If you can't hear those sleigh bells jingling and ring-ting-a-ling-gling just yet then brace yourselves: Christmas FM is coming!
The hugely popular vounteer-led radio station got the go ahead from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for another year and it'll be live, both online and on radio, from Saturday December 29th.
Festive tunes will jingling in your ears via the wireless (that's an old term for radio by the by) if you live in Dublin City and County; Limerick City and part-County; Cork City and part-County; Galway City; and parts of Counties Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and Tipperary. Here's a full list of the frequencies you'll need to tune in on.
The Christmas classics will be pumping through the wi-fi too though: You can stream the station online nationwide and in any other country around the world right here. As if that wasn't enough, you can also download the Christmas FM app via the website too.
Every year Christmas FM picks a different charity to raise funds for and this year they've decided to get behind Age Action Ireland. The charity promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people, in the hopes of making Ireland a better place to grow old in.
They're also running a competition to find the best new Christmas song, so if you think you've got what it takes to write one then you'd better get on with it. Entries close on December 7th and you can find all the details you need right here.
And if you're feeling REALLY festive, don't forget to book your tickets for SpunOut.ie's Christmas Table Quiz. We'll be celebrating all things festive and giving you the chance to win some cracking Christmas prizes on December 9th.
Flick on the kettle, leave your undies on the radiator and whip on those inflatable armbands - it’s Polar Plunge time again!
Every December, Special Olympics Ireland encourages people to take a bracing dip in the sea in order to raise funds for athletes and equipment. Currently in its fourth year, the annual event has gone from strength to strength in recent times, and provides an invaluable source of revenue for an extremely worthy cause.
If it’s something you’d be interested in checking out, you can fill in the registration form here. All participants contribute an initial registration fee of €15, and you’re asked to try fundraise a minimum of €50 (that’s the easy part!) What’s more, anyone who raises over 50 quid is given an ‘Ice Cool’ Polar Plunge t-shirt that you can chill out in once your teeth have stopped chattering.
You better be quick about it though, because the organised Plunges are due to take place between the 6th and 13th of December at locations across the country (they’re listed at the bottom of the article). You’ll be joining a pretty illustrious group of charitable do-gooders who’ve already taken part, after Irish rugby legends David Wallace, Dave Kearney and Niamh Briggs, along with All-Ireland finalist and Dublin ladies football captain Sinead Goldrick, all took the plunge earlier this month.
It’s an initiative that’s being run in conjunction with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, an organisation that’s been a partner of the Special Olympics movement for a number of years. Indeed, our boys and girls in blue were among the first to get in on the act, as plenty of police officers north and south of the border have already taken to Ireland’s rivers, beaches and lakes to raise awareness for the upcoming events.
Following on from the 200 intrepid souls who took part in last year’s outing, organisers are expecting upwards of 300 people to raise thousands of euros at Dun Laoghaire’s 40 Foot for Dublin’s flagship Plunge, on top of hundreds of others helping raise much-needed funds nationwide. Happy dunking!
It’s an old adage, but the expression ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ proved especially apt for Lisa Turner when she opened up about her mental health difficulties in college.
Having suffered from panic attacks since she was young, the tragic loss of her mother to cancer while Lisa was in secondary school saw her life enter a prolonged downward spiral over the next few years. Difficulties with shyness, being picked on in school and having trouble adjusting to college contributed to Lisa’s feelings of isolation as she became increasingly withdrawn from everyday life, and the depressive cycle became ever-more unbearable.
Her reluctance to open up and talk to other people served as an impediment to Lisa seeking help with her problems. In the end, the turning point came when she took the decision to get assistance from the college counsellor and embark on a course of medication prescribed by her GP. It was by no means a quick-fix solution - nothing ever is where mental health is concerned - but following a lot of hard work, and plenty of open communication, Lisa is well and truly on the road to recovery.
In her video, she talks candidly about her own experiences with mental illness, the stigma that continues to surround it, and how people can find a path out of the darkness. In Lisa’s own words- “It’s time to open up, and start talking to the people around us about mental health”.
Flatten the 7up, gather all the blankets, and batten down the hatches because it’s officially cold’n’flu season again. As a nation, we love to feel sorry for ourselves when experiencing those first symptoms of the dreaded sniffles, and while different strokes work for different folks, it’s important to remember that certain responses are not appropriate when dealing with relatively mild complaints.
