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Good News You Need Right Now

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Bringing you the best news stories from around the web to keep spirits up in these unprecedented times

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In these strange and unusual times, we all need a little positivity in our lives, so we’re picking out the good news stories to come out amidst the coronavirus pandemic reporting for some light relief and hope for brighter times to come. Stay safe, and please share any stories you think we might like to share with our readers on Twitter @countryandtown or send them to [email protected]. This too shall pass.

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Good News in Coronavirus Crisis

30 March 2020

Feeding the NHS: The Volunteers Doing Good

There has never been a more stressful time to be working on the front line of the NHS: and it isn’t possible to do it on an empty stomach. Networks of volunteers up and down the country are working together to make sure that NHS staff are getting well fed and know how appreciated they are. Meals for the NHS has raised more than £200,000 and set up a network to deliver to 17 hospitals in London, providing free hot meals to NHS staff, from doctors and nurses to security guards and cleaning staff. Meanwhile, in Wembley mother-of-three Daksha Varsani has set up the Covid-19 Response Kitchen to make Indian meals and sandwiches to send to hospitals in London with the help of her local community. Other efforts are taking place all around the country. Source: BBC In addition, Lidl has announced it will be donating thousands of its fresh fruit and vegetable bags to NHS staff across Great Britain in partnership with Royal Voluntary Service.

Swan Lake from the English National Ballet Philharmonic

English National Ballet Philharmonic are keeping music alive through the lockdown with a virtual rendition of Swan Lake. Thirty-eight members of the orchestra came together online to perform an extract from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake under the virtual baton of English National Ballet’s Music Director, Gavin Sutherland. Each of the musicians recorded their part at home, and Gavin collated them into a film. He said: “In these uncertain times the wish of an orchestra and its musicians is just to be together and play together. I hoped that providing a platform for our orchestra to work together at a distance would show that music will always unite and bring warmth and happiness even at the most difficult of times.” Source: YouTube

F1 Team & Clinicians Create Breathing Aid

University College London, UCLH clinicians and the Mercedes Formula One team has created a breathing aid that can help to keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care. The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices were created in under a week and 40 of the new devices have been delivered to ULCH and to three other London hospitals. Following trials, up to 1,000 of the CPAP machines will be produced per day by Mercedes-AMG-HPP, with production to start in a week’s time. Elsewhere a VentilatorChallengeUK consortium of industrial, technology and engineering businesses in the UK will, pending approval, begin production of 10,000 ventilators next week. Source: BBC

Courier Offering for Vital Supplies

Boutique menswear brand Sirplus might have temporarily closed its five London stores due to the Covid-19 crisis, but they’re putting the extra time on their hands to good use. In a time where delivery services are busier than ever, they are offering the use of their business courier services to those needing to deliver food, medicine or support packages. You can call their customer services on 0207 7127 4213 for more information.

Free Art Talks Online

All the culture vultures out there are probably starting to adjust to the new world of virtual art and entertainment emerging out of this coronavirus crisis. Artscapes UK, a boutique cultural tours company, has created a series of free online art talks to keep culture vultures immersed in the art world from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Expect explorations in art and architecture masterpieces with a team of art historians and experts. Source: YouTube 

Mr Motivator is BACK

Move aside Joe Wicks, the king has returned. Mr Motivator is returning to the nation’s televisions in a new BBC One programme to keep the nation fit through the lockdown. The 1990s GMTV icon is known for his eye-catching lycra outfits and upbeat persona and, at 67 years old, is ready to return to his throne. Speaking to the Guardian he said: “Motivator – you mention my name, and everybody knows Motivator. Walk down the road right now – well, not right now – and they know Motivator.” We do indeed, sir. Source: Guardian

Thank You NHS

The M25 bridge known for its famous ‘Give peas a chance’ graffiti until it was painted over in 2018, has been given a makeover with the slogan ‘Thank You NHS’. Source: BBC


27 March 2020

Moving Tribute to the Nation’s Carers

People up and down the country took to their doorsteps, windows and balconies last night in a moving nationwide applause for the efforts of our NHS and carers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. A statement on the NHS Twitter said ‘That was emotional’ following the tribute, which saw deserted streets alive with the sound of clapping, whooping and whistling to thank the key workers carrying on in the hardest of times. Source: BBC

National Theatre at Home for Free

If you’re missing your theatre fix, we have good news. The National Theatre has announced a programme of National Theatre Live productions that are to be streamed for free via YouTube. The first production to be broadcast will be Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden. In addition, The National Theatre Collection, an online resource for schools, universities, libraries and the education sector at large, will also be made available to access from home for the school closure period. Visit The National Theatre’s YouTube page for more.

