Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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Steve McNichol. Managing Director of Se7en Services

In a time of mass political and social unrest, how can businesses protect themselves from the pitfalls of an uncertain world and economy?

With a snap General Election soon to be upon us, Brexit to be a reality in a matter of months and new attacks on people and infrastructures taking place each day, who in their right mind would want to own or manage a UK business?

In truth, today is no better or worse than yesterday to take the plunge into the world of commerce. Though the political and social climates may seem bleak, and with neither of the electoral front runners offering an obvious answer to fixing the economy without adding more pressure to struggling businesses, it is important to believe that there will always be a tomorrow for the UK economy. No matter what happens on June 8th and no matter the impact of Brexit, trade in Britain will continue, adapt and grow again.

There is no magic formula to achieving success, as individuals and business leaders, all any of us can do is be sure that we are as prepared as we can be to protect ourselves from changing times and unpredictable events such as those that occurred recently in Manchester. Key however, to giving yourself and your company the best chance of success are a few seemingly simple rules that I have learned through my professional career which will stand any leader in good stead.

  • Plan. Make sure that you are certain of your financial and strategic goals. It sounds simple but if you are unprepared, you will never be able to measure success and identify areas which need to be improved.
  • Research. Stay up to date with National and World News. If you are not aware of what is happening around you, you cannot adapt and stay ahead of the game. No business can prosper without a willingness to change with the times.
  • Listen. Take the best advice possible. Very few people can do every job in their organisation and a good leader recognises the importance of accepting help. If you surround yourself with good people and advisors, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to succeed.
  • Look forward. Embracing technology can make everything from enhancing communication to creating tangible operational efficiencies a reality. In a world in which Social Media is king, no true leader can drive a business forward without accepting changing times and maintaining a Social Presence.
  • Stop. All businesses are only as strong as their leaders. A leader is an ambassador to their clients and employees. If you are too tired to motivate your workforce and lead your business growth will stall.

As Managing Director of several successful businesses and having learned from the many mistakes that I have made along the way, I am proud to say that the mission of Se7en Services is to help every business become the best that it can be by providing support to our clients and helping every business to avoid the pitfalls that have befallen me along the way. We are proud to offer fair, unbiased, independent advice to anyone who wants to grow and protect their business.

The United Kingdom and particularly the North of England is an exciting place to be and to do business, even in these uncertain times. We have knowledge, creativity and tenacity to overcome the challenges that lay ahead and with confidence and drive can become a true force to be reckoned with. Keep faith, try, be willing to make mistakes and learn. Things will get better.

By Steve McNichol. Managing Director of Se7en Services.

by Sidraa Razaq
by Sidraa Razaq
It seems like an obvious question to ask, however I often find myself dealing with clients who aren’t actually aware of what their true legal position is.

Although a majority of Muslims know that a Nikaah is required in order to be married under Islamic Law, there are many Muslims who do not understand how a Nikaah alone affects their marital status under English law. Working with Islamic divorce client for a number of years, I have seen this situation arise on many occasions.

A common example would be where clients instruct me on their Islamic divorce whilst not realising a civil divorce would also be required. This is simply because many individuals fail to recognise that although a Nikaah is an Islamic ceremony, it can in certain circumstances change their legal status.

After dealing with hundreds of divorce cases, I have noticed how there is a general misconception within the Muslim community in which they assume a Nikaah alone is always sufficient enough to start marriage life in England.

What these Muslim couples are unaware of is that if the marriage breaks down a Nikaah alone will not provide the same level of legal protection that would be available if they had also registered the marriage via a civil ceremony.

A recent case I dealt with involved a client who had come out of a 15 year marriage however she did not have any automatic rights over her husband’s assets as they only had a Nikaah performed in this country and had failed to then register the marriage. Many of these clients are those who chose to stay at home in order to look after the household and raise the children. They therefore relied on their partner to financially support them. Without any legal protection by virtue of a recognised marriage, should the marriage fail or their partner die, then their legal rights are extremely limited and may also affect their inheritance rights.