That’s where UnderTheWeather.ie seeks to enlighten us in our flu-busting pursuits. It’s a new website launched by the HSE to help inform people of what steps should be taken when you’re feeling down in the dumps.
We’ve all got our own ways of dealing with common maladies from sore throats and tummy bugs to earaches and sinus infections, with varying degrees of success! However, most of the time, there’s no cure as good as a bit of R & R complemented by some good old-fashioned TLC.
If you’re achin’ all over there’s no harm in resorting to pain relievers (within recommended guideline amounts, of course), but the main piece of advice is to avoid antibiotics as they don't work on common colds/flus.
Antibiotics only have an effect on bacterial infections. They have no effect on viral illnesses (such as colds and flu) whatsoever, and what’s more, the unnecessary overuse of antibiotics helps contribute to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of disease which are really, really hard to medicate against.
Often, it can be difficult to differentiate between viral and bacterial infections as many symptoms cross over between the two. But generally-speaking, bacterial infections tend to last longer than viral complaints, so if you’ve been coughing, sneezing, sniffling and spluttering for an extended period of time it’s recommended that you see a doctor for a correct prescription. But other than that - tough it out!
The website offers lots of helpful tips and information on how to identify and treat an infection, and it’s also got expert video content featuring advice from health professionals. It’s broken down into illness-specific directions, which differentiate between advice for kids and adults.
I've been threatening to start a blog now for a couple of months, but like everything else I've placed it on the backburner due to college work, societies/Students' Union work and various other aspects of my life.
Why now, you ask? Well this week is Mental Health Awareness week, a week that I always love to get involved in within my own university, UCC, but alas I am laid up with back pain at home - yes I know, I'm a haggard old woman - so I decided to publish some musings on my thoughts and experiences of mental health issues.
The line-up in UCC this week is second to none and I must give Cian Power and the SU, along with the Societies Guild and various other organisations in UCC, their due credit. I know how hard Cian has worked to make this week worthwhile. The statistic is 1 in every 5, that's not something we should easily dismiss or forget. I think everyone at some stage battles with their own demons and it's heartening to see how many people have felt comfortable enough to share their experiences in order to help and guide others.
I definitely battle with my own demons at times; paranoia, anxiety and stress are all things that I experience weekly. While many people believe a diagnosis or a loss of all hope is needed to seek help - it's not. If you feel things aren't okay, just say it. Put it out there and I can guarantee you that there are people in your life who will bend over backwards to help you.
My own friends and family are one amazing support system. My paranoia and anxiety can often project onto them and can become quite aggravating and draining. I say that as an assumption because everytime I seek help, they can make me feel better in seconds and it never feels like I'm burdening them. For a long time I wasn't sure whether this paranoia and anxiety was something I wanted to share and then it became too much. I constantly questioned friendships, I analysed remarks made by friends for hours and the smallest of gestures would set my anxiety into overdrive.
While I never felt this overcoming sense of despair, these small attributes were taking much of the happiness from my life. Nights out were continually becoming something I over analysed, an unanswered text caused me sleepless nights. Then I began to talk, sometimes I spent hours discussing why I did this with friends. Now, I'm not saying this has completely gone away, but through chats, coffee and copious amounts of chocolate I've made a conscious effort to not let these emotions take over anymore.
I think this blog entry has definitely deviated from where I was thinking it would go but that's the beauty of mental health discussions, you get it all off your chest without even realising. I suppose the message I want to get across is that: if you're not okay, just say it. You have people who care about you, people who want you do well and people who would hate for you to suffer in silence,
We should all make a conscious effort to look after one another, if you think someone needs an extra hand then extend one. Always remember that everyone is fighting their own battle.
Never pre-judge someone or their struggle and always be as mindful of yourself as you are of others.
Renowned for its high-profile lists of international influencers, Time saw fit to recognise Ward’s immense contribution to solving issues around food waste through her own unique venture. Founded just two years ago, FoodCloud is a non-profit company that aims to connect companies with large amounts of surplus food to relevant charities in need of assistance.
By teaming up with large retailers like Tesco, Fresh and Starbucks, the FoodCloud app provides a vital link to help around 250 charities maintain food supplies for people who are in need. The idea came about through a collaborative project with fellow Trinity student Aoibheann O’Brien, and their work has come as a timely intervention in the battle to reduce the estimated one million tonnes of food waste generated in Ireland each year.
