Child Poverty & Domestic Violence – A Real Issue in 2020

Child Poverty & Domestic Violence – A Real Issue in 2020

Christmas is a huge part of children’s lives, it is inarguably their favourite time of year. Presents, decorations, playing with family and friends; life couldn’t get better. Unfortunately, not every child will experience the same feelings when they wake up on Christmas morning.

In Northern Ireland alone, 1 in 3 children are living in poverty and over 30,000 children are living in households characterised by domestic violence. These children are at risk of waking up to no gifts on Christmas Day.

This is harsh.

But this is reality.

Cash For Kids NI

For those of you who don’t know; Cash for Kids supports children and young people affected by poverty, abuse, neglect, life-limiting illness and those who have additional needs.

In 2019, over 20.9 million was raised across the UK, supporting more than a million children!

This year, circumstances have changed, and they need our help more than ever.

Over the last few weeks, I have watched stories on Instagram from bloggers who are campaigning for Cash for Kids, but one stands out the most.

Roisin Doherty, who was involved with the campaign last year and again this year spoke about the lack of support and donations from 2019-2020. Of course, the reason being clear, many are no longer in the position to give to charity due to job losses and business closures.

Life can change quickly, as we are all aware. We never know when we may need help. The message to the right is hard-hitting, but it is the reality for the year 2020 has been. This Christmas will be very different for many families around the globe, so we need to make it our mission to help where we can.

A picture speaks a thousand words”

The difference in donations between 2019 and 2020 is indescribable.

Cash for Kids Warehouse 2019
Cash for Kids Warehouse 2020

If you are donating, please be aware that babies are being catered for the most. Teenage boys age 12-18 have little to no donations. Emphasize supporting this category and if you are unsure what to donate have a look at the infographic Cash for Kids created.

They also made an Amazon list to make it easy for those who want to donate with gift ideas under each age category. If you wish to donate this link can be found here, and donations are welcome until Friday 18th December.

Digg Deep for Kids

Launched at the end of  November, Caroline O Neill who owns Digg Mama created a campaign ‘Digg Deep for Kids’. This campaign focuses on raising money for Cash for Kids NI, Women’s Aid NI and CiNI (Children in Northern Ireland).

Back in October Caroline posted a video of her son Darragh which went viral, reaching over 1.1million views on Instagram and even made its way on to ITV news. Caroline wanted to make it matter and used the video as an opportunity to make a difference to so many children’s life this Christmas. With help from friends, Darragh launched his very own Charity Single ‘I’m a Busy Man’.

Through Darragh’s single,you can donate by downloading or purchasing a hardcopy, or you can donate to ‘Digg Deep for Kids’ through this link, with various options to give to three very deserving charities.

In three weeks, Caroline has raised £92,224.25, with three more days still left to donate.

An astonishing amount, which will make a massive difference to many children’s lives.

Hartlepool Giving Tree

Hartlepool Giving Tree is an amazing incentive which I found on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. Although all donations closed on 10th December,  it is something you can think about giving to next Christmas.

The steps were simple and plenty of £££ is not needed to get involved.

Children of all ages asking for simple things; a book, ball, barbie, some clothes. These are children who have escaped domestic violence, being forced to flee their homes quickly leaving all their possessions behind. Without this charity, these children may not receive a gift at Christmas.

With 174,730 presents bought, that is 174,730 children who will have something to open on Christmas day!

This is what it is about.

Although we may not see it, children and young people can experience domestic violence in many ways. Every child’s experience will be different. Children and young people can be witnesses of violence, they may overhear it and they may also experience physical and emotional abuse directly.

Just as every child’s experience of domestic violence is different, every child will be affected differently. Domestic violence can impact all areas of children and young people’s lives, including, health, education, the development of relationships, recreation and social activities.

If you can give something this Christmas, please do. Any donation, small or large will make a massive difference to a child’s life.

Let’s help children who need it most!

Courtney McGoldrick is a third year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn, Instagram & Twitter.

Fundraising through a Pandemic – The Power of 4

Fundraising through a Pandemic – The Power of 4

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. – How I wish this quote didn’t reflect traits of my character, unfortunately, it does.

Who doesn’t love coming into work on a Monday morning to hear your manager has set up a gruelling 48 mile fundraising campaign in order to raise funds for the company’s charity partners – NSPCC Northern Ireland. I was leaning towards participating BUT waited for someone else to take one for the team until I heard “Are you sure you would be able to do this, it is 48 miles?” *characteristic traits kicking in.*

Putting my pride aside I knew the significance of this campaign and the difference we could potentially make for hundreds of children and young adults across Northern Ireland so all in all that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to endure those 48 miles.

