GREED

See the source image

Having run a clothing bank for a little while now, sadly one thing that has risen to the surface is greed. And that is what I want to explore today.

I have done a lot of reflecting today. Does giving away items for free make people different and therefore dehumanise them? I have observed people literally fighting over coats. This is so sad and I wonder about us humans.

It is interesting to see people snatch and grab things. Volunteers offering their time possibly for what free items they can take. Wanting the best items for themselves. Commenting on the ‘deserving poor’. |What is the answer.

I am wondering about a model of free charity. Is this the best approach . What if people sell things on, as I know some do?

On the flip side, I think about those who have had nothing and are extremely grateful. I think of people who are rough sleeping, who have taken items they need to survive. And I am led to believe that the human condition is that some people need help and some may appear to need help and may not.

I totally agree with the quote by Andy Stanley above. I respond by thinking about my own greed and challenging myself. These days I consider carefully before I buy new clothes? Do I want or need them? Materialism can creep in like a heartfog and clog one’s spirit.

Today’s recipe of hope is to ask hard questions? Am I greedy? Do I care more about myself than others? Have I taken advantage of someone else and should I rectify this? Change begins with ourselves.

GUEST BLOG 4

Today we have another guest blog from Amanda. This is a topic that is very close to my heart and I will be writing more about this soon.

Take care everyone and keep hoping forward!

Hope for a Fairer Society

My background working in social care has led me to see the impact of the welfare state of people’s lives and the need for its reform. There are some hidden and scandalous truths about life in this country that most people will not know about apart from the news headlines.

Today I was asked by a colleague of mine who is very politically active: “In your opinion what are the biggest crises or injustices we should focus on?” He listed them under 3 key areas: Justice and Poverty; Environment and Climate and Democratic Crisis and Corruption. My answer related to my experiences in adult social care, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Under the heading‘Injustice’I replied:

“People with a learning disability or autism who may experience mental health issues or communicate using behaviour that is seen by others as ‘challenging’ are incarcerated in hospitals with poor quality, sometimes abusive care, sometimes in seclusion for years, away from their families with seemingly no rights or powerful advocacy nor hope of getting home despite the legally required reviews and the Mental Health Act legislation. People in this situation experience less rights than convicted murderers who at least know when they are getting out of prison.”

Just one of the scandals linked to this and the extent of the abuse people suffered hit the press in 2012 through a BBC Panorama programme[1]. Another recent scandal to explode onto the headlines was in Durham at Whorlton Hall[2]. The scenes recorded are shocking and an indictment on a society which believes itself to be ‘civilised’. Sadly, there are more cases; the story of Bethany, a young woman and her dad’s fight to get her home and out of St Andrew’s Hospital, an assessment and treatment unit in Northampton where she was kept in seclusion for 21 months from age 15. Her father reported her food was slid across the floor “like feeding a vicious dog”[3] and she was in a windowless furniture-less locked ‘cell’[4] with barely any human contact. These real-life stories are heart-breaking and make me cry.

Another discrimination or injustice people with learning disabilities face is dying much younger than the rest of the population, with men dying 13 years younger and women 20 years younger than the rest of the population as demonstrated in the Bristol research from 2013[5]. This comes in tandem with massive health inequalities and unnecessary deaths as defined by a government department NHS England in their LeDeR Programme which looks into unexpected deaths of children and adults with learning disabilities[6]. The fact there is a government funded programme to investigate what is happening demonstrates there is a massive problem. Prejudice is sadly apparent in the NHS where during the initial Covid 19 crisis Do Not Resuscitate orders were placed upon people with learning disabilities just because they had a learning disability, without a health complaint to justify it and without being consulted, which is believed to be illegal[7]. This makes me literally feel sick. Some of my best friends have a learning disability. This news will not be popular to those who believe in the much-loved institution of the NHS. But these are the stories of the marginalised and often forgotten few, who amount to 2% of our population or approximately 1.5million people. It may shock you that many members of our society are treated this way by our government institutions.

