As I’m involved in a neighbourhood project which is attempting to make the local green spaces and woodland a nicer environment for everyone to enjoy, both now and in the future, I did a bit of research to find out what was potentially on offer to groups such as ours and it turns out that The Woodland Trust offer saplings to those who meet certain criteria. After the application process we waited to see if we’d been successful and a few weeks later we’ve received the exciting news that we’re to be given 30 trees to create a lovely little copse adjacent to the existing wood.
We’re now looking forward to planting 10 silver birch, 10 rowan and 10 wild cherry trees in the hope to attract more wildlife to the area. Obviously, it’ll take many years for the trees to fully reach maturity, but hopefully the next generation will be able to appreciate our legacy to them. It really does feel good to be able to give something back to your community.
It’s one thing when your favourite famous people start dropping like flies; Lemmy (saw Motorhead in the 80s) and David Bowie (it was just a couple of weeks ago when I was watching Labyrinth for the umpteenth time) and then Harry Potter’s ‘Professor Snape’ (my ‘weird crush‘); but it’s quite another when the people you hung out with during your teens are suddenly taken far too soon. These aren’t lads and lasses who were several years older than me, but people my age for goodness sake! Even though I’m no spring chicken, I’m not exactly reaching for the zimmer frame just yet, but the sad news of old friends passing away is a very unwelcome reminder that our time on this planet is relatively brief.
With this sobering thought in mind, I’m now more determined than ever to go way out of my comfort zone from now on, cramming as much as I can into each day, each week, each month… I want to explore new places, meet new people, do exciting new things and really LIVE my life. As from today I’ll be seriously raising my game, and seeing just what this middle aged peroxide blonde is actually capable of. Bring it on!
When you’ve been a witness in a horrific murder investigation, no matter how many months or even years have passed since the tragedy you can never entirely free yourself from it. At the time, there were detectives from three different police forces, along with the Serious Crime Squad, visiting me so frequently that I was considering installing a revolving front door! There were the ‘timed walk throughs’ to do, taped and written interviews and so on, which all obviously needed to be completed as quickly as possible. Only my close friends and family knew of my involvement due to the sensitivity of the situation, especially given that the killer was still at large, although obviously the neighbours were rather intrigued.
Eventually, someone local was arrested and has admitted to it, which you’d hope would be the end of it. However, cases like this are rarely straightforward, and the wheels of the legal process will inevitably grind painfully slowly until the court case finally begins. This means the local press will now have a field day dragging up every tiny scrap of information, while those unfortunate enough to be affected by the story have to re-live that truly awful day over and over again. It all looks so ‘exciting’ on the telly, but I can assure you that the reality is very different…
A workshop about pre-criminal counter-terrorism and how to identify people who may potentially be susceptible to radicalisation was never going to be a barrel of laughs, but in this day and age, unfortunately, it’s become an essential part of working in a multi-cultural environment.
New legislation in 2015 means that organisations now have certain responsibilities in trying to stop vulnerable individuals from becoming drawn into extremist activity, and during the session we learnt about what support was available to those at risk from such groups and where to go for further advice. We saw why some people are able to influence and manipulate others to commit crimes and we thought about who may be vulnerable to terrorism, as well as possible safe-guarding measures that can be put into place to attempt to guide people away from a variety of different extremist ideals, while still allowing freedom of speech.
I’m now more informed regarding the government programme called ‘Prevent’, and although I sincerely hope that I’ll never be in a position to have to use my training, at least I feel more equipped should the situation ever occur. Well, THAT was thought-provoking!
Today I attended another of the free Professional Development courses offered by my new employer, and it was, indeed, a real eye opener. The theme was ‘unconscious bias’ and involved lots of powerpoint slides, a video, some optical illusions, group discussions and a fun exercise involving A4 sheets and pots of felt tipped pens! Despite genuinely believing that I treat everyone the same, I apparently don’t, (which was rather mortifying although quite normal behaviour by all accounts).
I’m not entirely sure whether or not I fully understood everything that was said, but I met some great new people and my employment portfolio now has another new addition to it. Stepping out of my comfort zone has become a bit of a theme for me over the past two years and the further I venture into the unknown the braver I get. I’ve now booked myself onto the next PD course and it’s all about motivation – quite excited to find out how that’ll help me to achieve bigger and better things in the future…
Determined to do even bigger and better things in 2016, my ‘To Do’ list is rather extensive, which is presumably why on 1st January, while most sane people were still enjoying lie-ins and munching on the last of the turkey, I was scraping the old paper off my bathroom wall. If I’m to tick everything off my new jobs list in the next 12 months I had to start immediately, although I was soon regretting this when I realised that the wallpaper was rather more attached than I’d initially thought.
Undeterred, I scraped, pulled and sanded before slapping on several layers of rather expensive anti-mould paint. I admit I’m not exactly a professional when it comes to such tasks; more an enthusiastic amateur; however, after just 9 days I now have something which resembles a nice, clean-looking, mould-resistant bathroom. What’s needed now is a very long, hot, soak to ease all my aches and pains, but at least I’ll be able to lay there admiring all my hard work. OK then, what’s next…?!