However independence plays a key role in some taking the step of not actually wanting to register the marriage because they are both themselves financially stable. They take the view that not registering their Nikaah may be an advantage as it protects them claims against the others wealth should the marriage breakdown.

What is the true position when it comes to the Nikaah and English Law?

It all comes down to where the Nikaah took place. Couples who marry in England and choose to solely participate in a Nikaah ceremony will not be classed as “married” under English law. Therefore, they will not acquire the automatic rights granted to married couples under English law. They are regarded as common law partners.

By opting to only undergo a Nikaah ceremony, couples are in effect denying financial security and other advantages which come from having a civil marriage. The reality is that while a Nikaah ceremony in England fulfils the religious aspect for religious marriages it does not satisfy the requirements for a legal marriage under English law.

So when is a Nikaah classed as a valid marriage under English law?

A Nikaah which takes place abroad in an Islamic country will be accepted to be a valid marriage under English law. Therefore there is no requirement to undergo a civil ceremony.

This now brings me to the topic of bigamy and polygamy which as you will be aware is a criminal offence in this country.

I cannot stress how many times I have faced clients who are completely oblivious to the fact they are about to commit a criminal offence.

A situation which I have faced on numerous occasions is where an individual obtained an Islamic divorce for a marriage which took place in a country such as Pakistan. They later decide to re-marry.

It is then I have to advise them due to marriage being abroad the Islamic divorce is not sufficient and a civil divorce will also be required otherwise they may face criminal prosecution if they enter into a subsequent marriage under English law without first correctly ending the first marriage.

Sidraa Razaq
Trainee Solicitor
Shire Solicitors
7 Eldon Place
Bradford BD1 3AZ
Voted Three Best Rated in Bradford
01274 727373

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor
From their name ‘Nervous ‘Orse’, to the sweeping moors that feature as a backdrop to their video for the song ‘Dead Is The New Alive’, the Bradford based four piece are undeniably influenced by their Yorkshire roots; and with their unique blend of individual musical influences and genres Nervous ‘Orse have created an original and exciting sound that has seen them gain a loyal and growing following, and become firm favourites on the local live circuit.

Keen to find out more about the ‘Orse I met up with them ahead of the forthcoming release of two new singles, and discovered a group of musicians whose personalities are as diverse as their sound, but whose talent and passion unites them in their mission to make good music – and get it heard.

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

The band formed in 2014, originally as a three piece and having since added a fourth leg the four ‘Orse-men are: Dave McKinley (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar), Luke Carter (Vocals/Electric Guitar), Jacob Riley (Vocals/Drums) and Danny Sapko (Vocals/Bass)

Their sound is built on the solid songwriting skills of Dave, described by his bandmates as “a kind man who writes thought provoking lyrics”, and Jake who in Dave’s words is “an enigma, probably the most talented musician I’ve ever worked with – and doesn’t write a poor song!”

On top of this steadfast songwriting foundation Luke brings his versatility and perfectionism as a guitarist, and bassist Danny, who, being heavily influenced by Motown and Soul, is jokingly cited by the rest of the band as “playing too many notes!”

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

Add to this the harmonies, melodies and swapping of lead vocals that altogether create a unique and original sound, so unique in fact that it has led to the band often being described as ‘genreless’. However, this is not so much because it’s impossible to ascribe their sound to any specific musical genres, but because the band are driven by the desire to make good music, without genre constraints, as their two new singles, ‘Libertine’ and ‘Here’s To You’ which differ hugely in style, serve to demonstrate.

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

As the winners of ‘Outstanding Band 2016’ at the Grassroots Awards through the Yorkshire Gig Guide the band have clearly created a sound, style and audience experience that has put them in a field all of their own. Unanimous in agreement that winning the award is one of their proudest achievements so far it is by no means the only one of note. 2015 saw them being approached by a new local independent label Wide Mouth Records, and asked to sign, becoming the label’s inaugural band, followed by the release of their debut album ‘Where This Now Finds Us…’ later that year. They have also played at Bingley Music Live, Bradford Festival and on the main stage at Saltaire Festival. 2017 is already gaining pace for the ‘Orse as they eagerly look forward to the release of their two new singles, and a second album.

