Health & Beauty

Mediation – an underused method for resolving disputes

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Mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution, is often overlooked and underused in Gibraltar as a method of resolving issues between parties, with many people instead remaining focused on seeking the court’s assistance to settle their disputes. This is perhaps with the slight exception of employment cases, where parties are required to attempt mediation as part of the grievance process. 

Litigation has its benefits and may be, in some instances, the only suitable and sensible route forward. However, litigation is not panacea – it has its flaws and limitations. As many may know from first-hand experience, litigation can be costly, time-consuming and, given its adversarial nature, the process can often lead to deeper rifts developing between the parties and their respective positions becoming further entrenched, which is largely unconducive to maintaining future relationships – whether personal or commercial. Further, there is also the emotional stress and anxiety that often comes with preparing for trial and giving evidence.  

For those that may not be familiar with mediation, it is a process whereby a neutral third party – the mediator – facilitates a negotiation between the respective parties (the mediatees). It is voluntary, confidential and informal. This means that the parties are at the driving wheel in mediation: they are choosing to attend the sessions and are choosing to try to work towards a collaborative solution, not a compromise where both sides end up feeling hard done by. Mediation therefore has the potential to empower mediatees, as it gives them agency over their dispute, including the power to decide between themselves (with the assistance of the mediator) how they resolve their issues and how to structure their relationship going forward. 

In addition, rather than having a lawyer arguing their case, mediatees put forward their own views, wants, needs and wishes, as well as their frustrations, which can be cathartic in itself and, should the mediation be successful and an agreed outcome reached, the decision will have been made by the parties, not decided for them by a judge. As a very experienced mediator recently told me, Gibraltar is indeed a nation of communicators, and mediation thereby lends itself well to the Gibraltarian spirit of discussing and debating matters. It is a shame, therefore, that mediation is not more widely used on the Rock. 

Unlike court, where most hearings are public, mediation is conducted in private: whatever is discussed between the mediator and mediatee in the individual sessions is kept confidential and whatever the parties discuss in joint sessions remains between those four walls (with certain exceptions largely based upon the welfare of the mediatees and others). For many the court process is daunting and beset with unfamiliar rules and countless deadlines. Mediation on the other hand is informal, it follows a staged process but, as stated above, it is driven by those partaking. The more effort the parties put in, the better outcome they are likely to get. 

Mediation is also future-focussed, with the mediator helping the parties to shift the spotlight away from the past and to understand their respective interests and needs (i.e., why they need a particular outcome and the underlying root of their motivations), rather than their positions. Parties’ positions are often incompatible and exacerbated by bias. For example, each party may demand an apology whilst refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions or one party may insist on receiving a certain amount of compensation, which the other party cannot realistically afford to pay. By moving away from positions to focus on interests and needs, mediation can help the parties to reach a workable long-term solution for the future. As disputes often arise between individuals that have some sort of ongoing relationship, such as family members, employers and employees, landlords and tenants, and suppliers and consumers of goods and services, it makes sense to try to find a solution that works best for the parties and helps to maintain their relationships going forward. 

It is often the case that mediation provides a quicker and more cost-effective method for resolving disputes than litigation (and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration, for that matter). This is particularly the case at present where the courts are facing a significant backlog of cases as a result of Covid-19. Court diaries aside, as a general rule, it is often better to deal with issues head on, nipping them in the bud before they worsen to minimise further misunderstandings arising and resentment brewing. The cost benefits of mediation should also not be overlooked: litigation can often cost tens of thousands of pounds and take months, if not years to conclude. Whereas mediation is largely a much cheaper and quicker process. 

As with litigation, mediation is not a silver bullet. It has its limitations and is not suitable for all matters. For example, where there is a significant imbalance of power between the parties or where one or both mediatees are not willing to actively participate in the process. The mediator has no power to compel a party to engage nor to ensure that a solution is reached. Nevertheless, mediation is a form of dispute resolution that parties in conflict should more readily consider, not just for the potential cost and time-saving advantages, but for the wider opportunity mediation affords to help maintain relationships and to obtain a win-win solution for both parties.  

For the Merriest time of the year

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For the merriest time of year, Christmas can sometimes create a perfect storm of stress. The combination of too much spending, over-indulging, the proximity to (or absence of) family members, seasonal weather changes and many other factors can become overwhelming. Furthermore, the year of much uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and anxieties about our health, finances and futures may cast a shadow over the festive season.

However, it is important to keep the spirit of the festive Christmas season and focus on spending quality time with families and friends andnurturing ourselves.

Some top tips for a safe and healthy season:

Disconnect to reconnect

If you are off work, switch off from work!Even if you are used to working from home and accessing your work at any time, avoid the temptation of reaching for your laptop during your annual leave.

Reaching for our phones is almost compulsive; but doing absolutely nothing at all is actually good for our brains. Research shows that when we are ‘unfocused’ (i.e.daydreaming or doodling) our brain activity increases, allowing us to process thoughts and memories.

Avoid long periods of watching TV or engagement with social media. Short periods can provide entertainment and connect you to a wider community, but too much time is seen to interrupt sleep and affect mood.

Embrace the quiet moments and be present-stop looking for the next thing to do!


