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Friday, 23 December 2011

another reporting and probably the final post for 2011

Yesterday I went with my friend to the UKBA offices in Leeds to 'report'. This proves that she is still alive and still in Leeds, heaven forbid she should move else where. The staff individually try to be kind, but the fact is that if it is decided that you should be deported that this is where they take you from, they don't have to look for you, as you are there waiting. Never mind that it has been agreed that for what ever reason you can't be returned, your health, the state of your original country, the bottom line is that you don't, yet, have the right to stay, so the terror mounts. I have seen it in my friend, and my previous friends, and I almost feel it too, the shaking, the constricting throat, the inability to speak or think coherently, but I don't need to, I have a British passport. My passport though is almost an act of luck, my Indian father chose British citizenship the year before I was born, my British mother was always entitled to one, such are the accidents of birth and choice and place.
Actually I like the fact that my passport is firstly a European Union passport, the wording is small, but it is the top line on the cover!

Probably this is the last post of this year. My family arrives next week, so, as I have posted before, we volunteers can and do give it all up just as and when we choose. Which is why my small society can, and never should, replace quality, paid for public service.
new life in the

last year, lighting up
the shortest day


A couple of cheery photos (well I think so). This year we will first light the candles tomorrow; these doves now probably have babies of their own! May have to get another dovecote in the spring.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

re-cycling: beds in Leeds and industrial spoil on the Cleveland Way

Yesterday was my day co-ordinating Short Stop for LASSN,, so thus the re-cycling beds. Many of our hosts have a different guest on two or more consecutive nights, in one of the big shared houses if one of the hosts is away guests may even use their rooms. I had two requests yesterday and after several phone calls managed to place both of them, people are away or out and are really concerned that they can't help. One man answers his phone full of apologies, he is in Poland and has forgotten to let LASSN know, never mind I tell him, last time he was in Spain!

Before and after the calls I decorate our tree, including the candles, which this year are actually labelled as tree candles! We will have the first burn on Saturday and then see how the candles go; need to save a set for the family next week.

Today was Coasties. The Park,, is now responsible for all the Cleveland Way maintenance and that was our task for today. We were right on the coast, in fact we actually walked along the beach, at Skinningrove, not actually in the Park, but we Coasties get around. We were cleaning, repairing and re-stoning steps; thus the re-cycling, this time of industrial waste from the old ironstone mines, piled in huge heaps above the sand dunes. The waste was just the right size to re-stone the cleaned steps, much better than bringing in new material. Lunch at the local fish and chip cafe, mulled wine and mince pies completed the festive meal. (On the way home I ate my fruit and pretended to be healthy). Another feeling of satisfaction at a job well done, we slide down the dunes like kids in a playground and back to the mini-bus.

the spoil heap,
can you see my
pink gloves?

the spoil now on the
steps, much more useful

Monday, 19 December 2011

well, my secular comments are proving popular

My most recent post, 'Just because I'm secular......' has had the most page views of any of my posts so far. Interesting.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

just because I'm secular doesn't mean I don't know right from wrong!

When a 10 year old asked me how I could be good if I didn't believe in God I was prepared to explain to her, when the Prime Minister asks a similar question I really do wonder where he is coming from! This from the man who is about to preside over the largest increase in child poverty in over 60 years. I could go on, but a couple of glasses of red wine might make my arguments less than coherent. All I would say to David Cameron and his cronies is this, my small society exists because I was brought up to help people who had less than me in many ways, not just in monetary terms; and that I was expected to be kind to people. Not because a god told me to, but because my conscience told me to. As I said to that 10 year old, hell is not a burning furnace under the ground it is inside you when you have done the wrong thing.

Here endeth today's lesson.

Friday, 16 December 2011

my smallsociety goes national, well northerner

So exciting, well it is for me, once a month the online Guardian, The Northerner, is going to take an edition of my blog!    So now you can read all about it twice.

Seriously though, I am hoping that the local charities I volunteer with may get some positive spin off from the extra exposure; also that the sometimes serious comments I make about the need for paid, professional back up that all volunteers need will be noted by those mysterious powers that be. On that note many thanks to the NYMNP staff who got expenses sorted before Christmas, thanks when it's due.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

quick short stop solutions

Well, the quickest placements for Short Stop I've ever done. Three referrals, one a couple which is always harder, three phone calls for them, one for the next and then someone rings me back and can take the third one. Someone else then rings me back and says they already have a visitor tonight, but if I am desperate................... lovely people.

LASSN do the organising and one of my good (phone) friends from PAFRAS has made two of the referrals.                             

It is miserable where I live, some fifty miles east of Leeds, must be miserable there too, so I am doubly glad that four more people have a warm place for the night.

Meanwhile, multi tasking, I have written a mass of Christmas cards, tried to sort out next year's holiday and planned a menu (how grand) for the friends coming for dinner on Thursday evening.

