Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Local Bakery wins best loaf... September Baking awards

It is old news now that Cinnamon Square is a multi award winning local bakery... indeed back in September (2017) down in Park Lane, Paul Barker did it again with his aptly named Church Street Sour, a loaf that gets its distinctive sour taste from a 12 year old culture 'fermented' on the premises.

You can read the full story on the Baking Awards presented by Denise Van Outen in this link Cinnamon Square wins Britains Best Loaf award.

We caught up with Paul Barker the proprietor of Cinnamon Square in a recent interview (shown below). It is incredibly humbling to know that we have a baker who has dedicated almost his entire working life learning about the art of baking and everything that goes with it.

After the interview Paul shared with me some of his more technical knowledge (and there is a lot of it) about the art of baking. One thing that comes across clearly is Paul's passion for his craft. Cinnamon Square is no doubt the epitome of a first class local, community centric bakery and to be really honest we are very lucky to have such quality in close proximity. Paul and his team have 'infected' thousands of local people with the enthusiasm to try baking through classes and workshops held on the premises and they are as popular today as they have ever been.

Please do watch the video below... better still... go down there and pick up some of the finest bread available anywhere in the UK.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Face it

What do you see? Is this an old or a young woman?

What do you see when you encounter a rough sleeper? I wonder if you see a person?

I went into London this week for a business meeting. The meeting ended about 5pm and I headed off to meet my brother at Waterloo station…rush hour! No signal on the tube, so as soon as I got there I head outside to ring him and find out what we would be doing. 

I see the man with the obligatory cup and sleeping bag but wanted to make sure my brother wasn’t waiting somewhere else for me, so dropped him a quick text, before approaching.

Whilst texting, and in my peripheral vision, I became aware of a young woman walking towards the rough sleeper; her face frozen in a look of pure disgust. She practically stepped over him, like a pile of dog poo.

It would be fair to say that he didn’t look good. Everything was dirty; the colour of his clothing stained with that kind of greyish hue that comes from being outdoors a lot. He was bent forward, possibly asleep with one hand sticking out, half way through a cigarette. Gnarled, brown fingers poked out of the sleeves of his checked jacket.

“Are you alright lovey?" I enquired.

He looked up at me, with a grubby face, and teeth like tombstones.

“Ah yes, I nodded off…didn’t get much sleep last night.”

I sat on the floor with him and listened to his story – abridged here – but incredibly similar to the 
other stories I hear. He has lost contact (and doesn’t want contact) with his family over the years; he talked about his young daughter however, that he misses her, but the family feud is too nasty to risk getting in touch.

Me: “Do you like living on the streets?
Him: “Sometimes. In the Summer it’s ok…but when the weather turns it’s no good. I’m trying to get enough money to go to the night shelter.”
Me: “They charge?
Him: “£7.00 but you have to get there early.”

I explain about the provision in Watford, which is quite different. He tells me that London is an interesting city, he hangs out in libraries and McDonalds to keep warm.  They move him on if he falls asleep there, and sometimes he hasn’t got money for a drink in McDonalds to justify being there.

There is a school of thought about not giving to the homeless which I disagree with, if you give this guy money he is going to buy a cuppa and save for a night’s shelter! If he bought say, alcohol after that, do you blame him? Do you enjoy a glass of wine in the evening? What’s the difference?

It’s what we see; just for a minute looking at him as a person and not a ‘tramp’ can make a world of difference.

Make that difference to someone this week. Acknowledge the people on the street – what you think you see at first glance can be an illusion.

Ruth Lee

Monday, 6 November 2017

Small Acts of Kindness - Now not so small...

Back in January 2015 during the coldest few days of the winter Lynne Misner experienced the horror of living in a house without heating. 

Living in a house without heating turns a lovely warm home into a cold, grey and uncomfortable place. It's like going from a colourful world to a black and white one, where everything you do is tainted by the feeling of being cold and trying to stay warm.

In this heightened state of awareness Lynne caught sight of a newspaper article stating that many elderly people on a fixed income often have to make the choice between heating and eating. In the 21st century Lynne questioned why do we still have this going on?

Often from a place of discomfort we see and experience things differently and after scouring the Internet Lynne spotted an "unfulfilled need" and then got very busy.

Gift packs for anyone over 55 who was having to make the choice between heating their home or eating. 50 packs in the first year... 2,000+ in the second and 4,500+ this year...

What was a small act of kindness has now turned into a very large act of kindness and it is growing all the time. The initiative has led to a huge community of volunteers who help out with packing days and managing the logistics of what is now a substantial organisation.

Small Act of Kindness works with the council, local businesses, other community groups and charities... plus they connect together lonely and vulnerable people... working together this is the start of rebuilding community which is vitally important and sadly lacking in this busy busy world we live in.

Below is a short interview with Lynne... the passion and the energy is self evident. Amazing to hear how far this project has already come... there is more work still to do in Hertfordshire... and then? ... maybe supporting the initiative throughout the country? ... It would be a braver man than I to bet against it!

World Premature Day - Audrey Mitchell

This month of November is our month as we celebrate World Premature day!

Events are dotted around on our facebook page. We still would love to keep supporting others like us, so anyone affected by Prematurity please do to join us.

Christmas of 2010 was the worst time ever as a family, our daughter at one month had already had a major surgery to close the whole in her heart PDA ligation two days before christmas.

What should have been a celebration that she would be given a better chance of survival left us watching her go into renal failure post op and being transferred back to her unit, to wait and see on Christmas eve. 

From then on we realised the true meaning of life never to be taken for granted, and have realised the how to offer hope. Hence this Christmas we would like to give Hope to families who spend time during Christmas in NICU by giving them gifts of Hope! We can't do this without your help.

The Month of October saw the founders of HertsPrems Rebekah and Audrey nominated for the Woman of Purpose Awards at the London Docklands Double Tree Hotel on the 7 October (video below). This gave us recognition which we never thought possible, we are so grateful for this opportunity.

I had also been acknowledged in my day to day efforts http://www.cnwl.nhs.uk/news/bed-manager-audrey-mitchell-nee-rugge-wins-women-purpose-award/ ... this outlining HertsPrems work till now.

This month also sees the launch of the Gift of Hope Campaign which will initailly be for Luton and Dunstable Neonatal Unit where we had our baby girl in Nov 2010 (born at 23 weeks weighing 1lb3oz / 540g).  She is doing  very well, and we cannot thank enough the Neonatal Intensive care unit in Luton, who proved their worth over and over with their expertise and life saving interventions.

Please support me on my just giving page here

Post  by : Audrey Mitchell