Mulled wines, festive cocktails, any kind of alcohol, can cause chronic dehydration. Drinking tea/ coffee to access will have the same effect.Try to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water when you wake up every morning before doing anything else. A cup of warm water with a dash of lemon and honey is an option. It is good to drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks too.

The aim is drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. 

Give your digestive system a break; consume consciously!

Digestion starts in the brain. Seeing/ smelling food causes the release of enzymes that aid digestion. Chewing food properly allows you to savour the taste whilst reducing your stomach’s workload. Humans cannot effectively digest foods when in a state of stress, our bodies cannot absorb nutrients as efficiently; often, as a result, we consume empty calories that then cause us to crave moreenergy dense foods.

If you find you like to indulge in ‘junk’ foods, be mindful of your digestive system!Fried and processed foods containing lots of sugar and ‘bad’ fats are the worst offenders for cell damage. Eat natural foods as far as possible (i.e. fresh fruits and veg, wholegrains…).

Try to plan your meals bearing this in mind and make sure to avoid late night snacking; also allowing for a 12-hour break from eating/drinking to facilitate digestion and cell repair.

Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls; this will encourage you to slow down.

Move more

Your lymphatic system is your body’s waste removal system; it requires movement to eliminate the toxins your body is constantly processing. Exercise is vital to shift these toxins. 

Dancing, sprinting, power walking have manybenefits, as do many other forms of exercise. Other ways to move your lymphatic system include dry skin brushing, massage and relaxing in a bath.

Less doing and more being! 

Take the time to spend 10 minutes a day to nurture yourself or just be on your own, simply enjoying being rather than doing. Scheduling a few minutes for yourself daily will prompt the release of calming hormones like serotonin and help you cope with festive frictions.

Connecting with nature, perhaps on a walk, is another way to reduce depression/ anxiety and lower blood pressure.

Try Box Breathing to create a sense of Calm – breath in for 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4, hold for 4. Repeat 5 -10 times.

Practice daily gratitude

Studies show that writing down things you are grateful for every day increases happiness levels, decreases stress and even boosts the immune system!

Leave a notepad by your bed and jot down three different things every day that you are grateful for – aim for 21 consistent days and see how you feel…

Don’t overspend

Overspending is common at Christmas, and it is often a result of external pressure from family, social media, friends and even children!Financial problems can have a huge impact on health, wellbeing and personal relationships. 

Some practical tips for avoiding overspending at Christmas:

• Set a budget.

• Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for with ideas for gifts (this will help prevent impulse purchases).

• Shop around for deals.

• Resist the urge to borrow money.

• Make some gifts instead of buying them all.

• Ask friends and family to buy you charitable gifts as far as possible

• Talk to your children/family about the reality of money and the pandemic situation.

The most valuable thing anyone can ever give is their time.Doing something for a friend or stranger, volunteering, making a present, completing random acts of kindness or merely taking the time to genuinely thank someone will strengthen relationships and create positive experiences. 

Think before you light 

A Public Health Perspective on Fireworks

Fireworks are a beautiful way to mark celebratory events – National Day and New Year’s Eve are just two occasions we may enjoy a visual treat. However, it is important to be mindful of the potential health impacts of such displays, particularly if you are conducting your own. 

Fireworks and bonfires can increase circulating particulate matter (also known as particle pollution) that affects air quality, visibility and health, during and after the events.

Inhalation of particulate matter and smoke can lead to a worsening of several health conditions, including:

respiratory illnesses, such as colds, allergies or coughs, asthma, COPD, pneumonia, laryngitis etc.

• cardiovascular disease

• eye related problems

• headaches

(Pregnant women, children, elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to health effects associated with exposure to firework related emissions).

Metals such as barium and aluminium used to give fireworks colour can damage human and animal cells; others like lead, titanium, strontium, and copper commonly found in fireworks are much more toxic than the pollutants we breathe every day.

Keep a safe distance from any firework zones (10 – 20 metres recommended)

Some fireworks can be loud and can exceed 140 decibels (studies show that noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing). Increase in the sound levels can lead to restlessness, temporary or permanent hearing loss, high blood pressure, mood disruptions and sleep disturbance.

Burns are reportedly the most common firework injury with head/neck, hands, fingers, arms, and legs being common sites of injury. Injuries affecting the eyes, including the presence of foreign bodies are also common. The types of fireworks that cause the most injuries are firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals- young children often suffer injuries from sparklers. It is therefore crucial to ensure to keep a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

Always have an adult supervise firework activities. 

Loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light from fireworks easily frighten animals. Pets are particularly vulnerable. Common reactions in dogs include freezing or paralysis, uncontrolled attempts to escape and hide, and tremors. Other more intense signs may also be present, such as salivation, tachycardia, intense vocalizations, urination or defecation, increased activity, hyper-alertness and gastrointestinal disorders. 

Birds are also affected; the noise and pollution can lead to abandonment of nests or even whole colonies.

Christmas with GBC

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Gibraltar’s public broadcaster, The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has been providing the Rock with a radio and television service since 1963 when Radio Gibraltar and Gibraltar Television merged.

GBC’s Chief Executive Gerard Teuma tells Insight about his passion for broadcasting, the move to new premises and outlines what Gibraltar can look forward to during the festive season. 

“I started my career as a radio presenter back in 1984 before moving into journalism in 1996 where I stayed for nine years,” Gerard explains. Returning in 2007 to radio as Programme Director, he was then appointed CEO in 2012.  