Not only are Nervous ‘Orse a band of talented, passionate musicians, they are also thoroughly good guys with boundless enthusiasm, integrity and heart. I’ll attest that when I heard ‘Here’s To You’ I found it emotionally impactful, and I felt the same when I learned that in 2015 the band released their single ‘Calling Orson’ which was written in memory of the late Robin Williams, as a ‘name your price’ or free download in support of #WorldMentalHealthDay (10th October) donating the proceeds from the track download to mental health charities.

Image courtesy of John Sargent / jackharrybill

To find out more about the band, upcoming releases and gig dates LIKE, LISTEN and FOLLOW here:

Or catch them live on the following dates:

24th March at The Exchange, Russell Street, Keighley with Waiting For Wednesday and John Boxall – £5 OTD
7th April at ‘360 Club’ at Lending Room – The Leeds Library – Tickets £5
14th April at Al’s Dime Bar, North Parade, Bradford – Free entry
3rd July at Groovy Happening – £3 entry (no ticket needed) Monthly live music event and social gathering that is a fundraising initiative for Manorlands, Sue Ryder, held at Parkside Social Club, Haworth

Having worked in unions for over seventeen years, Leeds based Mizan Muqit is today the first Asian General Secretary of any British Trade Union.

Equality for Workers Union (EFWU) are an independent UK based workers union, working to change employer attitudes and support all workers equally. Mizan alongside his colleague, co-founded EFWU two years ago after working most of his career at BT and then O2 as a union official.

Mizan Muqit
Mizan Muqit

Born in the town of Kirkcaldy, Fife, in the East coast of Scotland, Mizan moved to Leeds in 1995 to study a post graduate in HR and then graduate at the city’s university. It was Leeds where Mizan decided to forge his career as he detected an up-and-coming city that would present him with more opportunities rather than returning to Scotland.

As his career progressed, he also witnessed forms of racial discrimination in the work place. But he quickly realised that these people needed help who were experiencing difficulties at the workplace mainly due to their race and religion. It was then that he decided to help others who were not aware of the help that was out there as he noticed many victims chose to stay silent as they were afraid of losing their jobs.

Speaking to Urban Echo, Mizan, 44, states: “My development was stifled by the other union for years that I worked with. Since I have set up EFWU, a high majority of union officials from the other union have not congratulated me. Some senior union officials said that I was going to fail. That made me more determined. It took a year of intensive interviews and checks by government officials to approve my application for a trade union. My co- founder and I spent thousands of pounds for the initial costs of creating a British trade union.

hgvhgv“Now, employers are intimidated by me as at times I have to be assertive and robust with them. I am a strong believer that knowledge is power. People do not know their rights at work and are not taken seriously.”

I have seen union member’s bonuses taken away, people developing disabilities during work due to the stress caused by employers. These are low paid jobs for people have no choice but to be bullied and victimised. My job is to put an end to this and let working people out there know that you should not have to endure any form of bullying and victimisation at work. Nobody should. “

Asked about EFWU, he continues: “We welcome everyone regardless of race, religion and ethnicity to our union. I have represented thousands of union members in Yorkshire and beyond.

We will support them. We will go over and beyond to help our union members. This union has been a dream. My aim is unionise companies in the public and private sector. Many companies in the private sector are not unionised. They don’t want a union because a union would demand better pay and a better working environment.

FullSizeRender“There is also a lack of awareness about trade unions. People are scared that if they approach a Union, they will be fired. By law, that cannot happen.

So what is a Trade Union and what do they do?

