Thursday, 14 September 2017

Why Prescription Drugs Need to Be Cheaper

The world of pharmaceuticals is a complex one with a labyrinthine process of bringing new drugs from conception to reality. After a drug has been designed, a viable synthesis needs to be
formulated that will allow the drug to be produced in an economical way. The goal here is to identify the cheapest and quickest synthesis route which will allow the drug to be produced, and ultimately sold, for a reasonable price to consumers and healthcare institutions.

Once the drug has been produced it goes through several trial phases, starting with animal trials and gradually moving towards human trials. Every part of this process must adhere to vigorously designed protocols and be thoroughly documented and reported.

Consequently, the costs to the pharmaceutical company of bringing a drug to market are significant and it is only by recouping these costs, and then some, that pharmaceutical companies can continue to research and develop new drugs and new drug classes. However, these needs must be balanced against the needs of the general population to access affordable and effective healthcare. Below are just some of the reasons that cheaper prescription drugs benefit everyone.

More Accessible

The cheaper prescription drugs are, the more people will be able to afford them. When drugs are prohibitively expensive, it creates two tiers of patients; those that can afford them and those that can’t. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs greatly reduces, or even removes, this barrier and creates a more egalitarian healthcare landscape. In fact, the impact of having a significant portion of the population unable to afford the drugs they need has detrimental effects to wider society as well as individuals.

Preventable and treatable illnesses contribute significantly to the number of sick days employees take every year (something referred to as ‘economic downtime’), and consequently when workers of particular socio-economic classes are disproportionately affected by certain illnesses that they can’t afford to treat, the corresponding sector of the economy suffers an increase in downtime.

Better Quality of Life 

Ensuring that as many people as possible are able to access affordable drugs and other treatments means that quality of life will improve, not just for those individuals but society more broadly. It is easy to underestimate the impact that the presence of easily testable illnesses can have on society as a whole, but aside from the aforementioned economic impacts there are also more subtle effects.

Friends and family of those suffering from an illness that they can’t afford to treat may suffer psychologically. Similarly, many of those who cannot afford lifesaving treatment through the proper channels may turn to black market drugs of questionable origin and unknown quality. Even if a patient is able to secure an affordable source for legitimate drugs, many of these can be dangerous when administered without the supervision of a doctor.

The Future

So, what can be done to increase access to these drugs? There are no simple solutions, but there is widespread agreement that we need access to discount prescription drugs. There are now a number of lobbying groups campaigning for this and signing up or donating to these organisations can help them make a real difference.

Increasing access to cheaper prescription drugs will be a key part of the ongoing struggle to improve healthcare for all.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Baked By Lou - Colourful Cooked Jewellery and Accessories - A Feature

Instagram has been a source of inspiration and a place of discovery for me since 2012.  It's probably the place that I discover most new brands these days.  I especially love handmade independents and when I find one I really love I get excited.  Well, if I'm honest, a bit obsessed.  I'm like that, I'll hold my hands up to it.

We all know I love clothes.  You may not know just how much I love jewellery and accessories too.  I love bold.  I love bright.  I love different.  When I stumbled across Baked By Lou, created by Louisa Mallett, earlier this year it was instant love.  I started off with a purchase of some earrings and I now own 5 pairs of earrings, a bangle, two pin badges and have another pair of earrings on the way.  My next purchase really must be a necklace!  It really is an obsession.  Lou should be scared really, because she's only across the water from me in lovely Cardiff.  If this obsession gets much worse I'll be swimming across the muddy channel to stalk and hound her for more funky fimo!

Baked By Lou Ceramic Painted Vase Pot
Ceramic painted vase/pot £40.
Once you see what Lou creates, I won't need to convince you any further.  I'm sure you'll love her creations too, but, for the sake of appearing more professional and a bit less mad, I thought I'd ask Lou a few questions about her business.  So, at this point, I'll hand over to Lou and you can breath a sigh of relief!

Baked By Lou Statement Ring Polymer Clay Fimo Jewellery
Statement Ring £10
Me "Louisa, What lead you to making your baked creations?  And how long have you been doing so?"

