No time to exercise? Dispelling the myths

On 1st March, I wrote a blog post about why a man with one leg had inspired me to #MoveMoreInMarch and I pledged to walk 100 miles in March.  I have a fairly sedentary lifestyle – my work involves sitting down all day – so for me, this would involve a big lifestyle change and some careful planning.  Like many people, I work long hours and when I’m not with, or completing work for, clients, I am usually filling my time with things I am passionate about e.g. fundraising initiatives, which also involves sitting down!  I wear a Fitbit and on a ‘normal’ day I usually walk approx 0.5 to 1.5 miles (1192 to 3651 steps) which really isn’t good for my health or well-being, but I’ve always said that I don’t have time in my busy day to exercise.  I’ve also been known to say that if I had a dog, then I would have a reason to walk… and that I wasn’t motivated to go for a walk on my own – that wouldn’t be any fun at all, would it?

Time to dispel the myths! During March, I have discovered:-

  1. It is possible to fit exercise into my life – albeit not every day, but certainly most.
  2. I don’t need a dog to enable me to walk.
  3. Walking on my own IS fun – walking with a friend is fun too.

Other things I have discovered:-

  1. Having started to walk every day, on the days when I literally can’t fit it in I miss it.
  2. The blossom on the trees and bushes smells wonderful.
  3. How much ‘wildlife’ there is to see, even in the suburbs.
  4. Gloucestershire is even more beautiful than I thought it was.
  5. Just how far I am capable of walking.
  6. Meeting a friend for a walk is much more fun than meeting a friend for lunch!

I am delighted to share with you that I walked 112.66 miles in March.  As part of my pledge, I promised to donate £31 (£1 for every day of the month) to Mark Pattenden, Kelly Jackson and Hannah Moore’s #TogetherWeCan fundraising initiative  to fund a running blade for Hannah.  The blade will cost £9,000, so if you’re reading this and you’re in a position to make a donation (small or large) please do.  Mark has pledged to run #10kADay from 1st March to the end of December (or until the £9,000 target has been reached) and whilst I am proud that I have WALKED over 100 miles in March, in comparison to the 310k (192 miles) Mark has RUN in the same period… on one leg and a running blade… well, there is NO comparison!

And there is more… I can’t tell you how lovely it is when friends say “Your #MoveMoreInMarch pledge has encouraged ME to move more too.”  Several have told me that they had been about to get into their car to go to the local shop, thought of me and WALKED instead. 

Finally, I would like to share with you something that happened on the 30th March.  It was my birthday and my friend Pauline (a local amateur photographer) had booked a day off work to help me celebrate.  Pauline has joined me on some of my walks, so I suggested that we drive to Wales to do the Four Falls Trail, in the Brecon Beacons.  We parked in the Gwaun Hepste car-park and set off on the trail in glorious sunshine.  There had been quite a lot of rainfall in March, so the waterfalls were magnificent.  The trail was described as ‘energetic’ which we found quite an amusing term, until about half-way through! Our fitness levels were severely tested, particularly by the ascent after visiting the final fall on the trail ‘Sgwd yr Eira’ which was described as ‘strenuous’, having 170 steps which descended (and of course ‘ascended on the way back up) 330ft (100m).  This wasn’t helped by the fact that I insisted on walking along the track behind the waterfall and got soaked through to the skin by doing so! What an experience! We had also forgotten that the trail from the car-park to the falls was downhill, so walking back up was very challenging. (Understatement of the year.)  But I do believe the amount of walking Pauline and I had achieved in March had really improved our fitness levels, making the day far more pleasurable than it might have been in February!!  I have to say that it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

P1340889 (3)

Photo courtesy of Pauline Roberts 

And in case you’re wondering… I intend to continue walking.  It’s part of my life now and I love it.

 

#MoveMoreInMarch Is this pledge changing my mentality? Already?

Since starting my pledge to #MoveMoreInMarch, I had managed to walk 35.11 miles by the end of Thursday 9th March – an average of 3.9 miles a day – so I was well on track to achieving my pledged 100 miles (an average of 3.23 miles a day).

However, I woke up on Friday feeling overwhelmingly tired. It happens sometimes.  I saw clients in the morning, but by lunchtime my energy hadn’t returned.  I worked through the afternoon, hoping that the exhaustion would pass – it didn’t.  By the time I went to bed, I had managed a paltry 1.12miles or 2,639 steps.  I felt very frustrated, but interestingly – looking at my ‘Step history’ – I walked less than this distance on 10 separate days in February and didn’t feel frustrated about it then. Is this pledge changing my mentality? Already? When I went to bed last night I decided not to set my alarm and to sleep as long as my body needed, which was just over eight and a half hours and I woke far less tired than the previous day.

