bringing up the subject of gang activity in the region. 

“I don’t know the difference between gangs and mafia, but they’re the mafia. So Afghan mafia, Kurdish mafia…” she chuckles. “The Africans don’t have a mafia because they don’t have the money for one. I shouldn’t laugh about that, but it is kind of a running joke with the Sudanese guys.” 

“So yeah, the mafia in Dunkirk is really, really bad. They control pretty much all of Dunkirk. Most of the sites other than the ‘Jungle’ and Calais are controlled by the mafia. They even try and charge people for our distributions.” 

When I ask how Help Refugees handles such situations she notes, “We try where we can to make stuff accessible to everyone. So we target the groups that we know are particularly vulnerable by doing smaller distributions at another site that make it safer for them to be able to come and access things. We do different things during distributions like making sure everyone is in the lineup and making sure that someone isn’t controlling it.”

Brexit has been doing its job of confusing the general public by presenting the idea that refugees are trying to lead the UK into chaos and havoc. However, Laura says that the population actually trying to reach the UK from Calais, is teeny weeny. 

Before our interview, it had been reported by Express that 100 refugees had stormed a ship heading for Dover at an attempt to reach the UK.

Also, the night before Laura and I spoke, a man had died after sneaking onto a lorry and was suffocated.

Laura insists that the situation is getting more and more serious. “Yeah there are people here trying every single day but they’re failing. And now people are doing the most unbelievably desperate thing, which is dinghies, (or lifeboats). It’s so dangerous, it’s the busiest channel in all of Europe, it’s fucking cold. So if you fall in the water you’re going to get hypothermia, people don’t know how to swim, but people are terrified and desperate. I think maybe the mafia is organising more of them but I totally could be wrong with that one, so I don’t know.”  

 

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One of Laura’s colleagues, Otis Kirby-Dunkley, works with the distribution service with Help Refugees in Calais, Human Rights Observers and Project Play. We were able to meet up with him on a boat in Central London and ask him a few questions about his work there and what the average eviction is like for refugees.

According to Otis, “Evictions happen every 48 hours for each camp in the whole north of Calais, because otherwise displaced peoples will receive squatters rights and with that they, [The National Police] ,won’t have any legal right to lead them on as they do at the moment.”

“They take all of their belongings and everything they own and move it out of the perimeter. Everyone moves outside the perimeter and they arrest between 3-6 people on average and take them to the station to be processed. They clear up the whole of the camp and once they are done, they move on, and all the displaced people are allowed to go back onto the place that they were living. But a lot of them, without their stuff, and having to start again essentially. It’s horrible, so we record all of it to try and create a case in the future to stop the police doing what they’re doing.” 

According to Otis, most of the living facilities consist of wasteland that isn’t being used by anyone, and some of it is privately owned.

“Displaced people will come to Calais, Dunkirk, or the surrounding areas and they’ll look for someone to share a tent with. Or when aid teams come out they’ll ask, and if we have a tent, we can give them a tent, and blankets, and sleeping bags, or other sort of material needs they have.” 

“Unfortunately, we have a limited supply and donations are not very regular at the moment, because what was a crisis but is still a very desperate situation in Calais and Dunkirk, is not really fed on the media anymore, and that’s a really big issue for our organisations. Because we don’t have enough money, and we don’t have enough donations to be supporting the amount of people coming to Northern France.” 

 

“They’re living in bad situations because both the English and French governments aren’t doing enough to support them. We are sort of hopeless to even help, which is a stress of our own and not even a stress of the people, because what they must be going through is far, far, worse. Displaced people do have certain rights but I don’t think they are being fulfilled. Which is why there’s organisations like Help Refugees that are there to sort of fill that gap.” 

Over the course of recent months, intimidation by the French police has escalated. Such interactions have been reported in the past by Human Rights Watch, who claimed that police had been abusing adult and child migrants in Calais.

With this information in the back of my mind, I ask Otis to tell me about the most recent evictions that seem to be leaving refugees more and more devastated. 