The recent scandal regarding the slow government reaction to supporting older people in care homes during Lockdown One[8], was eclipsed by an even slower response for adults with learning disabilities living is residential settings or shared living arrangements. Kate Lee the Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society said about the population of older people in residential care homes “it feels like they are being written off.”[9] While the lack of support to keyworkers supporting citizens classed by the government as ‘vulnerable’ adults in the community,including guidelines and protection (PPE) for them and the people they were supporting, was appalling and appears to have been a epic oversight with the focus for the majority of the initial lockdown period being on the NHS and hospitals.

This all seems rather grim but there is hope as people, including my colleague, fight for a more just society and modernisation of the welfare state to ensure that the welfare state primarily helps us to ‘live together as equals, in particular, as equal citizens.’[10] This fight includes exploring Universal Basic Income as a way to radically transform the way we live.[11]

Quotes like this help me understand the massive shift I believe we need to make as a societyin our thinking about the welfare state from one where the headlines are “Welfare to Work policy ‘casts the disabled as cheats’”[12]to one where we believe that eradicating poverty is essential because ‘poverty means you lack what you need to live as an equal with others.’[13] As Duffy states;

‘In fact the man who named the welfare state the ‘welfare state’ was Archbishop William Temple and he had a very different vision of the kind of welfare state we really need. Temple’s vision put love at the centre of welfare’[14]

He envisioned a welfare state where,as John O’Brien promulgates, we ‘…discover the ways that love… can generate a way of living together that embodies justice, humanity, spirit, equality and community.’[15]For me a new understanding of equality is needed. A new level of connection between members of society to understand how alike we are and as a colleague who has Down’s syndrome recently said to me “We are more alike than different!” This young woman and other colleagues give me hope. Hope for a society free from poverty, free from prejudice and free to give and receive, respecting all the difference we represent, including all our different skills, abilities and gifts to each other. I want to finish with this amazing quote of hope from another man of hope Martin Luther King:

‘Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.’[16]

The recipe of hope today is, think about what you hope will change in society.Is there something you can change or do to make it a fairer, more kind and just world to live in?

This could be as simple as talking to a stranger or a neighbour you’ve never met or reading about political parties’ views on welfare benefits or joining with others voices to call for peace, justice and equality.


[1]www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-20078999

[2]https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48367071

[3]https://news.sky.com/story/autistic-teen-girl-locked-up-24-hours-a-day-shes-not-an-animal-says-father-11849347

[4]https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-50661612

[5]https://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/cipold/migrated/documents/fullfinalreport.pdf

[6]http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sps/leder/

[7]www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-do-not-resuscitate-dnr-learning-disabilities-turning-point-a9561201.html

[8]www.alzheimers.org.uk/news/2020-05-13/care-homes-left-fend-themselves-against-coronavirus

[9] Ibid

[10]www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/487/citizenship-and-the-welfare-state.pdf p22

[11]https://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/739/an-introduction-to-basic-income-plus.pdf

[12]www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jul/24/welfare-policy-incites-hatred-disabled

[13]From talk to the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield by Simon Duffy in 2019

[14]www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/love-and-welfare.html

[15]www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/530/love-and-welfare.pdf p7

[16] Martin Luther King in his Address to the Montgomery Improvement Association, 1959 in Love and Welfare, Duffy S, 2016, Sheffield, Centre for Welfare Reform, p6

Lest we forget

Today is remembrance Sunday and the word remembrance conjures up many things. There is remembrance of those brave souls who fought for us during the war. But I have been remembering others today, who are in my view heroes of a different kind.

Today I want to celebrate those who have fought and are fighting a different kind of battle, especially at this time. So I shout out to people who endure depression day after relenting day without putting a full stop to their sentence. I shout out to those battling poverty, struggling to feed their children against the odds. And to those on the streets, with pavements as their pilow, street warriors, keep going.

Today I celebrate the invisible, the unnoticed, the neglected and the forgotten. Because I see you. Having frequently been overlooked, I know what that feels like. And so I try my best to notice.