Having worked with the NSPCC for over a year now I’ve seen and experienced the hard work that goes on behind the scenes from a fundraising perspective to ensure there are enough funds and donations generated to ensure capacity for calls to be answered around the clock from NSPCC & Childline’s selfless volunteers.

Since COVID-19, NSPCC NI have lost a huge fraction of their funding. With big events cancelled such as the London, Belfast and Edinburgh Marathon which was estimated to bring in over one million pounds in sponsorship not only this, but the charity also saw their volunteer numbers drop drastically by 30% following the pandemic. Large investments were needed to provide IT equipment for volunteers to work from home in order to meet rising levels of enquiries from vulnerable children and young adults who were ultimately ‘trapped with their abuser.’

Before I began creating the brief for this campaign, I wanted to delve deeper into the spine-chilling statement ‘trapped with their abuser’ in order to really emphasise on the urgency of this campaign that we were promoting. 48 miles meant nothing and everything at the same time and that is where ‘The Power of 4’ was created.

  • 4 Participants.
  • 4 Miles every 4 hours.
  • £4.00 for NSPCC volunteers to answer a child’s call for help.

Everyone will agree with me when I say Covid-19 has affected all of us in one way or another, most people will have been affected financially to the point in which charitable donations fell to the bottom of their ‘must do\must pay’ list, understandably so. I knew this was going to be a barrier that we would have to knock down, how? = CONTACTLESS PAYMENTS VIA QR CODE COLLABORATING WITH JUST GIVING.

Cash Card is king, especially during lockdown where everything has been done within a click of a button, QR codes are somewhat new to us and recently been introduced to nearly half of all restaurant and cafe menus across the UK so we’re slowly becoming very familiarised with the concept.

PR events that we would have hosted in our efforts to increase donations as a pre-cursor to an event in the past were no more…thanks Covid-19. Taking this in my stride, I knew ultimately that if there was ever a time to heavily convert and promote to cashless donations, that time was now.

We set up a Just Giving page and went from there, we got ‘The Power of 4’ t-shirts embroidered with an unmissable QR code in an attempt to entice passers-by to contribute. £4.00 for NSPCC volunteers to answer a child’s call for help was highlighted in everything that we did. As we were asking for £4.00 as a starting point it was important that we considered people’s financial positions were, to no surprise the correlation did not add up – the less we asked for, the more people chose to give. A good strategy to use as it eliminates the aspect of expecting people to give a higher amount than what they are comfortable with, leaving them to only negotiate with themselves.

The generosity of local businesses across Belfast was so overwhelmingly beautiful, seeing people come together and contribute different items was very much appreciated by our team who went out and informed them of our campaign. I know I said above we went cashless; however, we didn’t go 100% as all of the items donated by Taboo Donuts, Lidl NI and many more generous companies had to be put to good use and realistically if you work in Belfast or any other city for that matter following lunch hour nearly everyone has a pounds change lying about somewhere = RAFFLE.

Alongside our promotions as Charity Partners, NSPCC NI were also re-sharing and promoting our campaign to their audiences. Our promotional efforts got the attention of some key people who we wanted to reach out to, you can see below prominent campaign features which really boosted exposure levels.  

  • Having NSPCC NI Fundraising Manager on as a podcast guest.
  • Having David Tait, NSPCC ambassador who climbed Mount Everest five times in aid of the NSPCC and raised over £1,000,000 send us a video message of support.
  • NSPCC Trustee Lady Brenda McLaughlin write us a letter of achievement post event.
  • Full coverage on the ‘Love Belfast’ site in promoting of the event.

Ultimately, I can confidently say…I will never run 48 miles in 2.5 days ever again (and have not ran since) but the tremendous feeling of achievement is something I’ll probably remember for a long time. The blood, sweat and tears (no joke) were all worth it in the end up, not only did we exceed our £5,000 target and end up raising £10,282 but our efforts will see over 2,000 additional calls being answered when children are in their time of need and that’s the only thing that matters.

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to help out a charity that’s close to your heart, everything is appreciated and nothing is too little.

Domilia Timonyte is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Cadbury Have Gone Quiet

If you’ve been to the shops recently and fancied yourself some chocolate, you might have  noticed that there’s something missing on Cadbury wrappers. It’s words.

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Most people have experienced moments where older people want to strike up a conversation and tell never-ending stories, whether they are your own family members, customers, or just people you meet in public. It can be a lovely interaction, or maybe you need to get moving. Either way, sometimes we forget that this could be due to the fact that they’re lonely and just want someone to chat to.