BFC to Support Struggling Designers

The British Fashion Council has announced the launch of the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund to help support creative fashion businesses and individuals to survive the Coronavirus crisis. The BFC is making £1,000,000 of emergency funds available with the majority supporting designer businesses and with a portion of funds also allocated to students to help support those facing hardship due to the pandemic. Caroline Rush, Chief Executive BFC said: “Now more than ever, we are committed to support the businesses and people that make up our industry. With the BFC Foundation Covid Crisis Fund and the donations raised, our hope is to support those British businesses that need additional subsidies, beyond Government stimulus available, to address their most urgent challenges.” Applications will open within the next 7 days, with applications closing on April 10th. britishfashioncouncil.co.uk

Food Bank to Support Hospitality Workers

The Initiative Group has launched a Food Bank to help its friends in the hospitality industry who have been left unemployed by the coronavirus crisis. The group has transformed its Deli Cat & Songs café/bar into a Takeaway and delivery hub, offering groceries, meals and cocktails, with £1 from every order going into the food bank. Registrations for food survival kits can be made at [email protected].

The Corona Care Challenge

The Landesberg Family (the family behind The Arts Club, AOK Kitchen and JAB) has raised more than £40,000 in a week for its Corona Care Challenge, packing and delivering more than 300 packages to those in need. They are supplying ready-made meals to NHS Hospitals in London, alongside care packages of essentials to anyone from the immune suppressed, the elderly, single parents, those with disabilities, high risk people and the NHS. They would like to hear from anyone who is in need of support at this time at [email protected] and you can help them hit their target of £100,000 at gofundme.com/f/corona-care-challenge.

Bob Dylan Releases First New Music in Eight Years

Good news for Bob Dylan fans, the musician has released his first new song in eight years. The Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner said: “Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty over the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant, and may God be with you.” The song itself is a 17-minute rumination on the assassination of JFK, which might sound lengthy but let’s face it, we have time. Source: BBC

AirBnB Plans to Offer Free Housing to Front Line Workers

As lock down measures continue and coronavirus cases rise, AirBnB has come up with a plan to offer free or subsidised housing to those working on the disease’s front lines, in health care and emergency services. Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia said: “We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.” Source: CNN

Half a Million Volunteer to Help NHS

The volunteer NHS army has swelled past 500,000 volunteers following the call to action from Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who requested 250,000 people to donate time to help the nation’s vulnerable. This target has now been increased to 750,000 as people continue to join forces in solidarity against the worst health crisis in living memory. Source: Telegraph

26 March 2020

Clap for Carers Tonight

Tonight, Thursday 26 March at 8pm, people across the UK will be taking to their doorsteps, balconies or windows to applaud the NHS workers working through the coronavirus pandemic. The #ClapForOurCarers event is the nation’s effort to thank the front-line staff saving lives. Source: iNews 

The British Airways I360 will also be joining in support of the NHS; those living in Brighton might catch a glimpse of the tower light up blue at 8pm.

British Airways i360

Visual Air

Dorset Buzzing with New Bees

As a third of the world remains on lock down, the world’s other (and arguably more important) species are enjoying some extra freedom. In a survey at Silverlake in Dorset conducted by Bryan Edwards from the Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC), 17 new bee species and four new wasp species have been recorded. The UK has seen a huge decline in both species in recent years and the survey proves that effective management of habitats can help these populations to thrive.

Free Meals for the Vulnerable Cartmel Residents

Chef Simon Rogan is cooking up nutritious take-home meals for his local community, the elderly and the most vulnerable residents of Cartmel and the surrounding area. He is using the surplus of fresh ingredients at his Lake District farm and chefs from L’Enclume, and Rogan & Co are producing freezer-ready, comforting dishes to boost morale and combat the food shortage in supermarkets and local stores. The meals are also available for public order, from £5 a dish, to help fund more free meals for those in need. Source: roganandco.co.uk

Raphael from Your Sofa

To mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, Musement has created a virtual museum tour to see his iconic works online, with over 100 portraits now available to see. Zero crowds, zero entrance fees, just some Renaissance masterpieces from your living room. Visit musement.com.