Gerard remembers telling his parents around the age of seven that he wanted to be on the radio. “That is what drove me into the industry,” he says. “Radio has always been my first love and I do miss presenting and being on the air, I miss the performance, but it has been a fantastic career so far.” As a young presenter Gerard says that he was always hugely ambitious and he made sure that he put everything in place to be able to climb the ladder to the top. “It has been a joy to lead GBC, initially in the transition from analogue to digital in 2013 and then over the last four years leading the design and project to migrate to these fabulous new premises.”

After forty-one years in South Barrack Road, GBC relocated to a state-of-the-art broadcast facility in Rosia Road, officially inaugurated by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in October.  “That’s been a huge achievement, not just for me but for all the team around me, and now all our employees are enjoying the fruits of that by being able to work in this fantastic building,” Gerard comments. 

“The move has provided the professional environment in which to operate and we now have a purpose built building with the facilities where people can carry out their trade in decent surroundings with decent equipment – and without the pressures of having to cope with damp, rodents or small cramped premises.”

GBC’s remit is to inform, educate and entertain, but broadcasting has changed significantly over the past decades, so what challenges has Gerard encountered?  “As a public service broadcaster we are always restricted as to what we can do,” he states. “I sit on a Board for the Public Media Alliance of which I was Vice-President, and everybody around me who are CEOs and high ranking officials of the major public service broadcasters around the world, whether that is the BBC in the UK, ABC in Australia or CBC in Canada, share the same type of difficulties that public service broadcasters have everywhere which is funding, because we are constrained in the commercial activity that we do.”

This means making sure that GBC broadcasts programmes which may not be the most commercial in nature. “We have to pitch to the minorities as well and make sure that everybody is served and GBC, within certain constraints, does that too.” Gerard explains that news and current affairs are broadcast in a totally impartial way, but there is also a focus on the history and geography of Gibraltar including social and community aspects. 

“We have to be able to do the best we can with the financial resources at our disposal so we aren’t necessarily able to invest any large amounts of money on big ticket shows which tend to go to the larger broadcasters with a commercial budget.”

From a personal point of view, Gerard agrees that he would like to bring more entertainment style programmes to GBC,  but this involves multi-million pound budgets. “Long gone are the days of having panel games without bells and whistles – the audience wouldn’t put up with that – and although I hear of people hankering for quiz shows and things that we used to have in the seventies, that kind of television doesn’t work anymore and people would get bored – they want flashing lights, sound effects and very complex sets.”

Another challenge over the years has been the introduction of satellite TV and cable operators who provide international programmes with hundreds of channels with which GBC cannot compete. “We do import programmes even though 70% of our schedule is local and we have a very good range of movies that we air because we have struck excellent deals with movie suppliers from both the UK and the US – as well as drama and comedy programmes, and we bring those titles to Gibraltar, making sure of course as much as we can that it is on GBC and not available elsewhere.”

Although Gibraltar doesn’t have an audience measurement company like BARB for television or RAJAR for radio that compiles ratings in the UK, GBC periodically does face to face surveys. “The feedback that we get is that news and current affairs are still the most popular elements of what we do on television – with magazine shows like The Hub, Viewpoint, and the history programmes rating highly.” 

Christmas at GBC is always a fun filled affair, with one of the biggest events in the Christmas schedule being the GBC Open Day, this year taking place on Wednesday 15th December, with marathon shows on both radio and television. 

“The GBC Open Day has been taking place for decades, but it had waned a bit and in 1987 raised only £1,570, so being the kind of person who always wants to build and make things better, I cheekily asked the boss at the time whether he would give me the privilege of trying to improve it,” Gerard states.  “In 1988 we raised £15,000 and it has grown since, year on year, and we now raise in the region of £150,000, last year being exceptional because we raised £380,000 over two Open Days, one at Christmas and one mid-year for Covid.”

Gerard says that Open Day has become exactly what he hoped for, with the community taking ownership and raising money themselves. “Now we have young kids saving their pocket money or a member of the public holding a small raffle, all the way up to companies organising events of their own such as marathons.”  Open Day is also supported by the Gibraltar business community and Gerard says that this is the time of year when if his counterparts in local organisations receive a call from him they know exactly what he wants. “Everybody comes up trumps by making donations of either cash or items that we can then sell or give out as prizes during special raffles.”

“The team really comes together on a day like that and on the night we buy loads of takeaways and we fuel people up to be able to deliver the show to the public and this year will be the first time here in this new building.”

“We make a big investment to provide the best schedule of the year during those last two weeks in the run up to Christmas,” Gerard says. As well as recorded community events such as ‘Christmas at The Convent’ featuring local choirs that will air on Christmas Day, viewers can look forward to ‘Celebration Menu’ which is a reality television show where teams compete against each other to come up with and cook the best festive menu. “We are also importing some fabulous movies including the European terrestrial television premiere of the Queen Biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on Boxing Day and our big movie on 1st January 2022 is The Martian.”

Add to that live church services from the Vatican and a live New Year’s concert from Vienna with the Vienna Philharmonic, and there is no doubt there will be plenty on GBC television and radio to entertain the audience during the festive season.  

