Read our new newsletter this week, featuring staycations, spas and bad hair. I’m kinda missing everyone having big (bad) hair.  With county salons and barbershops reopening this week, my social feeds have been blown up with people rocking their new do’s. OK, Leicester-folk, we know that you have another week of hair don’ts ahead of you, but please do be patient.  Your time will come, and your hair will be Insta-fabulous before you can say lickety split (ends).

Getting the chop is another small step for most of us in terms of getting back to normal, of taking control.  But, it’s a major leap for the hairdressers and barbers themselves who have been left without income over the last few months.

Most salons are having to work seven days a week to try, not only to catch up, but to make ends meet in a system that requires longer gaps between appointments for thorough clear downs and traffic management in salon.  It has taken a huge amount of planning, problem solving, determination and positive thinking – something that all those businesses that rely on customers visiting their premises have shown – and we at FU want to say thank you so much for all your hard work.  It’s not unnoticed.

We know that queuing can be frustrating, having to use a basket or trolley when just dashing in for one or two bits can be annoying, and yes, there will be people in stores obliviously staring at their phones and blocking aisles making social distancing impossible.  But see the bigger picture and take control of your own response to it all.  And do it with grace.

Outside of Leicester, the reopening of pubs and bars appears to have gone well – the fact that it’s the same pics of a couple of pub gardens being overrun that are being shared is proof enough that problems have not been widespread.  If news outlets could have shared more to wind us all up, I am in no doubt that they would have.  So, let’s consider that a victory.  The first weekend was always going to be a test and moving forward things should be easier.  Hopefully, Leicester will benefit from this practical insight into the realities of reopening.  Again, if you’re visiting bars and restaurants over the coming days, be sensible and be kind.

The next step in the process is, surely, for our gyms, beauty clinics, tattoo parlours and spas to reopen. Again, it’s people’s livelihoods at stake and all have been working hard in the background to make reopening safe and pleasurable for customers and staff, so please do support them as soon as you’re able.

We’re already seeing the impact of COVID-19 on our High Streets, so if we want to keep our favourite retailers alive, we must go out and support them.  So, give yourself a treat, book an appointment and support the businesses – small and big – that make our cities, towns and villages so vibrant and interesting.  Hopefully, the High Street ‘Spend Me’ voucher that’s been mooted in tonight’s Briefing will assist this – and it’ll feel so, so sweet.

Let’s get started!

Jon, Kevin and the #FUFighters


What’s the best time to go to the Dentists?

Tooth Hurty…



After three long months of closure, Drayton Manor is back in business and has reported promising attendance figures for its reopening weekend (last weekend).  It says it’s feeling ‘cautiously optimistic’ about life after lockdown.

Family-favourites including Thomas Land, as well as the Carousel, Jolly Buccaneer, Accelerator, Flying Dutchman and the 15-acre zoo all reopened incorporating new social distancing measures, hand sanitiser stations, and regular routine cleaning of rides.

The attraction has also introduced an innovative virtual queuing system in certain areas of the park, which allows guests to queue digitally via the Drayton Manor Park app. Once they have joined a queue, riders can see how long they have left until their allocated ride time and receive a notification and boarding pass, which will be scanned before boarding the attraction when it’s their turn to ride – not unlike Euro Disney.

Tickets are now on sale on a pre-booked basis. Visit



After the shock of the local lockdown in Leicester last week, we hope you have been able to regroup (again!) and plan for when you can reopen your doors. If you are in the county and did open, how was it? Did everyone behave?!

This week if you do have time on your hands, or if you want to keep moving your business knowledge forward, we’re excited to signpost you to some free additional support.

We’ve talked about them before, but The Business Gateway Growth Hub events team have reacted quickly to the re-lockdown situation and turned their face-to-face workshops into an extensive online webinar programme, ensuring you/we can keep developing skills remotely, and for free.  What’s not to love?

Without sounding like a broken record, we genuinely can’t stress enough how great this FREE service is, but in a nutshell the Growth Hub provides comprehensive business support, impartial advice as well as capital grants of between £2,000 and £25,000 to small and medium-sized enterprises in Leicester and Leicestershire. The business advisers are ‘real’ people and their knowledge and experience is second to none.

