Friday, 7 December 2018

Link4Growth is here to serve the community in SWHerts

Link4Growth has been present in South West Herts for 7 years now... The organisation which is now an Association (has been for 18 months) is not one to shout about itself. Generally it goes about its purpose quietly and discreetly with intent.

The main purpose of Link4Growth is to create spaces where people can come together, without any agenda and have conversations, everything starts with a conversation... By bringing people together from all walks of life we can learn about those that live in our communities and find ways to help and support each other. Conversations lead to people taking action.

Link4Growth shares local good news, writes stories about wonderful local initiatives and the people behind them, and opens doors for new connections and collaboration opportunities. So do get in touch if you have a story to tell! The Community Hub Website can be found here.

However there might be a few things that you didn't know about Link4Growth ...

What is Link4Growth?

A decentralised leaderless Association, owned by its members (those who have been a friend of Link4Growth for over 14 months),  to nurture conversation and empower us to contribute to co-creating a more sustainable future that serves us all.

Link4Growth encourages people to take responsibility for their lives. Through conversation and the extensive knowledge in the community we can learn about anything from Health and Wellness, through to business development, finance, and even spirituality...

Main Ideologies

Non Political
Non Religious
Not for profit, with no assets, no directors, no shareholders, and no desire to make money
All about People and Relationships

4 Types of Growth for ourselves

Grow ourselves (personal development programme)
Grow our personal network
Grow our own business
Grow our communities we live in

Those wishing to participate often align with...

  • Being the best version of themselves
  • Striving to become a great human being
  • Seeking happiness through doing what we love

We aspire to uphold the 7 Principles of Link4Growth

  1. everyone is important
  2. everyone should be respected
  3. everyone should be able to contribute
  4. everyone should be heard
  5. everyone has value
  6. everyone is equal
  7. everyone is on their own journey

The behaviours we practice...

  1. Don't tell people what to do, we encourage people to unfold their own lives
  2. Only share our perspective when given permission to do so
  3. Give unconditionally without expecting return
  4. Facilitate creating spaces where people Can come together and are free from pressure to meet the needs or expectations of others

Growing ourselves...

By attending events, being present and engaging in conversation we can begin to learn from others (and share what we know). As trust develops between people our curiosity enables us to make minor changes in our lives (if we choose too) and over time significantly grow ourselves... most of us aren't even aware that this is happening.

Candle Making
Link4Growth could be considered a playground to try new things out in a supportive, nurturing environment without fear of being judged. Anything from sharing our own skills (presenting),  taking responsibility for an event, public speaking, or even honing social media skills to help out Link4Growth before applying to your own projects. 

There really is something for everyone... a walk with friends in Cassiobury Park? ... or joining a mentoring group with 5 other local businesses to grow your business...  do check it out... people are growing, meeting new people, and having a lot of fun all at the same time... it can be quite lonely out there, Link4Growth is totally inclusive; all are welcomed...

Final Words...

Link4Growth operates entirely from those that choose to support the organisation. The Association is very 'lean', rather than ask the question "How are we going to raise the money to do this?", we ask, "How can we do this without any money?". Once you ask for money then you must report to the masters who lent it!

As such the organisation operates solely on the Subscriptions from the "Friend's of Link4Growth" and the members of the "Business Development Network" known as Link4Business.

This means that its destiny and its continuation rests entirely within the Association's own hands. It can't be shut down by an exterior body... it isn't registered with companies house or the charities commission... the future lays with those who have been Friends of Link4Growth for 14 months or more... 

Operating a Leaderless, self sustaining model means Link4Growth is here for the long haul to provide a safety net of Kindness and Compassion for those that need it... By operating physical events to build community in the real world... and... online through social media and our recently launched forum where we bring like minded people together, wherever they are.

Why not join us... You might just get hooked! 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

A whole load of fun making candles

On Tuesday 6th November 2018 we had our first 'proper' session experimenting with making candles with candle making instructor Ruth Lee. 

This is one of a number of practical "Learning Sessions" covering a range of different topics that people with experience and knowledge would like to share. We already had a Soap making session, click the link to read more about that, and also a Liver Cleanse session. Practical Learning Sessions are beginning to ignite the imagination and already a range of new sessions are under discussion. Look out for more coming soon.