Keep fighting on everyone. Keep hoping.

Today’s recipe of hope is to9 notice those you normally would not. Challenge yourself today to see those who may be invisible to others, lest we forget. X

Lessons in Lockdown 2

During the first lockdown, I began to re-evaluate life. In this second lockdown, I am starting to try things out. Let’s explore this further.

So, one of the things I have learnt most about is that people are in desperate situations in huge numbers. Living in fear of a virus, lonely, cut off, isolated, in poverty. Indeed I would say that exuberantly happy people in the UK are in the minority at the present time.

So where does this leave us? I would argue that it leaves us gasping for hope in this pandemic. And what I would suggest is that hope and kindness are inextricably linked. By seeking to give to others, we help keep hope alive in our hearts and the lives of other people.

One small action has a ripple effect. I have seen old people doing walks on their zimmer frames, young children who have lost limbs raising money for others and countless other wonderful things, I have been heartened by the desire to hope and help that is flourishing at this time.

Today’s recipe of hope is to watch an inspiring act of kindness that you know about, on your screen. Then take some time to reflect on it and think about acts of kindness you have been shown. You may feel inspired to do something wonderful today. X

Seeing hope in rubbish

Hello everyone. It has been a while. The challenges of having a fractured wrist have been significant and I am glad my hope quota was quite big before it happened!

I have always felt we can do a lot more about waste than we do. A few recycling boxes on a kerb never really cut it in my view. So, during this pandemic, I have set up a project that in my view is about those who have redistributing to those who have not.

We have been running what started as a clothing bank and has now metamorphosed into a free charity shop. We give away many things that could go in the bin; used socks, used or unworn bras, men’s underwear, worn flipflops. I may not need to use a clothing bank, but many people do. Many women are unable to afford bras or new underwear, many men are unable to afford socks, underpants or boxers. This is shocking and true. And many British people are walking around with holes in their shoes, or trainers that are split. Many families cannot afford to feed, yet along clothe their children. I feel we are living in twentieth century Victorian England.

I write this not to shock, but because it is the truth. I live and work in one of the most deprived areas in the South East of England. Many people are struggling; this week’s foodbank queue went up the street about 100 yards-250 parcels are going out each week!

So what can be done? Well pure and simply each of us can do something. Small acts of kindness, befriending the lonely, simply thinking of other people makes a difference. Someone recently sent me a card because I have fractured my wrist. That meant a lot. Someone recorded me a beautiful encouraging message today. Someone else has been guest blogging for me. These things touch my heart.

|Today’s recipe of hope is to touch someone’s heart. Be creative-someone paid for a coffee for the car behind at Costa recently and that made someone’s day. And use your gifts. Some of my friends are the most amazing hosts and make incredible food in their home made pizza oven. Let’s all make a special effort to spread that hope around.

Love to you all X

GUEST BLOG 3

My sincere thanks to Amanda who has really helped me in my hour of need by writing guest blogs. I will write something soon, it is very tricky typing one handed.

Enjoy X

Man of Hope

Going back into lockdown we need something to hope about and this weekend I attended a 24-7 prayer gathering, I was thinking if there is one time this century we need prayer, that would be now! So, I went to learn all that I could, and I found hope there, in the grateful gathering of people turning to prayer to find hope.Onespeaker Heather Hannah rather beautifully said that the ache of the human heart is for hope. She had many interesting things to say about hope, so I thought I’d share them here:

“Hope is the joyful anticipation of good. It is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hope sees the circumstances of your surroundings saying one thing and hope saying another. Hope is the joyful expectation of breakthrough. Hope reinterprets our circumstances. Hope brings perspective.”

Hannah is a follower of Jesus or as some might say a Christian, she described hope as a gift and the title of her talk was ‘Abnormal Hope’. Seeing hope as countercultural because it says, ‘there is another way’, Hannah challenged me to see hope differently. I really was thankful for this new take on hope. That hope is a gift I can give to others by serving, by believing and a gift given to us through our faith.

