Sometimes, there’s too much too say for a status update or a tweet, and for such times were blogs invented.
This evening, in the stead of eating (which is over-rated anyway, and, as it transpired, there did go on to be biscuits) I did two things; attended a meeting with the organisers of a forthcoming charity fundraiser, and attended a course about managing money. (Be not worried about my creatures this busy eve; there was time to pop home for cat feeding/cuddles, and the dog enjoyed the company of my parents before getting a two mile walk home with me once I’d finished with my shenanigans.)
For the first activity, I met up with one of the trustees of Headway Essex (a charity that supports brain injury survivors and their families). He’s also a solicitor, specialising in personal injury claims (and yes, he’s well aware of how his sort is thought of, but, interestingly, it turns out that one can be a personal injury lawyer and be a pretty decent sort of fellow) and he’s also a former dog training pupil of mine. Funny old world, isn’t it?
He and his colleagues have been planning a quiz/auction for Headway Essex, which takes place on 5 September. They’ve already sold 14 quiz team tables, assuring the charity £1,400 before we even get to the auction. Which is rather spiffing. I’m to be involved in the evening because I have a story to tell. My brain injury-recovery journey has been considerably less arduous than that of most people that Headway Essex supports, but, my story involves Wrath of Khan style gribbly worms and is therefore the type of story that people particularly enjoy. And if it helps raise awareness and money for Headway, then I’m happy to keep telling it.
I’ve committed to supporting the fundraising endeavours by scouting around for more raffle and auction prizes. The auction prizes need to be of good quality. Many attendees are from commercial industries and aren’t short of a few bob. If we can offer up some tantalising auction lots, then we could quadruple the amount already raised. My first call in pursuit of auction lots was the Railway Hotel (hosts of my recent birthday party). For the benefit of non-local readers, and those that don’t get out much; this is an independent public house brimming with personality. It’s hugely popular locally because it has a proper record player (VINYL!), hosts music and comedy – with a strong focus on local talent, and because none of the furniture matches. It’s that sort of a place. What makes it truly exceptional (in my biased opinion) is its mouth-watering array of vegan and vegetarian fayre (ooh, I could so go for a Thai curry right now!). So, after my confab with Alan (that’s his name – my Trustee friend) and pals, I headed directly to the Railway and cheekily asked could they offer a meal for two for our auction? An immediate YES! was the answer. And this is another reason why I love them and why, if you’re in (or visiting) Southend, you should look them up.
Messages will be turning up in in-boxes of other likely auction lot contributors soon (be duly warned – all you creative types) but, you need not wait for prodding. If you would like to offer something for either the raffle, or the auction, please to let me know.
After a short visit home for a change of clothes and the aforementioned cat cuddling, I was back out for the second of this evening’s adventures; part one of a money management course run by a local church as part of international charityCAP (Christians Against Poverty). Now, I’m not a Christian, but I approve of anyone whose faith leads them to do things that help, or at least bring comfort to, others. If I had to label myself (which I am ever loathe to do – I generally tick “Other”) it would probably be agnostic – because I’ve engaged in sufficient philosophy, and am sufficiently baffled by the weirdness of the universe, to acknowledge the possibility of something out there that’s beyond my ken and that’s impossible to disprove. I used to describe myself as a humanist – because I definitely believe in humans (and that they are, for the most part, inherently ‘good’), but then I discovered that Humanists also conform to a set of beliefs: one of which is about not having any truck with religion. I’m not especially good with rules anyway, but I can’t sign up to that rule because I’m not prepared to discount the positive effects of religion. I know too many great people, doing great things, whose motivation is connected to their faith. Amongst the lovely people I speak of are Christians, Wiccans, Muslims, Jews, Buddists and Hindus (I seem to be missing Sikh; must get one of those) and – because they will use their Mind Tricks on me if I don’t mention them – Jedis (sigh). And of course I also have plenty of atheist friends who are doing great things. I don’t care a fig from where your motivation comes, nor do I care what helps you to cope with all the exquisite horrors of living in this world – a great many people are alive today because their connection to religion, and/or to a faith community, gave them the strength and hope that they needed in a time of crisis. You can worship the Fez Wearing, Unicycle-Riding Monkey-King of the Universal Mushroom for all I care – so long as you are kind, compassionate and generally moved to do nice stuff.
Anyway… The money course was set up by a chap who went through similar unpleasantries to those I’m currently experiencing. Having emerged the other side, he set up a charity that helps anyone that needs to master money, rather than having it master them. This includes everyone from those wanting to learn to budget better – so they can save for that holiday – up to people like me; head-in-sanders who are about to lose their home. It’s entirely free, confidential, non-judgemental, and comes with a useful activity book that’s even got space for drawing and colouring-in (which is what I plan to use the ‘notes’ pages for). There’s also a wealth of on-line resources, including a handy budget planner. Completing the planner is our homework for week one. This will involve me tackling that pile of unopened letters and fully facing the enormity of my debts. And this will be a good thing.
As I have discovered, debt difficulties do not need to be faced alone. Yes, I still feel shame, guilt, embarrassment – but I’m doing that to myself. My friends – and even people who barely know me – have been nothing but kind and supportive. I intend to be completely honest during the next couple of weeks of this course – I’m coming to believe that problems really can be reduced once they are shared. If you are reading this and thinking about your own money worries, I would recommend giving CAP a look. You don’t need to be a Christian to benefit – and nor do they expect you to be.
Whatever it is that’s keeping you awake at night *, don’t feel you must deal with it alone. Whatever your crisis, there are people out there ready to listen and to help. Get in touch.
(*not including; sexy significant others, a riveting book, brilliant ideas, or the fact you work nights)