Reaching out to Refugees.

The plight of the people fleeing Syria has been in the news for months, years even. This weeks pictures of Aylan Kurdi, the 3 year old boy drowned attempting to escape with his family really brought it home to me, as the world is finally starting to see past propaganda stories about benefit seeking immigrants and focus on humanitarian relief for the affected people. As you probably know, his mother, brother and 9 others in that boat alone died.

Before this picture it was some particularly brilliant news coverage that had got me thinking about their devastating situation. I have often in the past thought that if Britain were facing war and my family at risk, I would leave at once. I am a Doctor, I would find work elsewhere, we would be safe. Listening to the devastating stories that are emerging it is clear these people are also families, with professions and skills. There is nothing to distinguish between us other than location and circumstance. Seeing Aylan Kurdi’s little body on the beach just broke my heart, all I could see was Bea and another families anguish.

So I thought this weekend I would share a few ways you can help. I can’t sit and do nothing any longer, hoping the European governments do the right thing. At a time of year when we are planning house improvements, new clothes and holidays it all seems futile when whole families would give anything for safety, food and shelter. Here’s a few things I am doing, and if you have any direct ways of helping I would love for you to share them here.

  • Donate to the Red Cross
  • I was also directed to a group called Kos Kindness. The group was set up a couple of years back to help Greek families in poverty due to the economic crisis there but are now also inundated with refugees. There are several ways you can help. There’s a crowd funding page to help with delivery and an Amazon wish list that is kept up to date with what is required. You can buy food from a local supermarket and get it delivered online (the delivery address for Kos Kindness is on their Facebook page.) I’ve seen people are talking about sending shoeboxes full of practical items like toothbrushes, nappies, clothes, shoes and soap.
  • Many of the national newspapers are also publishing advice and links for practical ways you can help. Here are some from The Independent and The Guardian.

What are you doing to help?

Love, Rebecca.
xo

PS. Some of you may have noticed the blog has been down for a few days – it’s all sorted after an administrative error so we will be posting as usual next week. Thanks for bearing with us.

Spotted: Give as you Live

One of the themes that comes up every Christmas is that of excess. I’m a full on appreciator of everything Christmas has to offer, both the guilt free shopping and the recieving presents, but there’s always a moment or two when I think about the amount spent (not just by me,) and those who went without.

That’s why I was intrigued to hear about Give as you Live, truly guilt free shopping.

The premise is that for every item you buy through Give as you Live, a percentage of the sale goes to charity – at no extra cost to you. Even better, you choose the charity. There are two ways to do it – either shop directly through Give as you Live in their store, or download Give as you Live onto your computer and continue shopping as usual at your favourite online stores. (Hear more about how it works here.)

Since launching, Give as you Live has raised £3million for UK charities. Over 200,000 charities are participating and 2,000 retailers are signed up. So the chances are you could do the majority of your shopping and give a little back. (For those of you interested in the financial side, charities do not pay to participate.) And it doesn’t have to be a Christmas fad… stores as diverse as Selfridges and Tesco’s are signed up, so you can make raising money for charity part of your New Years resolutions too.

I thought I would put Give as you Live to the test and compile a fantasy gift list for all the family – I was really surprised at how many stores I use all the time participate.


Cupcake cases: M&S // Domino Book: Amazon // Bow Heels: Topshop // iPad mini: PC World // Bond 50 DVD box set: HMV // REN Morrocan Rose Sugar scrub: John Lewis // Happy Socks: John Lewis // Teague necklace: AllSaints – All available through Give as you Live

So tell me, did you know about Give as you Live and now you do, would you use it? Do leave a comment and share the chairty you’d most like to donate to through Give as you Live this Christmas and beyond.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*This is a Sponsored Post.

Spotted: OneBrand

Florence Finds twitter followers may remember a flurry of excitement just over a week ago, when we received an email asking us to spend the day cooking with Simon Rimmer, the celebrity chef you may well know from Something for the Weekend. I couldn’t make it, but it was poetic fate that saw Gemma attending on behalf of Florence Finds, given that it wasn’t just about fancy cooking, but a genius idea that makes it easy for you to make a difference to people in developing countries, just by doing your weekly shop…

Hi guys, Gemma C-S here. Now, today’s spotted is a slight departure from the norm with this category, in that it isn’t something particularly pretty (although the packaging is nice!) but rather something useful.

