The news is not often a joy to read. And when hope feels almost impossible to come by, the urge to switch off and disconnect from the headlines is entirely understandable.
But as hard as it is to believe, good things are still happening. That’s why, every Tuesday, we seek out the nuggets of joy and optimism hiding behind the gloom of the front pages.
So, without further ado, here are the stories lifting our spirits, ever so slightly, this week…
Twice-weekly COVID tests introduced in England
Everyone in England will be offered two rapid coronavirus tests a week under an extension to the government’s testing scheme to be rolled out from Friday.
The programme, using 30-minute lateral-flow kits available from testing sites, pharmacies and in the post, is aimed at curbing localised outbreaks.
It will be launched as the country enters the next stage of its lockdown easing, with non-essential shops and some pubs and restaurants reopening from Monday.
Yesterday, hairdressers and homewares stores reopened their doors in Scotland, though residents are still expected to remain within their council boundaries.
LinkedIn debuts stay-home and caregiver titles
Professional networking platform LinkedIn has introduced a host of caregiving titles, including ‘stay-at-home parent’, for the first time in its history.
The move follows pressure from users to make it easier to document time away from the paid workforce, whether for parenting, adoption, caring, health or volunteering purposes.
The platform has also removed the requirement for all roles logged to be attached to a specific company, and has introduced the capacity for users to log pronouns on their profiles.
The firm says the series of changes is aimed at making the platform more helpful for those returning to the workforce after any kind of hiatus, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.
New Zealand raises minimum wage and top tax
New Zealand is raising its minimum wage to $20 an hour, boosting the pay packets of an estimated 175,500 workers.
The country is also increasing its top rate of tax, paid by around two percent of New Zealanders, to help fund the move.
The changes, in recognition of the fact that many minimum wage employees have been central to the country’s successful coronavirus response, will be rolled out from Thursday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the changes in pay and taxation would be one tool in a package of “real and long-overdue improvements to the support we provide our most vulnerable”.
The country’s minimum wage was already listed among the world’s five highest by the OECD, but child poverty and unaffordable housing remain a major issue.
McQueen, Gucci and Balenciaga scrap fur use
Alexander McQueen, Gucci and Balenciaga have become the latest luxury fashion houses to be confirmed fur-free by The Humane Society.
The Kering-owned brands are the latest in a series of international names, including Prada, Versace and Chanel, to ban the use of animal fur in all future collections.
It comes just weeks after a group of London-based fashion designers, including Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, lobbied the UK government on the issue.
They want the country to become the first in the world to ban the sale of fur altogether, arguing innovation has now rendered its use obsolete.
Diversity the winner at SAG Awards
Actors from ethnic minorities were named the winners of all four individual film categories at Sunday’s SAG Awards, in what’s been heralded as a watershed moment for diversity in Hollywood.
Viola Davis, Youn Yuh-jung, Daniel Kaluuya and the late Chadwick Boseman all triumphed in their acting categories, which are seen as a key indicator of what’s to come from the Oscars.
It’s the first time in the ceremony’s 27-year history that all four movie acting titles have gone to actors of colour.
Sunday’s ceremony also proved a big night for Netflix, which scooped the evening’s top ensemble movie prize for Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7.