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Mental Health Week - 18 to 24 May 2020 - theme is 'kindness'

Well, May is mental health month and last week was Mental Health week. Especially in these isolating times it’s worth looking at mental health in a little more detail. Rather than treating it generally we thought it would be good to get the views of a YouDriver on the subject.

This reflects Chris’s views and is based on his experiences.

Are they mental health issues or life issues?

Over many years I have worked with employees, friends and colleagues who have started conversations about how they feel. I listen and (gently of course) ask a thousand questions to understand as much as I can, to try to find the cause. In many, certainly a majority. of cases the person has been taking medication.

My first reaction is – why? What and how did you get to this stage – to go to a doctor, then they prescribe serious addictive medication that merely numbs the effects and certainly never cures the cause.

With doctors giving you ten minutes to ask, dig, delve, diagnose and come up with a solution there is no way they can make an accurate diagnosis in that time and certainly not know what the cause is. Often in its early stages the issue does not require medication but requires someone to work with the individual to get to the bottom of the problem. There are other options, for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and people can be placed on a CBT programme, but that is often a lottery and it can take months to get on the list.

Doctors in my opinion don’t have the time or the experience to deal with mental health issues. Prescribing strong anti-depressant drugs to a 21-year-old man who feels down and allegedly depressed 2 to 3 times a week isn’t the answer, when in reality the young man had so many things happening in his life that he was struggling to cope. He needed a physical person to talk things through with.

What I noticed more than anything is as you dig a bit deeper and chat with the person, they explain how they feel. When they start to describe the feelings, I will often say OMG I feel like that sometimes and life can kick you hard, can’t it?

It’s amazing how when the person realises that the emotion is part of human life and others suffer with it as well, they start to think ‘Oh it’s not really mental illness, it’s part of life, and I need to find a solution to get around it.”

Obviously if people are left to fester over time the matter escalates and secondary things start to happen such as social isolation, eating disorders, poor self-worth and many other effects start to creep in.

Watching for signs very early on is so critical especially with young people.

Today’s society doesn’t help

Today two of our major problems are labels and instant coffee.

We are so quick to label people, including ourselves. For many that means – I feel low, therefore I am depressed, therefore this is medical and I cannot do anything about it. I need professional help. I hear young people saying all the time “I’m stressed, I’m depressed” and I wonder if they are really stressed or depressed or if they’ve watched something on a soap opera that looks like that therefore they think that’s what they have.

If you have children and you start to hear this, don’t be alarmed but gently sit down and start to dig a little and try to understand the matter.

Don’t rush, take time to observe and see how you or other members of the family can help. Naturally if it persists or other effects start to show then it’s best to seek professional advice – but medication should be the last resort.

Instant Coffee – we want a quick fix for everything today. Talking to people who feel lethargic or lacklustre, when you suggest reviewing their diet, eating habits and lifestyle, they think that that’s too hard and it’s easier to just go to the shop and buy multi vitamins.

Maybe we go to the doctors with these mental health symptoms and think “I need a pill and I trust a doctor – who wouldn’t?”, and often the doctor won’t argue and will give you what you perceive as the magic pill to cure how you feel. However, some antidepressant drugs have awful side effects and in reality it’s the last thing you need.

In summary this month the message is – let’s get talking! Often early stages of unhappiness, stress, anxiety etc can be halted, reduced by talking and help.

We are all busy in our lives and often have our own life issues to sort out. But we need to stop and listen and watch others and be more aware of the subtle signs of life stresses. I don’t like to use the word mental health issues because if we did, I think 99% of society would have mental health issues. I think in many instances it’s not a sign of mental illness to feel sad each week or even each day.

It’s dependent on your circumstances and what’s happening, but it’s also about controlling your emotions.

Look at the list below. We all could tick several of those boxes, but we need support and understanding to overcome them and to be told we are not ill, it’s just life. We can work together on it.

So, I could write a book on this subject but you would get bored and switch off. But as a director, manager, co-worker, dad, mum, grandparent, son, daughter, friend or neighbour, watch out for the simple signs in people and get people talking. What do they say; a problem shared is a problem halved.

Below I have made a few suggestions on how to tackle the effects of life on people. We may be suffering from one or many of these life issues. By stepping back, using self-analysis and talking to others will determine how much of a problem it is. Then you can decide how best to move forward.

Let’s look at a video before that.

We all have mental health

We all have mental health as well as physical health.

This video from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is part of a teacher toolkit and was developed in collaboration with young people, teachers and mental health experts.

This video gives a couple of examples of mental health issues in young people.

Is it in our DNA or can it be a social thing?

Well, it can be both. Some who have higher levels of positivity / negativity can grow up in a social environment and be suppressed over the years. But as soon as that individual changes that social environment, natural tendencies will come flooding back. Recognising our own style and approach is really important when making our life choices, especially in love, career and family.

This video gives an couple of examples

Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

Examples of signs and symptoms include:

Feeling sad or down. Life can be like been in a boxing ring and you cannot get out, the art is to not get punched and if you do get back up always get back up. Solution; talk to others first, think it through but don’t rush for a solution. We have all felt this way on a regular basis – it’s life.

Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate. When you have a lot going off in your life there are times when you suffer this effect. Stop, step back and talk to others. If it persists for a long time you need to look deeper.

Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt. At times we all have these and It’s natural to worry about things that are really important. The word extreme means different things to different people so you need to talk to someone else and gauge if it is extreme, and if in doubt seek professional advice

Extreme mood changes of highs and lows. These can also happen in everyday life and they are perfectly normal. We may have inner calm but there is always someone that wants to burst our bubble – the glass half empty brigade – watch out for them. If they become very extreme talk to other people; you will be surprised how often it happens to others.

