Sunday, 31 May 2020

Coronavirus: Hairdressers offer virtual appointments in lockdown

Hairdressers have been offering virtual appointments to help people style their hair at home.

Stylists are using apps including FaceTime, Zoom, and YouTube to provide customers live one-to-one advice and tutorials.

While salons have already reopened in France and Germany, hairdressers in the UK expect to remain closed until July.

Paul Phillips owns Chopp Hair salon in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, which shut in March when the coronavirus lockdown began.
Paul Phillips has been offering consultations over FaceTime. PAUL PHILLIPS / CHOPP HAIR

He provides a service called Chopp Drops, in which he delivers hair products to customers’ doorsteps and then demonstrates via video call how to apply the treatment.

“Most hairdressers say you should never colour your hair at home, and in normal times I’d agree,” he says.

“But lots of clients’ mental health has been affected by the current situation, so sorting out grey roots and split ends makes them feel better.”

Paul says he serves up to 26 clients a day, but adds that he is cautious to only offer advice that is achievable at home.

“It’s too technical to dye blonde hair, so those clients sadly have to sit tight and wait for the lockdown to be over,” he explains.

“You don’t want somebody to mess up and then have to live with it for another seven weeks.”

'Time to focus'
Most of the hairdressers the BBC spoke to offered bespoke hair kits and virtual appointments priced between £30 and £150.

Ebuni Ajiduah is a hair loss-specialist. She has also moved her appointments online, offering clients home treatments, and when required referring them to dermatologists for further advice.

“People now have the time to focus on things they may have neglected,” she says, adding that she’s seen an increased demand for her services.

Ebuni Ajiduah runs a weekly wash day online. EBUNI AJIDUAH / BEAUTYSTACK

Ebuni has also launched a Virtual Wash Day every Sunday, when she invites people to join her on Zoom to wash, treat, and style hair together.

“We talk about the products we use and how we twist our hair,” she says. “It’s really nice, you get some people in shower caps and others trying to keep their kids still.

“It gives people a sense of normalcy when the world is on fire - you can still have a routine and focus time on yourself.”

Some hairdressers advise against cutting your own hair but are still offering other tips online.

“I've trimmed mine at the front but even I wouldn't attempt [to cut] mine at the back,” Michael Van Clarke says in a video on Instagram. Instead, he proceeds to show the audience how to style short hair that has grown out over a few weeks.

Hand holding
Since closing its doors, the team from his salon has been posting videos on social media and booking virtual colour consultations, serving more than 3,000 customers online.

“We have new clients which have never even been to our salon, the demand is huge,” Mr Van Clarke says.

“It’s a lot easier to do the video consultations if we’ve seen them in person before, but we are still able to give advice to new customers.”

Michael Van Clarke is trying to continue service the customers he normally sees in his salon. MICHAEL VAN CLARKE

Senior technicians carry out a hair assessment over an initial video call, advise on treatments and products, send them out and then offer a follow-up consultation to observe and guide the client.

“Some people like their hands held for reassurance, so our technicians can show them how to hold the brush and how long to leave colour on for,” Mr Van Clarke adds.

Gina Conway, who runs three salons in London, thinks this could become the "new normal".

“Even when lockdown is over, it’s going to be chaos,” she explains. 

“Some people might not be able to afford to go to the salon, they might be working from home or looking after children still, so I hope we can relieve that stress through technology.”

Gina says she’s now pivoting to focus on the internet.

“At first I was hesitant as I wanted to keep my business as professional as possible, but this is our way of giving proper advice and helping people to feel good about themselves.”

(Source: BBC)

Why India must battle the shame of period stain

Discrimination against menstruating women is widespread in India, where periods have long been a taboo and considered impure.

They are often excluded from social and religious events, denied entry into temples and shrines and even kept out of kitchens.

On the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, award winning photographer Niraj Gera attempts to de-stigmatise periods in this hard-hitting series called Sacred Stains.

Given the lack of conversation about periods, according to one study, 71% of adolescent girls in India are unaware of menstruation until they get it themselves.

Campaigners say it shows that parents rarely prepare their daughters for something they know is bound to happen. And this unpreparedness leads to so much avoidable fear and anxiety.

The difficulty of accessing sanitary pads is another major issue.

India scrapped a 12% tax on sanitary products in 2018 after months of campaigning by activists.

Campaigners had argued that menstrual hygiene products were not a luxury and periods were not a choice that a woman could simply opt out of.

However, tax exemption is only a small step towards a much longer journey of making menstrual health and hygiene an accessible reality for every woman in the country.

According to one study, only 36% of India's 355 million menstruating females use sanitary napkins, while the rest use old rags, husk, ash, leaves, mud and soil and such other life-threatening materials to manage their flow.

And menstrual health experts say the current coronavirus crisis has worsened matters further in India. The country is under a strict lockdown which has severely impacted production and supplies of menstrual hygiene products.

