Monday, 30 July 2018

Dreading today but looking forward to it !

I put something on Facebook yesterday, something which attracted 42 comments then with shares and likes, shares and messages there was a total of SIXTY-FIVE hearts of love.

I use Facebook a lot but am not brilliant at negotiating my way through its menu. I have tried but can not get back into the archive to find a post I made in January this year. I did not share that post on Google Blogger so it's lost

I can not even remember the exact wording of that post to enable me to rewrite it and put it here on today's page.

I spoke about a young man I had seen begging outside Morrissons Supermarket in Werstcroft. I said how tragic it was.  

In a later post I shared how I went back to Morrissons to find him and give him something to eat but he was not there. A third post said I had found him and given him £20 and a packet of Mars Bars. I made my gift and walked quickly away. As I walked I could hear him protesting I had given him too much.

A day or so later he saw my car pull into the car park and called after me but I did not hear him. After doing my shopping I went across to where he was sitting and talked.  I asked if he would mind telling me his name, it was Josh. I then asked him how old he was and was amazed when he said 26, I thought he was much younger. I remember that meeting very clearly, very clearly indeed. I was sitting on the floor outside Morrissons with Josh, as I made to stand up he took my arm in his hand and helped me.

A day later he and I  took my little dog Jake for a walk at the Saint Giles Park near to Morrissons.  I had my camera with me to take his photograph in order to share it on Facebook. Josh did not want his photpograph to be taken, he did not have the confidence.
I did take some photographs, this is one from that day but Josh is not there.

The closes I got to capturing Josh on camera that day was his hand, out of shot, on Jakes lead in the image below.

Josh was living in a tent adjacent to Morrissons Supermarket.

Dianne Walsh gave Josh a phone, I remember the network was Gif Gaf, so he could keep in contact with me. I do remember the first message he sent to me from
that phone began - Hello m8 it's Josh the homeless lad from Morrissons.

Dianne you were the first lovely person to show love to Josh. You need to understand just how much your love that day set in motion a train of events which changed his life.

I was working at the time as Audience Development Manager at Secklow 105.5 Radio. I was not comfortable with the way the station was being run then when a presenter I had given so much time and support to made some very unkind comments about my new friends I resigned and walked away.

Kindness from Dianne and selfish unkindness from someone at the radio station who I thought was a friend.

Alexa Watson contacted me on Facebook telling me to take Josh to The Winter Night Shelter who would give him a bed for the night. During the day he would beg outside Morrissons but at night he would have a bed in a communal dormitory somewhere in the city.

I raced to Morrissons but Josh was not there. Where he normally sat was a young woman. I asked where Josh was. She explained she was his partner, she and Josh had been together for six years. She had the phone so we could not call Josh who had gone for a walk.

This lady was Jelena. I gave her money and we talked. When Josh came back I told them about the shelter and asked them to come with me.  Josh said he would come but Jelena refused. She said she did not want to repeat an experience they had of being given hope then being thrown back on to the streets when the weather got warmer.

As we got into the car and I turned on the engine the CD started to play. I reached to turn it off. Do not turn it off, Josh said, I like music.

Josh and Jelena turned down overnight accommodation, they did not wish to sleep apart.

Here is a picture of Josh taken round about the same time. It is the very first picture Josh allowed himself to appear in. 

Milton Keyes Council has something called SWEP - Severe Weather Emergency Protocol. If the weather falls below a certain level the council offers emergency accommodation to rough sleepers.

I received a call saying if I took Josh and Jelena to the council they would be given accommodation while the weather was so cold. I took Josh and Jelena to the council, Josh went inside and got keys to a room in North 12th Street. I did not expect them to stay there, I expected Jelena to return to the tent. I went home. I called Josh and asked if Jelena was with him. YES !  My heart beat double.

Josh took this picture of Magiie and I.  We met up in the cafe at Asda. Maggie gave Josh and Jelena a crocheted blanket of love she had made for them.

I managed to get Milton Keynes Council to accommodate Josh and Jelena permanently, not to throw them out on to the streets when it became warmer. That was six months ago.

Josh no longer has any care about having his photograph taken. Facebook is littered with them.

Not quite so many of Jelena as she is usually the one behind the camera !

But here's one pic taken on a very hot day at a car boot sale. Maggie go you recognise the blanket Jelena is resting on ?
That blanket of love came to the boot sale for Jelena to rest on before going back to hers and Josh's bed.