Back onto the candle making... We began by melting the wax in a stainless steel container ready for creating dipping candles. Basically a long thread of wick is repeatedly dipped in liquid wax. On each successive occasion more wax solidifies around the wick until a tapered candle is the end result. Ruth also showed us how to create twisted candles using this technique.

During the process a delivery of additional candle making equipment and more wax appeared so that we could experiment with pouring, colouring and moulded candles. There is a huge amount of options and variations in the types of candles that can be made, the waxes that can be used, colours, scents and how they can be decorated. The only limitation appears to be your imagination and... how much you practice.

Is candle making dangerous? Well you are using a substance which is hot... yes candle wax does cool quickly however it requires a certain level of respect. A good friend and local business owner Michael Morgan (Safety Action Services) has written a Health & safety document for Ruth which we want through. Most of it common sense but useful to be reminded of course.

It's not all work and no play at this session though as you will see from the video below. Actually candle making is huge fun and with Christmas coming up, birthdays, gifts for occasions, candles are always warmly welcome. I don't know about you but bright lights have never been my thing, give me the soft gentle glow of a candle (or a lot of candles) it immediately brings a warmth and completely different atmosphere to any room

We also had a go at recycling old candle glasses and T-Lights with a bit of dedication you can re-wick these and pour wax to refill and produce a whole host of new candles quickly and easily. Surprisingly you can use a lot of equipment you probably already have in your kitchen, but as with anything the more you get into it the more investment you might decide to make on your new hobby...

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Homeless Warriors Watford

It has been a busy month for Stephen, Ruth and all the team art Homeless Warriors Watford... this is an update mainly acquired through posts on their Facebook Group ; Homeless Warriors in Watford


Stephen announced the Linkup with GoKula a few weeks back, GoKula takes in food that would be going to waste and cooks Vegetarian food on a pay as you feel basis, but notably for the homeless on a Monday with free food.. Part of the One Vision project to bring together those local entities that are working on similar areas to collaborate and support one another. The announcement post here... Stephen explains how this project will benefit both parties. Stephen will be helping out on a Monday and looking after the "Ins and Outs" of people looking to enjoy some rest, respite and some hot food / drink.

This linkup provides Homeless Warriors with a central drop off point too for donations and a central location that will enable Stephen to build a real presence in the town and grow trust between those on the streets and those looking to support them.

This next post is a recent update from Monday 29th October after the first shift at GoKula. Lots of Hats, socks and Gloves given out and as many as 90 people served with food...

CEO Sleepout

The CEO Sleepout has been organised for the 26th November 2018 at the Watford Rugby Club on Radlett road. The idea is that either large companies sponsor their CEO to sleepout or groups sponsor together an individual to participate. Each business / group commits to £1500 of donations. There is an opportunity to sponsor individually if you want to support this sleepout and donate any amount and the link for the just giving page is here... Please give generously.

Watford Weekly Biz Quiz

The Watford Weekly Biz networking group  who meet at the Woodside indoor bowling club nominated all proceeds from their annual quiz night to the Homeless Warriors in Watford Group.

Previous nominations have included the Michael Green Foundation and the Waterways Experiences in Kings Langley. The Weekly Biz group have members who are trustees involved with DENS (homeless project in Hemel) so are already acutely aware of the Homeless challenge. Once Ruth Lee had updated the group with all the work that has
been going on in Watford they had no hesitation in nominating Homeless Warriors in Watford as the beneficiary. Almost £200 was handed over on the night to Stephen and Ruth.

Here is a link to other pictures taken on the night...

CIC Development

The CIC status has been awarded! The team is known for taking action and the presence of bureaucracy has been a particular challenge... however with diligence and patience Homeless Warriors in Watford has finally achieved their goal... Now in place fund raising will be much simpler as people will finally be able to identify the efforts with an understandable label... ah the challenges of trying to do good work in the community!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Sunday Walk and Talk

Picture courtesy of Jacqui Dee
A chance to get out once a month and enjoy the "Jewel in Watford's crown". Between 1 and 3pm every 4th Sunday of the month you can join others on a Sunday Walk and Talk. A chance to stroll around what is one of the most beautiful parks in the country; right on our doorstep.

For two hours we take in all that Cassiobury Park has to offer whilst enjoying vibrant conversation with our fellow walkers. So often when we speak with others we are facing each other in chairs, inside buildings. It is very different when we walk side by side in the outdoors.

