International Supermodel Ciru Maina Helps Those In Need

Ciru Maina does it all, modelling, acting and charity work.

At an imposing 5’10’, she is set to become the new supermodel of this generation. Ciru is different in that she uses her visibility with activism to raise funds and bring attention to worldwide charities and causes.

Ciru, aged 23 was born and raised in Nairobi. Her primary education began at a boarding school called Pleasant View Academy and she then went on to The Kenya High School for her secondary education. 

Ciru Maina

Her modelling career started after high school when she was 19. ‘I was asked to do some local fashion shows and it all developed from there.’

She got her break after being chosen by a Sudanese designer to be in South Sudans first major fashion show in Juba. ‘I was spotted there by Greyology Inc who have worked with big stars like Usher, Leona Lewis and Lady GaGa,’ she says. ‘Greyology saw my potential to work in both the Western and African markets and took me on.’

The London and Atlanta based Greyology Inc. is responsible for the  development and creative direction of international ventures and its work covers fashion, film and music production. It is associated with major international projects such as double Oscar and double Grammy Award winner A.R. Rahman as well as the hugely popular Oscar Award winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. 

Ciru has always had a passion for fashion but never thought she would be strutting down a runway. ‘I have always been generally quite a shy person but looking back I don’t think another career would have suited me,’ she says.

‘I love it all, I love the runway, meeting new people from different cultures and of course I enjoy the travelling that comes with it.’ This year alone she will  be working in India, America, Jamaica and South Africa. 

As well as her busy modelling schedule Ciru finds the time to help and support a number of charities. ‘I try to use my work in fashion to raise awareness for good causes,’ she says.

She has been working with an organisation called CAPTAS which is based in the UK and Nairobi and provides medical programmes and education to disadvantaged and underprivileged children.

‘I have been working with CAPTAS to give scholarships to under privileged high school and university students in Kenya who are unable to finish their education,’ she says. ‘We are also trying to build multi-purpose sports courts in deprived areas of Kenya and the first one will be built in Mobassa this year.’

Ciru is also proud Global Ambassador to The Heart 2 Heart Foundation who work to control, prevent and treat heart diseases in children. ‘My desire is to help disadvantaged children,’ she says. Attending various events and functions on their behalf, Ciru does her best to use the press she gets as a model and humanitarian to raise awareness of their agendas and activities throughout the year.

As well as this she is the newly appointed Ambassador to Beauty of Rwanda’s ‘Only one Basket’ campaign. ‘Its focus is to eradicate poverty from the survivors of the genocide through the sale of their local arts and crafts.’

‘I love helping these charities as it makes me feel like I am doing something meaningful with my life while I am also pursuing my passion for fashion and acting,’ she says. ‘God has given me the opportunity to be able to do something and make a difference.’

Biba fashion designer Barbara Hulanicki has specially designed a range of T-shirts for Ciru to promote and create revenue to benefit the causes that she supports. They will be sold around the world in stores and online.

Ciru will be moving her base to London very soon which she is looking forward to. Her family remain in Nairobi as her brother is taking his university degree there.

At first, Ciru’s family were a bit sceptical about her choice of career, but now they are her main supporters. ‘I try not to feel pressured by other peoples expectations,’ she says. ‘They are very happy about my achievements and success as a model,’ she says.

She holds a great love for her home in Kenya. ‘I love that it’s very cosmopolitan country and that people from all over the world want to come and visit because of its natural beauty and culture,’ says Ciru.

‘The beautiful people, great wildlife, lakes, mountains and beaches, what more could anyone want.’

Although Ciru tries to live by her own standards and be herself, some of her inspirations are Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich and Iman the African beauty. ‘Milla Jovovich inspires me as an actress and I love that Iman has an entrepreneurial mind.’ Ciru has various quotes that keep her grounded and focused. ‘One of my favourites is ‘never let even a drop of water on your fire,’ she says.

Over the next year she will continue to develop her charitable activities as well as modelling around the world. ‘I will also be promoting a new book that I’ll be featured in, that has contributions from lots of big names in film, fashion and music.’ Ciru will be featuring in 2 new feature films, one in the UK and one in Hollywood and also has plans to feature in a documentary about young inspirational people around the world.

Keep an eye out on the big screen for Ciru Maina!

If you want to find out more about Ciru and her charities visit her website here.

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Should the morning-after pill be free for teenagers in England?

Under 16s are now able to get the morning-after pill for free in pharmacies in Wales.

This is to help reduce unexpected pregnancies and the number of abortions for teenagers.