Withdrawal from friends and activities. As we develop in our lives our feelings, emotions and thoughts change. We may move, change jobs, and our lives change. Managing change is a skill and we need to be aware of how to do it. Often this can happen in life, the older we get the more cynical we become so they say but withdrawal from society totally isn’t a good thing. Humans need interaction whatever that might be, so managing this is important. Living in a tree isn’t good for your soul.

Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping. Getting a good night’s sleep is really important, but if you’re worrying about things you could be using lots of mental energy; this happens to all of us in our lives. Talking to others helps you understand it more and there are many solutions to help you to switch off.

Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations. Extremes like this are a problem and you need to seek professional advice, but some detachment from reality are common in humans; we see it in everyday life, on the TV, in the media, social media etc. If someone has a dull life, they are naturally going to look for an escape. Talking honestly to people about how we feel can help.

Inability to cope with daily problems or stress. This can be the effect of a life that is going wrong. We all know people who seem to have a car crash life and wonder why. If our work/ homelife/ social life is extreme then it can cause stress. We need to take a step back, talk to others or in extreme cases seek counselling.

Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people. This happens to everyone sometimes – it’s called life! How to manage it is talk to others, try to judge how strong your issue is then decide on a course of action.

Problems with alcohol or drug use. Excess alcohol envelops your life eventually and reduces your ability to take personal responsibility. There are many support functions online.

Major changes in eating habits. Usually this is a symptom of something deeper going on. If you start to put lots of weight on don’t let it get out of control – excessive drinking and eating will create even bigger health problems. If you see others ballooning don’t be frightened to speak up and say.

Sex drive changes.  It’s life, it happens as we age or life circumstances hit us. Our body and brain cannot always deal with all life issues and sometimes this affects our sex drive. Again, step back, self-analyse and don’t rush to judge. The internet is full of information or if you can talk to someone else to see how much of a problem it is.

Excessive anger, hostility or violence. We can all feel anger and hostility towards life, others and things, but violence is a different matter. Once we start to step into violence then we need medical help.

Suicidal thinking.  People who are at the stage of wishing to end their lives is a serious matter. Medical counselling and support are needed.

YouDrive thinks…

These are Chris’s views, based on his experiences. We’ll revisit this as a discussion in our next post.


mental health issues

What are mental health issues? — Copy

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We have friends in Australia so we found this interesting.  We saw a link on Twitter which seemed to indicate that Gladys Berejiklian had resigned because (it was  claimed) she had been directed by lobbyists who had been paid 10s of millions of dollars by AstraZeneca and Pfizer to drive policy. We looked on Reuters to find that the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had said:

"ICAC on Friday said the scope of its investigation had widened and includes whether between 2012 and 2018 Berejiklian "engaged in conduct that constituted or involved a breach of public trust by exercising public functions in circumstances where she was in a position of conflict between her public duties and her private interest" as she was in a personal relationship with the then NSW MP Daryl Maguire."

Is this another example of Twitter enabling conspiracy theories, or the media reporting what they are told?  We don't know, but the two sides are vastly different, which means we should be careful before believing what we read!

New South Wales Premier resigns – generates Twitter frenzy

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The tragic and alarming world of dog breeding and dog theft.

As we all lead busy lives and never seem to have time to take a step back and look at what’s happening in the world, things move on around us sometimes for the better but sometimes for the worse.

Criminals target easy options

30 years ago, petty criminals stole car radios, then the manufacturer-built radios. 20 years ago, typical thieves would steal TVs and play stations and larger items. Sophisticated camera equipment and police alerts stopped it. Today it’s easier to steal an iPhone or credit card as it has more value.

Drug addiction is one of the biggest petty crime statistics. Drug addicts will do anything to obtain money to buy drugs. They often burgle, do petty theft or shop lift. Dog theft is even easier and who wouldn’t want to buy a dog down the pub for £200 when it costs £3000 to buy normally and there’s an income stream available.

Dog theft is classified as property,  like a TV or purse. This crime is punishable up to 5 years in prison and classed the same as burglary or house breaking or car theft. We know that most criminals never go to jail for even a third of the time according to the CPS so there is no serious deterrent. Those found guilty of kidnapping/false imprisonment can face anywhere from 12 months to 12 years imprisonment. so with good lawyers and a feeble excuse the sentence will be short.

For many dog lovers and I don't mean dog owners I mean dog lovers there is a very distinct difference between the two. A dog is for life not for Christmas as the slogan goes. A dog to a dog lover is a member of the family even loved as much as their children. The heartbreak of having your best friend stolen is gut wrenching.

Dog lovers need to think that their pet is now a really expensive item and due to humans capitalising on the breeding market for money rather than the love of dogs the risks are now very high. Even in your own garden humans are looking for a moment when your back is turned. So learn to take new steps when out walking, chip your dog, and when they go out in the garden you go out in the garden.

List Posts 10List Posts 10

Steal a 1-year-old dog bitch worth £3000 and it's worth £180,000 over 6 years. Can you see now why dog theft is big business?

Overseas breeding smuggled into the UK

The Puppy Smuggling Scandal

A six-month undercover investigation by Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, reveals the high level of corruption at the heart of the puppy smuggling trade, plus the worrying welfare risks imposed on both dogs and humans alike.

Shocking investigative footage reveals criminal breeders, vets and transporters in Hungary and Lithuania abusing the Pet Travel Scheme* with a lack of adequate enforcement and protocol by the relevant authorities. European vets have been caught on camera creating false pet passports and fake rabies vaccination records; the charity reveals underage puppies slipping through the net undeclared and lack of checks at ferry ports and borders, simplifying the smuggling process. With breeders making upwards of £100,000 a year** from the sale of smuggled puppies, the trade is spiralling out of control with no deterrent.