The webinar programme they offer covers a wide range of business topics to inform, educate and inspire those working for themselves, plus business owners and staff wanting to make the most of the current circumstances.  Whatsmore, they’ve sourced experts in their respective fields so you can be sure each webinar is professional and most importantly, useful!

Topics are varied and include areas such as

  • pricing,
  • personal productivity,
  • contingency planning,
  • purpose and strategy,
  • well-being,
  • sales,
  • marketing plus many more.

Having attended a few, they really are a great way of adding additional strings to your bow.  There is the option to interact throughout so you can create rapport with the presenter – they even send the slides to you afterwards, so you can refer back to them as and when you need to. And did we mention it was all gratis?  Lol.

They are also running larger webinars focused on reopening business, led by legal and health and safety experts plus some of the largest local businesses – Dunelm, PPL PRS, Twycross Zoo and Curve to name just a few – all advising how they are, or will, be reopening their businesses safely.  This type of information is priceless, and it really is great to see businesses in Leicestershire working together during this time.




Legendary clubbing brand, HedKandi, is calling on clubland to help support DJs, artists, musicians and event organisers who have found themselves without an income during the COVID-19 crisis.

With many people falling through the cracks of government support and who draw their income from the night time economy, HedKandi and Fierce Angel founder – and long-time friend of FU – DJ Mark Doyle  is asking for those who have enjoyed events and club nights over the years to support a series of live online events that have been designed to bring the full HedKandi club experience to your own home.

The first HedKandi Garden party took place on Sunday 5th July with multiple DJ’s, performers, full production and of course the very best music in the world. It was as close to a real HedKandi club event as the team could make it and it’s available to watch and enjoy now on YouTube & Twitch.

The second event is planned to be broadcast from Ibiza to bring the White Isle experience back to the UK for all those who have missed out on their annual pilgrimage to the capital of club.  And you’re all invited.
All they ask is that you donate what you can to help cover the costs of all the artists involved and help give an income to creatives that have been left without a wage throughout the last three months.   Any additional money collected will be donated to micro charities selected by you that are often overlooked and where they can truly make a difference.

Watch Sunday’s party above and to donate click here



Over 100 days since closing their doors, Ragdale Hall is busy planning to reopen on Monday 27th July. This will of course be subject to government guidelines for spas. (Fingers crossed!)

With an escape from reality needed more than ever, when they do reopen they hope to do so with as much of the Ragdale experience on offer to guests – hallelujah – while adhering to the latest safety measures to keep both you and them as safe as possible.  We can’t wait.

Meanwhile Belvoir Castle has reopened the State Rooms for visitors alongside the Engine Yard retail village, its restaurants and bar.

Visit to arrange your visit.



Restrictions on travel may limit your options for holidaying in specific countries, but when there are so many diverse cities throughout the United Kingdom to enjoy, leaving the passport at home is no hardship.

Here, My City Pod has recommended five gorgeous staycation destinations fit for any home-stay tourists:

1. Edinburgh is host to a wealth of notorious festivals, drawing artists and entertainers from all over the world. Aside from Edinburgh Castle, the city is ideal for the modern explorer, discovering the underground vaults or secret gardens of this vast city.

2. Few cities are as culturally significant as Bath. Built by the Romans, the city earned its name from the ancient baths and spas, with golden-coloured architecture throughout the city. On the outskirts is an abundance of woodlands and trails for those looking to escape an urban setting.

3. Winchester is rich in history and this former capital city exhibits the round table from the King Arthur legend within its ancient walls. Despite its heritage, Winchester is vibrant, rich with art and holds regular open-air markets in the centre.  A short distance away from the local nature reserves, Winchester is a gorgeous setting for all tastes.

4. Cambridge is a tourist hotspot due to the world-famous university, but it’s also an understated place for escape. With bike hire available to explore this definitive British city, Cambridge offers some gorgeous scenery to enjoy by yourself or with others, especially if you experience via the river.

5. Bristol is a fusion where traditional meets modern.  It’s also a great starting point for those with an interest in seafaring.  Home to bands like Massive Attack and Portishead, Bristol has always been pivotal with new music and this diverse taste extends into its brewery scene, too.



