Christmas is rushing at us. If you’re like me you’ll be trying to get those presents wrapped, cards out and all the festive food in. Amongst all the busy, busy I’m reminding myself that I’m so lucky that I am in a position to do these things.
It is wonderful to share food & good times with people you care about at Xmas. It is even better to have stage security that allows us to indulge in those things. So, if you can, please consider helping those who do not have that luxury.
I’ve talked about Social Bite before, but they are an amazing organisation. Buying a homeless person Xmas dinner only costs £5 and can make a huge difference to someone. It feels like an excellent way to have an impact even if you don’t have much to spare.
If you are an animal lover and would like to help provide safe, loving home for farm animals Tribe Sanctuary are amazing. The rescue animals that would otherwise go to slaughter or be put down. They have so much passion for these animals and give them a beautiful life.
Hospices so hard & important work all year round. I can only imagine that it can be more difficult at this time of year. Strathcarron Hospice is a lovely facility that cared for someone in my extended family. They provide essential end of life care and are not government funded. If you could share some Christmas love with them it would go to very good use.
I turn 40 this month, which means I have to accept that I‘m definitely an adult. Thus I realise that I will not achieve some the things I wanted to when I was grew up. One such thing being, rescuing animals from slaughter.
I’m not fit enough to care for farm animals, so my dreams of saving livestock & showering them with love will not be realised. The next best thing is to visit & support sanctuaries who can do just that. Which brings me to September’s Charity of month. Tribe Sanctuary does exactly what I dreamed of; they rescue and care for animals that might otherwise end up on someone’s plate.
You can visit this gorgeous brood, gift items from their amazon wish list or make a simple cash donation. I have always been passionate about animal rights. I believe all creatures should be respected and cared for. Look at these wee faces & tell me they don’t deserve all the love.
I used a hand sanitiser in a train station the other day. It was one of those super strong types that you find in hospitals. As soon as it hit my skin I was whisked back in time. For a second or two I was somewhere else. Somewhere I didn’t want to be.
The cold sensation drifted through my body. A zoetrope of mixed up images spun in my head. Blurry flashes conjured by the clinical scent. I felt dizzy. I sat down, took some deep breaths. It passed. I was grateful.
It wasn’t entirely gone. That night the whirl of disjointed scenes dipped in & out of my dreams. Random words have jarred memories. My mind has wandered mid thought or conversation. I have felt the panic rising. Spells of forcing my head to connect with my physical reality have emerged. Struggling to focus on what I can actually see, hear, smell in this moment. Ignoring the feelings climbing my throat.
Tonight in the shower I couldn’t shake the feeling that the hot water streaming down my legs was blood. I couldn’t wipe the hospital aroma from my nostrils. Nor soothe the ache that spread from my back to my thighs. The hand sanitiser has triggered a reaction. My body is recalling the trauma stored deep within. It’s a phenomenon associated with PTSD known as body memories.
I haven’t experienced this symptom in quite some time. It lies dormant; rising unpredictably. Sometimes reacting to obvious & painful stimuli. Or, like this week, triggered by a tiny insignificant detail. My olfactory senses seem particularly attuned to old wounds.
This time it’s the initial loss. I feel my body failing. I know it isn’t happening. I have learned how to pull myself back to the here & now. Still, those moments when I’m dragged to the past feel completely real. I am not just thinking about unpleasant events. I am feeling them. My flesh & nerves & senses are reacting to something that happened 20 years ago.
Body memories are excruciating. It becomes a battle between what you know & what you feel. Fighting strong emotions is a challenge. When you add physical sensations grounding yourself is an onerous task. I have experienced these episodes replicating the sensations I felt during miscarriages & pregnancy. At times these physical memories are accompanied by flashbacks & other PTSD symptoms. Other times they occur in isolation. They mirror my actual experience so completely that I’ve found myself taking multiple pregnancy tests when I knew it was almost impossible for me to have conceived.
It’s another aspect of PTSD that I rarely see discussed in the mainstream. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not only (or even mainly) associated with combat trauma. Yet, it’s the link most people draw. The violent outbursts in media portrayals of the illness are not accurate. New studies are highlighting how prevalent PTSD is in women who have experienced baby loss & birth trauma. For most of us, managing PTSD is an internal process. Distress may leak out, but the grind is with yourself. Accessing the right help, surviving that help (trauma therapy can be brutal), learning to manage symptoms, accepting the parts you can never fix & the impact they will have on your life.
