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People Fixing the World


tories about clever or big new ideas to solve global problems – and probing if these solutions actually work. A podcast from the BBC World Hacks team.

tories about clever or big new ideas to solve global problems – and probing if these solutions actually work. A podcast from the BBC World Hacks team.
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tories about clever or big new ideas to solve global problems – and probing if these solutions actually work. A podcast from the BBC World Hacks team.




How to Help Homeless People in Hospital

Being homeless is extremely bad for your health. Homeless people end up in hospital far more often, and when they get there their condition is often serious. We visit a London hospital to see how one innovative healthcare charity is rethinking caring for the homeless – and how a hospital visit can be an opportunity to do far more than just patch a patient up and send them on their way. Presenter: Tallulah Berry Reporter: Tom Colls Producer: Ammar Ebrahim Image: Gary Spall (BBC)


The Bird Rescuers

One of every five bird species could be extinct within the next century. Whether it’s down to the shiny glass office blocks materialising all over cities or the trawlers sailing ever-further out to sea to feed our growing population, our birds are seriously under threat. This episode looks at two particular successes when it comes to helping the world’s feathered friends: how Toronto has become a world leader in making cities bird-friendly, and how a group of enterprising conservationists...


Recycling Chewing Gum Litter to Clean Our Streets

More than $20bn is spent on chewing gum around the world each year. A lot of that gum will end up stuck to the streets. That's why gum is the second most common kind of street litter after cigarette materials. In the UK councils spend around £50m each year cleaning up the mess. But British designer Anna Bullus had an idea - what if the sticky stuff could actually be recycled and turned into useful objects? Presenter: Harriet Noble Reporter: Dougal Shaw Photo caption: Shoe sole made of...


How to Talk to Potential Extremists

Social media and messaging apps play a role in the extremist “radicalisation” of individuals. Tech companies have tried to get better at identifying extremist content and taking it down, but some specialists advocate an alternative approach – to use these platforms to engage with extremists one-to-one, to confront them and talk them round. Last year, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London organised hundreds of conversations on Facebook messenger between activists and those...


Recycling Second Hand Drugs

An app in Greece is helping people donate their leftover drugs to people who can't afford to buy them. So far the system has recovered and redistributed 10,000 boxes of medicine. Donors use the software to scan a unique code on the side of their boxes of unwanted drugs. The app automatically uploads details of the medication to a central database. They're then taken in by the country's network of social pharmacies where they're then given out to unemployed and homeless people. Reporter:...


Improvising Your Way Out of Anxiety

You’re standing on a stage, blinded by a spotlight trained on your face, knees weak, hands sweaty. Someone from the audience calls out a random word and you have to immediately react and come up with an amusing sketch or skit. This is improv, the unscripted theatre form that seems like it would cause rather than cure anxiety. But across North America people with the mental health condition are signing up for special “Improv for Anxiety” courses where the techniques and practices of the...


The Hydroponics Revolution

Providing food for seven billion people is fraught with difficulty. Fertilising vast tracts of land and flying fresh vegetables across the globe comes at a huge environmental cost. But more and more people are turning to hydroponics - growing plants in water, without any soil. The idea itself is hundreds of years old, but new twists on the old technique are now shaping the future of food. We investigate some of the most innovative hydroponics projects, from the refugees growing barley for...


The Currency Based on Good Deeds

By its very nature, volunteering means you don’t get paid. But what if there was a way to compensate volunteers that also helped the local economy? The northern English city of Hull is trying an experiment with a new, local cryptocurrency called HullCoin - the first of its kind in the world. It’s a sort of community loyalty scheme, that can only be earned by doing ‘good deeds’ and can only be redeemed in local businesses. But can it really improve the economic resilience of struggling...


The Babies Teaching Kindness in Class

Naomi isn’t your average teacher. For one thing, she’s only 6 months old. But in many schools across Canada babies like Naomi are a regular feature at the front of class. It’s because of an education programme called Roots of Empathy, which is designed to encourage kids to be kinder. The idea is that because a baby can’t explain and externalise how it’s feeling, children learn to recognise and identify the baby’s emotions, and become more emotionally astute themselves. It’s been proven to...


Kids versus Cars

An English woman has championed a way to bring back community spirit to city streets and keep children fit. She creates pop-up playgrounds by regularly closing the roads to cars. Alice Ferguson began her project in Bristol and the idea is spreading around the UK. It is part of a much larger, global movement that thinks it can give children a better deal.