The avenue to the River Gade & Canal
Conversations this Sunday ranged from discussing the majesty of mother nature, the rapid arrival of Winter from Summer seemingly still here just a couple of weeks back, to... Education, History, Lifestyle, Money, living on the canal, housing, money, travel, history of Watford... and lots more besides.

There is something magical and very different about the conversations when in nature... maybe it is nature itself that promotes a different kind of energy, but the crisp air of mid Autumn, the beautiful surroundings and the sun shining can't help but give you a lift.

Cassiobury Locks
The Sunday Walk and Talk takes place every 4th Sunday. Meet up 1pm at Cha Cafe and we progress from there... next time will be Sunday 25th November.  We'll be walking along the canal and then back through Whippendell woods.

You can book to join us here... it is free to come along... we look forward to seeing you...

Looking across to the bandstand from Cha Cafe

Not like other networking….

Four years ago I went to my first L4G event. I remember it well, it was a curry evening in North Watford and I went along with a friend who I knew from another networking group.

Well, it was a good evening, we met a nice bunch of people, had a great chat but it certainly wasn’t like the other networking events I’d been too.

We’d gone along with our business cards and an expectation that we would spend the evening talking about our businesses. Although we did end up giving out our cards, the whole thing seemed a bit airy-fairy. To be honest, I couldn’t see that I was going to get anything out of it!

Four years on L4G has evolved a lot and so have I. I have done a lot of networking in the intervening time and have settled on the networking mix that works for me; a women’s networking group and a number of the events run by South West Herts L4G.

Focusing on how L4G looks today there is so much on offer for business owners and less structured events where you can meet like-minded people and have an interesting chat over a coffee. Behind it all is the original idea of building community and as friendships develop the events become networking at its best. Nobody does any hard selling – it’s all about making connections, finding out what other people do and how you can help each other. When everyone goes along with the same attitude it’s a win-win for everybody.

Specifically for business there is Link4Business the BDN – Business Development Network – with the option of attending one evening meeting and one morning meeting a month.

Additionally there are learning sessions on a vast range of topics including sessions, such as; how to be more effective with your social media, set up payment buttons for customers to pay you, designing a Mailchimp newsletter and many more.

New learning sessions are now happening where people can share a wide range of their skills. Recently I went along to a soap making ‘Learning Session’ and really enjoyed making pure soaps with no nasties! … and now I hear there is to be a candle making ‘Learning Session’ too.

Also, as part of Link4Business we now enjoy peer support mentoring groups (OMG’s) where six business owners can put their heads together to help each other with the business challenges they face. The Mentoring is included in Link4Business so there is no more to pay, and for the learning sessions it’s up to you, you pay according to the value you have received.

Learning Session Room
I was so wrong 4 years ago when I thought there wasn’t anything in it for me. I have learnt so much and realise there is huge potential in collaborating with like-minded people. If we get to know each other, through networking, we will find everyone’s particular strengths and how much synergy there will be when we put our heads together and create new initiatives.

We all have skills we can share, we are mostly sole trader entrepreneurs and can help each other out, and through collaboration great things can happen. Who knows what you might learn and who you might meet along the way.

Thank goodness L4G is not like other networking groups, it is so much more. There is amazing potential to build on what has been achieved so far and create and develop initiatives together to boost our local communities and our businesses too.

Written by : Caroline Byrne

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Soap making 'Learning Session' in Watford

Sharing knowledge is really important. We all have so many skills that we pick up in our lives and yet rarely do we have the chance to share those skills.

When we share skills we are blessed with the gift of being able to empower others to do what we can already do. If we can also do that at an affordable price, everyone wins... so...

Soap Making with Greg Duda

Greg was on his way back to Peru and decided to stop by to visit a friend for a few days in Watford (that's another story). Greg it turns out is a bit of a chemist enthusiast and has been making soap for a while now... so... we invited Greg to teach us how to make soap... cold, hot and although we didn't have time... liquid soap too...

The Chemistry Lesson

Before we began mixing up the soap ingredients, Greg talked us through the different types of soap and how it is possible to combine the various oils for hardness, bubble production, moisturising, and fragrance and then how to introduce colour into the mix.

Basically soap is the chemical reaction between Oil and Lye (sodium hydroxide) ... it is pretty magical really... and very simple to do but getting the right quantities of ingredients together to achieve the result you are looking for is quite a complex calculation... however... help is at hand! ... Greg introduced us to a website that takes most of the hard work out of this and in the end gives you a simple list of ingredients and the quantities for the oils you want to use and the quantity of soap you want to make!