“For people not familiar with trade unions, we provide advice and information about employment law, discrimination acts, health and safety in the workplace and most importantly your employment rights. The UK Employment Equality Law is a body of law which legislates against prejudice-based actions in the workplace. As an integral part of UK Labour Law it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because they have one of the ‘protected characteristics’, such as age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation,” explains Mizan.

“Regarding discrimination, direct discrimination is treating a person less favourably than another who lacks the protected characteristic, is always unjustified and unlawful, except when there is a ‘occupational requirement’ which is a legitimate business justification accepted by a court. Indirect discrimination is also unlawful, and this exists when an employer applies a policy to their workplace that affects everyone equally, but it has a skewed impact on people with a protected characteristic when there is no good business justification for that practice. Other forms of discrimination include harassment and victimisation which are equally illegal.”

image1Mizan’s commitment to EFWU has seen his union grow to hundreds of union members in a short period of time and the union is growing currently at a rapid rate and word of mouth is spreading around the district rapidly about his and his co-founder’s abilities to bring employers to justice often resulting in tribunals where employers are forced to compensate and make changes to their internal policies. It is an individual’s legal right to join any union of their choice.”

But with his responsibilities and daily fight for workers’ rights and equality, Mizan knows that his role also brings with it his detractors. As he concludes, “I am probably one the most hated person by organisations in the public and private sector.

“But it does not bother me one bit. As long as I can keep fighting and continue to help change people’s lives for the better, I will continue to do so. I will never be in the pockets of employers”

If you feel you have been bullied or suffer from any other form of discrimination at a workplace, you can contact EFWU on, email: or by telephone on 0113 336 5261. EFWU are the first union to offer 24 hours and 7 days a week service including all bank holidays.


By Qainaat Aftab

It’s February and it’s the infamous month of Valentine’s Day.

Every year we see the capitalist notion where hundreds of red hearted balloons and red roses fill up the shop shelves. Valentine’s Day is nothing but a capitalist con and another way to make singletons feel left out.

couple-rezsizedI find it odd how some of my friends get so caught up on the idea of being alone on Valentine’s Day. In reality, it’s just another day. But listening to their conversation, I couldn’t help but find their plans hilarious and outlandish. Therefore I have decided to share them with you.

My friends came up with a plan called ‘What every girl should do on Valentine’s Day’. Be prepared as no doubt, you will find some of their ideas bizarre and funny.

Firstly, forget about secret Santa, how about a secret Valentine? It might be a little clichéd but you can get a little gift and no one will be complaining.

valentines-day-wallpaperSecondly, every group of single girl’s need a movie night in. As my friends suggested, do it Bridget Jones style.

Thirdly, go out and wine and dine in style with your friends. If you are on a tight budget, call all your friends over and have a one dish party. It’s a great way of catching up too.

The fourth idea came from the hit comedy series Friends. As ridiculous as it sounded to my ears, it might be a great thing to do for a laugh. So, why not have a cleansing ritual? Burn and leave all the negativity behind you to allow new and positive things to come into your life.

Last but not least, forget a romantic weekend break for two. Why not adventure and explore away with your friends and have a girl’s trip away for the weekend. I can guarantee you some of your best memories will come from that

Some of you may find it humorous and some may pick up some great ideas. Whichever one it is we’d love to hear from you.

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor
Every year as Valentine’s Day approaches the high street becomes saturated with the colour red. From hearts and flowers to cards and gifts, vibrant window displays vie for our attention at every turn, and, as red has such a strong physical effect on us we can’t help but notice! Despite not being technically the most visible colour red gives the appearance of being closer than it is, so it gets our attention first. It also has a stimulating effect on the body, causing the pulse rate to rise, and can even activate our fight-or-flight response – hence it’s use in the traffic light system, car brake lights and warning signs the world over.

In modern society colour red has become synonymous with romantic love, desire and fertility, however it’s use in cosmetics dates back more than 10,000 years, as it is believed that women in ancient Egypt used red lipstick and rouge to enhance their appearance.

