by Jennifer Valentine-Miller
For many people, including me, this year will be another year to perhaps change energy supplier or telecom provider. However I do tend to find myself stressing and avoiding the phone when it rings, because a subconscious thought tells me this is a call from a major charity that I might or might not already contribute to. Plus there are also the confrontational situations when dealing with family members and their nonchalant approach when borrowing money. And also, it has been another year of avoiding beggars on the street.
I enjoy giving to charities. However there is that feeling of being bombarded. The communication regulators Ofcom say that you can make a complaint in writing to TPS (Telephone Preference Service) if there is a feeling that your telephone number is continually being targeted by marketing and telesales companies. I am not talking about this in order to generate a hate campaign against any person or organisation who ask for money, I believe that when asked to give money (for whatever reason), there should be guidance that allows someone like you or I to say “no” with confidence.
There are also online forums asking the same question and seeking answers around the subject of borrowing money to friends. One comment says: “I am not comfortable with it because of what it might do to our friendship. It’s obvious that (our friendship) does seem to be your first concern.” Another example says; “the surest way to damage a friendship is to actually give the money” and “debts between friends are more damaging than anything else.” America’s Fox Business News suggests to it viewers they should try to find a way to help a relative who continually asks for money. If the support is in the form of money then it should not be handed to them until a repayment agreement is in place. And also consider giving cheque payments or money-orders, because they are safer and more advisable.
I find the idea of money being used to purchase shopping going towards a charity of the company’s choice as a good idea. Amazon, for example, practice this quite often.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t like asking for money and there is a need to raise money for a cause, Easyfundraising.org.uk will give you a cash reward that can be turned into a charity donation. How this works is that Easyfundraising.org.uk will collect free donations for your personal charitable cause when you shop online – the major store generates a commission from your purchase.
The website Politics.co.uk say that people who beg are “among the most vulnerable in society, often trapped in poverty and deprivation, and it is regarded as a risky and demeaning activity”. Begging for money is a serious matter and it is evident around major cities. Although begging is illegal it does not carry a jail sentence under the Vagrancy Act 1824. The charity Crisis estimates that over 80 percent of beggars are homeless. I have experienced people begging or asking for money whilst travelling on the train. I found that was particularly intimidating. The British Transport Police (BTP) have stepped up patrols on the train lines (to deter anti-social behaviour) from Liverpool Street to Shenfield. A spokesman said: “people involved in begging are usually destitute and in need of help.” The Police go on to say that “they will try to direct those begging for money towards the appropriate services rather than criminalise them.”
Public Relations is not just about writing articles, posting on social media, or monitoring optimizations. It is about raising the public’s concerns around their rights towards services received and services they give out.
Apart from working as a Receptionist I spend my spare time promoting media concepts relating to social awareness. I believed then, and still believe today, that working towards the good of others enhances the profile. One of my assignments required undertaking a field research on behalf the Christian rehab versus secular rehab campaign. The written outcome had to be based around my quantitative and qualitative data findings in favour of Teen Challenge London which is a Christian rehab. At first I found this task both daunting and challenging.
The centre is the leading Christian rehabilitation and treatment clinic which is for men only. Despite that, it still made sense to research about the success of Teen Challenge London simply because I was working for them as a volunteer outreach worker. My role was to serve both men and women with serious addictions. As well as that, I witnessed first-hand one of the success stories of Teen Challenge because I met my then friend and now husband whilst serving and ministering on London’s streets. My husband can testify that the Christian rehab is better than secular rehab because the Holy Scriptures, for example, can heal an addict in a way that helped him overcome his addiction and also emerge as better human being.
Also an independent research conducted in the United States informed us that over 70% of Teen Challenge graduates have remained drug-free.
When I worked for the NHS Primary Care Trust it was their responsibility to provide public health outcomes within the local area. Drug misuse continues to have a negative effect on the health, well-being, and quality of life of too many people. It also drains public resources. For example, crimes related to drugs cost the UK £13.3 billion every year – and according to go a Gov.UK policy document – prison is not always the best place for offenders who misuse drugs.