Into the Kitchen

Ok... the Lye used in Soap making is caustic soda, and so long as handled with the care and respect it deserves this will be a very safe process. Digital scales down to the Gram is advisable and although a gram either way is ok, accuracy is important in Soap making.

We started off making the cold soap. Very simple... once all the ingredients are measured out mix the oil with the lye until totally blended together... colours can be added at this stage... then the liquid soap is poured into the soap mould to harden (cure).

With hot soap making... the mixing together of the ingredients is undertaken in a hot environment... we used a saucepan as a hot water bath, then a smaller container inside which is where we mixed together the ingredients. We added some scented oil pretty much to the end of the process and this method tends to provide more flexibility for final adjustments and tinkering of the soap properties. When the hot process finishes you pretty much have usable soap. Much quicker than the cold process... which requires 24-48 hours to cure.

Final words

I never really thought about making soap before, however, with no harmful chemicals in the soap... a very high level of bubbles, great oils (coconut / olive), very natural and moisturising too... plus....with essential oil scents of your choosing... this is something anyone could do actually... Our skin is our largest organ through which we absorb many chemicals (daily), these soaps are much kinder to our skin and bodies.

A very informative and interesting session from Greg... who is now firmly ensconced back in Peru... it was a really enjoyable 1/2 day... if you missed it... well now you can learn from some of the attendees... I am sure this will be run again soon! 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Interview with Watford Mayor - Peter Taylor (5 months in)

It's not easy being the Elected Mayor of any town I am sure, and Watford is no exception. 5 Months into the role and I managed to catch up with Peter Taylor to ask a few questions about how it has gone.

Following on from Mayor Dorothy (16 years was it?) was always going to be a challenge, whether you liked the previous mayor, supported her, or were opposed, a lot happened and more was already in the pipeline.

Peter not only had to transition from his job, but has had to pick up and keep a whole series of spinning plates whilst getting around to meet people and getting to know what he has inherited in the borough. Inevitably Peter's feet have barely touched the ground... and yet he has managed to increase the engagement with local people to 3 times the level of his predecessor...

Below Peter talks openly about some of the challenges, but also you get a sense of his real desire to provide the people of Watford with what they want for the town. The whole "Mayor's Office" is now much more accessible that ever before with the inclusion of highly active social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Watford proudly has 12 Green Flag Parks
Peter highlights that the key to this role is about communication. If people can easily access the Mayor, communicate fears, concerns... and more importantly suggestions or improvements then there really is a chance for everyone to participate in forging a town that works for all.

But it is not all going to be plain sailing. Unfortunately (and most would want otherwise I am sure) the town is also subject to Central Government initiatives. One such major directive that is dealt out to the town is around housing. Although Watford is one of the smallest boroughs in the country (2nd smallest) it has an ambitious housing development programme being thrust upon it... after all... who wouldn't want to live in Watford!

... attempting to meet the needs of the people of Watford whilst complying with central government is a challenge Peter and his team will need to face in the not too distant future... so please ensure that you have your say about the town's 2036 strategy and planning document. This is currently being formed and opportunities to voice your opinion are being held around the borough. This document will ultimately be the basis upon which many decisions will be taken up to 2036...

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Watford Homeless Warriors

I’m writing this on a bright, beautiful evening It it now September and the start of my favourite season – Autumn.

I love the bright sun and the cool, crisp evenings. Things don’t stay that way unfortunately, and the transition to Winter can be all too brief. With that comes mild discomfort for some (scraping ice off the car window) and bitter conditions for others – the people sleeping rough in Watford.

I’ve put together a brief list for this newsletter – please do visit Watford Homeless Warriors Ltd Facebook Page for more up to date posts on specifics:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Tents
  • Duvets
  • Hats
  • Boxer shorts
  • Ladies underwear – range of sizes
  • Socks
  • T shirts/Sweatshirts/Hoodies/Jumpers – general warm clothing
  • Trainers – mens and women’s – various sizes
  • Leggings – even worn if in good condition and washed
  • General camping equipment
  • Wetwipes/toiletries/washbags.

Nice things! Holiday size moisturiser/handwash/foundation samples etc. Living on the street doesn’t stop you from wanting to smell nice/look nice!!

Don’t forget that Stephen is a drop off point for the Red Box project.