Those ancient Egyptian women were certainly onto something as pioneers of the painted red lip, and it’s power – which to this day should not be underestimated. Someone else who truly understood and capitalised on this was Coco Chanel, who when launching her own cosmetic line did so with a red lipstick. Since the launch of that the very first Le 1er Rouge in 1924 to the most recent Rouge Coco range, Chanel lipstick has evolved over the decades to become one of the most iconic make-up products of all time.

valentines-day-makeup-feature-OPTHaving spoken to many women about make-up through my work it seems to me that feelings about red lipstick are as varied as the range of shades out there on the market! From loving the look, but feeling it’s not for them, to not feeling complete without their ‘trademark red lippy’ everyone has an opinion about it.

My personal belief is that there is a red lip option out there for everyone. From the classic statement bold red lip, to the sheerest lip tint or stain so why not have fun finding, or even challenging your own red lip rules?

To help, here are my top red lip tricks and tips

When choosing a new shade If it’s not possible to test the product on your lips then apply it to the pad of one of your fingertips instead. The fingertips contain lots of blood vessels and are the closest skin colour to that of your lips. You can then hold your finger next to your face and see whether the shade works with your skin tone. This is more accurate than testing the lipstick on the back of your hand.

Find your perfect shade by first identifying your skin’s undertone. Cool skin tones suit true reds and blue-based reds, whereas coral or orange-based shades work well for warm skin tones.

Images-For-Valentine-DayIf you have a red lipstick in your make-up bag that isn’t working for you don’t be too quick to throw it away, you can adapt it to suit you either by applying either a sheer pink gloss over the top of it to make the shade bluer, or a gold gloss to make the shade warmer.

For the best result always prepare your lips prior to lipstick application. Use a lip scrub to remove dry or flaking skin and follow with a moisturising lip balm. You can also use lip balm to add gloss to a matte lipstick by applying it over the top.

Precision is key when applying red so outline your lips with a matching lip pencil to prevent bleeding, fill in your entire lip area with the pencil to create a base for your lipstick. This will ensure a longer lasting finish, and finally use concealer along the border of the outer lip to prevent the colour from bleeding.

Now go rock that red lip!

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor
So here we are at the beginning of 2017! Personally, I love New Year, although I generally don’t go in for New Year’s Resolutions, I do like the feeling of a new year offering the opportunity for a fresh start. I enjoy making plans and setting goals for the months ahead; and harnessing the positive energy that I associate with this time of year. I also enjoy reflecting on the previous year and deciding which elements of my lifestyle I intend to build upon, and which to leave behind!

Beyond my own personal reflection, the New Year also prompts me to wonder what new beauty treats and trends 2017 might have in store for us, and which of those from 2016 will continue to grace our faces, or perhaps be consigned to cosmetic history!

One major trend that I believe we will see make an impact on the beauty industry (particularly at the beginning of the year we endure another few months of cold weather) is the influence of the Danish ‘hygge’ lifestyle trend that we saw take hold across the UK towards the latter part of 2016 – and was the subject of an interesting and insightful feature written by Janette Ward in the December 2016 issue of Urban Echo.

Simply put, hygge can be described as a quality of comfort, cosiness and conviviality. This lifestyle encourages us to take pleasure in the simple things in life, enjoying small daily rituals, deliberately slowing down, making and taking time to appreciate the joy of everyday activities. In my opinion hygge is the antithesis of the ‘do more, be more’ message that is often promoted around New Year, but in many ways I consider it to be a much more healthy approach to life, as it encourages us to find joy in that which we already have, and from a beauty perspective I believe that is something that many of us could truly benefit from in a society that often encourages us to constantly compare ourselves to others, and an industry which attempts to convince us that we can indeed buy hope in a jar!

hyggesockscreditshutterstockBut how exactly could hygge apply to beauty? My interpretation of it would be how we could embrace the philosophy to change our approach to our own beauty habits. For example, taking the time to perform our skincare routine fully, paying attention to each step and treating it as act of self-care, instead of another thing we ‘have to get done’. This could therefore see brands shifting their sales and marketing focus to how using a particular product will make us feel, and the promotion of the notion of beauty ‘rituals’. Of course beauty brands will make the most of this opportunity to maximize on this trend, focusing on promoting products which combine beauty with wellbeing, and I expect we’ll see an increase in popularity of holistic type products, including oils and body masks.

