‘Build them up – knock them down’

A couple of things struck me whilst reading this feature about doctors fighting Coronavirus/Covid-19 in Italy.

  1. It isn’t just us in the UK suffering although from the constant negative reporting by ‘experts’, ‘Government officials’ and media – we could be forgiven for feeling it is.
  2. All humans seem to have the same trait. We praise someone for doing something great and follow it by knocking them down. Whether it’s a healthcare professional, charity leader, celebrity with a social conscience – why do humans feel the need to do this? In the UK we spent months clapping our NHS – as many countries did. Now in the second lockdown, we don’t.
  3. Contradictory reporting gives mixed messages, causes confusion and spreads disbelief. As the feature in the photo says, experts in Italy have given contradictory messaging on Covid. Some medical staff are now being singled out for abuse. How is this acceptable.

Balanced, unbiased reporting of hard facts is crucial to enable people to make informed choices. Whilst we constantly want to ‘sell’ news – and let’s face it ‘good’ news doesn’t sell – we will constantly be dragged into this quicksand of confusion and suspicion.

Accurate communication in all areas of our lives – work and life – are essential to enable us to flourish.

What do you think?

Chef Omari

Flicking through the papers this weekend, I came across this fabulous story within the cooking section.

In my view, it should be front page news – uplifting, encouraging children they are never too young to achieve and oozes the thought they do not need to be held back by any ‘labels’!

Omari wants to be the ‘next Gordon Ramsey without the meat or swearing’.

Home schooled because his teachers brandied Omari an ‘underachiever’ who could not do his SATS because he has Dyslexia, Omari’s interest in vegan cooking took off. He has a cook book due for release in January 2021, his own TV show ‘What’s Cooking Omari’ and his own brand of dips.

What an achiever! I hope the teachers who told Omari he was an ‘under achiever’ will realise their mistake and start seeing the individual talent within every child – which will not always be academic but just as valuable if not more so.

Check out What’s Cooking Omari – CBBC 9.30am on Sundays and BBC iPlayer.

It’s not where you start….

…but the journey you take.

Listening to @TalkRadio this morning made that thought clear to me. Paul Ross was speaking with Phillip Sharples – known as the turfman – who was speaking from Saudi Arabia where he’s currently installing a race course.

He started out, as most people do, not really knowing what he wanted to do but more what he didn’t want as a career – to work in an office. So he got a job cutting grass at his local golf course that he did for four years before deciding he was going to ‘be the best I can at this industry’ and went to University.

Phil spoke about PH levels, grasses etc. It could have been a totally boring session for me but Phil had the unique ability to bring his trade alive sharing the interesting places he’s worked installing football pitches in really hard terrain for example. Currently he’s installing a racetrack in Saudi for one race in February 2021! I learned grass can grow anywhere if the soil and maintenance are right.

After the chat ended, I googled Phil and found this old feature of his work in Azerbaijan – so interesting.

the-challenges-of-growing-grass-in-azerbaijan.html

So by choosing to be the best he could be at grass cutting, he grabbed every opportunity and what a career that decision has led to.

Sometimes we fall into jobs through necessity that weren’t necessarily our choice. But imagine the possibilities of deciding to be the best you can be at that job – where could you end up?

For those who love a lawn – big or small – in their back gardens Phil has written a book which can be checked out on Amazon – The Lawn Guide by Phillip Sharples.

Who cares?

The circle of live shows each of us will need care at some point in our lives to varying degrees. For some it will be a gentle directional push as illustrated in the elephant feature photo. For others it will be more intensive and on-going support that is required.

Not everyone requiring ongoing, intensive support will be old. We need to see everyone as fellow humans needing support with value to add to the wider community.

As humans, don’t we need to ensure quality support is there at every stage?

We have known for a long time now that care workers in the UK were underpaid. Covid-19/Coronavirus has shone a spotlight on this profession. Government has acknowledged they are underpaid and we need to value the care workers. Yet our media has not kept the spotlight on the Government to do something. Ignore it and it will go away could be the thinking.

