Hello and a very warm welcome to my newly relaunched blog. I'm Paul a 40 year old family man from the UK. In this complex, information overload 21st century world, too often we lose sight of what's really important. Here I want to celebrate life, share inspirational stories, throw the spotlight on charities and causes close to my heart. Looking forward to sharing this journey with you all.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Miles of smiles - an important appeal from the heart

Y2m

I know its been nearly 3 months since I've been blogging here, but there's time for updates in the future - right now I really need your help, to enable a very special little boy get the care he truly needs...

Back in June I wrote on here about little Miles Griffiths and highlighted the charity that providing support for him - this week I got news from his grandma of an extremely worrying development in his care.


Please, please read and show your support by signing the petition at the link below - thankyou so much

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keepmilesinfootprints/

http://www.causes.com/causes/534650?m=4d513973





Hi Paul. I'm contacting you to ask if you would be kind enough to help my family again (!)......As you may recall I have an 8 year old grandson, Miles Griffiths. He currently lives in a childrens nursing home, Footprints, in Canterbury, Kent and has been supported by the wonderful Charity Kent Kids whom you highlighted on your blog. Social Services then stepped in to help financially.


In their infinite wisdom (for reasons of economy ) Social Services have now decided that Miles should be placed in foster care and have lined up totally unsuitable foster carers over-riding my daughter and her husband's wishes. Whilst these foster carers are very pleasant people, they have no experience of caring for a severely mentally and physically disabled child. Miles is recieving excellent care at Footprints, he is well, happy and settled. It is nothing short of cruel to disrupt him and he would simply not understand what was happening to him.

Miles cannot speak for himself so we are acting for him, he is not an unwanted child, he is much loved and cherished by his family.


We have launched a petition called Keep Miles At Footprints.



Please, please consider signing this petition and if you are a Facebook member, joining our cause.

Links below:-

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keepmilesinfootprints/







Original Blog :

No matter what kind of day I've had, there's one thing that's always guaranteed to bring on instant happiness.


Every time I see my little boy's face light up with wonder, beaming a huge smile back at me, suddenly all the troubles of the world just melt away.

1) Miles of smiles miles-of-smiles.org.uk



You may well have seen the link on the right hand side of this blog as I first featured this charity a month or so ago after a fellow writer on dooyoo told me all about it as it provides much needed care for her grandson.

Kent Kids Miles of Smiles was founded in March 1993, with the sole aim of spreading some sunshine into the lives of sick and disabled children. It's a small regional British charity that has really struggled for funding during the recession, so I'm more than happy to give it any extra promotion that I can.


The lady in question kindly gave me her permission to publish an extract from the deeply moving message she wrote to me - I think you'll agree it's much more powerful and personal than anything I could write here myself

I just wanted to mention a charity very close to my heart, Kent Kids, Miles of Smiles. They are a Kent based children's charity, who have supported my young grandson, Miles Griffiths, for over 18 months. Miles was born with spastic quadriplegia, he is 8 this year but cannot sit, mobilise, speak or even swallow due to his condition.

He is fed via a jejunostomy tube into his bowel (as his stomach does not work) and his care needs are so great that my daughter was unable to continue caring for him at home. She has two other children and was becoming ill with the sheer hard work involved after 6 years care giving with little or no help.









We try to do our bit for the charity and support their fundraising ventures, but as you can imagine the current recession has hit the charity's donations very hard. If you would consider highlighting Kent Kids on your blog, I would be very grateful

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Click to Donate!

Since my son was born a few years ago, I have been signed up to a good number of "cashback sites", which give you a share of the advertising revenue when you make purchases online through their links. In addition, on most of these sites there are a small number of daily cashback clicks, where you can earn a few pence, in some cases just by clicking on the links.

As per the ongoing theme of this blog, since March of this year, I've decided to donate all of those earnings to charity. Following a bit of research, I've discovered that there are a number of legimate charity websites out there offering "click-to-donate" links where users can click a button (generally only once per day) to generate a donation for a charity or cause.

The two that I'm going to highlight here today are the most well established, so please be assured that these are genuine links.

