Gemma Styles talks about donating blood and bullying

November 18th, 2018: Gemma Styles, sister of Harry Styles, recently penned an open letter for the magazine Glamour in which she talked about two important issues dear to her heart, blood donation, and bullying.

Gemma recently took her friend Laura Doggett to donate blood during the NHS #Date2Donate campaign in which the National Health Service encourages people from all over the UK to donate blood to replenish their stocks. Indeed, there is a constant need to enrich blood stocks with all different blood types and to recruit new blood donors that will take the place of donors that either temporarily or permanently cannot donate blood. Gemma has been passionate about blood donation, which can literally save the lives of people undergoing surgery or going through cancer treatment to name a few, and has posted pictures and tweets on social media in the past of herself donating blood. Below is the video that Gemma posted this week of herself and her friend Laura donating blood.

While the two friends were sitting on the reclining chairs donating their blood they got to talk about bullying, cyberbullying, and the initiative #AntiBullyingWeek. #AntiBullyingWeek has been promoted and organized by the Anti-bullying Alliance, the UK based antibullying organization which works online and off line, especially in schools, to combat bullying.  Niall Horan this past week tweeted in support of the campaign #StopSpeakSupport, within #AntiBullyingWeek, launched by the Anti-Bullying Alliance in collaboration with the NSPCC and the Diana Award (our article here). Gemma has been vocal in the past about trolling and bullying and in this open letter, she speaks her mind about this issue. Below is her letter as it was published by Glamour.

Donating bodily fluids probably doesn’t feature in your list of go-to activities to do with friends. Bowling, sure. Brunch, certainly. But if you’re looking for something easy, worthwhile – and free – then I highly recommend giving blood. I recently visited the Blood Donor Centre in Luton with my friend Laura (and a camera crew) for the NHS’s #Date2Donate series, to make the case for donation as a social activity.

I’m a regular blood donor, but it was Laura’s first time, so I think going together made the whole thing easier for her. I can totally understand being nervous about it – I used to be petrified of needles myself, and it was actually giving blood that helped get me over the fear. Don’t get me wrong, I still can’t look when the needle goes in, but it really honestly does not hurt and only takes a few minutes. And then they give you snacks. Win-win.

We need more new blood donors like Laura because the NHS need around 200,000 new donors a year to replace existing donors who stop donating and to ensure a good mixture of blood groups to match the needs of patients. Personally, I’ve had to stop donating for a while in the past as I was anemic – while I’m back on the case now, other people have to stop long term for a whole host of reasons, so having new donors to fill those gaps is really important.

Reclining in our donation chairs, we got onto the topic of anti-bullying week, which this year is 12-16th November. We both spend a lot of time on social media and agreed that the conversations being had online can often be far too negative. I remember having people make nasty comments at school, but at least back then it was confined to a few people hearing it in a classroom – when horrible comments are being made online, it’s easy to feel like the whole world is seeing it too and laughing at you. Words don’t get said and then fade from the air, they’re right there in pixels for anyone to read over and over again, which of course has a huge effect on the person they’re aimed at.

I’m lucky to have a mostly positive online community around me, but it can still affect me when people decide to get nasty or send personal attacks. People assume that when you have more followers, things they say don’t matter, or that it’s not just a normal person reading the message. Even more so, they expect you to know everything and to be perfect – which I am not. I’ve had more practice than most at dealing with negative assumptions and mean comments, but nobody is immune to feeling hurt by other people’s words – and sadly there are always some people who actively set out to upset others and hurt their feelings. It’s easier said than done to rise above it and not let bullying get to you, but you can take comfort in the knowledge that you are a nicer person and trust me, people will see that.

When you’re being bullied it’s common to feel ashamed or embarrassed – this isn’t right, but it can be hard to admit to people around you that you’re being singled out. My advice would be to find someone, anyone, to confide in. Bullies, for whatever reason, want you to feel different and alone, but you’re not alone.