Some of you know that my husband and I spent much of 2010 travelling and during this period we did aid work in Asia and also lived in Cuba for a time where food is strictly rationed – and we came home with a completely different perspective on the way that we here in the developed world consume resources.  Now it’s all well and good for me to get up on a soapbox and talk about how nothing goes to waste in Havana, that women soak their pineapple scraps and skins in water so that no part of the fruit goes to waste, that when your monthly allotment of coffee runs out you simply can. not. get. any. more. (unless you try the black market.) Nor does it really achieve anything for me to say that for a Burmese man we met, a ‘good week’ was one where he was able to give his family meat one night out of seven, and that they shared a piece of chicken between them that to us seemed minuscule.  Yes, we’re very lucky to live where we do, to have access to an abundance of clean water and fresh food, but it’s human nature that other wants and needs get layered over that and in our busy, built-up lives it can be very hard to ‘give back’ – or to make any tangible difference to people living on the other side of the world in a place you’ve never been to.

Which is why Onebrand is my new favourite thing. What is it all about? Well, in their own words:

we have a really simple idea. We create brilliant, quality products, and every time you buy one, we donate 100% of the profit to life-changing projects in developing countries.”

So, in essence, every time you buy a Onebrand product (and they do a range, everything from fizzy water to toilet paper to the world’s best eggs) they fund a like-for-like equivalent. So, for example, buying Onebrand toilet tissue funds hygiene and sanitation projects in Africa. Onebrand bandaids fund ambulance bikes and first aid kits. Onebrand fruit juices fund vegetable farming.  And they’re stocked in a huge number of stores, including Tesco, ASDA, Waitrose as well as online, and they’re also popping up randomly wherever I turn recently (like in the vending machines in my office, where a bottle of Onebrand sparkling water is 10p cheaper than its competitor…result!)

Here at Florence Finds, obviously, we love luxury products, high fashion and indulgent food, as well as with picking up bargains where we can. But we also are prone to that horrible feeling you sometimes get when holding an item before you buy it, that thought of ‘if it costs me so little – yet there’s so much work in it – the people who made it must be paid next to nothing’. We have families, we have budgets to stick to, houses to save up for, cars to put petrol in.  It would be great to always live and buy sustainably, but it’s not always practical or easy.  It’s not often that something comes along where we can make a difference in the developing world by doing so little. Team C-S has completely switched to Onebrand and Duncan Goose, its founder, is a new household hero – because after he came back from travelling, much as we did, he didn’t sit around yapping, (erm, as we also did, and do,) but put his money where his mouth was and became the change he wanted to see in the world.

Sentimental, do-goody words by yours truly? Perhaps. But in purely practical terms – if the choice is between two packets of bread which cost the same, and one is giving profit to a multinational corporation while the other is supporting a developing community, why would I buy the first?


Do let us know if you’ve already come across Onebrand in stores, or if you have another ethical find to share with us, and don’t forget that the next Friday Food is another Simon Rimmer for Onebrand recipe.

Love, Gemma C-S (who yes, is a little bit socialist around the edges.)

Spotted: Illamasqua

Today I’m sharing with you what is not only a red hot and smokin’ eye look, but an incredibly worthwhile cause.

You may remember the tragic assault that Sophie Lancaster suffered in 2007 from seeing it on the news – Sadly, for no other reason than that her assailants ‘didn’t like the look of her’, Sophie was kicked to death because she looked different. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation is now dedicated in her name to Stamping Out Predjudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere (S.O.P.H.I.E.)

But why am I telling you this? Well, a reader of Florence Finds correctly assumed that I would be interested in the collaboration between The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and Illamasqua, the cult make-up brand that is known for it’s unapologetic style. Illamasqua is not afraid to be different.

In honour of Sophie and their collaboration with The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Illamasqua have created the Sophie Eye. An outrageously sexy and defiant look that I just had to share today.