We expect strangers to take care of our elderly so we can get on with our own lives. Yet, if we don’t respect those carers, give them the time, support and financial rewards to enable them to focus on our relatives, our relatives will not have a caring, safe environment to live in. We won’t have peace of mind. The carers won’t have the energy to do the job they want to do well. Remember, one day we will be the elders in care. How do we want to be treated?

Even after the arrival of Coronavirus/Covid-19,the dedication and commitment , carers showed – they are still on minimum wage. In the community, carers chase between ‘clients’ doing one or two tasks but not staying to build an emotional connection because they have to get to the next ‘client’.

How is this right?

What about the hidden carers? Children brought up to be their parent(s) carer at the sacrifice of their ability to be a child enjoying play and education?

We need to give the investment to all carers now and make it a career choice that is respected and valued. Ensuring children who are carers can focus on their education and childhood whilst their parents get the care and support they need from the community.

Sometimes, as a country, it feels like we have so much but little of what really counts.

If our children are growing up hungry – where are businesses getting their future talent from?

Listening to the radio this morning, the above question jumped into my head. I have my solution at the end of this post. What would be your thoughts?

Time for us all to have an uncomfortable conversation maybe?

The radio feature was on free school meals and the excellent spotlight the footballer Marcus Rashford has shone on this.

Children going hungry is shamefully not a new problem for the UK. Following the end of WWII, free school meals were introduced to ensure no child went hungry. Bearing in mind this was a time when food additives, were a lot less intensive than they are now. Basic, nutritional food that ensured healthy growth for all children in the UK was the norm.

Over the following years, we seemed to lose this ‘collective’ thinking that we are all responsible for the health of the next generation.

I well remember the endeavours of chef Jamie Oliver from 2004 to address putting ‘nutrition’ back into school dinners cost effectively. This would ensure concentration in lessons resulting ultimately in social mobility. Education on an empty stomach is totally non-productive and a complete waste of money. Children can’t concentrate with their stomachs rumbling. As adults, we know when we’re hungry we can think of nothing else. Why would we think it’s different for children?

The radio feature this morning spoke about Jamie’s work and the fact two of his chefs are working in Schools in Greenwich to help feed children nutritionally during school holidays.

Marcus has re-foccused the spotlight back on the need to feed vulnerable children during school holidays as parents struggle through coronavirus.

Many parents will feed their children fast foods because they are cheap. Quantity is better than quality thinking. We know fresh food doesn’t have to be expensive. It does take effort to buy and prepare especially when trying to hold down a number of poorly paid jobs to provide a secure home.

A few of ideas spring to my mind:

  1. Tax cheap, fast food so it becomes a ‘treat’ and heavily discount fresh foods so they become the norm.
  2. I know from experience many families won’t apply for help even when they are entitled. Pride gets in the way. Radical thought here – provide free school meals for every child so not one child is ‘singled’ out as being ‘poor’. From 5-18. Schools become community hubs. Open through school holidays. This would create:

a. Employment throughout the UK

b. Community cohesion

c. Brain power amongst all our children to take advantage of education, realise their dreams, become the innovators of tomorrow, feeding our businesses making the UK a vibrant country of integrity for all.

Of course there would be a huge cost for this. But, what is the cost of not doing it?

As a business owner, I’d be in favour of increased taxes if they were going to this worthwhile cause. I wonder if very wealthy people, would be willing to make annual donations to this cause and write this off against their taxes? Some people earn telephone number salaries and are reluctant to pay HMRC. No one likes paying taxes. But if part of their taxes went to a specific cause like this, would their attitude change if they could see the good they are doing?

A minority of the UK are living in a bubble where they have so much money they will never be able to spend it. Maybe social taxation could be the answer.

Maybe it’s time to do something radical and something different.

What would be your thoughts?

ASK – what do you think?

So what do you think when you see ASK in capitals?

I wasn’t sure what I was thinking when I signed up to do a course looking at intervening in children thinking of suicide. This course is aimed at 4-15year olds interventions.

Sobering thought. Just take a minute to re-read that and let it sink in.

We have really young people who think death will solve their problems. How do we feel about that? What society have we created?

If this isn’t wake up call to speak opening about mental ill health – all ages, all cultures, all social class etc – I don’t know what is.