I am not going to pretend that the past six months have been easy.

Working with Milton Keynes Council to secure my two friends has been a nightmare but that is nothing to the nightmare Josh can give me. Sometimes I think to myself why ever did I give him that £20 and packet of Mars Bars ! he can, and does, drive me crazy !

Yesterday Josh, Jelena and I attended an assessment meeting for them to receive permanent housing. It was a lovely meeting at which Josh described me as his angel. Jelena sat for a time holding my hand. We were asked how Josh and Jelena would be able to furnish an empty new home. Don't you worry about that, I said, you will need to give them a ten bedroom mansion to accommodate all the love
my friends will give them. Was I right or was I right ?

Yesterday afternoon Josh and Jelena were offered a home of their own.  They pick up the keys this morning.  It is not going to be their permanent home, something better will be offered later. Jelena explained to me that could be in three weeks time or it could be in a year. But they have a home of their own.

Josh has mental health issues which have him signed off from working for two years. The benefit system is a nightmare and weeks after first starting to process things proper payments are not in place,

Do you know what ?  

I am DREADING today !

My car has not been unloaded yet from Sunday's boot sale.

Maureen is at work all day so I have two doggies to look after.

I have 65 messages of love to reply to from yesterday.  I do not use a smart phone so everything has to be done at home using the PC.

I have to take Josh to a doctors appointment and also a dentist appointment. Yesterday he developed a terrible abscess on a tooth so goodness knows what that dental appointment is now going to entail.

I may drive a big car but no way is it going to be big enough to fit in, collect and take to the new home all of the gifts of love offered

If I get to the end of today with my sanity intact it will be a bit of a miracle !

But isn't this a lovely problem to have ?

Speaking with Jelena on the phone last night, Josh had gone to have his hair cut, we both had tears running down our faces.

What a wonderful day it was when I gave that man begging outside Morrissons £20 and a packet of Mars Bars.

Josh and Jelena have recently made me their legal next of kin.  That is an honour but a BIG responsibility.

YES I am dreading today. So let's structure the love.

I guess the first thing that has to be done is for me to unload the car from last Sunday's boot sale.

Then I need to wait for Josh to call and say he has the keys to the property. I just hope the council nightmare of red tape is set aside to another day.

We have to fit everything round a 12noon doctors appointment and a 2pm dentist appointment.

Everything from their room in Central Milton Keynes has to be moved.

I am now going to give the 65 beautiful people my phone number. Feel free to call or text me.

I need to talk to Josh and Jelena but I am guessing a priority of the love list would be:

  • Bed/mattress
  • Bedding
  • Plates etc
  • Pots and pans etc
  • Fridge
  • Something to cook on
  • Something to sit on
We can then work on everything else.  I am NOT going to be able to fit many of the gifts of love into my car. Does anyone have a large hatchback or van they could offer to help ?

We are NOT going to be able to accomplish this in a single day !

Our dear friends Josh and Jelena have now got the change but they need the coins !

On yesterday's blog I talked about the money from the Boot Sales. CLICK HERE.

The weather forecast for this week-end is good. We need to make a MINIMUM of £200 this week-end. Some money will go to the Food Bank, some to Children who are sick in hospital. Let's forget any admin costs for Let's Inspire, I'll deal with that. We need COINS to help Josh and Jelena set up their new home.

We need STUFF to sell. We do not really have enough left to make £200, well we could if we sold everything.  PLEASE have you got anything we can sell.

There has been no music on today's page, that's a first. I will play something to end, something which is very dear top me. It is my favourite song of all time, it is the best piece of music ever written. I have always tried to live my live by these words.

I am playing it now for all you wonderful, lovely people who have been a BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER for Joshua Morgan and Mrs Josh aka Jelena.

THANK YOU...............

.15am car unloaded - knackered ! 30 people have so far read this page - guess that's because it was late being published. 378 yesterday.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Friends are all you need

This is our INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHT for this week. Friends really are the most wonderful people in the world.

Today I want to seek a bit of advice from my friends. Let me explain.....

When Rebekah left us in May 2017 I hoped we would have fifty people at her funeral. It was a case of standing room only. After any funeral families always invite people to "come back" for tea. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY people "came back" for tea and cake in our garden.