I texted my friend Pauline (a local amateur photographer) who had planned to go to Gloucester Docks today, to take some photos.  I decided I would walk to meet her and we arranged to walk to the Docks together.  As I left the house, I checked my Fitbit… only to notice the flat-battery symbol! How frustrating.  I grabbed the charger from the car, thinking I could charge it at Pauline’s prior to walking to the Docks.  I was about half-way into my journey when I realised I had picked up the phone charger instead of the Fitbit charger!

Thankfully, my Fitbit didn’t die before I arrived at Pauline’s.  She photographed the ‘miles’ and the ‘steps’ displayed, and from that point we were dependent on her tracker.  After a quick visit to the pharmacy for some blister plasters (I had made the mistake of wearing new trainers and very thin socks) we popped into the closest sports shop for some ‘padded’ socks, which I duly put on, before we continued to the Docks. 

Sox

We detoured to Gloucester Quays Shopping Outlet, where we both bought proper ‘walking shoes’ (I confess that my heels were so sore that I wore my new walking shoes out of the shop!) before moving on to the Docks to take photos. 

Shoes

Arriving back at Pauline’s we noted how far we had walked.  To my surprise, despite the flat battery, my Fitbit was able to display my miles and I already knew how many miles my walk home would be, from walking to Pauline’s from my house in the morning.  To my delight, when I arrived home, my Fitbit managed to display the total miles I had walked today and sync with my iPad!  To say I’m impressed with the performance of my Fitbit is an understatement.

Fitbit

It’s surprising how much you notice when you walk.  I spotted my first honey bee and my first bumble bee, both feasting on fragrant mahonia. In fact, walking through Barnwood Arboretum on the way home, my senses were seduced by the scent of the blossom.  It really is a beautiful time of year and it makes me think just how much I would be missing, if I hadn’t pledged to #MoveMoreInMarch. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, why not try it?

Bee

 

Why a man with one leg has inspired me to #MoveMoreInMarch

People who know me will know I’m passionate about fundraising. I live it, breathe it, do it, coach it and follow others who do it.  This blog post is dedicated to another fundraiser, who has inspired me to do something I really should have started doing a LONG time ago!

Mark Pattenden is an amputee.  Mark and I have been Facebook friends for a few years now.  We are both fundraisers. We ‘like and share’ each other’s posts on social media.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have noticed me sharing posts last year, when Mark was the first amputee to #RunTheGreatWallOfChina, thanks to a very special ‘running blade’ which was provided by Dorset Orthopaedic, one of the world’s leading providers of prosthetic and orthotic services, and for whom Mark is an Ambassador.  (For more technical details about the ‘blade’ please read Mark’s blog.)

Mark’s Great Wall charity challenge raised enough money to provide another amputee, Kelly Jackson, with a running blade.  Mark has a dream… his dream is that by helping to fund Kelly’s running blade, that Kelly in turn will run and raise money for a running blade for another amputee.  It’s a brilliant initiative and one that Mark is determined will succeed… so much so, that he has pledged to run 10k a day, EVERY DAY, from 1st March until 31st December, or at least until £9k has been raised to fund the next running blade.  Kelly is on-board with the initiative.  She has set up a VirginMoneyGiving page and has entered herself for the Birmingham 10k later this year.  The recipient of the third running blade will be Hannah Moore, who is also helping with the fundraising and has entered the Supernova 5k walk/run.  Together, this fabulous trio aim to raise the £9k needed for Hannah’s blade, and then… guess what? They will do the same again, for a fourth amputee.  It’s a brilliant #PayItForward initiative, or perhaps I should say #BladeItForward

So what has this all got to do with me and what exactly HAS Mark inspired me to do? Well, I work from home.  I am a Life & Business Coach, Cambridge Weight-Plan Consultant, Talk Therapist, Fundraising Consultant and in my spare time, I love to write.  ALL of my work involves sitting down and I ‘sit’ for most of the day. When I don’t have clients, I work on various charity initiatives, or catch-up with my paperwork. I have a Fitbit and out of curiosity I analysed how much I actually do move.  Over the last 4 months (November to February) I walked a total of 192 miles or 310km.  This equates to an average of 2.58km a day.  By comparison, Mark has pledged to RUN 10k a day for 10 months (unless their £9k target is reached earlier). In March he will run 310km, which is exactly the same amount as I have WALKED – on two rather chunky legs – in 4 MONTHS! He puts me to shame! So things are going to change!

