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Laura Smith

Digital Journalist

Location icon United Kingdom


Derren Brown on happiness, his guilty pleasures and Infamous

The Infamous Derren Brown is bringing his trademark wit, humour and mind-blowing mentalism to Scotland next month. And let's not forget that red Frisbee he likes to throw into the crowd. A supreme showman, the illusionist can reduce an entire theatre audience to stunned silence.

The Herald
Stand up for freedom

Can comedy stop reoffending? That's the claim of a project at Glasgow's Barlinnie prison.

From the streets to Fleet Street

Seven years ago, Joel Hodgson was curled up on the steps of Westminster Police Station; anxious, lost and homeless. Today, he’s suited and booted and heading to work at one of London’s biggest law firms, all thanks to The Big Issue.

Boomerang Project flies into Glasgow for Culture 2014

No matter from where we hail or however far we travel, hearing a blast of traditional music often has the power to immediately stir the soul and return us to our roots. For the Scots, it's the skirl of the pipes, the beat of drums and the soft lilt of a Gaelic song.

Rave Hearts: Mogwai bring the noise to Usher Hall

Still pushing the boundaries of post-rock, it's hard to believe that Mogwai have been melting minds and rattling eardrums with their guitar-driven dirges for nearly 20 years. Since forming in the mid-90s, the quintet have become known for their whisper-to-a-scream style of primarily instrumental post-rock and deafening live shows.

Second Social Bite store opens in Glasgow to help homeless

But with a past blighted by time in prison, alcohol addiction and periods of homelessness split between Glasgow hostels, the 29-year-old spent four years struggling to find work. Now, he's helping to launch Glasgow's second Social Bite store which opens tomorrow on Bothwell Street.

INSP (International Network of Street Papers)

New street paper to tackle poverty and corruption in Romania

Last November, tens of thousands of Romanians brandishing placards and megaphones marched through the streets of Bucharest. They were united in fierce protest against the widespread corruption that doesn't just eat away at their country's political and media institutions - it kills.

Shedia: the raft keeping Greece's poor and homeless afloat

Less than a month after angry protesters returned to the streets of central Athens in response to more austerity measures - including pension cuts and tax hikes - thousands gathered in another corner of the city to celebrate music, love and solidarity.

Vendors help Danish street paper become country's most read publication

INSP member Hus Forbi is now the most widely read paid-for, monthly magazine in Denmark - with over half a million readers per edition. According to the official quarterly statistics from Gallup, the street paper secured an incredible readership of 526,000 in the first half of 2015.

Success of cooperative newspaper proves "truth still sells" in Greece

During the Global Street Paper Summit in Athens, Nicholas Voulelis, editor of Efimerida ton Syntakton (The Journalists' Paper) gave an inspiring introduction to his unique newspaper, which is run as a cooperative of over 100 journalists. By Laura Smith How many journalists does it take to produce one of Greece's most trusted and successful daily newspapers?

Unwanted laptops recycled into lifeline for London homeless

A project to give recycled laptops to hundreds of homeless men and women has launched in London. The ground-breaking Laptops for Homeless Support Initiative restores unwanted hardware and donates the devices to homeless and vulnerable people supported by Thames Reach.

How social enterprises feed Greeks on the breadline

Social enterprise was once an unknown concept in Greece. But in response to the economic crisis that has steadily pushed hundreds of thousands of people dangerously close to or below the poverty line, grassroots solutions have flourished. Our summit co-host Shedia is just one inspiring example.

Colin Farrell makes surprise visit to Homeless World Cup

Hollywood actor Colin Farrell thrilled Homeless World Cup players and supporters today with a surprise visit to the event in Amsterdam. Farrell is a long-time supporter of the tournament and was announced as a Homeless World Cup Ambassador in June. He said he is happy to support a tournament that champions the power of football to change lives.

Homeless World Cup: Team Scotland gunning for a third gold

Let's be honest, Scotland does not have the best track record when it comes to international football. That is... unless you look to the Homeless World Cup. Next week in Amsterdam, the men's side will look to make history with a third victory at the annual tournament.

Crack + Cider to help thousands of rough sleepers in London keep warm this winter

Two young advertising and marketing professionals have created "the world's first shop for rough sleepers" in London, to help keep thousands of people warm on the UK capital's streets over Christmas. Their innovative approach has captured public attention, and also ignited a debate on how best to help the thousands of people sleeping rough across London during the festive period.