The cost of dogs has gone through the roof - why?

Over the last 2 years we are seeing an alarming trend of dog theft and I wondered why. I was shocked to discover why and now know why the problem is out of hand and needs urgent intervention. 5 years ago, a pedigree cocker spaniel would set you back between £600 and £850. 5 years on the cost of the same dog is £2,500.

Covid 19 pandemic saw a substantial increase in dog theft

Some experts are claiming the demand for dogs during lockdown has led to a significant increase in pets being stolen, with one - Wayne May from the organisation Dog Lost - saying: "I've been doing this for 30 years now and it's the worst ever year I've known".

"Unfortunately, due to lockdown, people are at home more and they're looking for companion animals to take up their time.

"Sadly the criminals capitalised on this. It's pushed the price of dogs and puppies up in general, which has inadvertently sparked a high rise in dog thefts."

The dog breeding world has gone mad

15 years ago, you could barely give away a Jack Russell. A cross breed dog was practically worthless. Not today recently on preloved, a Heinz 57 as they used to be called was advertised positively as a variety of breeds with a £850 price tag.

Humans are breeding anything today for money and playing with genetics

Due to demand by humans, people are now randomly cross breeding anything to see how it turns out, with absolutely no thought going into the DNA, genetic breeding or interbreeding. Dogs that already have historic genetic faults from bad breeding are now been crossed with other breeds not in a scientific way to breed out genetic defects but to make a FANCY, lovely looking, cuddly puppy, or a oversized bigger or stronger dog.

We have cockerpoos, jack, Cockerlabs, Siberian Retriever, Chiweenie, Weimador, Shorkie, Border Collie-Sheltie, Yorkipoo, Corgidor, Chug, Morkie, Shih-Poo, Schnoodle, Goldendoodle, Whoodle, Docker. And many many more.

The speed of this new craze is alarming due to that fact it’s totally uncontrolled. There are even popular magazine positively promoting this craze as; Adorable, lovely cuddly pets. There are no ethical responsible words of caution coming from these magazines.

Sadly, many potential buyers are buying on beauty, cuddliness, cuteness etc. Often no thought is given to understanding the breeds, the cross elements or the potential cross breeding risks.

In the 80s and 90s dog breeders used to be typically middle to upper class people who were all members of the kennel club

We all know over the last 75 years that the kennel club offered governance to the development of the dog breeding fraternity and during that time have seen many breeds grown to a size or shape or look that has caused genetic faults; British bulldog [respiratory], German shepherd [hips and spine issues], Saint Bernard [hocks and skeletal issues], King Charles spaniels [ eyes], etc. Today, the classes have shifted and lower income and non-working classes are now seeing a new way of creating an income stream from owning 6 to 8 breeding pairs and earning in excess of £250k, way beyond what they ever dreamed they could earn, it’s CEO income.

History has shown us, the old breeds in the 40s and 50s started take on a new shape but it took 30 years to see we had made some serious cruel mistakes. Breeders claimed to be dog lovers but yet visit any dog breeder and you will see all the dogs live outside in cages and pens similar to farming. Ask a real dog lover who has more than one dog and owned them for many years to compare buying a puppy from a breeder as opposed to buying a puppy from a family who let the bitch have a couple of litters during her lifetime and the puppies were handled in the family environment.

Why don't VETS speak up and say something

I went to my own vets recently and mentioned to the Vet about the level obesity in dogs and cat and the matter of all these new breeds and cross breeding. I asked them what they did to educate and promote healthy living and highlight the negatives of cross breeding genetic faults. The reply was sort of half hearted nervous reply, limp to say to the least. My impression was that they didn't want to upset the customer as its money at the end of the day. I said you could do passive marketing by giving out leaflets or posting things in the Vets clinic showing obesity and recommending them to site that help people  be more aware of breeding genetic defects in dogs. Here is a Tik Tok video from a brave young vet who wanted to say what other more money motivated Vets would not say.

A doggy heart to heart #learnontiktok #veterinarian #doghealth #wecandobetter #showuswhatyougot

Ben the Vet is courageous in telling people about this practice.

Its big business now with no serious regulation and penalties are not effective

The laws regulating dog breeders has been ineffective for the last 30 years and nothing has changed in that respect. You see every day animal cruelty prosecuted; with fines of £500 and band from owning a pet for 10 years. Oh, wow!! what a punishment that is when they can earn £250k a year and they merely transfer the activity into a friend’s name. Dog theft currently is classed as a possession and treated in the same way as a handbag or TV. I am sure any dog lover would think there is no comparison.

130,000 dogs in rescue centres and 47,000 are abandoned every year 

Buying a dog is a personal thing and should not be based on a whim or kneejerk. They are typically with you for 15 years and based upon breed, temperament and character could be the best friend in the world or your worst nightmare. View dogs like humans; think of all the characteristics of people; nice, nasty, friendly, moody, lazy, crazy, etc and a dog is the same. When you look at a new born baby you cannot tell if it will grow up to be a vicar or an axe murderer. Dogs are the same. so take your time out to choose wisely.  If your not bothered about a puppy but happy to take a rescue dog her are some tips;

  • When visiting the kennels go into the cage if possible and spend time with the dog.
  • Don't go with a preconceived idea of the type of dog, go with you view you are going on a date and keep an open mind. Your looking for a companion and family member not a handbag.
  • Watch its behaviour and responses.
  • look into its eyes and see what they are saying, Look for the smile or happiness.
  • See if the dog responds towards you the same way you respond to it.
  • look around the cuddly, sweetness and cosmetics and look at the character and behaviour.
  • Don't buy on the first visit and return the next day to see how the dog responds to you.
  • Take into consideration it may have had a bad start and like humans might be nervous or reserved. You have to factor this into your decision making.

