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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A day of voicemails and then some old brick kilns

The end of May was a trying time as a Short Stop coordinator. It started quite well, computer set up and some tidying up in the garden almost completed, this kind of volunteering is good I thought, doing something useful and the gardening! Then five referrals in quick succession, Pafras http://www.pafras.org.uk/, the Refugee Council http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/ and the Red Cross www.redcross.org.uk/. As I took all the details my heart sank, I already knew that we were short of hosts, leaky roofs, holidays and long term destitute people had reduced the number of short stop beds. I warned the case workers and set to work. To make it harder every call went to voicemail, was it my phone I wondered? Don't be silly how could it be!

Finally, several hours later and the gardening still not completed, I had placed three people, then one of the case workers rang me back, her client could sleep on a friend's floor. Only one unplaced, I rang the agency back, at least it was a warm, dry evening, if it had to be the park. I remembered what LASSN lassn.pir2.info, who organise the short stop system, had told me when I started coordinating, that I must switch off when I finish and on no account to blame myself. Fortunately I trained myself to do just that when I was teaching in a very deprived part of east London, I had done what I could, I could do no more.

It helped that I jumped on my bike and off to have my hair cut, concentrating on the traffic took my mind off anything else, not much point in having an accident, I wouldn't be of any use to anyone then.

The next day was Coasties, the last Wednesday of the month so we were  working with the National Trust www.nationaltrust.org.uk/yorkshire-coast. When I got to Ravenscar it was misty and cold, however it soon cleared a little and we set to work in the old brick kilns next to the now disused railway line that used to run from Scarborough to Whitby and beyond. At present it is hard to tell that these were brick kilns, but one day that might change and the area cleared so that the industrial past of this now peaceful area will be revealed. It was mostly clearing invasive trees and shrubs and laying wood chippings on the paths. Other paths were consolidated with shale, like the wood chippings all sourced locally. The brick kilns, like most other local kilns, apparently used local materials to make the bricks, I forgot to ask whether they brought in coal or used local heather or bracken for the fuel. Below us we can see the old alum works, another part of Ravenscar's industrial past.thedms.discoveryorkshirecoast.com/thedms.

Moving the wood chippings in wheel barrows was easy work, compared to moving the shale, I had only one go at that and almost lost the barrow! Back to the wood chippings for me. Shovelling, tipping and raking was quiet and peaceful, a good antidote to yesterday's problems. Perhaps everyone who does potentially stressful volunteering should have another quite opposite task to keep them calm and sane.

As we cleared up, large branches were pulled across the entrance to the site, motor cyclists have been using if for off road racing, their bikes and fuel are expensive, why can't they go to legitimate sites and pay for their noisy and polluting habits?

the entrance to one of the old kilns


a wood chipped path






















Two days and two such different worlds, I am pleased that I can be involved in both, one is pay back for the other.