“At the moment there’s been a lot of change in protocol, especially with the ‘New Jungle’. They, [The National Police], have just evicted it permanently and they’re going to be putting up fencing all around this wasteland field to stop the refugees from staying there anymore. But that’s obviously not going to solve any problems, because there’s still displaced people, just having to move around to different areas.” 

“A lot of the refugees know about the evictions before they happen. So they’ll hide their belongings, but the ones that are left there, are then pushed out of the perimeter, and told they can’t take their stuff which frustrates the refugees or displaced peoples, because everything they own is like, in a backpack, and they can’t even take it.” 

“It could have their legal documents in it, or personal photos from home that they’ve carried with them the whole way, but they’re moved to the edge of the perimeter and their belongings are put into the clearance van, and that gets sent off to something called a resourcery, which is kind of like a charity shop, and they sell their belongings.”

“Typically there’s a lot of violence during the evictions because people are so frustrated being asked to move or they don’t even know what’s going on, and language barriers make it hard to understand why they’re being pushed away, and why their stuff is being taken.” 

“So there has been incidents between the displaced people and the police. In an average eviction, there will probably be 50 police officers for camps that either hold 20 or 200 people, it can be really intimidating. Then the next morning they come again, and the next morning, and the next, and it never stops. So there’s this constant tension between the displaced people, the police, and then the organisations trying to help because we aren’t even allowed to go into the perimeters to help these people, or even to retrieve belongings.” 

Upon asking whether or not Otis still considers this to be a human rights crisis, he retorts, “I mean you put those words into my mouth. Three years ago, it was a crisis, and now it’s been deemed as not a crisis. But when you’re out in the field, speaking with these people, where their mental health is deteriorating because of the treatment they’re getting or not getting, to me, it’s one-hundred-percent a crisis.” 

Towards the end of my conversation with Laura, it’s clear that recent obstacles have left her exhausted and frustrated, but her sense of perseverance hasn’t diminished.

I ask her how it is that she remains so hopeful when the entire world seems to be anti-refugee- and closer to home, anti-Calais. 

“The reason I’m hopeful right now is because I had to take six weeks off, and I spent the entire time studying how to be hopeful. I swear to God.”

“Like I messed up my ankle so I couldn’t walk around, or anything like that, so all I did was read the Dalai Lama and think about being hopeful. Because when I left, I didn’t have anymore hope, I was just like ‘the whole world is fucked up and people torture each other and my friends have been stuck here for so long, and they want to kill themselves.’” 

“So now, everything is still hard in the moment, but I worked really hard being like okay, in the future, we don’t actually know and maybe that means that I can be hopeful”. 

After a sigh of relief, she says, “Yeah, I’m holding on really tightly to that”. And begins chanting, “Compassion not hatred, compassion not hatred”.

Help Refugees continues to fight against human rights abuses in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.

Though evacuations have persisted, and the situation has increasingly become more appalling, aid workers like Otis and Laura, are just not ready to give up yet.

 

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

st-patricks-day-1255623_960_720

Background- Who was Patrick? 

Maewyn Succat, also known as St. Patrick, was born in Britain around 385 AD.

Until he was sixteen-years-old, he considered himself to be an atheist, or in those days, the proper term would’ve been pagan.

It wasn’t until when a group of Irish raiders took hold of his village and kidnapped Maewyn to Ireland that he was exposed to Christianity. 

According to legend, Patrick had an epiphany in the middle of the night that told him to board a ship that then took him back to Britain where he joined a monastery.

He ended up staying there for twelve years after realising his calling was to convert pagans to Christianity. 

After he was appointed as bishop, Patrick returned to Ireland. While he was in Ireland, Patrick established monasteries, churches and schools. Utilising the shamrock to teach people about the holy trinity, hence the three leaf clover.

He even returned to buy his freedom from his former master but the man decided to burn himself in his house with all his possessions instead of coming face-to-face with his former slave. 

