What is money trauma and how can we address its long-term effects?

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The effects of poverty can last a lifetime, regardless of your current financial position. So how can you recognise the damage it causes, and begin to live life on your own terms?

What is money trauma and how can we address its long-term effects?

Coming from a place of financial poverty, I have become all too familiar with money trauma.

Moving homes nine times before the age of 10 years old, I didn’t have a place to call ‘home’. Even then, when I say home, I mean a shack.

I spent part of my childhood living with my grandparents in Cairo. We didn’t have clean water, and had little food. Being the poor girl, with dirty, hand-me-down clothes from my uncles, you can imagine I wasn’t the most popular kid.

Even when I lived with my mum in the UK, and we were in a better financial position, I was still unpopular. All the other children had new clothes, video games, and went on days out – all of which were beyond me.

The teasing was humiliating. Kids would shout at me, tell me I was garbage, point, laugh, and make gestures that I smelt. One of the teachers actually joined in, publicly yelling at me for not wearing the correct uniform, because I couldn’t afford it.

As you can imagine, I felt abnormal, like there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Even though I progressed from a place of third-world poverty to the breadline, I was always falling behind. I was inferior and never good enough.

Money and self-beliefs

Anyone can see the negative impact of poverty in terms of quality of life. We hear how money worries can be stressful, but I’m not sure we appreciate its magnitude.

As a clinical psychologist, looking back at my upbringing, I know that I suffered traumas attached to money. My story is not unique, and money trauma, sadly, often leads us to have an unhealthy relationship with ourselves and with other people.

I’ll never be good enough

This was hard for me. Having those negative and critical messages from other people in society was excruciating. On top of that, the messages I received from family members were also painful (“We can’t afford X”, “We’re not good enough to deserve Y”, “We must accept being below the threshold”).

I ended up believing that I wasn’t good enough, that other people were better than me, that I deserved to be treated badly, and that was my life forever.

Unfortunately, these beliefs continued through my life, and negatively affected my self-esteem, mental health, and relationships. I would constantly be living in a state of anxiety, watching my every move to make sure I wasn’t being ‘weird’ or ‘shameful’.

I would tolerate emotionally and physically abusive behaviours from friends or ex-partners, because I felt that was what I deserved and I was worthy of no more. I would constantly try to please other people, so they didn’t have a reason to criticise me. I worried that if I voiced my needs, I would be rejected, and all I wanted was to be accepted.

I’ve got crabs, and I bet you do too

Have you ever heard of what happens to crabs in a bucket? One crab may want to escape – and why not? It’s crowded in that bucket, and there’s the e

Good eggs: how chickens are changing lives and enhancing wellbeing

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Across the country, our feathered friends are supporting people in new and surprising ways

Good eggs: how chickens are changing lives and enhancing wellbeing

Gentle coos, methodical scratching, and a brisk ruffle of feathers; anyone who has had the pleasure of spending time around chickens will be able to relate to the soothing qualities of this particular poultry. Even so, they may not be the first creature that comes to mind when you think about therapy animals. But that’s about to change.

In south-east London, The Growing Lives project invites adults with mental health problems and autistic children to visit Sydenham Garden, which was founded in 2002 when a small group of local residents had the vision to convert a neglected nature reserve into a thriving community garden. Today, co-workers (the titles given to the beneficiaries) come together to garden, spend time in nature, and, importantly, care for a flock of 12 adopted hens.

Good eggs: how chickens are changing lives and enhancing wellbeing

The community project is supported by the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT), a charity that saves 60,000 hens from slaughter every year, and rehomes them as pets and – now – as therapy animals. Jane Howorth MBE is the founder of the charity – and, for her, the decision to bring chickens into therapeutic environments just made sense.

“We all know how much joy animals can bring as pets, and chickens certainly fit into that category,” Jane explains. “But we hear so much anecdotal evidence of the way keeping hens can benefit human wellbeing.

“We’ve seen chickens being kept in prisons and probation hostels to help people not only learn responsibility, but also open up and develop empathy. We’ve seen them kept by community groups and other charities to bring people together and support mental and physical health.