Lou "I'm a real fledgling business at the moment! I set up Baked by Lou as a business in January but it was in the planning a few months before. Surrounded my amazing friends following their creative dreams, I've been very inspired. I finished by degree in Art Practice (A combination of Fine Art and Art History) many moons ago in 2009 and have always thought of myself as pretty creative, but only recently got the guts to put myself out there and sell my pieces! A refresher evening course in ceramics are what led me to making jewellery in clay and it was my super whiz hubby who came up with the pun name. No I don't make cakes!"

Baked By Lou Statement Necklace Polymer Clay Fimo Jewellery
Statement Necklace £19
Me "Seems crazy to me that Baked By Lou has only been "live" since January.. So, do you have a "day job" as well?"

Lou "I'm a trainer by day and I deliver workshops to higher level apprentices in Business and Customer Service. Honestly, I was too scared after uni to be a practicing artist...I don't really feel it prepared me enough for that which is a shame. I went down the path of teaching and never looked back. I think both passions are working well together and I use a lot of creativity in my day job! I always think that everything happens for a reason and this was the direction I was meant to go and only now the time has begun right for Baked by Lou."

Baked By Lou Ring Holder Ceramic Polymer Clay Fimo Jewellery
Ring Holder/Cone £11 
Me "I'm not surprised you felt like that after uni.  I know I didn't have the confidence to follow my creative side professionally when I was younger, even after studies.. But, now you've made that leap, what are your plans for Baked By Lou? Any exciting secrets you can hint at?"

Lou "​No super secrets in the pipe line, but I really would love to practice and play using some of the patterns I paint on my ceramics and jewellery and perhaps get them turned into fabric or prints. There's so many ideas in my head! Firstly though, I'd like to get as polished as I can be with my current materials, learn more about making my own glazes perhaps, as I love that the creative process is always one where you learn something new all the time. I'd also like to see my goodies in more shops so people can see them in real life!"

Baked By Lou Long Statement Dangle Earrings
Long Dangle Earrings 
Me "You're a sensible thing, aren't you! But cool too, anyone can see that by looking at your creations and style! Have you always been creative? Do you have any other big passions in your life?"

Lou "I'm crazy cat lady number one... We recently moved house which has made me very quickly realise I have a lot to learn about gardening too, so that's my newest passion! I love charity and car-boot sale shopping and finding vintage gems for my home. Between me and my hubby, our house is more of museum than anything"

Me "Crazy cat lady.. I know quite a few people who tell me they are crazy cat ladies! Well, I'd like to finish by asking again about the future for Baked By Lou.  Specifically, would you consider doing a collaboration?  And if so, one what kind of project? Clothing design? A collection of ceramics?"

Lou "I am always up for anything like this! I've done one with my good friend Jade Fisher where she designed a cool rock chick card and I created badges for the lapel which I sell at markets. My friend and I @fizzgoespop are always talking and making crafty things. I'm also up for print making or a big mural and would love to have someone by my side with that! I could deliver workshops too as this combines by day job and Baked by Lou."

Me "Thank you so much Lou.  Personally, I can't wait to see what you come up with in the future.  I'm already obsessed with your work and building up a nice collection of jewelry BAKED BY LOU!! Ha."

I can't recommend checking out Louisa's brilliant store enough.  You can buy online via Etsy, follow on Instagram and if you live in the Cardiff area, she often does fairs and the like.  Do give her a follow.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Me&i - Ethical Scandi clothing for women and kids!

Hello everyone! Are you there? It's been a very long time.  To be honest, I thought I'd given up blogging, but a couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Amber who writes over at Meet The Wildes and, after showering me with compliments (still getting my head around that!) she begged me, and I do mean begged me, to start blogging again.  I admitted that I had been thinking about it because I do actually have something I'd like to share on this platform once again and so I agreed I would.  So.  Here we are.   Amber, this is for you!