Cadbury are trying to combat this loneliness by giving people the opportunity to “donate their words” because in the UK, 1.4 million older people suffer from loneliness and 225,000 of them often go a whole week without speaking to anyone. They will be donating to Age UK with 30p of each Cadbury bar bought.

Sue Perkins put herself in the shoes of many older people and lived in isolation for 30 hours, which you can watch below.

It’s hard to imagine what complete isolation is like, because for many of us, even if we go a couple of days not physically socialising, we still have our phones to text, call, or communicate through social media. If we don’t use that, we still have TV’s, radios, games consoles or streaming services like Netflix to keep us entertained. How sue spent 30 hours, is unfortunately typical for a lot of older people.

Age UK say that “loneliness is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.” We can’t begin to imagine what growing older whilst dealing with any of these issues could feel like. Age UK have also looked at different causes of loneliness associated with old aged people including:

  • Deterioration of social networking: friends or family members live far, or no longer be living. They may not have had any children and could be divorced or widowed, and it’s hard to socialise or meet people when you’re not working.
  • Health issues: as we get older, our physical and mental health can deteriorate. We may need carers, have limited mobility, or illnesses such as dementia which can affect our ability to socialise effectively.
  • Individual characteristics: factors such as ethnicity, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status etc. can cause isolation, depending on the circumstances.
  • Neighbourhood: having a lack of neighbourliness within the area, reputation of the area and even the structure and architecture of an area can affect socialisation for older people.

Unfortunately, there is no local support here in Northern Ireland. However, if you wanted to volunteer at a local Age UK shop, or pop in and get some stylish finds whilst also donating – you can find your nearest Age UK charity shop using their finder map.

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Cadbury and Age UK are urging people to not only donate, but take some time out of their day to help older people in and out of their lives. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Start a conversation with an older person
  2. Call an older relative
  3. Check in on a older neighbour
  4. Volunteer with Age UK

MM1We might take older people for granted, or even ignore them. But it’s important to acknowledge that they’re people just like everyone else and have lived rich and interesting lives, probably filled with great advice for the rest of us.

It’s great that such a famous company are using a frequently purchased product to start a conversation about loneliness in older people. Not only that, but they are taking earned money from a product, and donating it to something of a greater significance, that also needs it more. Not only are Age UK and older people gaining more support and donations, but Cadbury are also creating a positive and helpful appearance for their company. It’s a win-win!

To find out more information, you can visit:

Age UK – Donate Your Words

Age UK – Combating Loneliness

 

Maya McCloskey is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @maya_papaya30 and Instagram: @maya_mcc

Ronald to the Rescue

Ronald to the Rescue

When you think of the name “Ronald McDonald”, what springs to mind? A clown who is just as creepy looking as he is infamous? The “Joe Camel” of fast food? I wouldn’t say that glorious imagery sprung to mind when I used to hear the name myself, but maybe after reading this post you will have a new-found respect for it.

We’ve all been to a McDonald’s at some point in our lives, and I’m guessing that most of us would recognise this logo which is found on the charity boxes placed at every till point.

Duchess of Cambridge to visit Ronald McDonald House

This logo represents the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RHMC), which are based right here in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK, Ireland, and all over the world.

I tend to throw change into charity boxes on tills when I buy things, but as much as I do that I never really think about the charity I’ve just donated to after I walk out the door. I also always tend to think of big global and dominant brands as being somewhat selfish. For example, after finding out that Starbucks Ireland only payed 45 euros in tax last year, I tend to think twice before I invest in one of their seasonal lattes.

I’ve recently learnt that not only do McDonald’s and their franchisees allow the placement of RHMC collection boxes at each till point, the company also donates money from its own sales. In 2016, they added an extra one million pounds donation from sales to the existing three million that had been collected in the UK that year.

RHMC pride McDonald’s as an “essential, valuable and sustaining partner” and McDonald’s even provide office space to the charity in their Head Quarters around the world, along with general and administrative support, HR, payroll, organisation support and ICT and computer systems.

RHMC globally has been McDonald’s charity of choice since its founding in 1989 and provides hope and respite to families during challenging times of life. The thing that inspired me to read more into McDonald’s corporate philanthropy and the RHMC, was a tweet by an individual who was personally affected by the works of the charity and was highly praising them.

So, there you go, Ronald McDonald will continue to look creepy but hey! He’s a good guy. And McDonald’s may be swimming in profits and sitting comfortably on the Forbes’ list of “Most Valuable Global Brands”, but their philanthropic measures should not go un-noticed.

McDonald’s says its mascot Ronald McDonald is keeping a low profile as reports of creepy clown sightings sweep communities across the globe.