No Coasties tomorrow, we have a flying visit to Bedford to celebrate twenty years of the Marston Vale Community Forest, we were in at the beginning of it, the planning stage, nice to see how much has happened in those years.

Monday, 12 December 2011

cold and wet at the mill, a warm welcome in Leeds

Yesterday was my Fair Trade stall at the Howsham Mill craft fair, it was wet and cold, but a few hardy souls came and bought a variety of fairly traded craft items and food. As well as starting to restore the mill building the group installed an Archimedes screw some years ago and are feeding power into the grid; when installed it was one of the first in the country. Many years ago I and a class of 10 years old made model Archimedes screws and watched as the water turned the screw, no we didn't generate any electricity!

Here is the link, please go and see it if you can, this time next year they hope the building will be restored, the water wheel already is.

the FT stall in the unrestored mill

the Archimedes screw

For new comers to the blog I only link to charities or other non-profit making organisations and I only give recommendations to social businesses like Fairer World in York, who provide us with the goods for our Fair Trade stalls.

Got off the bus this morning to a warm welcome from my gadding friend (for the uninitiated she is my Leeds friend with the maroon booklet known as a British passport). More about my other friend later. We think we set the world to rights, her husband thinks we just 'gad'! We have a good lunch and set the world to rights; then I get the bus to SOLACE, an inspiring charity that cares for traumatised people from all over the world.

I meet my other friend there, she is an asylum seeker who has had a bad time and is now doing her best to put it behind her. We chat about her college course, it's hard work, but good stress she calls it; one day she hopes to work in a caring profession to pay back the help she had had, but first she needs her status. I remind her that I will go with her to the UKBA for reporting next week. More news on what I know will be a stressful time next week.
We then have lots of laughs about my grandsons' antics, I was there last week, she especially likes the "go way Granny" when the older one is up to no good. She then goes off to have some therapy to relieve the stress she still suffers from, later a volunteer leads a poetry reading group to help her and others in the same boat to improve their English.I tell her that her English has improved in the two years we have been friends, she is delighted I think so.

We were introduced by another local charity, LASSN, Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network.

I have a chat to the SOLACE staff about the possibility of a trip to the seaside for their clients next summer, if finance can be found for the transport we will try to organise something.

Get the bus home, my pass has been well used today. A couple of good days in very different ways, tomorrow is Short Stop, which can be very difficult, fingers crossed not too many homeless asylum seekers tomorrow.

When I get home, do I feel a little smug, yes OK I do................

Friday, 9 December 2011

selling stuff

at a Fairtrade stall at Ryedale House, the HQ of Ryedale District Council. This is the third stall we've run there, just a few tables in the canteen. The council now serves Fairtrade tea and coffee in all their vending machines and also has other Fairtrade snacks for sale.

You can never tell what is going to sell well, in previous years it has been the small Divine chocolate bars and snack bars like flapjack, not so this year! Last year people were almost fighting over the garland Christmas decorations, this year I think I sold 4!

So what were the hot items this year, well it was the bigger Divine bars, the earrings and the bangles. People in a more healthy eating mood and a present buying mood. We took twice the money we had last year, so that is good for Fairer World, in Gillygate, York, where we get all the things for the various stalls we run over the year.

What was good was the number of people buying craft items who had specifically been looking for fairly traded items, the word is spreading.

As I packed up I sorted things out for my next stall on Sunday, at Howsham Mill, OUTDOORS! yes you read that right; I have my thermals ready and also some fleece lined fingerless mittens, easier for handling money. So if you live locally come along between 11 and 4 and keep us warm by buying our wares.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

if you go down in the woods and pink gloves

Back in Yorkshire after a week being a Granny and it's a cold and strong wind on the Cleveland Way near Hayburn Wyke, one of my favourite places to be working. I have some warmish lined new gloves, my last pair went over the cliffs with some blackthorn last winter and the regular pair protect my hands, but don't keep them warm; I have to put up with some teasing as they are partly pink! First we have an old fence to remove, rusting wire and damaged posts, some of them very close to the cliff edge (and the wind is blowing from the land!). It is not only unsightly, but the rusty wire is dangerous to both walkers and wildlife, two years ago I startled two deer in this same place.

After an early lunch we move down into the shelter of the woods. Stone steps to clean, ditches to clear and culverts to clean out. All on the Cleveland Way, it's a national trail so has to be maintained to a very high standard. Coasties usually work on it once a month. When I lived in the London I walked the Thames Path, also a national trail, that was three years ago, and I'm afraid they didn't have the same high standards that we manage to maintain in much more rugged terrain. Perhaps I am biaised!

So if you go down to the woods today, the steps that you might have thought were mud are actually stone.

All in all a most satisfactory day, good work done, sunshine, some beautiful scenery and good company. Sorry if I sound smug, regular blog readers will know that some of my volunteering work is much more stressful, so this is a lovely and welcome antidote. Perhaps all volunteers should try for the sort of mix I have?
the pink gloves on some cleared steps
the old fence, now gone