1) the hungersite http://www.hungersite.com/  


The Hunger Site




From the website:

"The Hunger Site was founded to focus the power of the Internet on a specific humanitarian need; the eradication of world hunger. Since its launch in June 1999, the site has established itself as a leader in online activism, helping to feed the world's hungry and food insecure. On average, over 220,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the yellow "Click Here to Give - it's FREE" button.....Since its inception, visitors at The Hunger Site and shoppers at The Hunger Site store have given more than 671 million cups of food."

Martin Lewis at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ writes

"3.6 - just a number? You may suspect an interest rate or price, yet it's much more important than that. Every three point six seconds someone in the world dies of hunger, and three quarters of the 24,000 daily deaths are children under five years old. Yet there's a way to feed them which won't cost you a penny; it's called The Hunger Site."


The site has set up a number of sister sites to help support breast cancer treatment, child health, literacy, the rainforests and animal rescue. All of these sites can be accessed by selecting the individual coloured tabs.

2) Freerice  http://www.freerice.com/

This is another amazing web site. This time it's not just a simple click through - this is a very clever website that seeks to pass on a little knowledge, as each visitor answers some straight-forward multi-choice questions in order to earn grains of rice.

According to wikipedia " As of May 2009, FreeRice has donated more than 60 billion grains of rice (roughly 1,700 metric tons or 3.75 million pounds". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeRice



And last but by no means least I want to share with you a truly remarkable campaign which you can become a part of , right here and now.

Whilst on our recent cruise holiday, on a day trip in Rome, having been lucky enough to have just enjoyed one of the most memorable meals I've ever had, sampling the very finest of Italian pizza , pasta and ice-cream, we were on our coach heading back to the ship. I happened to see a poster which really made me stop and think.

It was for this campaign http://www.1billionhungry.org/magicdarts/  Please, please take a look and if you use my link with the magicdarts on the end I get to be able to track anyone who signs up as a result of this.

The words speak for themselves - 1 billion people hungry - I'm mad as hell - Watch the video clip by renowned British Actor Jeremy Irons.

Its a global petition that will be presented to the United Nations in October 2010. As of tonight there are already 199,237 signed up from across the globe - please be the next one. 
 
You really can make a difference.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

June's donations

Once again apologies for the less frequent blogs these days -it's a tough balancing act at the moment with family and work commitments but I'm certainly not about to start walking away from what I've set out to do.

This is always my favourite part of the month where I get to share the details on my latest round of donations of my on-line earnings. This month, I've managed to collect in another £30 via payouts from surveys and quidco cashback, and I'm very close to reaching a couple of other thresholds.

I've decided to split the donations 2 ways between these 2 extremely good causes

1) British Heart Foundation

Another good friend from the dooyoo review sites Tim Webb has just followed in the footsteps of Ivor's epic journey from London to Brighton, this time using pedal power. 55 miles cycling in a single day is some going though ( I did a 40 mile ride for BHF a few years ago and even though the finish line was less than half a mile from my house I had to be taken home in a car!) so congratulations to all involved in the Stamford Lions group and I hope they can achieve the target of £5000

Please take a look at

http://original.justgiving.com/thestamfordlions

About the charity:

The British Heart Foundation is the nation's heart charity.

Every day they save lives, through pioneering research, providing vital information to help people reduce their own heart health risks, campaigning for change and supporting and caring for heart patients.


Charity Registration No 225971

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Football World cup - making the most of a truly global gathering


As I'm sure many of you are well aware, the 2010 Football world cup starts this Friday in South Africa.

In these often troubled modern times, as all of our daily lives are in some way affected by the global economic turmoil, climate uncertainty and ongoing conflicts, for me the chance that only presents itself every 4 years to unite with football and sporting fans from across the planet is not to be missed.

Whatever your interest in the sport, so many people from totally different cultures and countries sharing a common interest - that is always special

Since as long as I can remember, it's been a part of my upbringing - from Argentina 1978 every 4 years to the present day, its provided some of the most memorable sporting moments I've witnessed. Each country has their own unique story to tell, and for England ever since that one iconic triumph at Wembley back in 1966, its largely been a tale of promise and hope along with plenty of heartbreak.

In line with the continuing theme of this blog, this year I want to look outside the pure sporting drama that will unfold and take a look ways in which we can make the most of this global coming together, and harness the true spirit of humanity and community at it's very best

Last night, I was priviledged to watch "Soccer Aid"

The brain child of UK pop superstar Robbie Williams, it features a charity match on behalf of UNICEF staged between England and the Rest of the World, with each team comprising of a number of celebrities, presenters, actors as well as a sprinkling of true footballing legends.