 

Rachel Reilly is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachelreilly98

Bog Run Fun

Ever heard of charity starts at home? I was one of the 350 bog runners who took part in a fun-filled adventure around Castlewellan Forest Park. On the 8th of October, it was time to get absolutely boggin’!!!

Bogs, swampy mud, bridges, underground tunnels, forests, lakes? Swam, ran, waddled? We did it all!

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I recently started a part time job in a local café- ‘The Oakley Fayre’. When I started, the team were in the middle of organising a sponsored bog run for charity. The charity was ‘Cancer Fund for Children’.

We all live in a world where we think ‘oh it’ll never happen to me’. Every week in Northern Ireland three children or young people are diagnosed with cancer. Shocked? So was I… Together as a team, we managed to raise £1654 for Cancer Fund for Children.

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So who exactly are they?

Cancer Fund for Children is the leading local charity that provides practical, emotional and financial support to children and young people aged 0 to 24 affected by cancer and their families. They offer free therapeutic short breaks to families from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at Daisy Lodge in Newcastle Co. Down and self-catering breaks at Pine, Birch and Oak Cottages in Coleraine. Their team of specialists offer support basically anywhere- at home, in the community, on the hospital ward, in their short break facility and during residential breaks at their purpose-built Narnia log cabin. The Cancer Fund for Children charity understands the impact cancer has on the whole family. They support children who have been diagnosed with cancer as well as their siblings and parents. They also offer support to children whose parent has been diagnosed with cancer.

Why are Cancer Fund for Children needed so much?

Every week in Northern Ireland, another three children, teenagers or young adults, aged between 0-24 years old, are diagnosed with cancer.  Cancer Fund for Children understands the devastating impact a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on the whole family and that beyond the essential clinical care there is a family life that needs to be rebuilt, supported and guided. The team of experienced specialists at Cancer Fun for Children help families cope with the impact cancer has on their lives and they support them throughout life, both during and after treatment, and sadly in some cases, bereavement.

Why not get involved or donate?

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The children and families that the charity support are at the heart of everything they do. It is up to us in the public to continue to donate a bit of  time out of our hectic lifestyles to step back and think ‘one day this could be me facing this horrific illness?’ or ‘it could be someone I love and care about that it happens to’. With this in mind, there are various ways in which we can donate to this amazing charity that is in the heart of our homes in Northern Ireland. 

Cancer Fund for Children organise a wide range of different events that you can get involved in. There is anything from ‘Winter Woolly Walks’ to ‘Funsie in a Onesie’ workdays. Click here to check out their website to get involved in some of the events for this amazing cause.

Alternatively if you don’t have enough time to take part in an event, you can simply donate via telephone on 028 9080 5599 or via their website by clicking here.

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Struggling through the final freezing cold lake…

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and FINALLY over the finish line!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out this short video below to see exactly what the bog run entailed… why not give it a go yourself?

Aimee Rourke is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aimee-rourke-593013109/ 

£5 Charity Shop Secret Santa

£5 Charity Shop Secret Santa

Unfortunately, Christmas is well and truly over and 2017 is coming to an end. However, it is only 361 days, 6 hours and 41 minutes to next Christmas so it’s never too early to start dreaming of Christmas 2018! When you are planning the festivities next year, give some thought to this, as it is my favourite family Christmas tradition of all time and it could be yours too!

I am sure everyone has heard of the normal ‘Secret Santa’, well our family take a slight twist on this! A few years ago my sister came up with the idea of ‘£5 Charity shop Secret Santa’, as she had taken a fascination with charity shops and thought it would be great fun on Christmas day. How right she was, as years later, it is still one of the most anticipated activities over the Christmas period amongst my family.

In our house, Christmas really is one of the most wonderful times of the year. Everyone comes home to spend time together, the fridge and cupboards are filled with food, and the wine glasses and cheeseboards never seem to empty!

On Christmas day my family of seven either host my godmother’s family of six or we head up to Fermanagh to join them, so there is a total of thirteen of us in totally taking part in this novelty Secret Santa.  Some of us are studying at university, some of us are living in England so it is the one time of year where we all come together. As this is a rare occasion, we use a website called ‘DrawNames.co.uk’ to generate everyone’s Secret Santa through email. We do this three weeks before Christmas, and then the fun begins as you spend time thinking about what absolutely hilarious item you are going to go on the hunt for.

The general rule of thumb, is the funnier, the better. The more random, the better. The bigger, the better. Therefore everyone is trying to outdo each other with hilarious finds they have come across in the charity shop on their search for the perfect present. Everyone has had a few drinks in them whilst exchanging gifts, so we probably think we are ten times funnier than we are, and the Snapchat and Instagram stories go overboard!