In contrast to this back to basics approach to beauty I think we will see an ever greater use of technology by brands, as seen most recently with numerous beauty brands creating their own Snapchat lenses, and will no doubt be aiming to step up their connections with consumers on Facebook using Facebook Live. It’s certainly an exciting time for the beauty and cosmetics industry.

However, if I could have only one wish for the beauty industry for 2017 it would be that we move much further towards a worldwide ban of the use of microbeads in the cosmetics and beauty industry, and recent reports suggest that end for microbeads may be indeed be in sight, with governments coming under increasing pressure to ben their use, and some companies introducing voluntary bans. Let’s hope this trend gains momentum throughout the year.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and beautiful New Year!

What beauty trends would you like to see in 2017? Tweet me @SarahUrbanEcho

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor

Within moments of meeting with massage therapist Abie Ansari of Hands On Massage, it became abundantly clear to me that not only is Abie extremely knowledgeable about the subject of therapeutic massage, but she also has an enthusiasm for her work which is both infectious and inspiring.

Having experienced two different types of massage from the broad range of treatments, Abie offers (both equally wonderful and effective), I can attest that from the initial consultation, right through to the treatment follow-up, Abie works in a way that is both respectful and reassuring and following my treatments, on each occasion, I left the clinic feeling relaxed with troublesome muscle tension eased – and enjoyed the best nights sleep I’d had in a long time!

Keen to learn more about Abie’s work, and her distinctive approach to massage we met up. Over coffee, Abie offered a great deal of insight into the benefits of massage therapy, explained her background and journey to becoming a therapist – and also dispelled a few massage myths along the way!

Can you tell me how and why you became interested in massage therapy?

For me, it just seemed to be a natural progression coming from a science background with a science degree and interest in the functioning mechanics of the body that led from studying anatomy to an idea that a great many stresses and strains of modern day life maybe alleviated or even prevented through therapeutic massage. So, it seemed normal that I would go into something linked; but it was important that it should have a holistic element. One of the things that appealed to me is that massage branches off into lots of different areas and I decided to focus on a few areas. I initially chose to focus on pregnancy massage, 246229397_origprimarily because in the west there is a tendency towards viewing pregnancy as if it were an illness instead of a condition. There are a number of normal changes, and aches and pains associated with being pregnant, so I think for me, it was about offering a service which aims to normalize things, dispel a few myths and not just with pregnancy massage, but with massage in general. When you have clients approaching you, who are convinced that they have something really wrong with them, it becomes an educational forum to rationalize their fears, and help them understand that the human body does not always perform perfectly but, with therapeutic massage, the body can be encouraged to show progressive and sustainable improvements. It also offers a way to support, help and empower people in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example during pregnancy massage I am acutely aware of the need for a client to adhere to and communicate with her midwife and other medical professionals any changes, fears and apprehensions. Massage is very much an adjunct to other disciplines.

With all forms of massage it’s about the client taking time out for themselves and routinely taking care of their body. Whether it’s someone who is spending a great deal of time training in the gym, a client who is pregnant, or one that has perhaps lost a lot of weight; massage can be incorporated into this as part of the process. Assimilating this process can be seamless, and this is where I can help. It becomes a partnership between the client and the therapist, where I endeavor to teach each client ways in which they can help themselves, so in that way it also becomes an empowering process for them.

How would you explain the massage treatment/session process?

