A person making a homemade card for Cards for Bravery

Stortford Heroes: Introducing our first nominated hero, Katie Callaghan

On Saturday 23rd of July 2022, Bishop’s Stortford will gather on Sworders Field for a ‘Party in the Park.’ There will be live music, local food vendors, and community stalls. This community event celebrates the people who go above and beyond for our local area, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can nominate a hero; someone who serves our community, someone who cares for others, or someone who has overcome a personal hurdle. In this article, we will focus on our first nominated hero: Katie Callaghan, Founder of Cards for Bravery.  

Katie, the Founder of Cards for Bravery

About Katie Callaghan

Katie is 19 years old and has grown up in Bishop’s Stortford. She has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and a number of other chronic illnesses. What impacts her most day-to-day is having Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, which is caused by EDS. She relies on a central line into her heart to receive nutrition via her bloodstream. Chatting to Katie, it was apparent these circumstances do not dictate her perspective on life. She has a positive outlook, and her charity work is evidence of this.  

Throughout Katie’s life, she has spent a lot of time in hospital. It was during a four-month-long hospital stay when she was 13 years old that a new idea sparked.

The formation of Cards for Bravery

Katie understands what life in hospital is like for a child. She’s been there. She described how it can often feel like the world is going by without you, and it’s very isolating. At the age of 13, during a hospital stay, Katie’s friend sent her a card. It was signed by everyone in her class at school. This card had a profound impact on her mood and outlook. She knew her friends were thinking of her, the messages in the card encouraged her to stay strong. It made her feel emotionally a lot better.

Katie when she was younger

Setting up the charity

Katie had the idea of making and distributing cards to children and teenagers in hospital. It would be an opportunity to put a smile on a child’s face and make their day whilst they were in hospital receiving treatment. It was 2015, she set up a Facebook and Instagram page and began to organise cards.

The work of the charity

  • They make homemade cards to send to children and teenagers in hospital and for children being cared for at home.
  • They have a huge Christmas card campaign for the children and teenagers who spend Christmas in hospital.
  • They send personalised Bravery Packages – A Bravery Package is essentially a care package for a selected individual between the ages of 2-21 with a long-term illness.  The charity research to see what the individual’s interests and passions are and fill a box of gifts for them. Even the box is covered with encouraging messages.
  • They are currently in the process of creating activity packs for different age groups. They are full of age-appropriate puzzles, challenges, and fun activities. These are designed to keep the individual entertained during their time in hospital.
  • During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cards for Bravery created cards for the doctors and nurses on the front line of the hospital wards.

The charity: then vs now

The charity began with Katie. Her hospital stays and school commitments meant she often had to take breaks from charity work. In recent years, more people have got involved and the charity has grown.

Since the beginning of Cards for Bravery, the charity has distributed over 11,000 cards. 1500 of them have been in the last year alone. There is a much bigger volunteer team that is currently involved. Their job roles vary from card makers, social media marketers, to administration. They distribute cards to 12 hospitals currently. Moving forward, Katie hopes to increase the number of hospitals the cards get sent to.

Cards for Bravery highlights

Katie described how running Cards for Bravery has thoroughly enriched her life. It’s a rewarding feeling knowing she’s helping thousands of people through her charity mission. Katie explained how it has given her a purpose, even on days when she is physically struggling, she can achieve a task from bed that pushes forward the charity’s progress. Her work hasn’t gone unnoticed:

  • In 2021, the English Stamp Company released a line of stamps inspired by Cards for Bravery.
  • In 2019, Katie won the Child of Courage Award in the Bishop’s Stortford Indies Awards

 

  • In 2017, Katie was one of the 10 finalists for the BBC Radio 1 Teen Hero Awards. She went to Kensington Palace to meet Prince William, Prince Harry, and many other famous faces.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cards for Bravery

The pandemic unfortunately halted some of the great efforts of the charity. Hospitals couldn’t accept packages due to hygiene safety concerns. Katie described how difficult it was knowing how many children were in the paediatric wards with limited visitors. Playrooms were shut and toys couldn’t be shared around.

The Cards for Bravery team kept making cards waiting for when it was safe to distribute them to hospitals. This situation encouraged them to make the laminated activity packs as they can easily be wiped down and used again.