Of course, period poverty does not only affect women in India.

According to Plan International UK, an international development charity, one in 10 disadvantaged girls below the age of 21 cannot afford sanitary products and uses unhygienic substitutes such as newspaper, toilet paper and socks.

From an early age, girls learn to live with the pain and fear and seldom do we see a girl seek help when in physical or mental discomfort due to periods.

But with a surge in the use of social media in recent years, women have begun sharing their stories about menstruation too.

Yet this freedom is often questioned and those sharing their stories are threatened with bans, while trolls who indulge in moral policing and shaming women go scot-free.

"It's time to not silence them with shame, but give them the freedom and knowledge to deal with the pain. Social media is a powerful tool and it should be used to spread positivity and awareness among the people," says Mr Gera.

Millions of families across India cannot afford to buy menstrual hygiene products.

In the photo above, a daily-wage labourer's daughter wants a pad, Mr Gera says, but feels guilty to even ask her family for the money to buy it.

For them, it's a toss-up between spending on food for the family or purchasing sanitary napkins.

The photographer has launched a petition through his charity - Humanify Foundation - demanding free distribution of pads to all women and girls living below the poverty line in India.

Nearly 23 million girls drop out of school annually after they start their periods, according to a 2014 study by Dasra, a charity that works on issues of adolescent health.

Campaigners say the main reasons are a lack of clean toilets in schools and poor access to sanitary products.
There's also fear of staining and girls worry about being mocked by their classmates.

The study also found that a large number of women considered periods as dirty, explaining why menstruating women are often ostracised from social and cultural activities and are forced to put up with all sorts of restrictions.

"It is time we realise that menstruation is just a biological process and the secrecy surrounding it must go. It is important to normalise menstruation and destroy taboos around this natural process," he says.

"Talking is all it takes to begin a transformation and it's time we did it."

All photographs are copyright: Niraj Gera

(Source: BBC)

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Mothers doing extra 31 hours more housework each week than before coronavirus chaos, study finds

Women doing more household chores than fathers by average of 12 hours

Mothers in the UK are having to do an additional 31 hours more housework each week than they did before the coronavirus crisis, a study has found.

The report, carried out by Boston Consulting Group, warned this extra work is equivalent to having a second job and is causing a tremendous amount of stress.

Researchers found women are doing an average of 12 hours more household chores than fathers are.

Parents’ lives have been massively disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown due to nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and sixth forms being forced to close across the UK in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The research into working parents found the additional household duties being undertaken by parents range from chores around the home, to childcare and homeschooling.

Some 60 per cent of mothers said their capacity to do their jobs has lessened during the coronavirus emergency due to additional domestic duties, while 49 per cent of fathers said the same.

Researchers found 70 per cent of parents do not have any type of external support in providing care and education for their children.

The study, which polled 3,055 working parents in the UK, America, France, Germany, and Italy, found similar gendered patterns in other countries too.

Researchers found women with children across these countries now spend an average of 65 hours a week on unpaid labour around the house — with this figure having almost doubled since the Covid-19 crisis. This is almost a third more than fathers, who are doing an average of 50 hours a week.

It comes after a study by the London School of Economics recently found coronavirus is exacerbating the gender gap as women bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities and homeschooling during lockdown — whether they’re working or not.

The report found women are more likely to deal with homeschooling, childcare and chores around the house even if they are juggling this with working at the same time.

But this trend is being bucked in some households, with childcare being distributed more equally in 20 per cent of homes that include a woman, man and dependant children, due to fathers being furloughed, laid off or working from home.

Professor Barbara Petrongolo, an economist involved in the report, said: “There are a substantial minority of families where fathers now shoulder the bulk of childcare. Together with the way we are adapting our working lives to cope during the lockdown, this gives me hope that in the long term, a more equal society will emerge.”

The report found women are more likely than men to lose their jobs in the forthcoming recession because a larger number work in sectors — such as hospitality, leisure, tourism and the arts — that are forecast to be hardest hit.

(Source: Independent)

Coronavirus: 'Mums do most childcare and chores in lockdown'

Mums appear to be doing most of the housework and childcare during lockdown, according to a new study.

Research suggest that in homes where there is a working mother and father, women are doing more chores and spending more time with children.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London (UCL) interviewed 3,500 families.

They found that mums were only able to do one hour of uninterrupted work, for every three hours done by dads.
Getty Images

"Mothers are doing, on average, more childcare and more housework than fathers who have the same work arrangements," said Lucy Kraftman, a research economist at the IFS.

She said the finding applied to families where a mother and father were both working, as well as to families where both parents were furloughed or out of work.

"The only set of households where we see mothers and fathers sharing childcare and housework equally are those in which both parents were previously working, but the father has now stopped working for pay, while the mother is still in paid work," she said.

