Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, goals, Government, Health, Human Rights, Learning, Modern society, Politics, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts

The End Of My Nursing Days.

In my twilight days of nursing there saw an introduction of a laptop computer. We all had one provided and training on how to use it. Those days had seen our area of work extend and staffing cut. The laptop had one very important function: to record data. This is what we all had to do. My area of work was then in the community, so I travelled a lot, covering many miles sometimes between two surgeries caseloads and in all weathers.

Every detail and work entry had to be recorded on a system called System One. So that meant that every phone call, procedure, paper work, (EG, if it involved an referral or assessment), was logged. This had to be done for every patient visited. The time we took to do each thing and how long it took to get from one patient to the next. This was logged in our work dairies and then onto System One. You still had all the patients personal records of care to do in the home as well, I might add. This was asked for to help see where the workload was, for accurate records of patients, and to prioritise resources.

You can imagine that this was a lot of work and when we could not get it done in the days schedule, it had to be taken home to do it. We were all given the appropriate connections to the data base to get this done. At the same time, my e-mail box was forever getting fuller. New policies, training, forms, referrals and memos. I personally was finding it harder to keep up. Sometimes, my brain was a fog and the effort to juggle the balls was becoming harder. My own personal stress levels went up and I felt vulnerable. Vulnerable that I would miss something, forget something. I had a note book and wrote everything I needed to do down so everyone got seen, every task and communication done. My tick list was ticked off at the end of the day and shredded. I worked incredibly hard but the passion and the enjoyment went to a very low point.

It was like being a hamster on a wheel. The harder you ran, the harder the wheel turned and it just went round and round, always to the same place, never to finish. Because the hamster was always running and the wheel just ended up at the same point for you to run all over again. It felt like you were getting no-where.

Sometimes, a ray of energy would emerge. A really excellent job was done, you had made a difference to someone’s life and job satisfaction prevailed. You were happy and pleased and felt it was all worthwhile. But, like the hamster, the next day you were back to just running, eventually you burn out and that is what happened to me.

In the end, I had had enough. I had done all that I could do. I knew that there was no end in site to any of it, if anything it was going to get worse, and I have been told that since then it has got worse and I am well out of it.

But I took 28 years of care with me and it was brave decision but I just said no-more. I thought, as it had been my identity all my working life, it would be hard to let go. But it hasn’t been. Now, my new life working in a school as a teaching assistant has made me so happy, opened up so many new doors. I have never looked back. I go to work each day never having the dread or the worry. There is no stress and if there is it is very minimal.

I had some wonderful times, happy memories, really dark days, sadness and some regrets. But I did something worthwhile and I did it well and for that I am proud. I have written these blogs to defend my former profession. I could not just sit back and let the recent press hound us in such a way, without trying to defend those still brave enough to work in nursing.

I would say to the general public one thing. Come and do a shift. Put a uniform on for a day and live it with us. See what it is like. I am not defending shabby care, hostility and I am not minimising the pain that bad care has caused to families. I feel ashamed that such cases have existed. But the general public just has to know how hard and almost inhuman it is to be asked to just keep going, like we are now asked to do in such work conditions. This is the vital message I want to convey to any reader out there.

Later this week: a summary of what has gone wrong, given what I have discussed here and what can be done now if at all?

Posted in Change, Debate, goals, Government, Health, History, Human Rights, Ideas, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts

Government Policy And The NHS.

When something is going wrong in a system of work,fingers naturally will often point to the management structure. Senior staff can be questioned, managers decisions criticized.in this case with the NHS, the biggest manager and where the buck totally stops, is with the Government of the day. They have the overall say in how our NHS is run.

I am no expert here on figures and am not a statistician . What I can say can only be based on what I have seen for myself and read in the media. So let’s take the Mid Staffordshire case. The horrific situation of systematic failings in care was largely created by a catalyst of cost cutting and the relentless drive towards becoming a Foundation Hospital. In order to become that,(foundation status means more self-governing) the hospital had to slash debt, have improved performance targets and be seen to be keeping on track, not only in budget but what it could show on paper to be improvements, efficiency and throughput.

