A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Charity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charity. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 August 2015

My Visit to a Food Bank

Worcester, Food BankI'm shocked that so many people require the services of a food bank in 2015, so when I was invited to complete the Food Bank Hamper Challenge by Think Money I was only too happy to accept. I've previously donated food via trolleys in supermarkets, but with £30 to spend, my challenge was to make the money go as far as possible.

To achieve this I decided to be a disloyal shopper and snap up lots of special offers - I went to Morrisons, Poundland and Tesco. But before doing so, I checked the shopping list for my local food bank in Worcester.
They also have a list of items required urgently, more on that later.

I shopped for foods from the list that were both nutritious and filling, but also added a couple of treats. This is what I was able to purchase with just over £10:

Donations, Food bank
 Shopping list
 8 x Two-finger KitKat
 Large tin of Heinz Beans and Sausage
 Daucy Baby Carrots
 80 Typhoo Tea Bags
 400g Custard Creams
 Large bag of Pasta
 Napolina Pasta Sauce
 John West Tuna
 Princes Peach Slices
 Long-life Orange Juice
 UHT Semi-Skimmed Milk
 600g Weetabix Minis

And my entire £31.53 haul looked like this:

Donations, Food bank

Essentially made up from all of the above shopping list - only with three of everything.

After phoning to check opening times, Food Bank Manager, Grahame offered a guided tour and I popped over with daughter, Olivia to deliver the food. We were given a warm welcome and learnt about services offered locally. In addition to supplying food parcels, the food bank also gives access to vital further support and can supply baby clothes. There are plans to expand the number of services on offer, just as soon as new premises can be found.

Staff, Worcester Food Bank
Volunteer, Laura with Manager, Grahame

Part of the Trussell Trust, Worcester Food Bank opened in 2012. Since opening, they've fed more than 12,000 people (one third are children), and given out over 100 tonnes of food. The school holidays have seen an increased demand for food parcels as children who would normally receive a free school meal are at home.

Worcester Food Bank's 'Needed Urgently' list for this month includes:
Tins of fruit, sponge pudding (tinned), 500g packs of rice, curry sauces, UHT fruit juice, shower gel, shaving gel, deoderant, toilet rolls, pet food and strong plastic bags.

How it works
Food is donated by the public and sorted by the food bank's amazing group of volunteers. Front line care professionals such as doctors and social workers identify people in crisis and issue a food bank voucher. In exchange for this, clients receive three days of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food.

Food parcels, food bank
Food parcels awaiting collection
I plan to continue supporting my local food bank. My thanks to Grahame for the guided tour and valuable insight into the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes and a special mention for all the volunteers who make a difference. Thanks also to Think Money for setting the challenge.
Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Mentor Link

Founded in 2002 by Andrea Maddocks MBE, Mentor Link provides a mentoring service for children in the West Midlands. The charity currently has over 250 volunteer mentors and supports 360 pupils in local schools.

Mentor Link professionally recruits and trains volunteer mentors from the local community and aims to provide one-to-one support for children who may be facing difficulties and improve self-esteem, relationships and engagement in learning.

Sadly, as young people aren't as cute as babies... as adorable as fluffy bunnies... or as headline grabbing as the latest cancer figures, the charity doesn't receive the funding it deserves. Partly funded by The National Lottery, it relies on donations, a small but dedicated staff and a willing group of volunteers in order to survive. And with demand for the service increasing each year - the charity is looking to expand.

To raise vital additional funds, founder Andrea plans a challenging fund-raising even in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania for 2015. She'll trek for six days in wild and remote areas, experience harsh conditions and possibly encounter bears and wolves. She's set a fund-raising target of £10,000 - with all money raised going towards expanding the service and offering more children who may be facing difficulties in their lives, access to a mentor.

For more information about Mentor Link, click here

Alternatively, if you'd like to support Andrea's fund-raising event, please click on the link below:


Having volunteered for Mentor Link for the past seven years, this is a cause that's very close to my heart. Does anyone else volunteer too I wonder? If so, I'd love to hear about it...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Charity, Chocolate and Winning the Lottery.

Little things, LifeAfter a year of winning nothing on the Euro lottery I decided to switch back to playing Lotto last weekend.

I'd used the same numbers for years after discovering them inside a fortune cookie, but when the price of a Lotto ticket went up to £2 last September, I started buying lucky dips on the Euro instead.

Last weekend after playing my fortune cookie numbers for the first time in a year, I was thrilled to discover that I'd won. I should mention that the win is not a life-changing sum of money. It did made me happy though.

So the only dilemma is what should I spend my winnings on?

First of all I deposited a donation into a jar of change I'm collecting for the charity I volunteer for. It seemed like the right thing to do.

I guess we've all thought long and hard about what we'd do with our lives if all six numbers came up on the lottery. It's fun to fantasise that someday money won't be something we have to think about. I concluded that apart from moving to the coast (to an apartment, not a mansion) and seeing more of the world, there wasn't a great deal I'd change.

For starters, I'm not convinced that I'd tell the kids. Does that make me a bad parent? Both daughters adore university, love their chosen degree subjects and that makes us all very happy. What could they possibly need when they're enjoying life to the full as it is? I don't think for a minute that having lots of money would be good for either of them. And should you ever allow your offspring to be funded by bank of mum and dad for an indefinite time period without encouraging self-sufficiency and reward from gainful employment?

