Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mentoring Group starts tomorrow in Carpenders Park

A new initiative kicks off Thursday 1st December in Carpenders Park to bring local entrepreneurs together to innovate and create. Offline Mentoring Groups are not a new phenomena but are a recent addition to the Link4Business service provided as part of Link4Growth - Community Building.

The first session will see 6 business owners working together on 3 challenges brought in front of the group. Next month the other 3 will have their turn to air their challenges.

The group will spend 40 minutes working on each of the issues. Combining their collective knowledge, experience and perspective to focus on each topic. It is rare that we have the opportunity to have 5 fellow entrepreneurs pulling together, devoting their attention and energy to help us with a challenge in our business.

Couple the above with the collective wisdom, experience and sheer variety of backgrounds it is no wonder that 'masterminding' is recognised as one of the most powerful tools for small businesses. This is a fabulous opportunity to enable our local entrepreneurs in difficult trading conditions.

There are already plans to begin another mentoring group starting early in January. These can be hosted not only physically but electronically over spatial distances too, if people want to assemble a group that is distributed.

If you are interested in being part of a mentoring group, developing stronger local business connections, and removing roadblocks in your business.. then this might be something for you. For further details email or alternatively use the Contact Us form, mentioning OMG's in the message.

Health Tech woman of the month awarded for local Watfordian

Local Watfordian Lisa Emery has been nominated as Health Tech woman of the month for November. Lisa who lives in central Watford started her career as a Biomedical Scientist in Watford Hospital and has now returned there as the chief information officer (CIO), being promoted from the earlier position of Associate Director of IT.

Lisa says that
"What drives me on is that great IT can, and often does, support great care. It can increase safety and free up the time of busy clinical staff to concentrate on their patients. Every single week, at an NHS hospital, there are ways that technology is playing its part in healthcare"
Information Technology is the glue that now connects everything together in our modern hospitals and there is a lot of complexity in delivering care... from initial screening and diagnosis when a patient is brought into A&E right through to when a patient is sent home (with 2 weeks of medication) ... IT systems are there to support the doctors and care staff throughout. Making sure that this IT is up and running, resilient, and performs for the health team is a vital component in our NHS service.

For the full report in the Health Tech journal click here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Can you share a little with others this December?

It's a mean month December. Not for those whizzing off to the shops to get presents for friends and family. Not for those enjoying the festive traditional candle lit lunch that slowly yields to dusk as the early evening draws in and claims yet another Christmas day.

But for those where things haven't quite gone according to plan this year, or in recent times, this can be a thoroughly miserable time. Maybe hopping from one place to another, maybe scratching just enough together to make ends meet each week... or perhaps having to make the decision between food or warmth again this year. Perhaps children in these circumstances would be grateful for an empty box to play with let alone the gift which came inside. December can be a cruel month for parents. Many will also pile on debt till the new year knowing that this will mean tough decisions come January... but at least until then...

If we look at what Christmas delivers for us even if we think we are not; we are rich beyond the wildest dreams of a great many that inhabit this planet. So can we put something aside to help our fellow human beings who are struggling today? Can we give a little to soothe the suffering without expecting anything in return. A kind deed from one human to another? ... we just need more of this don't we? ... and not just for Christmas.

Here's an idea... get a 'bag for life' or a box like what they are doing in Torbay and put something aside each day in the form of a mini hamper... you can look on the Watford FoodBanks website for items that they
know will be needed... or why not add a bar of chocolate, some socks (always needed and cold feet are the worst), some female hygiene products (no woman ever told me these were a luxury) ... deodorants maybe... they are not items that are life or death but they might bring a bit of cheer or comfort in an otherwise dreary time. When you get closer to Xmas take your bag or box to the Foodbank... you might just make someones (or a few people's) Christmas that little bit easier.

Friday 25th November 2016 - Wine Tasting

Our friends at Reason Coffee Shop and Bookstore kindly hosted a Wine Tasting event. Huge thanks to Neal & Lisa Emery and the team at Reason, thanks also to Diane Richardson for helping to organise the event and to Julia Jenkins from Flagship Wines for the splendid collection of wines on the night.

Reason Coffee Shop and Bookstore do an incredible job, not just when it comes to serving tasty coffee (other drinks are also available!) but also when it comes to reaching out into the community. Their Pay it Forward and Little Larder schemes for the homeless of Watford are very effective ways of making a positive change locally. They also play host to many groups who wish to meet, chat and swap ideas and inspiration, or if they just want to come and knit together!

Anyone who has already been to one of Reason's infamous Wine Tastings will know that it's always great fun as well as being very informative and a golden opportunity to stock up on some cases of wine both for personal enjoyment and also, in this case, as Christmas presents, of course! This particular occasion was no exception and all those who attended had a fabulous evening.