Parking Charges Suspended for NHS

NHS and social care staff will not have to pay for car parking for work throughout the coronavirus crisis, following a petition signed by 400,000 people. “I will do everything I can to ensure our dedicated staff have whatever they need during this unprecedented time,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Source: BBC

Free Delivery on Essentials

BP has teamed up with Deliveroo to offer free delivery on essentials including milk, bread, groceries and of course, champagne, from 120 BP M&S company-owned and operated stores, to allow more of us to stay at home. Participating stores can be found on the Deliveroo app. Elsewhere they are providing free fuel to the UK’s emergency service vehicles until at least the end of April, and have donated $2million to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Source: bp.com

Borough Market Gets Creative

If you’re missing your leisurely browses around Borough Market, the team has found a way to keep the creativity flowing by taking its community events online. You’ll find live cookery demos every day at 1pm on its Instagram page, with chefs and food writers including Sara Danesin, Roopa Gulati and Clare Finney. The market remains open with social-distancing rules in place. Source: Time Out

Maths Made Easy

If you’re struggling to keep on top of your child’s maths lessons (let’s face it, there’s nothing more embarrassing than your child asking you to explain fractions to them and you not knowing the answer), Carol Vorderman is here to help. She has suspended fees for her The Maths Factor online resources, with daily lessons and plenty of activities to keep little ones learning. No parental knowledge required: phew. Source: themathsfactor.com

bumble bee Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

25 March 2020

Dr Elvis Soothes Our Souls

The world is relying on its doctors and nurses right now more than ever, but one doctor in America is offering more than his medical skills to help the crisis. Dr Elvis, an Orthopedic Surgeon at the Rochester, Minnesota Mayo Clinic, has previously gained recognition for his vocal talents, and he’s gone viral once again with his timely rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine. The Today Show host Katie Couric shared the video on her Instagram account. Trust us, you need this right now. Source: Evening Standard

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-HmReylQLq/

NHS Bowled Over by Volunteer Response

More than 250,000 people have signed up as volunteers with NHS after a recruitment drive to help the vulnerable. The roles will involve supporting the overstretched NHS through the coronavirus crisis by delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning those in isolation. You can sign up here . Source: BBC

The World’s Worst Children

David Walliams is doing his bit to keep the kids entertained while stuck at home, by releasing a free audio story every day for the next 30 days. He took to Twitter to make the announcement: “Those stuck at home with their kids may be able to relate to ‘The World’s Worst Children’. I’ll be releasing an audio story every day for the next 30 days for free. First up is The Terrible Triplets! Enjoy.” Find today’s at worldofdavidwalliams.com.

Luxury Hotel Stays for Key Workers

The Athenaeum is aiming to help cut commutes and offer a luxury night’s stay at its central London hotel at a fraction of the usual room rate. The hotel is extending to all London-based key workers a £75 a night rate. Source: athenaeumhotel.com

This Too Shall Pass: Nobel Prize Winner’s Prediction

Nobel Prize winning biology professor Michael Levitt has predicted that the US may see a downturn in new cases sooner than some models predict. He believes it will not cause the millions of deaths some models are predicting. Levitt previously correctly predicted when China would experience and endure the worst of its coronavirus outbreak. “In exponential growth models, you assume that new people can be infected every day, because you keep meeting new people. But, if you consider your own social circle, you basically meet the same people every day,” he said. Source: Independent

Make-A-Wish’s Stay at Home Stars

Children’s charity Make-A-Wish has launched a campaign to inspire families involved in isolation for the first time. Many of their wish families have coped with long spells of isolation during their treatment, making them #StayHomeStars. The charity will be sharing their wisdom and Wishgranters’ expertise in making difficult circumstances joyful by suggesting activities families can do at home. You can sign up to their 14-day email activity series here.