Over the winter season many churches open up their doors and provide hot meals for the homeless in aid of their local homeless charity. As well as that, the charity helpline UK-Rehabs, have trained addiction counsellors who man a 24/7 confidential help-line throughout the week, they too understand that the Christian rehabilitation centre is not for everyone. On the other hand, there is the typical secular clinic for example, The Priory, who will help the recovering addict go through detox followed by 4 to 12 weeks of intense psycho-therapeutic treatments that help him or her deal with the psychological and emotional issues associated with addiction.
As part of this debate, UK-Rehab quoted by saying that they would lean towards the Christian rehab because “the Christian centre offer one clear advantage over secular alternatives: and that is a sense of purpose.”
It also makes sense to recommend a Christian rehab especially if an addict was unsuccessful in their attempts of detoxification in the past.
For the person who is just trying to recover from an addiction – that person just needs to find the right group.
My qualitative research consisted of conducting interviews and questionnaires for a small sample of residents at Teen Challenge. They confirmed that a Christian rehabilitation centre would be their first choice. Though the programme can be very challenging, members of staff are always there to give constant support. The solid foundation developed through the Christian teachings allow those on the programme to develop a gifting and skill which they never realised was there. Today, there appears to be thousands of young people trapped in addiction, and by God’s grace a Christian rehabilitation centre like Teen Challenge will continue to reach out to the vulnerable in our society because they know this is God’s heart for our nation.
by Jennifer Valentine-Miller
I was not only surprisingly overwhelmed by the ten to fifteen minute walk from Kings Cross station to the London Welsh Centre but rather damp with sore feet. I arrived feeling somewhat out-of-place in a building dating far back as 1920. However it had to be a warm welcome that led me to sit at one of the front row tables. Due to issues with Wi-Fi, this Black History month celebration (which was in capable hands of the Unison Black Members Association) took some time to get underway. Once the intros began I too was beginning to feel honoured to be part of the whole occasion. I no longer cared about the décor, I was now focusing on the Prime Minister’s statement which gave “enormous gratitude to the African-Caribbean community for their immense contribution to Britain, and how we can all look forward with great confidence about the future of our country.”
The day continued with great motivational speaking from the author Rasheed Ogunlaru, a wonderful lunchtime buffet, music by a legendary Jazz saxophonist and entertainment provided by a talented Harlem-style tap dancer.
However, there was more in store for us to savour and be a part of and that was the up-and-coming seven-day Unison strike action which was due on 24 November 2014.
That Monday morning was just as wet and cold, especially for the stewards who were stood outside from 7.00am. I received an email reminder about this event following the successful action in October. The posters reminded me that public sector workers like me need to keep pressure on the government and make them think again about low pay. The UNISON officials cried out “if you take part, this day of action will be even more successful”. The turnout was poor and the hostility from those crossing the picket line was made clear. I turned up to be told that I have a least an hour of action to take. So I walked over to nearest EAT bar for a wonderful cappuccino. How could I make the government think again, whilst I am sat here drinking a hot whisked coffee?
The thing is many people like me has, somewhere along the line, told a union rep that we felt undervalued and demoralised because of the lack of pay increases. Yes, I can afford to have a luscious coffee but I cannot afford not to be standing together with UNISON and not take action for fair pay for public workers. I returned back to work with an hour remaining from the four-hour strike. Unfortunately not many people were prepared to take up my hour in order to forget about work.
When I looked outside of my singular way of thinking, I heard there was a lot of public support for the NHS and public sector workers via radio phone-in programmes, on websites, and social media. A union spokesperson also added “If we don’t take more action things will just get worse. Your pay will fall further behind and patient care will continue to suffer as you get more demoralised and worried about making ends meet.”
Even though it seems that I can afford to take my breaks, what I cannot afford to do is to sit back and let services and working-officers disappear because my thinking thinks I cannot make a difference. Further actions will run on until Sunday 30 November and UNISON will plan more actions in the New Year. For more information contact your branch/ UNISON rep, at unison.org.uk or by calling free on 0800 0 857 857.
Picture from: Unison
by Journalist & TV Presenter Peaches Geldof
Last Easter weekend, record-breaking numbers of us flocked to the countryside. We went seeking “fresh air and peace”, according to the English Tourist Board; a chance to “de-stress from our working lives”.