Gaining control of their own stories

Sasha Williams says it's hard to believe the "physical and mental fatigue" she experienced while homeless in Washington DC. Her words play over footage of Sasha cradling her head in her arms as she slumps onto a table in her small, sparse room in DC General Family Shelter.

New York's homeless youth as they want to be seen

The terms beauty and youth homelessness may rarely be mentioned in the same breath, yet both combine in a stunning photography project created in New York that aims to change public perceptions of LGBT homeless youths.

The service keeping Australia's homeless in clean clothes

Two friends from Brisbane have launched Australia's first mobile laundry service for the homeless. In August 2014, Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi set out to improve the hygiene standards of local homeless people by kitting out a van with two 10kg washers and dryers.

The Big Issue in the North
Prison Punchlines

My report on comedy classes in HMP Barlinnie was also republished across INSP's street paper network, including The Big Issue in the North.

Amputee football on the rise with Paralympics the ultimate goal

When Brian Murray lost his left leg below the knee to cancer at the age of 10, he never thought he'd play football again. But at 46, the defender from Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland is back on the pitch with English side Everton FC's amputee football team.

Seattle's homeless community under canvas

Seattle may be one of the fastest growing cities in America, but as steel and glass skyscrapers rise, so does its homeless population. One temporary solution the city is embracing is to recognise homeless encampments, or tent cities.

Cape Town athlete runs 400km for The Big Issue South Africa

During Brandon Finn's punishing 400km run from Johannesburg to Hattingspruit in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal, the first hour on day eight was the toughest. His lungs burned with each breath, his legs felt like lead and a dull pain throbbed through his knees, quads and calves.

Photo series: recovering addicts capture hope

Give eight recovering addicts from Glasgow, Scotland a shot with second hand cameras and the results can be phenomenal. A series of raw, powerful images captured by participants of the Hope Street photography project tells an absorbing story about battling drug addiction.


Glasgow designers go green with world's first Hemp sunglasses

While a snazzy pair of designer shades will protect your eyes from the sun, they won't save the world. But a pair of Glasgow design graduates are doing their bit to save the environment by producing the world's first range of hemp sunglasses.

Stanley Odd on Scottish hip hop, politics and parenthood

"Son I just wrote this, I thought you might like to know, that I chose to vote Yes, 'cause a Yes vote provided hope. What the future's holdin', no-one can rightly know, was tired of the same old script, and what's next only time will show."

Greg Wilson brings Super Weird Happenings to SWG3

It steadily grew to reflect the changing social and cultural habits of the country's youth, unifying a generation who went on to reclaim the UK club scene as a place to create, revel and dance.

From Scotland With Love delves into our past for Culture 2014

While the Independence Referendum has Scots thinking of the future, the Commonwealth Games has our attention fixed firmly on the present. Yet it's the country's past which Kenny Anderson (better known on his many album covers as King Creosote) and filmmaker Virginia Heath have been looking to as inspiration for their contribution to Culture 2014.

Proving laughter is the best medicine for Hearts and Minds

Children normally lying bored in bed raise their heads and rush to the windows if they can, noses pressed eagerly against the glass to get a glimpse of their new visitors. The excitement can only mean one thing - an exuberant band of Clowndoctors has arrived with the mission to brighten up sick children's lives and raise a smile on the hospital ward.

Freedom Bakery rising to the challenge to help ex-offenders

It seems everyone is getting into baking these days. Cooking shows like the Great British Bake Off have got thousands of us experimenting in the kitchen but next up to catch the baking bug could be ex-offenders. Matt Fountain, from Dennistoun, plans to help cut reoffending rates by luring ex-inmates away from crime and into the kitchen.

Ale Ramirez is baring all in the London Naked Bike Ride

Ale Ramirez is baring all in the London Naked Bike Ride. Ale Ramirez, from Aberdeen, is is baring all in the London Naked Bike Ride to pay for her aunt who is stricken by breast cancer - the same disease that killed Ale's mother nine years ago.

STV Glasgow
Does Glasgow need a SXSW-style festival?

Now, a Glasgow councillor has ambitious plans to introduce a version of legendary South by Southwest (SXSW) festival to Glasgow to further boost tourism and the local music industry. Last week, a motion filed by Ken Andrew to discuss plans for a similar festival to be held in the city failed to be addressed by Glasgow City Council.