“Call me Mr. Christmas, I love Christmas and I like to make sure that trickles through GBC as well – and while I’m here at least that’s what will happen!”


Accountability is the act of being responsible for what you do and being able to give a satisfactory reason for it.

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Accountability is when an individual or department experiences consequences for their performance or actions. Accountability is essential for an organization and for a society. Without it, it is difficult to get people to assume ownership of their own actions because they believe they will not face any consequences.

When you are personally accountable, you take ownership of situations that you’re involved in. You see them through and you take responsibility for what happens – good or bad. You don’t blame others if things go wrong, instead you do your best to make things right. 

As with all aspects of life, accountability begins with the self. We must take responsibility for ourselves and our actions and accept liability for things that go wrong. We must be able to report back authentically to our higher self and be able to answer to that higher self. 

Without this level of personal responsibility – taking nothing else in life will follow through in the best way possible, for the highest good of all concerned. As we live though an epoch when every value of society is being challenged, it is essential that we stand firm and clear within our own set of values and remain true to our highest and most authentic self. When the normal reference points of society become less and less trustworthy, it is essential for our very survival that we have a strong and secure internal framework to refer to.

Accountability to ourselves on the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual levels is not an easy task but it is an entirely worthwhile and satisfying one.  And when we take the time to do this work on ourselves then we have no need to worry whether or not we are showing up fully in our workplaces, families or wherever … as within so without.    

When you begin taking personal responsibility for yourself using this wider approach, you will find that you have altogether healthier relationships with family, friends and colleagues.  You’ll find yourself letting go of friendships that drag you down or that just don’t align with your values. You’ll find yourself receiving new work offers and meeting new people, making new, deeper connections and longer lasting friendships. 

Personal accountability can save time and money, too. People who take responsibility for their actions speak up, and they look for solutions when there’s a problem. This not only prevents the situation from getting worse, but also stops costs and delays from escalating.

Teaching the art of personal accountability to our children has far reaching effects and indeed a 2005 study found that children who were encouraged to take personal responsibility for their actions also had more positive social interactions. 

Taking personal responsibility for our actions is very empowering. By being fully honest with ourselves, and so with our higher self, we know that we have practised honesty and authenticity and therefore are protected by Universal Law. 

We cannot lie to God and honesty is always the best policy, materially and spirituality. Always focus on your own role in a situation, and think about how you can find solutions.

Know your role …. Be honest … say sorry if appropriate and you will have created a win – win situation where everyone involved feels respected and validated.

When you are personally accountable, you take ownership of what happens as a result of your choices and actions. You don’t blame others or make excuses, and you do what you can to make amends when things go wrong.

The same applies spiritually. As I mentioned earlier, we cannot lie to God. We are spiritual beings inhabiting the body and having a material experience. Therefore, we have a higher self, a guardian, a mentor, a guide who has our very best interests at heart and whose purpose is to guide and support us to be the very best version of ourself that we can be. This higher self will not do it for us. This higher self gives us free will to make mistakes to figure out how to deal with the challenges, the heartbreaks and the joys that come along to teach us and to help us travel our path.

So, think carefully about situations where you didn’t take responsibility but should have. These mistakes and failures can be valuable teaching tools, if you have the courage to learn from them. There is no such thing as failure … simply it is another opportunity to do something better next time. 

Many people begin their day with a meditation. This is a form of connecting and communication with your higher self.  It is a form of spiritual accountability. Starting your day gently communing with your higher self, sets the tone for the day. You’ve checked in, got some guidance on a few things and got clarity on how best to deal with certain things that the day will present. You will feel centred, strong and confident and, in turn, this frees you up to enjoy the glorious world around you as your mind has handed over the details to your higher power and asked for the appropriate guidance. Smell the coffee, smell the flowers, look up and breathe in the beauty and the vastness of the sky. Smile at people, make eye contact, send love from your heart to everyone who you meet today.  Send love to those who are far away or who are suffering in any way.   

When you master the art of accountability you naturally create the space to do these things as you go about your day.  As natural as breathing. 

Kate Mchardy MA(Hons) PGCE MSPH Spiritual coach, teacher and healer. / Tel: +44 7712889534. Facebook: The University of Light Group / Readings at The University of Light (@tarotangelspiritreadings). 


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Our society tends to place an emphasis on romantic relationships. We think that just finding that right person will make us happy and fulfilled. But research shows that friends are actually even more important to our psychological welfare. Friends bring more happiness into our lives than virtually anything else.

Friendships have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness. Good friends relieve stress, provide comfort and joy, and prevent loneliness and isolation. Developing close friendships can also have a powerful impact on your physical health. Lack of social connection may pose as much of a risk as smoking, drinking too much, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. Friends are even tied to longevity. One Swedish study found that, along with physical activity, maintaining a rich network of friends can add significant years to your life.

But close friendships don’t just happen. Many of us struggle to meet people and develop quality connections. Whatever your age or circumstances, though, it’s never too late to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and greatly improve your social life, emotional health, and overall well-being.

The benefits of friendships

While developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, healthy friendships can:

Improve your mood. 

Spending time with happy and positive friends can elevate your mood and boost your outlook.

Help you to reach your goals. 

Whether you’re trying to get fit, give up smoking, or otherwise improve your life, encouragement from a friend can really boost your willpower and increase your chances of success.