This year's match marked  the 3rd running of the event, (previous versions in 2006 and 2008) and featured international greats like Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ryan Giggs as well as homegrown English legends such as Shearer, Sheringham and David Seaman.

The oh so predictable eventual result that England lost on penalties was let's face it utterly irrelevant - the value of the funds raised, to buy the likes of simple Malaria Nets - it's simply priceless

Please take a look at the website at
https://socceraid.unicef.org.uk/ and make a donation if you can.

No doubt during the tournament the British tabloid press in particular will be looking to ride the wave of popular support and then find any angle they can to rip into the England team the moment things start to go wrong. Over paid and priviledged players that underperform - it's a very easy line of attack.

I wonder how many people out there are aware of the http://www.teamenglandfootballerscharity.com/ - I strongly suggest you take a look.

Bobby Moore the captain of that victorious 1966 team embodies the very essence of bravery and skill, and having tragically lost his life to cancer, it's truly inspiring to read about the foundation that lives on in his memory.

One final site I'd encourage you to take a look at is http://www.homelessworldcup.org/. This extraordinary annual gathering has been running since 2003, and the next one will be in Rio De Janeiro in September 2010 where 64 nations will be taking part.

As described on the website it "is an annual, international football tournament, uniting teams of people who are homeless and excluded to take a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country and change their lives forever. It has triggered and supports grass roots football projects in over 70 nations working with over 30,000 homeless and excluded people throughout the year.



The impact is consistently significant year on year with 73% of players changing their lives for the better by coming off drugs and alcohol, moving into jobs, education, homes, training, reuniting with families and even going on to become players and coaches for pro or semi-pro football teams.

You can also link up with the Homeless World Cup with social networking sites on Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, and Youtube, so please take a look and show your support.















Whichever nation finally gets to lift that golden globe on July 11th, we can all be winners if we get involved and give what we can.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Making the most of your precious spare time -National Volunteers week!

First of all, it's great to be back and posting.

Apologies for what's become a fairly lengthy absence, but I was fortunate enough to spend the last 2 weeks in May on our family holiday on a Cruise trip around the Mediterranean - plenty of great experiences to share on that, and this week has been about catching up with my work commitments.

Heartened to see that my blog has continued to receive comments and even some new followers in my absence , that alone is more than enough motivation to keep me going.

One of the things that really struck me during the cruise trip and that made it so special , was that with a very limited TV service and so much to do on board and visiting the destinations, the holiday really seemed to last a long time. 

Made me re-evaluate how much time I still waste on a nightly basis flicking through the TV channels and all the popular culture dross that fills the air time, and how with 2 weeks completely away from all of that I don't seem to have missed anything.

With my full time work commitments, and my determination to continue to build on this blog, clearly something has to give, and as a British Kids TV show "Why don't you?" used to delight in telling us it really is time to "Turn off the television set and go out and do something less boring instead!!" 

Inspired by fellow bloggers and commenters here, 've been trying to find a way to fit in some volunteering time and over the last hour or two I've had a look through my company's website. 

As luck would have it, here in the UK it just happens to be National Volunteer week http://www.volunteersweek.org.uk/About+the+Week running between the 1st and 7th of June so for those of you in the UK I would encourage you to take a look

Another great discovery for me is that my company is partnered with the Princes Trust. For those of you unfamiliar with the charity, set up by Prince Charles here in the UK, it does some fantastic work particularly around supporting young people from across the social spectrum in community work and business opportunities. Back in 1994, as a  graduate struggling to find work, I took part in a 12 week volunteers programme that had a massive impact on my life in so many ways. I promise I will write up the full story here soon 

In the meantime , I've signed up via the following link  www.princes-trust.org.uk/beexceptional in the first instance as a workshop facilitator, and according to the website, it's just a case of finding out when there is an opportunity to help in my regional area and going from there.

So hopefully rather than just talking about my past volunteering experiences with the Trust, I can add to them here very soon. 

One of the most memorable and inspiring aspects of the Princes Trust programme for me was the week I spent working as a volunteer at the skylarks holiday centre, which provided holiday facilities and activities for disabled guests and restbite for their carershttp://www.vitalise.org.uk/getdoc/8f264128-ba58-4685-b14c-

I would strongly encourage anyone who can spare a week or so of their time to get in touch and get involved - it means such a lot to the carers and guests, and the benefits you get in terms of perspective and appreciation of life are immeasurable.