I PLEDGE to #MoveMoreInMarch! No excuses! I might not have much free time in the day, but I will make time! I pledge to walk (briskly) for at least an hour every day. My goal is to walk 100 miles in March! My fitness levels will increase and my weight will decrease! Even as I type this, my pledge sounds slightly pathetic.  It is only two thirds of the recommended 10,000 steps a day (approx 5 miles/8km)  but everyone needs to start somewhere and as they say ‘great oaks from little acorns grow’!  An average of 3.23 miles (5.19km) a day is double my usual average of 1.6 miles (2.58km) a day.  Who knows, I might even be able to convert my #Cankles2Ankles, although that’s quite a big ask! And as a ‘thank you’ to Mark for inspiring me to get off my backside and use the two legs that I have, I will make a donation to his #BladeItForward initiative at the end of March, once I reach my goal.  I will be completely honest about whether or not I have achieved my goal. I will pledge a donation of £31 (which represents £1 a day) and sent Mark weekly screenshots of my Fitbit summary.  If I don’t reach my goal by the end of March, I will double my donation to £62.

I am writing this blog on the evening of St. David’s Day.  St. David urged his followers to ‘Do the little things in life’ (‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd’) and this has become an established inspirational saying in Wales.  100 miles may not be a huge distance to walk in a month and £31 is certainly not a massive donation, but thanks to a very inspirational man I will be ‘doing a little thing in life’ which will help to make a difference to someone else’s life.  Who’s going to join me?

I have been shortlisted for the Nicest Job In Britain and given a challenge…

On the 4th September, I wrote a blog post titled ‘Why I applied for The Nicest Job in Britain. (NJIB)
I had submitted my 60 second application video and used the blog post as part of my #HireSali Campaign, to encourage people to ‘vote’ for me.

I am delighted to share with you that I have been shortlisted for The Nicest Job, which involves working with 40 charities over 12 months. I, and the other 7 shortlisted candidates, have each been allocated a charity to work (drawn from a ‘hat’ containing the aforementioned 40 charities) and have been challenged – to raise as much money and awareness – as possible, for our allocated charity, by 2nd October. I have been given Winston’s Wish, the charity for bereaved children, which is particularly poignant, as I was a bereaved child myself.

Many years ago, I volunteered at the head office of Winston’s Wish, helping with admin and mail-shots. In addition, I assisted with a few of the charity’s promotions in the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham and took my daughters and one of my friends, carol singing – locally – with Winston’s Wish ‘collection buckets’. My perception at the time was that Winston’s Wish was a very well-known, well-supported charity, so when I was tasked by NJIB to ‘raise as much awareness as possible’ of the charity, I wondered what I could do to further awareness of a charity which was already so well-known.

I have always been taught, and in turn have coached others, never to ‘assume’ so I decided to start my challenge with a straw-pole, asking my Facebook friends whether they were aware of Winston’s Wish or not. They just had to comment with a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’. The results surprised me. There was a very clear 50/50 split, with the friends living in and around Gloucestershire answering ‘yes’ and those living further away (although as close as Wiltshire) answering ‘no’. The exceptions were the friends who had used, or knew someone who had used, the services of the charity. The results gave me a lots of scope to ‘raise awareness’.

Did you know that every day, in the UK, more than 100 children are bereaved of a parent? Winston’s Wish has a vision that every bereaved child has access to support as and when they need it and a mission to ensure the resilience of bereaved children by providing high quality services that meet their needs.

Julie Stokes created the charity in 1992. Julie was a clinical psychologist at the time and it was an interaction with the son of a terminally ill patient, which propelled her into investigating how children with a terminally ill parent and bereaved children could be better served. She travelled to the USA and Canada on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship and was so inspired by what she saw, that she returned to the UK and set up Winston’s Wish, which has since become the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK.

So what is Winston’s Wish and what does the charity do? Winston’s Wish supports children, their families and the professionals who support them following the death of a parent or sibling – the most fundamental loss a child can face. The charity provides professional therapeutic support via a National Helpline, face-to-face support and a website.
Not only does their website offer a wealth of information and guidance, which is divided into helpful categories, and translated into several different languages (Spanish, Bengali, Swedish, Arabic and Polish) but it also offers a ‘Helpline’, which is available on 08452 03 04 05 and operates Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm.