Can We Save Coral?

Up to 90% of the world’s coral could be dead by 2050, according to some estimates, unless we take radical action. Tackling climate change remains the central battle, but around the world scientists are working on projects that may give coral a greater chance of survival, or at least buy it some time. The World Hacks team investigates ‘super coral’ in Hawaii, an innovative insurance policy in Cancun, Mexico and a highly controversial plan to geo-engineer clouds above the Great Barrier Reef...


Checking-in With The Problem Solvers

World Hacks follows up on some of our stories from last year – going back to innovators around to world to see how their projects have developed. We hear updates on the app that lets volunteers donate their vision to blind people, the man making roads out of plastic and the compost toilets in Haiti that are turning human waste into soil. Presenters: Harriet Noble and Dougal Shaw Reporters: Amelia Martyn-Hemphill, Nick Holland and Sam Judah Image: People Fixing the World illustration /...


Scouts, Knives and a Community Fridge

This week we hear about three small solutions trying to make a dent on some big problems. We hear about an outdoor gym made from melted-down knives. We talk to the scout leaders in Madagascar trying to break taboos around periods. And in London we visit the community fridge, where locals can donate and take whatever they want. Reporters: Amelia Martyn-Hemphill, Clare Spencer and Harriet Noble Presenter: Tom Colls Image: The Steel Warrior gym / Credit: BBC


The Ring That Could Help Save Women’s Lives

In Southern Africa, over seven thousand women are infected with HIV each week. Many can't persuade their partners to wear a condom, so a new form of protection being tested in Malawi could be a real game-changer. It's a small silicon ring which encircles the cervix and releases antiretroviral drugs, lowering the women’s risk of contracting HIV. Their partners can’t feel it, and don’t even need to know it’s there. World Hacks meets the women pioneering this approach and taking control of...


How to Get Wheelchairs on Planes

If you are a wheelchair user, travelling by aeroplane can be very difficult. Buses, trains and some cars are designed for people to roll into without getting out of their chair, but planes are not, which means an often painful process of moving between the chair and the airline seat – if this is even possible. This can potentially lead to injuries and can stop disabled people travelling by air. Now, a small group of amateur campaigners is trying to change this – designing and testing their...


Drone Delivery: Medicines By Air

Most Malawians live in rural areas and if they get sick, it can be incredibly difficult to get testing kits or medicines in time. Malawi's government has now opened up part of its sky to companies and charities who want to use drones to solve this problem, creating what’s being called the world’s first humanitarian drone testing corridor. World Hacks travels to rural Malawi to assess the opportunities and dangers from this new technology, and to see how much Malawians could benefit. Image:...


Smartphone-Activated First Aiders

Your chances of surviving a cardiac arrest while out on the high street are slim. It's estimated survival rates decrease by ten percent for every minute you don't get medical help. The nearest ambulance may be on its way but could take several minutes to arrive. But what if an off-duty paramedic was just around the corner and could help out? BBC World Hacks looks at a new alert system that informs people with first aid training when they're in the vicinity of a medical emergency. Nick...


The Former Neo-Nazi Helping Others To Quit

A retired police detective and a former neo-Nazi leader may seem like an unlikely partnership. But Dr Bernd Wagner and Ingo Hasselbach have taken their past differences and used them as the basis for making a real change. When Hasselbach quit neo-Nazism over two decades ago he and Wagner, who had once arrested him, realised they had a shared dream: to help far right extremists change their ways. Presenter: Tallulah Berry Reporter: Harriet Noble Image: Ingo Hasselbach / Credit: BBC


How Iceland Saved Its Teenagers

In 1998, 42% of Iceland’s 15 and 16 year-olds reported that they had got drunk in the past 30 days. By 2016, though, this figure had fallen to just 5% and drug use and smoking had also sharply declined. The action plan that led to this dramatic success is sometimes called “the Icelandic Model” – and strikingly, it does not focus on tighter policing or awareness campaigns to warn children off bad habits. Instead, top researchers collaborate closely with communities on initiatives like...


The Missing Maps

Thousands of places in the world don't officially exist on a map. If you're not on a map, it can have implications for how people find you - in times of disaster for example. But a project called Missing Maps is solving that, by using the power of volunteers to make 'invisible people, visible'. At a mapathon in London, volunteers are sitting around their laptops plotting the world. And then in Malawi, mapping experts are putting in essential details to the map. World Hacks travels there to...


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