“Freedom Day” – what does this mean?

With 38,928,936 people having had a 1st dose of vaccine and 30,452,042 the 2nd in the UK [at the time of writing] most people feel safer and more hopeful that life will return to how it was. Many are venturing out to more places, people are gradually spending time back in the workplace and some are even taking their first trips away.

Realistically though there are many in our communities who are struggling to get out and about. For some this is due to a physical or mental health condition that existed before the pandemic and for others existing conditions have been exacerbated by their experience of the last 18 months. There are also people who have developed mental health conditions particularly anxiety and depression and we need to be as aware as possible and supportive to those around us who might need our help.

In the context of HeadsUp we are thinking about ways to support people who are unemployed and really want to find work, but for a variety of reasons including some of those listed above, struggle to do so. One thing that we might chat about with our participants is to consider volunteering. If someone is struggling with confidence, interacting with other people or generally just getting into a routine of having work commitments, then volunteering is a positive first step. It can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction and gives the opportunity to develop skills that might help you get back to work when you are ready (depending on what you are doing it could also have a bonus of helping you stay physically healthy too!).

There are many different challenges around us and with the right support it is possible to move on with our lives, one small step at a time.

Could what I eat help me feel better?

The simple answer is yes………

This doesn’t necessarily mean that by eating a particular food you might suddenly stop feeling low in mood, but there is evidence to suggest that eating healthily and considering when and what you eat or drink might help improve your mood.

You might think that eating healthily means not eating certain foods such as cakes, crisps or cutting back on drinking alcohol so you can lose weight. But eating healthily is about having a variety of food and drinks which collectively contain beneficial nutrients for your physical and mental health.

Is when I eat important?

If you experience low mood or maybe depression, you may struggle to have the motivation to cook a meal and may have long periods of the day when you are asleep. But even if you get out of bed late, still aim to have something to eat when you get up and try and eat or drink regularly during the day. It’s important as it’ll provide you with energy you require throughout the day.

Is what I eat important?

Food and drink contain a variety of nutrients, some such as Vitamin B, Omega 3 and 6, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, folic acid, have been considered to improve your mood and reduce lethargy and fatigue. The following foods have some of these beneficial nutrients:

fish – tuna, mackerel, anchovies
seafood – mussels, prawns, shrimps
dairy products – milk, eggs, yoghurt
pulses – pinto beans, blackeye beans, chickpeas
wholegrains – whole wheat pasta, brown rice, wholemeal bread
vegetables – avocadoes, kale, beetroot
fruit – bananas, raspberries, blueberries
nuts – peanut butter, almonds, brazil nuts
seeds – pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
oils – rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, olive oil

What if I lack the motivation to make a meal?

When you feel very low sometimes you feel tired and you have no desire to do anything other than curl up on the sofa and watch T.V. Thinking about making a meal can feel challenging so here are some ideas which might help:

• Have something to eat and drink when you get up, this doesn’t need to be cereal or toast, try a fruit and nut bar and a glass of orange juice
• Keep it simple – cooking a meal from scratch may not be possible, so try instead using tinned food (i.e. tin of sardines), packet food (wholegrain rice), frozen food (peas)
• Take some time each day to be outdoors, this might be just sitting in the garden or a short walk. Being outdoors helps release chemicals in your body which will you feel less fatigued and more positive

Want to find out more?

Do seek advice from professionals if you are concerned about your health or are having difficulty looking after yourself. And, if you have any medical concerns then please consult a professional before you make any major changes to your diet. For more general information the following websites are great!

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/food-for-thought…

https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2929/food-and-mood-2017

If you have any further questions or concerns consider seeking advice from a medical professional.

Myth Busting Apprenticeships!

There are loads of ways to take steps towards employment, you might consider volunteering, work experience, training, and education before you job search, and of course there are many apprenticeship options too.

There have been quite a few misconceptions about apprenticeships which hopefully once you’ve finished reading this will be cleared up! Firstly, what is an apprenticeship? An apprenticeship is a position that combines practical training within a job with learning and is often referred to as ‘Learn as you earn’.

• Apprentices are employed and earn a wage; however, this wage is dependent on apprenticeship level/ what year of apprenticeship you are in and your age.
• Apprenticeships are NOT age restricted; however, you do need to be over 16.
• If you are an apprentice you get holiday pay, e.g. a fulltime apprenticeship would get 20 days paid holiday as well as Bank Holidays.
• You can apply for apprenticeships on the .gov website, but apprenticeships may also be advertised on normal job search sites such as ‘Indeed’ or on company websites.
• Apprenticeships aren’t only 1-2 years but can range from 1-5 years depending on their level.
• If you are not quite ready for an apprenticeship you can do a ‘traineeship’ which is designed to prepare you for one however this IS age restricted to 16–24-year-olds.
• There are many levels of apprenticeships, such as level 6 and 7 Apprenticeships which are equivalent to the educational level of a Bachelor’s or Masters.
• Your employer gives you time to complete studies, at least 20% of normal working hours must be spent on training/study.
• The training does not have to be within a classroom, it can take place in a classroom, at work or online, but your employer can give you more detail on this as it is it is dependant on the employer and the qualification you will be achieving.
• Apprenticeships are not just for trade roles such as construction but cover a wide variety of sectors.

Apprenticeships can be a great way to get into employment, learn a trade or get into a sector you have little experience in. It gives the ability to learn new skills, get into a routine and boost your confidence of being within a working setting.

So if you’re interested why not find out more by visiting https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/apprentices/becoming-apprentice