Reverse Advent for The Gingerbread Centre #25daysofkindness

Throughout the month of December I hope to complete an act of kindness every day. I hope to raise awareness of local charities and support those around us this Christmas who may be forgotten in the crazy rush that December can be. The first day of Christmas Kindness sees the beginning of the Reverse Advent Calendar for The Gingerbread Centre.

The Gingerbread Centre in Stoke on Trent provides support and accommodation for homeless families and single pregnant women. Throughout the year they provide supported accommodation for 22 homeless families, offer mental health support and education or workplace skills training. Catherine Court is also home to Gingerbread’s Young Parents supported accommodation unit, which provides support to pregnant or parenting teenagers ages 16-18 and their children.

The Reverse Advent Calendar is very easy to take part in. All that you need to do is add an item to the box each day and then get in touch when it is full and they will come and collected. These boxes will then be sorted through and distributed to those who need them most on the 20th December.

If you would like to find out more information about the Reverse Advent Calendar or would like a box to be delivered so you can take part click here.

Each day I will be updating with my #25daysofkindness act, please check back to see what I’ve been up to. It is all too easy to get bogged down in thinking you need more and more stuff to make you happy. My hope is that throughout this month I become more grateful for everything and spread a little happiness along the way 🙂

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Autumn Adventures

Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to take part in some amazing adventures through volunteering. I will be posting more about them individually over the upcoming weeks but I wanted to share my happiness 🙂

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Recently I’ve taken part in 2 residential volunteering opportunities. Both are very different to each other but have brought me so much happiness and I am proud to say I was part of both of these. One thing the children and young people on these camps remind you is that anything is possible. That is something I always take away with me and I always leave happier than I arrived.  The photo is of a thank you that I received from Barretstown that reminded me why volunteers are so important.

Fireworks:

Yesterday I went to a Firework display in my local park. It was absolutely amazing and great to spend time with people who are important to me. We then went out to KFC which was a lovely added extra.

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I’ve recently joined this fantastic group called Happy Mail on Facebook. Everyone in the group is so friendly and I have met some
great people because of it. I have sent a few parcels to people and have afew more to send over the next few days. This is a photo of a beautiful parcel I received earlier in the week which made me smile lots!

Family time:

The only downside to all of this is that it means I’ve not spent much time with my family over the past few weeks. When I am away I miss them loads but I got to spend some happy time with them again this evening. I’ve also been very lucky to have a few lazy days with my boyfriend recently which I have absolutely loved ❤

How to stay political

Over the past few weeks I have been part of the Team v campaign ‘Swing the Vote’ which aimed to increase the number of young voters and raise political understanding. It is so important to remember that politics doesn’t end with the election.

Politics is so often only talked about in either the run up to the elections or in a negative way. It is vital everyone is aware of how they can stay involved and make a difference throughout the year, not just when it comes to voting.

So how can you stay political?

It is so easy! Simply write to your local MP by email, post or on social media or visit them at one of their surgeries to raise an issue that is important to you. You can share political posts on your social media pages, with friends, family & work colleagues. Why not get together with a group of like minded people and share your interest in politics and create your own change?

If you are unsure of who your local MP is please take a look here.

How am I going to stay political?

Before the start of the ‘Swing the Vote’ campaign my political knowledge was very limited! It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, I was, but I found finding information for myself time consuming and difficult to understand. I didn’t appreciate how much politics affects my daily life. Over the past few weeks I have been very lucky to learn so much and this has inspired me to continue learning and hopefully make a difference in a small way.

This week I will be writing to my local MP and sharing what is important to me in my local community. Check back here shortly for an update on that.

I will also be running workshops in a local Secondary school and a stall in a local library to raise awareness of why political understanding is important. I will be asking young people whether or not they voted and why. I think this is so important as without knowing why someone chose to vote or not vote we cannot help educate people for when the next election arrives.

If you’d like to see what Team v leaders and volunteers have been up to during this campaign, as well as many young people, check out #swingthevote on twitter.

So, what are you waiting for? Send that tweet, write that status or email or letter, share that issue with your friends and family that has been niggling away at you since the election now 🙂

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Lazy weekend…

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Earlier today I was browsing the internet for quotes and pictures, something I do a lot as it makes me happy, when I came across this. It sums up my weekend plans perfectly 🙂

Lazy time playing games with my boyfriend, watching movies, doing a jigsaw puzzle and eating. This is happiness – time with my boyfriend. Lots of things make me happy including spending time with my family and volunteering.

I have set myself a new challenge over the next four weeks. Each day I am going to write down three things that I am grateful for and each weekend I will write a blog post about them. We all have so much to be thankful for and all too often we take things for granted.

