Halloween parenting

I followed a ghost, a sparkly witch and a bat who waddled around like ET around our village this evening on the quest for sugar.

I am a Mum who has to grab precious moments with the children as much as possible – in the fight against the return of Monday and diminishing annual leave. My 3 year old son proudly spread his arms to display his bat costume and steadfastly wore his face mask knowing that if he said trick or treat he would get some yummy treats. My heart just melted all over again.

Meanwhile my daughter was re-arranging her ghost costume to something that resembled a toga as she was fed up of trying to co sums sweets through a small hole cut through cloth. 

We finished off with a drink I our local – or half of the pub with adults drinking, the other half of children ‘sugaring’ and then swirling round in high octane fuelled games of hide and seek.

I called time in Halloween when I saw my son nodding off over a half eaten packet of chocolate mini biscuits.

I love being a parent.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Hurrah for Bond girl 2015

Just seen Spectre thanks to my mother babysitting.

These are the reasons why I think Spectre is the best Daniel Craig Bond film:

– It has a plot that is easy to follow (unlike Quantum)

– the heroine saves JB from death (just when we had given up on her unconscious on the train floor)

– the heroine actually has a figure! 

– Hurrah for Bond girls (the nice ones) whooping some ass WITH some ass!

This blog is for UNICEF thanks for reading. 

Halloween – why we love it

What is t about Halloween that is so fun for kids?

We had a Halloween party today and the children had fun eating donuts suspended from an oar with their hands behind their backs. They then did apple bobbing then tried to eat sweets from a plate covered in flour. Finally they searched blindfolded for chocolate eclairs hidden in a bowl of spaghetti hoops.

They then went bananas primal screaming and running round the house on a sugar rush.

The adults enjoyed it too…

As we approach Halloween, bear in mind that an asteroid will be coming quite close to Earth on the bewitching night according to this fellow blogger’s post.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

On a journey with Professor Green

Last night on BBC 3, Professor Green openly talked about his Dad’s suicide and the sad fact that most people that commit suicide in the UK are middle-aged men.

He identified part of the problem is the stigma attached to having suicidal thoughts. Also that men of a particular generation clam up their feelings rather than addressing them.

It’s an important issue that needs to be addressed to stop people ending their lives as a result of psychological entrapment – feeling there is no other way to address problems.

This interesting blog post talks about case studies of people in America who came close to death through suicide attempts. It gives an excellent insight into why they took such a tragic decision, yet escaped with their life.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

The minimum of minimum

I remember when the minimum wage was £3.20. It was bad enough then.

15 years on the wage is still not enough to cover the basics, especially not for a family – this story is interesting:

Crackdown highlights enforcement challenge

In light of the “naming and shaming” this week of 115 companies that failed to pay workers the minimum wage, the FT considers how the government plans to enforce George Osborne’s ‘national living wage’, which starts next year. So far, the government has relied on HMRC to enforce the minimum wage, but the national living wage could prove more of a challenge. The number of people paid the minimum wage is set to surge by 65% in April to more than 2.5m, when the new legal rate of £7.20 an hour kicks in. In light of this, the government is to create a director of labour market enforcement to co-ordinate the various agencies (including HMRC) that deal with non-compliance. Financial Times
How do people survive on less than £7? It’s shocking.

And as for tax credits….

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

What’s important to people is not the same for Government

There are times in life when you feel like, on the whole, things are good. When it comes to being a family, two things are important than the rest – health and happiness. The problem with this is both are so fragile and unpredictable. 

The anxiety inducing thing about life is you never know what is around the next corner. One minute everything is fine, within the next it could be devastated. 

This is the tough thing about being a parent – you don’t dare count your blessings.

But what you can do is savour the moment and hope you will have many more moments.

This is universal regardless of religion, culture, country of origin and anything else that distinguishes one human being from another. What is wrong is that this right to health and happiness is not universal.

Which is why charities, such as UNICEF, exist to protect vulnerable children. If you asked any charity what was the biggest threat to happiness and health they would respond with poverty. If you asked any global charity what could be done to tackle poverty they would answer ‘fight climate change’. 

Yet this is low down the priority list of most Governments. In the UK it s even further down the list. According to them, what will really save lives and protect people’s wellbeing is reducing the deficit.

Makes complete sense if you are George Osborne, or a Tory voter.

As you have guessed by now, this blog is completely for Unicef and completely against the conservatives.

Thanks for reading. 

How many more food banks would you like us to fund Mr Osborne? 

I spent £50 in Tescos today and didn’t have an awful lot to show for it. I reckon it will see us through the next week. I’m sure a Tory voter who cooks frugally but with the luxury of not being under pressure would consider £50 to be better spent. But it’s not easy.

I then pushed my trolley past a crate of donations for the food bank and I thought to myself whether this had occurred in previous decades before my time, in my parents’ generation.

I later asked my mum, who was brought up in a working class single parent family when state help didn’t exist. She said she had never before seen a food bank collection in a supermarket. Whether this was just a sign that people suffered quietly back then or whether it’s a sign that austerity measures are cutting far deeper now than ever before cannot be determined.