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this. At the prospect of spending time in the country, I shudder. This feeling hasn’t grown on me gradually – I’ve always hated it. Not only is it boring but, I also genuinely believe that it slowly drives people insane.
All over Britain, teenagers in families thought lucky enough to have a rural second home are dragged off to spend “quality time” with their nearest and dearest – which means sitting for hours on end playing Scrabble, or if you’re really lucky, going to the pub for the much-anticipated Bingo night with the locals.
I’m always being asked: “Why don’t you make any friends there?” The answer is because most of the people seem to be pensioners, who want to talk about the weather or hunting. The small section of children my age are wannabe rude boys whose only topic of conversation centres on: “Innit, man. Check out dat new Gilera 180 moped with golden alloys . . . it’s da bomb, bo Selecta.” This was amusing for some time. Then it got boring – like everything else in the country.
I can see the good aspects of rural life – if you’re getting on a bit and considering retirement. Peace and quiet, friendly locals, much-needed rest and relaxation to soothe your old bones. But for us young people, it’s hell. I love London because it’s noisy, crammed with humanity and there’s always something happening. I hate the country because the only noise there is the constant hooting of wood pigeons, and the only people there are dressed in tweed jackets and want to shoot them.
Sure, the country is beautiful, there’s no denying that. But so is the city. Look at the architecture, it’s incredible. Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are surely more stimulating than a couple of trees and some ducks in a pond.
I know this might sound awful, but I was almost relieved when the foot-and-mouth crisis started. For me, and for lots of my friends, it meant more time in London doing something exciting or productive, like meeting up with friends to go shopping or out clubbing. But now the countryside is crawling with visitors taking a healthy break, inexplicably enjoying doing, absolutely nothing.
There’s something so forced about the way people talk up the countryside; all that raving about the fresh air. I always feel really drained when I leave.
Here’s a typical, “de-stressing” day: enforced trudge for two miles to a pub for lunch. Arrive with clothes covered in mud. Eat awful fish and chips off pub menu (why do all country pubs serve fish and chips?) Alternatively, hang around while adults spend three hours cooking lunch, then two hours eating it. I hate those long lunches. Afternoon, play Scrabble for two hours. Sit in the kitchen staring at the clock for another hour and-a-half. Watch Bargain Hunt on the 60-year-old television. An hour later, it’s time to feed the ducks in the stinking bog. Look at the sheep – which are there for no reason. Sit in my room watching old Disney videos until it’s time for bed. At eight, mind you.
Another question we’re asked by well-meaning parents is: “Why don’t you bring a friend?” Because no one – no one – wants to come. I remember one terrible weekend when three of my girlfriends couldn’t even bear to stay the night and left four hours later. It really is that boring.
I asked one of them why she left so early. She said that she felt like she was going mad. Understandable, as all we did was read magazines. They left when I suggested the duck pond.
“Peaches Geldof wrote several witty
and thoughtful teen columns for the Telegraph“
These last couple of weeks, all of us on Facebook have been greeted day and night by a selection of ‘no make-up selfies’ by many lovely women. The cause of this mass trend? To raise money for Cancer Research.
While many have bared all and posted their picture with a donation to charity, some have also groaned – wondering how such a small gesture can make a difference.
The truth is, it has made a difference. Many, who would not normally do so, have donated to the charity. So far a staggering £8million has been raised by this campaign.
I think there are a couple of valuable lessons we can learn from the ‘no make-up selfie’.
1) Everyone can do something to help a cause close to his or her heart. Whether posting a picture like the ladies (some guys have done a sellotape-face selfie – true story), running a marathon, raising awareness about the charity on social media, putting pennies in the box at the check-out or climbing Kilimanjaro like Steve Legg did (which you can read about in our next issue)… There is something everyone can do. What charity are you passionate about? How can you help?
2) Never underestimate the power of Facebook and Twitter etc. Yes, a lot of the time it distracts us from the real world, however when an idea spreads through cyber space, you can bet it can and will encourage people to do something, be it big or small, to help the real world. So many people use these mediums daily. News breaks out on Twitter before anywhere else nowadays. It is a great way to reach a mass amount of people quickly and efficiently. Therefore, while it can be a time-wasting tool, it can also be a powerful tool used for the good of mankind!