Reduce your stress and depression. 

Having an active social life can bolster your immune system and help reduce isolation, a major contributing factor to depression.

Support you through tough times. 

Even if it’s just having someone to share your problems with, friends can help you cope with serious illness, the loss of a job or loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or any other challenges in life.

Boost your self-worth. 

Friendship is a two-way street, and the “give” side of the give-and-take contributes to your own sense of self-worth. Being there for your friends makes you feel needed and adds purpose to your life.

There are many benefits to having close friendships and social networks. Not only do friendships increase self-confidence and self-worth, but friends and confidants are also great for listening to problems and helping through difficult times, offering advice, help and support.

Friends can also help reduce stress and improve happiness. Adults with strong social and friendship circles can experience better overall health with lower risk of depression, unhealthy BMI, cognitive impairment and high blood pressure. Studies have also indicated that older adults with active social lives live longer and the risk of dementia is also decreased, so it’s time to widen the friendship net.

Dr Dimitrios Paschos is a Consultant Psychiatrist at Re: Cognition Health.  He addresses the question of whether friendships develop any differently if you meet people via a website online community?  ‘Meeting people virtually can be hugely beneficial – it enables individuals with similar interest to connect, it is very convenient as distance and time are not a problem, so people from all around the world can be friends. Meeting, virtually, provide a  huge confidence boost for those who find new face to face social interactions a challenge. Initiating conversation can be easier, resulting in rapid development of  a “virtual” friendship. Virtual friendships were a blessing, for many, throughout the pandemic helping people stay connected. However, it’s important to strike a balance and not get lost in the “online world”. A healthy mix of real life and virtual friendships is recommended in order to gain  full emotional benefit.

Ultimately, nothing can substitute for  real life connections – whilst they may take longer to develop, it is possible to read body language, hug and enjoy shared experiences such as walks, trips to galleries or the cinema and most importantly, give and receive emotional support.

How important are friendships to our overall physical and mental wellbeing? Friendships are imperative for people of all ages, helping to reduce the risk of mental health problems including depression, addiction, aggression and even dementia. In fact, throughout the pandemic, those living with dementia were at a higher risk of worsening symptoms due to social isolation. Loneliness can have a negative impact on physical health, reducing life expectancy and increasing the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Is it generally more or less challenging to create friendships as we grow older?

As we get older, life  can become much busier with work and family commitments, with spare time becoming increasingly  limited, making it hard to invest in existing  and new friendships. Our friendship circle also starts decreasing around the age of 25 as we start losing touch with people or growing apart. A 2018 study concluded  that it takes 50 hours of spending time with someone to take a relationship  from acquaintance to friend and up to 200 hours nurturing a friendship, before it is considered a close friendship.

Some adults find it hard to make new friends, whether they are “out of practice” or struggling with confidence, but investing in fostering these close relationships is hugely important and beneficial’.

Dr Paschos’s developing friendship advice:

1) Take a lunch break. The socialising that happens during a lunch break with colleagues can have a positive impact on your enjoyment of the workplace, helping individuals develop friendships and encourage information sharing, which are beneficial to individuals as well as the workplace as a whole.

2) Join a club or social group. Having mutual hobbies and interests is a great start to making friends as an adult, helping foster relationships faster and more easily. Whether it’s sport, cars, gardening, craft or areas of academia, you will meet like-minded people and have ready-made conversation starters!

3) Be open to new experiences and opportunities. It’s important to explore things out of your comfort zone – this could open a whole new world of possibilities and friendships 

4) Reconnect with old friends. There are so many reasons for losing touch with friends over the years. There could be an instant friendship circle ready to reignite and it is surprising how easy it can be to pick up where you left off; regardless of the years that have passed.

5) Make an effort. Friendships do take commitment and it’s important to invest the time in friendships on a regular basis.

Dr Dimitrios Paschos, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health

Sunshine Sessions for Bereaved Children

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When somebody dies, whether from a long term illness, an accident or whether they died by suicide, those left behind can experience overwhelming emotional trauma. This can be especially true for children and it can often have devastating effects on a child’s psychological and physical behaviour.

Carla Borastero knew from personal experience how important it was to support a child along their grief journey by providing a safe space for them to talk about their emotions. “There is a massive need for early intervention and it is not just here, it is everywhere. 

With a degree in Early Years Education, Carla managed a nursery setting in the UK before working for the Preston Domestic Violence service as an Early Intervention specialist. “I relocated to Fuente de Piedra in Spain with my husband Rob and family where I did some teaching, but we went back to the UK on holiday in 2016 and sadly this was where my late husband completed suicide.” 

Carla is now married to a Gibraltarian and last year gave birth to a baby boy, but she soon realised that there was a need for child bereavement support. “It was just before lockdown when I spoke to Jackie Linares, Welfare Education Advisor at the Department of Education, and she thought it was a fantastic idea and something that was definitely lacking in Gibraltar.” Carla says that she was prepared to put all her time and energy into it but didn’t have the funds to support her idea. “I worked together with the Department of Education to devise the programme that we now deliver.”

At the moment eighty percent of referrals come from parents, with the rest from teachers, Cancer Relief, the GHA, and Children’s Psychology. “Digital marketing company PaperCloud have kindly sponsored me and have designed some great leaflets, but at the moment promotion has mostly been via word of mouth and on school websites.”