After months of uncertainty and amidst fears of mass closures and redundancies from British Theatres and arts institutions, the UK government have confirmed that theatre and the performing arts will have access to a £1.57 billion government investment package designed to help the culture and heritage sectors survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  Encore.

Hailed as “the heart of this country” by the PM, the UK’s creative sector will receive what is billed as the “biggest ever, one-off investment in UK culture”.  Johnson said the package will ensure organisations can “stay afloat and support their staff” while they remain closed to audiences.

What has not been announced, however, is when theatres can expect to open their doors although in a statement following the announcement, Leicester’s Curve restated their hopes to open their doors this October. Chief Executive, Chris Stafford, and Artistic Director, Nikolai Foster, said in a joint statement: “ We welcome this news of urgent investment to protect our world famous arts and cultural industries… we look forward to hearing in more detail how these packages will be implemented… and specifically how these grants and loans will safeguard the future of Curve and the theatre industry itself.”

In the meantime, why not show your support of Curve and become a member? Click here to find out all the benefits and how to join.



There’s no denying that lockdown has been tough; however many people have also enjoyed some of the benefits a more basic lifestyle has offered.  Working from home, learning a new skill, eating homecooked meals or hopping on a bicycle are just some of our new-found loves.  Author and psychotherapist, Mark Newey, believes lockdown has been the ‘reset button nobody dared press’! He’s keen for the nation to move forward and make mental wellbeing a lockdown legacy.

Here are his top tips to ensure your best lockdown habits don’t become a distant memory.


Before lockdown, we lived life like it was a constant sprint! To get into sprint or stress mode, our body is filled with adrenalin, cortisol and noradrenaline to fire us up. When we have dealt with whatever the pressure is, we slow down and get back into balance. But, if we’re in constant sprint mode our mind and body are constantly stressed. We have to learn to take things easy and pace ourselves!


Routines help us to create an easy, calmer and more comfortable reality. Many of us have intuitively become aware of the need to create new order; what might not be so obvious is to take these new routines with us as we come out of lockdown. If you’ve enjoyed cooking, meditation or mindfulness during lockdown, make time in your schedule to continue this activity.


Exercise has always been vital for the human condition to thrive. Exercising outdoors is best as it’ll ensure your daily fix of Vitamin D, which is vital for a good night’s sleep.  Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals are the body’s feel good hormones and play an important part in regulating your mood.

To discover more about how to look after your own mental wellbeing visit



Urban walking tour company London Walks has introduced a range of virtual tours of London, hosted on Zoom by experienced London Walks guides.  They offer an insider’s look into some of London’s most popular landmarks.

The virtual tours are interactive and feature unique photography captured by the London Walks guides, as well as long forgotten maps and photos and, because virtual tours are waterproof, the British weather can’t interrupt the fun!

Why not try the Sights and Secrets of Kensington tour, which takes you by (virtual) hang-glider from Trafalgar Square to the richest borough in London? Or how about stepping back into 1888 and London’s East End, as you discover the world of the infamous Jack the Ripper.

Tours cost from just £8. To find out more visit:



The RSPB is inviting people from Leicestershire to share the new things they have noticed that’s different in their world, and what they have started to value more during these unsettling times as part of a nationwide celebration of nature and wildlife.

Since the UK first went into lockdown it’s been a unique time for most of us. This spring has been unlike any other and, more than ever, we’ve seen how important the natural world is to our health and wellbeing.

From enjoying the uplifting sound of birdsong through an open window, to getting a welcome dose of fresh air and exercise in a local park, many of us have found solace in nature and had time to notice what’s going on around us.

Adam Murray, Head of Community Empowerment at the RSPB, said: “We’d love you to share the new things you have noticed and started to appreciate more in your world – large and small. Whether it’s cleaner air, the wildlife in your local park or getting creative in your support of the natural world, we’d love to hear about it. We want to know what you’ve started to value during these strange times.”

To get involved, simply share your stories and photos using #MyWorldNow on social media.




With the prospects of foreign trips unimaginable for many, a huge upsurge in caravan and camper van sales is expected this summer with countryside campsites the perfect place for socially distanced holidaying. Practical Caravan have produced a buyer’s checklist for those looking at purchasing a second-hand caravan.  Read it here.



