Careers | You Don’t Need to be a Parent to Ask for Flexible Working

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I’m going to let you in to a little secret: if you’ve worked for your employer for more than 26 weeks you’ve got the right to ask for flexible working. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get it but your employers reason for turning you down should not be based on your reason for applying but the decision should be on the impact the change would have on the business.

Types of flexible working

There are different options when considering applying for flexible working, some of these such options are below but it’s not a definitive list. 

For some people it is about doing part-time hours, which can mean working less or shorter days. This obviously means a cut in pay so for some this may not be viable for financial reasons. The good news is that there are lots of other options available.

You could try compressed hours – this is when you work all your contracted hours but over less days. Some people compress their hours to 4 days, but this does mean working quite long hours. Another option is to work a nine day fortnight. This is where you build up enough hours over two weeks to have a day off.

Another option to consider is flexible start and finish time. So you may start an hour early and finish an hour early; it may not sound like much but finishing at 4pm can make your evening feel a lot longer.

Or how about working from home a couple of days a week? If you’ve got a long commute this can be a really valuable option. You’d be amazed the difference it can make.

If you’re looking for ideas on what type of flexible working could work for you I’d recommend doing a bit of research and talking to people who already do it. You want to get your request right as you can only apply once a year. However, some employers may agree to trial different options to see what works for you and the business, particularly if you’re asking for a working pattern no-one else in the business does.

Why you might be interested in flexible working

There are lots of reason to consider flexible working, Lis who blogs at Last Year’s Girl decided to go part time this year so that she could use the extra time to focus on her blog, freelancing and some leisure time, she now works four days a week in her corporate job.

Other reasons people apply for flexible working includes fitting in studying or hobbies or just because they can. Of course your reason for applying might be because it helps you balance your work and family life.

And let’s not forget this applies to all the men out there too, this is a great blog from a dad who applied to work from home two days a week so he could spend more time with his kids.  

Me, myself & flexible working

I’ve been working a nine day fortnight for a couple of years now and I love it. I’ve done a bit of a combination of reducing my hours (by 2.5 hours across the two weeks) and taking a shorter lunch.

It works well for me as I’ve got a really long commute (sometimes over 3 hours a day), which is pretty tiring so it is nice to get a longer break from it. But it also makes fitting in seeing my friends & family, running an Airbnb and attempting to get my blog started that little bit easier.

Advice for applying for flexible working

Start by having an informal chat with your line manager about your desire to do flexible working and the work pattern you think would work. Basically put the feelers out to see what they think and if they’re leaning towards one suggestion or if they’ve got a different idea that could work.

When applying for flexible working remember it isn’t just about your needs you’ve got to think of the businesses needs too. So if you think that flexible working would help improve your productivity at work or what you’re planning on doing will improve your performance in your role by giving you different skills or more confidence it is definitely worth mentioning.  

You can feel a bit uncomfortable about asking for flexible working, particularly if you’re the first person in your organisation to ask. But remember the worst that can happen is they say no, so just go for it.

And remember flexible working isn’t your only option to finding the balance you’re looking for. When Pamela, who blogs at Life with Munchers, was made redundant she went for an even bigger change going freelance, which she has found gives her the flexibility she needs.

When I Grow Up I Want to be a…. | Flight Attendant

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QNameTânia Ferreira

Q1When I was a child, my mother tells me I wanted to be a professor at the university. Why? I wanted to teach adults, didn’t care for children my age (lol). My mother says I was a little adult, very proper and prim. Then I changed my mind to psychology, but that entailed being in an office all day and I was not okay with that. I wanted the outdoors. It came down between biology or photography. But then photography was at a private school – very expensive – so I went with biology and was happy with my choice.

Q2I’m a flight attendant. Yeah, really different from what I studied…!

Q3An aircraft cannot depart without pilots, for obvious reasons, they are “driving” the aircraft, but it also cannot depart without us. We are the firefighters, the first responders if someone feels ill and the ones that can command an evacuation if necessary. Very, very pleased to say nothing like that has ever happened to me! So, all my time is occupied with making sure all passengers are comfortable and enjoying their flight.

Q410 years now.

Q5Out of university, employment prospects were pretty much grant related: one applies for a project or research grant and gets it for that single project. And it goes on like this, for a lot of my friends it’s still going on like this! I wanted more stability and certainty but also fun, see the world and not take work home – to have a more relaxed life. I saw an advert for an airline recruiting flight attendants, applied, got the job and am still doing it!

