In March 2020, the UK went into lockdown. Attika had the idea of a podcast and discussed it with a student. That led to the creation of a team which made this happen. Positive Solace, hosted by BBC's Attika Choudhary, is a podcast you'll find a must to follow. It's motivating, inspiring and in some cases really moving. Attika will be talking to awesome people she has met and a few she has never met! In their own, unique way they are all doing what they can to help society at this difficult time. So come join us as we laugh, get emotional and travel the world.
Nabil Abdul Rashid is a comedian a private and carefree soul who sees his comedy more than just a job. In 2010, at the age of 25, he became the youngest black comedian to perform stand-up at the Hammersmith Apollo. Currently a semi-finalist for Britain’s Got Talent, he has been married to his South Asian wife for ten years. Nabil although born in England spent some time in Nigeria before returning in 2006. His father spent time in Soviet Russia, training in the medical profession, before moving to the UK.
Nabil has appeared in many popular comedy skits and Attika Choudhary first saw him performing at a Muslims Lol Ramadan event in 2014 and later introduced him on a BBC English regions comedy event.
In this final episode of “Positive Solace”, Nabil and Attika talk about the comedian's struggles with anxiety stemming from childhood which he described as ‘colourful’. They also discuss the nature of his marriage, as a black Muslim man with Nigerian heritage to a South Asian Muslim woman which is not a common occurrence. He makes comedy of the many times people have stared at him, his wife and children: once, a woman walked into a fruit stall and knocked it over, much to his amusement. He is saddened by racism and takes us into the history of it and believes that there is much more we can do to stop it.
He talks about the virus situation affecting the comedy industry; he explains that much of the comedy world is on hold, due to social distancing, despite many attempts and strategies, like Zoom, to overcome it. He also campaigned for fighting against knife and gun crime. And you can find out more about this charity which Nabil originally formed head over to https://apfoundation.co.uk/
Suyyash Rai is an actor and singer. He came to Mumbai 11 years ago from Punjab, and he started his acting career on the popular Indian show Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani as Neil Khurana. That was where he met his wife, Kishwer, only for her to murder him in the episode! “In my first show, Kishwer killed me, but we've been working together since. I love capturing her. I can do that better than anyone else!”
He has appeared on many popular tv series like Kya Hua Tera Vaada, and is in the Bollywood film, Aadat, due for release at some point. In fact, that’s where Attika met and first interviewed Suyyash, on the set of Aadat in London, in 2018.
In this penultimate episode of “Positive Solace”, Suyyash and Attika discuss how to find balance and calm through the little things of life and by accepting the good that we have. Just humming a favourite tune can help: “Music makes me happy,” he says - and he gives Attika a little tour of his studio. She points out that it is a lot more complex and high tech for humming a tune!. "If i'm sad or feeling a little off, I come to my studio. I make some music: it keeps me sane. With every new song I compose, I learn something,” Suyyash explains.
He talks about the virus situation in Mumbai and strategies for dealing with it. He is saddened by how it has affected the film industry and the pressures many people - staff and stars - are under. He was deeply moved by the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput who was a close friend. He says how feelings are important: “I choose to express my feelings, to let the other person know what I feel, no matter if I’m angry, sad or happy. If you've given me happiness, I will make sure you know that you've made me smile."
This week, BBC's Attika Choudhary is joined by Hollywood director/producer and stunt coordinator James Bamford. The two discuss a range of current issues the world is grappling with right now, from racism to Covid-19 and television and film production. James, who has directed episodes of TV smashes, Arrow and Batwoman, had an early career as a Juvenile Corrections Officer in Canada, before switching to film and TV through his love of martial arts. He touches upon his work in Bollywood with film stars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif and shares, very candidly, his responsibilities as a father and as a filmmaker and the importance of diversity and equality. The two share the joys and pains of life right now with sensitivity and a smile.
The following links are to help and support some of the causes James feels most strongly about.
The Conscious Kid - https://www.theconsciouskid.org/donate
Canadian Red Cross - https://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/violence-bullying-and-abuse-prevention/educators/child-abuse-and-neglect-prevention
Canadian Child Abuse Association - https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/canadian-child-abuse-association
Legal Defense and Educational Fund - https://80th.naacpldf.org/
Steve Baker MP, member of Parliament for Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, former Brexit Secretary, Royal Air Force engineer, and darling of the Conservative Party sits down with Attika Choudhary, host of Positive
Solace, to discuss the realities of being an MP – from the day to day pressures and the impact on home life, to the unique challenges and
struggles thrown up by Covid-19 for his constituents.