Around 700 chemists will give out the pill to those who are seen as ‘clinically appropriate’ to take it, after a full consultation to see if the patient knows what they are asking for.

The contraception is already available from sexual health clinics and doctor’s surgeries in Wales, which has one of the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies in Europe.

In England, the morning after pill can also be received for free from a doctor or a sexual health clinic, but currently costs around £25 from chemists. The Government say that there are no plans to bring this move to England.

Some schools also give out the morning after pill for free.

Judy Jones - photo by myself

Judy Jones, a school nurse for Worcestershire PCT (Primary Care Trust), gives out the morning after pill to under 16s.

She said: “We always ask the students a detailed set of questions before giving out the medication.

We do a complete medical history and dig a little deeper to find out the reason behind wanting the medication, whilst maintaining confidentiality at all times.”

Judy explains more on confidentiality.

“Some young people don’t want to take a regular form of contraception, possibly because they’ve been given the wrong information. Some girls are worried about gaining weight, which is a common reason. Some find it as too much bother to take anything on an everyday basis. There are many reasons why, but we emphasise the fact that this tablet can’t be relied on.”

Judy talks about why people shouldn’t keep taking this contraception.

Judy thinks that the morning-after pill should be free in pharmacies in England, especially for those who are in trouble and need help, but as long as the patient knows it’s just for emergencies.

Judy explains why.

Do you think the morning-after pill should be available for free in pharmacies?

Jennifer Wilkinson - Photo via Facebook

Jennifer Wilkinson, a teacher from Worcester, said: “Possibly with parental knowledge. There are already far too many scenarios where parents are not informed of often potentially life-changing medical decisions made by their children.”

Louise Grumbridge - photo via Facebook

Louise Grumbridge, a full-time mother from Kidderminster, said: “Yes and no. It would help prevent underaged mums and it’s better to take the morning-after pill than having an abortion, but I hate it when people use it as a means of contraception.”

Grant Orban - photo via Facebook

Grant Orban, a university student from Birmingham, said: “I don’t think it should be free in pharmacies because the system would be too easy to abuse as a substitute for contracpetion. If they did make it free then it begs the question ‘Shouldn’t condoms be free too?'”

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Royal Wedding brings village community closer together!

Wills and Kate

As Kate and Will tied the knot on Friday, thousands of people across the country had their eyes glued to the TV. Some people were just enjoying their day off, but others were out on the street celebrating with their communities.

According to the Local Government Association there were 5,500 official street parties across England and Wales and one of these was in the city of Peterborough. 

Kay Molyneaux and Sarah Hutchinson applied to the council for their road to be closed and held their very own street party in the village of Werrington, Peterborough. 

Sarah and Kay were hoping the party would be an opportunity for them to get to know their neighbours, as well as celebrating the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. 

The ladies were up at 9am on the day decorating the whole street with union jack flags, bunting and balloons, with a little bit of help from the younger members of the community.

“The kids designed posters and flags and things, so we used these to decorate the street,” said Sarah. “Hopefully the community spirit will carry on like that and it will be lovely.”

After the street looked the part, Kay and Sarah took a break to watch the wedding. They were then back out setting up and taking out the food. The party began at 2pm, when the road officially closed. 

“We had a massive BBQ, so we had people wheeling their BBQ’s onto the street,” said Kay. “Everybody brought their own food, but we had food to share, like salads and pasta, etc. We collected £5 off each family which we bought all the bunting, ice creams, prizes for the games with. It was a really great day.”

The organisers also held a ‘design your own crown’ competition which was judged by the Mayoress of Peterborough, Doris Marchant. The Mayor, Keith Sharpe also attended the party, along with the city’s local newspaper, The Evening Telegraph.

Kay, Sarah and the Mayor of Peterborough!

The residents of Baron Court danced to some traditional British songs, ate some typical British food and partied the night away, bringing their community closer together. 

Sarah said: “It really did bring us all closer together. I spoke to people I had never even spoken to before. It was really nice to celebrate such a beautiful wedding and such a great British occasion. It just made it that bit nicer to celebrate with the people who live closest to you.”

Check out the pictures from the day below: (Author’s own images)

Hover over the picture for the caption to appear!

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‘I Spent My 21st Birthday Fighting Leukaemia’

Beth was told she may have a bad case of glandular fever, never did she think it would turn out to be a life threatening disease.


Beth Hosking, aged 21 from Worcestershire had just started her second year studying Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University and was living and partying as a student should be. She was totally unaware that she would have to give it all up.