Whether it’s a friend, parent, sibling or a stranger, there are people who understand and who want to help. I’ve seen the great positive power of social media connecting likeminded people, and how amazing friendships can bloom through shared experiences. There are more kind people out there than bullies. Being cruel is not cool or normal. I don’t judge people for being different – but I do judge them for being spiteful.

If you see someone different from you and your first instinct is to ridicule them or call them names, think about where you have learned this behavior from – is that the kind of person you want to be? You can unlearn it. Being nice to people costs nothing and can have an incredibly positive impact – just like giving blood. If you’re donating at maximum capacity – that’s once every 12 weeks for men and 16 weeks for women – you’re only giving up 3-4 hours per YEAR. And each donation could save three lives. Take a friend along with you and by the time you’ve calculated the number of lives you could save in a few years between you, the machine will be beeping and you’ll be ready for your chocolate biscuit.

Picture and video are credited to Gemma Styles’ Twitter account.

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Niall Horan tweets in support of anti-cyberbullying campaign​ #StopSpeakSupport

November 15th, 2018: Today Niall Horan tweeted in support of the anti-cyberbullying campaign launched by the Anti-Bullying Alliance in collaboration with the NSPCC and the Diana Award, called #StopSpeakSupport. The campaign takes place today November 15h during #antibullyingweek.

#StopSpeakSupport is asking to spread the video below which has been entirely written and created by young people from the Anti-Bullying Alliance, NSPCC, and the Diana Award.

As the campaign name suggests, social media users – especially children, are encouraged to follow the following steps when witnessing cyberbullying:

  • Stop: take a step back and assess the situation without sharing the bullying content or without liking any negative comment. Try to understand the situation as there is often more than one side to a story. Try to understand where everybody is coming from. Also look up the specific social media guidelines when it comes to cyberbullying: what is considered cyberbullying? How can you report it?
  • Speak: seek out someone you can talk to. If you are a child or a teen, look for an adult you can talk to about what you witnessed. It can be a parent, a family member, a teacher, or a mentor. Sometimes children are reluctant to talk to an adult because they do not want to make the situation worse, but it is essential that they speak to someone when something that they see bothers them. Once you have familiarized yourself on how to report the bullying, do so. Follow the steps that the social media platform is asking you to follow in order to report the bullying. Note that the accounts you report will not know you have reported them.  If you are the victim of cyberbullying or someone you know is and you think support is needed, seek out the help of one of the many charities knowledgeable in cyberbullying and its consequences on children and adults.
  • Support: give support to the person who is being bullied. Send them a nice encouraging message, distract them with positive content, make them feel like they are not alone. If you can, spend some time with them offline. Encourage them to talk to someone they trust, especially an adult if they are children or teenagers.

The #StopSpeakSupport anti-cyberbullying campaign is being promoted today on social media across the three organizations that came together to create the campaign: the Anti-Bullying Alliance, The NSPCC, and the Diana Award, including postings by Heads Together, the Diana Award’s campaign to promote mental health launched by Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and by the Duke of Sussex (our article here about Heads Together).

Cyberbullying is rampant on social media, with up to ~20% of young people and adults experiencing cyberbullying at one point or another during their social media exposure. The percentage is even higher for young girls and members of the LGBTQ community. You can read some of these heartbreaking stories at this #StopSpeakSupport link and on our site at the Cyberbullying Awareness link and at the Your Stories link.

We have been dedicating a lot of effort to spreading a message of inclusivity, anti-cyberbullying, and anti-bullying within the One Direction fandom and beyond, often using our hashtags #1DFansStandAgainstBullying and #FandomsAgainstBullying.

Niall Horan’s picture is credited to his Twitter account.

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Harry Styles, TPWK Series: Action Against Hunger

November 11th, 2018: In Madrid, Harry Styles donated the proceeds from the sale of his “Treat People with Kindness” hair ties to Action Against Hunger.