Ways to help

  • We need to open our eyes to this new trend. If your thinking of getting a pet don’t fuel the industry.
  • If you do want a specific breed, fair enough but: A, do your research not just about the breed characteristics but the potential genetic faults and B, take your time to choose the right home. Typically, potential owners reject 70% of the dogs they see due to the home environment. The first 8 weeks of a puppies life are the same as a child's life.
  • Look for character and chemistry between you rather than a cosmetic addition to your family like a TV, or handbag.
  • Don't buy from a dog breeder, they are not in it for the love of animals they are in It to make money.
  • Look for a family home who own the mum, and dad and the puppies are around the family. The Mum could have 2 or 3 litters and by chatting with the family you can see they are dog lovers.
  • Watch for breeders who use a front like another family. You arrive , no mum and dad. alleged owner selling puppies for a sister and mum and dad live somewhere else.
  • Avoid the breeders who offer the full package; weaned, injected, registered and ready to go. They are just making it easier to sell puppies.
  • Always ask to see the mum and dad and see the mum with the puppies. They will say; i take the mum out to give her a rest, its a con.
  • Don’t leave your dog/s in the car when going out. A quick smash of the window and you have lost £6k and will be broken hearted.
  • Secure your garden with proper fencing and get a cheap £25 camera/sensor fitted to your garden that links to your phone.
  • When you let your dogs into the garden for a wee go with them and walk around at the same time.

 Eastern European Dog Trade new regulations

Over the past 5 years as dog prices have started to increase eastern European dog breeding gangs. The rules for bringing puppies into the UK was very loose and easy to do. Since the UK has now left the EU the rules for bringing in dogs from the EU has been tightened particularly around puppies and pregnant bitches. Unscrupulous gangs would bring in a pregnant female and then have her give birth in the UK. From October 2021 there are new rules and fines for these Dog breeding gangs.



WARNING! What has happened to the dog breeding world?? Why is dog theft such big business?

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It’s costing a fortune and scammers are laughing all the way to the bank

Dating online without meeting in person has become the new normal throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But losses to romance fraud reached £73.9m during this period, with Action Fraud receiving 7,754 reports. The true figure is likely to be much higher, as many victims of romance fraud are too embarrassed or upset to tell the authorities.

Why is it happening

It is humans capitalising on other humans’ weaknesses. For what ever reasons most victims let their heart rule their heads and parted with their hard-earned savings. It's not always cash. It can be precious metals or commitments to guarantors.

We all want attention, loving and care. Many people are lonely and need friendship. Many people are not strong and are absolutely trusting at face value everyone they meet. How many times do we hear people say; I see the good in everyone. Well, those are the ones who are likely to fall victims.

A simple fact is most humans are not trustworthy and, in this instance, it is better to be negative than positive until it proved otherwise.

Online dating fraud has a sliding scale

Extreme Scammers

Scammers fit on a scale and everyone needs to always have this scale in the back of their mind. The extreme scammers are those organised crime groups who are out to get your money. You are targeted and worked. The criminals are often overseas and are very good at creating the deception.

Overseas scammers are easier to spot and there are tell tale signs how they do it. The scammers are interested in quick work typically over a month period and are targeted on results. They will ask for money for tickets very quickly or that they are in trouble and need cash. They will often come up with plausible stories on why they need to be trusted and to give them cash.

These are some of the tactics they use;

  • Scammers may take several months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and can even pretend to book travel to visit you
  • Once they have gained your trust and your defences are down, they will ask you, either subtly or directly, for money, gifts, or your banking or credit card details.
  • Often, scammers will pretend that they need the money for some sort of personal emergency or insist they need the money to travel to visit you.
  • They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and texts rather than through the dating website where you met.
  • The new love of your life has supermodel good looks in the pictures they send you.
  • They express strong emotions for you in a very short space of time.
  • They ask you lots of questions about yourself but don’t tell you much about themselves.
  • They start asking you to send them money. They’ll pretend they need money from you for some sort of personal emergency or insist they need the money so they can travel to visit you.
  • It’s common for romance scammers to pose as a soldier serving in the military as this gives them a good excuse as to why they can’t meet you in person. It’s also a good way to try and win your sympathy.

How to avoid getting scammed

Firstly, your money is your money - never give it up to someone you don’t know no matter how sorry you feel for them.

Never give money impulsively; Make sure your head rules your heart.

If you are thinking of giving someone money be it someone you have met on the internet or even face to face after a year or two. Always consult others. A fraudster will want to keep it between you both and not discuss with others. On the contrary its in your best interest to not only consult family and friends but professionals who are experts in money lending.

If someone asks you to do something that involves a large sum of money or ask them to guarantor or take out finance, always seek professional advice first.

Tricksters and romance fraudsters

The opposite end of the scale is the lone individual who is looking for romance and at the same time capitalising on emptying the victims bank account. These scammers are much harder to identify because they think in their own mind, they are just borrowing money from you and will pay it back. Tricksters and romance fraudsters have been around for generations and are nothing new.

These tricksters often meet face to face and may groom you over many months if not years. They are patient and wait for their opportunity.

Smart tricksters are often chancers, gamblers, risk takers. Watch out for this in their behaviour. It might be buying a new car or house together then re-mortgaging to draw cash out. Perhaps investing and buying property abroad or tax advantageous schemes.