It all started a couple of weeks before her 21st birthday in November. Beth complained of an achy hip which felt like she had trapped a nerve. It was then followed by a sore throat, swollen glands and an achy neck and then spread to her shoulders and armpits.

‘I had headaches and felt tired all the time but I just put it down to fresher’s flu. I also began to bruise really easily and it was then when my auntie forced me to go the doctors,’ she says.

Listen to how Beth felt when she was told she had Leukaemia…

‘One of the things that went through my mind over and over, was how many people I would upset and the reaction my friends and family would have’ says Beth. There were so many things she knew she would have to give up like her university life in Sheffield, her social life, and her hair.

It all happened so fast and the next day Beth was reserved a bed at Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. A bone marrow test was carried out where two samples were taken to determine how Beth was to be treated. After spending a week in hospital in Sheffield, she was moved to Birmingham Hospital where she could be nearer to home and her family. Her diagnosis of ‘acute myeloid luekaemia’ meant that it progresses rapidly and requires immediate treatment

Beth opted to recieve treatment from medical trials, run by Cardiff University. After her first and second lot of chemotherapy they would  determine whether she needed a third and fourth treatment.

Before her bone marrow biopsy

The first treatment consisted of three types of drug, etoposide, daunorubicin and cytarabine which Beth had for ten days with two weeks recovery.

The second treatment lasted for 8 days and consisted of  the same three drugs and also a drug called  mylotag. After another two weeks of recovery the final lot of treatment involved bigger doses of cytarabine which she then had for 5 days.

The treatment made Beth feel really tired and sick all of the time. ‘I was either feeling sick or being sick and anyone that knows me knows that I hate being sick!’ she says. ‘I had been at university just over a year and I hadn’t been sick from alcohol once!’ 

She also had many side effects to the chemo drugs,  her hips and back ached constantly, her skin was sore and she kept losing the feeling in her legs. ‘I had a lot of nose bleeds too which was really annoying.’

After a week and a half of treatment Beth lost all of her hair. ‘I was really upset about losing my hair, it has always been really long,’ she says. ‘My hairdresser came into hospital and cut it into a short pixie style for me, after then it just started to just pull out.’

Beth's pixie haircut

As well as fighting the side effects to the chemotherapy, Beth’s immune system was very low which meant she picked up a number of infections. She had an infection in her mouth, a chest infection and an ear infection.

Between each set of treatment Beth was allowed home, however remained very poorly and didn’t have much energy. She has always been an independent person and was upset that she had to leave university. ‘I hated staying in hospital, I used to have dreams that I was escaping,’ she says. ‘When I was at home I dreamt about getting stuck back in hospital and worrying about getting an infection.’

Whilst in hospital it was Beth’s 21st birthday. ‘I had originally wanted a black tie event in Sheffield but instead I spent it in hospital with close family,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t even eat my own chocolate cake and that is not like me at all!’ She is planning a big 21st party and BBQ this summer to make up for it.

On Christmas Day Beth was allowed home for ten hours but spent the rest of the festive season in hospital. ‘I missed all of the ‘christmasy’ days leading up to Christmas but it was nice to be let out for the new year,’ she says. Beths best friend, Gemma came to hospital to spend New Years Eve and New Years Day with her.

Gemma Currie, aged 21 has supported Beth throughout.  ‘I always knew I wasn’t going to lose her’, she says. Gemma’s brother was very ill at the same time that Beth found out she had Leukaemia which made it a very tough time for her.

Beth had so much support throughout her time in hospital…

Beth has a nickname of ‘Bear’. ‘In the sense of bare as I had a habit of running into the lounge naked when I was a younger!’ she says. ‘And also because I love cuddles, as in  cuddly ‘bear’. She has always been the person who people come to with their problems and the one who makes other people happy. ‘It didn’t feel right that for a change I was making everyone upset.’

A true journalist at heart, Beth started her own private blog called ‘Beths Leukaemia Diaries’ where she could keep her friends and family updated with news and progress. She starts right from the beginning to the very end and used it as a diary to share her thoughts and feelings. ‘Im hoping it will be my first best selling novel that will make me rich!’ she says.

It wasn’t until March that Beth heard the words ‘your bone marrow results shows no signs of cancer at all’.

She had beaten the Leukaemia!

Listen to how she felt…

Beth announced her recovery on Facebook with ‘would just like to announce after the clinic appointment and results appointment today: SOOOO LONGGGGG CANCER… yeah kicked your arse. BOOOO YAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ 160 likes and 50 comments were made supporting and congratulating her.

Beth on a night out. Recovering and getting back to life.

‘It is overwhelming how nice people have been, even those who I don’t know that well have supported me,’ she says. ‘It makes me feel very loved.’

