Lockdown leaving you with a feeling of existential dread? You’re far from alone.

 

But while staying on top of the headlines might feel like a thankless task so far in 2021, amidst the doom and gloom there remain some brilliant nuggets of joy and optimism – and every Tuesday, we endeavour to find them.

 

So, without further ado, here are the stories giving us hope this week…

 

Route to normality in sight as schools reopen

Image: CDC/Unsplash

 

Millions of school pupils across England returned to the classroom yesterday, for the first time since December 2020.

 

All primary schools across the country reopened, while the majority of secondaries embarked upon a phased return that will see senior pupils offered regular COVID testing.  

 

It comes two weeks after Scotland and Wales reopened classrooms to the youngest pupils, with further age groups set to return to school from March 15.

 

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, younger primary pupils have also returned today, with older pupils set to return from March 22.

 

The UK government says reopening schools is the first important step on its route map towards some form of post-pandemic normality.

 

Government calls for flexible working to be ‘normalised’

Image: Joshua Bratt/Alamy Stock Photo

 

The government’s minister for women and equalities has called for flexible working to be ‘normalised’ more widely across the British workforce.

 

Liz Truss says the move would help to reduce both regional and gender inequalities as the economy seeks to recover in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

 

It comes as a study by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and job site Indeed revealed that job adverts actively promoting flexible working receive up to 30 per cent more applications.

 

Speaking in a statement released to coincide with International Women’s Day, Truss said: “Making flexible working the norm, rather than something employees have to specially request, will help open up opportunities to people regardless of their sex or location.”

 

Nazanin freed in Iran as government calls for homecoming

Image: Free Nazanin Campaign

 

Boris Johnson has called for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be “permanently freed” to leave Iran and reunite with her husband and six-year-old daughter.

 

It comes after she was released from house arrest on Sunday at the end of a five-year sentence, but told she will face a further court appearance next week.

 

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has duel Iranian and British citizenship, was jailed in 2016 on trumped up charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

 

She was finally released on Sunday and allowed to visit family within the country, but is yet to be granted permission to fly home.

 

Gender gap database calls on public to highlight female statues

Image: Paul Childs/Reuters

 

People across the UK are being urged to take part in a national study recording sculptures and busts of “real-life women” for a gender gap database.

 

The Public Sculpture and Statues Association (PSSA) campaign group is keeping a live public list and has so far recorded 100 sculptures in the UK.

 

It follows a previous exercise, led by campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, which found almost half of the female statues present in the UK were of mythical figures.

 

At the time, just 25 non-royal, real-life women were listed, though the number is since believed to have grown.

 

The UK is estimated to host around 500 statues of non-royal men.

 

UK’s first LGBTQ+ retirement community to open in London

 Image: Tonic Housing/PA

 

A development believed to be the first retirement community in the UK aimed specifically at LGBTQ+ people is set to open its doors in London this summer.

 

It follows a recent national survey which found some elderly people felt uncomfortable being open about their sexuality inside traditional care homes.

 

 

Tonic Housing says its 19 apartment development, bought with a £5.7 million loan from the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will welcome its first residents this summer.

 

Khan said: “Londoners deserve to enjoy their later years surrounded by a supportive community.”

 

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