Q6Do your research! Online you will find various testimonials about different airlines: what it entails, salary, perks, what it’s like to live in a different country from yours, working hours, and a lot more. Consider which airline suits you best; your personal preferences and principles.

Q7I would work with JJ Abrams. I love his movies and television shows, even just being his PA would be alright. Being behind the cameras seeing all of my beloved shows being made.

Q8EasyJet’s policy is that pictures in uniform are not allowed for social media purposes, sorry!

To find out more about Tania’s day job, email us at


Winter Skincare Heroes

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It’s that time of year – the cold has officially set in and with it our winter skin woes. We’ve rounded up our skin saviours that are going to keep us going through to spring!

S A V E 

The Vitamin E Range from Superdrug – from £2.99

“Great for the skin, reasonable priced and not heavy” – AMY

Triple Active Day Cream for Dry & Sensitive – L’Oreal £6.49 (50ml)

“A little really does go a long way and I’ve been using day and night – using a little more before bed for it to really sink in. It’s really good value for the quality” – KIM

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – The Ordinary £6.00 (30ml)

“This stuff is amazing, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it does, it just makes my skin ‘better’, it feels softer and make up goes on smoothly and it’s a bargain!” – HOLLY

Peppermint Foot Lotion – The Body Shop £8.50 (250ml)

“Peppermint foot cream keeps cracked dry winter skin away. I love Body Shop because the products do the job and smell delicious, there is everything you need for full body treatment in one place, nothing is tested on animals and there are always deals on/savings that allow you to get a huge haul for little money. A lifelong fan!” – JEMIMA

Extraordinary Oil Facial Cleansing Oil – L’Oreal £7.99 (150ml)

“My skin has been particularly dry this year – already! – and this has been a lifesaver. It’s silky smooth and smells amazing. My skin feels like a baby’s” – KIM

Cotton Gloves – Boots £2.59 (one pair)

“These save my hands in the winter particularly cos I’ve got eczema. Coat your hands in your hand cream of choice before bed (like so much it won’t rub any more) pop on the gloves and go to bed. Wake up with brand new hands!” – LISA

Body Lotions from Aveeno – from £5.99

“Also shout out to Aveeno, my skin doesn’t like lots of body lotions but Aveeno is lovely and always sorts out dry skin” – HOLLY

Rehab for Hair Recovery Shampoo & Conditioner – Bed Head by Tigi £15.75 (2x750ml)

“Don’t forget hair! The cold weather and central heating play havoc with hair in winter. This has been a saviour for my dry and damaged locks!” – LINDSAY

S P L U R G E 

Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising Cream – The Body Shop £26.00 (50ml)

“Decadent without being too heavy, I’ve got quite sensitive skin as well as psoriasis and so far it’s not aggravated at all. A little goes a long way too!” – JEMIMA

Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser – Liz Earle £16.00 (100ml)

“This cleanser keeps my oily skin clean and soft without drying it or making me break out” – HOLLY

Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel – La Roche Posay £12.00 (200ml)

“This is absolutely amazing if you’ve got combination skin (dry cheeks and an oily T zone)! It’s a lovely cleanser, very gentle on sensitive winter skin and it lasts for (literally) months!” – LINDSAY

Body Butter – The Body Shop £15.00 (200ml)

“The Body Shop were the originals for body butter and it’s fab (I have coconut, mango and the new Frosted Berries flavour – you can smell and feel Christmassy with this one!)” – JEMIMA

Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Cream – Kiehl’s £37.00 (226g)

“The body cream is just what my skin craves and it absorbs super quickly!” – BARBARA

Alpha-H Liquid Gold £33.50 (100ml)

“Don’t let the ‘with glycolic acid’ on the front put you off – wish I’d started using this a long time ago. Skin feels restored and it’s helped with the approaching-30-fine-lines” – KIM

Face: Oil- Free Lotion with Saw Palmetto & Mint – Origins £25.00 (50ml)

“This lotion works for my oily skin both during summer and winter” – BARBARA

Lips: the balm dotcom- Glossier £10 (15ml)

“This lip balm is the best on the planet!” – BARBARA

"Hey guys, I’m @nicolezoppi and this is my Glossier crib. Take a look inside."

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Are there any skin saviours we’ve missed?

What are your favourite products?