Beating Luekaemia has given Beth a new outtake on life. ‘You learn to appreciate everything, every single day and all the people in my life. Recovering and seeing friends and family are at the top of my agenda right now.’

Beth will attend regular check-ups every 3-4 weeks for the next year and then monthly the following year, however she will be monitored closely for the rest of her life.

She is planning on going back to university this September to carry on her Journalism course. ‘I can’t wait to get back to Sheffield and carry on,’ she says. ‘I have missed everyone so much.’

If you want more information about Leukaemia please visit the NHS website here.

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Bullied by my Best Friends

(For confidentiality this is written in the 1st person)

I could never have predicted that the people who would ostracise me and make my life utterly miserable would be the friends I had been inseparable from for the previous six years. What did I do to deserve the torment that, since that time, has shadowed my life?  

Bullied by my best friends

The nine of us did everything together. We were the most popular girls at school and in every class we sat together, every break and lunch time we spent pretending to be our favourite pop stars or sharing secrets. We even met on the same area of grass every morning before school, where no-one else would be allowed.

The beginning of three months of psychological torture

I was 11 and I left my eight best friends sitting at the dining table to walk out to the playground. Five minutes later they followed me outside, to see me talking to another group of girls. That was it. The beginning of three months of psychological torture. Not until years later did I realise that talking to another group of girls had made me a traitor in their eyes and, for this, they punished me with group force, hatred and soul- destroying mockery.

I tried hard to regain their friendship. I begged for forgiveness but to no avail. Ignoring me was their only tactic. After two weeks I gave up and, like a romantic relationship, when one stops chasing, the other starts.

“Give me that note!”

Our maths teacher shouted. My former friend handed over a scrunched piece of paper that had been passed around throughout the class. Each time the note was passed, opened and read, unsubtle sniggers and glares were thrown at me. This hurt, not only because it was anguish knowing I was being ridiculed by the people I still thought of as my best friends, but also because I was being left out.

Note passing soon branched out into every lesson I had, and my desire to be included was finally granted. But not the way I had wished. Other pupils would hand me a note that they had been given. A note to make friends again? An apology letter?

What’s the weather like up there, lanky? Do you ever wash your skin, pizza face? It makes us feel sick! 

I learnt never to accept notes after a few.

Life at middle school went from bad to worse

No-one in my school year would speak to me. Lining up for class was humiliating. I would stand alone in the queue and, before I knew it, there was a foot gap between me and anyone in front and behind. It was as if I had a contagious disease. I’d like to just blame my former friends for this, but I know in my heart that they only started it.

It wasn’t always unrelenting persecution though. One library session stands out to me. Individuals were being picked out to stand up and read parts of the book we were studying. Although an atheist, I prayed not to be picked, I was an easy target at 5” 7 with acne. Inevitably my turn came and I asked if I could remain seated.

The teacher replied: “I’ll let you off because we don’t want your head to go through the roof.”

The mass of laughter that came from the “girls” table was like a herd of wild animals.

They did get caught once

Not being content with making every other aspect of my school life a living hell they took over my lunchtimes too. One lunch time I was pushed over. I didn’t complain – nothing was unexpected anymore – but a dinner lady spotted it. She came over but, after eight sweet, doe-eyed girls convinced her it was a game, she walked away. Why didn’t I say anything? The answer is simple – I thought she wouldn’t believe me. I am only thankful that mobile phones hadn’t caught on yet, let alone social networking sites.

My parents always encouraged me to solve my own problems and it helped me to cope for a while, but the very grind of being bullied daily is such an emotional juggling act that even the smile I had plastered across my face at home, couldn’t hide the fact that something was amiss from them.

“This isn’t girls falling out, this is bullying.” My mum phoned the school the day following my confession. I am ever grateful I told my parents and so grateful to them for interfering, as some would see it.

Afterwards, my favourite teacher brought us all together at lunch times to discuss what had happened and how they had made me feel. I wrote a letter about how they made me feel that the teacher read to them. A few bored frowns were exchanged. A week later I picked out a note buried inside my violin case.

It read: We can be friends now, but things aren’t going to be the same.

And that was that. Apparently I was the one that had making up to do. I went back into the group and abided by their childish rules because I had only one choice to be in a group insecure and fearful, a dramatic change to my former confident self or brave school life alone.

It is hard not to feel bitter ten years after the event – but, weird as it may seem, I am often thankful for my experience.

I am happy now and I am studying at university in Sheffield- far from home; I have friends and a wonderful relationship. As for the girls I have drifted away from them and sadly, I fear they never knew the damage they did and never will.