Fashion Fights Back

Fashion designers and brands have joined the fight against Covid-19. Designers including Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell have pledged to support the battle by using their production skills to make face masks and gowns for those working on the front lines. “I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help,” Siriano said on Twitter, following up with “It’s very important before anyone does anything to help, please make sure what you are making is safe and hopefully FDA approved. We must be smart.” Meanwhile, Giorgio Armani donated €1.25 million to hospitals in Rome and Milan and Prada announced that it will manufacture 80,000 medical gowns and 110,000 masks. Sources: Harper’s Bazaar & Vogue

Cannes Venue Opening for the Homeless

Cannes Film Festival organisers have opened their doors to the town’s homeless to help keep them safe during the coronavirus crisis. The festival has been postponed until late June. “We have between 50 and 70 people here every night,” said Cannes Town Hall official Dominique Aude-Lasset. Source: Sky News

Peanut Butter for Food Banks

Food banks are being particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis, with supplies harder to come by and supermarket shelves being emptied. Pip & Nut’s food bank campaign allows you to buy a tub of their peanut butter for a food bank and they’ll donate one too. It might not be possible to live off of peanut butter alone (although the editor writing this is trying) but every little helps. Get involved here.

squirrel Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

24 March 2020

Actor Saves Pre-Schooler’s Birthday Party

If your child has been excited about their birthday party for weeks, the current Covid-19 lock down might be hitting them hard. But there is hope, in the form of this virtual birthday party. The entertainer booked for Harry’s fourth birthday party had the idea to go ahead with his celebrations via Zoom, so around 30 children joined the video chat Frozen-themed party hosted by Magical Quests, and Harry got to hear all his friends singing Happy Birthday after all. Source: BBC

Accessories Brand Encourages Employees to Volunteer

Kurt Geiger is encouraging its 2500 staff who currently cannot work due to store closures to use their free time to support their local communities while they are off and receiving full pay. The accessories brand has aligned with Age UK who has launched a neighbourly volunteering scheme. CEO, Neil Clifford said: “It’s clear that community life and extra acts of kindness will help build invaluable support in this unprecedented time, particularly for the vulnerable and isolated.” Clearly any in-community volunteering will have to be put on hold during lock down, but Age UK has details of their emergency appeal on its websiteSOURCE: Evening Standard

Alcohol & Perfume Brands Produce Hand Sanitiser

While the news might have many thinking of alcohol for different reasons, some beer and spirits brands are turning their attention to helping the nation keep clean and safe. Brewdog has begun production of Brewgel ‘Punk Sanitiser’ in its distillery in Scotland to combat shortages. Source: Instagram LVMH are also using their perfume factories to manufacture hand sanitiser to help combat the spread of Covid-19. Source: Elle

Penguins Roam Free in Aquariums

As tourist attractions and animal conservation sites are forced to close, the residents of some aquariums are enjoying some exclusive tours. The penguins are Shedd Aquarium in Chicago have brightening up Instagram feeds with their walks of wonder. Source: Instagram Meanwhile, many zoos around the world are now live broadcasting live webcam footage from inside their enclosures to allow people to enjoy virtual visits from home. These include a panda cam, tiger cam and koala cam from Edinburgh Zoo and a white tiger and whale shark stream from Japan’s Hirakawa Zoological Park in Kagoshima. Source: Metro

Sunshine Forecast Across the UK

As lockdown begins, there is sunshine forecast for across the country during the next two weeks. Temperatures could reach 18 degrees in the capital, with plenty of blue skies to lift spirits, even if they’re only viewed through our windows. That one exercise trip a day in the fresh air just got more appealing. Source: Met Office

Dyson & Car Manufacturers to Produce Ventilators

Vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson has announced that it will help with the coronavirus crisis by developing a ventilator for the NHS. In a statement the brand announced that they had “responded to the Government’s request for support with its Covid-19 response, by focusing resources into the design and manufacture of a ventilator for the NHS”. Source: ITV News Meanwhile, Fiat is converting a China car factory to produce masks, while General Motors, Ford and Tesla in the US, Nissan in Japan and UK F1 teams have all pledged to support with the production of ventilators. Source: BBC

20 Covid-19 Vaccines in the Works

There are at least 20 different coronavirus vaccines in the works, with some already in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organisation. “The acceleration of this process is really truly dramatic in terms of what we’re able to do, building on work that started with SARS, that started with MERS and now is being used for COVID-19 ,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said in a press conference. Source: CNBC

LABS Collective Offers Emergency Services Extra Space

Coworking specialists LABS Collective is offering those fighting against the outbreak and working within the emergency services extra space and places to stay. The company’s hotel STAY in Hawley Wharf, Camden is now contributing bedrooms and gifted care packages to those working in nearby London hospitals. Camden House, the collective’s largest event space has also been offered to the emergency services and critical call centres as extra space to make use of when necessary. labs.com