Patrick stayed in Ireland for thirty years until he retired. He then remained in Ireland and died on March 17th AD 461, the date we now celebrate as St. Patricks Day. 

Patrick was never canonised by a Pope but his name appears on the list of Saints. 

st paddys

St. Patricks Day

The day of feast was originally included on the Catholic church’s liturgical calendar in the early 1600s.

From then on it has been considered a holy day for Catholics who are required to attend mass on the 17th of March.

St. Patrick’s Day didn’t become an official holiday until 1903 when the Bank Holiday Act of 1903 was introduced in Ireland, which initially, required all pubs to be closed.

Since the day is during the lenten prohibition, the ban from eating meat was lifted. Mass was attended in the morning and feasts carried on into the afternoon that included singing and dancing. 

The St. Patrick’s Day that we know of today is an Irish-American construct with the first St. Patrick’s Day parade taking place in 1762.

Irish soldiers serving with the English military marched through Manhattan to a local tavern.

The first official parade took place in 1848 and became the largest in the United States. 

green

Why do we wear green? 

The tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day began in the 7th century.

The original colour associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue but green effectively replaced it.

This is most likely because of Ireland’s nickname, the Emerald Isle. The green stripe in the Irish glad also played a role, as well as the fact that most people associate Ireland with the colour green.

photo-1519009620163-043a4492d8b8 

Where did green beer come from?

In 1914 an Irish-American Doctor called Thomas Hayes Curtin revealed his one-of-a-kind invention of ‘green beer’.

Similar inventions had been linked to green beer before but this is the inventor that most historians site.

However, his green beer wasn’t very safe to drink as it allegedly contained an iron powder solution that was used to whiten clothes. This was used to turn the beer into the iconic green colour.

Nowadays, bar keeps have taken to changing the colour of beer with a little help from food dye. 

Green beer is still a term used today to describe beer that’s too young.

Green beer still contains acetaldehyde, which can make the beer taste bad because it’s not yet fully fermented.

However, what you’ll be drinking on St. Patrick’s Day will most likely be normal beer with food colouring- but at your own risk. 

st partricks infographic

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

st-patricks-day-1255623_960_720

Background- Who was Patrick? 

Maewyn Succat, also known as St. Patrick, was born in Britain around 385 AD.

Until he was sixteen-years-old he considered himself to be an atheist, or in those days, the proper term would’ve been pagan.

It wasn’t until when a group of Irish raiders took hold of his village and kidnapped Patrick to Ireland that he was exposed to Christianity. 

According to legend, Patrick had an epiphany in the middle of the night that told him to board a ship that then took him back to Britain where he joined a monastery.

He ended up staying there for twelve years after realising his calling was to convert pagans to Christianity. 

After he was appointed as bishop, Patrick returned to Ireland.

While he was in Ireland, Patrick established monasteries, churches and schools. Utilising the shamrock to teach people about the holy trinity, hence the three leaf clover.

He even returned to buy his freedom from his former master but the man decided to burn himself in his house with all his possessions instead of coming face-to-face with his former slave. 

Patrick stayed in Ireland for thirty years until he retired. He remained in Ireland and died on March 17th AD 461, the date we now celebrate as St. Patricks Day. 

Patrick was never canonised by a Pope but his name appears on the list of Saints. 

st paddys

St. Patrick’s Day

The day of feast was originally included on the Catholic church’s liturgical calendar in the early 1600s. From then on it has been considered a holy day for Catholics who are required to attend mass on the 17th of March.

St. Patrick’s Day didn’t become an official holiday until 1903 when the Bank Holiday Act of 1903 was introduced in Ireland, which initially, required all pubs to be closed.

Since the day is during the lenten prohibition, the ban from eating meat was lifted. Mass was attended in the morning and feasts carried on into the afternoon that included singing and dancing. 

The St. Patrick’s Day that we know of today is an Irish-American construct. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1762, when Irish soldiers serving with the English military marched through Manhattan to a local tavern.