In-fact, this objective is part of every hospital up and down this country. Along with this, the Private Finance Initative called PFI’s was introduced by the last labour government and its impact have made the present situation even worse. PFI’s are loans to hospitals to rebuild, improve and to makeover old hospitals into shiny, spanking new ones. However, many of us will know the outcomes of hospitals struggling to pay off these loans. They have been left with huge debts and deficits.

Then, on top of that, we have fines if certain targets are not met. If a patient goes over a four hour waiting time to be discharged from the Accident Emergency Department to a ward, transferred to another unit or sent home, the hospital is fined. If an ambulance does not deliver and dispatch a patient in a certain time span, it is fined. This is all supposed to be about improvements in performance, get the stick of financial punishment out, and somehow magically results will be produced forthwith. But what has happened? As wards shrink in size, as hospitals slash inpatients beds and staff to save money, there results in a chaotic rush of bed juggling, and the frantic efforts to free up beds against fewer manpower resources. If a patient is discharged and then that patient is what we would term a “bouncer”, that is to say they are re-admitted within a certain time frame,the hospital gets… you guessed it, a fine!

How are hospitals suppose to stay on track budget wise if all they are threatened with is fines? This is government policy now and it is doing nothing to help patients with their care.Infact, this only creates more pressure to treat a patient as a price tag, a unit, a juggling ball on a bed; and leads to what we have heard about bed moving in the middle of the night, against the tide of complaints of sleep deprived patients on wards. It’s like musical beds. Patients become little more than another stat to be got through the system as quick as possible. Now we have jobs purely for bed managers and early discharge assessors and the term, the “bed- blocker” comes to my mind. This is when someone is stuck in the system with no outlying community bed to go to ( because they have been either cut or closed) but they can’t go home either.

Never has the pressure for beds and timed targets been so great as it is now; with increased population, sicker older people, increased expectations of the population to be seen and treated and the changes in GP’s out of hours care. Literally hospitals are fit to bust…..

I leave you with a question. How can these government-led poliices be conducive to quality total patient care? And the nurses, as well as other NHS staff, are caught right in the middle of it. I tell you something: it makes for a hell of a lot of stress. It does nothing to help health-care professionals, with their own mental health, who are suppose to be angels or compassion, care and tranquillity, when really they are tearing their hair out, to give this essence of care that is talked about….

Tomorrow: An example of the crazy burden of data collection and why ultimately I left NHS Nursing.

Posted in Change, Debate, Development, Government, Health, History, Modern society, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Good Leadership Skills Within the NHS: Are They There Or Not?

During my nursing career of 28 years within the NHS, I worked with only three exceptional leaders of people. Two of those leaders worked together in the same unit. One was senior to the other and both worked in harmony together. It was some of the golden days of my NHS life.

When you have a good boss, it shows through and through. You feel valued, invested in and your opinions matter. There is a fairness and compassion within that person. They are interested in people, usually are highly skilled and experienced in their field and have a humane and caring character. They have disciple within themselves and enhance and encourage that in the workplace. The atmosphere in the place of work is happy, standards are high and efficiency prevails. When you are asked to perhaps stay late, or to help in a crisis of staffing, you will come forward because you invest in your workplace, in return for how you are treated. Well, that was how it was for me anyway. 

Sadly, overall leadership within the NHS is poor in my opinion. There are good leaders in the NHS of course and these ones stand out. However, a good leader is often challenged by higher management, if they are not a “yes man” and not always popular with that seniority. In the end these people leave and go on to other positions, leaving the vacuum and the loss behind. Poorer management often comes in as a result and then staff leaves and recruitment/retention gets harder. Moral goes down: stress goes up.

I think one of the problems for nursing is a lack of experience in leadership. Historically, to become a ward sister, at one time, you needed to be qualified for five years.

This is now a dreadful statement to make but I have heard someone say once, that nurses are like “painters and decorators”, you climb the ladder so fast that you scarcely come into contact with any patients. This is a simplistic and rather brash view, but the point here is that, I personally feel that the quality of those in charge, in terms of interpersonal skills with people, CAN be lacking. There just isn’t that core backbone of personal standards, discipline and integrity that there once was.