No Festivals? No Problem

If your summer of fun is quickly being replaced by an inbox full of cancellations, fear not. Raving in is the new going out. The Pig Hotel group, who hosts the legendary Smoked & Uncut food festivals every summer, is getting us started with playlists to bring the great outdoors, well, indoors. Expect Reasons to be cheerful by The Blockheads, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free by Nina Simone, How Long by Paul Carrack and Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley. Tunes can be found via The Pig website. Source: thepighotel.com 

penguins Photo by Marvin Heilemann on Unsplash

Photo by Marvin Heilemann on Unsplash

23 March 2020

You Can Visit the Northern Lights

…From home. Now is as good a time as any to start ticking off those bucket list destinations, from the comfort of your living room. On Explore.com you can watch a live stream of the Northern Lights (should they come out to play) from a camera located at the Churchill Northern Studies Center in Manitoba, Canada. The camera is situated directly under the aurora oval, with the best views from late winter to early spring, so tune in live between 2am to 8am British time to catch a glimpse. A nicer way to start your day than a scroll through the news headlines, no? Source: explore.org

Rough Sleepers to Get Hotel Rooms

Mayor Sadiq Khan has worked with the InterContinental Hotel Group to provide 300 rooms to the homeless and those sleeping rough on the streets of London to help tackle the spread of coronavirus. The mayor said: “Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.” Source: Time Out

Free Toiletries for Those in Need

With some people panic buying toiletries and essentials, it is making it hard for others to get the things they need. Those living in poverty will be finding it harder than ever to get access to essentials that can keep them safe from the coronavirus such as soap, laundry detergent and hand sanitiser. Beauty Banks has raised over £80,000 to help buy and distribute essentials to those that need them most. Source: Beauty Banks

Free Wedding Dresses to Hospital Staff

Luxury bridal brand Pronovias has launched a dedicated Heroes collection in honour of brides-to-be serving in hospitals, and is offering engaged nurses and doctors a complimentary gown for their big day. They launched their #loveconquersall initiative in China earlier this year and is now expanding to reach brides-to-be across United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Mexico and the United States. Source: Vogue

Footballer Donates Tablets to Help Patients Keep in Touch

One premier league footballer is doing his bit to help those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld has pledged to donate tablets to hospitals and nursing homes to help people stay in touch with friends and families during self-isolation. “I hope everyone is following the government measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” he said on Twitter. “The virus creates many needs, especially the lack of personal contact. The people who are sick can’t see their friends and family. My plan is to buy dozens of tablets to give to the hospitals and nursing homes so people can video chat with their loved ones and friends to get through this tough period.” Source: Independent

F1 Fans Get a Welcome Distraction

With sports fans up and down the country wondering when they will get their next live fix, Formula One fans had some light relief this weekend in the form of the sport’s first virtual GP on Sunday, with the Bahrain Grand Prix. The race was won by Renault’s Chinese test driver Guanyu Zhou, with McLaren’s Lando Norris, a keen gamer, and Williams’s Nicholas Latifi also competing. Source: Guardian

Northern Lights

Getty Images

20 March 2020

London’s Air Pollution Levels Plummet

London’s air pollution levels are plummeting as motorists stay off the roads due to self-isolation and social distancing. According to readings from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), quantities of air pollutant nitrogen dioxide were lower on Monday than Sunday, and 165 air quality sites across the UK are recording low levels of air pollution. Source: Evening Standard

Free PE for Kids

Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach has announced he will be providing virtual PE classes from Monday to help keep kids fit from home as schools close for the foreseeable future across the country. “Hello everybody, I’m Joe Wicks The Body Coach and I’ve got an exciting announcement to make. Starting Monday, every single day from Monday to Friday I’m going to do a live workout called PE with Joe on my Youtube Channel, TheBodyCoachTV. It’s a workout specifically designed for kids because when the schools are closed there is no PE. Don’t worry, I’ve got you – I’m going to take this over. I’m going to get your kids moving, feeling energised, positive, optimistic. So, tune in Monday morning 9am and everyday Monday to Friday.” That should burn off some energy first thing to keep the kids quiet for a while, right?! Source: Twitter

Could Gyms Make Way for Emergency Hospitals?