 

How can you get involved to help?

If you want to assist the great work Cards for Bravery, you can do so in five ways:

  • Donate
  • Buy some card-making supplies of Card for Bravery’s wish list.
  • Make some cards and send them to the charity’s postal address. Take a look at the card guidelines.
  • Share the great work Cards for Bravery does. If you know someone who loves to make cards, direct them to Cards for Bravery .
  • Become a regular volunteer.  

The community will come together for a ‘Party in The Park’ on the 23rd July to celebrate the great work of local heroes like Katie.

Do you have someone in mind who does great work for our community? Nominate them for a Stortford Heroes award.

Follow Stortford Heroes’ social media to keep up to date with the latest announcements.


Press Release: ITVET clean up Bishop’s Stortford

On Saturday the 4th September, ITVET hosted a litter pick event around the Bishop’s Stortford area.

Bishop’s Stortford based technology solutions provider, ITVET Ltd, hosted a local litter pick on Saturday 4th September, as part of their commitment to the environment and giving back to the community.

The team filled up 12 bags of rubbish from the streets of Bishop’s Stortford. Starting from their head office on London Road, they targeted the train station, bus interchange, main high street, and Sworder’s Field.

ITVET litter pick around Bishop's Stortford

Managing Director of ITVET Ltd, Richard Fountain, said: “I’m grateful to all our employees who gave up their Saturday morning to pick up litter in our town. After positive feedback from the local community, we are looking forward to holding regular litter picks.”

This event is part of ITVET’s corporate social responsibility to the local community. As well as the litter pick, the company also supports local charities, provides the town’s free public Wi-Fi, and they are organising Stortford Heroes – Party in the Park on 23rd July 2022 at Sworder’s Field.

ITVET will be welcoming community members to future litter picks. If you would like to get involved contact [email protected] or reach out to Tidy Up Bishop’s Stortford.


A person reading the top tech news

July 2021: Top Tech News

This month witnessed scorchingly high temperatures and an unfortunate low in the Euros final for the England team. On the 19th, of July 2021, almost all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. In our ever evolving technology industry, there have been innovations, progressive conversations, and unstoppable transformations. From sustainable solutions, PropTech, to social media, let’s take a look at this month’s top tech news.

1. IoT AI services are expected to generate £2.6 billion in revenue by 2026

This month, IoT Tech News reported Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning services within the Internet of Things (IoT) industry are growing by 40% annually. By 2026, they should reach £2.6 billion.

The IoT market has accelerated since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic. This is partly because people need solutions for remote asset management. Employers monitor their offices without needing to be present in the building. Homeowners use ‘predictive maintenance’ to proactively alert them when an issue arises with a home appliance. Early warning notifications prevent minor issues escalating into expensive repair jobs.

There have also been huge innovations in IoT AI services within healthcare as a reaction to the Covid19 pandemic. Every industry is seeing the potential in IoT AI services. Hospitals benefit from diagnostic accuracy with AI. Diagnostic accuracy ensures there’s no visual noise in scans. Patients are monitored remotely using IoT, which is especially effective for contagious conditions. IoT sensors are placed on chairs, beds, doorways to understand where the patients are and what space is available. The sensors constantly collect data that hospital staff can see on a clear dashboard.

Find out more about IoT.

A doctor checking his patients using IoT

2. Microsoft increase their sustainability commitment

Microsoft has high expectations for its sustainable impact. They aim to be carbon negative by 2030, meaning they intend to store more carbon dioxide than they emit. To achieve this, they have released a new strategy this month.

How sustainable is electricity?

Electricity is considered a clean form of energy when you ignore the generation and transmission of electricity. The electrons supplying the electricity need to be generated from zero-carbon energy sources. This includes wind and solar power. They are then stored and transported to where they are needed. The current issue is most electrons flowing onto grids are coming from carbon-intensive sources. This is compromising the sustainability of Microsoft. They need a new strategy to ensure they are carbon neutral by 2030.

The “grid” refers to substations, transformers, and power lines that connect electricity producers and consumers.

Microsoft changes how they buy renewable energy

Currently, Microsoft doesn’t run on renewable energy at all times. This is because their energy purchases don’t always come from sustainable energy grids.