Every day I am getting my confidence back and the thought that every day others are getting theirs shattered is heartbreaking.

For support with bullying and for parents of those being bullied visit Bullying UK or for more information visit Directgov.

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Uni fees increase as do unemployment rates

With the recent increase in tuition fees and reduction in employment rates the question  arises– is £38,000 debt credible?

Employment rates drop as tuition fees increase

An increasing number of universities intend to charge the maximum £9,000 tuition fees per year from autumn 2012. This comes after MPs voted in December to allow fees on undergraduate courses rise from £3,500 a year to £6000 and £9000 in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Those amongst the Universities trebling the amount they now charge, as part of reforming funding of higher education are Cambridge, Birmingham, and Oxford Brookes. With recent announcements to increase coming from Sheffield, and Bradford, all of whom are charging the ‘exceptional circumstances’ higher amount. Sheffield Hallam University have also recently announced they are raising their fees to £8,500.

Along with the increase in fees, places on degree courses at universities are expected to drop.

This year’s A-level takers wishing to perhaps take a ‘gap year’ and defer their place for a year will be charged the maximum fee even though theirs peers who will become fresher’s in September this year will pay a 1/3 of the price.

So the question arises is an undergraduate degree worth £9000?

The unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds has grown by 12,000 to 963,000, this is expected to escalate further. This employment lottery is what the students of September 2012 are running up debts £38,000 to enter. Critics fear this will arguably lead to graduates looking for higher paid job to pay off their debts rather than their job vocation.

Is a degree needed?

James Alexander, 24, graduated Nottingham Trent University in 2009 after completing a four year BSc (hons) in Product Design , including one year working placement in London. He admits he is finding it hard to find employment in the current jobs market.

This July Ella Lawson, 21, will graduate with a BA in English and Theatre from the University of Sheffield. She says that she would still undertake a degree course despite the dim prospects of a job.

Seventeen year-old Bethany Stephens hopes to gain a place at Brunel University in 2012 to complete four years, including a placement year, in Business and Management. She thinks the increase will create a class divide.

For a full list of the Universities tuition fees visit here

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“It’s more of a community event than a Royal Wedding party” says street party organiser.

As the country prepares for the Royal Wedding, around 4000 applications for road closures have been submitted across England and Wales in order for communities to celebrate the day together, according to the Local Government Association.

Will and Kate (Image taken from

On Friday 29th April Prince William and Kate Middleton will tie the knot at Westminster Abbey and people across the country want to celebrate it as a mark in British history.

The London borough’s have received 500 of these applications, Hertfordshire have submitted 132 applications and Kent are also showing a patriotic attitude with 85.

The LGA, however have taken in to account that street parties in cul-de-sacs and on pavements and driveways do not need official permission so these figures would not be accounted for.

In the city of Peterborough, four official street parties with road closures have been submitted. 

One of these official parties is being held in Baron Court, Werrington Village. The organizers, Kay Molyneaux and Sarah Hutchinson are hoping their street bash will bring their community closer together with around 40 houses joining in to celebrate the big day.

“Not everybody knows each other on the street so we thought it would be nice for everybody to get together and celebrate it together,” says Sarah. “We’ve got lots of kids in the close so we thought it might be an ideal opportunity for everybody to meet.”

Kaye (left) and Sarah (right) getting in the mood for the big day!

Sarah and Kay’s party was originally the only official party taking place in the city of Peterborough with a road closure. Now, three other streets have decided to celebrate the big day and have applied for their roads to be closed too.

It was easy to gain permission to close the road,” says Sarah. “It was just a form to fill in and that’s it. It’s been really easy and the council have been really helpful actually.”

“We were the only street party in Werrington and in Peterborough at first. There’s quite a few now; I think we’ve shamed them into some sort of action,” Kaye laughs. 

“But ours is going to be the best!” Sarah added.

The ladies have had a lot of support from the community in helping to organise the event. 

Sarah said: “We’ve had two meetings and considering some of them don’t know us, they’ve all turned up to the meetings, they’ve all paid their money, they’ve all had ideas and they’re all keen to get up on the day and get organised, so it’s been really easy to organise.”

“It’s more of a community event than celebrating the Royal Wedding to be honest.”

Sarah added: “We might think we live separately but there are times when you do need to know who they are and to be able to knock on their doors. Also it’s an event that only happens, well probably not again in my lifetime, so I just think it’s nice to celebrate these things.”

I went to speak to the people of Werrington to see what they think about the big British occasion…

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