If you haven’t got any things that you can donate, please consider a contribution to our funds:

We have lots of events coming up but too many to squish in this time!! Just a reminder to vote for Stephen Russell in the Watford Observer volunteer awards:

Thank you so much for everything you are doing! Massive thank you to Watford Weekly Business who are supporting us in so many ways – what a big-hearted bunch they are!!

Written by : Ruth Lee

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Walk in the Park and the Community Gospel Choir

Yesterday was the first instance of the Link4Growth "Walk and Talk" event in Cassiobury Park. A bank holiday weekend too sounded the alarm bells about the weather but as the saying goes "There is no such thing as inclement weather just inappropriate clothing".

At 1pm we assembled at the Cha Cafe... it was raining at the start as it was raining at the end of the walk... but the conversation was both varied and lively... Here are a few of the topics discussed but are just a handful of what I can remember...

"Sustainability, Farming, Seeds, Bermuda, Honduras, Poland, Hungary, Britain, London,  Community, Events, Oil, Canals, History of Cassiobury, Watford, Education, Books, Cooking, Technology, Weather (of course), Cassiobury country show (very quiet)... politics of course scraped in there eventually, a bit about 'anarchy' and the problems of the global economy, oh and Brexit too!"

So a wide range of topics as we walked past the Cassiobury country show... at about 11-12c, raining and a stiff breeze, the car park was very empty and the country show was understandably very quiet. We stopped to chat for a bit, and they were hoping for better weather on Bank holiday Monday (show was open for two days).

As we approached the bandstand it looked like the Community Gospel Choir was about to pack up and go home... had we missed the performance? With it still raining they'd almost given up any hope of people coming out to listen... we decided to stay a while and provide an audience "such as we were" at least someone to sing to. There was enthusiastic banter as the choir robed up and we made our presence felt with total appreciation for their dedication and what was a great performance.

The Gospel Arts Manna Choir practices in the Asda Community Room (North Watford) on Tuesday evenings from 7:30pm for those that might like to enquire... 

Sadly after another 75 minutes... the cold, the hunger and 'nature calling' we made our way out of the park... The first Walk and Talk event a great success... we finished circa 3:15pm ... another event next month on the 23rd September 2018... come and join us...

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Learning (and implementing) new skills made easy!

It's easy when you know how...

Many of us are constrained in what we can do by the knowledge we have. Everything is difficult and time consuming when we are struggling to understand things.

The challenge when we are starting out is that we don't even know what we don't know. There are plenty of people offering fabulous workshops and training, but how do you know if it is what you need and whether at the end it is going to make any difference.

Actually... all the training you will ever need is on the Internet. With unlimited time you could find out all you need without spending any money at all. What you won't discover though is what gaps you might need to plug for your business, how to go about it, a time line and a strategy designed for you, and... which applications (online tools) might serve you better than others.

In the normal course of events you might need to attend quite a few workshops and / or employ the services of a marketing strategist which might start to add up in terms of costs.

Keeping the costs to a minimum

In South West Herts there is something going on a little different to help you acquire the skills and knowledge you need. We believe that...

  • Price shouldn't be a barrier for people to pick up knowledge
  • Availability of a variety of "Learning Sessions" means we can obtain a broad range of skills 
  • We all have expertise and knowledge that others might need. We encourage all to share 
  • Each learning session provides a unique experience applied to your unique business
  • Small groups allow us to grow together and deepen our local business connections

All Learning Sessions are provided on a "Pay according to the value you received" ... that might be £0, £5, £10, £20 or £50 ... whatever you feel comfortable with.

Dedicated facility

We are now just about to complete the setup of our dedicated Learning Facility ready for September. Complete with Workspace (8 attendees), Power, WiFi, Whiteboard, Flipchart, Projector, Air Conditioning... all in a quiet and chilled environment.

Monday is Learning day

Monday's are dedicated to the "Learning Sessions". Keep an eye on the diary via the website here. Learning Sessions are all 90 minutes long. There are normally three 'session times' although in any given week not all sessions might be utilised. 
  1. 10am - 11:30am
  2. 12:00pm - 1:30pm
  3. 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Tuesday is "Take Action - Do it" Jelly day

Many of us go on Workshops, get inspired and then... we get home full of enthusiasm only for life to begin sucking that all out of us as soon as we walk through the door... 