People who were at the funeral celebration said they had never been to an event quite like it before. Maureen and I conducted the service ourselves, we both wrapped it in our love. friends responded with their love and I smothered it with my sense of humour.

I grieve every day for my darling daughter but I have her cheeky and enigmatic smile with me every moment of every day, we called her our Little Miss Sunshine, she is always with us as is her sunshine smile.

During the first year since she left us we raised more than three thousand pounds for Beck's favourite charity - Ronald McDonald House.

Now, in the second year since we lost her, we are widening Beck's smile to INSPIRE support for lots of good causes. We are using the smile of OurRebekah and the music of Radio Love to launch our efforts into a series of projects starting in October. Actually TWO projects are already operating - support for The Food Bank and Inspiring Love for our NHS.
Joshua Morgan is my right hand man within LET'S INSPIRE, without his friendship and support nothing could be happening.

The car boot sales we have been running over the past four weeks are partly to fund our planning for LET'S INSPIRE and partly to put money into Josh and Mrs Josh's pockets.  That money is part of a third project - Smiles for the homeless and rough sleepers. Seven months ago Josh and Jelena were sleeping in a tent, they have a way to go yet to rebuild their lives but it is the love of friends who are making this possible. 

I know I have played this song a lot on the blog over recent weeks but the words are so important. Please listen to it as I play it again now.

Can I be a bit boring now as I share the accounting for the money generated this month via the car boot sale. Check this bit out then I'll be asking for your advice.

  • Bletchley Irish Centre - we attended 3 events taking a total of £170.90 = average of £56.96 per event
  • MK Bowl - we attended 4 events taking a total of £330.40 - £8 per date for pitch rent = £32 = Net total £298.40 = average of £74.60
If we can attend 8 boot sales, based on what we have achieved in July, we can expect:
Irish Centre - 4th  11th  18th  25th 4 x £56.95 = £227.84
MK Bowl - 5th  12th  19th  26th 4 x £74.60 = £298.40
TOTAL: £526.42

I think we could expect to make more in August than the £526.42 explained above.   How close could we get to £1,000 ?

On Tuesday I will publish the full accounts for July explaining how the money is being spent.

Money to Josh and Jelena is Let's Inspire SMILE
At every sale we promote The Food Bank
At every sale we promote Blood and Organ Donation

To make any money at all at these sales we are relying on FRIENDS giving us "STUFF" to sell.  Friends have been incredibly generous and kind but there has to be a limit to how much the ACTIVE network of friends can give.

Can we widen the network ?

Yesterday's blog had 56 readers. How would you advise we widen the support base to bring in more "STUFF" ?

Here's a thought.  What is your advice here ?

At Saturday's sale I was desperate for a drink and something to nibble. With the weather being a bit iffy there was no catering van on site and if there was I doubt it would sell Pepsi Max and a Mars Bar ? I was desperate for a drink and some sweets.

Profits on canned soft drinks is high, on sweets it is about 15% - I think.  We would have to register within the food
regulations but would it work if we sold these items ?

If we sold drinks and sweets would it bring more customers to our stall and enhance the sale of our "STUFF" ?

We have a collecting box for The Food Bank out at every sale. I did not put this out yesterday as I did not want to get the items in the box soaked by the rain.

How about this for an idea ?  Tell me what you think ?

For every £10 we make at the sale we take some money to buy a tin of love for The Food Bank.

If we do make £526 in August that would be another 56 tins and packets of love.

Another idea....

Last football season we ran a programme where we invited people to sponsor the goals Sheffield Wednesday players scored with the money going to Ronald McDonald House working with Birmingham Childrens Hospital.

Josh and I are working on a series of ideas to support, as part of our LOVE THE NHS project, Birmingham Childrens Hospital, Sheffield Childrens Hospital and Ward Five in Milton Keynes Hospital.

Beck was a Wednesday supporter, I am now a Wednesday Suppporter and secretly I think Josh is as well !

How about every week we take some money from the boot sales to sponsor the boys at Hillsborough scoring goals then send that money to the children in the three hospitals ?

What do you think ?

I think this would make our boot sales a bit more relevant ?  What do you think ?
As I am sure you have noticed I am NOT a fan of councils.  Milton Keynes Council - a sad and filing institution. West Bletchley Parish Council - co-ordinator of the litter capital of Europe. BUT what a wonderful institution Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council is. Staff thjere are being so kind to us as we work to set up Rock and Roll parties at Bletchley Bandstand.