What’s more, it’s the second time in the space of a month that young Irish women have gained global recognition for their pioneering work after a trio of secondary school students from Cork were named on a similar list in October. Kinsale Community School students Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow were named on Time’s list of the 25 most influential teens worldwide for their work on increasing international food production.
24 year-old Ward is joined on Time’s latest compilation by an eclectic array of figures, including satirical TV show host from Thailand, a medical researcher from Australia and a female mixed martial artist from Malaysia. It’s a welcome bit of publicity that tops off a fantastic few weeks for the FoodCloud crew, after they were awarded €140,000 by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for their great work.
FoodCloud and Ward have really been feeling the love on Twitter since the weekend’s announcement:
Congratulations to Dubliner Iseult Ward & her brilliant app FOODCLOUD shes made it on to TIME mag Next Generation Leaders list... #iand— Ian Dempsey (@IanDempsey) November 17, 2014
ESB ecars partnered with Foodcloud whose co-founder Iseult Ward is in Time Magazine as one of the leaders of tomorrow http://t.co/oX17DBdnvb— ESB Group (@ESBGroup) November 14, 2014
Nice to hear @Foodcloudire getting lots of press. Met Iseult Ward back when the company was in Trinity's startup incubator. Smart woman.— Dave Molloy (@davemolloy) November 13, 2014
With less resources available for mental health groups and services than in the past, it’s become more important than ever for young people to stand up and lead the way when it comes to raising awareness of mental health issues among younger generations.
That’s where people like Jamie Harrington come in. Just turned 16, Jamie is an active member in organisations like Teenline Ireland and the Never Alone Collective- a group of friends who released a charity single last year to raise awareness and funds for Teenline. Far from being something he was always passionate about, Jamie’s initial exposure to charitable endeavours came about completely by chance.
“I was walking through Templebar one day and I saw Luke Clerkin standing on his own busking, with a bedsheet with big blue paint saying ‘busk for suicide prevention’, but he spelt prevention wrong so I looked at it and laughed to myself,” says 16 year-old Jamie, a stand-up comedy enthusiast and freelance photographer.
“I sound like a bag of cats singing, but I’m a grand old MC- I can make people laugh and I can get a crowd going, and from then on I started working with them. Then Luke introduced me to Teeline and I became a champion.”
Founded in 2003, Teenline offers distressed teenagers the opportunity to open up about their problems on the phone. Although aimed at teens, you don’t have to be under 19 to phone, and the group also encourages “Teenline Champions” like Jamie and his friend Luke to raise awareness about the charity among peers.
After being diagnosed with depression at 13, Jamie now has an incredible 12,000 followers on Facebook who listen out for his inspirational postings on how to maintain a positive outlook. The well-travelled teenager has also got to help on tours with fellow Ballymun native Glen Hansard and singer Damien Dempsey, but not everyone was so supportive when Jamie first went public with his difficulties.
“When I told some of my friends they were really supportive, telling me ‘we’re here forever J’, but some of them were like ‘really man, you’re a bit nuts we don’t want to hang around with you, you’re not well’.
“There’s a huge stigma around having a mental health problem in this country, and it shouldn’t be a stigma because there’s nothing wrong with suffering with your mental health,” says Jamie, who believes that Teenline’s services are becoming more popular than ever because of the amount of young people getting involved and telling their friends.
“Since I started talking about mental health we’ve seen a huge, huge increase in people wanting to volunteer with Teenline, and other services around the country, as well as setting up cake sales or anything to help raise money. We’ve also had people coming down to the [Never Alone Collective] busk like Gavin James, and a couple of other famous people and it does help us a lot.”
Irish chart-toppers and north Dublin natives the Original Rude Boys were on hand to promote the release of their single, which aims to send a message of hope to young people who may believe that they have none. Not content to just send out a musical message, a commemorative graffiti mural reading ‘Never Alone’ was also unveiled at the promotional event.
The mural, which was put together by some of the country’s top graffiti artists, was made in memory of John Ryan who passed away earlier this year. Nicknamed Crept, the 20 year-old Drogheda man was recognised as a talented graffiti artist before he tragically took his own life in August.
All proceeds from the sale of the single will go towards Console, an organisation which offers help and support to people who may be feeling suicidal, and the families of those bereaved by suicide. It also offers counselling services across various counties aimed at individuals, couples, groups or families who have been affected by suicide. You can download the single here.