How to avoid Romance Fraudsters

  • Firstly, same as extreme scammers. It is your money, you earned it, worked for it and only a fool is parted from their money easily.
  • Parting with money of any size or description needs to be a HEAD thing not a heart thing.
  • Signing or committing to credit, loans, guarantor is a HEAD thing and nothing to do with he heart.
  • Don’t rely on gut feel, just have it as a principle, say no.
  • Consult with your friends and family. Consult with professionals especially if it’s a large sum of money. Never make the decision quickly and without consultation.
  • Let your head do the thinking not your heart.

Let’s look at the profile of who is typical victim according to research;

70% are women

Most scammed are middle aged = over 40

They are likely to be cooperative, gullible/uncritical, careless, susceptible to flattery, easily intimidated, generous and are good citizens.

They are likely to be individuals with a higher tendency toward idealization of romantic partners.

They are likely to be less worldly and lower educated people

They know little about cybersecurity

They are likely to have standard or uninteresting lives. victims are often asked to urgently send money in an unexpected crisis this is likely to be sensation seeking, a form of impulsivity, excitement in their lives.

It is hypothesized that individuals who score high on external locus of control are more likely to be victims of romance scams compared with those who have not become victims of romance scams.

research on romance scam, victims described themselves as naïve and trusting.

survey measuring kindness are more likely to be victims.


IT’S A SIMPLE FACT; Romance scamming or any form of money scamming involves someone convincing you to part with your money. Some of the reason sound amazing and real. BUT they scammers want you to act quickly and impulsively and alone.


Dating Fraud is costing over 70 million a year, is it the desperate price to pay for getting affection or plain stupidity?

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Eating Behaviour Questionnaire Tips

How can the Ten Top Tips help you control your weight?

The Ten Top Tips programme helps you incorporate lifestyle changes into your daily routine so that they become automatic and easy to maintain. To develop new healthy habits you need to:

  • Plan ahead: In the first week or two, spend a little time working out in advance how

you are going to do the tips. For example work out how to fit five servings of fruit and vegetables and the extra walking into your day.

  • Tracking your progress: Use tick sheets each day to record if you do each of the tips.

Keep this up until the tips have become automatic. Record-keeping increases success in developing healthy habits.

Top ten tips

1,Keep to your meal routine

Try to eat at roughly the same times each day, whether this is two or five times a day.

Handy Hints:

  • Pick a pattern that fits in with your own daily routine and stick to it.
  • If you are someone who needs snacks, try to snack around the same time each day.
  • Try planning when you intend to eat and check at the end

2, Go reduced fat

Choose reduced fat versions of foods such as dairy products, spreads and salad dressings where you can. Use them sparingly as some can still be high in fat.

Handy Hint:

  • Change to semi-skimmed milk and save 60 calories/day, amounting to 420 calories.

over a week (based on consuming 300mls milk/day)

Keeping a record has been shown to increase people’s success in developing healthy habits

3, Walk off the weight

Walk 10,000 steps (equivalent to 60-90 minutes moderate activity) each day. You can use a pedometer to help count the steps. You can break up your walking throughout the day.

Handy Hints:

  • 5000 steps a day extra (40mins walking at a brisk pace), will burn 1240 calories over a week.
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift

4,Pack a healthy snack

If you snack, choose a healthy option such as fresh fruit or low calorie yogurts instead of chocolate or crisps.

Handy Hints:

  • Have a banana instead of a snack-size chocolate bar and save 225 calories.
  • Take a piece of fruit to work in your bag so that you have it with you for a snack.
  • Choose yogurts with less than 100 calories per pot. The calcium will also keep your bones healthy

5, Look at the labels

Be careful about food claims. Check the fat and sugar content on food labels when shopping and preparing food.

Handy Hints:

  • A low fat digestive biscuit has the same number of calories as the standard digestive biscuit at 70 calories. Check the fat and sugar content.
  • Order our shopping guide from the Reduce the Risk website:

Creating a daily routine, keeping track of your progress and planning ahead are key to developing healthier habits to last a lifetime.

6, Caution with your portions

Don’t heap food on your plate (except vegetables). Think twice before having second helpings.

Handy Hint:

  • Fill your plate up with lots of vegetables.They are low in calories and will help satisfy your hunger

7, Up on your feet

Break up your sitting time. Stand up for ten minutes out of every hour.

Handy Hints:

  • Standing up on the bus or train burns an extra 70 calories an hour.
  • When watching TV try to stand up during the ad breaks and do a few chores (e.g wash the dishes or put the rubbish out).

8, Think about your drinks

Choose water or sugar-free squashes. Unsweetened fruit juice is high in natural sugar so limit it to 1 glass per day (200ml / 1/3 pint). Alcohol is high in calories so try to limit the amount you drink.

Handy Hint:

  • A pint of standard beer has 2 units of alcohol and 182 calories

9, Focus on your food

Slow down. Don’t eat on the go or while watching TV. Eat at a table if possible.

Handy Hints:

  • Eating meals at the table will help you to focus on the amount of food you eat.
  • Don’t eat while walking, wait until you get there and take time to concentrate on what you are eating.

10, Don’t forget your 5 a day

Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (400g in total).

Handy Hints:

  • A medium sized apple or banana or 3 serving spoonfuls of peas is 1 portion.
  • Try having fruit or vegetables with every meal. This makes it easier to reach the five a day

Eating Behaviours

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We all get caught up with the pace of life and have little or no time to research the constant information we hear every 15 minutes on the radio, TV and Media channels. This often creates a letter box view of what is happening with a specific issue or subject. Regarding Covid 19 the media and government communication machine has us all thinking in a certain way. When we do get time to stop and look deeper, we find all sorts of alternative information about what mainstream media are wanting us to believe.