The first official parade took place in 1848 and became the largest in the United States. 

green

Why do we wear green?

The tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day began in the 7th century. The original colour associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue but green effectively replaced it.

Most likely because of Ireland’s nickname, the Emerald Isle. The green stripe in the Irish flag also played a role, as well as the fact that most people associate Ireland with the colour green. 

photo-1519009620163-043a4492d8b8

Where did green beer come from?

In 1914 an Irish-American Doctor called Thomas Hayes Curtin revealed his one-of-a-kind invention of ‘green beer’.

Similar inventions had been linked to green beer before but he is the inventor that most historians site.

However, his green beer wasn’t very safe to drink as it allegedly contained an iron powder solution that was used to whiten clothes.

This was used to turn the beer into the iconic green colour.

Nowadays, bar keeps have taken to changing the colour of beer with a little help from food dye. 

Green beer is still a term used today to describe beer that’s too young. ‘Green beer’ still contains acetaldehyde, which can make the beer taste bad because it’s not yet fully fermented.

However, what you’ll be drinking on St. Patrick’s Day will most likely be normal beer with food colouring- but at your own risk.

st partricks infographic

Meet Alan: the Male feminist

Alan Howell is not your average feminist.

For starters, he’s a white British man. A descendent of Sir Walter Raleigh, Alan was brought up to be a proper and chivalrous gentleman.

Taught to open doors and give up seats for women. However, it was last year at the Seven Dials music festival when Alan worked alongside the CEO of Sister London, a PR firm located in Soho, that he found himself, almost a year later, working as a promotional officer for International Woman’s Day 2019.

After the festival, he went back and told his employers how much he enjoyed working with Sister.

“I love the fact that I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he tells me as we sit on a velvet pink couch in a pop-up shop in Seven Dials.

“We’ve been educated on the subject matter but not on the content or the opinions. I wondered what I was getting into, but I wanted to be educated, and to learn as a man.”    

The theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceisBetter, which targets body positivity and the gender pay gap. As a seasoned actor, Alan had never been exposed to the plights women face in various industries.

“I’ve never had an experience when I knew a fellow colleague was earning less than I was. Obviously, if they were the lead then they would earn more but for those of us in the ensemble, we’re all on a minimum wage. It’s only when you become more important that the gap becomes bigger.”

When I asked Alan what it was that men needed to learn, he chuckled,

“Everyone needs to learn, not just men. International Women’s Day and other events highlighting difficulties women face can make a difference and both sexes can walk away from this event learning something. However, the lads who lunch definitely need waking up when it comes to business industries- especially the older generation.”

Alan has been no stranger to body positivity, even confiding in me, a complete stranger, about the struggles he’s dealt with in the entertainment industry.

“I’ve been told I need to lose weight- and I know I do.”

I stare at him cynically as he continues,“But, if you’re going to change something about your body it should be because it makes you feel good not because society is telling you it’s something you should do. You should be able to look in the mirror and embrace who you are no matter what sex, religion, social class, or whatever your background. That to me equals #BalanceisBetter.”

Influencing future generations with events like International Women’s Day is the most important thing to Alan. When promotion for the event first began, himself and another cohort passed out flyers around Seven Dials, he says with a massive smile painted across his face. 

As Alan tells me about how passionate he is about closing in on the wage-gap or promoting body positivity, I can’t help but think what the world would be like if all men and women became as proactive about fighting social issues or even opening our minds to new information in the way he has.

“Everyone needs to be open to change,” he says, “especially elected officials”.

I pondered on what Alan had shared with me so far before I imposed my last question, contemplating how a white middle-class cis-gender British male could be sat before me saying everything he had, I probed.

“Are you sure you didn’t just sign up to this to meet girls?” After letting out an uproarious laugh he insists “No, I’m madly in love with a beautiful woman who makes me strive to become better than I am because she is just so strong, driven and wonderful,”

It was exactly at that moment when women all over the world were heard sighing, “ why can’t all men be like Alan?”