In just a few short days, my youngest little man heads off to school.  Yikes! This means that I have time to work now.  Proper time.  This time a year ago I tried looking for work but finding something I want to do (yes, I'm lucky enough to be able to wait for something I want to do rather than have to do anything) that fitted around preschool and school hours was nigh on impossible.  I started freelance writing, I started doing a lot of creative writing.  I volunteered in a charity shop.  But I didn't feel like blogging.  However, back in July I decided that I wanted to take the plunge and become a consultant for me&i.   Me&i are a Swedish ethical clothing company who make wonderful (as you'd expect from a Scandi brand) bright and bold clothes for women and kids.  My love affair with Scandi style started over 8 years ago now, when I was pregnant with Ethan.  That's pretty much how this blog came about too.  I loved Scandi clothes, which were hard to get hold of and very unusual where I live 8 years ago so I decided to record our outfits and write about them here.  When I heard about me&i they seemed like a perfect fit for me.  I thought, why not?  No one else is working for me&i in my town.  People like my style and my boys style.  They are always stopping me to inquire about our clothes.  Why not?

Me&i release two collections a year, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.  They don't create a vast range, they concentrate on quality over quantity.  Their focus is on quality materials and fair pay for workers.  They use Oeko-Tex material and factories in Turkey and Portugal.  They visit the factories they use and stipulate that the employees must be able to live on the wages they make.  As a result, you can't expect Primark prices from me&i.  But I think more and more of us are getting switched on to the idea that you get what you pay for.  We'd all rather a fairer world for all.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with a bit of a bargain but I do like to shop as consciously as I can afford and I know I'm not alone in that.  I like to buy a few more expensive purchases each season and pepper them with my charity and eBay bargains!

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

As well as their ethical credentials, the clothes are comfy, soft and practical without forgoing style.  Pockets in dresses.  Cuffs on sleeves that fold up or down to allow longer wear.  Seamless socks.  The kids clothes go up to age 14 so many women find they can fit themselves into the kids collection too!

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

You're probably wondering how it works?  Well, you can buy online via their website, but it's much more exciting if you get in touch with a local consultant and they bring their collection to you.  Even more fun if you get friends to come over too, then it's like going shopping with friends, no kids in tow!  You know, like when you were 13 in those communal changing rooms in Miss Selfridge.  Except without the overpowering smell of Impulse and the risk of slipping over on an abandoned copy of Sugar or Just17.  Plus.  Have it on a evening and add in wine.  Sweeeet! Can you tell I'm excited?  Well, I am one of those consultants now.  I have the entire collection in my home and anyone who wants to can buy via me!  Even you! Yes, YOU, right there, on your phone.  If you're nearby (North Somerset/Bristol) I can cart my collection over for your perusal!

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

If you aren't nearby but you still love the clothes, I can still be your consultant, I can place an order for you.  Or you can order via the website and select me (Alexandra Bridger) as your consultant at checkout.  It's that easy! If you still want your own party, I can put you in touch with your nearest consultant too.

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

Me&i Scandi Ethical Clothing AW17

Personally, I feel the clothes speak for themselves.  They look lovely on hangers, they look even better on a person!  They pop in photos but once you see them in the flesh, you really get it.  Just feeling how soft they are, how they have so much give in them.  Seeing how they fit on a real body.  They really are exceptional!

Well. There we have it, my first blog post in an age.  It's good to be back.  Now I'll have to spruce up the blog, maybe even move over to Wordpress at last!  I hope people will read again, I have missed many aspects of my blog, especially my fellow bloggers and readers! Thank you, anyone who is still there!

Linking up with Hannah at Make, Do & Push. 

All clothes featured in this post are from me&i.  This is NOT a sponsored post. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

A poem

For the last month I've been attending a creative writing course.  I've always liked to write, that's why I've had blogs for so many years.. I like to write poetry though I don't think I've ever shared any of my own poems here.  I'm under no illusion that I am a skilled poet.  It's a process, something that, with practice, hopefully you improve at!  But I don't write poems for any reason other than I enjoy doing so and I find it an effective way of expressing myself.  This week at my writing class I shared a poem I wrote and I thought I'd share it here too.  So, here goes.

