All posts by Liz Laurence

FA Cup final caps record-breaking year for women’s football

A new world record has been set for a women’s domestic match after 77,390 fans watched Chelsea beat Manchester United in Sunday’s FA Cup final at Wembley.

Sam Kerr’s second half strike sealed a 1-0 win for Chelsea and bagged the Blues a third successive Women’s FA Cup title.

Women’s football has witnessed major changes across Europe over the past 14 months, with a 23-year-old world record finally broken, big stadiums selling out and attendance levels continuing to grow.

Sunday’s FA Cup final capped an extraordinary year for the women’s game in England, with the showpiece selling out for the first time. Cont

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – May 2023

15 – 21 May is Mental Health Awareness Week and with that in mind we have chosen Zoe Sugg as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Zoe is a vlogger and YouTube sensation who rose to fame with her YouTube channel Zoella.  Zoe is Mind’s first Digital Ambassador.

With over 12 million followers on YouTube, Zoe is known for regularly vlogging about fashion, beauty and lifestyle. In 2012, she bravely opened up about her own experiences with mental health. Zoe first experienced panic attacks and anxiety when she was 14 years old and since then she’s become all too aware of how isolating it can be to have a mental health problem. She feels passionately about speaking out and hopes that by doing so, she’s helping others to feel less alone.

Zoe regularly promotes Mind’s campaigns, such as Time to Talk Day and Crafternoon on her digital channels. Most recently, Mind featured as part of the ‘Tuesday Takeover’ series on her Zoella Instagram channel, highlighting various aspects of our campaigning and fundraising work. Rosie Weatherley, Information Content Manager at Mind, was also interviewed for a ‘13 Questions With‘ feature on the Zoella website.

Zoe also regularly fundraises for Mind, from launching a fundraising campaign for her 28th birthday to donating 100% of the profits of a neon sign created in aid of Mind.

To find out more about Zoe see here

To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – April 2023

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and with that in mind we have chosen Vicky Fleetwood as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Vicky is a woman of many talents; a former junior hurdler, a personal trainer and a Rugby World Cup winner. She was also part of England’s bronze medal winning sevens squad in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, she is also a diet and nutrition adviser

Vicky began playing at age 14 after tiring of watching her brother play. She moved to Saracens from Lichfield after the Women’s World Cup in 2014, where she made six appearances. Despite making her Red Roses debut in August 2011 at the age of 21, Vicky had raced to 50 caps by July 2015. She played the 2017 Women’s World Cup and made three appearances off the bench including in the final against New Zealand. Vicky moved to the England Sevens programme for a year in 2017/18 but in 2019 she returned to XVs. She also played in the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam win that year. She was unavailable for England’s 2019 Super Series campaign due to injury but returned for the start of 2019/20. Vicky was named ‘Player of the Match’ in November’s Quilter International against Italy and shone in the 2020 Six Nations, crossing against Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

She is currently also the Director of Rugby at Old Colfeians Rugby Club in Lee South East London.

Vicky is a Patron for Bowel Cancer UK, she is determined to help raise awareness of the symptons having lost her mother to the disease in 2016 at the age of 62.

To find out more about Vicky see here To find out more about Bowel Cancer Awareness Month see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – March 2023

International Women’s Day is on 8 March and with that in mind we have chosen Emma Hayes the Manager of Chelsea Women FC as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

When injury halted her playing career at an early age she decided to study at Liverpool Hope College studying European Studies, Spanish and Sociology and then took a master degree in Intelligence and International Affairs.

Her first football coaching role as at Long Island Lady Riders in the USA and in 2006 she was part of the coaching staff at Arsenal Ladies during their very successful period where they won 11 trophies.  She returned to the USA to coach in 2008 holding managerial positions in the Women’s Professional League including Chicago Red Stars.

In 2011 she returned to the and became the manager of Chelsea Women FC in 2012 replacing Matt Beard making her the only female manager in the league at that time.

Her time at Chelsea has been and continues to be extremely successful.  Under her management the team has won the WSL 5 times, the FA Cup 4 times, the league cup twice, Community Shield once and were runners up in the Champions League in 2020 being the first female manager to reach the final for 12 years.

Emma has been the Manager of the Season 3 times and was named FIFA Best Women’s Coach in 2022.

In 2016 Emma was awarded an MBE and in 2022 she was awarded an OBE for services to football.

To find out more about Emma see here

To find out more about International Women’s Day see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – February 2023

February is LGBT History Month and with that in mind we have chosen Alicya Eyo as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Alicya is an actress, best known for her roles as Denny Blood in the ITV prison drama series Bad Girls and Ruby Haswell in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale.

A|icya’s love drama started when she was nine and she attended drama and dance classes every Saturday. When she was 14, she moved to London with her family where she trained at the Courtyard Theatre School.

Her first television appearance was in 1997, in Casualty, She also made an appearance on Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and appeared in Gold the follow up drama series to Band Of Gold as a young prostitute In 1999, she appeared with Goldie in the David Bowie film Everybody Loves Sunshine known as B.U.S.T.E.D., internationally. She also starred in the movie G:MT – Greenwich Mean Time. However, Alicya’s big break came in 1998 when she was offered the part of Denny Blood, in Bad Girls.

Alicya is a supporter and patron of The Proud Trust, an LGBT charity that provides services and support for young people. This is what it means to her:

‘I’m totally honoured to have this association with The Proud Trust. Coming from the North West myself, being a lesbian, I’m thrilled to see organisations such as this. The Proud Trust is doing, and has been doing, some incredible work with our young people which I think is vital in terms of developing confidence, identity and a sense of place in this crazy world! I’m looking forward to meeting everyone involved and doing as much as I can to support them.’