"However, mothers in these households are doing paid work during an average of five hours a day, in addition to doing the same amount of domestic work as their partner."

Paula Sheridan, a coach whose firm Unwrapping Potential works with professional women, says her clients "almost universally" report that they are the ones planning meals, creating timetables and downloading learning resources for children - along with dozens of other tasks.

"I'm the main wage earner and yet I also seem to be the one who stops work to make lunch and dinner, because he wouldn't think of doing it," one client told her.

Another told her: "[My partner] is furloughed and yet my work telephone calls are interrupted by the children asking questions, while daddy is just watching Netflix."

Ms Sheridan believes the different approach to household tasks and childcare responsibilities begins during maternity leave.

Only 2% of new mums and dads split their entitlement to parental leave. This generally leaves woman in charge of establishing a routine and learning how to be a parent - usually by trial and error, she says.

'Not men versus women'
Being a parent involves making sure there's food in the house, cooking, arranging childcare where necessary. And as children grow older, keeping track of after-school activities and making sure the kids make it to birthday parties, hopefully with the right gift.

"It isn't a man versus women thing at all," Ms Sheridan says. "The partner has no idea that all of this stuff even happens, because he has never needed to."

Mums still tend to be the ones organising how time is spent at home under lockdown, she adds.

As a result, mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers, UCL and the IFS found.
Paula Sheridan, a business and performance coach, says almost all of her clients have complained that they are the ones doing most of the childcare in the family. Paula Sheridan

Bigger wage gap?
Before lockdown, mothers completed on average around 60% of the uninterrupted work hours that fathers did.

"A risk is that the lockdown leads to a further increase in the gender wage gap," said Alison Andrew from the IFS.

But her colleague, Sonya Krutikova, points to some cause for hope that the lockdown may lead to a more equal sharing of household tasks between parents.

"Fathers, on average, are doing nearly double the hours of childcare they were doing prior to the crisis," she said.

"This may bring about changes in the attitudes of fathers, mothers, children and employers about the role of fathers in meeting family needs for childcare and domestic work during the working week."

(Source: BBC)

Royal family shares recipe for Victoria sponge cake from Buckingham Palace pastry chefs

Cake was named after Queen Victoria ‘who regularly ate a slice of sponge cake with her tea’, royal family states

Throughout lockdown, many people have been turning to baking to keep their minds occupied.

From sourdough bread to scones, members of the public have been throwing on their aprons and whipping out the wooden spoons as they refine their culinary skills at home.

Jumping on the baking bandwagon, Buckingham Palace has shared the recipe to one of the most quintessentially British bakes: the Victoria sponge cake.

On the royal family‘s social media channels, the Palace explained that the recipe has been shared to mark the royal garden parties, which were due to take place this May before being cancelled.

“The Victoria sponge was named after Queen Victoria, who regularly ate a slice of sponge cake with her tea, each afternoon!” the royal family stated.

The instructions shared by the royal family denote the official Victoria sponge recipe used by Buckingham Palace’s pastry chefs.

In addition to the recipe, the royal family has also shared a video demonstrating the correct techniques needed to produce the fluffy, jammy sponge.

Here is how to make a royally approved Victoria Sponge cake, according to Buckingham Palace’s pastry chefs:

For the sponge:
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g sieved self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
  • Jam (strawberry or raspberry)

For the buttercream:
  • 150g softened unsalted butter
  • 220g sieved icing sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla pod or vanilla essence
For the sponge:
  • First, pre-heat the oven to 180C (375F, gas mark 4).
  • Grease and line two eight-inch cake tins. If you only have one cake tin, you can bake the sponge and slice it in half.
  • Cream the caster sugar, vanilla essence and softened unsalted butter until light and fluffy. You can do this either by hand with a wooden spoon or with an electric whisk.
  • Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
  • Gradually add the beaten eggs to the sugar and butter mixture. Do so a little bit at a time, in order to avoid any curdling.
  • Sieve the flour and then gently fold into the mixture
  • Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the two cake tins and smooth them over.
  • Place the cake tins on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven, baking for around 20 minutes, until the cake looks golden brown.
  • After 20 minutes, check the cake is well-baked by inserting a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. 
  • Remove the sponges from their tins and leave them to cool.
For the buttercream:
  • Cream the softened butter for the buttercream with the sieved icing sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod (or vanilla essence) .
To assemble the cake:
  • Ensure that both sponges are completely cold before spreading a layer of jam onto the surface of one sponge.
  • Next, spread a thick layer of buttercream on top of the jam. If you prefer, you can spread the buttercream first and then do the layer of jam second.
  • Once the layers have been spread on one sponge, place the second sponge on top and gently press down.
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar and, as per the Buckingham Palace pastry chef’s suggestion, serve with a pot of fresh English tea.
This recipe was shared on the royal family’s website here.

(Source: Independent)