One of the most memorable and inspiring parts of our cruise which was with Royal Carribean's largest European ship the Independence of the Seas, was the fact that all of its facilities and activities had been built with accessibility in mind. 

It was fantastic to see such a large number of disabled guests on board using a variety of wheel chair and motability support systems able to enjoy their holiday time to the full. 

So I'm back, I'm refreshed and ready to go - please keep your ideas and suggestions coming in!!



Thursday, 13 May 2010

Smiles that can change our world!

No matter what kind of day I've had, there's one thing that's always guaranteed to bring on instant happiness.

Every time I see my little boy's face light up with wonder, beaming a huge smile back at me, suddenly all the troubles of the world just melt away.

So continuing on that theme here's three very special charities which I would like to bring to your attention


1) Miles of smiles http://miles-of-smiles.org.uk/

You may well have seen the link on the right hand side of this blog as I first featured this charity a month or so ago after a fellow writer on dooyoo told me all about it as it provides much needed care for her grandson.


Kent Kids Miles of Smiles was founded in March 1993, with the sole aim of spreading some sunshine into the lives of sick and disabled children. It's a small regional British charity that has really struggled for funding during the recession, so I'm more than happy to give it any extra promotion that I can.



The lady in question kindly gave me her permission to publish an extract from the deeply moving message she wrote to me - I think you'll agree it's much more powerful and personal than anything I could write here myself

"I just wanted to mention a charity very close to my heart, Kent Kids, Miles of Smiles. They are a Kent based children's charity, who have supported my young grandson, Miles Griffiths, for over 18 months. Miles was born with spastic quadriplegia, he is 8 this year but cannot sit, mobilise, speak or even swallow due to his condition.

He is fed via a jejunostomy tube into his bowel (as his stomach does not work) and his care needs are so great that my daughter was unable to continue caring for him at home. She has two other children and was becoming ill with the sheer hard work involved after 6 years care giving with little or no help.

We try to do our bit for the charity and support their fundraising ventures, but as you can imagine the current recession has hit the charity's donations very hard. If you would consider highlighting Kent Kids on your blog, I would be very grateful."

2) A smile for a child

http://www.asmileforachild.org/index.html

The second charity I want to highlight today is another very small UK charity which supports disabled and disadvantaged children to get into sporting activities in their communities. I'm a great believer in the benefits of sport and making all sports universally accessible, so although I've only just found out about them it really is a cause close to my heart and I'll certainly be looking to get actively involved with them in the coming weeks, months and years.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Proudly announcing this months donations!

As I mentioned a couple of days back, I've tallied up the online earnings now ready for cash out this month and am very pleased to announce the latest donations I've been able to make, along with some details about the charities.

A total of £75 collected this month added to the previous £81.40 brings the grand total for the year to date

****£156.40!*****

So still well on track to the £1000 target , especially as I'm close to pay out for a number of £30-50 thresholds so hopefully plenty more to come in the next few months.

Also, really chuffed to now have 66 followers signed up already, and thanks again to all of you out there for all the amazing, positive comments I've received so far - it really does spur me on, and as a result of the community spirit I've got to know about some incredible causes that you support out there.

If anyone out there is thinking of trying this for themselves and donating on line earnings, please look out for my up coming blog entry where I'll highlight some of my own favourite and reliable "top earner" cashback, survey and review sites. Also, once again can I appeal to you all to get in touch about your special charities and I will do my utmost to highlight them here.

And so to the most important bit, the charities.


1) Makomborero Zimbabwe - £25



Back in April, one of my old University friends had got in touch to tell me about the bold and visionary project called Makombero (meaning blessings) that is now finally getting close to becoming a reality for Mark and Laura Albertyn.

They are native Zimbabweans, who have spent the last few years working in the UK, but have always with the dream to set up an A-level school back in Zimbabwe. It has taken some time to get the funds together but now finally they are heading back to Zimbabwe in a month or so's time.

Please, please, please take a look at the charity's website at  and also their blog at  http://makomborero.info/ it tells the story much better than I ever could. There you will find details of how you can get involved, support, volunteer, donate and become a part of this community adventure.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The power of connections - running for Epilepsy research

So back to work today, over into our Birmingham office this morning, and once again another remarkable connection made in the chain of good causes that this blog has opened my eyes to.