Death comes in many forms, and the Winston’s Wish website offers a range of information and advice on topics such as ‘dealing with serious illness’, ‘talking about death’, ‘bereavement from suicide’, ‘bereavement from homicide’,’ supporting children of military families’ and much more. There is also a specialist area of the website for young people, for professionals and also an online shop with plenty of expert publications and resources for free and for sale.

Winston’s Wish is a national charity, which is reliant on voluntary donations – they need to raise £2.5million every year to continue their support for bereaved children and their families. In 2014/15 these donations equated to 93% of their income. For every £1 they spend, 74p goes on direct delivery. Charities are being scrutinised regarding the cost of fundraising campaigns, but I am pleased to report that for every £1 Winston’s Wish spends on fundraising, they raise £4.47 which is an incredibly impressive return on investment.

I have embraced the challenge to raise funds for this wonderful charity and have set up a Facebook page called A Penny 4 Your Memory, where I am encouraging people to leave a happy or funny memory, which not only makes them smile or laugh, but will do the same for others reading the post. When they leave a memory, they also make a donation to Winston’s Wish via www.givepenny.com/apenny4yourmemory Within 49 hours of being created, the Givepenny page reached the £500 target I had set, so I have amended the target to £750. Please do visit the Facebook page, leave a happy memory, donate and take time to read (and interact) with the memories which have already been posted. Warning… doing so may produce a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And for those of you who might be interested… my interview for The Nicest Job in Britain is on Monday 3rd October. Please wish me luck and please do share this blog post, to help me raise awareness of, and funds for, Winston’s Wish. This is more than just a NJIB challenge to me. Thank you.

Why I applied for The Nicest Job in Britain.

I recently applied for the The Nicest Job In Britain.  As a qualified life and business coach, one of the golden nuggets I frequently pass on to clients is the old adage “if you find a job where you can follow your passion, it won’t feel as if you’re working at all!” I followed my passion around twelve years ago, when I set up a small business helping people and other businesses to set and achieve their goals.  I combined this with my other passion – voluntary work.  Over the years I have managed to get my work/volunteering balance just right… actually perhaps I should clarify that… for half of that time (at least) I have been doing more voluntary work than paid work, because it’s the organisations which need me most (the fledgling charities and ‘good causes’) which can least afford me. Hand on heart, I didn’t mind… because as long as I could pay my mortgage, my bills and feed the family, all was well in my world.  I’m not a materialistic person – I’ll happily buy my clothes in Tesco or Sainsbury’s (preferably in the sales!!) and although I do miss ‘holidays’, there’s nothing that quite matches the feeling you get when you ‘feed your soul’ and helping other people feeds mine.  In fact, I often treat my soul to a lavish banquet!

I first heard of Luke Cameron when the media covered his ‘Good Deed Diary’, early in 2014.  I could immediately relate to what he was doing – I always help others at any and every opportunity. To me, Luke was a kindred spirit. I’m the driver who stops to offer help if someone’s car has broken down, I offer to help carry shopping if I see someone struggling, I’ve helped to pay for people’s shopping and parking charges when they are short of money… it’s what I do. It’s second nature. I’ve always done it and it perpetually perplexes me how so many people will drive past cars that have broken down, or ignore people who are obviously struggling.. 

In August 2014, I messaged Luke through ‘The Good Deed Diary’ Facebook page and asked him whether he would share a blog post about the 2014 Pink Car Rally.  He did…

It was towards the end of 2014 when I next noticed Luke in the media.  He had been appointed as National Philanthropy Manager for Utility Aid, a Midlands-based organisation which aims to help charities reduce their energy spend.  It was deemed to be ‘The Nicest Job in Britain’ and when I read what it entailed, I remember thinking that it was my dream-job and how lucky Luke was to be employed to help charities, and not have to worry about his bills etc.

Fast-forward to August 2016. I was glancing through a newspaper when I saw #TheNicestJobInBritain mentioned. It caught my eye immediately and when I read the article, my heart nearly stopped! Luke was working on a new initiative with The Nicest Job In Britain Creator, Gary Blowers, to recruit a National Philanthropy Manager.  The relaunched role is sponsored by Givergy, an organisation which exists to help charities raise more money at their fundraising events and online which, with its similar ethos to The Nicest Job, made it the idea official partner for 2016/17.

