Are you being Sun Safe??

Article by Helen Chidgey 25.05.16

We all know the links between sun exposure and the incidence of skin cancers so most of us have a bottle of suntan cream to hand but are we really sure of how to apply it properly and how to stay Sun Safe??

Eight out of ten people are failing to adequately apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, according to a survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists to mark Sun Awareness Week (9th-15th May 2016).

The survey also found that 70 per cent of people fail to reapply sunscreen every two hours as recommended.

No surprise then that 72% of people admit to having been sunburnt in the last year.  A troubling statistic given the risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – more than doubles in people with a history of sunburn compared with people who have never been sunburned.

So what do I recommend to stay Sun Safe? Here are my 5 top tips!


UVA/UVB rays can still reach your skin and cause damage, even when it’s cloudy or when you’re in the shade. So when you’re sipping cocktails under cover at the beach remember to apply your Sun Screen to help prevent a surprise sunburn, OUCH!


Make sure you apply your sunscreen half an hour before you go out and just before exposure too.  Pay extra attention to the areas most likely to catch the sun and the ones not exposed very often!


You know those sunscreens you have hiding in the back of your cupboard past their expiry date? Don’t worry, we all have them but it’s about time we threw them all away! That’s because you can’t rely on the SPF protection of products past their expiration date!


Keep your sunscreen topped up by reapplying at least every 2 hours, to provide maximum coverage (but I’d recommend even more often, depending on your skin type). Always reapply after being in water, even with water resistant creams you will have lost some protection during your little paddle!


Body Sunscreen can be applied from head to toe, but if you’ve got a sunny date you want to look your best for, using makeup that includes a high SPF is an easy way to keep your skin protected and you looking gorgeous!


FB: Tropic Skincare Stratford with Helen

Twitter: @tropicstratford

Deaf/deaf Awareness – Your name what?

Article by Tarnya Brink 24.02.16


As an HR practitioner I have interacted with many people with various disabilities, but it was my son at the age of 14 who asked to learn British Sign Language (BSL). Having brought my children up to respect the ability of people with disabilities, it made me proud that someone so young recognised the benefit of learning BSL.We learnt together 5 years ago, and although I am not the most competent signer, the one thing that really stuck with me was that most people don’t have much knowledge of Deaf/deaf awareness and that by learning to sign the alphabet a world of communication opens.

So, as I have been doing at various 4 Networking meetings, I would like to share a few of the things I learnt.

Deaf vs deaf

Deaf with a capital ‘D’ refers to someone who has no hearing whilst deaf with a small ‘d’ refers to someone with partial hearing.


Learning BSL is like learning any other foreign language – don’t underestimate how hard it is. After 18 months of 3 hours one evening a week, my son and I achieved Level 2 – which is conversational signing.

The structure of the language is different, so for example, in English we say ‘What is your name?’ in BSL you sign ‘Your name what?’. It is important to recognise that for a person whose first language is BSL, English is a second language. BSL does not use all of the words in the English dictionary – it is a more abbreviated language so words like ‘is, it, am’ don’t exist.

Like any other person whose second language is English, it is not uncommon for written English to require significant development because the grammatical structure is quite different.

There are regional differences in BSL, so some words can be signed in a number of different ways.

Facial Expressions and Lip Reading

When we watch interpreters on TV, or watch people signing to each other, we notice the use of what a non-signer may think of as ‘over-exaggerated’. This is an integral part of communication for the Deaf/deaf community. As fascinating as it is to watch people signing, remember that if they are having a private conversation, you are effectively eves-dropping.

Not all Deaf/deaf people sign, some rely solely on lip reading, and reading facial expressions.  

We all use facial and hand gestures when they speak – this is an extension of that. By using expressions together with signs, it portrays emotions which are easy to read.

A couple of interesting things I learnt about lip-reading which are actually obvious when they are pointed out – if you have a very thick long mustache, it is very hard to read your lips because they are covered with hair. If you shout (which serves absolutely no purpose!) your lips shape differently or if you mumble, you are not forming your lips in a way that people can read. Speak normally and clearly as you would to a hearing person, not in an exaggerated manner.

Using Interpreters

In order to be an interpreter you need to have a Level 6 (degree equivalent) qualification in signing and interpretation. With a Level 2 I can follow very little of what is signed on TV and would definitely not be able to interpret a discussion. I can, however, interact with people who use BSL and can always rely on using the alphabet when I get stuck.