Thanks to all who support the raffle - we raised £58 in all. It was great to have a signed book by top chef, Tom Kerridge going to one of his biggest fans - well done Lisa!

Find out more about The Michael Green Diabetes Foundation.

Photo credits go, with thanks, to Diane Richardson - some great shots that really capture the flavour of the evening.

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Black Hole of Cyber Shopping

I can't be the only one who's had enough of the spend fest that's taking place this weekend. Not only has my email inbox been assailed with literally hundreds of exhortations to buy now, save money, spend more and not miss out...but traffic to and from town has been almost at a standstill and the car parks jammed with people looking for a bargain.

We all love a bargain - of course we do. Who wants to pay more than they have to for something they need to replace or which would make life easier? Especially when the bargains on offer are from large companies that we suspect will still happily be making a profit even at 70% off the original price.

But something is surely only a bargain if we needed it in the first place. And we're only saving money if we're buying something that we were going to buy anyway. Black Friday and Cyber Monday present us with so many options and opportunities to throw money at things that we may never have heard of or considered owning, and which may well remain unused or on Ebay in the new year.

Link4Growth is passionate about buying local and supporting small businesses. One of our members (myself in fact!) has written a piece about why this matters and you can read more here

We'd love to hear your comments and feedback - and examples of where we can all #BuyLocal this Christmas.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

L4GHelp warm welcome at The Kitchen

A massive thanks to +linda anderson and +The Kitchen Croxley yesterday for the huge welcome.

Once a month through Link4Growth myself and some other local people gather to offer our knowledge, expertise, connections, thoughts and ideas to help any person or organisation in the local area completely free of charge.

This can range from advice about setting up a business or community group right through to how to combine modern technology in helping to achieve whatever it is you want to do. If you have no idea about technology there are always people on hand to help with social media, websites even how to use apps on a mobile phone.

There is no shortage of good ideas too... so if you are looking for a little bit of inspiration, stuck in a rut, re-engaging after some bad news, or just want a bit of positivity pop in and join us. These gatherings are always the last Friday of the month from 12:00-2:30pm ... a kind of working lunch if you like.

This month Linda provided a lovely batch of sandwiches and cake samples for us all to feast on, free of charge. What a lovely gesture and everyone who attended was very grateful, I for one was ready for something to eat, and it was very much appreciated... so thank you from all those who were there.

What can be nicer than supporting and helping each other, being amongst friends, with some tasty food treats? ... and from next month The Kitchen will offer those that want it a special £5 deal including lunch and a drink.

So if you would like to come along meet some people, have a bite to eat... and maybe pick up some advice, guidance, ideas, signposting or a little bit of training do come along and join in the fun.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

New Link Road 'Thomas Sawyer' Way opens

The new Hospital Link road is now open... this road joins Dalton Way at Bushey arches directly with Watford Hospital and the car parks... It also connects to Wiggenhall road however coming from the arches as I found out no access either left or right turn onto Wiggenhall Road... so this new road is really a feed straight to the hospital...

You can however join the new link road from Wiggenhall road heading out of Watford to rapidly speed up access to the M1 as it takes you directly to the retail park in the lower high street and then Stephensons way... so an excellent route out of town...

Access to the Hospital car parks is can be via the new road from Dalton Way or going into / out of Watford on Wiggenhall Road... all the road signage has been amended to reflect the car park access.

Access to the hospital car parks via Vicarage road and past the main hospital entrance is now blocked although access to A&E is still available for drop off...

Couple of videos below of the new link road... first one from Dalton Way, the second from Wiggenhall Road to the hospital car parks...

From Dalton Way

From Cassio Road

More details and the story can be found here

Reproduced from the Enfield Independent 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Positive News is good for us, shall we?

An article in Positive.News confirms that reading positive stories creates admiration for others and restores faith in humanity... What if we did this in our own back yard... our own neighbourhoods? ... this is what the Community Communication Hubs have been set up to do... spread the 97% of good news which is happening all around us but is invisible...

Consuming positive news can lead to increased acceptance of others, a feeling of community and motivation to contribute to social change, new research shows
Titled ‘Publishing the Positive’, the research demonstrates that at a time of divisive politics, positive news stories have the potential to unite, inspire and empower groups of people in society.
Positive psychology researcher Jodie Jackson, who conducted the study at the University of East London, said: “Participants expressed that an excess of negative news led them to see the negative in other people, and feel isolated from society. However, the opposite was experienced when participants read positive news, which created a sense of admiration for other people and ‘restored [their] faith in humanity’.”

If you have a local positive news story then we want to hear it!! ... Please complete the Contact Us form... maybe the time for us all to do our bit has arrived!