Ernst Bloch a German philosopher in the Principle of Hope describes hope‘as the framework for human action’[1] I can see his point as Britain and much of Europe goes into its second lockdown. When the pandemic hit, we saw thousands and thousands of people taking hope to others through kindness looking after neighbours and strangers and we saw keyworkers giving up their lives to serve and care deeply for others in an unprecedented way. As I write this I fill up as I remember people’s sacrifice and how we have to do it all again. We need hope in this challenging unpredictable landscape. We need it for ourselves, for our friends and family, for our neighbours and communities and for our sanity.

As Archbishop Antje Jackelén of the Church of Sweden comments the pandemic, politics, discrimination, the climate change challenge, the unrest in the world, the refugee situation “all these things make people ask for hope.”[2]It’s exactly at times like this we turn to prayer.Jurgen Moltmann, known as one of the great theological thinkers of our time, believes that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves, with the result that we cannot see him. A bit like holding a book right in front of your face, it’s so close you cannot focus on it.Moltmann actually wrote a book in 1964 called The Theology of Hope. But I love this analogy. That God is so close we cannot see him. It made me stop and think. It felt almost breathless at this thought! I’ve spent a lot of my life striving to find God and God’s love and what if he was right here all along? This gives me hope! I might judge myself and think I am far from God, but the message Hannah was bringing and the message of the Bible is that Jesus made a way for us to be this close to God! He is the man of hope. Wow! I am going to think about this some more…

My prayer and recipe of hope today is “Give us the courage and faith to be abnormal hopers.”


[1]https://www.oikoumene.org/news/50-years-after-theology-of-hope-jurgen-moltmanns-vision-continues-to-inspire

[2]Ibid

Guest blog 2

Hello everyone

The lovely Amanda has written a second blog. I will be writing an update for you all soon. Life as a one handed person has been very challenging and taught me how to hang on hard to the hand of Hope. I hope you enjoy this very interesting topic.

The Hope of Being Heard

Mindfulness has become so popular over the last decade and I wonder if this directly correlates with the rise of the smart phone taking over our lives and our attention swinging from each other to our phones and our need to come back to ourselves and our kin. We have to be mindful in order to stop our phones taking over our lives. They can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand actually enabling us to communicate with our loved ones and achieve practical transactions and on the other providing a rabbit hole of a brain drain absorbing our time and attention and many of our waking hours. My average daily usage of my smart phone last week was 4 hours 46 minutes! What? Really! And my phone can even tell me what I was doing, calculating my social networking and my ‘productivity’ and my ‘other’, goodness only knows what ‘other’ entails!

I am thinking about this because I have often mused about our communication changing over the last decade or more. When I was a teenager it seemed easy and simple to contact a friend on the landline. If the phone rang at home it was answered. We rarely didn’t answer our landline. You didn’t know who was calling and there was no way of finding out until telephones became digitalised and answer machines were invented. It seemed a simple way to communicate and I spent hours talking to friends of an evening.

A few years ago, I started to analyse my landline use and now smartphone use. I realised people hardly ever rang me on the landline and I hardly ever rang anyone else, except my mother. What had happened? I regularly used the phone at work, but even so observed that emails had taken over in the communication ranks and I spoke to colleagues less on the phone. People rarely seemed available what with the plethora of meetings and travelling. I was increasingly neglecting the landline in favour of the mobile phone in the vain attempt to reach an actual person. But the biggest revelation about my relational life came when I realised I hadbecome nervous about phoning friends. It was all about rejection. I couldn’t face ringing anyone because I rarely obtained an answer. This made me feel down hearted. I usually rang friends when I really wanted to talk so my needs for connection were not being met.

