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The city of Bristol in the south west corner of the UK has got a lot going for it.

Lots of waterways and restored industrial buildings, elegant Georgian squares,

and more rejuvenation of old buildings into new residences and places for leisure than you would ever think sustainable for what is only the UK’s 10th largest city

Throw in some trendy pubs, innovative workspaces

and a lot of new building and you have the complete package.

But success is a magnet for both those who can benefit from a fast paced economy and those who just aspire to it.

There is a worryingly large homeless population on the streets who by fate, misfortune or poor judgement are on the wrong side of the success story.

I was in the city briefly this week and was struck by how there are people who will have (albeit to varying degrees) skills and talents that could play a part in this city, but are unused and not developed.

Why, well inevitably the homeless who are drawn here are caught in the trap of poverty, sometimes alcohol and substance abuse and are therefore marginalised. As we inevitably move towards a post Brexit Britain with a diminished workforce, we need our young people as contributors and when I see these people I don’t just see a scruffy, maybe unkempt individual but an unused talent and someone with something to give.

Bristol is trying to help..there are schemes where you can donate small sums of money to assist people getting back on board.

I commend these schemes as they are far more effective than direct donations of money to individuals.

The £3 less in my bank account won’t impact my life, but I hope how it is used will play a small but important part in someone else’s.

Read more on the scheme here.

But personal contact is important too… my daughter will often give a free coffee that she gets awarded by her mobile phone company to a homeless person. A small gesture, but human touch also goes a long way.

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Paper boy

As a teenager I had a few Saturday jobs, but my most favourite was in a pet shop. Happy days except when selling goldfish as the customer would always want the fish that swam like a torpedo and was impossible to catch in the tank.

I never was a paperboy back then..quite dissapointed that those roles never became free as I was happy to be up early in the morning and would have been happier still getting tips at the rate my friends in such roles achieved!

Somewhat surprisingly some 40 years later the career opportunity missing back then has arrived! As they say everything comes to he who waits. It’s a bit of a strange paper round I must admit…only one customer, very flexible on time, very nearby and always very generous with tips 😁

As you have probably surmised, I discovered that my elderly neighbour like ourselves enjoys the somewhat bulky weekend version of our regional newspaper and finds these sell out quickly and would often miss out.

So I now buy two every Saturday, and combine it with a visit next door which is a mutually enjoyable start to the weekend.

Sometimes it’s those small interactions in life that are the best …and never too late for a career change!

The biggest gift, the lowest price

This is not my first post about Parkrun, and normally I might be a little wary about focussing on this personal interest of mine too frequently ..but for this particular post..I make no apologies.

Parkrun, for those not in the know is a weekly timed run in literally hundreds of locations across the UK and beyond where those of every ability from first timer to experienced athlete can walk or run a 5k timed event in their local park and measure their personal progress week on week. It also has a huge band of volunteers and provides a unique opportunity for particiption and social interaction. Unlike a race which has only one winner, in this event everyone achieves from it.

My local Parkrun in Huddersfield, Yorkshire also from time to time acts as a platform for other organisations to spread the word on what they do. Yesterday my own running club were providing volunteers for the event

and we were joined by a group from Organ Donation who help promote this vital service.

This wasn’t a PR person doing a recruitment campaign..we were honoured to have several people with first hand experience of how life changing organ donation is.

We had the personal story of Lydia Beckett. Lydia shared with us how a literally life changing decision made by somebody else changed her life and that of her family.

Click on the hyperlink highlighted to read her story..but don’t just read it, please commit to being an organ donor and most importantly tell your family. The UK moves to an opt out system from 2020 so this means it is even more important to make your family aware of your wishes to ensure these are fulfilled.

The greatest gift anyone can give is life…I sincerely hope that none of you reading this will end life prematurely….but one day for all of us life will end, and before this happens we can commit ‘at no cost to us’ to give the greatest gift of all when our time is over.

If you only ever share or repost one of my blogs…please make it this one. Not for its artistic style, prose or any such reason, but that this one single action could change somebody’s life. See links to social media at the bottom of the page.

Your action in encouraging others to sign up could change a life. Now how wonderful a thing is that to be able to do today!

Click here for UK info.

I appreciate that many readers are from outside the UK, so please check on the internet for how you can pledge in your country.

Thanks for reading my blog…

All you need is love

As a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we really didn’t know much about recycling or indeed any kind of care for the planet.

Thanks to the Fab Four, we were told all you need is love, but they forgot to mention that we needed to love the planet as well as each other.

Back then, for anybody not already wearing a kaftan and burning incense, any hint of being too focused on the environment immediately cast you as a future hippy!

To put things a bit in perspective though consumerism was not at the pace of today partly because of the cost of things and just an attitude of mind. Britain then still had a ‘make do and mend’ culture even. It should be noted that Brit’s still had food rationing until 1954! so for my parents generation this was strongly etched in their memory and there really was not the sheer volume of consumer goods, clothing and food & drink purchasing that goes through the front doors of the average house on a daily basis today.

But even so, when things were no longer required the end was simple…they were put in the dustbin.

So now for me as an adult of the 2000’s or a Baby Boomer we see today’s environmentally focused life style for a chance to try to put right the mistakes of our generation.

Monday was a UK public holiday with uncharacteristiclly good weather resulting in numerous garden projects, clearing of garages etc. ready for a symbolic restart of the academic and work year now that summer is nearly over.

The following day, I went to the tip (….now called the household waste recycling centre)….there were 26 cars in the queue ahead of me!

Back home, in addition to what had gone to the tip, as declutter frenzy further consumed our house, we had a box full of goods for the local food bank, bags of clothes for the charity shop and some items that we knew family and friends would use.

But are we really getting the point? …if we bought less, wasted less and shared more, we really could change the world.

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May contain nuts..

We are all familiar with the mountains of form filling that accompanies any request for credit. The guardian’s of these funds will ask searching questions about the state of our bank accounts, how spendthrift our lifestyle is ..do we burn money? or save money?

…and do we have dependants that we need to support.

After some recent form filling I realised that I have in all innocence been not 100% truthful and failed to declare a dependant.

A dependant squirrel..that by stealth has been becoming part of our household.

At first it was just social calls, a little run around the garden, a bit of jumping tree to tree and that was it.

Well nice to have use made of the garden in the winter. So not a problem.

Along comes spring and then he began calling round for meals..very particular to bird seed and peanuts…oh and also the container that they were in as well. Plastic mesh on a bird feeder was no match for him.

And so to summer, my strawberry plants were of great interest. Individual strawberries were picked and consumed sitting on the garden gate staring in at me intently.

Now I am no expert lip reader but at least once I saw him mouth the words..’any sugar or cream to hand?’. The strawberries lasted about two weeks and now it’s the gooseberries. There is a slightly different technique for these. In case you didn’t know it, squirrels love gooseberries but only the inside. So each skin has to be peeled off and discarded in disgust.

Next on the calendar will be the raspberries, plums and possibly apples. This squirrel may not have learnt much from his parents about ‘ask, don’t just take ‘ but he certainly paid attention to the 5 fruit and veg a day message.

So we seem stuck with our new dependant and soon need to have a difficult conversation with him about making his own way in the world and becoming a net contributor to our household.

In readiness for that conversation I did research and found there are jobs that squirrels can do. However it seems that these new additions to the workforce are not always well received… let’s just hope he has more success than his American squirrel cousin and doesn’t get fired on his first day…

…even squirrels have a tough time in the workplace it seems.

Why this blog? Click to find out more……