Theatre with depth: Meet Alvin Sputnik, Deep Sea Explorer

Some time in the future, the sea has risen to monumental effect, causing worldwide devastation and the death of millions. In this drowned, post-apocalyptic world, the scattered remnants of humanity desperately cling to the top of skyscrapers. Among them is the recently bereaved and incredibly ordinary Alvin Sputnik.

Singing legend Nana Mouskouri on making a comeback at 80

Despite marking her retirement seven years ago with a global farewell tour, Nana Mouskouri is stepping back into the spotlight. Nana will bring her Happy Birthday Tour to Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall on Monday 29 October, in just one of three major concerts she will perform during her UK visit.

IndyRef cartoon exhibition puts great debate in the frame

The Auld Acquaintance has brought together more than 120 cartoons by 50 artists from Scotland, the UK and around the world to depict both sides of the campaign. The touring exhibition was organised by the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio and is on show at Leiper Fine Art until September 28.

The Twilight Sad set to release 'strongest album yet'

It's a familiar state for any band on the verge of a new release, but The Twilight Sad's highly anticipated fourth studio album could potentially herald the start of bigger things for the Glasgow trio. "I'm terrified but genuinely excited about it," said the singer.

Why life is sweet for Glasgow noise pop duo Honeyblood

All before releasing their début album no less. Glasgow grunge/pop duo Honeyblood may be just starting out in the music industry but the pair are already making plenty of noise. Stina Tweeddale (vocals, guitar) and Shona McVicar (vocals, drums), both in their 20s, formed as Honeyblood in early 2012 when Edinburgh singer Stina, who's lived in Glasgow since she was 17, was on the lookout for a drummer.

East beats west as Glasgow 2014 music fest kicks off

If you're already planning your Glasgow gig calendar for the summer then we have some advice for you, look to the east. Thanks to music venues like The Hydro and King Tut's drawing in big name acts and promoting up-and-coming bands, there's no denying the strength and variety of Glasgow's live music scene.

Sam Baker: Finding empathy through music in the wake of destruction

Nearly 30 years ago, Sam Baker's life changed in an instant when he was on a train headed to Machu Picchu. The fateful actions of Peruvian terrorist cell Shining Path Guerrillas would have huge repercussions for the Texas native that would eventually echo across American radio waves two decades later.

Meet the most dangerous man on Saturday morning TV

While some people might view being fired as a slight set back, being given the boot from Soccer AM actually inspired Chris Ramsey's latest stand-up show. The Geordie comedian is currently sat in a small car with his tour manager and support act fighting over who gets control of the radio as they bomb north up the motorway from Swindon to Aberdeen.

Mungo's Hi Fi helping Scots feel the riddim on tour

But it should be. For over a decade, Glasgow has been home to Mungo's Hi Fi, a sound system and production house renowned the world over for their inventive take on reggae and dubstep. Through their label Scotch Bonnet Mungo's have collaborated with Jamaican veterans such as Ranking Joe and Sugar Minott to Mavado, Major Lazer and Scotland's own Soom T.

MeatHammer Ltd smashes into The Record Factory

Stop, MeatHammer time! That's right people, Andy Yates is limbering up to smash your hunger pangs into oblivion when he takes his monolithic MeatHammer burgers to The Record Factory. From next Friday, the Glasgow chef's epic and award-winning eats will be dominating the menu at the West End bar, restaurant and music venue.

From a land of ice and snow: Gray's graduate up for major art award

Catherine Ross was just ten years old when she first encountered the Gray's School of Art Degree Show. As her imagination ran riot while staring up at seemingly never-ending expanses of colourful canvasses and wondrous sculptures, she dreamed that one day someone else might stare wide-eyed at one of her own enormous and intricately painted landscapes.

From iconic tram shelter to award-winning Italian bistro

From underneath his umbrella, the local man surveyed the remains of the Battlefield Rest tram shelter. Constructed in 1914, the building's commanding and ornate domed clock tower, gleaming green and cream tiles, neatly ordered kiosk and stylish waiting room made it the finest tram shelter in the city.