But what was really happening? I was craving friendship, attention, connection from friends whom I couldn’t just pop round to see because they lived further away,and it was feeling impossible. However, when I take into account the absorbing nature of the smart phone my theorising turned to another modern concept, that of being ‘busy’. Are we really busier than ten years ago? I kept hearing these words: “I’m very busy” consistently for a number of years. It started to bug me. I wondered why everyone seemed so busy! I was curious if this was a reason or a justification for unavailability. Then I thought back to the consuming nature of the smart phone or what I call the modern equivalent of the Tamagotchi. We are busy because if any time window opens up, we pick up our phone, (my phone actually tells me how many ‘pick ups’ I’ve had per day!) we check our phone, we message back, we post on social media, (yes, my social media ‘score’ on my weekly averages was much higher than my ‘productivity’!) And so the concept of permanently being busy is born, because, yes, we actually are ‘busy’, (I would like to say ‘busy doing nothing’ at this point, but I enjoy social media and the convenience of the smart phone as much as the next person), if we are not mindful of how we are using our time we feel as if we don’t have time for everything we would like to do, hence we must be busy. 

Another observation I had made was how I had stopped ‘popping round’ to friends’ ad hoc, which when I younger and until the turn of this century was very common. I was feeling lonely and isolated despite having lots of good friends. I live on my own so any feelings like this compound some level of rejection or isolation. I had to hope something would change and someone out there would pick up their phone and listen to me or answer their door and be pleased to welcome me into their home. I know I am not alone; loneliness is considered to be a modern epidemic with over 45% of adults in England feeling lonely at some point[1]. This is the equivalent of 20 million people!

EventuallyI worked out a solution, a system of texting to arrange a phone call at a convenient time, and in fact the pandemic has actually opened up more communication as many people are reaching out from their isolation to make any form of human connection possible.

I love this from Nancy Kline an author I admire: “We can stop all forms of interruption. We can decide right now to be masters of our attention, to commit to the flourishing of our minds, of our hearts, of our very nature.”[2] Our attention to each other ‘changes things’ if we choose to not interrupt and understand each other we can unleash independent thinking through our humility and our humanity[3]. For me, having someone listen to me is really important. I discover new thinking and ideas as I talk to a trusted person. As Nancy notes in her new book[4][5] attention “bestows sanity. It shapes and reveals and shapes again who we are. It offers ease in the face of uncertainty. It can stop things like hatred and start things like love.”Isn’t this what we need the hope of love, of connection, of discovery of ourselves and others?

We have to hope someone out there will pick up their phone and listen to us or answer their door so we can chat safely distanced on our doorsteps or on the street or at the supermarket.

So, today’s recipe of hope is to reach out to someone whom you have not been in contact with recently and give them a call. Give them your attention and listen without interrupting and see what you both discover.I hope amazing things happen!

Take care and have a good day, Amanda


[1]https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/the-facts-on-loneliness/

[2]https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/oct/24/let-me-finish-how-to-stop-interrupting-and-change-the-world?fbclid=IwAR18iGJzJ6Q5rjQH3tn2L3hGx9wNgscVmKyD7dZXZxoh1C6xZYFffECPJOc

[3] Ibid

[4]The Promise That Changes Everything: I Won’t Interrupt You by Nancy Kline, published by Penguin Life on 29 October 2020

[5]https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/oct/24/let-me-finish-how-to-stop-interrupting-and-change-the-world?fbclid=IwAR18iGJzJ6Q5rjQH3tn2L3hGx9wNgscVmKyD7dZXZxoh1C6xZYFffECPJOc

Guest blog

Hello dear followers

My plans to post every day for a year have been thwarted by a recent fall, however I have reached out for help and my dear friend Amanda will be writing some lovely posts while I am recuperating. It is lovely to have supportive friends, who are hope carriers. Enjoy!

Hope and Happiness

It is a great honour to write for Hope2020’s blog and actually this is my first blog post ever! Thank you Hope2020 for the opportunity! A brief introduction: I live in the north west of England near the beautiful Lake District, I am an avid lover of films, books and art, nature and being outdoors, including wild swimming. I love baking,making, socialising, psychology and exploring spirituality. Professionally I am self-employed working in adult social care and there is a whole other blog in the story behind my becoming self-employed and running my own business but today I am contemplating hope and happiness.

