29
Sep
Chloe Roberts

Is it time to challenge our perceptions of nuclear power?

Posted by Chloe RobertsTagged , , , , ,

The UK has a long civil nuclear heritage dating back to the 1950s. But reputationally speaking, the industry has a tricky past. In the court of public opinion, it has proven unpopular. Despite being stringently regulated, it is viewed as high-risk thanks to the incredibly steep upfront costs of building power sites – take Sizewell C at £22 billion – and sites are slow to build and decommission.

When we hear the word nuclear, we almost instantly think of the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. HBO’s drama Chernobyl also reminded us of the volatility of nuclear plants. Some believe there were a million fatalities from a toxic plume that spread across Europe in April 1986, although the UN directly attributes only 43 deaths to the disaster.

In our more recent history, a catastrophic chain of natural events resulted in a back-up power supply failure to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. A tsunami caused by an earthquake led to a radiation leak from the plant, forcing more than 150,000 people to evacuate from the area. There are a lot of mixed views about the impact of this leak, but the dominant reaction to it has been that of fear and uncertainty about the real human impact of such an event.

A slow shift in public discourse

It is hard to forget the past, and the words ‘nuclear’ and ‘disaster’ may be linked in public perception, in no small part because of disasters of the past and reporting in the media. But the tide is turning. According to billionaire philanthropist, technologist and climate change evangelist Bill Gates, nuclear energy is “absolutely” becoming politically palatable.

In a plan put forward last year, Boris Johnson’s government backed the development of “small and advanced reactors which would also lead to the creation of ten thousand jobs. The language around nuclear in the plan is noticeably cautious. What many may not know is that the UK currently generates 20 per cent of its electricity from nuclear – although almost half of current capacity is to be retired by 2025. There’s been a consistent decline in the amount of nuclear energy the UK generates since the 90s, mostly because of ageing plants. But things might swing the other way, or might need to, to manage the ongoing energy crisis.

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28
Jul
Salonee Gadgil

So… has the pandemic set us back or propelled us forward?

Posted by Salonee GadgilTagged , , , , , , , ,

Last week, just days after the restrictions in England were lifted, we hosted our first panel event. The discussion brought together great minds: Chartered Psychologist Dr Jennifer Opoku-Lageyre who spoke about her experiences treating patients with trauma and anxiety during the pandemic, Andy Ratcliffe, Executive Director of Programmes at Impact on Urban Health, who shed light on what it was like supporting communities in South London during the pandemic and Maccs Pescatore, CEO, Montessori Centre International who shared her views on how lockdowns have impacted Britain’s early years education. The conversation was chaired by Sarah O’Grady, Social Affairs Correspondent at the Daily Express and our Managing Director Laura Oliphant.

It was rich discussion, one that was supposed to last 45 mins, but lingered on for much longer and continued over a few glasses of wine. Our insightful speakers and engaged audience had much to talk about. The discussion swung between being quite pessimistic about the damage done by the pandemic, and optimistic about it being the catalyst we needed to bring about social change. We asked those in attendance what they’d remember most about things that were discussed. What’s the one idea or insight they’d take with them? Here’s what they said they’d be most likely thinking about on the train ride home.

The fact that there is a difference in 12 years of life expectancy within Lambeth borough.  

 We often talk about the great divide between the haves and have-nots in London. But Andy really hammered the message home with this very shocking statistic. It reinforces the need for tailored messaging around things like the vaccine. Can we really be reaching these two very disparate groups of people, one in Dulwich, another on Queen’s Road Peckham using the same public service messages asking them to go take the vaccine? Are we surprised they don’t all behave the same way?

We haven’t seen the economic second wave yet.

 A lot of Andy’s work at Impact on Urban Health is around how life hits health, that is, how housing, jobs and income affect ones physical health. So far, we’ve had the job retention scheme, we’ve had benefits, and suspended evictions. People working in the sector worry that when all these support systems are taken away, there will be a new wave of illnesses from people who can’t eat or live as well, or look after their children because of economic pressures. People have been talking about ‘long covid’, but what Andy’s been worried about is the ‘long pandemic’.

The desire to make decisions begins very young and is fundamental to our development.