When I Grow Up I Want to be an… | Acquisitions Consultant

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This week is the turn of Athena Collectiv founding member, let’s find out what she does for a day job…

QNameKim SteeleQ1I wanted to be a paediatric nurse until I realised people might be sick on me. Then I wanted to be a primary school teacher until I realised kids might be sick on me. Then I settled for an interior designer. 100% because I was obsessed with Changing Rooms.Q2I am a Property Acquisitions Consultant for a global retailer.Q3 Basically, I work for a company who always needs big sites and it’s my job to find them, buy them and then a new store gets built on the site. I also manage their existing portfolio and get to travel the length and breadth of Scotland to do my job!Q4I’ve been in this current role since January 2017 but I’ve been in property for 7 years now – working my way up to where I am now. Q5I left school at 16, got an art foundation at college, went to university and studied Interior Architecture and when I left uni, I got a job working for a property investment and development company. It was supposed to be a stop-gap until I could get an industry job in interiors but turns out I was pretty well suited to property.

I worked all through school, college and university and I think that’s really valuable to get some experience in the working world – even if it’s not in the industry you want to be in! I’ve done everything from working in a hotel to an ordnance survey company. Q6Go for it! I wish I’d known at school that there was such a thing as a property surveyor (I’m not qualified in that but a lot of people who do my job are). Whatever you want to do in life just go for it – especially when you’re young. There are so many more jobs out there than the list they tell you about at school!Q7I do love what I do but if I could open a wee sandwich shop tomorrow, I would! Q8Here’s me with all my maps of Scotland 😉


If you want to find out more, email us at

10 Podcasts to Help You Live Your Best Life

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I’m obsessed with podcasts and it seems so is the rest of the planet. If you’re one of the two people who has never listened to a podcast, this gushing will probably sound exaggerated and a bit strange but I’m telling you, give some of the ones I’ve listed below a go and you’ll get what I’m talking about.

I walk everywhere (as I guess most people do in Edinburgh), often around three hours a day, and even though I enjoy being outdoors and moving, it can get a bit boring after a while. Same applies to a lot of other things, like long runs, cooking, cleaning…it all needs to get done and I even enjoy it once I get going but it’s about billion times easier and more fun when I’m listening to a good podcast. I actually find myself looking forward to the super glamourous activities like dusting and sweating at the gym because I want to listen to the latest episode of my favourite show. I have a rule that I only listen to podcasts when I’m walking somewhere or doing something productive (the strategy of pairing) so now I’m basically a non-stop productivity machine (more or less…).

I love TV, cinema, Netflix, books, theatre – from trashy reality shows (shout out to Love Island) to Newsnight and David Lynch films and so on – I love it all. I love getting lost in a story, learning new facts, getting advice, getting inspired by other people, culture and more. I think it’s because I can often feel pretty anxious so immersing myself in something that gets me out of my own head, is very comforting and helps me recharge my batteries. The problem is that like everyone else, I don’t have much time to spare so podcasts are the perfect solution for me. Brilliant entertainment and life-changing advice, all while I’m doing my weekly shop at Tescos. Without further ado, here’s my top 10:

1) Happier with Gretchen Rubin

You might have read or heard of Gretchen’s New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project and subsequent books Happier at Home and Better than Before. As the name suggests, in the podcast Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth continue to explore the age-old topic of happiness and good habits.

I like it because the podcast is very structured and packed full of actionable and practical advice – unlike some other ‘self-improvement’ podcasts I’ve come across. They often analyse habit formation through the Four Tendencies framework. You can take the test here and find out if you’re an Upholder, Rebel, Questioner or an Obliger.

2) Dear Sugars

Hosts Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame) and Steve Almond answer and analyse listener letters, kind of in the style of agony aunts in old magazine but thankfully the advice is a lot better. They’re incredibly insightful and things get pretty emotional, pretty quickly. I’m in tears half the time I’m listening to it and putting aside the fact that crying while walking to work is a bit embarrassing, I love it.

3) The Dinner Party Download
It’s the podcast to listen to if you want to feel cultured and ‘clued in’. They have some amazing people on and discuss everything dinner party related – etiquette, music, films, cocktails, food…

4) Desert Island Discs

Classic for a reason! This is of course the podcast version of the long running, beloved radio show. Embarrassingly, this one also makes me cry fairly often. All the episodes are brilliant but probably the Sue Perkins and Nigel Owens ones are my favourites.