Neighbourhood Networks in South West Herts

Local helpful neighbourhoods is an idea initiated by +Mark Barrett in Norwich. This is not the first time that ideas for bringing communities together has been tried, projects like the 'Big Lunch' have already created life long friendships... but could we do more in South West Herts? Mark has started a Facebook group - Neighbourhoods and beyond to open up discussion about reconnecting us with our neighbours and bringing together those who feel it's important.

So what could we do?

So the idea is very simple, most of us would agree that our neighbourhoods would be much nicer places to live if we knew the people around us. It 'used to be like that' many of the people I meet have said, but not any more. The 'Big Lunch' if nothing else, brings people together, and people still remember fondly those events and the people that they met for the first time who very often only lived a few doors away.

What if we were to hold regular gatherings? not just 'one offs' which might work for some but not others. But regular opportunities for our neighbourhoods to come together perhaps at different times of the day and/or weekends to engage, connect, talk to each other... share stories, memories, skills, collaborate... whatever works for the local community. Organising big events can take a lot of work... but what if we used all the modern tools to make it much easier... facebook, whatsapp, messenger groups, email... and good old methods too... phone... leaflets (hand delivered by ourselves), door knocking and of course... talking to each other in the street.

Could we eradicate loneliness in some of our neighbours? ... could we invite people on their own round for dinner? ... Christmas? ... could we pop in for a coffee or tea? ... or just help out with some shopping or a lift to the hospital? Wouldn't it be just so much better if we could say hello easily to someone we meet outside without the awkwardness... what if we joined these street groups together to create real community in our area and then beyond?

How we feel and our view of the world can often change in an instant with a chance encounter.... a friendly smile... a helping hand, support from those who live around us. But it would be so much easier if we knew those we could easily reach out to... almost like an extended family!

What can you do?

If you would like to help make this happen then why not get in touch with us? Please just complete the Contact Us form if you would like to find out more.

... there are so many neighbourhoods in South West Herts with people completely detached and who don't see a soul from week to week... if all we did is work together to eliminate loneliness, this, 'on its own' would be a project that would change lives irrevocably... forever... something to think about...

It has never been truer that it is today...

It takes a village to bring up a child... but it also takes a village to take care of an elderly person

Sunday, 6 November 2016

With a heavy heart we say goodbye to Farm Terrace

Todays Community TV Show with +Diane Richardson had more than a touch of sadness. Today we featured a short but emotional interview with +Sara-Jane Trebar from the Save Farm Terrace campaign.

On Wednesday the final announcement came from the High Court that the application to sequest the allotments as part of the plans for the 'Health Campus' had been approved and that the campaigners had lost the decision. Thoughts of an appeal were quickly quelled by the legal representatives who stated that upon each subsequent appeal the case is weakened, so it was time to accept the decision.

4 years of campaigning now come to an end. It seemed an impossible dream to save the allotments and yet the campaign team could almost taste victory and a landmark decision that would safeguard allotments around the country... but sadly it wasn't to be.

Perhaps the legacy of this campaign will be to have lost the battle but won the war. This is a story of a David and Goliath. The council with access to the finances to fund a long and bitter legal fight, the inevitable backing of the government and probably the house of lords... and constant representation in the local newspaper disparaging the small group of people standing in the way of Watford's progress. But it is evidence too. It is evidence of how the will of those 'in power' can be wielded without due diligence to the concerns of the people.

This need not have gone to court 4 times... this need not have cost the tax payer 100's of thousands of pounds. This need not have been a win / lose battle. This could have been a triumph for real democracy. A triumph for how people could work together to achieve outcomes that worked for all... but instead it has resulted in sadness and ego. This is no glorious victory for the council. This was a sad day where a 'sense of fairness' had long since left the building... The keys were handed back and the doors closed to the allotment holders on Thursday 3rd November.

To go straight to the part about Farm terrace click here

Cassiobury Park 5th November Fireworks Display

This year firework night the 5th November coincided with a Saturday night... not only was it a Saturday but it was a dry Saturday too. Many is the time that I have wandered into the foray on dark November nights to struggle to stand up, the whole area turned into a quagmire.

Not so yesterday though... a tad blustery... probably 4 or 5c but dry and there must have been close to 10,000 people it was a very busy event. As is the custom these days there was a stage upon which +Vibe 107.6 hosted the evening with music, chat and the odd competition and audience participation. Vans selling all manner of foods... including Ice Cream I spotted... bouncy castles, fun fair rides... in fact something for everyone building up for the 7:30pm firework display of 19 minute duration.

As you will see in the short video clip the iconic tree that sits upon the top of the escarpment is lit up for all to see and provides a great backdrop to the fireworks... the video is the last 5 or so minutes of the display...