Sunshine Sessions launched in March, with sessions taking place every second Tuesday from 4 – 5.30 pm for children aged from four to twelve years of age in a Department of Education classroom in Upper Town.  “We use a lot of resources from Child Bereavement UK that we have had brought in, but it is about collating it and making it age appropriate which is what has taken lots of time and it is now in session order and I am pleased to say that it runs beautifully,” Carla explains.

Carla is ably assisted in running the sessions by colleague, and now friend, Giselle Isherwood. “We do a lot of craft activities, we talk about emotional regulation and about how to manage their negative feelings more positively,” Carla says. Grief resources include books and YouTube animated short videos such as Lucy’s Blue Day. “We undertake bereavement specific activities such as blowing bubbles to blow away our worries outside and we also ask the children to talk about their worries, write them down and ‘feed’ them into the Worry Monster’s mouth.”

Carla explains: “We know that children will often experience an increase in their worries after the death of a loved one. Sometimes children already know what they’re worried about, sometimes that worry is just a big blob of pain in their stomach and they need help finding the words to talk about it. That’s where the Worry Monster comes in.”

“We have had some Worry Monsters knitted and very kindly donated by Wendy Reeves-Russell for our current group of children. However, these are extremely time consuming to make and we would welcome any monster contributions for our Sunshine Session children.”

Results are evidenced by feedback from parents and from seeing children with their peers. “The first time they walk into the session they know why they are there and that is because someone has died and the bonds that have been formed as a result of that are amazing,” Carla states.  “We are facilitators in that we enable the children to open up and speak to each other.”

Courses run for six sessions over twelve weeks with a group of up to ten children who are dropped off by their parents or carers. “We very quickly realised that it couldn’t be a drop-in, drop-out, youth club type session because I wouldn’t be able to staff it appropriately, so Giselle and I work on a one-to-four, possibly one-to-five basis.”

Once the children have completed the programme a party is held the week after to celebrate the fact that they have met new friends. “We have a WhatsApp group and we all keep in touch – I still get phone calls and messages from parents now – and we also keep in touch with the kids.”

Sometimes parents are wrapped up in their own grief, meaning that it can be very difficult for them to help their children. “We give the children a safe space to open up and talk about the person who has died,” Carla says. “We are really conscious that we think we are being kind when we say to children that their loved one is in heaven, or that they are a star in the sky, but that is actually not helpful because they think they are going to come back, but they aren’t.” 

Going forward Carla would like to facilitate sessions for older kids as well as initiating another programme to revisit the children who have already attended sessions, but in twelve to eighteen months’ time.  

“When Rob died I managed to find resources for my girls, and although it is very sad I feel privileged that I have got the personal experience combined with a professional background that has enabled me to help the children in Gibraltar that need grief support.”

Carla also wants to mention suicide support group Walking Together for adults. “Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do the Sunshine Sessions,” she states.

More information can be found on the Sunshine Sessions Facebook page or to donate knitted Worry Monsters please contact: or 54087502 for patterns

World Diabetes day

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World Diabetes Day (WDD) is marked annually on 14th November, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922. 

The campaign aims to drive global efforts to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue. 

The theme for WDD 2021-23 is: Access to Diabetes Care – If Not Now, When?

Diabetes is a serious, potentially debilitating and life-threatening non-communicable disease that affects individuals and their families. Without adequate support, people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of serious and life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation.

Gibraltar is said to be facing a “diabetes crisis”, with around one in four people aged over 55 having been diagnosed with diabetes. Registered local charity ‘Diabetes Gibraltar’ highlight there are around 3000 people currently registered with type 2 diabetes on the Rock. Sedentary lifestyles and poor diet greatly influencing this growing number…

Recent studies also indicate that people living with diabetes are susceptible to the worst complications of Covid-19; particularly those aged over 65 years and those with uncontrolled diabetes. 

Services in Gibraltar include:

• The GHA Diabetes Clinic at the Primary Care Centre.

• Diabetes Gibraltar (Email:, Tel: 20072420) 

Join Diabetes Gibraltar for their awareness event on Saturday 13th November outside the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned from 10am -2pm. A walk has also been organised on Sunday 14th starting at 11am from Casemates – registration for the walk can be done online though Diabetes Gibraltar or from 9:30 am on the day. 

Funds raised will go toward purchasing of a clinic based HbA1c analyser, which will allow children to have their three monthly blood sugar control checked with a finger prick, rather than having a regular blood test.

Winter Wellness – Improve sleep & Relaxation

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As we move between seasons when the days get shorter and the night becomes longer, you may notice that less daylight hours can affect our sleeping patterns and have an influence on our sleep quality. Anything that upsets our 24-hour cycle, such as the clocks moving forwards or backwards, jet lag, shift work, or even just a very late night, can have a detrimental effect on our sleep patterns, leading to problems like insomnia.

There are things that you can do to help you attain a better quality of sleep and one of these is take into account what you are eating. Did you realise that there are sleep-inducing foods that can help us to fall and stay asleep? For example, if you are not consuming the vitamins and minerals needed for your hormonal system to function normally, your body may not create enough melatonin- the hormone that signals sleep.