“And we hear so many stories from our adopters about how hens have helped to give them a positive focus and provide so many bright moments in life. They have so much love and affection to give that you can’t help but feel better when you’re around them.”

David Lloyd is the coordinator for Growing Lives, and he’s seen first-hand the impact these feathered friends can have on the people around them. He shares how children from a local special school visit them several times a week and, while some are non-verbal and avoid eye-contact with humans, they happily stroke, interact, and chatter away with the chickens in a way they can’t with other people.

“Having rehomed chickens fits with our ethos; they’re a bit of a metaphor for the work we do here,” David explains. “They’ve had a difficult first part of their life, they’re saved from death, they’re then given a lot of love and nice surroundings, and within months they’re thriving and growing into their potential.”

Out of London and down to Cornwall, mother-of-three Billie-Jo Pascoe has also seen how beneficial chickens can be when it comes to supporting children with autism.

George, her son, didn’t speak until he was five-and-a-half-years old. But, after noticing that George smiled and made happy sounds whenever he saw chickens, the family adopted five from the BHWT.

“George was instantly in love,” Billie-Jo says. “He spent ho

Porn literacy: why we need to educate ourselves on the impact of pornography

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In 2022, adult sites regularly outperform the likes of Netflix, and sexualised content is omnipresent on social media. So why is talking about it so taboo? Here, an ethical porn director and a clinical sexologist discuss why we need to examine, and educate ourselves on, the impact of porn

Porn literacy: why we need to educate ourselves on the impact of pornography

"My story is not that different from other young women’s stories. For me, porn was part of trying to figure out who I was. But it brings up mixed feelings. It’s both about watching images and feeling turned on, but at the same time the images, often, are representing scenarios that made me feel uncomfortable.

“Little by little, I realised that my male friends had a very, very easy time with pornography. They use it in their lives, they like it, they enjoy it, and they haven’t really thought much about it – whereas most of my female friends, they had a similar experience to mine.”

I’m speaking to Erica Lust, an award-winning erotic filmmaker whose cinematic films are starkly different to the clips that might first come to mind when you think of ‘porn’. These days, she heads a global business, and works with directors from the United States, the UK, Berlin, Finland, Colombia, Venezuela, Australia – the list goes on. But it all started in 2004 with her first indie erotic film, The Good Girl, a tongue-in-cheek take on the classic pizza boy trope and, she says, an experiment in breaking the mould for erotic stories. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

Porn literacy: why we need to educate ourselves on the impact of pornography

If you’ve ever wondered what could qualify someone to direct pornography, consider this. Beyond her cinematic know-how, Erica has a degree in political science and gender studies, and she notes how this first prompted her to deconstruct and analyse the power imbalances that are so often present in pornography. As she sees it, porn is a discourse about sexuality, about masculinity and femininity, and the roles we each play sexually, so understanding who’s directing that discourse is key.

“The more I was thinking and learning about it, I came to understand that it’s all about the creators who are making it,” Erica says. “The stories we have seen in porn repeated time after time, it’s the white, middle-aged, fit, hetero man’s story, and his vision of sexuality and what he finds sexy. You know what that is – that is breasts, and butts, and fancy cars, and cigars. It doesn’t matter if he’s from Los Angeles, Stockholm, Barcelona, Budapest, or Sydney, it’s the same guy.”

In Erica’s films, performers practice safe sex, they communicate, they have conversations about consent, and – crucially – they behave in such a way that the viewer can see they respect one another. But it’s not just about creating an authentic film for the sheer pursuit of realism – many young people, and adults learn about sex from porn. Porn literacy – a framework for breaking down and understanding how, what, and why sexual images affect us – has, therefore, never been more necessary. In 2022, it’s a kind of virtual life jacket for teens and young people, but

30 back-to-school affirmations for kids

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Support kids with the return to school, with these motivating and uplifting affirmations

30 back-to-school affirmations for kids

With the school holidays coming to an end, and the school gates looming, it’s only natural that children will experience a host of different emotions. Mixed in with excitement about seeing friends and returning to routines, children might also experience anxiety about the coming school term. With academic pressure, friendship rifts, and growing pains, school can be a challenging place to be, sometimes.

