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Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to work we go… July 24, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Life.
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THIS WEEK sees me returning to work at last after a long absence following my close encounter with a piece of cardboard back in April, just as the weather seems to be changing for the better (although after two days of sunshine I can already hear the water company doom-mongers psyching themselves up to declare a state of drought).

Rediscover your local Christian bookshop...It’s been an interesting time, mostly spent updating and developing UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory, alongside catching up and keeping up with friends on facebook; if you’re curious, you’ll find most of the UKCBD updates on the UKCBD blog under Latest Updates. There’s plenty left to do, including adding a whole raft of new entries for shops I’ve discovered that weren’t already listed: despite the economic gloom and the challenges of digitisation/online sales, the Christian book trade is alive and kicking. Whilst some Christian bookshops have gone to the wall, booksellers are fighting back, embracing the challenges and changing with the times, engaging with their customers on facebook and twitter and exploring other routes to market.

I’ve particularly enjoyed and been encouraged by watching Richard Greatrex’s fightback via Aslan Books. Facing redundancy once is bad enough; but to face it twice — first with the SPCK debacle then courtesy of Wesley Owen — and still come back fighting is nothing short of phenomenal: Richard, I salute you. If you, gentle reader, happen to live in the Bath/Bristol area, please make a point of supporting Richard’s enterprises:

Back to work for me, however: it’s a phased return over a six week period initially, working short stints and gradually building back up to full time or a revised contract as the case may be. The emphasis throughout my absence has been on getting me fit for work: there’s been no undue pressure for me to return until I was ready to do so; and in the return to work process, again, it’s all about getting it right for me. I couldn’t have asked for a more helpful attitude from my colleagues and employers.

As for getting to and from work: Bradley Wiggins, look out! Yes, I’ve got my bike out. My ankle isn’t ready for walking to and fro as I always used to, but cycling is another story: in my last physio session, the physiotherapist put me through my paces on an exercise bike and it’s clear that I’m okay for that.

Last but not least, a massive thank you to everyone who has enquired about how I’m doing, to everyone who has sent cards and messages to cheer me along the road to recovery: see you out there, people!!

5 Quid for Life: thankful, exhilarated and terrified all at once! February 1, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Campaigns, Life, Mental Health.
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THIS IS A POST that’s long overdue, that I should have posted about a week ago, and as I finally write it I am thankful, exhilarated and terrified all at once. Thankful to everyone who has risen to the challenge of my 200 People to Save Ali Quant post a couple of weeks ago, to everyone who voted in the poll to choose a name; exhilarated by the enthusiasm people have shown for getting the bigger project envisaged by Ali off the ground; and terrified by the question, What if…?

No such thing as never

No such thing as never

Melissa, over at No such thing as never, gets to the heart of it in her recent post Butterflies and small things: everything — everyone — connects. Every little thing counts: you, me, no matter how inadequate we may feel:

One small change can provoke a hurricane.

I have been trying to hold onto this recognition. To not kill it with scepticism nor lose it in the light of the very real and very enormous challenges that people are facing today.

The fact that a smile can bridge disconnection. That one kind word can stop an angry one. That one person – and another one person – and another one person – can have quite a mighty impact. That what is given to me – I give to the next person – who gives it to the next person – who might one day change the world.

It is this last bit that has really got me thinking. It continually amazes me how interconnected we, as people, are. We see the big ripples but we do not always acknowledge – or recognize – the little ones from which they are made.

We are the little ones. Those of us involved in this project are not millionaires, big business owners, world leaders, but by working together we can send out a ripple that builds and grows until —

Until. That’s what terrifies me. Until what? Until it crashes against the shore, the cliff face of immovable bureaucracy that our government seems to represent; or until it flows around that cliff face, turning it into an irrelevance because this, this little ripple we’ve started, is part of something stronger, something more powerful, something that flows from people’s hearts.

But still that What if…? haunts me. As I commented over at Melissa’s place:

… I look at what I’ve started with 5 Quid for Life and, quite frankly, it terrifies me: who am I to start something like this? On what basis should anyone trust me or anyone else in the group? And what if it doesn’t work? What if we end up with people crying for help and we’re not ready or we don’t have the funds available? What if, what if…?