Melatonin, only available on prescription, is a hormone that’s produced within the pineal gland of the brain, to help us maintain our circadian rhythms. When it goes dark, the gland releases melatonin, making us tired. As the sun rises, melatonin production stops, and we awake.

However, there are some foods that contain melatonin and research studies show that foods high in melatonin could significantly increase the melatonin concentration in blood and help to improve your sleep. Some of the most popular natural melatonin foods include: eggs, fish, nuts, cereals/grains, seeds, legumes and other plant foods. 

If you have trouble relaxing, try valerian, a traditional herbal remedy which may help with temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to mild anxiety. The safe and naturally relaxing root is still used today by some people who struggle to ‘switch off’ at night. Try Valerian capsules from Holland & Barrett

Magnesium is an essential mineral which has been shown to both help people fall asleep and stay asleep for longer. Make sure you get enough Magnesium by eating foods like tofu, spinach, almonds, avocados and dark chocolate to keep your levels up, or try taking a supplement such as Floradix Magnesium, a pleasant tasting magnesium liquid formula with herbal extracts & fruit juice concentrates available from Holland & Barrett.

If you are struggling to go to sleep, you should give caffeine a miss, but don’t worry, you can still enjoy a nice cuppa – just choose decaf or switch to herbal teas. Holland & Barrett have a selection of herbal teas that will help you to nod off easily. If you’re still struggling to get to sleep here are some simple techniques that could help you. 

Firstly, get your bedroom ready for sleep by keeping clocks out of view and removing electronic devices from the room. Allow yourself to fully switch off and choose a blackout blind or curtains that can help darken your bedroom. Wearing an eye mask can also be helpful in blocking out artificial light. The temperature of your room can make a difference and by keeping to a temperature of around 16-18°C you’re reinforcing your body’s natural instinct to sleep. Some people find it useful to wear earplugs to block out noise. Others find playing gentle music or white noise helps them to drift into a more restful state of mind.

Secondly, get your body ready for sleep. As we’ve already mentioned, you should avoid drinking caffeine close to bedtime and try to reduce your consumption of (or cut out) stimulants such as alcoholic drinks. Leaving enough time for your stomach to digest food before you lie down for the night is a good tip, so move your dinner time to an earlier start and limit your calorie intake to earlier in the day so there’s more time to use any excess energy.

Take a warm bath or shower before bed. The dip in your body temperature post-bath can fool your body into thinking you have gone from daytime into night-time. Some say this can increase the urge to sleep. Finally, add some regular exercise into your routine. Exercise is great for relieving stress and anxiety, which can help with how to get to sleep fast. However, if you’re exercising in the lead up to bedtime, choose relaxing, low-impact exercises, such as yoga.

Lavender, one of the more popular essential oils, is most commonly used for relaxation and sleep. When used before bed, studies have shown that lavender oil can not only help you fall asleep but also improve the overall quality of rest. If you are searching for a perfect night time sleep, then look no further than the Dr Organic Lavender Pillow Spray from Holland & Barrett. A truly unique night-time spray helping to diminish sleepless nights while promoting deep sleep and tranquillity.

Researchers have found that low levels of vitamin D are linked with poor sleep quality. Vitamin D is important for serotonin production, and serotonin is important for many functions including our sleep-wake cycles. Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight, meaning when we don’t get sunlight we miss out. Research has shown that a lack of sunlight can increase feelings of depression and fatigue and increase carb cravings as serotonin levels are affected. Make sure you keep your vitamin D levels topped up with Holland & Barrett Vitamin D Supplements. Whether you prefer to take Vitamin D Tablets, Vitamin D Chewy Gummies, or use a Vitamin D Spray, there is something for everyone. Look out for Holland & Barrett Vitamin D3 25Ug Lemon and Lime Flavour Effervescent Tablets.

Sleep is so important for all of us, both mentally and physically, because this is when our bodies repair and recuperate, and getting a regular good night’s sleep is essential if we want to lead happy and healthy lives

Advisory Information:

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.


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Hypnotherapy is a type of mind-body intervention in which hypnosis is used to create a state of focused attention and increased suggestibility in the treatment of a medical or psychological disorder or concern.

Clinical Hypnotherapist Helen Brooks aka ‘the Tummy Whisperer’ is a clinical hypnotherapist with a Degree in Applied Psychology who focuses her expertise on helping and treating sufferers of IBS. She helps clients where dietary changes and medication have failed to reduce symptoms. 

Helen states that ‘hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic technique. It is a form of therapy that utilises the subconscious mind to bring about change. In a relaxed but focused state of awareness, the hypnotherapist can use positive suggestions which are accepted by the subconscious mind to help bring about changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

There are many different therapeutic techniques within the field of hypnotherapy ranging from post-hypnotic suggestion through to more analytical methods, regression or the use of metaphors and visualisations to help solve problems. If you have a deep-seated emotional problem or bad habit you just can’t break it is likely influenced by the subconscious mind. It is therefore important to engage the subconscious mind to bring about change. Hypnotherapy can help you take back control and access your own inner strengths and resources.

Hypnotherapy can help with a wide variety of emotional issues and is really effective in helping to relieve anxiety, fears and phobias. It is helpful for working with habits such as stopping smoking and nail-biting and can help with creating healthier habits like healthy eating. 