Then at the heart of the matter, combine these factors with nurses who do not feel listened to by higher management. They feel dis-empowered, that no-one really cares and that they are just a number, easily dispensed with and easy to replace. Challenge anything with anyone who is in a higher position than you and you will often come out worse. Employees can easily feel start to feel vulnerable. Conflicts and bullying are present in the NHS, just as they can be in any large employing organisation. Staff feel threatened and gagged if they dare to speak out. Confidentiality clauses are cited as a means of fear to shut people up for fear of losing their jobs or being frog-marched up to the NMC ( Nursing, Midwifery Council) professional conduct committe. Nurses are in a terrible dilemma if they feel standards are being compromised, yet have no confidence in any leader to talk to or simply feel too afraid. They trust no one. Both the Royal College of Nursing and the NMC have issued guidelines on how to whistle-blow professionally but too few are still prepared to blow that whistle at a local level with a mortgage to pay.  

Finally, it is in my view that the NHS also operate within a very rigid and hierarchical structure. Everyone knows their place in the pecking order from cleaner, to porter, from nurses to doctor and consultants. There is less snobbery now between those at the top of the management tree to those at the bottom; and nurses are no longer seen merely as doctor’s hand-maidens due to their increased technical and skilled roles. Thankfully, there has been this shift ( enhanced by our increasing number of graduate nurses) but both leadership qualities and this persistent hierarchy remains an issue……

On Monday: Management decisions at the very top- Government policy. How PFI’s and the obsession for targets and figures are critically wounding our NHS.

 

 

 

Posted in Change, Debate, Government, Health, History, Ideas, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts

The Role of the Qualified Nurse. Past and present

When I qualified I remember what was then called ” task-orientation.” We started in bay one and went, in two teams, up and down the ward with our care and our trolleys. With aprons on, we washed and turned, fed and hydrated our patients. Every chart was filled in, everyone seen, mobilised, toileted. Dressings were done,medication was given and when that was finished we went off to separate breaks ( one team at a time) and then came back and started it all over again.The ward sisters -there were two of them had an eye on everything. Nothing was missed and woe betide you if it was missed. The ward sister was the heart and the nucleus of everything. Doctors went to her, everyone went to her. She often took the phone calls. She managed everything. I was lucky as I was on a strict but excellent ward in terms of care. There was no shortages of nurses wanting to work on this ward.

However, task orientation was criticised. It was not giving personalised, individual care. People were not a set of tasks but with unique and differing needs. The regular “Kardex”, as it was called then, of writing up the care was changed. Up to this point it had been short and concise. An idea from America came to our NHS,it was shaped on the Roper’s Model of Care:it was called the Nursing Process. This was the first of the mountain of paper that emerged.It meant that all patients had to have an individual care plans for every activity of living. These were first hand written and then when I left nursing they were typed photocopies and had become little more than tick-boxes, another task in my opinion.

Then something else happened which changed our role. Doctors were working sometimes 80 hrs a week, being on call etc and this was rightly considered too much, something had to be done. With this concern came an increase in technological advances in care. Patients who might have died now lived with advancing medicines, diagnosis and procedures. Slowly, the nurse practitioner would be born out of all of this. However, in the mean time sisters were becoming bleep holders, budget holders and bed managers. Staff nurses became clinical shift leaders and I was told to take my apron off and start running the ward instead. There were still qualified nurses and nursing auxilaries doing the care, but what was once undertaken in a higher dependency unit was now becoming mainstream on the wards. This was very marked for me when I returned to acute nursing after working for four years in elderly care rehabilitation. The work load even by then was becoming more stressful.

So registered nurses paper-work increased, more advanced skill became the norm, including venepuncture, cannulation, IVI drug administration to name a few. Hotel workers replaced nurses both qualified and unqualified in giving out meals and drinks. The nurse mentor was born and he/she was now responsible not only for patients but for students as well. This was all happening when I left acute hospital nursing in 1993. I left and went into community after a particular night when one visitor came up to me and said:

” Hello again, there are two things I observe about you. One is that you are always here and two you are always writing out bits of paper.”
It is now 2013 -20 years has passed since then.