The new goal is to ensure their clean energy purchases are feeding into local grids where it operates. They refer to this as 100/100/0; on all the world’s grids, 100% of the time, are generated from zero-carbon sources. Here in the UK, the same commitment is referred to as “Net Zero”. Many companies have already joined the fight to become Net Zero as quickly as possible to minimise the damage we are doing to our planet.

Microsoft will achieve this aspiration by using their influence. Already in the last year, Microsoft has signed new purchase agreements for renewable energy in 10 countries. They will be innovating their energy purchasing contracts to take away the high carbon intensity off the grid whilst bringing more zero-carbon energy onto the grid. As huge industry influencers that can create quite a buzz in their own right, Microsoft are sharing and promoting their efforts. By doing this, other companies will sit up, take notice, and do more to emulate their actions.

ITVET’s reaction

At ITVET, we are a Microsoft Gold Partner. We provide sustainable technical solutions and IT support. Therefore, we’re thrilled to hear about this tech news that Microsoft is increasing its sustainability commitment.

Find out more

carbon neutral electricity grids

3. Plastic bags are the solution for sand shortages

The need for technological solutions

The construction industry is responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world. We are building at an unprecedented rate. New sustainable solutions are needed desperately to reduce this percentage.

Sand is a raw material used in huge quantities in construction and manufacturing. It was reported this month, 40-50 billion tonnes of sand are used around the world annually. Sourcing sand can entail removing it from rivers which causes environmental damage. There is a huge sand shortage taking place. This shortage leaves many people jobless. In India, political intervention has previously been needed to assist in the sand shortage.

How plastic can be used

Research from Bath University demonstrated that wasted plastic could swap sand within concrete. Dr. John Orr, a lecturer in concrete structures, believes this innovation “saves the need for a huge amount of sand and helps to reduce the vast amount of plastic waste on India’s streets.”

Sand comprises around 25% of concrete. With a sand shortage, the construction industry suffers. 10% of that sand can be replaced with finely ground plastic particles. Using plastic doesn’t impact on the longevity of the concrete, and also provides a cheaper resource.

Read in more detail.

Construction workers using plastic in concrete

4. President Joe Biden comments on misinformation taking place on Facebook

The use and abuse of social media

Earlier this month, an administration report was circulated regarding online COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. It was published by the science journal, The Surgeon. It calls for a push to address vaccine and COVID-19 misinformation across all social media sites, predominantly Facebook. Companies are urged to redesign their algorithms to avoid further spread of misinformation. The Surgeon requested clear consequences for those who violate social media sites through misinformation.

The reaction of the White House

It was reported the majority of COVID-19 anti-vaccine misinformation originated from just 12 people. It then spiralled out of control. On this topic, Biden told reporters at the White House: “Facebook isn’t killing people. These 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information.”

Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki provided further comment on the subject: “We’re not in a war or a battle with Facebook. We’re in a battle with the virus.”

The conversation of online misinformation and social media responsibility picked up momentum following the release of Netflix’s 2020 documentary, The Social Dilemma. The documentary and the COVID-19 pandemic misinformation are showing social media platforms are failing to responsibly regulate their sites. This month, the sites failed to regulate racist abuse targeted towards England’s football players. Which begs the question, how big of a part will social influence play in our lives moving forward?

The white house

5. UK scientists develop AI that detects sleep disorders

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can monitor snoring levels and diagnose sleep disorders. This technology is in the form of a simple to use app named SoundSleep.

Various sleep disorders, such as apnoea, are difficult to diagnose. A symptom of sleep apnoea is somebody’s breathing stops and starts. Getting a diagnosis of a sleep disorder can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It usually requires trips to specialist sleep clinics. Many people are undiagnosed and unaware of what solutions there are.

The app records the sounds you make whilst asleep and provides a daily report with solutions to help you. You can be accurately diagnosed with AI. The app invites you to log information about your lifestyle. It can inform you how to ease the symptoms of your sleep disorder.

Take a closer look.

The app SoundSleep working as someone is asleep

In this month, there were presidential intervention and AI-powered solutions. Want to keep up to date on top tech news? Why not follow us for regular updates?

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