The one fact that does exist is that even before Osborne cuts tax credits there are people out there relying on their community to feed them. 

So how many more food banks do you expect us to fund Osborne? Putting the people in debt to ease the nation’s debt is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water is it not? 

Not everyone can earn the kind of living that keeps their head above water Mr Osborne but according to your policies these people are fast becoming an ‘underclass’ who don’t apparently deserve the support. 

If Osborne ever found himself falling on hard times I would say it was an experience well deserved.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Teachers quitting, tax credits & refugees

Some serious children’s issues in the headlines today.

Over half of teachers consider quittingA YouGov poll of more than 1,000 primary and secondary teachers in England, commissioned by think-tank LKMCO and Pearson UK, has found that three in five teachers have thought about quitting in the past six months, with science teachers being the most likely to want to leave. Three-quarters said the workload gave them doubts, while a quarter disliked the culture of schools. Three in 10 said they do not feel they get enough support and 27% said poor pupil behaviour was putting them off. Being unhappy with the quality of leadership and management and insufficient pay were also cited as reasons. The most common reason for choosing to train as a teacher was that people think they will be good at it. Teachers said their main reason for staying in teaching was feeling they were having an impact, with 92% saying the opportunity to make a difference was a major motivation. The Independent, Page: 10 Daily Express, Page: 10 Yorkshire Post, Page: 1

Children’s Commissioner concerned over tax credits

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has criticised George Osborne’s tax credit cuts and called for 800,000 children under five to be exempt from the changes. Ms Longfield has written to the Chancellor expressing her alarm over the plans and claiming that they would be very “negative” for the young living in low-income families. “Being part of a poor family means children are more likely than their peers to face problems with health, educational achievement and emotional wellbeing,” she wrote. Lord Lawson, the former Conservative Chancellor, has also commented that while he supports the cuts, he believes some “tweaking” could be done to the current proposals so that poorer families are not hit as hard. The Times, page 4, Evening Standard, page 8
Kent under increasing pressure from refugees

A report due to be discussed by Kent County Council said the council is willing to take part in the Government programme to relocate 20,000 vulnerable Syrians to the UK but not if it “adds to the enormous burden it faces looking after the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeker children”. The report said the council had been forced to hire 23 extra social workers on temporary contracts, mostly from agencies, and added: “Due to the extreme pressure on children’s services, Kent cannot accommodate unaccompanied child asylum seekers through the Syrian refugee scheme”. Councillor Peter Oakford said the council was looking for property to convert into reception centres. “It is disappointing that we have not had the support of other councils,” he commented. Daily Express, Pages: 8, 12
This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

The power of the people 

Just as public pressure forced the Government to find its heart, albeit a half-hearted version, to the Syrian crisis, there is mounting pressure to face-up to the consequences of tax credit cuts. 

See recent news stories here:

Further pressure on tax credit cuts
Liberal Democrat and Labour peers have tabled rival motions to block the Government’s cuts to tax credits. David Cameron described the move as ‘overstepping’ their constitutional rights to challenge the central financial decisions of the Commons. At the same time, speculation has arisen over a split between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister over the tax credit revolt. Figures in Number 10 are signalling to MPs that the government is open to giving additional help to those worst affected by the cuts to tax credits for low-paid workers, as Treasury ministers and aides dig in their heels over the issue. Stephen Glover examines in the Mail how the cuts may negatively affect ordinary working families.

The Times, Page: 4 The Guardian, Page: 15 Daily Mail, Page: 17 Daily Mirror, Page: 5
Benefit cap legal challenge gets under way
The legality of the benefit cap as it applies to many carers of disabled people is now under challenge at the High Court. Test cases are being brought by two families where adults are providing full-time care for elderly and disabled relatives, arguing that the cap is “unfair and unlawful” because of its impact on the vulnerable and those who help them. Solicitor for the families, Rebekah Carrier, said: “My clients have been hit by the benefit cap because they are disabled or they provide essential care to their disabled relatives. They provide full time care and save the state money.”

Daily Mail

In a recent Guardian paper, I saw an advert for the Bhopal Medical Appeal. I have mentioned this cause a few times in previous blogs. I have fundraised for them in the past after reading the book about the unimaginable tragedy that hit Bhopal, India in the early 80s when a chemical spill from an American owned factory killed and maimed thousands if not tens of thousands of Local people. The company’s owner was never brought to full justice for this disaster. 

Today the factory is still decaying in the Indian countryside and continues to intoxicate and maim the local population, in a similar way to Chernobyl. The company that caused the disaster was bought by Dow – an international company headquartered in the US, which continues to deny any responsibility for clearing up the factory.

Shockingly they were one of the sponsors of the Olympic Games in London. 

This is what happens when a humanitarian tragedy is not brought to the attention of the mass of Western society. The perpetrators, harboured in the powerful, rich West, continue to think they can just get away with committing evil acts. The minute they are no longer socially acceptable – that us when the tables turn. 

I hope, in Bhopal’s case, tables finally turn and Dow’s crimes against humanity are finally, after many decades, brought to justice.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.