To find out more about LGBT History Month see here

To find out more about Alicya see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – January 2023

World Braille Day is on 4 January and with this in mind we have chosen Nigel Limb as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Nigel is an Ambassador for the Wilberforce Trust a charity dedicated to helping those with visual impairment, sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilities across Yorkshire.

He lost most of his sight following a motorbike racing accident in 2015.

His wife was told that an MRI scan had revealed that Nigel had severe brain damage and would most likely die from his injuries within the next few days or be left in a vegetative state. The consultant requested permission to turn off his life support machine and his wife asked if it could be left on over the weekend while she got ready to say goodbye.

Then, on Monday, he woke up. The crash had caused major sight loss and Nigel had to face the loss of his business running a garage and as a floating MOT Tester. There were some tough times ahead. Despite his sight loss, you couldn’t keep Nigel off a bike for long. He had the skill, he had the muscle memory and when Scunthorpe Speedway invited him to get back on a bike he completed six laps to tremendous applause.

For the Wilberforce Trust, Nigel is an amazing Ambassador. He is living proof that life doesn’t end when you lose your sight. It doesn’t have to mean the end of your hopes and dreams and your passion for your favourite hobby. With the right support and adaptation, life can still be full of fun and happiness as well as the challenges and frustrations that come with any disability.

Now known as the “Blind Bloke Racing” Nigel has made a documentary with his wife Julie about their experience and he has appeared at different biker’s events telling his story. Being a fantastic role model for visually impaired people was never Nigel’s plan but he has shown by his example, his courage and his determination that he can bring hope to other people facing sight loss.

To find out more about Nigel see here

To find out more about world Braille day see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2022

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is on 3 December.  With that in mind we have chosen Kevin Sinfield as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.

Kevin is a former rugby league player, captain and Director of Rugby for Leeds Rhinos who he spent his entire career playing for.  He captained Leeds to seven Super League Championships and two Challenge Cup successes.  He holds the record as the highest points scorer in Super League history, the third highest points scorer in British rugby league history and is Leeds’ record points scorer. He also represented England and Great Britain.  His last match was in the 2015 Super League Grand Final captaining Leeds to victory.

In 2021 Kevin became the defence coach of the Rugby Union side Leicester Tigers following his retirement from playing union for Yorkshire Carnegie.

His great friend Rob Burrow was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2019, he and Kevin played together for Leeds Rhinos for many years, since then Kevin has been raising money for MND through various challenges the latest one (which has just finished) was to run 7 Ultra Marathons in 7 days.  He started in Edinburgh and finished at Old Trafford during the Rugby League Mens World Cup Final.  The route covered locations that resonated with Rob, ex footballer Stephen Darby and former Rugby Union player Doddie Weir who all have MND.  The funds raised will be shared between 5 charities supporting people impacted by the condition.  To date the challenge has raised £1,350,000.

In 2014 Kevin was awarded an MBE for services to rugby league and an OBE in 2021 for services to rugby league and charitable fund raising.

To find out more about Kevin see here

To find out more about MND see here To find out more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – November 2022

World Diabetes Day is 14 November and with that in mind we have chosen Dominic Littlewood as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Dominic is a British journalist and television presenter who specialises in consumer protection. He is best known for his roles with BBC and 

Channel 5, presenting programmes such as Fake Britain, Cowboy Builders and Bad Builders: Bang to Rights.

Since 2016 he has presented Dom on the Spot on BBC On and he has appeared in other television shows including To Buy or Not to BuyHoliday and The One Show.  In 2007 Dom took part in Strictly Come Dancing and in 2020 he appeared on Celebrity Masterchef.

He also writes for Top Gear Magazine and the Motoring Section of the Daily Telegraph and is an expert on used Nissan Qashqais and Jukes.

Dominic is diabetic, having been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a child, he has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 40 years and in that time has had as many as 20,000 hypos.  He is a supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

To find out more about World Diabetes Day see here

To find out more about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation see here

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – October 2022

October is Black History Month and with this in mind we have chosen Alice Dearing as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Alice is a British swimmer, specialising in open water events.  She started swimming at the age of 4, began club swimming at 8 years old and started competitive racing a year later.  She had many youth and national successes before winning World and European Junior marathon swimming events in her teens. 

In June 2021, she qualified to represent Great Britain in the 2020 Olympics making her the first black swimmer to do so.

In 2020 she co-founded the Black Swimming Association.  The charity was founded to encourage swimming among BME communities in Britain and has the support of Swim England.

Alice is also an ambassador for Soul Cap, a swimming cap designed to fit over and protect dreadlocks, afros, weaves, hair extensions and thick and curly hair.  Although originally banned for use in the Olympics it has recently been approved by FINA swimming’s governing body for use in top level competitions making a huge step forward in the sport becoming more inclusive.

To find out more about Black History Month see here

To find out more about Soul Cap see here

To find out more about Alice see here

Sabina Nessa: Group marks anniversary of teacher’s murder

One year ago, on 17 September 2021, Sabina Nessa walked through a park to meet a friend for an evening drink.

She was 28 and a primary school teacher. She did not arrive. Her body was found the following evening.

A year later, the fear of being murdered by a stranger has led to one group campaigning for change.

Those in the group did not know Ms Nessa. Or Shadika Patel or Maria Rawlings , or Sarah Everard, or sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

But they do know what it is to be a woman. More