Wishing you a weekend full of happiness 🙂

Swing The Vote Election Day Event

Yesterday, Team v Stoke South were out and about in Stoke on Trent, encouraging young people to vote.

We ran an event at our local YMCA in Hanley and then joined their results party. This was a fantastic event, we managed to speak to many young people and also encouraged over 10 people to go and vote. We shared cake, sweets, Swing the Vote campaign booklets, leaflets and conversations about voting and the election.

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Over and over again the young people we spoke to said they didn’t feel they knew enough to vote or that they were only voting because their friends/family members were. This is just another example of just how important campaigns like this are. I am looking forward to hearing the percentage of young people who have voted, both locally and nationally as I am hopeful that this is greater than the percentage of the 2010 General Election.

Over the next few weeks I will be covering some of the responses we received from the young people. I will also be running workshops in local secondary schools & a small event in Stoke Library between 12pm and 2pm on Tuesday 19th May. This campaign, just like politics, doesn’t end once the results are finalised. It is important for everyone, young people in particular, to see how politics affects their daily lives and to ensure they know how to contact their local MP if they have any concerns.

In the evening, I went with my partner to our local polling station to vote. This was much WP_20150507_018
easier and quicker than I expected it to be. When we arrived there was nobody else there voting so we were able to cast our votes quickly. We then took a few photos and selfies outside and headed home to check out the latest updates on social media and #swingthevote on Twitter. Check back over the next few days for a post about why I voted.

Throughout the night and into the early hours of this morning I have been watching the BBC Election Results show. At the moment here are the results:

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Did you vote yesterday? What are your views on how the election has gone? Please comment below or share your views over at #swingthevote 🙂

BBC Question Time

Last Thursday night I watched BBC Question Time, for the first time ever I think! It was an Election Leaders Special, with the three party leaders David Cameron (Conservative), Ed Miliband (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Lib Dem).

If you’d told me a few months ago that I would be writing blog posts about a programme I’d watched about the election then I would have thought you were joking. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in politics, I just never really understood it and the idea of listening to 3 people talk for 90 minutes would not have been something I would have wanted to do.

But thankfully, mostly due to vInspired’s ‘Swing the Vote’ campaign, I have found a new enjoyment in politics. I am far from an expert, it was only a few weeks ago that I was constantly pausing the Leaders Debate and asking my family who was who!

What are the main points I took from the programme? Well, each leader spoke for 28 minutes and here are some of the things I found most interesting, in order of speaker.

David Cameron (Conservative) – Cameron said that the reason for A&E waiting times being outside of the recommended 4 hours was because there is too much pressure on the NHS. To combat this he would like to make GP surgeries easier to access for everyone. When asked if he would consider the moral side of the questions being asked he said he already had. That the dignity and pride that comes with being in work or apprenticeships and being able to afford to run your own home, would benefit the many.

Ed Miliband (Labour) – Miliband said he wouldn’t cut child tax credit and that there should be one rule for all when it comes to tackling tax avoidance. But the main point for me was that he said he wants a majority labour government but would rather not have a labour government than a deal or coalition with the SNP.

Nick Clegg (Lib Dem) – Clegg said that Conservative proposals on tax are unfair and he wants to stand up to their plan and demand answers on who will be hurt by these changes.

Here is a link to the programme on catch up if you missed it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05t2k80

All above views are my own 🙂

And that’s it… my final post before election day tomorrow! What a political journey I have been on over the past few weeks, learning about all the different parties, their policies and manifestos and asking PPC’s what they are going to do for young people if they are elected.

It’s now down to you to vote 🙂 Remember to share your views and voter selfies with us over at #swingthevote 🙂

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Why am I voting?

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There are many reasons I am voting tomorrow but here are ten of them.

I am voting tomorrow because…

  • The health of my family & friends is important to me. We need the NHS to be easy to access.
  • People have risked their lives to give us the chance to vote – why waste that?
  • Young people are important and do care about the future of our country.
  • I know who I would like to be elected tomorrow. Even spoiling your vote makes a bigger impact than not voting.
  • In my opinion, education should be easy to access for all. Let’s help make it that way.
  • I want there to be a true representation of our country voting, young people can change the world too!
  • Benefits help many people and are by no means an easy way out of work! Everyone deserves to be able to live a life full of happiness, regardless of their physical or mental ability & help  should be available to those who need it most.
  • This election will change your life whether you vote or not. Create change that you are proud to be part of.
  • Team v has shown me how important it is to make a difference in the world, no matter how small you think that may be.
  • I am as important as anyone else and my opinion matters, and so does yours!