Upon initial contact, I take a detailed health history, so any concerns, misconceptions anyone may have about the treatment process can be discussed openly, honestly and any contra-indications will also be addressed. Additionally, it is important to understand the reasons for seeking treatment i.e. specific aches and pains, relaxation etc. This approach means that everything can be tailor made for that client and appropriate advice given. It also allows me to address any misconceptions there may be about the treatment, such as massage being unsafe during pregnancy or bamboo treatment being some sort form of brutal assault!

With any client that comes to me, if they have any concerns about their health, or conversely if I have any concerns that may give rise to a treatment being contra-indicated I will always recommend that clients seek advice from their GP prior to commencing any treatment.

 During bamboo massage I use a compressed piece of bamboo of various lengths, which is gently heated, and rolled over muscles, much as I would use my arms and hands. The level and depth of pressure is altered to suit the client’s own tolerance and need, very much like deep tissue massage/ sports massage. For example if someone is looking for a relaxing massage it can be worked at a level similar to that of a hot stone massage, but bamboo massage also offers that bit extra as it means that I can work with all of the muscle groups, because of the way the bamboo is heated. For example I am able to work over clothing and it allows me to work on larger muscle groups like the gluteus muscle. Naturally, I am always aware and respectful of people’s dignity, but yes, it offers a way of working with all the muscle groups that isn’t always possible with other types of massage, without compromising the client’s privacy and dignity.

It’s also important to develop an open and positive client-therapist relationship where clients feel able to highlight that a particular area of the body feels tight, or they’re concerned about something and we can work together to address that, and hopefully see improvements over a number of sessions.

What would you say are the main benefits of massage?

Massage helps to improve or maintain suppleness and fluidity of the muscles, improve range of movement, which is important as humans we are designed to move, we are not supposed to be rigid and wooden. The muscles have an important job to do, they may be supporting the back, or supporting an arm so it’s important that flexibility is maintained, and the muscles can do their job. Massage can help prevent soft tissues strains or injuries – massage almost wakes the muscles up, so they can do that job without any restrictions or limitations. For example I may use massage to help break down scar tissue or prevent its build up, or maybe a client has poor posture so we maybe working to improve that with massage, stretching and lengthening muscles and providing lifestyle advice; all these things work together to improve alignment and massage is wonderful for preparation for or recovery from strenuous workouts. It can reduce spasms and cramping. It also improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin.

Massage offers a fantastic way for people to have a little time out for themselves, to relax, and for some it’s that ‘hands on’ touch, which is so important. This is a big part of the pregnancy and baby massage work I do.

Baby massage, helps with bonding, helps to establish a routine with the baby (usually from about 6 weeks) in my classes, it’s a one-to-one process between the parent and the baby, I don’t massage the baby at all, and I use a doll called Tilly! I also offer a Dads group as I feel it’s important to have a Dad’s only session so that they have an opportunity to build support networks that they can link into, whether they’re a first time Dad or not.

What kind of feedback do you receive from clients?

I find that pregnancy massage clients come to me and say that they have enjoyed the best nights sleep ever and when can they book in again! The sense of relief for some of my clients is huge, it’s a special time and some aches and pains can detract from that and I feel my job is to assist with that.

I recently had client come to me for warm bamboo massage, who was a little skeptical stating that they were accustomed to a heavy sports massage. After an hour they left and I was so worried that nothing was said but the following morning I was touched to have received the following text…

“Hi Abie, just wanted to say that although I felt pummeled and viewed the bamboo sticks with horror and fear… I am a new person, no aches or pains, no bruising … I am booking again! Walking tall today!!”

I feel really touched that most of my feedback has been positive and it is quite humbling really…we all like a compliment! And additionally it helps me address areas that I may need to improve upon.

Abie currently works from the following locations:
Saltaire Therapy (Wednesday)
Skipton Spirit of Pilates (Thursday)
Ilkley Complementary Clinic (Friday)
Also starting at Neals Yard Leeds soon (Saturday)

 For further details, or to book an appointment please email or visit


Bradford based MJK Sports are proud to bring you an audience with boxing great SUGAR RAY LEONARD at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre, Bradford on November 28.

Regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Sugar Ray competed from 1977 to 1997, winning world titles in five weight divisions, the lineal championship in three weight divisions; as well as the undisputed welterweight title.

image1Along with Roberto Duran, Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns, and ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler, Leonard was part of “The Fabulous Four”, a group of elite fighters who all boxed each other during one of the sport’s greatest eras.

At this unique sporting event in Bradford, you will hear all about the rivalries from SUGAR RAY, the man who was at the forefront of it all.

On the night you will see highlights from all of the legendary fights on our giant screens and hear from the man himself about what it was like starting at the Montreal Olympics right the way through to the golden era of boxing.

VIP guests are guaranteed to meet the man himself and have a picture with the boxer, who is arguably second only to Muhammad Ali on the list of history’s greatest pugilists.

Tickets are available from just £20 per person

Avoid online booking fees by calling 07414 960 956


by Janette Ward
by Janette Ward

This month I would like to share with you about Wellness Tools and about a friend and colleague, Pete Scotcher, who is inviting you to a celebration that includes a sharing of wellness tools.

The first step for someone in developing their own Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is to develop a Wellness Toolbox. This is a list of things you have done in the past, or could do, to help you stay well. These are things that you could do to help yourself feel better. I explained in a previous article how having a WRAP plan for the past 12 years has enabled me to work, care for my family, be resilient and enjoy life.

To give you an idea of what wellness tools can be, here are some examples of some of mine: dancing; yoga; journaling; being by the sea; being with my granddaughters; spending time with friends; meditating; reading; work; doing the 5 Rites; oil pulling; listening to the radio; cloud watching; buying flowers; wearing hand cream; having an early night; playing games; watching hot air balloons; going to the cinema; having unplanned time; learning new things; hearing the wood pigeon, etc.

woman-happinessI have lots of things and I have them in a colourful list on my wall at home to remind me of the things I can do to make myself feel better quickly and easily.

I am currently working with Barnardos to deliver a WRAP course to some children aged between 8 years and 13 years and they have created ‘Happy Boxes’. They are like shoe boxes that they decorate with words and pictures that they like and they put things into the boxes that they like. For example music, photographs, chocolate, CD’s, comics or magazines, nail varnish, shells, books, a diary lots of things that they can look at that will help them to feel better.

I have worked with Pete delivering WRAP courses and training for the past 5 years. Here is his story…

Hi, I’m Pete Scotcher. In 2013 I decided to leave my post as an occupational therapist in the NHS, and focus on providing peer support groups. The last three years have been full of learning, as I move from being an employee to being self-employed. There have been many heart-warming moments as groups of people work together to learn and grow. You are invited to Brium’s 3rd Birthday Party, a celebration of wellness tools and peer support. Here are some thoughts from my experiences in groups, with an explanation of what peer support can be.

What is a peer?

In peer support groups, people are seen as experts in their own lives. The facilitator does not give advice. As a facilitator I mention my own struggles and solutions. Each member has an equal opportunity to talk from personal experience. People learn from hearing each other. This approach allows space for all group members to take responsibility for decisions about health and wellbeing.

What is support?

Support comes from the course structure, facilitators, and group members. Brium uses a researched method called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan®, which was developed by people with experiences of illness and distress. The structured plan provides a way to organise skills and resources for being well. Skilled facilitators guide a group discussion so that members are heard. The conversations keep moving and have a hopeful feel. The greatest support comes from group members, as people share ideas and stories. By the end of a course, each member comes away with an experience of being supported and supporting others.

Peers and support together

The combination of peers and support is a powerful mix. I have seen people go from being very quiet and reserved to laughing out loud during the tea break. Members have set up ongoing groups, so that people can continue to benefit from regular group meetings. This method has a central place in health services and organisations. Peer support networks increase people’s access to personal power. This leads to better parenting, skilled studying, working more effectively, and less time off due to illness. Any organisation that adopts peer support will see success in any goals they aim to achieve.