This is where affirmations come in. They’re short mantras or sayings that we can repeat to ourselves to reinforce a positive self-belief. They can be used any time, any place. They can be said out loud, or in our heads. And they’re short and sweet, so easy for children to memorise and use themselves.

The key to a great affirmation is finding one that resonates with the individual. But, to start you off, we’ve got 30 affirmations to help kids with the back-to-school transition.

1. I am safe

2. I can ask for help if I need it

3. It’s OK to take my time with problems

4. I am interesting

5. I am ready to learn

6. I have good ideas

7. I am a good friend

8. I deserve to be treated kindly

9. I am focused

10. It’s OK to get things wrong

11. If I am worried, I can tell an adult

12. I treat others with kindness

13. I am clever

14. My thoughts are important

15. I can say ‘no’ if I want to

16. I learn from my mistakes

17. I am curious

18. I am in control

19. My voice matters

20. I am calm

21. I am creative

22. I can try again

23. I am growing and learning

24. I am talented

25. I am loved

26. I am supported

27. I can do the things I put my mind to

28. I ask questions when I need help

29. I try my best

30. I grow a little more every day

Interested in family counselling? Connect with a professional using counselling-directory.org.uk

How to reset your routine and prevent back-to-school burnout

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With the back-to-school season well underway, we’re taking a look at how families can use this time to reset and shape new routines to prevent burnout

How to reset your routine and prevent back-to-school burnout

Just like that, the summer holidays are over and as we see the beginnings of autumn, we also see children returning to school. Despite the buzz in the air from the kids, it can also be a time of doubt for parents who are faced with the dreaded early starts and school runs - and that’s all before they start their own working day.

It’s six o'clock and you’ve probably grabbed your first of many coffees that’ll get you through the morning. After ushering everyone out of bed and trying to get them ready, you’re faced with the great breakfast debate - who’s having what cereal and in what coloured bowl? Hair, teeth, coats, bags, shoes, and a whirlwind of multitasking later, you’re finally ready to head out the door for the school run until… “I need the toilet!” All before 8:30am.

As exciting as it can be watching your child grow, the back-to-school season can also be a time of heightened emotions for parents. The truth is, after a long summer and perhaps a lovely family holiday, the struggle of going back to work is real, let alone doing the school run too. Upon returning to work, you might be expected to remain positive and breezy, when actually you’ve already faced your battles for the day and it’s not even 9am.

Luckily, there are some things you can do as a family that can help ease the hustle and bustle of the school morning routine.

Tips for resetting your school routine

1. Plan ahead

This seems easier said than done. The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is get everything sorted for the following morning, but your mind and body will thank you for it.

Try to establish an early evening routine before you wind down for some much-needed family time by gathering everything you and the kids need for the following day - does homework need to be completed? Make sure school bags are packed, lunch boxes are at the ready and you could even set out plates, bowls, and cutlery in time for breakfast.

You might also want to leave coats, bags, and shoes at the front door to save time (and the panic of trying to find that one missing shoe buried at the back of the cupboard). To really make the most of it, encourage the children to get involved in the evening routine, such as making lunchboxes together. This will not only give them some independence but also allows you to spend time with them catching up on their day.

2. Meal plan

The above also applies to preparing dinners. Batch cooking is a great way to ensure the whole family is getting hearty, nutritious meals at a fraction of the time it would normally take to cook them. You could spend some time at the weekend thinking about what you’d like to eat that week and store it in the freezer. This makes for a quick and easy way to whip up dinner for the whole family, whilst still allowing for ‘you time’.

Struggling for inspiration? Try these batch-bake recipes.

3. Prioritise

Throughout the week, make sure you prioritise doing the things that really need to be done, and toss those that can wait to the side. The easiest way to keep track of this is by writing a to-do list. Maybe you need to do the laundr