Why are you voting? Let us know and share your voter selfies with us over at #swingthevote or @EHibbitt or comment below 🙂

Stoke on Trent Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

Over the past few weeks I have been contacting local prospective parliamentary candidates for Stoke on Trent as part of Team v’s ‘Swing the Vote’ campaign. I asked each candidate in Stoke on Trent South and North what they would do for young people if they were elected.
Here are their responses in no particular order:
Ruth Smeeth (Labour) –
“My focus if elected as the next Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North & Kidsgrove is to build an economy that works for everyone, with local jobs which are high-skilled and well paid, so that the next generation can stay in the city and make a proper life for them and their families.  We need to be ambitious, determined and work together as a community to build a city that works for all of us and I won’t rest until we have one.”
Luke Bellamy (Green Party) – 
“As a young person myself (24 years old), it concerns me that the turnout at general elections amongst young people are so low. We have the power to change the politics in our country by voting and speaking up about what we are concerned about in our communities and wider. If we don’t speak up, we cannot expect to be heard by those that make decisions in our country about things that concern us.
If I am elected I will endeavour to help small local businesses to thrive and make it easier to start new businesses so they can create more jobs. I would also encourage these businesses to be sustainable so there will continue to be jobs into the future. There is much work to do in our society to make it better, and few paying jobs to do it.”
Paul Roberts (Lib Dem.) – 
“I believe in talking to young people to find out what they feel they need, and then helping them to get what they want: I do not believe in telling them what they need, and I certainly do not believe in doing everything for them.”
Sean A Adams (Green Party) – 
“As a voluntary youth worker, trainer and supervisor for the last 35 plus years, through sport and outdoor pursuits I have lived through the changes our young people have had to live and contend with. All too often support is no more than lip service and as an an adult working with these young people I have personally had to offer some semblance of an answer. There are opportunities for our young people but the manner in which they are guided does not give them confidence at the moment they most need it.
We need to work as a network of local services with our businesses and training organisations. Currently from my position both in the political arena and working with a young start up business I see a lot of effort going in with not a lot of conclusion. We cannot give the young people of today the best start in the adult world where paperwork and bureaucracy is deemed more important than effect and impact.
Let us get our young people to vote this time as they, if they do so, are the majority in possible numbers of voters, let us encourage them to use their vote, this time around, for their betterance.”

Want to find out more about the campaign? Check out the video below. And remember – Thursday 7th May is Election day!!

Papercutting

Papercutting is my  latest hobby. It is something I can do without using up much energy which is important at the moment. With each cut I can also see my skills developing which is very rewarding.

Those of you who know me well will know I am not a patient person and can get bored easily! So it may seem like an unusual thing to do. But actually it is amazing how, even in the few weeks since I started, my patience with the cuts has increased. I have always enjoyed art (oh the fun art diploma days at school!) but it is something which has never come naturally to me. I can’t draw to save my life.

This weekend is a bank holiday weekend and I am very lucky to have spent last night with my family, which always makes me incredibly happy. Today I am catching up on some last minute work before spending the rest of my weekend with my boyfriend, playing games, watching movies, reading and of course papercutting.

Here are my first three cuts:

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With thanks to Charlie for the Autism template & Emma @ Diva Cuts for the girl on the swing template 🙂

Here is my current papercutting supplies & book I received through the post at the same time. Not huge but I am expecting it will increase quickly!

papercuttingWishing everyone a wonderful weekend, whatever you’re up to!

What I plan to do for #swingthevote

Swing the Vote is such an important campaign for many reasons, check out my blog post here for just a few of them. Personally, when I started this campaign, I knew very little about politics. I knew I wanted to vote and had an idea of who for however I had no real reason as to why I wanted to vote for that party apart from I knew others were. Even though it has only been 4 weeks since I started this campaign, I am now more educated and feel differently about how I will vote. Without this campaign I would still be following other people but I feel I am going to have my own voice now this election day.

So what am I going to be doing in Stoke on Trent?

I have contacted the candidates in my local area and asked them what they will do for young people locally if they are elected. So far I have had a fantastic response and I will be sharing those over the next few days.

On Election day I will be running an event in my local community. Check back here for more information on that nearer the time 🙂

I have already contacted many schools and hope to run at least three workshops, to encourage young people to see how politics affects them on a daily basis. I feel very privileged to be able to do this as I have thought for a long time that politics should be taught more in schools. I feel like I can finally take action and make a small change. I will also be part of a team delivering a mock election in a local secondary school on Tuesday 5th May.

Although each of these acts is only small, together with other leaders around the country, I know we can make a huge difference.

Wondering how you can help? Why not check out my Twitter page and Facebook page and help us to retweet and share lots of important information in the run up to the election. Below is the campaign video, it would be fantastic if you could share that too. If you have any ideas of how you’d like to be involved or what we could do to make this campaign extra special please comment or contact me 🙂