Another week, another seemingly endless deluge of depressing news. Amid such doom, hope can feel almost impossible to come by, and the urge to switch off and disconnect from the news is entirely understandable.

 

But the clocks have changed, spring is here, and as hard as it is to believe, there remain some brilliant nuggets of joy and optimism out there for us to seek out and share every Tuesday.

 

So, without further ado, here are the stories lifting our spirits, ever so slightly, this week…

 

New Zealand approves paid leave after miscarriage

Image: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

 

New Zealand’s parliament has voted unanimously in favour of granting paid bereavement leave following miscarriage or still birth.

 

The policy, which will apply equally to mothers, their partners and parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy, is believed to be a world first.

 

The bill was presented by Labour MP Ginny Andersen (pictured), who said: “I hope it gives people time to grieve and promotes greater openness about miscarriage. We should not be fearful of our bodies.”

 

One in four women in New Zealand has suffered a miscarriage, while around 20,000 women lose a child to miscarriage or still birth every year.

 

Asda workers win key appeal in equal pay case

 Image: Alamy

 

Thousands of Asda workers fighting for equal pay have won a major victory over the company in a Supreme Court appeal.

 

The court upheld an earlier ruling that shop staff, who are mostly women, carry out comparative work to higher paid warehouse workers, who are mostly men.

 

The ruling marks a major step forward for the 44,000 workers affected, who will now be free to take further action against their employer for the discrepancy.

 

It has also been described as a watershed moment for the retail industry, with a host of other firms, including Sainsburys, Tesco, Morrisons and Next, already disputing similar claims.

 

Single dose study offers good news for care homes

Image: Mat Napo/Unsplash

 

A single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines is enough to prevent more than 60 per cent of coronavirus infections in care homes, according to a new study.

 

Researchers from UCL, who studied test data from 10,412 residents in 310 care homes in England, believe the results may also indicate that vaccinated people may be less infectious.

 

It comes as England enters its next phase of lockdown easing, with stay home orders being lifted to allow groups of six to meet outdoors.

 

Wales has already taken a similar step in lifting lockdown measures, while Scotland and Northern Ireland are due to follow suit later this week.

 

Automatic organ donation introduced in Scotland

Image: NHS Blood and Transplant

 

A new law which automatically makes every person an organ donor unless they opt out has been implemented in Scotland, four months after being delayed by the pandemic.

 

The country introduced the change on Friday, meaning that everyone in the country will consider to have consented to donation unless they have expressly stated otherwise.

 

Experts say the move will lead to an increase in the number of patients who can access potentially life-saving transplant surgery.

 

A similar system, introduced two years ago in Wales, has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in family consent.

 

Barcelona hosts music concert in rapid testing pilot

Image: Reuters

 

One of the largest gatherings to be hosted in Europe since the start of 2020 has gone ahead in Barcelona, as part of a pilot analysing the effectiveness of rapid testing.

 

Around 5,000 people watched band Love of Lesbian perform on Saturday after screening negative for coronavirus.

 

Every fan was tested earlier in the day and had to remain masked throughout the concert, though social distancing was not imposed.

 

The gig, held as part of a research project looking at the viability of holding mass events, followed a similar experiment at a two-day festival in the Netherlands last week.

 

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