Steve also shows his personal side, with his love of extreme sports, only having been skydiving three times in the last year - a lot for most
of us, but comparatively little for him. Watch these on his YouTube channel.
Steve and Attika also touch on subjects such as the plight of Uighurs in China and how the British Government, whilst supporting free trade where
possible, should not sacrifice the human rights of minorities.
In the midst of all this, they talk about the realities - and also the need to be kind. Each of us have a responsibility to work together and stay optimistic.
Attika Choudhary, and Babs Withers who is a mother and a district nursing sister, delve into the realities of grief, before, during and after the pandemic. This is all in a heartfelt episode, that might bring you to tears, but will resonate with anyone who has ever lost someone and those who are trying to support their friends, family, and loved ones, hit by grief in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Babs lost her daughter to Metastatic bowel cancer in November last year. One year before her daughter, Georgina, had been diagnosed with cancer but at the time there was hope of a cure. However, last July, it was found that Georgina’s cancer had spread and was terminal. At the age of 32, Georgina who was just married for 18 months, had to leave her life behind along with her husband and loved ones. On the day of her funeral, her mother Babs was still in a state of shock.
They also discuss what positives have arisen from the pandemic, like the many "Chelsea Flower Show" gardens that have sprung up across the country, or hoe people are having real conversations with their neighbours because they now have time to talk. Now neighbours are meeting on driveways and in gardens like never before with tea parties, and barbecues and neighbours looking out for each other.
The speakers also explore mental wellbeing - and how differently men and women might grieve They look the networks that are so important for those in need. Just a card or a phone call, showing care, can mean so much to people. Those who grieve are often in a state of shock and struggle to reach out to others at the time when they need support most. “Going back to basics" of support can be so important: a simple, "How are you?" can mean so much. Nothing prepares you for death and people grieve differently. But we are not alone key to this support is communication.
Georgina's passion was the natural world - she had a zoology degree. If anyone wishes to donate, here are just a few links: https://www.greyhoundlifeline.co.uk/ WWF (World Wide Fund for nature) https://www.wwf.org.uk/ The Withers family contributed to The Royal Marsden Hospital where Georgina received her treatment. https://www.royalmarsden.org/ https://www.pth.org.uk/ Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care where Babs has been seeking bereavement counselling.
This week is Loneliness Awareness Week and as lock-down eases for some lock-down is normality. In this episode of Positive Solace Attika Choudhary talks to Steve Gilbert OBE FRSA about mental illness. Steve is what is described as a living experience consultant and is a suicide survivor. He was a vice chair of the UK government’s recent mental health act review. He suffers from bipolar disorder and depression. Steve & Attika discuss the struggles people with mental health problems face on a daily basis and how society often sidelines them. They also look at the impact on the black community as well as other minorities and what we can do to improve the situation for everyone. Steve is committed to improving outcomes for people living with mental illness. He was recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and appointed an OBE for services to mental health.
Steve has so much to share about how we can turn the tide on mental health and make our society more caring and nurturing and reduce misery, isolation, suffering and loneliness – and even if your not, learn how you can help those that are and identify the signs you can see to help them!
In the wake of recent events, he created an anti-racism resource – please check it out -- www.stevegilbertconsulting.co.uk/antiracism-how-to-be-an-ally
There are also a number of charities that you reach out to help here are just a few:
Attika Choudhary discusses the extraordinary project of a white woman, Melissa DePino, and a black woman, Michelle Saahene, who met through the Starbucks incident in 2018 and founded “From Privilege to Progress”.
Their aim is to change the way white people think from a position of privilege to understanding things from a black person’s point of view, and how we, as a community of all colours, have a duty to tackle racism by calling it out whenever we see it.
They discuss the current Black Lives Matter protests sweeping across the Western world, sparked by the death of George Floyd. The women see re-education as key to fighting racism.
They feel there are two different Americas - one for whites and another for blacks; even speaking about racism seems difficult for many whites. The protests should mark a crucial point for improvement.
For the many white people involved in the protests, it may be the first time they have come face-to-face with police brutality. It is something that black people have had to live with since the creation of the modern police force. If white people would learn and speak out from their position of privilege, adding their voices to black people everywhere, it should be possible to oppose and eventually dismantle the racist system and put an end to the discrimination that seems to be endemic in Western police forces.
