My K Teas: The new, different shop in Sawbridgeworth town centre

By Ben Sanderson

An exciting iced tea with a Taiwanese twist has hit Sawbridgeworth after the opening of a new store, My K Teas, serving an international brand, Bubbletea.

Kate Little, 40, manages the store, and described what Bubbletea iced teas are formed of.

Entrepreneurial: Kate Little in her tea shop

“It’s made of tapioca balls, which are like sugar caramel, to make a milky iced tea.

“It’s evolved now so there are fruity teas as well as the original milky tea.

“I used to live in Malaysia, and came back here during lockdown.

“I just knew it was really popular there, because you’d get as many Bubbletea shops as coffee shops, so I started this place.”

My K Tea’s opened up just after the national lockdown enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking of the hardships that the rules made for her, Ms Little said “It was really difficult to work out what we were allowed to do, in terms of masks and COVID rules, which kept changing.

“As my core market are teenagers, this was even harder, as they often flouted the rules.

“Several times, they gathered outside drinking their teas, which the older residents complained about.”

Charming: K Teas shop

Ms Little, who lives in London Road, Sawbridgeworth, wanted to do something different with her shop so that it stood out from the crowd, as there is much competition in the town.

“About the time I opened up, there were other coffee shops opening, like the Workshop and CJ’s.

“Using the Bubbletea allowed me to stand out from the crowd.

“Business is good, and the Sawbridgeworth coffee shop market is growing.

“I expect business will slow down now we are coming into winter.

“Summer was busy but we will struggle too, as not so many people will be drinking iced tea in the cold weather.”

Tempting: Lots on offer

One thing Ms Little is pleased about, though, is that more exciting stores have given a rebirth to the high street in Sawbridgeworth.

“My parents used to run an antiques store, and there were a lot of them in town at the time.

“The core market for antique dealers is other antique dealers and auctions, so it’s hard to get interest from the general public.

“Back when they were running their store, the high street was dead.

“It’s a lot busier now, and stores like {My K Teas] are getting more young people onto the high street.

“The future looks bright for our high street.”

Anti-slavery campaign gets messages out on streets of Leicester

By Ben Stevens

A charity in Leicester has been out and about today(TUE,OCT19) raising awareness of the challenges relating to modern slavery.

Hope for Justice, one of Britain’s leading charities fighting the battle against modern slavery, has a stall set up in the city centre, educating and informing people about signs of modern slavery and how everyone can help to stop it.

There was particular emphasis given on being alert to the signs of slavery in Leicester’s business sector, particularly the garment industry which has been subject to an investigation over the past 12 months.

Shaista Jakhura, a lead community engagement specialist at Hope for Justice, said: “Modern slavery is a big problem in Leicester and the rest of the UK.

“There were over 10,600 cases of modern slavery reported to us in Leicester over the past year but the actual figure is almost certainly much higher than that.

“It’s very important that people know the signs of modern slavery as spotting the signs early can make all the difference.”

Shaista is keen to educate younger people of the dangers of modern slavery in the city and will be speaking at De Montfort University tomorrow.

She said: “Many young people who are in need of money are often exploited in the workplace.

“I want to help younger people find employment that is safe and fair.”

Since being founded in the United Kingdom in 2008, Hope for Justice has expanded and operates in more than 30 locations across the world.

Despite the pandemic, the charity reached more than 190,000 people in 2020 with nearly 5,000 children and adults directly rescued from slavery and given subsequent aftercare.

For more information on Hope for Justice and the work they do visit https://hopeforjustice.org/.

Leicester Restaurant Week kicks off across the city as people flock into The Globe pub

By Jayden Whitworth

Brimming: Customers get a taste of what The Globe has to offer

Pubs and restaurants across Leicester are offering discounted food this week as part of the city’s new scheme ‘Leicester Restaurant Week’.

From yesterday (MON,OCT18) until Sunday, various restaurants across the city are taking part to encourage the people of Leicester to get out and enjoy what the city has to offer.

Thirty restaurants are involved with a selection of different cuisines on offer, ranging from Argentinian food at Sonrisa, Thai Tapas at The Giggling Squid or classic pub food at The Globe pub.

This week will also give these restaurants a fantastic opportunity to bounce back after a difficult couple of years.