For over one year now the UK has been living with Covid 19. Restrictions of movement and behaviour and now a national vaccination programme. Is it all real, many ask? The conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxers are getting louder and louder as the governments and devolved administrations seem to be guessing what controls to put in place each day. We have seen scientific evidence challenged by other medical professionals and devolved administrations making up their own rules based upon the same scientific evidence. In the meantime the average member of the public is expected to (like a performing seal) jump through hoops to each twist and turn. Are these scientists from the same stable as the health and safety killjoys - an overly cautious group who put up the 'keep off the grass' signs or try to stop children playing conkers and hopscotch at school, or perhaps they are absolutely right in their thinking, who knows. For sure when any opinion is given it is backed up by information that suits the argument.


Scarily when reading government websites not just connected to Covid 19 but all government departments you cannot help notice every paragraph contains warnings, threat and punishments for disobeying rules set out by the government. If you don't conform you be fined, sanctioned, blacklisted, imprisoned and it’s a criminal offence to do practically anything today. Perhaps this aspect is for a post on its own- have we become like a fascist state.  This isn't a political statement - we're sure this wouldn't change with another political party in power.

Let look at some of the Covid 19 facts; 

Average age of Covid 19 death is 80. We know for fact,Office of National Statistics [ONS] that 250000 people over 70 die every year in the UK

There is a higher percentage of men died as a result of Covid 19 in comparison to women.

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of a positive test for Covid-19, hospitalisation, severe disease and death. over 22% of the UK population is obese.

Ethnicity, people from some ethnic groups have a significantly higher risk of being infected by Covid-19. In the first wave mortality was highest among Black groups and in the second wave among Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups.

Mortality rates are significantly higher among people with pre-existing conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

How is data created and expressed?

All these facts come from the ONS and they do sometimes change definitions as they wish which makes drawing your own comparisons and conclusions very hard to achieve at times. Historically on a death certificate when recording a death, it shows the primary and secondary cause of death but if there are other areas attributing to the death then these are recorded as well. further. The main causes of death over the last 10 years have been typically dementia, Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer etc with pneumonia, influenza, bronchopneumonia shown as secondary. It seems Covid 19 has replaced the work carried out by pneumonia and influenza.

The classification has changed and the ONS now show this statement; The ONS numbers include deaths where Covid-19 was recorded as a cause of death on the death certificate, whether or not there was a laboratory-confirmed test and irrespective of the interval from date of testing positive for those who were tested. The GOV.UK numbers include only deaths within 28 days of a positive test. 

Further, upon reading the ONS website on mortality these two interesting statements occurs when commenting on Covid 19;

  • Of all death occurrences between January and August 2020, there were 48,168 deaths due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) compared with 13,619 deaths due to pneumonia and 394 deaths due to influenza.
  • Influenza and pneumonia were mentioned on more death certificates than COVID-19, however COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death in over three times as many deaths between January and August 2020.

So, there have been some changes of classification and definition to illnesses and in particular expressed on the death certificate and in statistical data. So why have the Government and the British Medical Association decided to change this definition? We try to shed light on this later.

Sometime we need to stand back and take a broader view at mortality.

This graph shows the mortality rate from 1901 to 2020.


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Looking at the overall historical mortality rate which is a good indicator about the UK as a whole and how we fare year on year as an increasing population. Typically, over the last 20 years 500000 people die each year in the UK, in 2020 this figure was just over 600000. We had in 1990 just over 500000 deaths with a population of 50 million which is around 1%. In 2020 there were 600000 deaths with a population just short of 60 million which is also around 1%.  The graph shows there were times in history when the death rates were significantly more. Factors always need to be taken into consideration such as weather, lifestyle, flu vaccination programme etc.

Let’s look at the last 4 years and evaluate excess deaths, as you can see there are peak and trough trends but there is a general pattern. In 2020 for a period of around 8 weeks we have excess deaths but then it returned to normality. During 2021 the year started higher than normal but there is always a slight increase at the beginning of the year and then it returns to regular pattern.



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Weekly number of excess deaths in England and Wales from week ending January 5, 2018 to week ending May 27, 2021

So, who has been most effected by the pandemic in terms of age? As you can see the average age is 80. most secondary infections take a greater effect over 70

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The death rates under 65 are hardly registering on the graph.

On further analysis of the government statement regarding registering a Covid 19 Death we wanted to see if this impacted the statistics. The statistics show a high Covid 19 figure but a below 5-year average for Pneumonia and Influenza. This potentially would imply that Covid 19 had been chosen in preference to the others to put on a death certificate. Furthermore, according to the statement; whether Covid 19 was present and tested at the time or had symptoms that looked like Covid 19.

We decided to look at the guidance offered by the government to Doctors and health professionals; Guidance for doctors completing Medical Certificates of Cause of Death in England and Wales

In an emergency period of the COVID-19 pandemic there is a relaxation of previous legislation concerning completion of the medical certificate cause of death (MCCD) by medical practitioners (referred to for the remainder of this document as doctor). The important changes occur in Sections 2 and 3 of this guidance. You should use standard guidance outside of the emergency period.

Medical practitioners are required to certify causes of death “to the best of their knowledge and belief”. Without diagnostic proof, if appropriate and to avoid delay, medical practitioners can circle ‘2’ in the MCCD (“information from post-mortem may be available later”) or tick Box B on the reverse of the MCCD for ante-mortem investigations. For example, if before death the patient had symptoms typical of COVID19 infection, but the test result has not been received, it would be satisfactory to give ‘COVID-19’ as the cause of death, tick Box B and then share the test result when it becomes available. In the circumstances of there being no swab, it is satisfactory to apply clinical judgement.