5) No Meat Athlete Radio

This is a bit niche maybe but if you’re into plant-based eating and exercise (especially running), this is the one for you.

6) The Guilty Feminist

My favourite feminist podcast, without a doubt. The host Deborah Frances-White is brilliant and hilarious! It’s a comedy podcast in essence but they definitely don’t shy away from exploring some serious topics.

7) The Simple Show

I don’t listen to every episode of this one as it’s occasionally focused more on family and motherhood (and I don’t have kids) but I love the philosophy behind it. It’s all about the simple life and saying no to things in your life that you don’t need or love. I hate clutter and what at least to me feels like a too hectic pace of life so I’m looking at ways of simplifying everything – by moving to a van for example!

8) No Such Thing As A Fish

The four hosts each present their favourite fact of the week and discuss it. It’s super fun and informative (without being boring). Thanks to this podcast I now know that butter sculpture competitions are a big deal in Tibet and a fruit fly’s sperm cell is a whopping 2.3 inches long, for example!

9) Side Hustle School

A side hustle is a (small) business that earns you extra money on the side and lets you focus on your passion without quitting your day job. Each episode focuses on a real-life side hustles ranging from websites about fish tanks to producing Valentine’s day sweets. It’s crazy inspirational, full of useful advice and each episode is only about 10 minutes long so it’s perfect for days when you don’t have much time to spare.

10) What Should I Read Next?

This podcast is an absolute gold mine for anyone who enjoys reading or is trying to read more! Literally (!) 100% full on book talk. The host also has a blog called Modern Mrs Darcy that’s definitely worth checking out.

We’re always on the lookout for great podcasts so if you have any recommendations, let us know, what are your favourites?

When I Grow Up I Want to be a… | Research Associate

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QNameHolly LithgowQ1When I was at primary school, I wanted to be a singer or an actor. I went to drama club, spent lunchtimes choreographing dance routines to B*Witched and Britney Spears and dreamed of being famous.

At secondary school I joined the debate team to flirt with a boy and briefly toyed with the idea of being a lawyer. I quickly realised that neither debating nor the boy was for me.

My family is very medical. This, coupled with the fact that Biology and Chemistry were my strongest subjects, led to a fair amount of expectation that I’d do Medicine at university. My not-quite-excellent Higher results thwarted this plan, so I applied to do Biology with the vague notion that I might apply to Medicine as a postgrad. I realised pretty quickly that I didn’t actually have any interest in Medicine and would be terrible doctor, so although it seemed like the end of the world at the time, I’m forever grateful for that C in Higher Maths! Q2I’m a Research Associate for an Executive Search firm that specialises in academia. Q3I work for a little company that partners with universities to help them fill high-level and niche vacancies. Basically, I head-hunt extremely intelligent, interesting and accomplished people. This involves visiting the university and meeting with all the key people to find out what their ‘ideal candidate looks like’, searching globally for people whose research, qualifications, experience etc match what our client is looking for, and then managing the interview and appointment process.

A lot of my work is online but I also spend time talking to and visiting potential candidates and our client universities.

Since the company I work for is very small (in the UK at least, there are larger offices in the US and Australia), it has quite a start-up feel about it and I have lots of additional little responsibilities such as pulling together marketing materials to really ‘sell’ each position to potential candidates, and managing our website and LinkedIn page. Q4Almost two years, I joined the company in October 2015. Q5To be perfectly honest, I kind of fell into my current job. I was lucky enough that a friend from university was leaving the company at the same time as I was moving back to Edinburgh and looking for a new job. She put me in touch with my now boss and the rest, as they say, is history!

After leaving university I worked in NHS Internal Audit. It was not a dream job, by any stretch of the imagination, and is not at all related to my current job. However, it did help to build my confidence when talking to senior and important people, as well as giving me experience of managing my time on multiple projects and meeting deadlines, all of which is useful in my current job. Q6When working for a small company, it’s important to be confident in your own abilities, you are capable of anything you put your mind to! I get asked fairly frequently to do things that I’ve never done before and that I have no idea how to do, and I found that pretty terrifying when I first started! Now, rather than worrying about not knowing what to do, I try to think of them as opportunities to learn something new. I’ve gained lots of new skills and knowledge because I’ve said ‘I’ll have a go, I’m sure I can figure it out’, rather than ‘I don’t know what to do’.