Now multiply what I have said a few times more, as demand for services, changing clinical roles, paper, stats, sicker older people, European Economic Community patients needing care, cuts in resources, cuts in staff and you can begin to see why we are in the current crisis situation. Also, crucially from the very top of the decision-making tree, our government and senior NHS management, who increasingly see patients as a entity of profit-making and not focusing on them first as someone needing care. No wonder the Government is stating that it is costing just all too much and auctioning the whole care parcel out to who ever can give the best price…..

Tomorrow: Let’s start to look at leadership within the NHS.

Posted in achievement, Change, Debate, Development, Government, Health, Learning, Modern society, Skills, Thoughts

So What Improvements do We Need to Student Nurse Education?

Today, I want to discuss two points in relation to student nurse education. (Please bear with me as this has to be a longer blog post today to get the points across.)

It has been suggested by the Government that before an individual embarks upon nurse training that they should spend one year as health-care assistants so that they can learn compassion, care and have a better grasp of the basics of nursing. I would pose a question to you, as one who now work in education. Would you say that in order to train to be a teacher you have to become a teaching assistant first to understand children, their needs and how they might learn more effectively? No-one is suggesting this, so why nurses.

Yes, it can be strongly argued that having some ” grounding” in a care setting is helpful in giving you an edge, a valuable insight and knowing if nursing is for you. I can’t argue against that. I, for one, was a nursing auxiliary for ten months prior to student nurse training. However, many potential student nurses attending interview have done just that.It’s seen as having a possible advantage in being offered a place, if you have worked in, say a care home or as a nursing auxiliary. Yet, certainly when I was nursing ( up to 2010) there was an emphasis on basic-care needs that had to be met in order to pass one’s placement. Teachers learn to be teachers with one years post-graduate qualification after a first degree. Student nurses take three years. I would argue that student nurses have enough time to learn to be registered nurses if the quality of the theoretical and clinical teaching they receive is safe and effective. Any prior experience before this is very desirable but not essential.

This brings me to the second point and a potential flaw in the current system. The clinical teaching and assessment of student nurses is now in the hands of registered nurses themselves, mostly by staff-nurses working in an unit or ward. Many nurses are inspirational and dedicated teachers but many are not. Historically nurses have not been taught to be teachers in the same way that teachers have not been taught to be nurses in school. Teaching is a skill. I must add here though, that in order to be a mentor, nurses have to be qualified for at least one year and then go on to pass a three month teaching and assessing course at level three( degree level). In practice even with this, teaching quality can still be very varied. Personally, I loved being a mentor and felt that I gave the support and teaching that student nurses needed. I was passionate about it and did my very best. Every student nurse knows that a mentor, their attitude towards them and what they can provide in knowledge and experience, can make or break a placement. Every student nurse told me that, and I learned that first-hand again when I was a student midwife. 

Also, we now have what is called sign off mentors. So at the end of the students training their last placement has to be signed as passed and fit to practice by a sign- off mentor. This is not a clinical tutor but again a registered nurse. For me this was a half-days training on the paper work and the seriousness of what was being asked of, for those who were doing the signing off. That’s a lot of responsibility and means that the quality and safety of all the placements assessments have to be there, right from the word go!

Mentors know how hard it is to give the time, care and attention to student nurses in a busy and packed ward with stretching workloads and demands on time. Students stick to them like glue as they pursue their work, teaching on the spot and on the job. Most do their best. Lengthy student assessments have to be completed. Standards of assessments are much more rigouress in today’s nurse education. For me, back in the 1980’s, it was four small pieces of paper and tick boxes of accomplishments graded from outstanding to poor, now there are pages and pages of it. I am not saying the tick box was best practice either but I am making the point that, in theory, the standards of education are there but in practice it can vary widely from placement to placement and from one nurse mentor to the next.

Therefore,I would like to see the return of qualified clinical tutors in the work area working alongside mentors, supporting and helping them teach and these tutors easing the workload by taking charge more of the students and directing them in clinical area activities. Then I believe we can see the clinical quality of student nurse education improve…..