We know that the 5 year average for Pneumonia, influenza and BroncoPneumonia are pretty consistent each year except surprisingly for 2020, Why is this. Could it be that Doctor misread the symptoms or was Covid 19 taking the place of The other infections.

Has the Vaccine helped or hindered

If the average age of deaths is over 80 then why are governments across the world demanding all ages over 16 get the vaccine when its proved that for many the symptoms are no worse than a bad cold. Most countries have vaccinated the elderly and vulnerable and at risk people. The whole theme of these programmes was to control people becoming seriously ill with the virus and needing hospital care.

Here is a recent article from Daily in which they requested mortality data connected to the vaccine. Please note that Covid is the equivalent of Pneumonia, Influenza.

In conclusion

The statistics speak for themselves and we will let you come to your own conclusions. A couple of interesting points are the classification of Covid 19 death and that it is stated there were far more Covid 19 deaths registered but Covid 19 did not appear as much on death certificates as Influenza and Pneumonia. The guidance offered to Doctors also seems to give a very broad definition when determining if Covid 19 was the primary cause of death.  The overall death rate whilst above the overall 5-year average as a total is still 1% of the population.

Why would a person going to hospital ill not be checked for Covid 19 when it is such a simple test to perform. Why would a doctor sign off the death of a patient based upon purely symptoms when a simple test was available.

If an elderly patient came to hospital in the past suffering with diagnosed dementia [ one of the biggest killers] and during their stay contracted an infection such as pneumonia and subsequently died. Recorded on the death certificate would be Dementia as the primary cause of death and Pneumonia as secondary. Because the Government change the definition of Covid 19 from an infection to an illness it allowed the doctor to write it was a Covid 19 death even if they had not been tested but merely looked like they had Covid 19.

The key point is Covid 19 is real and has caught the world sleeping especially when you consider since 2000 we have had over 12 outbreaks of SARs MERs etc around the world. We also had Ebola and the Zika virus. The vaccination programme has saved lives especially at the older age group and more vulnerable members of society. We had BSE and Mad cow disease. We have Avian bird flu and Swine fever and flu is on the rise around the world.

Disease and infection has shown that it can destroy society and economies never mind bombs and bullets. Life will never quite be the same again and out or every storm there is a cloud with a silver lining. There can be and should be some BEST PRACTICE Covid 19 learnings which will improve all our lives and change the way we live in all aspects for the better. Sometimes a Paradigm shift allows thing to back to zero and give us a clean piece of paper to reinvent things for the better, such as travel, working from home, our carbon footprint, CO2 emissions etc

Due to the steps the UK Government have taken The UK has debts due to Covid 19 that 4 generations from now will need to pay off.

There is a big debate if the lockdown was overly dictatorial and some of the science is debatable. Changing definitions for deaths and how they are reported makes you wonder why they took these steps. Devolved Governments in Wales, Ireland and Scotland all took slightly different routes and changed the rules just because they could based upon the same scientific data. Done in a political way just to show people they can change the rules.

The media played its part in whipping up the pandemic,  in some instances creating a frenzy of fear amongst the population. In every home every 30 minutes the TV and Radio and social media broadcast propaganda to tell everyone; We are doomed!!! Much of the general public thought this pandemic killed anyone and everyone when the statistics show other wise.

One could ask why has all of society  been so seriously affected and lives turned upside down when statistics generally shows Covid 19 kills people over 70 who already have underlying health conditions.  The reality was the Government did not know at the time how dangerous Covid 19 was going to be. Blind panic across the world kicked in to start with and it took several months to stabilise. They also did not know how, or how quickly the infection would change and develop.

One thing is for sure its easy to be a back seat commentator or opinion giver, and hindsight is a wonderful thing. The reality is we are were we are and hopefully Covid 19 will slowly be controlled and eradicated. But watch this space because looking back every few years another nasty infection seems to raise its head and kills millions, or is this life and how we keep this ever increasing population under control.

Covid-19 Was it all worth it? Let’s look at some of the facts.

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Fantasy and Reality

Difference between sexual fantasy and reality

Well for many fantasies are just that and are kept to the individual or partner. Those can sometimes be extreme in nature but that’s where it stops and it never gets to reality. Some partners want to go further and put the fantasy into reality.

Well in this case it requires thinking through especially if it involves third parties or doing things whereby you can get caught. There is nothing wrong with turning a legal fantasy into reality provided everyone is truly consenting and not coerced into it.

Pornography is now almost universally available - on phones, computers and tablets. It's no longer a case of 'top shelf' magazines! Can watching porn spice up a sexual relationship, or is it a sad addiction? Who watches porn anyway? How real is it? Is there a balance between a bit of spice and a compulsion?

Multi-partner, Group, threesomes, orgies, are not for everyone and need to be planned otherwise things could backfire. There are people who enjoy these types of sexual gratification but if a partner is reluctant then they should never be coerced or forced. Sex and sex acts do magical things to our bodies naturally but the brain has to remain in control and make sure the act doesn’t turn into an addiction.

Why not take the sex addiction test in the tabs below and see how you get on?

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You need to scroll down to see all the info in this popup – sorry for going on so much!

OCEAN Personality Types

People tend to believe that each individual is different and unique in their own way. While that may be true to an  extent, it’s not entirely accurate.

It’s certainly not helpful when firms are trying to recruit people ‘of a certain type’.

When it comes to personality types, there are tests that categorise people into one of a few groups that describe their characteristics.