But then I look at the other side of the equation: if it does work — wow! We may not be able to change the world — but we can change someone’s world! And — well I guess it brings me back to my new year’s post: New Year’s Risk: Adjusting my sails. Amazing to think we’re still in the same month that I posted that — and didn’t have a clue that this might be where it would lead. I’m feeling all blown away now…

Risk. I guess that’s what life is about; and right now, I can feel the wind in my sails…

… which brings me to the name poll results:

5 Quid for Life: Campaign Name Poll Results

5 Quid for Life: Campaign Name Poll Results

It was a three horse race, with 5 Quid for Life and Safety Net Trust neck and neck followed closely by The Real Big Society. In the discussions that followed we threw out the Big Society option, not wanting to tie in too closely to something identified with a particular administration: whilst I guess most of us involved in the project do have pretty strong political views, this is not a political project; it is, rather, something that transcends politics, an idea that I hope anyone, of any political persuasion or none, can take hold of.

So we took the two winners and combined them: 5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net was born. It’s early days yet: as I said in my introductory post, there are still a lot of details to hammer out. But we’re getting there; and I — I am thankful, exhilarated and terrified.

Join me for the ride, if you will: we’re on facebook and twitter too. You may not be able to commit to the £5 per month we’re asking for, but you can still stand in solidarity with us, with people like Ali whose lives are in jeopardy. You too can be part of this ripple and help it become a wave.

Thank you.

5 Quid for Life? In Search of a Campaign Name January 16, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Appeals, Death, Life, Mental Health.
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FOLLOWING ON from my 200 People to Save Ali Quant post — to which the responses and enthusiasm have been amazing: thank you all — we’re now looking at a wider brief, at Ali’s request

How about if, instead of making this a let’s help Ali thing, how about a more general let’s help everyone thing? … let me explain my thinking: the reality is, as many of you will know, that I’m not the only one who’s made a deletion plan in case I fail my assessment. Over the past year or so (and obviously more in the past few days) I have heard from different sources of literally hundreds of people who feel the exact same way I do, this is just from people coming and directly telling me “I feel like this” or “I have a friend who says…” there must be thousands more that I haven’t had direct contact with. I’m nothing special, I’m not some kind of extreme case and I haven’t done anything to deserve to be singled out. All I did was write a blog post out of sheer despair, I thought I was so near the end that I had absolutely nothing to lose so I may as well write about it. So why not make some kind of central fund, not necessarily asking for a monthly donation to support people in that way but just a fund that could be used for anyone in my situation? It could be used to help people if they fall over at any stage of claiming benefits, to give people a safety net for example to help out while they’re appealing or if they haven’t been able to attend all the work-focused interviews and get sanctioned.

… and over at the facebook group we’ve been having all sorts of discussions about how to take the idea forward. The first thing we need is a campaign name, a name to grab the public imagination. This post is your invitation to help us choose one: the poll below lists some of the names suggested so far but please feel free to offer other suggestions in the comments. If you’re wildly enthusiastic about a particular name, tell us why in a comment or — even better — post about it on your own blog/facebook/twitter and link to us here to encourage your friends to join in.

The poll will remain open for three days initially, but I’m happy to review that depending on how the conversation goes. Now get voting, please:

  • Special thanks to Kate White, who suggested most of these.

Phil’s Twitterguide March 7, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Technology.
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twitterAre you twittering? If not, why not? It’s a superb communication tool: in two words, twitter connects — and if you’d like to follow me on twitter, you’ll find me here: twitter.com/notbovvered

It has its limitations, of course: tweets — twitter updates — can only be 140 characters long; but you’ll be amazed at how much info you can pack into 140 characters when you put your mind to it. It forces you to focus, and I’m lovin’ it.

I’m lovin’ finding out about it too so here goes with some of my favourite links and resources so far. I’ll add more from time to time as I twitter along — feel free to make your own suggestions either via twitter or in the comments here. Now, what are you waiting for? Get twittering!

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