 

Tomorrow: moving on to being a staff nurse on a ward. What it was like for me. What I did back then and what staff nurses have to do now.

 

Posted in Change, Debate, Government, Health, Human Rights, Modern society, Skills

The Student Nurse.

Let’s begin with my training back in the early 1980’s. When I was training to be a nurse, most of my experience was gained in the clinical area. We were part of the numbers, were employed by a hospital and was paid a modest wage. The ward sister was responsible for our end of placement reports and oversaw our educational,supervision whilst on their ward or department.There were clinical tutors who visited us regularly. They were on-site at the hospital, as there was a School of Nursing attached to that hospital. They came on to the wards and helped us learn to do a bed-bath properly. We were reminded to change the water, the first bowl for the hands and face, the second for the body. Mouth care, eye care, hand care and even hair washing was taught both in the classroom and on the wards. Even now, I remember that to wash the hair the bedhead would need to be taken off first. Who has had their hair washed by a nurse whilst on bed rest recently?

There were four assessments that had to be passed. One of them was called total-patient care. This is where you were assessed solely on the care of one patient or a small group of patients. This meant that all elements of care had to be considered. Clinical observations including blood pressure,fluids, charts, dressings, medicines-everything. A tutor from the School of Nursing or senior nursing team on the ward would be responsible for that assessment. We were all nervous of course and I remember mine to this day. For me, I was in ITU at the time and looked after the cardiac patients.

Then education for nurses changed. Project 2000 came into force and this was the start of the nurse being seen, not as a pair of hands but a student and supposedly supernumerary- not counted as one of the shift numbers. Nursing was becoming a profession that first saw the Diploma of Higher Education qualification and then onto the graduate status. Why? Well, this was to reflect the growing complexity of the role and to give the profession more status as a profession.Schools of Nursing were moved to Universities and the clinical tutors became redundant. There was to be more theory taught. The terms evidence-based practice was part of the new terminology for care and this was led by current research.

Let me stop there and say this, which may surprise some of you. I am all for a graduate profession. The reasons why will be discussed in another post. While, I accept you do not need a degree to wash patients,I am totally behind seeing a workforce who questions the care they give and why they do it based on the best quality research available. Learning a skill is not enough in 21 st Century nursing. It needs to go a lot further than that if we are to deliver safe and effective care. The increasing advanced skills we are asked to do and the complex conditions we now treat, where sometimes several pathologies have to be considered is another reason……

Tomorrow: So what needs to be addressed with student nurse training? And why sometimes student nurses do not feel supported as they move towards registration as a qualified nurse.

Posted in Change, Debate, Health, Human Rights, Modern society, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized

A crisis of Care in Nursing within the NHS. New blog series.

Today, I start a new blog series of concurrent short posts to attract maximum reading and interest. I know there will be interest out there, given recent media headlines. These blog posts need a proper introduction and the reasons given as to why this is now being undertaken by me.

In recent months, the nursing profession has come under immense scrutiny as a catalogue of failures in the NHS has been published,most notably: The Mid- Staffordshire Report. Patients left to drink out of flower vases and astonishing neglect have left the public shocked and disgusted by the systematic failings of basic humanity and care. The spot- light has been placed on nursing like never before and so it should be in the light of what has been reported.

However, I can no longer sit back and let my once respected profession be so hounded and demonized without at least trying to address why some of these incidents may have arisen. This is not an easy task I am about to undertake. Some may be disappointed with the contents of my blog posts. There will be no personal rants, ear bashing and no leaning towards one political party. This is an attempt to unravel what has gone wrong, to give the public a truer picture of the real lives of nurses working now in a 21 Century NHS and how times have changed from 1948.

It will look at nurse training, how the trained nurse’s role has changed against a tide of wider NHS reforms. It will look at nurse leadership and management.  How it has become increasingly harder to deliver basic standards of care, humanity and compassion with an ever increasing workload; and crucially a shift of emphais as to what that work now comprises.The pressure and demands in people’s needs and expectations against a backdrop of increased health-care needs and complexity. Finally, It will attempt to discuss what now needs to be put in place for nursing to win back public confidence, as a profession nurses can be proud off.