Not only is it completely gorgeous, I know there are lots of you out there who really struggle with the smokey eye look. The S.O.P.H.I.E. pencil is just £13 and created especially to help you easily recreate the look at home. And £3 from every sale goes straight to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

If you head on over to the Illamasqua site, there’s a whole world of slightly subversive and unique make up perfect for making a statement. There’s also a brilliant video showing you how to create the S.O.P.H.I.E. I at home.

I really wanted to get this look demonstrated on me, just to show you all that it can work on real women like you but sadly ran out of time. Instead, do let me know if it’s a look you aspire to creating or in fact if you already know Illamasqua and their fabulous products.

Has there ever been a better excuse to buy make up?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Weekend Webwalk

This weekend I wanted to share a little something that I felt strongly about and I’d really like you all to get involved in. For a while now, I’ve been an avid reader of Emerald Street, the daily emails that pop into my inbox set up by the sister brand Stylist magazine. Now if you read Stylist, you’ll know exactly how good these emails are going to be, or maybe you already know about Emerald Street, but if not, consider it a mini blog post to cheer you up every morning with a variety of tidbits, just like Florence Finds) ranging from fashion to food and everything in between – now where have I heard that before?! As if I needed an excuse to introduce you to Emerald Street, now I have an even better one…

This Christmas, Emerald Street has teamed up with Look Good Feel Better, a charity that is dedicated to improving the lives of women with cancer. By teaming up with people in the beauty industry they offer make-overs addressing all the problems a Cancer patient has from dry or lack-lustre skin to hair loss, including filling in brows or trying wigs.

From now until Christmas, we’ll donate £1 for every person who signs up to our emails…We’re hoping to raise £20,000 in the next three weeks, but we can’t do it without you.

As someone with direct personal and professional experience of women who are affected by cancer, I have seen what a devastating effect it can have. Often women even say that the reality of their illness doesn’t hit home and really bring them down until their appearance is affected, reminding them every time they look in the mirror and meaning they can no longer hide it from the world. I can only guess what a blow it must be to a womans self confidence and esteem at an already hugely distressing time in their lives.

So, if you don’t already subscribe to Emerald Street, click here and sign up. I wouldn’t recommend it just for charities sake, but you can do this small thing and feel good that you’ve helped someone who might be having a difficult Christmas, now or in the future. Thank you.

Decorating this weekend?
On a lighter note… as I know some of you will still be putting up your Christmas tree’s and decorations, don’t forget my plea for your Real Christmas decor pictures. It can be your tree, mantlepiece, table top, anything, just send in a couple of pictures and I’ll slot them in with the inspiration posts I’m preparing for the next couple of weeks. (Send them into hello@florencefinds.com)

Book club reminder!
The week after next is book club week. Don’t forget to finish off Breakfast at Tiffanys before Rachel reviews it and in case you were wondering, I finally commented on One Day… Read my thoughts and add yours here.

Sale Shout-Outs!
The sales are a-coming so this is just a reminder to make sure you have ‘liked’ Florence Finds on Facebook. I am receiving updates and emails everyday from the high street stores on their sales starting, so if you’re looking to save on your Christmas shopping, or grab a bargain for yourself, all the updates will go on there daily.

In the meantime, here’s a list of the ones we already know about:

  • Dune Shoes started their sale yesterday with up to 50% and free P&P online.
  • Are you pregnant? Looking for something stylish to wear over Christmas? Isabella Oliver has 25% maternity knits until 20th Dec and free UK delivery.
  • Dorothy Perkins have 30% off until Sunday
  • Designers Guild (wow-factor interior decor and accessories)are doing 20% off special this weekend and Free Delivery over orders of £30
  • Links of London are doing free P&P on orders over £100 and 20% off watches if you’re looking for a present for a special someone.

Astley Clarke Gift Wrap from Astley Clarke on Vimeo.

And lastly, I got sent this the other day and just had to share it… talk about anticipation! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m over the tiffany blue box and would like to receive one of these blue and white (Astley Clarke) boxes instead 🙂

Have a great weekend readers, and please drop a comment in the box below if you’ve signed up to Emerald Street to help Look Good Feel Better.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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