In my recent posts, I've written about the London Marathon, written about Serene Low's fantastic epilepsy awareness blog and on comedian Russell Howard running for the National Society for Epilepsy charity.

As a new month begins I've totalled up the available online earnings funds and am in the process of sorting out donations to the charities I've highlighted in the last couple of weeks.

Then whilst in the office canteen getting my morning tea and toast, there I see a small notice plaque about one of my UK based work colleagues Mark Pickard, running in the London Marathon on behalf of Epilepsy Research UK.  tear off a strip of paper with the fundraising website address

uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Pickard






Here in their own words are their reasons for taking part on behalf their son Harry.

"We have decided to run the London marathon this year TOGETHER! and we are running for the charity Epilepsy Research UK, for a cause that mean a lot to us.


Harry is a very happy and healthy 9 year old, but in 2005 he started to collapse for no apparent reason, at first it was thought he was having "normal" childhood feberal convulsions, however as the frequency and severity of these collapses increased further tests diagnosed Epilepsy. Our worst fears were realised as Fiona has had live through her father having Epilepsy for over 30 years. However Harry's type of Epilepsy has now been diagnosed (Atonic) and he has been treated successfully for over 4 now and we have had only a few recurrences. Hopefully he will grow out of his Epilepsy, but he may well have to be on medication for some time maybe indefinitely. However both Harry and his Grandfather are very well, and we have no reason to think that Epilepsy will adversely effect their lives.

However the experience has motivated us to try and repay in some way the support we have had in diagnosing Harry's Epilepsy, and we have decided to try and lug our bodies around the streets of London on the 25th of April.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Going the Distance!


Well another very busy but hugely enjoyable family weekend for me, so sorry I haven't had much time to write and catch up with my fellow bloggers

In amongst grass cutting duties, swimming lessons, and numerous trips out chasing after our ever energetic young "son"shine, I even managed to squeeze in a 7 mile run on the treadmill, but frankly those exertions seem ridiculously insignificant in comparison with the super human efforts of Ivor and his team pictured above.

As you'll hopefully already have seen in my recent blog entries, over the last four days, Ivor and friends have been running a phenomenal 90Kilometres (56 miles) from London to Brighton, to raise money for the Children on the Austistic Spectrum Parents association or CASPA.

By all accounts they've had to battle through the very worst of British May Bank Holiday weekend conditions with howling winds , rain and mud to contend with all along the route.

From the update reports on facebook I know they had reached the 70KM mark by late last night, and were hoping to be in Brighton by 3pm today.

I have absolutely doubt they've made it by now, and hopefully they are  enjoying a very well earned rest in a deckchair, icecreams in hand, the works!!

For the very latest please take a look on the blog,
http://fourdaysrunning.blogspot.com/

Show your support and join up with the facebook group at:

STOP PRESS : Here they are at the finish line in Brighton - what an achievement!!

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=117000564991878
Or to make a donation on :
http://www.justgiving.com/fourdaysrunning

From one of Ivor's most recent updates looks like they've raised well over £3000 which should go along way towards a new club facility for the kids. What a fantastic example to us all!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Be part of a very special delivery service!



It's always great when you can connect up previous blog entries and themes, and I’m pleased to say that today’s post is a prime example of that.



A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the tireless campaigning being done by Serena Low to raise awareness globally about epilepsy as well as much needed research funds.

If you get chance, please take a look at her blog and if you are on twitter please click on the pink ribbon on the right hand side of this page to show your support.

So while I was on her site, I took a look at the links to see if there was an epilepsy charity that I could support in the UK. I clicked on some of the links and in the process discovered that one of my absolute favourite comedians Russell Howard, was about to run the London marathon along with his sister and his younger brother Daniel who has epilepsy, in support of the National Society for Epilepsy.



http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russell-Howard/6532933343?ref=mf


Pleased to report that Russell finished the course in a very impressive four hours and 20 minutes, and is more than half way to achieving his £10,000 fundraising target – see link below


And now to the third link in this particular chain of positivity.

Russell also happens to host his own weekly topical comedy show called Good News. Having seen the marathon footage, it reminded me that I had one of his shows recorded on Sky plus to catch up on.