The days pass... then the weeks and we realise that we have forgotten most of what we were shown / learnt... with enthusiasm ebbing away and our memory failing us it is no wonder that most of what we learnt never gets implemented.

....... NO MORE!

Learning Session on the Monday... TAKE ACTION on the Tuesday with the "JELLY". From 9:30am - 4:00pm get along and implement the things you learned on Monday. Maximum of 10 people in the Learning room... a day of fun working with others; also wanting to fast track their business.

With a specialist always there to handhold you through any problems you might encounter and which would stop you in your tracks on your own, you will be surprised what you can get done in a day. 

Setting up Newsletters, streamlining your LinkedIn profile, creating Facebook pages... setting up groups, creating your GMail account, writing content for your website, blogging, Twitter implementation... or just working alongside others rather than alone at home... 

It's a fun day of 'Massive Action' ... go for the whole day or part of the day just £10 ... bring your own lunch and drinks... coffee / tea making facilities available

Final Words

With the new school semester starting in a couple of weeks... why not get yourself some new skills and take some things that have been in the "too difficult" pile done and dusted...

If you would like to be kept up to date with all things SWHerts and join in the conversations... then just join the Facebook Group here... 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Update on homeless warriors in Watford

It has been a busy few weeks and with the weather being so hot we have handed out nearly 1000 bottles of water, kindly donated by a company on Imperial Way who heard my talk at Stanborough Church.

Staying with the Stanborough Church we have a meeting on the 14th August with the Pastor, the church's youth group and deputy mayor of Watford. They have kindly offered their support to Homeless Warriors by helping put some survival kits together for our street friends and for those in shelters / venerably housed.

They have even ordered another cycle trailer as mine is getting a lot of use. Having two will make things a lot easier.

Myself and Ruth Lee met with Peter Taylor the Mayor of Watford to discuss our ideas and see how we can work more closely together to improve things for the homeless in Watford.

Warriors now includes a new organisation brought to fruition with the help of Ruth Lee. This organisation is called Homebrella. We are aiming to bring all the small projects and individuals in Watford into one communication network. This will enable us to improve effectiveness and opportunities to support one another.

An Example of how we could use such a network is when a small supermarket experienced issues with their fridges; food was in danger of being thrown out. Fortunately we managed to hear about this and saved most of it, with a network of people working together we could have probably saved it all!

So as you can see a lot is happening and along with all of the above we are also in the process of becoming a no profit community interest company (CIC) which will enable us to fund raise and approach business's for support. We are planning a fund raising launch disco and a sleep out too. Discussions are well under way with a company that organises such events.

We also held our first awareness event at GoFest which was held at Stanborough Park during July, a great success with plenty of interest and offers of support.

We are hoping that this is the first of many events and with a view to selling items for additional fundraising purposes. Warriors have some big plans for the future but slowly and surely to ensure that the support goes where it is needed most.

An Amazon wish list has been set up for those who wish to buy an item to donate. Just click on the link to visit and see how you can help.

We also have a Paypal account for donations which you can pay through

Only through working together can we change the Stigma

Written by : Stephen Phoenix Russell

Sunday, 1 July 2018

We are what we eat? Well it is a great start anyway...

Thanks to Sainsburys for
sponsoring the event 
There is no doubt about it... something is seriously wrong with what we are eating. Yes of course the air is more polluted, the food is being genetically modified, and there are chemicals that are used in vast numbers in the food we eat. Given all of that... we still have plenty of opportunity to make choices.

Whether our choices are because advertising is getting us with the next KFC, McDonalds, Pizza... or...  that we have just abdicated our responsibility for taking care of what we eat, believing that the food industry's primary concern is our nutrition and well being. We of course know that is not the case. Perhaps we don't know why so many people are obese and / or struggling with health related issues like diabetes, and we've decided... we'll only worry about it if it happens to us.

Consider this... our cells replicate in vast numbers each day... the only way they can do this is with the right combination of nutrients and minerals. They come from what we eat in the main... or what we put on our skin. If we're not putting in good stuff... then the output wont be good either.

Last Friday I was invited to an event at Watford Central Library. This was hosted by Rachel Dimond who runs an organisation called My Yard. Rachel does a huge amount of community work in many ways but My Yard has taken on a really important job.

Those helping to make the event a great success
My Yard takes fruit and veg from supermarkets where it is getting past its prime and combines this with other fruit and veg to produce Veggie Boxes. Many of these are sold to provide funds to give the same boxes to those in dire need, and who really need some support.