As many gyms face suspensions and closures, one gym owner is trying to find a positive use of his facilities to help support the NHS through the Covid-19 crisis. 1Rebel Co-Founder James Balfour has announced that he is willing to hand over the keys to all 1Rebel’s London clubs for use by the NHS as Covid-19 spreads across the capital. James says: “We estimate that, across our seven studios in central London, we could make space for 300–400 beds. There are also extended changing facilities, showers, and areas for IT facilities. There is great lighting and even the fact that we have sound systems – offering the opportunity to play music – could lift people’s spirits.” Source: 1rebel-nhs.com

Free Stories for Kids

With the prospect of kids at home for months on end, keeping them entertained is going to be no easy task. Stories help. Audible has pledged to make its collection of kids’ titles available to stream for free online for as long as schools are closed. A statement on their site reads: “For as long as schools are closed, we’re open. Starting today, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. Explore the collection, select a title and start listening. It’s that easy.” stories.audible.com/start-listen

Get Your Theatre Fix from Home

Missing your theatre fix and worried about how the industry will recover from all of this? Every little helps. The stars of Waitress, Wicked and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie are just some of those getting involved in a festival of live-streamed concerts to keep actors working throughout theatre closures. Leave a Light On will be a series of paid-for live streamed piano concerts from The Theatre Café in London. The 45-minute performances will cost £7.50 to stream from home. Lambert Jackson Productions and the Theatre Cafe said: “This is a really dark time for the theatre world and we want to help wherever we can, as much as possible.” Source: The Stage

Some Good News for Football Fans

As the global sporting calendar grinds to a halt, many fans have been left in need of some weekend entertainment. Luke Lambourne, who looks after the social media for League Two club Leyton Orient, came up with the idea of starting an online FIFA tournament. His league has gone global and there are now 128 teams from around the world involved, with the likes of Andros Townsend and Neal Maupay signing up to represent their clubs. And the best news? No VAR in sight. Source: BBC

Venice

Getty Images

19 March 2020

Venice Canals Run Clear

Venice’s canals, which are usually crowded with gondolas and motorboats and murky due to the sediment kicked up by the boats, have been running clear since the COVID-19 lockdown. The canals are now crystal clear, and wildlife previously deterred by the boat traffic is starting to make its way back amongst the canals, including swans and dolphins. Tourists are out, replaced with fish, which can be spotted swimming through the newly cleared surface. Source: ABC News

Three Grandmas Self-Isolate Together

If the thought of self-isolating for months on end doesn’t appeal, you’re not alone. Three grandmothers in their 70s came up with a plan to tackle loneliness amidst the coronavirus epidemic. Doreen Burns, Carol Spark and Dotty Robinson have known each other for 40 years and all live in Salford, Greater Manchester. You can watch their story on BBC News. Source: BBC

Virtual Choirs are Spreading Joy Online

There are a number of online choirs popping up to give people stuck in their homes the chance to participate in an uplifting activity while still practicing social distancing. Choir leader James Sills has launched ‘sofa singers’, a choir that gathers online via a conferencing call and invites people from all over the world to join in. Source: Good Housekeeping

Meanwhile, Gareth Malone OBE has launched the Great British Home Chorus to bring together both amateur and professional performers around the country to give everyone the opportunity to contribute their voices and instruments to an ‘ambitious digital music project’. Source: Classic FM

Discounts for NHS Staff

As NHS workers face more pressure than ever to keep calm and carry on amidst growing pressure, a number of businesses are launching discounts and free food or drinks deals for NHS staff. The Grind sites that remain open will be serving free takeaway coffee to NHS workers, as will Pret, who will also be offering 50% off food for NHS staff. Across London, Poppie’s Fish & Chips is offering 50% off, byChloe is offering 50% or 25% off deliveries, The Athenian is offering 50% off its menu, Polo Bar is offering 50% off for emergency services staff and Las Iguanas is offering 40% off takeaway nationwide for NHS staff.

Hope from China

China has reported no new domestic transmissions of Covid-19 for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak started. The country’s national health commission confirmed there has been 34 new cases, but that all were arrivals from overseas destinations. There were no new cases of the virus in Hubei, where the outbreak began, on Wednesday. Source: The Guardian

Spring is Still Coming

Despite everything, spring will still arrive. We can still enjoy the upcoming spring sunshine and (no doubt more abundant) spring showers. We can see the flowers blooming in our gardens, the blossom falling from the trees to create carpets of petals along the (eerily quiet) streets. Get outdoors, if you can. Soak up spring. Here are some of the best local places to visit this spring in the UK

Featured image: Jeka Demidov on Unsplash