As the title suggests, one of the key elements is the show, is that every week, in the middle of all the gags and topical stuff, Russell always takes time out to share inspirational stories.

I have to say that this particular feature really captured my imagination.

He told the story of an incredible young lady called Vikki, who for the past 7 years as been essentially bed bound suffering with severe Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Rather than dwelling on her own condition, she drew inspiration from all the cards and post she was sent to cheer her up and how much they meant to her and came up with the idea of Postpals.

Basically, all the sick and seriously ill children registered with her site get post and gifts sent to them from all over the world.

In her words “When I first became bedbound I was sent so many cards it wasn’t long before my walls and ceiling were covered, it became my reason to wake up each day. 
It was this that gave me the idea for Post Pals, although I hoped it would "catch on" I didn't dream it would touch as many lives as it has, both families with seriously ill children and of the volunteers around the world. I'm so very proud of it! I do the running of Post Pals from bed with a laptop, and my room (and I confess a big chunk of my parents house) looks like a cross between a mail room and a toy shop!"

Please , please take a look at the site - if this doesn't move you I really don't know what will. 

Everyone of us can play a part, as well as post, people can send emails, donate to support the service. What could possibly be more rewarding than knowing that a few minutes of your day could mean so much to a poorly little one.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 26 April 2010

Let me get some running shoes and lead you through the streets of London!





Last Sunday, one of the most inspirational events in the British sporting calendar, the London Marathon celebrated it's 30th running. 


I can well remember as a 10 year old sports fanatic, being glued to the screen throughout the very first running, as we were taken on a whistle-stop tour round all the great and historic treasures of the city. 


Then at the finale, as they ran through the 385 yards of the Royal Mall, the two leading runners joined hands and crossed the line together. A moment of true sportsmanship to mark the beginning of a very special annual event.


From those 6,000 or so runners who took part in the very first race, its popularity has just grown and grown - this year a record 36,000 runners completed the course, and in total nearly 3/4 of a million runners have completed the gruelling 26 mile event. We


But whilst it remains a serious athletic event, attracting the very best runners from around the globe, its enduring success is founded on the incredible efforts of the masses of runners who take part to help numerous different charities . 


According to race organisers, it is now established as the largest single annual fund raising event in the world. Estimates of the total annual amount raised are between £40 and £50 million and well over 75% of participants do so in support of good causes.


So I think you'll agree a very positive way to start the new week.


Continuing on the theme, one of my fellow online writers, Mr Ivor Reveley, is preparing to face a very special running challenge of his own, starting next weekend in London. As I've written in a previous entry, Ivor is taking part in a gruelling challenge to run the 90 Kilometres from London to Brighton over the May Bank Holiday weekend on behalf of CASPA - Children on the Autistic Spectrum Parents association.


Ivor's 16 year old son Matthew has Autism with complex additional needs. 


Ivor not only helped found the charity which started out as a small parental support group but is fully committed as the chair and trustee of the charity, organising special events and workshops for young people with autism.


You can read much more about how you can get involved and support their efforts at http://fourdaysrunning.blogspot.com/


Also a big thank you to a much more established member of the blogging community, Mandy Southgate, who took the time out to meet with Ivor and highlight his efforts on her own Emm in London blog at http://missus-emm.blogspot.com/2010/03/running-for-autism.html


It really means a lot when people like Mandy take the time out to help us relative minnows in the blogging universe to get much needed publicity and support and she's also been to visit my recent blog entries around the Makomborero Zimbabwe project I highlighted last week. Really, I'd highly recommend to take a look at her work - all of us blogging novices can learn a huge amount from it!


Thanks for reading!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Making a difference in her own back yard - please help end this cruelty






Another fellow review writer Angie who I know from dooyoo (http://dooyoo.co.uk), recently got in touch with me to ask if I could throw the spotlight on animal cruelty and more specifically the appalling conditions in which Battery Hens are forced to exist. 


Although I always try to buy free range labelled eggs, having read this, in future I for one am 100% definitely going to make sure I never purchase any eggs that doesn't make it absolutely clear that they are free range.


It is a clearly a cause to which she is very personally committed to, even to the point of caring for ex Battery hens at her own home. Despite her best efforts over the past year, sadly, the emaciated bird "little red" shown below in the picture  recently lost its fight for life.