Layla Sidat, general manager at The Globe, said: “It’s always good to have new customers try our food and experience The Globe’s unique atmosphere.

“After lockdown I’m sure there will be a bit of hesitation for diners returning back to the centre but hopefully this will encourage them to give us a go.

“Here at The Globe, we are offering two-course and three-course menus with a selection of dishes, some new and some old favourite dishes especially for Leicester Restaurant Week.

“With the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme such a hit nationally last year, it’s nice to be able to offer a deal ourselves and get people back enjoying hospitality.

“Today has been the first day and we have already had a full dining room ordering from the ‘Leicester Restaurant Week’ menu, so I am hoping this trend carries forward throughout the week and hoping for a cracking weekend too!”

To take advantage of any of the offers available over the course of the week, go to leicesterrestaurantweek.co.uk to claim a voucher to be used in one of the restaurants.

Victoria Park hosts Race for Life as fight against cancer continues

By Jayden Whitworth

Pleased: Annabel after finishing her 10k Race for Life

Race for Life arrived in Leicester on Sunday(OCT17) as hundreds of runners embarked on a 5k or 10k run in support of Cancer Research UK.

The 2020 Leicester Race for Life was cancelled as COVID-19 took a grip on the nation, but the event returned on Sunday for the first time since 2019.

Hundreds of runners took part across the day in Victoria Park as times were staggered to adhere to social distancing measures.

Over £50,000 was raised amongst the participants with each runner fundraising prior to the event on Sunday.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against cancer has slightly wavered and these events are important to ensure the battle is not lost.

Annabel Forman, 18, who completed the 10k run in 1 hour and 13 minutes, said: “I really enjoyed the race.

“It was really encouraging being around people with the same goal of raising money for cancer research.

“Events like these are crucial to help fund charities and help spread awareness around signs of cancer.

At last! The home straight at the Race for Life on Sunday.

“It brings hope to all those affected directly or through family and friends that the fight isn’t lost and understanding you are not alone.

“It’s brilliant to have these events once again after the pandemic.

“It felt very safe and seeing on the news how much the pandemic negatively impacted charities it was great to see everyone coming together and raising some money.”

Annabel was running the race in memory of her Nana, who died from cancer, and raised £165 in the process. 

To donate to Cancer Research UK you can go to this website www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/donate or alternatively phone 0300 123 0770.

DMU alumni creates football league for students

By Joshua Solomon

Former De Montfort University student Mark Abolaji has created a new football league for students who don’t have a place in the university’s official squads, named ‘Active League’.

Mark, 23, who was raised in East London, Hackney, came to De Montfort University in 2015 and studied Mechanical Engineering and also got a PHD in Business Management in Sport.

Mark had been coaching in Leicester for a year before he was approached by a colleague about an idea of a separate league.

It piqued his interest so he took it further, looking at what was on offer at the university.

After his research he found that the official football squads didn’t take into consideration the hundreds of students who were turned away or didn’t get to have a trial for the university. He wanted to do something about it.

Pioneering: Mark Abolaji, DMU alumni.

Also, during his coaching of DMU teams, he said he has found a disparity between all the players he knows and sees plus the range of ethnicities that they bring from all over the country and those who are lucky enough to be picked for the DMU official teams.

So, with the creation of the ‘Active league’ he wanted a pathway for those who maybe have talent but have not had the opportunity to be seen.

Mark said: “We created the active league for people who wanted to coach and wanted to play. To give them equipment and to be able to have competitive games.”

Mark spoke about his passion for the game of football as that drove him to push on with the league and he knows there are others who have the same passion.

He said: “People need to play football; football wasn’t there when the world was created but football created a new world.”

Mark found that coaching at DMU some of the players didn’t share the love of football that he did. He said: “It’s not that the players don’t love ball, it’s just that they’re here for the what comes along with it. The social.”

Mark’s main aim was to create a ‘football purist environment’. He said: “This platform is for people to express themselves, not only to play football but to coach, ref, record and to support.

“To create comfort for people who love football, because there is no better feeling than having a talk about football.”

Mark also talks about the importance of the league on people’s mental health, especially coming out of a pandemic.

He continued: “Football is a release for some people and a way to block out whatever else is happening. To not have that outlet must have a knock-on effect.

“It’s physical and mental exercise, you’re using your brain and your body, it is a pressure release for people.”