The ‘Big Five’ personality traits  characteristics are :

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Easily remembered as OCEAN.  You can find out what type of person you are by taking a free test here.  It’s from Truity and doesn’t need an email or login.

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Holiday habits

• A third of Britons who go abroad return to the same resort every year
• The average UK holidaymaker has been to the same place four times
• More than one in ten return to the same holiday spot ten or more times – and many even try to book the same hotel room.
• More than a third, 34 per cent, go to the same restaurant they ate at on their last trip, and more than a quarter, 26 per cent, don’t even bother trying to find new drinking locations
• Some 59 per cent of us go on the same holiday in successive years
• McDonalds and KFC are worldwide brands and people in a foreign city can always head to a McDonalds and KFC because you only need to point at the picture and with 3 fingers held up means you want 3 – language barrier overcome. No slight embarrassment not knowing the menu or protocol.
• Many go back because it is the easy option.

No more seasonal fruit and veg - but at what price?

Years ago we had seasonal fruit, but not now. Strawberries were April to August – now it’s January to November under poly-tunnel. How can a plant produce so much fruit??? Artificial feeding. How can they be so big?  Artificial feeding. How can they look so pristine with not a mark on them? Artificial feeding and pesticides to keep the insects off. But because they are grown in artificial circumstances they can attract new types of diseases so chemicals are added to stop those diseases taking off. But, is there an alternative? Yes buy organic fruit and veg – at least there is an element of inspection and testing.

Fresh food could be as bad as processed food

What is becoming scarier than processed food is fresh food. The farmers and scientists and government are now on a mission to feed the increasing population, HOW? Well, producing fresh food that we can grow quicker, faster, bigger, disease free and more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. But all these things come at a price.
The chemicals that farmers and growers put on the land to grow super-fast produce mean that the feed is so powerful it can double the growth and size in half the time. The pesticides they put on the plants kills everything and anything that lives on a plant, just so we don’t have a marked apple on the shelf. We do need chemicals to stop some diseases on fruit and veg but the chemicals on fruit and veg today go much further. This article in the Daily Mail on 1st November 2018 said;

On average, new research has found, a supermarket potato will have been doused with an astonishing 30 active ingredients (an active ingredient is the part of a substance or compound that produces its chemical or biological effect). Compare that to 40 years ago — when a potato would have been treated with just 5.3 active ingredients — and you start to see how mind-bogglingly dependent farming in Britain today is on chemicals.

Meat - is that healthy to eat?

Well years ago it was. When animals could go into the fields and eat grass and get normal supplements to keep them fit and healthy.  But then big business wanted more and started to produce feeds like rocket fuel, the sort of food body builders eat to accelerate muscle and weight. Can you blame them? Not really. If someone says; “Hey, here’s a food that will treble the size of your animal in half the time, which means you get it to market faster and it’s cheaper to feed, so less cost and more profit.”  Who wouldn’t?

But then you look at what they feed the animals and think it just doesn’t pass straight through the animal and out the other side – it is absorbed into the flesh. And then humans eat it. But, what’s the alternative? Locally produced, farm and grass reared, local butcher sold meats. Organic, just to add a bit of assurance nothing has been used on the land.

Out of date bread - where does it go after the supermarket?

Ever wondered where the old out of date bread goes when it comes off the supermarket shelves? Well it goes to a special company and it is all ground together into a giant mincing machine and ground up into crumbs. This includes the coloured branded plastic bag it came in and the tag on the end. As bread is yeast based it requires further chemicals to stop another fermentation process taking place.

It is then sold to farmers for winter feed to cows who eat the crumbs and plastic bag and tag. We then milk the cow or eat the beef. Just to remind you cows stomachs may be big but they are not designed to eat colour printed plastic. Yet again another Food Standards Agency and Agricultural Agency getting together to provide winter feed at a cheap cost with no regard for the cow or the consumer. But what’s the alternative – organic milk. Aldi, Co-op and Sainsbury sell organic milk very competitively.

Farmed fish / shellfish - is it good for us?

So what do we know, well firstly fish living together in huge pens in huge quantities attract disease. They also, in the case of salmon, lose their colour, so scientists created a food that has colour built in and contains chemicals that kill the fish lice and then we eat it. Take a look on YouTube at the investigations and make your own mind up.

The biggest fish farms in the world are now in the Baltic Sea. They farm pollock, haddock and cod and we also know the Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted seas on the globe. But, what is the alternative – fish caught in the open ocean.

Shellfish is a popular product in the UK but most prawns come from Thailand, Vietnam and South America. All are farmed. But, what’s the alternative – organic and ocean caught never farmed.

This recent documentary opens your eyes to fish farming and the issues they have  – click here.  

When is the best time to eat?

It’s not just eating the right food or drinking the right amount of water – it’s about when we do this. In the UK we eat as fuel and don’t eat for pleasure. We often push food down our throats as fast as we can – often late in the evening just before we go to bed!!  There is an old saying breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, dinner like a prince and supper like a pauper. Eating during the day gives our bodies the chance to work off the fuel we have put into our bodies. Many people have such busy days they don’t get time to eat during the day. If you’re that busy your body needs fuel so snack every hour or two if you cannot give up the time at lunch to eat. Little and often is recommended rather than a big meal at the end of the day.

We are creating a new type of member – the YouDriver.

YouDrivers will be able to build their own health dashboard – they will take health questionnaires to see how healthy they are, they will look at all aspects of their health and understand exactly what matters to them.

They will go on a journey to decide which health areas they want to work on, how they want to tackle these and then they will be able to build their own action plans. 

We’re also inviting more people to get involved – whether by contributing their own views or by offering support to our site visitors.

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