Action Against Hunger is an international humanitarian organization that operates in 50 countries to fight against hunger and undernutrition. This organization is present during times of crisis in the most afflicted areas of the planet and is constantly searching for new solutions to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable populations with a particular focus on children.

Indeed, it is estimated that 821 million people worldwide suffer from chronic undernutrition. Furthermore, it is estimated that half of all child’s deaths worldwide is due to malnutrition. The first two years of the life of a child are particularly important when it comes to nutrition. A child that receives the proper nutrition in their first 1000 days of life, has a stronger immune system, can fight off diseases more easily, and has a more complete and harmonious intellectual development.

Action Against Hunger believes that health problems and death due to undernutrition are predictable, preventable, and treatable. Nelson Mandela, the recipient of the Action Against Hunger 2004 Humanitarian Prize said about this organization:

“Action Against Hunger is in war-torn countries that many fear to tread. They are technical people… that forgo the comforts of modern life to assist local populations and refugees at the most fundamental level in the most dangerous locales. They provide nutrition, healthcare, sanitation, and food sustainability. They train populations to be self-sufficient. Although these dedicated men and women want to eliminate the need for their services, humanity is not willing and forces them to witness the most heinous actions.”

Action Against Hunger’s approach to combat undernutrition is multifaced. The organization focuses on four main types of interventions:

Nutrition and health: they provide assistance not only to save children and families from death and health issues associated with malnourishment but they also work with communities on sustainable solutions so that they can support themselves. The organization has over 35 years of experience in dealing with malnutrition in the most affected areas of the planet from isolated rural communities to overcrowded urban slums to refugee camps. In order to identify sustainable solutions, the organization researches the causes of malnutrition within every single community by gathering and analyzing data. In situations of crisis, they focus primarily on children and pregnant women by distributing nutritional supplements and by training women on how to best provide essential nutrients to their children up to the age of two. Action Against Hunger has also organized a peer to peer training system in which women teach other women how to best support the nutrition and health of their children.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene: the problem of malnutrition cannot be effectively tackled without tackling the problem of unsafe water. It is estimated that over 2 billion people worldwide drink unsafe water, resulting in diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera. In children, these diseases can often lead to death. Action Against Hunger distributes safe water to communities in times of crises and works to find sustainable solutions within each community by drilling and decontaminating wells, installing pumps, protecting natural springs, and piping water into villages. Also, in this case, the emphasis remains on the solutions being sustainable over time and for this reason Action Against Hunger trains local groups and individuals in operating and maintaining the sources of safe water. The organization also distributes hygiene kits, installs latrines, and trains communities on the basic practices of hygiene.

Food security and livelihood: in order for communities to be able to support themselves with the proper nutrition, they have to have easy access to food. Action Against Hunger works with local communities to start or restore agricultural programs by providing seeds and tools, livestock and veterinary care. They also provide support to local businesses and individual families so that they can regain self-sufficiency.

Emergency response: Action Against Hunger is always ready to deploy aid to communities around the world in times of crises. This organization works with governments and local communities to guarantee intervention when needed. In the past year only, they have responded to the humanitarian crises in Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and the Central African Republic. They also work with particularly vulnerable communities to prevent future crises.

Action Against Hunger is helped in its fight against world hunger by partners that include corporations, foundations, universities, donors, and nongovernmental organizations. Some of the most known partners of Action Against Hunger are Google, Proctor & Gamble, WeightWatchers, Humble Bundle, and The Coca-Cola Company. To learn more about the work that Action Against Hunger does in partnership with these organizations, visit this page.

Pictures, images, and video are credited to Action Against Hunger website. Harry Styles picture is credited to Helene Pumbrun.

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Louis Tomlinson helps present Ella Chadwick with the “Child of Courage” award

October 31st, 2018: On October 29th Louis Tomlinson together with the other X Factor judges, attended the Pride of Britain awards and presented 11-year-old Ella Chadwick with the “Child of Courage” award.