Speaking at the launch, Original Rude Boys lead singer Neddy Arkins signalled his delight at his band’s involvement in the project.
“We're delighted to have the proceeds from ‘Never Alone’ going towards Console and Walk in my Shoes, helping them out with all the amazing work they do. Hopefully people take something from the song and it helps them through difficult times, reassuring them that through all life throws at them, they are never truly alone,” he said.
It’s the second charity single entitled ‘Never Alone’ to be released in the recent past, after Dublin group, The Never Alone Collective, released their own song in aid of Teenline Ireland in September 2013. Figures released last month showed that the suicide rate among young people in Ireland remains among the top 4 for European countries, leading to calls for greater efforts to be made to stem the tide of young lives lost here every year.
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This survey about drug use amongst third level students aims to get a better insight into the nature and use of drugs in Ireland. It's completely anonymous and looks at areas such as:
So whether you like the occasional pint, need medication to cope with an illness, take paracetamol to deal with headaches, or sometimes engage in illegal substances, this survey wants to hear about your experiences, in order to gain better insight into the nature and use of drugs in Ireland.
It’s led by Tim Bingham and Colin O'Driscoll, Registered Psychologist (PSI, BPS and HCPC) in conjunction with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and is aimed at students who have used any drugs.
It hopes that its findings will be able to better equip services to meet the needs to drug users. It takes around 10-15 minutes and is completely confidential.
If you're over 21 and on the dole, are a single parent or have a disability, then BTEA (Back To Education Allowance) could be for you. Think of it… a chance to enjoy student life for a few years, and open the door to a whole new world of opportunities!
The BTEA is an educational opportunities scheme for unemployed people, lone parents and people with disabilities who are receiving benefit payments from the Department of Social and Family Affairs.
There are two study options available, the Second Level option and the Third Level option. The main conditions are that the course you apply for, whether it is a degree in Social Studies or the Junior Certificate, must be full-time and approved by the relevant education bodies.
To qualify for a Back to Education Allowance you must be:
At least age 21 (24 for an approved post graduate qualification) AND getting one of the following social welfare payments for at least three months immediately before going for the Second Level option or nine months immediately before going for the Third Level option.
Time spent on a variety of training schemes, such as FÁS/SOLAS schemes and JobBridge may count towards the qualifying period. Time spent in prison and on the YouthReach programme may count also.
If you are aged between 18-20 and have been getting Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit or One Parent Family Payment for three months (Second Level option) or nine months (Third Level option) and have been out of the formal education system for two years, you may also qualify for the BTEA.
If you are aged 18 or over (over 24 for the post graduate option) and getting Blind Pension, Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension or Incapacity Supplement for the required period (3 or 9 months) you may also qualify. Finally, you may get the Cost of Education Allowance if you are getting unemployment or illness credits. This is a one-off payment made at the start of the year to help with buying textbooks etc.
This weekly allowance is not means-tested and you can work part-time without affecting your BTEA payment.
What about the cost of books and Third Level fees?
There is no longer an entitlement to allowances for books and other educational material. Previously, there had been a provision for Cost of Education Allowances to be paid to BTEA recipients on top of their basic allowance, however this has since been discontinued.
Am I entitled to any additional benefits?
You may also keep secondary benefits you already have e.g. Christmas bonus or rent supplement. You have to apply for a rent supplement from the Health Board in the area you will be studying in. This will only cover part of your rent, but you are also entitled to take up part time employment while at college.
The Know Your Rights information packs are provided by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). They are a series of booklets designed to inform people about their rights, which the ICCL has rolled out as part of its Know Your Rights public information project. The booklet is designed to inform the general public, in clear and accessible language, of their rights in the areas of Garda search powers, arrest, interview, detention, provision of bodily samples and public order.
The State gets its power from the people of Ireland through the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The Constitution sets out some of the rights of people who live in Ireland. We also have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All agents of the State, including An Garda Síochána, must act in line with the Constitution and the ECHR.
The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and is supplemented by more detailed laws, which must also be in line with the Constitution. The law must also follow the ECHR and its decisions. Gardaí must act according to court rulings and legislation, otherwise they may be breaking the law.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by the Gardaí, or if they have interfered with any of your rights, you should contact a solicitor.