Intermarriage – when Jews wed non-Jews – has been called a threat to the future survival of the Jewish nation. So what happened when there were reports that the Israeli prime minister’s son was dating a Norwegian non-Jew? The Norwegian daily Dagen reported that Ms Leikanger and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair are a couple, to which the office of Mr Netanyahu has responded – according to Israeli media – by insisting they are only college classmates. But the damage has already been done. Leikanger is not Jewish, a fact that has sparked outrage in Israel, a Jewish country which since its inception has fought to have its Jewish character recognised throughout the world. While Judaism is not a proselytising religion, Leikanger, like any non-Jew, does have the option of converting should she wish to become Jewish.
Intermarriage and assimilation are quintessential Jewish fears and have been called a threat to the future survival of the relatively small Jewish nation. According to Jewish law, the religion is passed down through the mother, so if a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman, their children would not be considered Jews. The chance that children of a mixed couple would keep or pass along any Jewish traditions to future generations is radically diminished. As today’s rate of intermarriage among Diaspora Jews stands above 50%, many are worried that the nation that survived persecution, pogroms and the Holocaust could eventually die out of its own undoing.
The anxiety was expressed in an open letter to Yair Netanyahu by the Israeli organisation Lehava, which works to prevent assimilation, in a post on its Facebook page, which warned him that his grandparents “are turning over in their graves… they did not dream that their grandchildren would not be Jews”. The issue of intermarriage has largely been one for Diaspora Jews – the Jews who live outside Israel. Inside Israel, Jews (75% of the population) and Arabs (21%) rarely marry, but with an influx of foreign workers and globalisation of the Israeli community, in recent years the phenomenon has come to light. “God forbid, if it’s true, woe is me,” says Aryeh Deri, leader of the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party, to a local radio station, lamenting the news that the prime minister’s son was dating a non-Jew. “I don’t like talking about private issues… but if it’s true God forbid, then it’s no longer a personal matter – it’s the symbol of the Jewish people.”
Eretz Nehederet, the popular Israeli satirical television show, aired a parody showcasing infamous historical oppressors of the Jews including the biblical Pharaoh and the Spanish inquisitor. The show culminated with Yair Netanyahu’s non-Jewish girlfriend, whom they called the “newest existential threat”. She sang about a shikse, a derogatory term for a non-Jewish woman, sarcastically crooning that she is “worse than Hitler”. But jokes aside, even the prime minister’s brother-in-law, Hagai Ben-Artzi, spoke out strongly on their affair, warning his nephew that if he doesn’t end his relationship with Leikanger, it is as if he is spitting on the graves of his grandparents. “From my point of view, if he does such a thing, I personally won’t allow him to get near their graves,” Ben-Artzi told an Ultra-Orthodox website. “This is the most awful thing that is threatening and was a threat throughout the history of the Jewish people. More awful than leaving Israel is marriage with a gentile. If this happens, God forbid, I’ll bury myself I don’t know where. I’ll walk in the streets and tear off my hair – and here this is happening.”
Anyone who has watched Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye says his daughter is dead to him for marrying a non-Jew, knows the issue has always been a sensitive one among Jews.
Fred Williams, Christian Concern’s Video Producer, has experienced the effects of radical Islamism first hand in northern Nigeria. Here, he offers some thoughts on the recent Woolwich (London) attack from his perspective:
I have watched and listened carefully to people in the UK respond to the brutal killing of a soldier by two suspected Islamists. Some of the comments I have found to be quite bewildering. Our Prime Minister said ‘’There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
People like me who have seen the violence first hand in Nigeria know that for certain such statements are simply untrue. Many say Islam is a religion of peace but I dare say radical Islam is definitely not. I agree that demonising Islam or Muslims won’t help but also denying the global threat of Islamic radicalization that is fast reinforcing itself within our society is a tactical error with grave consequences.