This blog is NOT about making excuses for poor standards of care but to explain why a combination of many factors have created what we are now reading about in the NHS today. It will largely not be discussing the theme of privatization, another too larger and separate area to merge with this series.

I hope people will find this helpful and any comments welcome. Having worked in the NHS for 28 years, (up to a year ago), it is hoped that an insight from an experienced nurse can be given in a manner that is professional and constructive.

Tomorrow, we are going right back to the beginning and start with the role of the student nurse……. 

Posted in Change, Debate, goals, Home, Law, Modern society, Politics, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Living Wage

Good morning.

I am no politician and I am no business women either but today I want to talk about something that seems so obvious to me that concerns both.
From today, changes are taking place that will many affect many people in relation to their incomes and standards of living. For many, these changes will bring even more hardship, stress and unhappiness for many people having to rely on the State to help them live in terms of income.

The government think these cuts are fair, as they don’t want to continue a culture where being trapped in the Welfare State ensnare people into poverty. Apparently, a crucial factor to be out of poverty is to be out of its benefits culture, to be independent and to be free. Plus it argues, the welfare budget has to be chopped due to enormous spiralling costs which the ordinary tax payer can’t be expected to pay. In a way they are saying, do the maths and the sums don’t add up. You could say that is reasonable.

Well, I am not a mathematician either but to me one of the key answers is to create wealth and my simple formula goes something like this.

If you pay people a wage that they can actually live on, then they can pay their own council tax, rent or mortgage. They can go to the shops and spend a little on consumer goods. This means that business benefits from their spending. Tax is generated from their shopping with VAT and businesses may start to see a little more profit on their spread sheets. This means businesses who are struggling may struggle less, which means they can pay their bank or their creditors the money they owe. Meanwhile, the government who have generated more income tax by higher wages have more in the treasury pot to play with and can start to look at its own debt and spending needs. Businesses productivity is increased and the need for new jobs. More jobs, more income tax and so forth. The spiral goes on.

In the meantime, people start to feel a bit  happier, can begin to feed themselves properly- buy less horse meet at a £1 for eight burgers and actually start to feel better; loosing some weight may be (obesity epidemic, major health crisis) and eating a few fresh fruit and vegetables. Children can actually go to school with breakfast inside them perhaps and be more productive in the classroom. Existing health-conditions caused by stress ( I don’t know of any chronic disability not affected by stress) may actually ease a little.The country feels more upbeat and the Government of the day may not be seen as quite the Mr Nasty anymore. I could go on and, anyway, many people are saying this already, nothing new here really.

Ah, you say, but there is a problem and I know exactly what you are going to say. Businesses can’t afford the cost of paying people a living wage. Yes, for many small businesses this is true. My own brother, only last week, has had to let his 15 year old shop business go under because of an inflated renewal of a shop lease he could not pay. less people not coming into his shop to buy greetings cards. His lease holder, unfortunately, could not be sensible enough to give my brother a fair deal given his dwindling takings. He just wanted an ever huger slice of money from rent ( typical property owner!!??). My brother could not give him that rise of double the rent. Now there is another empty shop in the high street somewhere and both people have lost out. He and his wife are another two statistics about to “sign on” and get £111 a week as a couple. He is not one of the so called scroungers either. he has worked all his life and is in his late fifties.

So yes, from his conversations, I know how hard it is to give people a living wage who are in business. But he tells me that not only this government but the last government too taxed small businesses to death and to help them we need to give them a break. This government needs to help ease the burden that small companies face. 

Now to wealth distribution: there are big companies with massive profits. Tesco is one such company, along with other supermarket chains, and we all know how little their workers get, with fewer full-time paid jobs to go with it. Could the government not legislate that for those companies, with an turn over of X billions, that they should see less profit for the few at the top and more wealth distribution for the workers at the bottom? Ah, but that would squash a free-market enterprise! Big money would take off oversees. Well, we have to put people first before big money I am afraid. Simple as that!

This all seems, perhaps, a bit of an Utopian and simplistic view or perhaps rather a socialist position. Well, I am not a socialist, in fact that is the scary bit. I don’t know whether I really trust in any of the main stream parties anymore, there lies the danger. When there is discontent extremism can flourish. I am not saying we are going to have a revolution but this is where more extreme parties can take a hold. Recent By-election results? I think you get it.