As for Mr A and myself... we're happy, enjoy the same things in life and muddle along together very nicely indeed. I have a feeling that if either of us decided to trade the other in for a younger, flashier model with a penchant for fast cars, or trinkets from Tiffany, that life would be very difficult indeed. Mr A and myself have known each other for 25 years and we're a bit like an old pair of slippers... slightly worn, but rather comfortable. So why would you want to trade these in for a pair of stilettos exactly and have to wear them for the entire day, or the rest of your life for that matter?

As for writing, well... I love to write and have a hunch that I'd continue to spend a considerable amount of time at my laptop each day. Although maybe I'd upgrade as this one's seven year's old and technically belongs to one of my daughters. I couldn't care less... it works!

Volunteering: I've volunteered for a charity mentoring teenagers for about eight years now, I guess I'd give even more of my time and donate more funds (obviously). Volunteering is always one of the highlights of my week, so why change what you love?

It's not necessarily the expensive things in life that makes any of us happy. Often it's the simple unexpected moments that make us happiest of all. Just this morning when I was collecting my winnings at the supermarket I heard not one, but two songs that reminded me of a fabulous family holiday. For a while I was lost in the moment and paying no attention whatsoever to filling the trolley. It's these little moments of bliss that make for a happy and fulfilled life and not pining over the latest must-have handbag, or pair of Jimmy Choos.

Now all I need to do is work out how to spend the rest of my win. I'm pretty rubbish at spending money on myself but maybe I'll treat myself to the latest Caitlin Moran book and take Mr A to the pub for a round (or two) of drinks. If you've got it, I guess it's good to indulge just a little. And maybe if there's any change left, I could treat myself to a Dark Chocolate Bounty bar.

I guess it's OK to fantasise over winning the lottery from time to time, just as long as you appreciate what you already have.

How would you spend the rest of your life if your numbers came up?

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 2 December 2013

How to Stay Sane This Christmas

Often the fantasy of the perfect Christmas far outweighs the reality of non-stop stress, the anticipation of perfection and having to cope with an assortment of relatives that you don't get to see all that often.

My own idea of perfection would be to book into a hotel for a couple of nights, take along a small gift to open on Christmas Day and spend as much time as possible walking on the beach with as many members of the family who'd also decided that this was an excellent idea. In fact, I suggested this to a few of them back in September and sadly, they were all horrified. My daughters crave the tradition of a family Christmas after their first semester at university. My grandma, at 94-years of age prefers to be wrapped up at home. My Mum's all for it - but would feel guilty for leaving her mother and so the list went on. One year, I'll actually get to do this and I can't wait for that day. But for now, we're cooking Christmas dinner for seven, as well as hosting a huge family party.

And these are the ten tips I'll try to remember as the festive season approaches...
Gift wrapping - while the kids love to open presents, for adults you can get away with burying gifts in tissue paper inside a gift bag. Unlike wrapping paper, tissue paper can be recycled and the gift bags re-used.

Be nice or leave - it's a shame that not everyone appreciates all the hard work and effort that's gone into making Christmas a special family time, but don't allow them to spoil the day. Have a quiet word beforehand and explain how much you value this time of year and hope that everyone's going to get along famously.

Christmas Eve - wear the kids out as much as possible in the hope that they'll fall asleep at a reasonable time. If they won't sleep - head off to bed anyway and set a travel alarm for 2 am and place it under your pillow. Hopefully, they'll be sleeping soundly and you can get on with the presents.

Knocking back the wine - it's tempting to keep refilling your wine glass, especially if you're stressed. From experience I know it only makes things worse and you'll be the one hosting with a hangover. Reduce your alcohol intake by alternating alcoholic and soft drinks, or quaffing wine spritzers instead.

Time off for good behaviour - put so many members of a family in one room for a very long time and tempers are going to fray. Encourage everyone to venture outside for a walk after Christmas dinner to lighten the mood. And allow the children to escape from the clutches of relatives and take some time out to enjoy their gifts.

Do something charity related - when my daughters were little we always made boxes for Operation Christmas Child. And now that the girls are older, we all volunteer for different charities. It helps to put things into perspective when you're a bit overwhelmed with everything. You could always encourage the kids to clear out their clutter and donate to charity to make extra room for all those new presents.

More time off for good behaviour - you've wrapped, shopped, cleaned, decorated, entertained and cooked to the point of exhaustion and now you need some time off too. Feel free to escape and indulge in a cat nap, curl up with a good book, devour a stashed bar of good quality chocolate, or whatever your heart desires - you've deserve it!

Designate a driver... out socialising? Make sure you've decided who's driving before you arrive! Take it in turns, toss a coin, resort to bribery, or whatever - just do it! And if you're hosting a party - make sure you check who won't be drinking and offer alcohol-free options instead.

Social calendar - received an invite? Stick it on the calendar and be sure to share that information with everyone at home. The usual rule here - is that the first party on the calendar is the one we will attend. Although rules are made to be broken now that our daughters are nineteen and often have plans of their own! They don't appreciate not being able to spend time with friends and as long as they see all of the relatives during the holiday season that's fine.

Having a meltdown? Repeat after me...'It's OK, I'm a grown-up, I can deal with this.' And maybe if you say it enough, you'll actually start to believe it!
So there you have it, my top ten tips for staying sane during Christmas...

Whatever you have planned for the festive season - make it a good one x

Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton
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