Follow by Email

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Not the streets tonight, mulled wine and mince pies

A very average week, Tuesday was Short Stop, or the Grace project as I must learn to call it, Only one referral today, but sadly it is the same very young man from Iran whom I have placed before; he is, like many other  young people barely out of childhood, a bit disorganised, and doesn't always make it to the bed that has been found for him. So last night he spent on the streets of Leeds, the kind host today will meet him at the bus stop, let's hope he makes it that far.

Wednesday is the last Coasties of the year, it's not raining, we are on the coast near Cloughton and there will be mulled wine and mince pies at lunch time, so three reasons to be cheerful. Steps are cleaned, ditches dug and blackthorn cut back, the Cleveland Way is more passable than it was yesterday. Two flights of stone steps are now three times the width they were yesterday and many months before that.

ready to heat the mulled wine

After the lunch time treats we all slow down a little, well I do, but the fine weather spurs us on and we carry on until our usual finishing time of 3 o'clock. We are still dry, which is a massive change from the last few weeks. I however am rather muddy, having done a graceful slide into the mud before a ditch was re-dug. I drive home, my usual feeling of smug satisfaction with another job well done. Really this is win win, I get some exercise, the path gets maintained and I get the cost of my petrol covered as well. There is also the good company of the rest of the group. Short Stop can get a little lonely at times, the phone calls all going to voicemail, so Wednesday is a good counterpoint to that.

The next day, in the pouring rain I get the bus to Leeds. It never ceases to amaze me that a modern bus cannot have some sort of ventilation that would prevent all the windows running with condensation the minute it is raining or cold! My friend and I exchange cards and I give her a gift for Christmas, a nun from her church is also visiting as well as another friend and there is a lot of laughter and chatting. It all seems like any other gathering of young women (and me) until the others leave and we talk about the latest stage of her appeal to be allowed to stay in this country. A shadow falls and again I think what as asset she would be to all of us and particularly the community she is part of in Leeds.

So my small society ends another year, it did not occur to me when I started that it would keep going for so long. But the need for the blog is still there, there are enough people viewing it for me to go on writing it, and the number of viewings from different countries is growing.

The next post will be in another year, the days will have started to lengthen and we can dream of certainties, like the daffodils at Farndale, and hopes, like my friend's permission to stay.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Saturday in the warm, Sunday out in the mist

Late on Friday I returned from my short holiday and plunged straight back into my small society. 

But first a tale from north Norway; a young guide in telling us about his country, says how  settled asylum seekers are welcomed with lessons in Norwegian, a job and somewhere to live. He obviously approves of this and has no hesitation in telling a coach full of (mostly) British people how it is here in Norway. How refreshing and sadly unlikely to happen here, even if a guide like him felt the same way, would they say so?

So on Saturday I help a friend with her Fairtrade stall in her village hall, it is a regular monthly event in Huttons Ambo, there are also children's activities, a book swap as well as hot drinks and wonderful cakes. Every body seems to know every one else, even I see some old friends and a lovely sociable afternoon passes very quickly, we even make quite a lot of money! And Father Christmas arrives. As usual all the produce from Fairer World

So, please keep your dog on a lead
Today I was in the mist and the mud on the southern edge of the North York Moors, doing my last Voluntary Ranger patrol of the year. There was no open moorland, but a lovely mixture of field edges, woodland and the ever present river Seven, seen here from a most welcome bridge, I really didn't fancy the ford just downstream!

the river Seven, December mist

At the entrance to a nearby meadow, where people are able to wander down to the river's edge, even though it is not a public right of way, there was a terrible warning about what can go wrong.

I squelched back through leaf mould and deep mud, grateful for my new super wellington boots, warm and waterproof.

I am glad I do a variety of different activities for my small society; I enjoyed the solitude of today's winter ranger patrol,  but the warmth and friendliness in the village hall gave a lovely balance to the weekend back at home.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

My Small Society stays indoors

Coasties was cancelled this week, too much chance of being stuck in the snow on the high brow above Burniston, so the only fresh air I've had is walking to the shops and the bus stop, but I've done quite a bit of that.
the Victorian fair at West
Heslerton School. Our young
assistant helps us work out
the change.

Both last Friday and this Friday I had Fairtrade stalls,, last week at the local council offices and this week at West Heslerton Primary school,, in both places we get a warm welcome and lots of enthusiastic buyers.
goodies at the Council canteen

The school children almost clear us out of nodding animals and jelly beans. Their parents buy tree baubles and paper chains. All Fairly Traded and all from Fairer World in York.

Monday and Tuesday were LASSN days, Monday I caught the bus to Leeds, and then my friend and I walked down to pick up another of her friend's daughters from the local family centre, it was bitterly cold, so together we sorted out her hat, scarf and gloves. I have now met her several times, so I am allowed to help her with her gloves, whilst my friend sorts out her hat. Then I caught the bus into Leeds to meet my gadding friend and so home. Probably nearly £20 of bus fares for nothing with my bus pass, it is a greener way to travel, otherwise I would have taken my car, but can I afford my own travel, some of the time, yes. It also saves Lassn from a travel claim; all volunteers should claim their expenses, otherwise volunteering becomes the prerogative of the rich, you can always donate it back.

On the way home I stop off in York and spend my heating allowance (see 24th November) in Fairer World, they will deliver it to the local food bank for me. Although this is a sort of win win, more fairly traded food helping local York people; it still seems to me to be deeply shocking that one of the richest countries in the world is reducing its citizens to food banks. And remember people can't just go in and take what they want, they have to be referred by their social worker or similar person.

Tuesday was a stressful Short Stop, the first person placed very quickly, then two more homeless asylum seekers and every call going to voicemail. Well into the afternoon I tried a few people again, the most wonderful couple agreed to take them both; then I had a call back from one of the voicemails, would the guest mind a crying baby? we agreed that anything would be better than the freezing streets. So back to the other couple,now just one guest and the other one taking his chances with the baby!

My Small Society is doing what it's done before and taking a few days off to go away on holiday, no good depending on me, or other volunteers, for essential services, that what we should be paying people to do.