My job is fairly niche, but I think a knowledge and interest in academia and the university sector is vital. I’ve also found that the scientific and medical lingo I picked up during my Biology degree has been really useful, as a lot of the vacancies we work on are for scientific and medical academics. Q7That is an excellent question! I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up!

I often think that having a more creative job and being my own boss would be amazing – being a photographer, or a wedding planner, or owning a lovely little shop which sells lovely little things. However, I think I probably romanticise such jobs, and in reality I’m sure it would be incredibly hard work and I don’t think I would like the potential financial insecurity of being completely responsible for generating my income very month.

For now, I am very content with my job and plan to keep doing it as long as I enjoy it. I see lots of opportunities to progress and grow within my company, so I’d like to see where that could take me. Q8I work from home the vast majority of the time, so attached is a selfie in my ‘home office’.


Want to find out more? Email

When I Grow Up I Want to be a… | Copywriter

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QNameSally TorodeQ1A vet

Q2CopywriterQ3Writing for marketing and advertising

Q46/7 years

Q5Part hard work, part skill, part luck

Q6It’s high pressured and can be boring, but it can also be rewarding

Q7My dream job would be a playwright

Q8No – sorry!

When I Grow Up I Want To Be A… | Mental Health Worker

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This week, following World Mental Health Day, we have a guest post from Angela, who has been working in mental health for all of her adult life. Q1This seems to be a question that lots of young people are asked and I remember saying in response ‘I want to be a teacher’. When I think back to it now, it was based on the positive experiences I had at primary school. My memories of primary school are really happy, and the teachers there were warm, encouraging and supportive. I don’t recall having any idea about what it would involve or making any serious attempts to find out how I would go about this, so it was a pretty flimsy idea. When I went to high school, all such notions had left me and I found myself probably a bit like a lot of other young people at the time, not having a clue about what to do and not being fully aware of what the options were. I left school at 16, became a junior in an office for a while before deciding that I wanted to go into nursing around the age of 20. I decided on mental health nursing as a field, partly because my mum worked in this field but also because there were mental health and addictions issues within my family and I wanted to know more about it. Q2Funnily enough, I am now in Higher Education. I am a Nurse Lecturer, my field is mental health nursing. I work with both adult and mental health nursing students to promote good mental health care and treatment. Q3The main part of my job is teaching pre-registration nurses during their 3 year degree programme, although I do also teach on post-registration courses and supervise MSc students too. I have responsibility for co-ordination of modules within the curriculum, which involves planning and delivery, assessment and evaluation of these to ensure the learning outcomes are met and the students have the necessary knowledge and skills to nurse safely, effectively and with care. Nursing is a practice based role, meaning that nurses learn both in university and in clinical placement. Mentors generally provide most of the support to students whilst they are on placement, but part of my role is to ensure that I maintain good links with our clinical partners and ensure the students have access to high quality learning environments, this involves me visiting practice areas regularly. I also take on the role of personal lecturer – meaning I support individual students on their learning journey and provide academic and pastoral support where required. Q4I have been in this particular role for 4 years now. Q5In some ways, teaching was always an aspect of my role, albeit in a less formal capacity, for example, mentoring student nurses, facilitating anxiety management groups, or providing diagnosis education to people and their families. When I did my nurse training, registered nurses were not graduate and exited the programme with a certificate, so I didn’t go to university until much later in my career. I found that I really enjoyed the learning environment and could see the difference it made to my confidence and practice. Although I didn’t really plan to go into higher education as a career, following completion of a Masters degree and an opportunity to participate in a ‘training for trainers course’ in which I would be expected to train others; other opportunities opened up for me. This was probably the turning point when I started to think about education as a possible career path. I made links with my local university and was invited to do some teaching in a supported way which allowed me to try out the role. From there, I took on seconded part-time post before making the leap to a full-time role. Q6There are a few mandatory requirements, for example you must be a registered nurse, you need to have a relevant Masters degree (increasingly a PhD or willingness to work towards one is a requirement) and it is desirable to have a higher education teaching qualification, but this can be achieved whilst in post.