I’ve been following ‘Action for Happiness’ for a few years in the hope I will learn. I am an avid learner and can’t seem to stop! Maybe it’s some sort of addiction, but I don’t think I am alone! Please let me know in the comments if you love learning too and what you love learning about! My initial interest was to attend the course ‘Action for Happiness’ do locally, (although they are an international charity operating in many countries), to see how my learning could help a grass roots group of people with and without learning disabilities I have the privilege of working alongside. Our magnificent group has worked together for ten years to host social events along various themes which have been very successful at building friendships and connections with and for thisoften overlookedminority group of individuals.

Action for Happiness are here to be ‘a movement of people building a happier society by making positive changes in their personal lives, homes, workplaces and communities’[1].Please look them up they do amazing work. This idea is at the heart of my journey of seeking connection with hope. Out of my heart of loneliness, hope helped me reach out and create a thriving community of individuals who have supported each other through this current Covid-crisis. Letters of hope have crossed the country reaching hearts who have been saddened by this virus and its impact when we established our Keeping Connected pen pal scheme. Our on-line quizzes, dance parties and cinema club have also kept people connected and introduced new friends to the group from across England. Apparently, dancing helps make us feel happier!

So, to get back to my learning, during lockdown Istarted attending online workshops and this particular one appealed to me as it was by the positive psychologist and American professor Sonia Lyubomirsky who specialises in happiness. She has written a scientifically researched book entailing how to increase happiness[2]. In this lecture about ‘Happiness Habits’ Lyubomirsky talked about three keys to happiness; gratitude, kindness and connection. My ears pricked up when she started talking about our ability to increase our happiness by choosing what we do. Apparently, our behaviours are key contributors to our happiness. This gives me hope. We are not just stuck with our genetics or our life circumstances we can make positive choices and changes to our lives to increase our happiness. Also, people who are spiritually aware and active in a religious community are happier than those who are not, some of the main reasons being the social support, the community and the hope we gain through having faith, so for Lyubomirsky hope and happiness correlate. We can increase our feelings of hope and be optimistic about the future and one way she recommends we do this is to have goals or action plans.

So, today’s recipe of hope is what gratitude exercise can you do today which fits your personality and is enjoyable, meaningful and natural to you? Can you write down three things you are grateful for today? What can you do today to show gratitude to someone who has helped you through this current crisis? Or can you reach out and help someone in need today, whether this is practical help or donating a tin of baked beans to your local food bank?

And after all this reading and thinking you can treat yourself with some downtime and enjoy this restoring piece of music by Voces8:

https://youtu.be/x7M5ZqFSynQAt this time we all need to be kind to ourselves and look after ourselves and each other. Thank you for having me today. Take care and have a good day, Amanda


[1]www.actionforhappiness.org/

[2]http://thehowofhappiness.com

HELLO

Hello everyone.

I wanted to update you as the recipes of hope have been a little quiet recently. As I mentioned, I fractured my wrist recently, which has taken its toll, so I took a little break.

I really appreciate you sticking with me and thanks for your patience. I had a wonderful offer vfrom my dear friend Amanda so will be posting a guest blog by her very soon.

I have learnt to manage one handed life over the last few weeks. I have also hurt my foot, so things have been tough going.

However hope is in my heart; hope of kindness, peace and connectedness. Hope of people caring and sharing and being there through thick and thin. A hope of a better brighter world.

Today’s recipe of hope is simply this HOPE BIG. Love to you all X

Taking a short break

Dear everyone. Today I found out that I have fractured my wrist. So sadly as I am not great at one handed typing, I am going to not put myself under too much pressure to write daily. I will do my best and will post, but under the circumstances I feel it is warranted.

If any of you lovely followers wants to stand in for me and write some daily hope recipes then I will happily post them up.

Today’s recipe of hope is to think up some hope recipes and I would love to read them X

%d bloggers like this: