Charity work

World Literacy Youth Ambassador 2017

I am very proud to announce that in May I was selected to be a Youth Ambassador for the World Literacy Foundation 2017. This means for the next few months, I will be dedicated to raising awareness (and money) for the World Literacy Foundation.

I initially saw that WLF were recruiting Youth Ambassadors on their Facebook page and after spending some time umm-ing and ahh-ing over applying, I decided to go for it. As my previous blog posts show, I am an advocate for education, and have been involved in fundraising for the Memusi Foundation. I am also a massive lover of books, and the idea that someone cannot access fictional worlds in the same way I can breaks my heart. So I applied to be a WLF Ambassador to give me more experience in advocating for children’s rights, fundraising, and more importantly, to give myself a feasible goal. I have a tendency to be a somewhat capricious individual, meaning that whilst I’m full of good ideas and intentions, sticking them out can be a different story. Being a Youth Ambassador sets me an attinable fundraising goal, and I have lots of support from the WLF team to motivate me.

Literacy is a skill I have long taken for granted. Being able to read, and to write this very blog post come as naturally as breathing, yet it’s a privilege seldom recognised as just that – a privilege. In Northern Uganda, the adult literacy rate is roughly 64%. It is here that the WLF will be channeling funds raised by Youth Ambassadors this year, to provide education to children and help them build better futures for themselves and their families. We often forget how much literacy plays a role in our ability to communicate with others, aiding social mobility.
It’s not just ground-breaking things like being able to attain academic success that literacy skills provide. “Simple” things like being able to administer the correct dosage of medicine outlined on the packet, being able to follow a recipe to cook a meal, and being able to use a map or follow signs’ directions, are not possible without basic literacy skills. And in many parts of the world, children are not accessing these skills, as they are not accessing the education they deserve.
Every child deserves to be able to read. With your help, we can help more children access education. Please donate if you are able, like the Facebook page, and stayed tune for more of my campaign.

-A x

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Charity work

St Paul’s, Alverthorpe – June 18th 2017

Today I had the pleasure of attending St Paul’s church in Alverthorpe to raise awareness of the work of the Memusi Foundation.
This church holds a special place in my heart, as it was where I attended Explorers when I was younger, and holds some of my best memories.
I am not deeply familiar with church services, but was made to feel very welcome. I arrived slightly before the service and Gerry, the priest, introduced me to various members of the congregation.
Gerry led us in hymns and prayer before I delivered my speech about Memusi. I was incredibly nervous as I’m unaccustomed to public speaking, but everyone was very supportive, and a kind lady called Irene gave me a glass of water. Public speaking is difficult, but if something needs saying, it’s important to say it! As a man advised me “what you say won’t be remembered, but your message will be”.  I tried to view the speech as a “practice run” for future speeches, and cut myself some slack for not being the World’s Best Speaker. It’s important to put your nerves behind you, take a deep breath, and to not let fear of ‘looking silly’ stop you. If anyone is thinking of doing a speech or public speaking and needs a pep talk and a bit of advice, please contact me!

After the speech, there was a hand-shaking ceremony where the congregation wished each other “peace be with you”. I wished a 2 year old girl, Poppy, “peace be with you” and shook her tiny hand. With a grin she replied “with you”. Her grandma (who had brought her there) smiled brightly and told me Poppy believed everyone was asleep when we were praying, so she’d been very quiet, but she then resumed running around everywhere. She was very sweet, and her granny seemed tired out haha. It was hard not to giggle at her as she was so cute, even when causing a ruckus and trying to climb on the church altar.
After this, the congregation took communion, and Gerry blessed Poppy and I. Some final hymns were sung before the service ended. I milled around for a while, collecting donations and answering questions. I am very pleased to say the congregation kindly donated £103.75 towards Memusi’s “Girl Project”.
On the walk from the church I passed by my friend’s house, and rang him to tell him I was outside and was waiting for a hug. He was a bit bamboozled by why I was there, but I explained, he hugged me, and I headed on my way. I arrived at work very very warm (26°C temperatures are not appreciated when travelling on a bus) but very very happy.