It’s painful & exhausting & many of us never completely recover. To stand any chance of healing specialised therapy is essential. There are so many barriers to reaching that help. It can take years to obtain any psychological intervention without the resources to pay privately. Even longer to receive the specialised therapy that can actually help. So many people can’t afford to wait.
This month I’m supporting The Birth Trauma Association and Sands. Both organisations support families who have experienced trauma surrounding baby loss & birth. Please join me if you can.
If this crisis has taught me anything it’s how grateful I am to have a safe & comfortable home to quarantine in. Not everyone is so fortunate. That’s why this month I have chosen to support Refuge.
I’m sure you will have read about the increase in domestic violence incidents since lockdown began. This quarantine is far more than an inconvenience for people living with an abusive partner or parent. The choice of being locked up with someone who harms you or leaving with nothing during a global pandemic is a horrible dilemma. That’s why organisations like Refuge are even more vital at the moment.
Refuge provides a range of services for men, women & children. They offer safe houses, advocacy culturally specific help & a 24hr hotline. These services save lives. I urge to support them if you can.
You can make a one off or monthly donation of your chosen amount. Or you can opt to buy a Refuge Parcel. These fund specific items like hygiene packs, child support, emergency parcel and so on. I opted for a children’s parcel containing items to help a little one settle into a new life. I think it’s a wonderful idea. It makes me feel really happy that I can help make a child’s world a little better.
This month I’ve chosen a charity close to my heart. Refuweegee is an organisation that uses the famous warmth & generosity of Glaswegians to support refugees. Their tag line ‘we’re all fae somewhere’ perfectly sums up why we should offer a helping hand to anyone who requires it.
You can donate to Refuweegee in a number of ways, a direct monetary contribution or you can put together a welcome pack. Refugees often arrive in Glasgow with very little & some basics to combat a new life in a new climate are indispensable. Add some Scottish treats & a handwritten welcome letter to complete your pack. Full details of suggested donations below.
Refuweegee are also currently in desperate need of toiletries. As I’m sure you can imagine hygiene basics are paramount for anyone. If you can donate any of the following they would be gratefully accepted.
As we near Xmas lots of folk are giving more thought to charitable giving. I hope you will consider a gift to this wonderful organisation. No one knows what the future holds or when we might need the kindness of strangers ourselves. Humanity doesn’t stop at borders, our generosity shouldn’t either.
This month I was inspired (influenced?) to support a charity by one of my fav instagram accounts. I saw a post about Smile & felt compelled to make a donation. Which goes to show that social media isn’t all bad.
Smile Train fund drs, clinics etc to perform cleft palate repairs on kids who would otherwise not have access to the procedure. It’s a fairly routine op in more privileged parts of the world, but one that is outwith the means of many. Failure to correct a cleft palate can have far reaching implications. From an inability to feed properly and resultant dangers to exclusion from society. The facial difference can cause children to be shunned be communities. Leaving them unable to access education, build relationships and leading to permanent isolation.
This is a problem that can be fixed and you can help. You can give a child a smile & a chance a better life. Please donate if you can.
We all know we’ve fucked the planet. Hopefully most of us are trying to do what we can to heal our home. The kids did is proud with the climate change strike this week and we need to pull our weight too.
I know huge corporation and government level change is what really needs to happen, but in the meantime; every little helps. This month I have combined treating my nephews with giving the amazing a tiny wee helping hand. You can sponsor an animal from of your choice from WWF for just £3 a month. I opted for an orangutan & gorilla. The former because the baba loves watching a programme about orangutan rescues plus the Amazon connection. The latter because my bigger boy is fond of the majestic creatures.
In exchange for your monthly donation you will receive a cuddle toy of your chosen species, adoption certificate and face book. It’s actually a really nice gift for a little one. Fun, educational and teaches them about giving.
We need to keep fighting for large scale structural change. Whilst we battle supporting orgs that keep animals & their habitats alive is a good back up. Plus you can make someone in your life smile with a wee cuddly.
This week I said goodbye to my Uncle Gerry. He died before his time, but faced death with courage & humour. He lived his life with warmth & generosity; never forgetting a birthday & always offering whatever he could of himself to his loved ones & community. The packed chapel at his funeral reflected how much he was appreciated.
In his honour I wanted to pause to share the beauty I am still lucky enough experience. So often I (we) get bogged down by the stresses & strains of daily life that I forget how lovely the world can be. Sometimes it takes a loss to remind us what we still have.
In the spirit of his giving nature I also wanted to share some organisations doing incredible work. I hope you will support them if you can.
Crookston Community Group aims to develop a sense of community whilst helping those in need. The fund a number of services ranging from a food bank to children’s activities and community cohesion workshops.
Street League works with unemployed youth using sport as means to provide training & gain skills needed to find employment. They have fabulous success rates in getting young people into work. They focus on areas of high youth unemployment.
Peek want to increase the opportunities for children to reach their potential. They offer free play and creative learning services that allow children to thrive. They remove barriers by offering support & education for both parents & children.
Chin Chin, Uncle Gerry. You will be greatly missed.
According to Cliff Richards, king of the xmas tune, this is a time for giving. Whilst Cliff is wrong about most things, I think he’s right about this. I love Christmas. I am fortunate enough to have wonderful people to share it with. We always have more than enough food to fill our tums & plenty presents under our tree. If like me, your festive cup runeth over, please consider making a donation to one of these excellent organisations.
Simon Community helps homeless people in Scotland. They provide a number of wonderful services. From teaching life skills to providing accommodation to help people get on their feet, they support homeless people in a multitude of ways. This year they also launched a new initiative to provide both period products & education for people experiencing homelessness. You can help Simon Community by donating your time, money and a number of essentials items. You can find more information here.
Luisa Omielan is my favourite stand up comedian. Her material is not only hilarious, but covers incredibly important issues. She talks about mental illness, body positivity & female empowerment in her hysterical routines. This year she lost her Mum suddenly & horribly to cancer. She has now not only incorporated the difficult topics of palliative care, NHS under funding & death into her routines, but has also started a foundation, in her mum’s name, to raise money to provide comfort items to hospices. My own family was also touched by cancer this year & I became aware of just how important good hospice care is. Until now I was not aware that hospices are charities that do not receive government funding. People at the end of their lives, often suffering, should have access to the best possible care. Luisa is trying to make that happen. Please give whatever you can to Helena’s Hospice Foundation.
Save the Children work around world with children in desperate need. Their mission is to keep children safe and healthy, whether that means battling poverty or exploitation. They fight to create and enforce legal rights for children as well as providing food, clothing and other essentials for those in need. There are too many frightened children in too many places tonight. If you can help give them a better tomorrow, please do.
Tribe is a Scottish animal sanctuary providing a loving home for animals who have been victims of abuse, neglect or who have been saved from slaughter. Their aim is to keep animals safe, but also to encourage compassion for animals not normally considered pets. The sanctuary was founded by John and Morag, animal advocates who wanted to truly live their beliefs. They currently house cats, dogs, cows and chickens. You can get to know their growing family & find out how to donate here.
Please dig as deep as you can and have a very Merry Christmas and a fun filled Hogmanay.
Ok, the left is down, but it’s not out. With evil pricks sweeping into power the world over it’s important to take a stand. We can all make a difference; none of us have to look far to find a worthy project to support.My plan this Xmas is to give locally & hopefully encourage others to do the same.
If anyone needed a reminder that the patriarchy still isn’t smashed recent events have certainly served that purpose. Women are still under threat from numerous directions. Unfortunately those closest to us can be the most dangerous. In the uk 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. There are still 2 women dying every week at the hands of a male partner or ex partner. With 90% of women reporting their children witnessing attacks it is clear how far reaching this problem is. The human impact of these figures is devastating. Being outraged is not enough, we can all do something to help.
Glasgow Women’s Aid provide support & refuge accommodation to women, children & young people experiencing domestic abuse. Their services are far reaching, from emergency housing, to legal advice & counselling services. Even a small donation could help keep someone safe this Christmas. If money is tight you can still support Women’s Aid by following them on social media. They often post request for items needed to allow women & their children to start a new life. You may have things lying around unused to that can ease that process or a simple share could bring it to the attention of someone who does.
Twitter – @GWA1973
Facebook – @GlasgowWomensAid
There really isn’t any excuse not make this festive period feminist. Let’s get giving.