Rachel had also brought along too speakers... Radio 2 Presenter and Author on all things health (especially nutrition) :  Janey Lee Grace,  the other : Jamuna Haim who is a iridologist and Nutritionist previously working at Champneys.

Salad lunch preparation
Sainsburys sponsored the whole event with a wide selection of fruit and vegetables some of which was transformed into a fabulously healthy salad based lunch... the remainder we were invited to take away and make some delicious food for ourselves.

There is no question that the main messages from the event were... the body doesn't count calories... what it does need is Vitamins, Nutrients and minerals... and... that if we eat a balanced, varied range of colourful in season fruit and vegetables we are well on the way to giving our bodies what they need,

Thanks to Rachel for organising the event, the speakers, Sainsburys, the Watford Library and the support team for making it all happen magically.

The collection of fresh fruit and veg I managed to collect to take home... very delicious!

Adding the SWHerts Networking calendar to your diary (mobile)

On many occasions people have asked, where is the SWHerts Networking calendar? How do I find out about events? ... had I known I would have come, now I have something else on...

Well all of these issues can be removed quite simply by adding the calendar as another calendar to your own calendaring system. This can be Outlook or Google Calendars... or any calendaring application that can accommodate the ICAL standard that has been devised.

Basically what you have to do is add a 'Public' calendar as another calendar to your application.

In Google calendars there is an option to "Add a friend's calendar" do this on the Desktop / Laptop version of the calendar application... There will be a similar option on Outllook and other diary apps.

Once you have selected that option you will be presented a few options that will look like this...

  • New Calendar
  • Browse calendars of interest
  • From a URL
  • Import calendar

You will be needing the From a URL option

Once selected you will be invited to enter a URL with a screen that might look like below

All you need to do now is paste the link below into the URL of calendar and in future all the calendar events that are added to the SWHerts Networking Calendar will be automatically added to your calendar.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Are you a teacher suffering from burnout?

Teachers leaving education because they want to teach not be statisticians!

I've personally met quite a few teachers who loved teaching but sadly, regrettably have had to leave the profession they were so passionate about. Why would you do that?

Pressure, Stress, no free time, no family time, and decisions being made at work you don't agree with. Decisions that attempt to monitor and justify the way education is delivered rather than for the benefit of children and our young adults.

The outcome is "teacher burnout" you can only do it for so long. Ex-Teachers can't possibly return to the education system either "as is" because of what it has done to them. What then is to become of these teachers?

Most ex-Teachers will tell you, they love teaching but they can't go back to that. This is a huge waste of talent and a huge resource that has had billions invested in them.

Entrance stage left : Zarina Mo

Zarina 2 years ago would have read the above and identified with every point. A love of teaching but impossible to even consider a return to an environment that shattered her confidence and brought on depression through continual pressure and stress from an education system at breaking point.

But Kids still need to be taught... Parents are more demanding than ever of their children, and have high expectations (not saying this is necessarily a good thing) of achievement. Hence the rise and rise of Private Tutoring.

Two years on

Zarina has a thriving local Tutoring business. But it hasn't been easy Zarina would be the first to admit. How do you set up a business? What about Tax? What about expenses? How do you advertise, get found and generate business? ... isn't this just leaping out of the frying pan into the fire?

Help is at hand

As a teacher, Zarina has documented all the challenges she has faced over the past two years in getting her tutoring business to thrive and in the spirit of 'giving back' during the summer months (quieter period for teachers) she would like to help others on the same path.

Zarina explains most ex-teachers think that you can't just go out and teach. There must be some authorising body or something, an exam, or a certificate, mustn't there? ... the answer is no. Most teachers went to school... then university and then... back to the classroom again, so there is almost a complete absence of time and experience out of academia.

The bottom line is... if you like teaching, you have students who want to learn, you know what you are talking about, the students improve, and parents / children like you and believe you can help, then you can be a tutor.

Final words

As Zarina explains... one of the worst feelings in the world is when you love doing something and you feel that you won't ever be able to do it again. Burnt out teachers are often in this place...

Zarina can help anyone either going through this burn out phase (or even approaching it) to be able to do what they love without the gargantuan bureaucracy of the education system. Private Tutoring is on the rise and this is an expanding market...

If this is you... or even someone you know, then get in touch with Zarina... it might be the best thing you've done all year!

Zarina Mo
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