Below are some links to help you get started should you wish to sign petitions, donate and educate and learn. You can find @privtoprog on instagram.
In the fifth episode of Positive Solace, host Attika Choudhary speaks with Devina Guyton, a nurse in a care home in Sussex. They consider the effects of the pandemic and lockdown on care homes and explore ways of coping with the mental stress, as well as the positives that the lockdown has brought to the UK.
They discuss society today, the impacts of the virus on work-life balance and also the impact on elderly residents. Their unscripted, honest talk ranges from the situation in Sussex, to the effects the virus has had on nursing as a profession, and how Devina wants the conversation on Nursing to change, towards the positive aspects of nursing and the benefits of the profession. It also delves into grief and death and how hard it is when people are unable to visit dying relatives.
Dr Mohamed Kajouj arrived from Syria as a refugee speaking very basic English. He had to learn the language and re-qualify in order to practise medicine in the UK. He now works on the COVID-19 wards in York Teaching Hospital. There are a number of doctors who have come to the UK as refugees but cannot practice because their qualification is not recognised here. Dr Kajouj is campaigning to get this re-qualification process made easier and quicker. Doctors are so needed at this time because the NHS is overstretched. He also talks about his experiences in Syria during the war, and how he dealt with the trauma of the conflict. Although things are calmer now due to the Covid-19 threat, the conflict is far from being resolved. He is concerned about the new symptoms of the virus being discovered and the threat of a second wave. On the positive side, he speaks about well-being, both physically and mentally and the Eid celebrations at the end of Ramadan.
Dr Kajouj is also involved in this campaign: https://act.helprefugees.org/help-refugees/refugee-healthworkers/sign/
Thank you if you can support these charities in any way:
Medecins Sans Frontieres who are busy helping refugees caught in the pandemic: https://www.msf.org.uk/
In the third episode of Positive Solace, BBC journalist Attika Choudhary goes on a journey of discovery with Poldark actor Christian Brassington who grew up in a nearby town in Hampshire. Currently living in London, he is a successful professional actor, a humanitarian and avid Man U football fan. They explore ways of keeping oneself focused during lockdown, and ready to seize opportunities and chart one’s best path.
They discuss what life is like in the spotlight and what events have influenced their lives. Christian is reading bedtime stories to children as part of his response to the current pandemic and is also involved as an ambassador for the following charities: https://m2m.org/
*Poldark is a BBC drama series
In the second episode of Positive Solace, BBC presenter Attika Choudhary goes on a spiritual journey with Ali Zafar, actor, singer-songwriter, and humanitarian, currently in lockdown, in Lahore, Pakistan. They consider the effects of the pandemic and Ali explains his foundation which distributes needy meals to many families. Link here: https://www.alizafarfoundation.org/
They discuss finding inner peace, and consider the effect of the lockdown and how Ramadan is affecting communities. Their conversation often returns to Ali’s view that the world needs to seize this opportunity for change and global peace.
The song 'Na tum ghalat' at the end of the show sums up beautifully what they've been talking about.
You can find @alizafar and @attikac on Instagram.
In this first episode, Positive Solace host Attika Choudhary speaks with Dr Kamran Ahmed, a psychiatrist, writer, and media contributor, who works in Sydney, Australia. They consider the effects of the pandemic and lockdown and explore ways of coping with the mental stress.
They explore positive strategies to overcome anxiety, negativity and one's inner critic, which Dr Ahmed wrote about recently, in The Guardian. Their unscripted, honest talk ranges from the world-wide situation to the individual's personal response, how isolation affects different people in different ways, and how we can use mindfulness and meditation.
It also covers grief and death and how people are trying to cope with not being able to visit dying relatives or attend funerals.
With thanks to team Positive Solace and our first sponsors, Big Talent Media which publishes http//:www.asianculturevulture.com and its Youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHE-Q4asdS2zKbu91mY32KQ). Remember to follow on Instagram: @Attikac
Positive Solace, with Attika Choudhary, is a podcast about finding inspiration during the difficult time of COVID-19 and lockdown. How do we remain up-beat? How can we be authentic and there for one another during this time?
Each week, presenter and journalist, Attika talks with her guests, unscripted, raw and real, such as how people are coping with the lock down, the Coronavirus itself, and how their lives have changed and what they have learnt during this process.
Positive Solace with Attika Choudhary premieres Tuesday 28th April wherever you get your podcasts.
So subscribe today! We would love to hear your feedback: please let us know what you think and what you'd like to hear more of. Thank you!