Being a competent, capable and credible practitioner is important in this role which in part comes from your nursing practice, so having a good few years and a range of  different experiences under your belt is very useful. Look for opportunities to undertake education/teaching roles within your current position to gain experience for example mentoring students, teaching skills, being involved in inter-professional learning, perhaps making links with the university to shadow or do a secondment to get a feel for the role is helpful in making a decision about whether this is the right move for you. Being politically aware, keeping up to date with current research and the future direction in your field is vital.Q7I love my job, so feel very privileged that I get to do it and can’t imagine doing something else at this time. However, if I could do anything it would be something creative – baking, pottery, quilt making – something with a pretty end product that I could sell in a little shop where I would sit, drink tea, read and chat to anyone who came by. Q8




Thank you to Angela for taking time out of your day to write for us!


Mental Health | Mental Health Day 2017

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One of the most important days in the calendar of “World Days”, “International Days” and “National Days” is upon us: Mental Health Day.

Why is World Mental Health Day still so important? Statistics suggest that one in four of us experience some form of mental health each year and we can all probably say that even if we haven’t experienced mental health problems ourselves, we know someone who has. And we all need to take care of our own mental health.

Mental health and wellbeing still has a long way to go to remove the stigma that surrounds it. Whilst we good ol’ British folks are terribly polite, we’re not very good at talking about our problems or airing ‘our dirty laundry in public’. Mental health can affect anyone, everyone and all of us and it’s so important to get the conversation going with friends, with family, with loved ones, with yourself to realise that we are not alone in our problems.

We have therefore compiled a list of our Athena top picks for social medias, website resources and local charities who can provide help. But most of all, we want to let all of our readers, followers, friends and members that you can always be you with us. We are here for you. Reach out and please don’t suffer in silence.

Scottish Association for Mental Health

This was recommended to us by mental health care professionals – they share great interviews and articles. You can find their website here or like them on Facebook.

Health in Mind

A great Edinburgh charity who not only provide support but they also advertise vacancies to those who work in the field as well as training courses. Their website is currently under construction but they do have some resources available.

Ruth Finn Leiser

Ruth is a mental health advocate who you can find on Instagram, recommended to us by one of our members.

guys…I think the day is finally here. after a good 8 years, my dance with the pink devil is finally over. today I made an appointment to change prescription this thursday, and today is day 10 without taking it aka the longest I've gone artificial hormone free since I was 17. and it might be confirmation bias but I woke up today feeling buzzing about just being a person on the planet for possibly the first time in quite some time. 💊 also seems a good day to get home and find this unprovoked & SO unbelievably appreciated gift from @roisainmcateer waiting for me with the post. coz while I might feel undeserving of such kindness, I can at least agree with the sentiment coz girls ARE strong as hell. choose between bleeding like a massacre victim with pain so bad u can't function for a week every month or choose a high stakes toxic lottery of birth control with literally any number of unforeseen combinations of side effects on both ur physical & mental health or choose risking pregnancy and with it the undertaking of motherhood OR the contempt of society for practising your legal right to decide it isn't the right time (but lol if u wanna make a well-informed independent choice to opt for sterilisation coz yr girl brain defs can't comprehend the long term consequences). let the horror stories commence! 💊 ps my initial plan is to go with another brand of combined pill (or the mini pill) n if it turns out that I just can't handle any hormonal one anymore then I'm going for copper coil. pps I know 'females' isn't the most inclusive term but we all know the sentiment with which it's meant so pls don't tell me I'm ignorant n shite. and kimmy schmidt forever obvs. GRL PWR FOREVER.

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The Junction

The Junction, amongst many other resources, offers free counselling to young people aged from 12-21 in Leith.

See Me Scotland

Using the hashtag #myunfilteredlife people have been sharing their mental health stories with See Me Scotland across social media helping to end the stigma. Their website also has lots of fantastic resources. One of our members shared her story:

An important #myunfilteredlife post from @laurakatherinenelson. The health and fitness industry can often portray unrealistic expectations on social media. Expectations that can make us feel bad about ourselves. But working out can also be great for your body and mind. Well done Laura! ———- This picture is not representative of how I felt for most of today. For most of today, I felt tired, deflated, stressed and run down. The absolute last thing I wanted to do after a packed week was to work out. But then something weird happened. I've been sticking with @lucywyndhamread's May Challenge and Cardio Character programmes, and for the first time in my life, today exercise actually made me feel better, more positive, less anxious and stressed, and as though I had done something really good for my body. Okay I'm still a tired sweaty mess, but I'm a much happier tired sweaty mess than if I'd just vegged on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. Thank you Lucy for your constant virtual encouragement and support. I'm nowhere near my end goal yet, but I'm certainly giving myself a fighting chance. 🤸🏼‍♂️ 📷: @laurakatherinenelson #myunfilteredlife #mondaymotivation #mentalheath #mentalhealthawareness #endstigma #enddiscrimination #mentalhealthmatters

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Sofie Hagen

Sofie is Danish comedian who now lives in the UK. Often, the topic of mental health is discussed on her podcast, Made of Human – in an honest, relatable and informal way with her interviewees.