Learning ASK stands for Assessing risk of Suicide in Kids – sent a judder through my body. I’m used to assessing risk in adults but children as young as 5? Yet, this is an uncomfortable, necessary thought we need to carry with us. We need to be able to engage with children struggling and show them it’s ok to feel the way they do.

Some startling stats learned on the course:

In 2015 the UK published child suicide data for the first time. Bear in mind, coroners don’t like giving suicide as the cause of death in adults let along children. The UK recorded 200 deaths in this year alone. Research shows the highest risk age group is 10-14 experiencing suicidal thoughts, suicide planning and suicide behaviour.

The ASK course also shared 30% of children aged 5-14 tell someone about their suicide thoughts. Read that again – 5-14 year old. We must be more alert and open with our children. Encouraging children to feel valued and speak up about their feelings is vital.

We try to protect our children by sugar coating sadness ‘nanny has gone to heaven’ or ‘nanny has gone to a much better place’ or ‘nanny has gone to have a really long sleep’. These do so much damage to children who need closure and to understand death is a permanent state.

Reading case studies of children struggling with their suicidal thoughts has been painful but an eye opener. I feel better able to help the very young people in my life.

If you are interested in learning more check out ASK training online and up skill today. http://www.lifelineworkshops.com

200 hours completed!

Around May 2019, I saw a news feature with Duke & Duchess of Cambridge launching the 24/7 UK crisis text line Give Us A Shout.

The idea seemed simple and brilliant. Mobile providers waived their fees for texts to this service. Anyone struggling with their emotions from feeling lonely to idealation to complete suicide, any age, could text the word SHOUT to 85258 and get help to take them from a hot moment to a cool calm.

As a completely text service 24/7, those struggling didn’t have to overcome fear or anxiety of speaking to someone via a telephone line. Nor did they have to take part in a video call.

Completely anonymous.

This idea peaked my interest. The new launch was to engage with volunteers to train to go on the platform and support. The training was long and intense.

A coach is assigned from joining Give Us A Shout until a volunteer decides to leave.

This wrap around support for texters and volunteers is unique so I applied and thankfully was accepted.

Starting off as a baby chick (new volunteer) I could only take one texter at a time. The commitment is to give 200 hours to the platform before deciding to leave.

That target seemed light years away and completely unattainable. However, I received the following email from my Coach – I didn’t even realise I passed the landmark!

Congratulations on having spent 200 hours on the Platform.

Thank you for giving so much of your time and empathy to our texters. We really appreciate every second you’ve spent with us on the Platform…….720,000 seconds to be exact!

I’m sure that when you made a commitment to do 200 hours of volunteering with Shout it seemed almost unattainable, and yet you have made that commitment a reality and for that we are all so grateful to you.

We look forward to you continuing to support texters and other Shout Volunteers with your invaluable experience for many more hours to come.

My plan is to continue volunteering as long as I can for this unique service. Feedback shows me, it really makes a difference to those struggling.

I always teach people I work with ‘Never look at big targets. They always feel unattainable. Instead, look at bite sized steps. You’ll soon achieve your end goal and learn so much along the way.’

I know I have.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, no matter the time of day or night or issue that’s on your mind, text the word SHOUT to 85258. Help is there. You don’t need to go on any struggle alone.

Happy Sad Man by Genevive Bailey

I came across this film on Eventbrite. A two part event from Australia.

Genevive is a film maker from Bondi Beach, Australia who has spent years making this documentary. If follows a group of men – all ages and backgrounds in their journey through the ups and downs of mental ill health and their strength in finding ways to make a difference to others.

I’ve been interested in mental ill health and wellbeing for many years and seen diverse projects/films/discussions trying to capture the stigma and loneliness felt by those living with mental ill health – none touched this film.

The sensitivity, respect and inclusion Genevive showed, John, Jake, Grant, David, Ivan, Dave and their families/friends conveyed the real range of emotions felt. The passage of time from the 50s/60s to today hasn’t demolished the stigma mental ill health causes. Still a taboo subject.

