UK for Syria

Following my email via the Oxfam and Amnesty campaign regarding supporting refugees in Syria, I was pleased to reveive the following response from my local MP:

Thank you for your e-mail about refugees from the Syria crisis.   I share your concerns about their plight and I believe that we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to help alleviate the immense suffering in this country.

The UK is leading the world in responding to the humanitarian disaster.  We have provided £700 million for the Syrian relief effort so far, the most of any country other than the USA.  This is helping to provide food, water and shelter to hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians every day.

The Vulnerable Persons Relocations scheme announced in January is up and running, and has already welcomed many Syrians to the UK.  This scheme will make a real difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable Syrians by giving them protection and support in the UK.  The Government will continue to bring groups to the UK on a regular basis and envisages that several hundred people will be helped through this scheme over the next three years.

This is in addition to the asylum claims which the Government has been considering – and will continue to consider – under its normal rules.  Since the crisis began we have taken in around 3,800 Syrian asylum seekers and we are a leading contributor to the EU’s Regional Protection Programme, which provides refugees with education, training, water and sanitation, and promotes improved access to basic rights and legal assistance.

I have provided for your interest, a link to the factsheet issued by the Department for International Development which details how the UK is supporting the Syrian people.  You may access this at:

This blog is for Unicef, thanks for reading.

Gilt edged donation

Hello fellow bloggers! I have only missed four days of blog posts but it seems like absolutely ages, if it was possible to get blog withdrawal symptoms, I was getting them. However I did enjoy a break from assessing whether there was enough going on in both my brain and life   each time I faced a blank blog screen.

But this blog is for UNICEF and they get a £1 per day of missed blog. The Guardian recently did a poll on whether charitable giving was selfish. The majority recognised that it was better than nothing but that very few charitable donations are given through altruism. There is always personal gain somewhere along the line.

This blog is not altruistic. I do it for 2 main reasons.

The first is keeping digital memories and to prevent boredom in my old age. I am writing this with a view to reading it when I am a little old lady waiting for God. I just hope I am not deaf and blinds when I reach old age – that would be a bummer.

I just had to stop typing to investigate my son’s potty as I thought it smelt, turns out my husband was on the loo, so I sprayed something round him to mask the smell and then closed the door to put him in quarantine – isn’t it lovely when you can’t decipher your son’s poo from your husband’s? I will love reading about that, or have my carer read it to me once I am old.

The second reason I blog for UNICEF is guilt. At the weekend while I was bobbing up and down on the little boat enjoying the sun glints on wave crests and taking in the blue sky, I read through Saturday’s Guardian. It should have the streamline, ‘observe all the snit going n on the world, pity the situation, then resume your existence, which is a whole lot easier than the people in the paper. I feel powerless so want to do something on a regular basis that donates to a good cause and raises awareness of other issues. The middle of the newspaper is where all the major issue stuff tends to go. The stuff that is easier to read in terms of our sensitivities tends  be put at the front and the back. I wonder how many people read stories about the conflict in Syria and the Ukraine, the schoolgirl abductions in Nigeria and the fact that the apartheid legacy lives on n Cape Town’s planning department.

So this is really a selfish blog for a guilty ageing woman to wax lyrical on random subjects of varying degrees of importance.

Even so better doing this than watching the Kardashians or a football game – at least this selfish act has some social benefits.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – check out the campaign here.

Hanks for reading.






We are all Born free

I had a sobering letter today. I frequently receive letters from charities asking for support. I do when I can. My husband isn’t overly keen on charitable giving. Whereas I on the other hand started shaking a tin from the tender age of 3. On Saturday mornings my Mum and I used to sit outside our local pharmacist (or rather I would sit in a rather comfortable child’s wicker chair) and shake a tin for Oxfam. I don’t know whether my Mum was using me for pulling power but it worked. I helped collect a lot of money for Oxfam in the early eighties. My Mum’s help for Oxfam, a charity close to her heart, continued well into my teens when I was dragged around door to door in our neighbourhood shoving donation envelopes through the door. A month later I would return, my Mum doing one side of the road, I the other (reluctantly) going from door to door asking “We are collecting Oxfam donation envelopes can you spare some change?”. Most people were irritated by our call, which made it all the more squirm inducing, particularly as a teenager. Nethertheless it was satisfying when my Mum and I came away with a load of heavy envelopes (the lighter ones were the better with pound notes in them, although rare) to give to Oxfam knowing that we had help fund the charity and their work in Africa.