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Ella received the award for having raised 3,000 pounds for the Manchester Children Hospital which treated her while she was battling nephrotic syndrome, a rare form of kidney disease. Ella, who was born with this syndrome, had to endure 6 years of dialysis, 2 kidney transplants, and other 40 operations and is currently using a walker. She has even developed diabetes, yet she has shown great courage in the face of adversity and raised thousands of pounds for the hospital that saved her. The funds that Ella raised will go towards helping other children battling life-threatening diseases. Ella received the news that she was to be awarded the “Child of Courage” award by Devid Beckman.

The Pride of Britain awards show first aired in 1999 and with its over 5 million viewers it is the most watched award show of British television. The show is presented by the well known British presenter Carol Vorderman and is attended by politicians, royals, and hundreds of personalities in the entertainment industry, arts, and sport.

The Pride of Britain awards honors individuals from all over the UK and from all walks of life who through their courage, strength, and generosity truly make the world a better place.  Each year thousands of people from all over the UK are nominated for the Pride of Britain awards. From these many thousands of people, the possible awardees are then narrowed down to a small group.

Louis Tomlinson has already attended the Pride of Britain awards in the past (article here). In 2016 he presented 12-year-old Dylan Graves with a Pride of Britain bravery award for having saved his friend James from being hit by a car. At the 2016 award show, Louis also bid thousands of pounds on paintings by Rhea Kara, a 10-year-old girl who had been raising funds for Reverse Rett through the sale of her paintings.

Here is a video of Ella Chadwick, the 11-year-old who received this year the “Child of Courage” award, with Louis Tomlinson and the other X factor judges at the Pride of Britain Awards.  To learn more about Ella visit her Twitter account here.

Pictures are credited to Ella’s and to the Pride of Britain awards’ Twitter accounts.

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Niall Horan donates a pair of his shoes to be auctioned off for Small Steps Project

November 4th, 2018: Niall Horan has donated a pair of brown Grenson, chocolate suede Chukka lace-up boots in a size 8, to be auctioned off for the charity Small Steps Project. Niall’s shoes will be auctioned off as part of the celebrity shoe auction that is taking place between November 1st and November 11th to benefit this charity.

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Small Steps Project is a humanitarian organization and an UK registered charity that helps families from all over the world who live on rubbish dumps and survive by scavenging for food. The organization approach to help these children and families is two-tiered; first, by distributing food, clothes, shoes, and emergency/hygiene kits, they provide protection to these children, second, by offering sustainable solutions this charity helps them get an education and out of poverty one step at the time.

The charity also works to improve awareness of the huge problem of rubbish dumps and the violation of human rights associated with people (especially children) living off the dumps and scavenging for food to survive, by filming and releasing documentaries.

Small Steps Project also organizes campaigns, such as Celebrity Shoe Auctions such as the one Niall Horan donated his shoes for, to boost awareness and to raise much-needed funds for the work this charity does globally to eliminate the problem of rubbish dumps.

One Direction has donated to Small Steps Project in the past. In 2015 the shoes that Louis, Harry, Zayn, Liam, and Niall donated raised more than £10,000 which constituted 1/4 of the total funds raised by the charity that year (read our article here). Other celebrities donate their shoes to be auctioned off for Small Steps Project. You can find a complete list of celebrities who have donated to this charity at this link.

You can help Small Steps Project by either making an individual donation or by fundraising for the charity. Learn more about how you can help by visiting their website. To place a bid on Niall’s shoes visit this link.

Pictures and video are credited to Small Steps Project website.

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Six-year-old​ girl ends up in the hospital as a result of bullying

November 2nd, 2018: The Cambridgeshirelive reports that Sophia Golledge, a six-year-old girl from the Cambridge area in the UK, ended up in the hospital with vomiting, stomach cramps, and infection, after being relentlessly bullied in school.