It’s always struck me – where does this stigma come from? We aren’t born with it. If we’ve learned it, we can surely unlearn it? Why does the mind scare us so much that we feel unable to say ‘hey, how are you feeling? I’m really concerned about you’….. The mind is just part of the body. We wouldn’t fear asking ‘how’s you leg? healed ok?’.

Happy Sad Man tells the story of a group of men. An emotional awakening of understanding on how these men feel on their rollacoaster journeys. Little gems are littered throughout the films. Grant’s synergy of living with mental ill health is like a recipe. You have to balance everything. Using fluorescent colours to start a conversation on Bondi Beach about mental health every Friday morning at 6.30am. Flouro Friday is now on 200 beaches across 40 countries. Using bright clothes and surfing to spark a conversation. Can we adapt this idea to fit the communities we live in?

David’s wet dog perfume was another highlight. His goal wasn’t to make money but to get people smiling and talking.

Jake’s journey from film maker to war photographer was stark. Even in such dire circumstances he was able to teach children in Syria, Aleppo etc to skateboard and do the things that kids everywhere do. He also taught them how to make films on their mobiles to capture the environment they live in the the futility of war.

The overall message of hope was uplifting.

There is still time today to register on Eventbrite to watch this outstanding documentary and join the live Q&A session tomorrow.

You can follow Genevieve at:

www.facebook.com/happysadfilm
www.instagram.com/happysadfilm
www.twitter.com/happysadfilm

What does quality mean?

I’m thinking in the field of training.

Is accreditation important? To know a specific level of learning has been met and that an industry body endorses the training.

Is it. more important to do a course that is more well-known but unaccredited just giving a Certificate of Attendance?

Does it matter so long as some learning has been achieved?

Well, these were the questions I have grappled with over the years (more than 10!) that I have been a Mental Health First Aid Instructor with MHFAEngland.

You’ll see from my earlier posts ‘Learning together…..virtually’ and ‘The benefits of virtual learning’ I did something about it and re-trained.

It’s a great feeling to be able to deliver five new accredited courses for First Aider in Mental Health at three levels and the excellent Managing and Promoting Mental Health and WELLbeing & Understanding and Promoting Mental Health and WELLbeing.

It’s kind of seemed unreal until I received my certificates from FAA today!

Below is the kind of accredited certificate delegates receive so they know they’ve achieved a certain level of qualification regulated by Ofqual and SQA in Scotland.

I feel really proud to have done this training and succeeded in the challenges I set myself. No matter how much self-doubt you may have to make a change, the only thing to fear is fear itself.

I can hardly wait to start delivering these courses virtually!

Green gold or green despair?

I’ve always liked a smashed ripe Avocado with some chilli flakes and squeeze of fresh lime on some toast – not necessarily sourdough!

However, after watching a short feature on Al Jazeera TV I might need to re-think food choices in solidarity with the village residents of Chile!

We are lucky to take safe drinking water as a human right in most parts of the world. Turn on the tap and there it is. We don’t think about it.

In some countries, water is naturally a scare resource. People are brought up to not squander it so there is enough for everyone.

Water Aid and many other charities have done amazing work ensuring unique water wells linked to children’s playgrounds to make fresh, safe drinking water from a well available and accessible to all.

But what struck me about the feature on Al Jazeera was water is not seen as a human right in Chile! Just let that sink in for a moment.

Instead, following privatisation in the early 80’s water is seen as a commodity to be brought, sold and even left in wills. Added to this the fact shared by Reuters that Chile is the third biggest producer of Avacados which take 1,000 litres of water to grow just 1 kilo! The mind boggles. How many kilos do families get through worldwide a day?

The residents of local villages have very limited access to water putting at risk their mental and physical health as well as their children’s.

It’s well documented how essential it is to stay hydrated. In the UK 6-8 glasses of water are recommended to be consumed each day. Elsewhere on internet search it varies around 2 litres

An activist group – Modatima – is trying to change the law to make access to fresh drinking water a right for all not just the few in Chile. One of their lead activists, Rodrigo Mundaca, has received death threats and regular harassment from the authorities. Rodrigo has even come under the protection of Amnesty International.

It seems unbelievable that we consume food without thinking about the possible impact on those living in the country that produced it.

What can we do? Rethink the impact on others of the food we choose to eat maybe?

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