Here's an extract from a review she wrote about the plight of these birds which she has kindly given permission for me to reproduce here. 


Although it really makes for uncomfortable reading, please do take a look and if you can please pay a visit to the websites of the charities highlighted.

"As an owner of 3 ex battery hens and very passionate about their plight I have decided to write this in the hope that it may do some good and save a few hens from suffering. 

Battery egg hens live in a tiny cage made of wire, the space they have is about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, so they hardly move. All they can do is to eat, drink and lay egg after egg. Deprived of normal chicken behaviour they will pull out the feathers of hens in nearby cages.



Lights are kept on for longer to encourage them to lay more, this puts a great deal of strain onto their bodies and causes more health problems.


Injuries are common and often not noticed or treated. Broken legs and torn ligaments are not uncommon.

Without being able to scratch around their nails grow long causing more discomfort.

Between 14 and 18 months the hen is of no more use because her egg production drops. At this stage one of 2 things will happen, either she will get lucky and end up being taken by a hen rescue organisation or she will be taken to slaughter and end up in dog food and baby food...yes that's correct baby food!



Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Makomborero Zimbabwe - a quick correction

Hi!

 Just to let you know in last nights blog I incorrectly posted the wrong URL for the Makomborero charity home page - it should be http://www.makomborero.info - Thanks to fellow blogger Emm for spotting that one.

Also here as promised, are some of the pictures that aren't visible on the previous entry:



For some reason I can't seem to edit the original blog , and I don't want to lose the comments I have, especially as I have one from the Albertyns on that entry, which will take you directly to their blog.

Building in progress:

Before:


After:

Assembly!



Please go and say hello to Mark and Laura , I know your support would mean an awful lot to them.

http://albertynzim.blogspot.com

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Following a dream : Makomberero Zimbabwe - a truly inspiring vision



Tonight, it’s my absolute privilege to help spread the word about a very special educational charity initiative.

One of my old University friends recently got in touch to tell me about the bold and visionary project called Makombero (meaning blessings) that is now finally getting close to becoming a reality for Mark and Laura Albertyn. 

They are native Zimbabweans, who have spent the last few years working in the UK, but have always with the dream to set up an A-level school back in Zimbabwe. It has taken some time to get the funds together but now finally they are heading back to Zimbabwe this summer.

Please, please, please take a look at the charity's website http://www.makombero.info and also their blog at  http://albertynzim.blogspot.com/, it tells the story much better than I ever could. There you will find details of how you can get involved, support, volunteer, donate and become a part of this community adventure. 
Here's a few pictures taken from a recent presentation about the project


Before:











           













An assembly in progress:



As soon as I heard about their remarkable plans it really struck a chord with me. 

Back in 1981, my Dad took up a job at a steelworks in Zimbabwe, and we all moved out there to live for a few years until 1984. As you can imagine for a young lad of 10 or 11 who had barely ventured out of his home village let alone overseas, it was an incredible experience for me. At the time, there was such a positive feeling of hope for the future in newly independent Zimbabwe, and that was most noticeable for me when attending the local secondary school. For so many of the pupils there with me who had previously been denied access simply because of the colour of their skin, it was a huge deal, and they were really motivated to learn. I will never forget the spirit of learning of my fellow classmates. I was one of only a couple of white kids in the class, but it was absolutely never an issue, it was all about working hard to achieve that much prized education.

Whatever your views on the politics involved, as has become so painfully apparent in recent years, the people of Zimbabwe have suffered terribly with the horrendous effects of famine, disease and economic hardship. Two people, two proud Zimbabweans are determined to make a difference

And I applaud them for that, from the bottom of my heart.

Thanks for reading







Monday, 19 April 2010

My only "Son"shine!


A couple of days have passed since my last blog entry, but don't worry I'm back, refreshed from a long weekend break and raring to go, just that little bit busy again with work today.

A warm welcome to any new readers and followers - it's very encouraging to see people stopping by even when I'm away. My target of 300 followers by the end of the year is looking very achievable with nearly 50 followers in all now, more than half of which have joined in the last week or so. Please keep the comments coming and get in touch about any special charities you would like me to support. I've already got at least 3 more charities suggested by fellow writers out there that I'll be highlighting in the next couple of weeks.

