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