For many years in Nigeria, we refused to accept our people were being infected with dangerous ideologies of global terror and we misdiagnosed the issue as mere local politics and tribal sentiments, trying hard not to offend people until it was too late. It happened so many times that we got used to it. While Islamists were attacking us in Plateau State in the central city of Jos, international media claimed Christian and Muslim gangs were fighting. The mosques around my area in a place called Bauchi Road were announcing Jihad instructions over loud speakers to spare women and children but that men and all unbelievers should be killed. Hundreds lost their lives. People were maimed and those that survived lost their properties and livelihood because they were burnt down.
I have lived among peace loving Muslims in Jos for over 20 years but when the attacks began, things changed. Islamic killings and beheadings are now very common in Nigeria. I know of many Christians who have been killed that way. We tried to get help from the government but they denied the fact that Islamic radicalization was taking place. I remember the President going on air claiming Nigerians love themselves too much to get involved in terrorism. He has been proven wrong as the country is on the verge of splitting because we refused to face up to the dangers of Radical Islam.
I cannot help but be amazed by the fact that this kind of response is what has led to the situation in Nigeria where militants take on the military and security agents in an all-out battle resulting in massive casualties in the citizenry. The killing of a British soldier in London in such a calculated way has set a dangerous precedent that will inspire other misguided home grown radical Islamists. We should never underestimate the collective resolve of a group of persons willing to die for what they believe. We are dealing with a corrosive but systematic and intelligent belief system that requires a robust confrontation from the grassroots. There is no doubt that we have a major challenge with our youth in the UK. My fear is that radical Islam is taking hold of young British folk and exploiting their frustrations by redirecting their passions under a cloak of religious indoctrination. Political pragmatism and correctness may score a goal with certain communities but only strengthens the resolve of orchestrating this process. We should stop using terms like ‘’Self-radicalisation’’ and start engaging the channels and communities in which these trends are secretly celebrated. I have been told on several occasions by wealthy and influential Muslims that what the radical Islamist will do to them will be worse than what they will do to others if they are not careful, so even Muslims themselves are victims of the radicalization process.
Fred runs a charity called LoveJos which promotes justice and peace in Jos, Nigeria, one of the areas worst affected by radical Islamism.
This is an extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)
Addictions come shrouded in various cloaks. Whether it be pornography, gambling, smoking, shopping, work, or the most illusive (as well as the most popular of all) drugs.
I am always delving in and out of Psychology Today which continually refers to addictions as a disease and also an “act that has harmful consequences”. A disease is a malaise contracted from society which gradually has an adverse affect on ones body and mind. These harmful consequences soon spread into our homes, the workplace, amongst our children and family. Many live in denial believing they can prevent and control this disease. However, at what point does an individual say that they actual want to be set free from what it is that bounds them? Possibly it is at that time when realisation hits a certain organ in our body e.g. our brain which then tells the heart that there is a need to regain a structure in life in order function like everyone else around us. There are many testimonies to tell and much to be admired; however none can be simpler than that of:
Reverend Stephen Derbyshire (senior pastor): “When I was at senior school, I became very disillusioned with life. At around the same time I became friends with a group of boys that were experimenting with drugs. Before long I was dabbling in the same drugs and two years later I had my first injection of heroin. I was soon injecting a few times each day. After spending time prison I hit rock bottom. At my lowest point, I cried out to God from a place of desperation and said “if you are real, reveal yourself to me.” I now realise that God heard my prayers because from that point of despair I started on a journey of discovery. One day, I went to a small church and heard how Jesus had died upon the cross to set me free from a life of emptiness. Although I heard this before, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time in my life. The minister offered to pray for people and I went forward. As he prayed, I experienced an overwhelming sense of love and acceptance. Since meeting Jesus, I have never felt alone. I have found a true sense of purpose. Following Jesus is an amazing adventure and I have never regretted the night I made the decision to surrender my life to Him.”
PRAYER FOR SALVATION
by Jennifer Valentine
“Dear Lord, I am sorry for bad things I have done in my life and ask You to forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I ask you to come into my heart, help me with my problems and help me to follow you. Amen”
City Gates WOMEN’S OUTREACH and The Way Out Project Regularly goes out on the streets of East London, reaching out to and spending time with the women who live and work on the streets.