As there's only time for a short piece today, I decided to have a quick trawl around the web to find a quote or two to help lift the gloom of the start of another working week. My favourite one that sums up the spirit of this blog comes from the late Dr Leo Buscaglia (1924 –1998)...an author and Professor at the University of California who was also affectionately known simply as Dr Love.

"Don't spend your precious time asking 'Why isn't the world a better place?' It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is 'How can I make it better?' To that there is an answer."


Then again, sometimes when I’m looking for real inspiration, rather than go trawling around for inspired quotes and insights from the great and the good on this planet, I find the answer much closer to home. When seen through my son's fresh, imaginative mind, suddenly the world seems a very different and much simpler place.
Here's a few of my absolute favourites:

“I’m not a lazy lump...I’m a tired lump!"


"Mummy you are delicious, Daddy you are tasty, granny you are a haddock!"


“Daddy, my nose has just done a trump”


“Grannie's hat is on to keep her ear wig in” (she has a hearing aid!)


“I’m decoratoring beautifully mummy” says he as he put up the baubles on the christmas tree


"Daddy stop reading with your mouth full."


“When I’m a big daddy like you I’m going to be strong, tall, and messy”


When asked what does daddy do all day, he replied in my defence “Daddy does mess!”

But even at his cheekiest, somehow always manages to redeem himself....

“I’ve got the best family in the whole world ever”

Bless!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Epilepsy awareness - please support Serene's fantastic blog!

One of the key aims of this blog is to highlight the brilliant work being done by others in the blogging community to support the causes that mean the most to them.


Today I want to bring your attention to the fantastic work being done by Serene Low over in Malaysia, who has worked tirelessly for nearly a decade to promote the awareness of epilepsy around the world.




http://www.epilepsylegacy.blogspot.com/


In her words:


"I have been an epilepsy activist for 9 years. It is extremely difficult and challenging for an individual to promote epilepsy awareness single handedly but it is not totally impossible. Through epilepsy awareness work I had come to know of some wonderful and inspiring people whom I look up to and who had opened doors for me to reach out to the public.

Roughly 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy. Epilepsy is 3 times more common than multiple sclerosis and more than 3 times as common as Parkinson's disease and cerebral palsy. One person in 50 will develop epilepsy at some time in their life. One in 20 will have a single epileptic seizure."


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Making a difference - my first donations!



Once again a warm welcome to all my new and existing followers!.

Since joining up with Blog catalog a week or two back I've been lucky enough to make some fantastic contacts within the online blogging community, spread wide across the world.

So I think it's high time that I provided a recap on what I'm trying to achieve here, as well as an update on how things are going so far


What's it all about?

For the benefit of those newcomers, here's a quick bit of background on this blog. Like most of us out there, I lead a very busy life, juggling precious family time with demanding work commitments. I've always had a major passion for writing, and over the last two years in particular through online review sites and the like, I've dedicated a lot of my spare time to dipping my toes in the murky freelance earning waters.

After coming through a serious health scare in the last few months, I've been able to make a lot of positive changes to my work / family life balance, have changed long standing poor dietary habits and rediscovered a balanced exercise routine, which has made a huge difference to me in so many ways.

In simple statistical terms to date I've lost just over 30 pounds since December but the real impact in terms of rediscovering my energy and passion for life is immeasurable.

As for my writing, I had always had this dream of just packing in the IT day job, and throwing all my efforts into a rewarding freelance career. As soon as I'd made it big, then I could really give something back, support all those charities and causes that have meant so much to me over the years.

Guess what? 

In a sudden wave of inspiration it hit me.

 Right now I get to write about whatever means something to me.

If I go down the all freelance route, being realistic the chances are very high that I would have to prioritise finding ways to scrap and scrape a living , writing about things that really don't interest me, just to get by.
What do I love best about writing online - the feedback, the sense of community, the freedom to write what and when I like  - it's certainly not the financial reward!

So I dusted down my original entirely purposeless blog, and came up with a theme that I could really believe in.

In March 2010 , Make a difference was born. Sharing positive, inspiring stories, highlighting amazing charities and fundraising initiatives.

And my own personal commitment.

Every single penny that I earn online, whether that be from existing review sites, spare time surveys, adsense revenues, cash back shopping etc. - I will give directly to charities.

Donations update

So I've gone through a number of my existing online earnings sources which had reached payout threshold levels and as a result these are the donations I've been able to give so far.

The grand total so far is (drumroll......) £81.40!