A lot can be achieved if you don’t let nerves stop you. It’s important to spread light in the darkness.
-A x

Charity work · Uncategorized

Beans on Toast – May 2017

Beans on toast is one of my go-to comfort meals when I’m feeling down. It’s also the name of one of my favourite performers.
Inspired by his song 2016 I decided that in 2017 I would do the best I could to make a difference. In part to thank him for inspiring me and spreading positive vibes in the world, I emailed Jay (who performs as ‘Beans on Toast’) and with just a little bit of cheekiness, asked if he’d be up for letting me fund-raise at a gig of his.
I did not expect him to answer in the affirmative, but I’m so pleased he did.
I joined Beans on Toast’s “Down the Pub” tour on May 5th and 6th to raise funds for the Memusi Foundation’s girls’ dorms project.

May 5th – Bradford

I joined Beans’ at the New Bee Hive Inn in Bradford.
Bradford is a lot prettier, and a lot more welcoming than people would have you believe. I arrived in Bradford at 5 to 6 in the afternoon, after a pleasant sunny train journey, and asked the station ticket master for directions to the New Bee Hive. Despite his help, I managed to get lost, and luckily, ended up at the Alhambra, where the box office ladies gave me a map and directions. Setting off (still a bit lost) but armed with my map, a local lady stopped me and asked where I was headed, then gave me the final directions to the New Bee Hive Inn. I arrived there at about half past 6, and chatted with a sweet Scottish couple named Rosemary and John about the NHS/Rocky Horror Picture Show/University/Scotland/cruises, and told them a bit about why I was there fundraising.
The doors opened at 7 and I met some wonderful characters who were very supportive, whilst listening to the poetic, melodic Gerrard Bell-Fife. Alex, a Bradford native, generously donated and told me “where to check out” in Bradford, leading me to agree with him that “it doesn’t deserve the bad rep.” Two blokes from Skipton, who I failed to catch the names of , called to mind Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt in The Mighty Boosh and promised to give the Memusi Facebook page a “cheeky like” after emptying out their change into my collection tin. It was a fantastic night, but unfortunately, I had to leave at 9 to catch my train home.
Lizzy, Jay’s wife, offered to look after the collection tin for me, and I left it in her hands at the merch table, before making my way back to the train station (without getting lost!) through the dusky streets of Bradford.
I arrived home that night exhausted but exhilarated.

May 6th – Bolton
After finishing work at 4, I dashed to the train station for the 4:50 train to Huddersfield. As I walked from the bus stop to the train station, I passed a pub, where in the beer garden, a man stood feeding the stray cats kitty food. I switched trains at Huddersfield, encountering a man in full Captain America apparel and two women in psychedelic 60’s costumes as I dashed from one platform to the other. When I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly, daunted by the size, I had to locate Benjamin, leaving us with ten minutes to buy sandwiches. We enjoyed our make-shift-meal-deal-picnic on the train to Bolton, arriving there with 20 minutes to spare and utilizing Google maps (poorly, may I add) to eventually land at the Alma Inn. Beans was here supported by the fantastic acts, Arms & HeartsDog CoffeeAndrew Cream and the charming The Doublecross. All the musicians were incredibly talented. Poet, Oliver James Lomax, also read two of his poems between sets. A self-professed “poet with low self-esteem”, Oliver looked at me bemused when I asked if he was a professional poet, until a member of the bar staff helpfully added “Oliver! Yes you are! You have a book and everything!”
It wasn’t quite possible to tell if the Bolton locals were drunk, as their lilt has a ting of tipspyness, and as a lady told me “we’re a friendly lot, us Bolton lot, perhaps overly-familiar” but nevertheless, welcoming, supportive and open-armed. By the end of the night, most of the gig-goers were more than a bit tipsy but all were generous and supportive.

At the end of the night, Benj and I made our escape to the Holiday Inn, where we spent our first night together in a hotel (oooh snazzy). 

We woke early Sunday morning and got our train to Manchester, where Benj treated me to breakfast and we got the train to Leeds. I arrived at work with 3 minutes to spare before my shift started, but super happy, and full of doughnuts.

I am so thankful to Benji for supporting me in my impulsive undertakings (and buying me food <3). I’m also extremely grateful to Jay, Lizzy, Ivan, Liam, Oliver, and Sally for supporting my fund-raising attempts. Coupled with the money Benj and I raised in March through a benefit gig that my friends kindly supported me with, the money we raised this weekend is enough to build a dorm for two girls in Kenya, in order for them to remain in schooling and achieve their dreams.
Anything is possible, and I think this weekend shows how lucky I am to be alive and surrounded by supportive people, and how helpful people will be if you take a leap-of-faith and ask them.
-A x