Over the years there have been some absolutely hilarious presents.

My brother Dermot got my auntie a guitar (that is in perfect condition) for £5, so that in her retirement she could ‘work on her music career’… I don’t know how promising this will be!

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Two years ago my daddy got my sixteen year old brother at the time, a pair of hilariously hugely oversized cricket shin pads, with the reason being, “he has to start learning how to use protection soon” … Cringe for my little brother but absolutely hysterically funny for the rest of us!

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(My sister Lisa having great fun with them instead!)

A few years ago I got my youngest cousin Grainne, who would be known as the ‘baby’ of the house, but also as a completely spoilt ‘princess’… So I got her lots of children’s toys, a child’s princess handbag and tiara. This year my brother got her a pony, as apparently she has been begging her daddy for one for years!!

 

This year my Daddy thought he absolutely hilarious. He got me a toy chair with a big sign saying ‘The Naughty Chair’, apparently for all the badness I get up to partying in The Holylands!!

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There is also some very dodgy wrapping along the way. My youngest brother Dermot wrapped his up in a bin bag and I ran out of paper along the way..

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I was in a charity shop with my friend this year explaining to her what the tradition was whilst searching for a funny present, when one of the women who worked in the charity shop approached me. She apologised for listening to our conversation but she was truly amazed at this idea, she said she had never heard of anyone doing this before! She loved the idea so much that she wants to incorporate it into their Advertising and Public relations strategy next year. She explained they had quite a low budget for this, but thought this would be a really effective message to target people in the lead up to Christmas next year!

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It would be amazing if more families got involved in this and made it one of their own traditions. As each year we raise a small sum of £65 for charity shops across Northern Ireland, but throughout the years it has been hundreds of pounds. For example, if ten families of five were to do this every Christmas, that is £250 raised for charities, so imagine if hundreds of families did this!

Here’s a video of what everyone got a few years ago.

Oh and YES, my family are slightly crazy if you haven’t guessed that by now!

 

Helen McAleer is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on linkedin.com/in/helen-mcaleer-6b1221b4 and on Twitter: @Helen_McAleer30

Marie Curie – sharing memories this Christmas!

So, that time of the year again – its Christmas season!

And what’s more typical for Christmas than a huge tree covered in lights?

I agree, nothing! Who doesn’t love a huge, green, tinsel-covered monster in the corner of the room?

…but, what Marie Curie have done blows all of us average-Joes out of the park.

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As the hustle and bustle of Christmas begins, it’s easy to forget about what’s important. It’s not about the presents, or the fancy clothes or the big turkey dinner (although they are all additional positives!).

It’s about spending time and making memories with family and friends while we get the chance!

Every day we see more and more negative posts on social media whether it be politics and the latest news story, a not-so-uncommon celebrity scandal or Phil from down the road ranting about the local pub prices.  *YAWN*

However, this Christmas, the terminal illness charity Marie Curie, have created the world’s first ‘memory-powered’ Christmas tree.

Placed in front of the iconic London Eye on the Southbank, this visual spectacle started on the 4th of the month and runs right up until December 17th.

Each of the individual fairy lights on the tree will be powered by people sharing their memories on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #LightUpXmas.

In other words, the more people that post using the hashtag, the brighter the lights will shine.

Simple but GENIUS!

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The tree brings the charity to life as it serves as an important reminder of the work Marie Curie do providing care and support to people living with a terminal illness, some of whom will be trying to enjoy what might be their last Christmas with their family.

This piece of art symbolises the light that Marie Curie brings to every individual they help. It highlights how they allow families to spend Christmas together, making special memories with their loved ones.

A Marie Curie representative stated,

‘We’ve launched the memory-powered Christmas tree, to show the importance of creating positive memories, and show support for people living with terminal illnesses.’

You can share your special memories on Twitter or Instagram using #LightUpXmas – it could be any happy memory – your first memory, a Christmas memory or a memory of a loved one you’ve lost.

Marie Curie work tirelessly throughout the year helping thousands of families across the UK dealing with terminal illness.

It’s one of those things that you don’t really think about until you’re in the situation, right? Hopefully, this wonderfully thought out idea will bring the charity the recognition and awareness which they deserve.

Below is examples of posts which thousands have already shared – just AMAZING.

 

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Come on, if this doesn’t melt your heart and get you in the Christmas spirit I don’t know what will and if you haven’t already, get sharing – Let’s light up London this Christmas!

A heart-warming, eye-watering and just downright beautiful PR stunt by the charity. 10 out of 10 for inventiveness and execution in my opinion.

BRAVO, Marie Curie!

 

Lauren Kearns is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can reach her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-kearns-90819710b