So don’t be a April Fool Mr Government. If you want any chance of surviving- currently you are on life support, then start having an agenda to start paying people a real living wage. Don’t try and tell us that by taking us off Welfare, that the very nature of that decision will makes us suddenly not poor anymore because we are not in receipt of it( Yesterday’s BBC news). People on the minimum wage are poor and they can work 80 hours a week and will still be poor, especially if they are on their own with children. I know them, I speak with them. People who can’t genuinely work because of disability can’t work. Don’t take away the main life- line they have had. We are supposed to be a fair and civilized society arent’t we? Nothing civilized or fair about this is there!! Wake up and start listening to the people who voted you in. We can easily vote you OUT!

 

Posted in achievement, Change, Children, Commitment, Development, families, goals, Health, Human Rights, Learning, Role of women, Skills, Uncategorized, Women

One Story.One school.One Education at Tareto Maa.

It was very dark when I returned, as dark as my deepest pain and fear. Was I too late? How would I live with myself if my mother was already dead? Then I saw her lying there. Too weak, to move, her eyes too swollen to see me but her whispers were enough to at least reassure me she was alive. My father has beaten her black and blue with his traditional Maasai stick to make me return home; to force me to undergo something so cruel and terrible. This was his blackmail and this was my choice. To come back and face female circumcision or to hear that my mother was dead because of my disobedience, in the name of honour and tradition, that my mother’s life was gone.

It was a choice no child, then aged 12, should have to take but this was the reality for me and many like me who choose to run away. At that present moment, all I cared about was my mother that she was alive and that she thanked me for coming back. I did not want to think of what was going to lie ahead. The pain, the bleeding that was going to befall me and other girls in that little hut a few days later.  When, up to that point, all the pain I had experienced in childhood became less insignificant to the pain of Female Genital Mutilation. If only that in itself was the end but it was not, it was just the beginning.

This is no fiction story. This is a real story and a true sequence of events. This is one small part of Gladys’ story of the time when it was her turn to be ” circumcised” and then to be married off to a man, aged around 60 years about a month later. The ceremony of circumcision went ahead. There was no alternative. She felt that in spite of her desperate efforts to find safety with an older relative, she had to go back and face the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation to save her own mother from being beaten to death. But when it came to marriage, that was where a final stance of deviance and strength to say NO. This was not what is going to happen to me. My life will not end in this way. Her mother did not stay around any longer this time to be beaten again and fled herself back to her own family.

No one was there, back then, to help Gladys . This is where Gladys’ vision of offering the children the support that she could not find inspired her to be the founder of Tareto Maa: to create a shelter for girls who don’t have a safe place to go and where this organization talks with the parents (making sure as well that the mother is not in danger) . For the children in the refuge, not only food and safety are paramount but also school attendance so that they can build a stronger future for themselves.  This is where you can help with a child sponsorship.

To date, Tareto Maa has 61 sponsors out of our 96 girls, who live in the refuge, and whose donations are directly responsible for sending these girls to school. However, we would like to find additional sponsors for the remaining children. As the next circumcision season approaches we have to prepare for our numbers to increase, to help meet our financial needs for 2013. We have turned no-one away since our refuge opened.

Many of our girls who have fled to us have already told us such personal testimonies that has moved the listener to tears and tear the heart of any one reading such tales. That is why I am here on my blog site writing. Who can just walk away after hearing those plights of real courage, who have left everything and have walked for days with nothing to get to us?

So now I turn to you, the reader, to help us with our christmas campaign. This is how you can help a girl like Gladys.

If you feel you could sponsor a girl, or would like to know more information to consider this, then please, we do so want to hear from you. Contact us at contact@tareto-maa.org. Please, don’t just read and walk away. Come and learn more about Tareto Maa at www.tareto-maa.org  and see if there is anyway you can assist us with this life changing work. Any little help is so valauable and so much appreciated. On behalf of the girls, Thank you so much!

Maasai Girl_Drawing. no 3