Applicants for the role (you have until 16th September 2016 to apply) are asked to submit a 60 second video application, telling their story and illustrating ‘why’ they should have the nicest job.  In addition, each applicant needs to drum-up support from as many media channels as possible.  Here is my application. Please take 60 seconds to watch it and if you like it, then please use the small icons below it to ‘like’ and ‘share’ it… and please press the all-important VOTE button to vote for me. It literally takes a few seconds – no sign-up is required.  All votes count and you can vote for me once a day, EVERY day if you wish. 

What does the @NicestJob entail? Well the successful applicant will get to work with 40 pre-chosen charities (charities were previously invited to apply to be part of this amazing initiative) over a 12 month period, helping them in whatever way is needed for 4 days and then blogging about the experience.  The charities are located across the UK, so the successful applicant will be given a #NicestJob emblazoned car to drive, in addition to a salary of £30,000pa. 

Why have I applied? I have to say that I want this job so much that it hurts! I feel I have so much to offer; a ‘do more’ attitude, a plethora of skills gained in the both the charity and commercial sectors, I’m a strong communicator who is adept at building relationships, I’m keen and willing to learn new things, I’m confident, I am used to inspiring and motivating others, I’m a people person and a trusted confidant, I have a very kind heart, endless enthusiasm, plenty of passion and a desire to help people.  I refer to myself as a Time Philanthropist and like nothing more than to ‘pay it forward’.  I am also a RAKtavist – part of a group of like-minded people who enjoy performing Random Acts of Kindness. This National Philanthropy Manager role encapsulates who I am – if I was asked to create the perfect job for myself, this is exactly what I would have created. If by reading this blog post you feel I am the right person for the role, then please support my #HireSali campaign by voting for me…. (daily if possible)… and help me to help the following 40 charities in 12 months.  Each of the charities is hyperlinked either to their Facebook page or their website. If there are any on the list that you haven’t heard of before, why not click through to find out what they do?

Sali x

  1. RSPCA (England & Wales)
  2. Joseph’s Hospice
  3. The Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation
  4. Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity
  5. Changing Faces
  6. Children’s Liver Disease Foundation
  7. Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice
  8. Creating Better Futures
  9. Music in Hospitals
  10. Meningitis Research Foundation
  11. Mind
  12. Helen Rollason Cancer Charity – HRCC
  13. Henshaws
  14. Churn Project
  15. Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity
  16. Sport 4 Life UK
  17. The Brain Charity
  18. CHICKS Country Holidays for Inner City Kids
  19. Jubilee Sailing Trust
  20. Mark’s Hospital Foundation
  21. Faith in Water
  22. Teenage Cancer Trust
  23. Samaritans
  24. Toybox
  25. Little Princess Trust
  26. Julia’s House Children’s Hospice
  27. Winston’s Wish – the charity for bereaved children
  28. Theodora Children’s Charity
  29. Friendship at Home
  30. Step up to Serve
  31. Maria Cristina Foundation
  32. vinspired.com
  33. Off The Record (Bristol)
  34. FPA – the sexual health charity
  35. Visyon
  36. Daisy Chain Charity Superstore
  37. Help Appeal – County Air Ambulance Trust
  38. PAFRAS
  39. Gloucestershire Pride
  40. Mary Stephens Hospice

Speaking for those who have no voice!

DREAMS – we all have them…

There are even charities which exist to grant dreams to children and young adults, but I discovered something yesterday which rocked my faith in charities and brought me down to earth with a big bump! It also propelled me to write this post.

First I want you to consider something.  If you have ever had children, think back to the time before they were verbal. Do you remember how you learnt to understand what they needed/wanted? How you, as a parent, were as one with your non-verbal child. Did you ever have people saying your child was hungry, when in fact you knew he/she was simply over-stimulated and needed a nap? No-one understands the needs of a child better than a parent.

Perhaps you have a dog? Dogs are non-verbal, but as a dog owner you learn to communicate with them in a non-verbal way, understanding their needs/wants.

Some children who are born healthy can develop illnesses/diseases which have a profound effect on them.  They may have a normal, happy childhood and then ‘BOOM’ everything changes.  Suddenly they are no longer able to do the things they once did.  Some are robbed of any chance of a ‘normal’ life and exist in a world where they can no longer use their voice to communicate.  Sadly, some children are born with a disease which means they will never be able to talk.