Voices in my head - A Villanelle 

A cacophony of voices in my head
I don't want to hear what they say
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said

Care for the boys, ensure they are fed
Be present for them; that's what will pay
A cacophony of voices in my head

Through coping, anxiety pools like lead
Ignore the voices, get through the day
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said 

How do I fill time? It fills me with dread
Chores, tasks, coercion; still I hear what they say
A cacophony of voices in my head

Stop fighting! Be Kind! My patients hangs by a thread
Occasional pockets of enjoyment though tempers still fray
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said

I still watch the clock, longing for bed
And when finally I rest, the diminish of the day
A cacophony of voices in my head
In truth, it doesn't matter what is said. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Quality leather bags with a mission.

I love clothing and accessories.  I don't follow trends religiously or go crazy for brands.  I don't have the time or the money.  But I do get excited when I discover a brand that are about more than just creating an item of clothing, a bag or shoes.  If I can, I love to buy as ethically as possible.  It's why I love organic cotton or buying second hand.

I came across MAHI leather bags recently.  Several things about them as a brand caught my eye.  Firstly, they have an actual mission statement:

"MAHI’s mission: To connect consumers with craftsmen, offer unmatched value, and hopefully do some good along way."

MAHI believe that consumers don't get a good deal from big brands.  Due to the amount of "middle men" between the creation of leather goods and them actually reaching the consumers, prices are inflated, the craftspeople receive less money for their work and consumers get less for their money.   MAHI work differently.  Every item is made to order and shipped directly from the person who made it to the customer who ordered.  This helps reduce wastage and saves on costs created by stockpiling huge quantities of product.  That makes total business sense but also means that consumers pay less for good quality items.

Obvously, I love the idea of more bag for my buck (oh, hahaha) but what I like even more about MAHI is that they use full grain leather (that's the best quality leather you can get) and.. this is where I get really excited;  they donate to charity with every bag they sell.   MAHI is named after the Mahi river in India and each time a MAHI bag is bought, they donate $1.50 to FRANK water charity.  That might not sound like a lot of money but it all adds up.  Reading up on MAHI you find out quickly that they've raised nearly $7,500 for FRANK  This money has provided over 510 people with clean water in their homes.  FOR LIFE. They provide detailed information on their website about FRANK, the work they do and how the money helps but details include:

* $1.50 Provides the materials necessary to carry out water testing to a whole community of 250 people in FRANK Water’s Samerth project

* $15 Will provide clean, safe water and access to improved sanitation for one person

* $100 Provides water testing across two communities reaching 5000 people in FRANK Water’s CURE project

* $1,000 Enables FRANK Water to support 158 individuals in their Samerth project to claim access to land rights and improved sanitation through India’s Clean India Campaign

If there's a way for a brand to make me like them more, it's donating to good causes.  I know I feel better about a purchase if I feel it's doing some good as well beyond adding something to my or my families life.  

So.  Now you know just how fantastic MAHI are, I bet you'd like to see one of the bags!  You won't be disappointed.  They have a large range to choose from, backpacks, duffles, holdalls, satchesl, totes and even wash bags.  There are several styles of each.  I love that they are pretty much all unisex.  As a family of four, I love the idea of purchasing a bag that my husband would be as happy to lug around as myself.  And even my two boys as they grow.  You can't really go wrong with leather, it's classic and it lasts.  You can even get your MAHI bag personalized.  They can embroider initials or names in black, cream or brown so great if it's a present! 

My favorite is the Roma backpack:

Now my boys are a bit older, we no longer need to carry around nappies, changing mats etc.  However, we still have to carry around quite a lot when we go out for the day.  And, we no longer have a buggy to help us carry around our essentials.  In fact, having two energetic boys means we have to be able to run around after them whilst still carrying water bottles, wet wipes, waterproofs and about three trillion snacks.  Therefore, a backpack is perfect!  One like this is unisex, practical with it's pockets and would definitely look fantastic too.  After all, as I've always maintained, being a parent doesn't mean you have to forgo style!

I think you'd be hard pushed not to find a bag for your requirements from MAHI and knowing they are donating to charity too, you can feel good about your purchase.  So, if you're in the market for a new bag, go and check them out!