I have talked to Josh about this and he is up for it.  What advice would friends offer ?

At the lovely Irish Centre Boot Sale we stand opposite each week a charity stall run by The Salvation Army. The people running it take their stall to Bletchley Market every Thursday.  I have looked at the pitch prices for Bletchley Market and they are very fair.  We already have all the liability insurance to cover us there. Could we get enough "STUFF" to run a second hand stall there ?

I do not think it would be a good idea to sell cans of drinks and sweets at the market.  Is there anything else we could sell ?  Anything we could buy wholesale at a good enough profit ?

When I was checking out our public liability insurance over the week-end I found we also have employers liability insurance. I did not realise that.

If we developed the stalls across three days a week could we formalise things to give Josh a regular and proper income ?  That's a way off but could we do it ?

As you can see it is the BOOT of my car we use for the sales.  We do need to look towards something a little more practical. We need a small van. Buying something from the boot sale income is, to say the least - VERY AMBITIOUS. Do you think it is an ambition we could realise ?

July's boot sales have been great fun and made £469.30. I really enjoy going to the sales.

In August could we take things to a higher level with money going to 3 childrens' hospitals, buying tins for The Food Bank, covering operational expenses and putting money into Josh's pocket ?

Your advice would be so welcome.  THANKS.

Let me end with something I have also played many times. This is very important to me. I have lived my live this way since I first found the words at freshers day in Oxford way back in 1971 !

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Life is so much more fun when you are silly !

This was last week's INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHT !

Approaching time for a new inspirational thought for the coming week.

I am thinking about this ? 
Do you like it ?

5.45am and two of my family of friends were with me at The Irish Centre Car Boot Sale setting up and hoping the rain would keep away.

I have two words for all you people who are praying for rain STOP IT !

No sooner had we finished setting up than the rain came ! 

Then just as we covered everything up the rain stopped !

Here's a view looking towards Central Milton Keynes.

And below a view taken at the same time looking towards Bletchley's Lakes Estate.

See which is the brighter !

OBVIOUS LOL. I hate Central Milton Keynes and have always had a special place in my heart for Bletchley's Lakes Estate.

We had our first sale of 50p at 6.50am. By 7.15am we had taken a tenner. At 9.20am Josh had a £15 sale from one guy. We ended up with a total of £46.26 which I think is great considering how few people were there and the fact that only ten stalls were brave enough to ignore the rain.

I really like our weekly boot sales. I like chatting to the customers and LOVE fooling about winding them up and being silly.



A bit of music for those sad people who have been praying for rain !

That's the first record ever played on BBC Radio One. Pop
music in Britain has gone downhill ever since !

Right, where was I ?

Ah at the car boot sale YES and saying how I find them fun.

Here's Josh putting price stickers on the merchandise. When he was busy and so did not notice I put a 10p sticker on his back.


Mrs Josh suggested 10p for one of him 5p for three !

He got his own back when he posed me for this pic, saying it was a good likeness of me !

Should have gone to Specsavers !

Well you've got to have a laugh haven't you after all Life is so much more fun when you are silIly !

Talking of being SILLY, Andy we sold those crutches.

Is there any music we could play about an old man with a gammy leg ?

Perhaps not politically correct these days but I know what we could play ?

Dare I risk it ?  Sod it, why not !

Keeping in mind that life is much more fun if you are silly, let's play three songs from this man on the right and dedicate them all to our WONDERFUL FRIENDS at Bletchley Irish Centre.

And how about this ?

And finally.....................

We have not sold the FRIENDS picture here. Tomorow, well I'm writing the blog on Saturday afternoon for TODAY, let's see if we can sell it at MK Bowl.

The car is packed, I have my fingers crossed that The BBC aka The Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation has screwed up Sunday's weather forecast.

I have updated the accounts page for the boot sales if you are interested - CLICK HERE.

The car is so packed there is not any room inside for Josh and Jelena, they will be walking to the boot sale.

Here's a quick pic from last Sunday. You Rainmoaners stop praying for rain !

We also have a big weather problem.

On Saturday Josh sold the  last  umbrella !

So what are you doing this morning ? Tomorrow morning ?  What ever ?

Come by the Milton Keynes Bowl and say HI.

Make sure you bring the sunshine with you.

These car boot sales are only the journey, they are being held to fund them support projects we are running. Those Let's Inspire projects are the destination.