Yesterday I read a Facebook post written by the father of a non-verbal 17 year old, who has a life-limiting disorder and who is on a palliative care pathway.  This father knows that his son loves Disney characters and that a visit to Disneyland would be a dream come true for his son.  His son has not voiced this dream, of course… he has no voice to do so!  The family decided that they would take their son to Disneyland and that they would fund the trip themselves, with the help of a Crowdfunding platform.  Donations are coming in, insurance , accommodation, car hire and flights are sorted.  The family just needs a bit of help with tickets – time is running out.  So the father approached a well-known ‘Wish’ charity to ask for support with the tickets, only to be told that his son needs to express the wish himself! WHAT??? They said what?  They had been told that he can’t communicate and his inability to do so means he can’t be granted a wish! How uncharitable is that?  Another charity which grants wishes ONLY does so to children suffering from life-threatening cancers! WHAT??? I have spent years supporting charities; donating, fundraising, raising awareness, as well as working for some on a consultancy basis and whilst I understand that there has to be set criteria, insisting that a child verbalises their dream is nothing short – in my opinion – of discriminatory.  For a charity only to grant ‘dreams’ to children with cancer is beyond sad.  Mitochondrial disease kills more children than childhood cancer.  It comes in many forms – all life-limiting, some terminal.  No Voices

I spent a few hours yesterday looking at the ‘criteria’ in the small print of several ‘wish giving’ charities, whilst wondering what donors would think of these restrictive policies.  What do YOU think?  If you’re as upset as I am, please share this post and help raise awareness of this poor practice. 

If you would like to support this family, here is Kieran’s GoFundMe page 

Kieran’s father, Paul Preston, created The Children’s Mitochondrial Disease Network (CMDM) in 1998 to support other families, raise awareness and campaign for improved treatment and management of mitochondrial disorders, after the death of his own daughter, Kirsten, in 1992.  She was just 8 weeks old.  Last year, Kirsten and Kieran’s sister, Stacey, died from mitochondrial disease.  She was just 20. She was Paul’s inspiration for twenty years!  This article will tell you more.

I truly believe that Paul Preston and his wife understand their son and know that a visit to Disney would be very special to him. Would it be his verbalised dream, if he could speak? If only he could tell us… because it’s the only way he’ll get support from some of the ‘dream’ charities.

If you would like to know whether Kieran gets to go to Disneyland, please follow Kieran’s Mitochondrial Journey and Wishes Facebook page.

Kieran

 

 

 

Helping those in need – doing what you can, when you can.

A friend of mine shared this link on Facebook today.  I read it and was consumed by sadness for the lovely people of the Welsh Valleys.

I grew up in South Wales. Whilst my childhood was unhappy, I have to say that the love of the Welsh people was second to none.  My family was poor. My father had died when I was young and my mother was a working, single parent.  I understand about not having things, but I always had a school uniform and I always had shoes on my feet.

Perhaps it was my childhood which propelled me into a life of giving; the urge to help others less fortunate than myself.  I love volunteering and have helped many charities and not-for-profit organisations over the years.  Doing something for others brings its own return – the feeling that you have ‘made a difference’ to someone else’s life is beyond compare.  I usually like to do things quietly.  Unnoticed.  Sometimes I have to put myself ‘out-there’ to attract publicity for events I have organised, but most of the time I just quietly get on with things.  If you haven’t considered volunteering, please do.  If you’re unsure where to start, take a look at this link You can pop your postcode in and enter your interests and the distance you are prepared to travel.  Volunteering opens up a whole new world of friendships, new skills and the heart-warming feeling of having ‘given something back’.

I recently had a clothes clear-out.  I am mindful of those people who have nothing; those who sleep on the streets in the bitter cold.  I popped a post on Facebook, asking for suggestions of places to take my ‘worn but warm’ clothes.  I was surprised to see just one suggestion – I thought there would be at least a dozen! A friend messaged me to say that she works with vulnerable people, who would be delighted to receive my clothes and she is going to collect them.  But it did make me wonder – do people know ‘where’ to take their unwanted clothing and shoes, so that they can help people like those in the Welsh Valleys?  My children have grown up now, but many of you will have children who out-grow their shoes faster than they can wear them out.  What do you do with their out-grown shoes? 

I dream of winning the lottery and using the money to help others who are struggling. In the meantime, I will continue to do what I can, when I can.  I hope you do the same.