Maccs reminded us of just how important early years education is, in developing decision-making skills. When a child goes into a Montessori nursery, they learn to make their own choices about what they want to play with, draw, and so on. This ability to make choices, autonomously, is vital in building a sense of self and resilience. Dr Jen pointed out that over the course of the pandemic, rules have been made for us. This loss of autonomy has been the fundamental cause for why people have experienced poor mental health. Humans strive for autonomy and personal freedom. If adults are suffering from the lack of the freedom to choose, what impact has living under strict guidelines had on small children? Should we really be more worried about the loss of their maths ability during the pandemic, when the real issue may be an ingrained lack of autonomy?

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16
Jul
Aga Maciejewska

The pandemic of inequalities

Posted by Aga MaciejewskaTagged , , , , , , , ,

Last week, the Health Foundation’s Unequal pandemic, fairer recovery report made headlines, revealing that throughout the pandemic, the chances of dying from Covid-19 were nearly four times higher for adults of working age in England’s poorest areas than for those in the wealthiest places.

The report is just the latest in the string of evidence that the pandemic has not been ‘a great leveller’, as some people referred to it back in the spring of 2020. The UK has struggled with deep-rooted, socioeconomic inequalities for years. Those have not only contributed to the country’s high and unequal death toll from Covid-19 but have also been exacerbated and made worse, particularly for some groups, including ethnic minorities, women and those on low pay.

Andy Ratcliffe, Executive Director for Programmes at Impact for Urban Health, has been working with families in the South London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark to understand how various inequalities impact population’s health. As he explains:

“Health inequality is the starkest manifestation of other inequalities – unfairness tends to layer on unfairness. If you’re subject to systemic racism, you are also more likely to be poor, live in lower quality housing and then you’re more likely to get sick. All those things interact. Fundamentally, it’s the inequality that’s the issue and health inequality is just the starkest example.”

Looking at the impact of the pandemic,  Andy has no doubt that it has made the existing inequalities worse and that this might sadly be just the beginning:

“We layered Covid on top of an already very unequal situation. We haven’t really even started to feel the impacts of the economic pandemic and the long-term health effects of it. We’ve seen a lot of policy changes, such as furlough and the uplift of universal credit, designed to help people through the pandemic. When those start to fall away, we will have an economic wave that could have huge long term health consequences.”

 

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29
Jun
Beth Davies

Pride 2021: Tokenistic campaigns just won’t fly anymore

Posted by Beth DaviesTagged , , , , , ,

June is Pride Month, a time for celebrating the diverse accomplishments, identities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. With 2020 seeing the queer community face a disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it is perhaps more important than ever for us to show our support and allyship.

Over the years, Pride has become an opportunity for brands to express their support for equal rights and representation, investing heavily in sponsorships, ads, and pride-themed products. But we know consumers are turning a critical eye to the companies they buy from, and brands need to go further than just wrapping merchandise up in rainbow packaging and calling it a day.

So-called ‘rainbow washing’ or ‘pink washing’ is too often the route that organisations take, and many major brands haven’t maintained a consistent enough relationship with LGBTQ+ communities to last Pride Month without some scrutiny. To be honest, it can be a difficult to hold back the cynicism, when even Pret rebrands as ‘Pride a Manger’.

Some 2021 Pride campaigns have certainly struck the wrong chord. Take Bud Light, which brought out an advert replacing the letters in the acronym LGBTQ with ‘Let’s Grab Beers Tonight, Queens’. An ad that erases identities in favour of selling beer, surely had to be designed without any queer people in the room. Also attracting criticism is Skittles, for its attempt at meaningful action which consisted of donating a portion of product proceeds to the media advocacy group, GLAAD. The problem? Skittles limited donations to less than 0.03% of sales during Pride month. 2020 brought with it an increased focus on diversity and inclusion, and tokenistic marketing just won’t fly anymore.

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17
Mar
Natasha Machin

Is it time to cancel ‘cancel culture’?

Posted by Natasha MachinTagged , , , , ,

What is cancel culture? 

With the rise of social media, we saw the rise of cancel culture, which has claimed many unsuspecting public figures and businesses over the last decade. Cancel culture, the act of rejecting a target who has broken social norms, can impact anything or anyone from all walks of life, careers and background.

The pros, the cons?

There are two leading attitudes to cancel culture. One position sees the ability to ‘cancel’ as an important tool for social justice. It gives a voice to those who aren’t in positions of power, through wealth or influence, allowing them to call attention to actions or words they don’t agree with. Throughout the pandemic, more people have been spending time on social media to stay connected, with adults spending on average over 4 hours a day in 2020, compared to 3.5 hours in 2019. This has led to a dramatic increase in public figures and brands being called out for various decisions, actions and speeches that the cancellers haven’t let slide.