Young Women’s Movement Scotland

A wonderful resource for a wide variety of topics, what we particularly love are the regular reminders on Facebook and Instagram that self-love and self-care are really important.

Kara Brown

Kara is the CEO and Director of Young Women’s Movement Scotland (their youngest ever) and is a vocal advocate of ending the stigma around mental health. She regularly shares her own stories on Instagram.


When I grow up I want to be a… | Biologist

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Remember careers advice at school? When they’d roll out some old, unrelatable, “teacher” to tell you what to do with your life? Well, we’re doing careers advice – the Athena way! In our weekly feature, we’ll spotlight one of our members – what they do and how they got there. Let’s go smash those glass ceilings, shall we?

QNameMary Westwood.

Q1Neil deGrasse Tyson has this quote, “the great thing about being a scientist is you never have to grow up.” I think this is entirely true – especially for biologists. When I was little I spent all of my time outdoors, and as an adult, I’ve done a lot of the same. I haven’t lost the curiosity I had for nature as a child, I’ve just honed my skills as a scientist throughout my education.

I’m not sure I had a firm grasp on science as a potential career when I was young, but I did know that if I could explore the world like the people I saw on National Geographic, I wanted to pursue that. My goal has shifted a bit as I’ve gotten older in that I would ultimately like to become a professor.

Q2I am a biologist who is interested in the evolution and ecology of vectors and vector-borne diseases (a vector is an organism, such as a tick or mosquito, that can transmit pathogens). Currently, I’m working towards a PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh.

Q3I get to think and read a lot about evolution and ecology, create hypotheses, test those hypotheses, and interpret the results. For my Masters, I focused on the disease ecology of ticks in the upper-midwestern United States. For my PhD, I am working towards understanding the evolution of biological rhythms in malaria infection.

As a postgraduate student, I get to attend scientific conferences which allow myself and other scientists from around the world to share, discuss, and critique each others ideas. I have also had the opportunity to teach freshman biology laboratory courses as a graduate assistant, which can be a lot of fun.

Q4I am just starting my PhD this fall, so I haven’t been working on this project for long. I completed my Masters, which took two years, this summer. Before that I completed a BSc in Biology.

Q5The long answer would be that I’ve been working towards this point essentially my whole life. But, for the sake of brevity, I completed a Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in Biology, then was accepted into the PhD in Evolutionary Biology program here in Edinburgh. As a Bachelors student I involved myself in numerous research projects and worked as a tutor for biology courses, which helped to set me up for my Masters and Doctorate. Generally, it is not enough to simply complete coursework to become a successful postgraduate researcher; doing undergraduate research can really give you a leg-up with applying for Masters or Doctorates and will give you insight into whether or not research is something you actually want to pursue.

Q6If you want to be a scientist, you have to be truly passionate about the research you are pursuing. Otherwise, the likelihood of your success is really slim (plus, if you don’t love what you do, don’t do it!). Academia is a really long and hard road to go down. It involves years and years of school with minimal pay and a lot of long nights in the lab or long days in the field. I’ll be 30 when I finish my PhD, and I’ve likely got another few years as a post-doc after that before I can obtain a professorship.

On the flip side, there are a myriad of perks to being an academic. You get an honest opportunity to follow your passions, be creative, and create your own schedule. As a scientist you are constantly challenging yourself to grow and learn new and exciting things. It is so cool to realise that at the end of a project, you may have made a discovery that, for a short time, you are the only person in the world who knows.

Q7.jpgI would do exactly what I am doing right now. I feel comfortable in saying I am working towards exactly what I want in life. My long-term goal is to become a professor at a University and be involved in both teaching and research. It is a good idea to consider careers beyond academia (because professorships can be really hard to come by), however, I have to admit I haven’t put much time into thinking about other career paths.

Q8To clarify what the heck is going on, I am using forceps to remove a tick from a tick drag (a tick drag is a white cloth used to collect ticks in the field)!

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