After 100+ days in lockdown (and counting) and working from home being the new norm, our pets have become used to us always being around.  Whilst this is lovely on lots of levels – who doesn’t love our furry friends by our feet all day? – it is also proving problematic for our pooches, as they can display signs of anxiety when we do leave the house. Some dogs have resorted to howling or others going into destruction mode as they display their grief – even if they’re only left for a few minutes.
So, what do we do?  We turned to our friend and all-round dog-whispering expert, Nico Joiner, for some top tips to deal with anxiety in man’s best friend.

Firstly – know where you stand!

Tips for assessing:

  • “You do you” – Give them a food item or their meal in a way that lasts more than two minutes. Go and sit in another room and see what they do.  Leaving the item or not even starting it unless it’s near you means you’ve got work to do.
  • Film your dog – there are little cameras you can buy off internet that just need Wi-Fi, your phone and £20-30.  Set it up and watch what you’re up against. Do your normal work routine in the morning and leave them for a short time.
  • What happens when you return – this is important! If they immediately drink/eat the item you left them, or your returning isn’t enough to calm them, again you’ve got work to do.

So here comes the Solutions avec disclaimer: This is a general outline for common cases reliant on your input. If not suitable at any point, then contact a qualified professional through your vet or the APDT/APBC.

  1. Routine – create a blueprint of your normal routine and trying to mimic it WHILST being at home. Instead of being “at work” be “boring” or do yoga, same thing.
  2. Assess preferences – find out what your dog really enjoys! Something not overly exciting and isn’t reliant on you being involved.  Calm chewing, licking, finding, or solving. The goal is a dog invested in what they are doing, so look outside the box in terms of food items.  Note, just using their dry food is very… “meh”, so get creative.
  3. Calm activity ideas – Try Lickimats, puzzle feeders like Kong’s, appropriate chews/bones or Hansel and Gretel style biscuit trail around the house. Don’t make it hard straight away, as the dog must be successful at completing it otherwise it’s just another annoying thing.
  4. Stop Bowl feeding – Bowl feeding is very last century – it’s a waste of an opportunity to entertain, train, or simply interact with your dog. Use daily rations as part of their activities, e.g. soak dry food to soften it up, stuff it into an activity feeder, or smear pate on the edges and freeze it. For more ideas look up canine enrichment on the web or Facebook.
  5. The signal – Let the dog know that an activity is going to happen e.g. put down a specific blanket/mat, add an item of clothing to their bed, or switch the radio on.  Like getting their lead + walk, you want to make it so the signal = the expectation (very Pavlovian). ANTICIPATION is the key!
  6. Location – pick a location where you are going to provide the activity (and anything else you treat your dog to). This + the signal will be a predictor of great things enabling you to combat the next stage.
  7. Small increments – write down all the things that signal to the dog “I’m going, cue meltdown” e.g. jacket going on, picking car keys up. Gradually start to do each of these things randomly one at a time, if your dog leaves their item/location permanently, go back a few stages or heighten the value of their activity.

When you are working through this, keep low key and chill. When the dog is in their location, the signal is given and the activity provided, leave them be.  Don’t suddenly decide to do something distracting and initially stay near them, slowly building up to moving away and eventually leaving the house.
Keeping a diary is a good idea!

  1. Last point – Physical exercise – This is necessary to a degree, but make sure it is appropriate! Storming down the street to the park or launching a ball for an hour will create a pumped-up athlete who is reliant on you to “get their fix”. For dogs being left alone, enriching the senses is key. Sniffing, seeing and hearing specifically involves processing information which will be mentally draining, which leaves a dog more complacent at being left.  A trip to the woods it is!

This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of advice and understanding. Done consistently, gradually and with a bit of imagination, this is a “do no wrong” way to address the worries you have, but also build the foundations should you find you have a bigger challenge ahead of you.

Nico Joiner, CertHE in Animal Welfare, Behaviour and Rehabilitation, is a Dog Training and Behaviour expert that has spent nearly 15 years in the field of Rescue and Rehoming dogs. Looking to further his positive impact on dog ownership he has begun his venture into Specialist Behavioural Consultations under the name Joint Effort.  Contact him at [email protected]


The dog that trots about finds a bone.

– Golda Meir

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