Alternatively, others see cancel culture as the grave death of free speech and open debate, as many are cut down for openly sharing an opinion not shared by the cancellers. In 2020, A Letter on Justice and Open Debate was published in Harper’s Magazine arguing this new culture was leading to the restriction of debate and cause detrimental harm to democracy. This letter was signed by over 150 people including Margaret Atwood, J. K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie.

Consumer influence on brands

In recent years, brands, who previously would tend to avoid politicising themselves, have begun to take active political stances. This might have something to do with the attitudes of their target consumers. Research from 2018 revealed 64% of consumers around the world will buy from or boycott a brand solely because of the position on a social or political issue it has taken. A favourable stance on a particular issue, might incentivise a consumer to buy from one business over their competitor who has taken the opposite stance, or even no stance at all.

It could be argued that consumers cancelling brands and businesses who associate themselves with undesirable opinions or figures is doing society a justice. It’ll rid us of ‘bad’ brands who have a negative impact on the environment or society. But what happens when ‘good’ brands get cancelled?

Good guys gone bad

Tony Chocoloney, a brand with the mission to make delicious chocolate, while eradicating modern-slavery and child labour from the supply chain, has recently been dropped from Slave Free Chocolate’s list of ethical chocolate companies. The reason behind this being Tony Chocoloney’s links to Barry Callebaut, a leading industrial chocolate manufacturer. Barry Callebaut has admitted that its own supply chain is not free from child labour and slavery-free in a US court case brought against main players in the cocoa industry, including Mars and Nestle.

This might seem strange. Why is Tony Chocoloney working with a chocolate manufacturer abusing the very thing Tony Chocoloney aims to eradicate? Tony Chocoloney was founded with the ambition to make 100% slave free the ‘norm’ in chocolate production, aiming to show mainstream brands that chocolate can be delicious and ethical. But they acknowledged that it will not be a straightforward road. This is the reason Tony Chocoloney is standing by Barry Callebaut, instead of washing their hands of them. Tony Chocoloney is proving that on the road of progression to an ethical future, there will be setbacks, but that does not mean all hope is lost.

So, does Tony Chocoloney deserve to be cancelled for sticking with a supply chain that has been caught red-handed in abusing human rights?

I don’t think so. While cancel culture can make society a safer place and protect from those spouting hate speech, promoting discriminatory practices or supporting objectionable figures, it restricts brands and people from learning from their mistakes and growing. The path to a more accepting, ethical and sustainable future is not straightforward, so we should not leave behind those who veer off the path, and instead let them realise their mistakes and find their own way back.

We can’t let perfection be the barrier to progress.

 

 

31
Oct
Katie Elliott

Armed Forces charity SSAFA appoints Stand Agency

Posted by Katie ElliottTagged , , , ,

We’re thrilled to announce that Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, the UK’s oldest tri-service military charity, has appointed Stand Agency to deliver integrated campaign activity over the next 12 months, including their iconic Armed Forces Week.

SSAFA provides lifelong support for all members of the serving community, veterans and their families when in need. Stand Agency will be working with SSAFA to drive awareness and support for the charity.

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24
Aug
Amelia Putt

#literallyperfect: AI influencers, to aspire or not to aspire?

Posted by Amelia PuttTagged , , , ,

US Vogue is featuring AI influencers in its September issue, which has provided the perfect excuse to talk about one of the stranger trends to come out of Instagram, and my latest obsession, Lil Miquela – the AI influencer that has garnered 1.3 million followers on Instagram.

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04
Oct
Katie Elliott

Blisters? Check! Achy limbs? Check! A combined 490,000 steps? Check!

Posted by Katie ElliottTagged , , , ,

And yet Stand lived to tell the tale! (Never underestimate the endurance and enthusiasm of Stand-ees).

Whilst the nation enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning lie in, Stand were up alive and kicking, aboard the 6.30am train from St Pancras – Bamford, Derbyshire. Why you may ask? To embark on the first-ever DofE Adventure Fundraising weekend, trekking a limb aching 25km in the Peak District!

At Stand, we’re all about practicing what we preach and this weekend saw the team donning their hiking boots and dusting off the sleeping bags in support of one of our clients, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Read more “Blisters? Check! Achy limbs? Check! A combined 490,000 steps? Check!”