Sophia had befriended another girl in school who, instead of returning Sophia’s friendship, bullied her, even controlling what she could eat and whom she could play with. The bullying was so bad that Sophia started to be violently ill and to be scared of going to school.

Sophia’s mom Carrie said “Things were so bad by the end of the summer term that Sophia was out of school for a couple of weeks because her sickness was so severe – she would be up all night and vomiting 20 times an hour. She’d be in so much pain and because her upset stomach was so violent, it would lead to a water infection and her body struggled. We’ve had her in the hospital with high fevers which they’ve struggled to control.” However, Carrie noticed that in the days off school, Sophia would perk up and feel better.

Sophia at one point gathered enough courage to speak with school staff about the bullying. However, the school response was to try to keep her separated from the other kids. As a result of this Sophia in addition to being bullied, also started to feel very lonely and isolated.

When Sophia’s parents understood how bad the bullied had gotten to be and that Sophia’s illness was related to how she was being treated in school, they spoke with the head teacher. However, once again the school failed Sophia by deciding to keep her in while the other kids played outside. Sophia ended up feeling even more isolated and her health further deteriorated. Sophia’s mom said: “But that’s punishing the child that’s being bullied rather than addressing the issue”.

Finally, the Golledges pulled Sophia and her brother out of her school and enrolled them in a new school. Immediately after switching schools Sophia’s health dramatically improved. Carrie said “But the minute she was removed from the school, her health picked up, she’s put weight back on and she’s had a growth spurt. It’s the first time in about a year that she comes home from school and tells us what she’s done that day and about all the people she’s played with.”

Sophia is now doing much better and is much happier. However, Sophia’s mom Carrie has decided to go public with their story to help bring to the forefront the problem of bullying and the fact that schools often do not deal appropriately with it. Since she has told their story Carrie has received numerous messages from parents who had gone through a similar ordeal with their children. Carrie said:

“If sharing her story helps other people, then that’s something because no one at the school has said ‘sorry, we left you down’. There are just too many people letting children down.”

Pictures of Sophia are shared from Cambridgeshirelive.

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Niall Horan auctions off his shirt to benefit Rays of Sunshine

October 27th, 2018: On October 19th Niall Horan announced via Twitter that he was auctioning off a shirt he wore last year at Jingle Bell Ball at the London’s O2 Arena. Niall said that the proceeds from the auction of the shirt would be going to Rays of Sunshine to celebrate their 15th birthday.

Visit the Omaze page here for a chance to win Niall’s Christmas themed shirt by pledging a donation.

Rays of Sunshine is a UK based charity founded in 2003 that grants wishes to seriously ill children age 3-18. The charity indeed works in the belief that seriously ill children should not be robbed of hope and that a way for these children to maintain hope is to see their wishes come true. Rays of Sunshine grants all sorts of wishes from wanting to be a firefighter for a day to visiting Disney, or meeting a celebrity. The charity works with individual children and with groups of children at hospital wards and hospices and has granted wishes to over 60,000 children so far.

One Direction has supported Rays of Sunshine multiple times through the years. In 2012 for example during their Take Me Home Tour and before heading to the US, through Rays of Sunshine, One Direction met Niamh Power, a girl battling an aggressive form of cancer (read our article here). In 2014, during their Where We Are tour, they met 53 children through this charity at the Wembley Stadium (article here). More recently Niall Horan, as a solo artist, met numerous sick children through Rays of Sunshine (our article here).

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Rays of Sunshine does not receive financial support from the government, so it fully relies on donations made by corporations and individuals to maintain its operations. Its ambassadors not only help the charity grant wishes to children, but when possible they help raise much-needed funds like Niall Horan is doing in this instance by auctioning off his Jingle Bell Ball Christmas-themed shirt.

Visit Rays of Sunshine “support us” page, to learn about the many ways that the work of this charity can be supported.

Pictures are credited to Rays of Sunshine website and Niall Horan’s twitter account.

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