So, I have been brought up to believe that, when possible, you need to help others. We don’t believe in God and don’t go to church – we just want to help out. As I have got older I have also felt guilt at the lifestyle my family leads when only a few miles away, or even on our road a family is living in poverty. Also a few hours flight away and families are starving to death or forced from their homes because of war or living in captivity. I don’t see why I have this life and someone else has worse. I am grateful but I want everyone to have a decent standard of living. I don’t understand why that is too much to ask in 2012. However the ugly truth is we don’t like sharing and that sucks. We are also greedy, some more than others.

A letter arrives from Amnesty International about a guy from North Korea who was born in captivity. Since the day he was born, he was only allowed to eat when the North Korean authorities permitted him to, has scars on his back from torture and was made to watch the execution of his mother and brother because they attempted to escape. For the people trapped in these North Korean concentration camps they are there for simply watching South Korean TV or other such trivial things. Apparently your ‘crime’ trickles through generations so your children and parents are arrested too. The Authorities even conduct forced marriages between inmates in prison. This man, now 30, who was born in the camp, was as a result of a forced marriage and he was then brought up literally in hell. For 23 years he endured this existence, not knowing any other reality apart from sifting through cow manure to eat undigested kernels. Then one day he managed to escape, although his accomplice did not. With the change in power in North Korea Amnesty now believe the time is right to start an aggressive lobbying campaign to end the suffering in these camps. The camps have been growing in size and it is sickening to see their existence on satellite images nestled between mountains, trapping thousands of innocent inhabitants.

The people of Syria are also going through hell at the moment and are at the mercy of tyrannous leaders. When I left the paralympics there were people handing out flyers to join in the lobbying campaign to take action for the Syrian people.

My daughter has a book entitled ‘We are all Born free‘. It is a book designed for children with illustrations to help them understand injustice, how to recognise it and how to defend your rights. If you are able to support Amnesty’s campaign both in Syria and North Korea, please visit their site – support means lending your voice to the protest, not always about money – although it helps the campaigning!

I am blogging every day for Unicef, but for today please lend your support to Amnesty International particularly as September is the month that holds World Peace Day.

Blame – we are like a bunch of kids when things don’t go our way aren’t we?

There have been a couple of stories since the Olympics started of athletes throwing their toys out of the pram and blaming others for their failure. Cavendish and his team blamed other cyclists for their defensive tactics in preventing them from making any progress. Ben Ainslie the sailor is also blaming others for his failure to get a medal so far too. The funny thing is when things go well and we experience success we don’t say it was because of the other person, no – it was down to our own abilities and skills. In the interests of preserving our self esteem, when things go right it was all down to us because we are great. When things go wrong, of course it wasn’t our fault it was somebody else/ another team/ an umpire’s decision/ faulty equipment etc etc.

In a political situation blame gets so complex you can’t see where it starts and ends. Take the news that Kofi Annan has bailed out of the Syria peace deal. The finger is being pointed at members of the security council – including our country and the US – as well as the Syrian Government itself. Kofi has issues with us, the US, Russia and Turkey all putting our own political agendas ahead of solving the issue quickly to save people’s lives which is not to side with anyone just get on with following his 6 step plan. It is sad that Kofi feels he is left with no other choice because of this blame stale mate.

It seems it doesn’t matter how old you are, your background, country of origin etc when things go pear shaped we can’t take the heat. In that respect we never ever graduate from the playground. In fact kids probably deal with issues a lot better than us and it is just growing up that creates problems. Maybe we should get David Cameron, Obama, Ainslie and Cavendish to congregate in a playground and observe how kids do it – they might just learn something.

A bit of a philosophical one today. On a lighter note I am delighted with my attempt at baking a cake for my dad’s birthday that looks exactly like the picture in the recipe book. Although I think it is a one-hit wonder. It is often the case with me that the first attempt is pretty good but then subsequent attempts get progressively worse. Maybe explains why I have stuck with the same man since I was 17.

Hope you enjoyed reading this – if so please donate £1 or $1 to Unicef – the whole reason why I am doing this blog.