Hypnotherapy is often misunderstood because of stage hypnosis and stuff on TV. It’s wrongly associated with power, control and belief.  You are not under someone’s control, powerless or unconscious, you don’t have to believe in it to work and you most certainly won’t be made to cluck like a chicken, in fact, hypnotherapy is used in a variety of medical and professional settings. It can be used in operations instead of anaesthesia, it’s used for dental work to slow the flow of blood from tooth extractions, it can be used to reduce blood pressure, ease the side effects of chemotherapy and speeds the healing of wounds and recovery from surgery. It’s also used by Olympic athletes to improve performance and so much more. 

There are certain physical issues it has been shown to be particularly helpful for. I specialise in a specific type of hypnotherapy called gut-directed hypnotherapy which is a well researched and clinically proven way to make long term changes to Irritable bowel syndrome. Gut directed hypnotherapy is using hypnotherapy

to change the function of the gut. It works by restoring the communication between the gut and brain, reducing the hypersensitivity of the nerve cells and relieving IBS. Hypnotherapy also 

teaches the mind to control the gut, rather than the gut controlling you.

Stress and anxiety exacerbates IBS symptoms and hypnotherapy can counteract this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates the body’s rest and digest phase. Hypnosis can also help change subconscious responses to situations such as the fear of needing the toilet when away from home or the fear of eating certain foods. Alleviating these fears helps to keep the mind and body working together in harmony and stops the fight or flight response adding to digestive disturbance.

In gut-directed hypnotherapy, the suggestions are focused on creating physical changes such as; your digestion works smoothly and comfortably, you are free from bloating and discomfort, you are in control of your bowels. They would also be focused on improving emotional wellbeing; you feel more relaxed each day, you are calmer and much more self-confident. 

Imagery is a powerful way to communicate with the subconscious mind and various metaphors and visualisations are used in sessions. You may imagine you are drinking a soothing healing liquid that coats your entire digestive system and soothes discomfort, restores regular bowel movements and eases bloating. Your subconscious then uses these images to create physical changes so you experience relief.’

What Are the Benefits of Hypnosis?

The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including:

• Phobias fears, and anxiety

• Sleep disorders

• Depression

• Stress

• Post-trauma anxiety 

• Grief and loss

Hypnosis also might be used to help with pain control and to overcome habits, such as smoking or overeating. It also might be helpful for people whose symptoms are severe or who need crisis management.


During a hypnotherapy session, people are guided through a process to induce a trance-like state that helps them focus their minds, respond more readily to suggestions and become deeply relaxed. Hypnotherapy utilizes the heightened awareness of the hypnotic state to help you focus on a problem more deeply.  3 Hypnotherapy utilizes techniques including:

Relaxation: You will be guided by the hypnotherapist to visualize yourself in a state of peacefulness and relaxation, even when confronting a problematic behaviour or the object of your fears.

Suggestion: Your hypnotherapist may make gentle suggestions for behaviour changes that can help you conquer your issue. For example, you may be taught to see yourself as a supportive advisor during a phobic reaction, thus learning to trust yourself and your ability to get through the situation.

Coping skills: You may be taught certain cognitive-behavioral coping skills, such as guided imagery and the STOP! technique that you can use when confronting fears or anxieties.

Caitlin Thorpe is one of Helen’s clients. ‘I had tried different things before working with Helen (e.g. dietary changes, probiotics, lifestyle changes etc), and was despairing wondering if I could ever find something that would help. I am so grateful that I got to work with Helen. I have experienced improvements in my IBS I didn’t previously think were possible. Working with Helen has been a life-changing experience.’

Hypnotherapy is a gentle yet powerful way of working and is suitable for pretty much everyone from children to the elderly. It’s a natural holistic approach that can be used in many ways. 

Helen Brooks website

World Vegetarian day – 1st October 2021

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This annual event, which began in 1977, encourages everyone to try a meat
free meal – even for a day. The benefits of having meat free days in the week are numerous, which is why our local Conscious Eating initiative supports and encourages such events.

Stay healthy 

Opting for mostly plant-based foods, limiting red meat and processed meat, can have a big impact on your health. The World Cancer Research Fund highlight that diets lower in meat intake boast lower risks of strokes, heart disease, cancers, type 2 diabetes and premature death.

Save Money  

Most of the staples of a meat-free diet (i.e. beans, lentils, rice and corn) are comparatively cheaper, and longer lasting, than meat. 

Eating less meat + more veg = saving money

Save Lives

Billions of animals farmed and killed for meat each year are raised in intensive factory farms. These animals are often diseased, injured and dying, due to the unnatural conditions they are kept in. 

Eating less meat does reduce the number of animal lives lost (if you are curious about your impact try a Vegetarian Calculator online).

Alleviate world hunger

We produce more grain to feed animals than humans. It can take up to 12 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef, which is an inefficient use of energy. Currently, around 900 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment, yet an amount of cereal which could feed three times this number of people is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens.

Save our environment 

Continued agricultural intensification, expansion, and overfishing, will continue to contribute to loss of species and biodiversity. Greenhouse gases, such as methane, CO², and nitrous oxide, produced by livestock, decaying manure and the destruction of forest ecosystems, also contribute to climate change .

Shared successes! 

Please get in touch with one of your favourite meat free recipes- tasty  and kind to the wallet- so we can share them for others to try:

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