If you have a meeting with a Deaf person and a BSL interpreter, you will need to allow at least twice as much time for the meeting. Think about when you go on holiday to a foreign country and you need to explain to someone what you want, they in turn need to translate it, get an answer and translate it back. It takes a lot longer than asking and receiving an answer.

Remember that your meeting is with the Deaf person and they should be your primary audience, not the interpreter, but obviously you need to seat the interpreter so that they have a clear view of the person they are signing with. The interpreter is the tool who removes the barrier to communication.

Interpretation is tiring – you will often see two interpreters playing tag in a meeting or a presentation – with an average of 20 minute slots each, so if you are hiring an interpreter, bear in mind how long your meeting is going to be and whether you need more than one person.

If you are chairing a meeting with a Deaf/deaf person present (with or without an interpreter) it is important to control the meeting, so that only one person speaks at a time and the pace of the meeting allows for interpretation. If there is no interpreter present, make sure the Deaf/deaf person has a pen and paper, so that they have a way of participating fully in the meeting. If you buddy this person with a hearing person next to them so that they can ask the questions on their behalf, then they will not be excluded from participating.

Learning to sign the Alphabet

I learnt to sign the Alphabet at Girl Guides when I was a child – I have never forgotten it, and I strongly believe that every child (and adult) should learn the alphabet. Imagine that you are in a car accident and the first person to arrive on the scene is Deaf – you would be able to communicate with them.

There are some great on-line tools to show you how to sign the alphabet and free sheets you can download onto mobile phones, and print.

My challenge to you is to go on-line – learn to spell your name, get your family to learn to spell their names, and then put the alphabet on the fridge and learn the alphabet. It is fun, rewarding, and great to use in noisy place too! 

Tarnya Brink

Area Director


T 0333 005 0066

M 07986 544 694



Mindfulness for Baby Swimming?

Article by Jo 22.02.16

Of course, there are always the obvious benefits of baby swimming that have always been there… 

Physical: strengthen heart/lungs

Social: learning to take turns, making friends.

Vital safety skills: turning to the side, back floating, rotations.

But has anyone thought of it having also having the most powerful notion of teaching parents to relax, live in the moment, and to have open hearts? 

In today’s busy world, baby swimming could have an ever greater role to play in teaching our water parents to ‘live in the moment and to really connect’ with their baby. Facilitating strong, powerful bonds between parent and baby.

Due to our busy lives, one where we are constantly bombarded with images and words via the Internet. We are becoming so connected to the tech world that we have forgotten to connect to the people around us.
We have become a society that creates ‘to do lists’, planning and thinking about the future and sometimes we get caught up in comparing our lives with others. Do we have a true sense of identity or have we lost who we are as we are surrounded by what others are doing? Our minds are preoccupied with taking photos or writing the moment for others, that we actually forget to live and enjoy the moment our self. How many of us check in daily with our heart and soul? Feel the sun, smell the aromas around us, listen or feel our breath?
We often miss the beauty around us. Opening our hearts and minds and offering compassion and love.

Children are so much better than us, living in the moment… But as they grow and adapt their environment …

Perhaps baby swimming can facilitate mindful practises for both parent and child?

Can we help increase our awareness of our senses, which in turn might help reduce anxieties and fears? 
How can baby swimming help promote a mindful presence?

*We can ask our swimming parents to check in. Are they participating in the classes or just going through the motions?

* We can offer a couple of moments at the start of the class to have ‘an open awareness’. To take a deep breath in and to release any tensions. 

* To start in a wide stance on the pool floor … To feel safe and grounded. allowing gentle movements to flow naturally.

You don’t have to go into full ‘yogic detail’ but just a few kind words, to create a sense of calm at the start of the class… A gentle reminder to watch our babies cues, ensuring they are happy throughout all of our swimming practises. And by ending the class with a lovely swim together, where parent and child can connect and enjoy the moment….

Reminding our selves to tune into their laughter, smiles, playful nature that the water brings. Creating a non-competitive environment through our swimming practises, where our swimming parents feel nurtured, safe our babies feel protected.

An environment where we are NOT teaching our babies to swim…. As that will just happen over time with patience…

But one that creates a powerful environment where we can truly relax, enjoy the water ….

One where we can escape just for 1/2 hour with our babies and dream and grow together.