Glasgow's Prides are ready to roar with The Seeds You Sow

Glasgow's Prides are ready to roar with The Seeds You Sow. After winning over a legion of new fans on their recent trip to America, Glasgow three-piece Prides are back in Glasgow for a headline gig at the O2 ABC ahead of their next EP release in April.

Banksy artwork hidden for a decade uncovered in Glasgow nightclub

It's a little known fact that Glasgow's clubbing institution is home to not one, but three, original works by famed street artist Banksy. They have been verified as genuine Banksy artworks but are sadly in desperate need of restoration, a process that could potentially cost tens of thousands of pounds.

King Creosote on From Scotland With Love: 'I'm amazed how epic it sounds'

King Creosote on From Scotland With Love: 'I'm amazed how epic it sounds'. King Creosote aka Kenny Anderson is giving voice to the ghosts of Scotland's past by writing a film score for From Scotland With Love, made from Scottish Screen archive footage for the Commonwealth Games that tells the story of Scotland.

Massacre in Aberdeenshire: Behind the scenes of bloody local horror film

Last year, weekends spent running through the Aberdeenshire woods covered in blood, and scaring the living daylights out of passing motorists in the process, became run of the mill for aspiring local actress Lisa Cameron. The 32-year-old takes the lead in new slasher film The Redwood Massacre, which was filmed last year by local production company Clear Focus.

Breabach go back to their roots for Lemon Tree gig

"It will be great to bring Breabach to The Lemon Tree." So far this year, Breabach have played in some diverse locations, from performing in the shadows of the Sydney Opera House to the shores of Loch Lomond.

Maggie's Grill brings taste of American deep south to Aberdeen

From succulent pulled pork to Dr Pepper soaked ribs, Southern fried chicken and glorious gumbo, Maggie's Grill is bringing a taste of Louisiana to Aberdeen. But it turns out the real inspiration for the city's first authentic American Grill and Cajun soul food joint began much closer to home.

Empowering north east women with The Vagina Monologues

But two years before our first date with Carrie and the Sex in the City girls, American author Eve Ensler was already getting women to open up about sex and sexuality. The Tony Award winning playwright travelled the world to interview 200 women about their vaginas and their views on being a woman.

Pulling strings at the Manipulate Visual Arts Festival

On a darkened stage, a little boy sits alone in a sandbox desert surrounded by barbed wire fences, happily building a sandcastle. This is no ordinary boy: he's a refugee, a child of war. He is also twelve inches tall and made of wood.

Got Scot Street Style Dundee? Then gather round ...

Hayley Scanlan's SS14 fashion launch last night definitely proved that Dundee has style. Attending the event was Gordon J Millar, the man behind the Scottish creative collective Scot Street Style, who travelled up from Edinburgh for a first glimpse at the collection.

Join the art pack: Dundee art graduates display work in deck of cards

After finishing an intensive Master of Fine Arts degree at Duncan of Jordanstone College last September, friends Susanne Lund Pangrazio, Anna Orton, Nicole Bennett and Kathryn Briggs came up with an innovative way to self-promote their art. Their collective project, SANK!

The Herald

The Herald
Voice of a generation

Interview with Hamira Khan, the Scottish Youth Parliament's CEO.

The Sunday Herald
A World of Pain

My interview with a Big Issue Scotland vendor featured as part of a special report published in The Sunday Herald, in partnership with INSP, investigating the effect recession has had on street paper vendors across Europe.

NOIR Magazine

NOIR Magazine
NOIR Catwalk reviews

Catwalk reviews filed during two visits to London Fashion Week, as part of the NOIR press team, included Mulberry, John Rocha, Pam Hogg, PPQ and Betty Jackson .

NOIR Magazine
Janie Bryant: the woman behind the Mad Men wardrobe

The Emmy-winning costume designer talks about the Mad Men wardrobe and dressing Don Draper. The article is followed by a "steal their style" piece discussing the allure of sixties fashion.

NOIR Magazine
NOIR film interviews

On behalf of NOIR Magazine I chatted to one or two film and TV actors including Jane Seymour, Claire Foy and Harry Potter stars Oliver Phelps and Natalie Tena.

NOIR Magazine
NOIR designer interviews

Interviews with Enzoani and fashion duo Hemyca offered some fascinating insights into their design processes.

NOIR Magazine
NOIR music interviews

DJs, 90's dance groups and singer/songwriters all feature in my NOIR music interviews, including Sister Bliss from Faithless.

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