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Meet the social worker using Instagram to spread kindness in lockdown

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8:00 AM February 14, 2021
  

When the first Covid lockdown struck back in March, social worker Stephanie Stanhope admits lost connections with family and colleagues took a big toll on her own wellbeing.

Working from home and feeling increasingly isolated, the 30-year-old, from Debenham, decided to take some time out from her busy role to concentrate on herself.

Stephanie Stanhope, from Debenham, who is spearheading the Love and Kindness Letters project. Pictur


Stephanie’s Instagram account has 300 followers and is growing by the day Picture: Danielle Booden

– Credit: Danielle Booden

The break inspired her to re-evaluate her own connections with people and how to maintain them – and that is when her lockdown project Creating Caring Connections was born.

“I’ve always valued the importance of connections and relationships in my work as a social worker, but I’ve never really applied it to myself,” she explains.

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“So last year, with all the lockdowns, our job was one we could do from home so I stopped seeing the team every day, I stopped being able to see the people I was working with. It got quite isolating and lonely, not being able to see family and friends, and that had an impact on my wellbeing and my motivation, I found it quite hard.

“It made me take a fresh look at how to maintain connections with people.

“Now, each week, I try and post on Instagram about some sort of idea relating to connections, wellbeing, and loneliness.”

Stephanie Stanhope, from Debenham, who is spearheading the Love and Kindness Letters project. Pictur


Stephanie Stanhope, from Debenham, who is spearheading the Love and Kindness Letters project. Picture: Danielle Booden

– Credit: Danielle Booden

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Stephanie’s Instagram account for the project is growing, with 300 followers amassed so far.

Her current topic, called Love and Kindness letters, encourages people to connect with themselves through daily prompts, urging them to ‘spend time thinking about what makes you feel good’, and to ‘do something nice for yourself’.

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The 30-year-old is also encouraging people to pen letters to themselves, to shine the spotlight on their own self-worth for a change, and taking the time to acknowledge personal strengths.

The Creating Caring Connections Instagram page which is managed by Stephanie Stanhope - the lady who


The Creating Caring Connections Instagram page which is managed by Stephanie Stanhope Picture: Danielle Booden

– Credit: Danielle Booden

“I’m also encouraging people to write letters to friends and family – I have found it really lovely to get things in the post,” she said.

“I started to send my nan letters, she was living in a care home at the beginning of lockdown.

“We couldn’t visit, and she struggled to hear over the phone, so we started writing to each other. It also gets me out of the house, to go to the postbox.”

Stephanie says it is the feeling of having your efforts reciprocated and appreciated that drives her to keep going.

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“It’s nice to get something back – you don’t know if they are going to write back, or when that’s going to come,” she added.

“It’s important for relationships to be reciprocal and you get that feeling back.

“I’ve also been trying to encourage people to reach out to others in the community who might be lonely or isolated, for instance contacting care homes to see if any residents would like a card, a picture or a letter, even a neighbour, just popping something nice through the door.

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“It’s just to try and make people feel appreciated, that someone has taken the time to do something thoughtful. It’s not necessarily what you write, so long as it’s nice it doesn’t matter, it’s the gesture that’s important.”

With interest in her new venture growing, Stephanie aims to continue exploring inventive ideas for her Instagram account, having noticed that most of her engagement comes through the social media app.

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Get involved via @creatingcaringconnections

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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