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Saturday, 4 October 2014

World Animal Day

Today is World Animal Day!

Please do your bit for the animals of the world today... give food or a treat to a homeless person's animal companion, attend an Anti-fur Demonstration - held most Saturdays throughout the year outside Harvey Nichols branches, details here: http://www.caft.org.uk/

visit http://www.worldanimalday.org.uk/ and see if there is anything happening in your nearest city.

Celebrate your pets and the joy they bring into your life, I know how much love I get from my dog.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

International Rabbit Day

Today is International Rabbit Day!

Use this day to give some extra cuddles to your own rabbits, sign a petition against the sale of angora, or go visit some rabbits at your local animal shelter and take some carrots or other treats for them.

Show some bunny love!

more info here: http://www.cute-calendar.com/event/international-rabbit-day/15659.html and http://rabbit.org/international-rabbit-day/

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Hiatus Continues

Dear Project52 fans and supporters,

My impromptu hiatus from Project52 has continued much longer than planned, this is partly due to hitting a brick wall in the features and charity actions performed by myself for Project52, a little bit of life getting in the way, and also due to on-line studies taking up a larger chunk of my time as well.

Between the last post in June/July and today I have made chocolate cornflake cakes for a Vegan Society UK fund-raiser, handed in the final total for Live Below The Line 2014 (which was over £100 in the end) studied and completed 'How to change the world' in association with Coursera and Wesleyan University, and studied 'Animal Welfare' in association with Coursera and the University of Edinburgh's veterinary school.  I was hopeful that both of these courses would aid me in my ultimate end goal for Project52 - to inspire small acts of change that cost very little to make happen but will have a large positive impact.

As I write this I am preparing to go on what I've called my '30th birthday pop-up tour' and will be away for two weeks, as well as starting more online study into sustainability, comics, fantasy and sci-fi , plants and plant-life, mobile phone games programming, writing fiction and journalism. Hopefully I've not left anything out of the list! I will also be having extensive dental surgery which is also very expensive but necessary rather than cosmetic.

With this all in mind, I am planning to shift Project52 into a new direction, to focus on charity features and awareness more than performing acts of charity (although I'll still be doing those too!) so keep on checking in loyal supporters!

Love,

Pamela

PS. The Taji dolphin hunting season starts soon, so please speak out against it and join in Aug 31st TweetStorm and show the world that the hunting of Dolphins for profit is not welcome. Details in the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/804006629609461/ 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Live Below The Line 2014 Diary

As my personal page for live below the line 2014 is now locked and will be deleted later on this year to create space for 2015's campaign, I thought I'd share the Diary of it in here for anybody who is thinking of taking part in 2015!

Gearing Up! 
12th May 2014 

So here I am! This is my first time taking the live below the live challenge, it will be interesting to see if there are any other outcomes besides me reducing my shopping budget to less than half of what I usually spend on mon-fri foods, and also as a vegan, my recipes won't be the same as the suggested ones!  I predict I will be starving most of the time as I am a big eater and make very generous portions usually.

I am planning to do my 5 days at the start of June, so that I may use this time now to get support and sponsors to cheer me on.

Wish me luck!
 

Looking for sponsors
12th May 2014

well, I have now posted on my twitter (@vegankitten) on my facebook page, in four groups that I am a member of on facebook, of which so far, two people have asked to donate towards my sponsorship (eg give a whole amount rather than an amount for each day I complete without cheating on) which is a great start!

I also keep a blog, http://project52ayear.blogspot.co.uk and a facebook page to accompany it, https://www.facebook.com/project52ayear if anyone would like to see what else I have been up to prior to this challenge, and what I'll be doing from now on.

As I am vegan, some of the suggested recipes will have to be tweaked for me as I don't eat eggs or cheese or dairy yogurt, some vegan yougurt and cheese costs more than the dairy counterparts... but as a frozen banana then blended makes a great ice cream subsitute, I could always do that instead :)

I already have a well stocked herb and spice rack and oils in the house, which means I can use those at cost per portion, which would keep the overall cost down as I wouldn't need to buy any to get me started.

I'm hoping that I will be able to use this experience to show that you can be vegan on a budget as well :)














Gathering supporters pt1
15th May 2014

I've now mentioned this to a few people at work, who have said they will sponsor me next week...we get paid on friday so if I know it's the best time to ask them. I am hoping that my work place will let me put up a sign on the notice board and keep a collection tin in the cash office as we're not allowed to carry money during shift. I don't have access to a printer until the weekend so I can't do sponsor forms until then anyways.

No new online donations yet, but I am still grateful to Clare for donating that first £20 to get me started. I'm on minimum wage, so £20 is a lot of money to me as I earn roughly £25 a day before tax & pension takes their 4%. One thing about this challenge is that I can afford to take part as the £5 budget will make me think about my food shopping habits and to save money too (a bonus)

I've gathered a few people via twitter who I can go to for advice/recipe suggestions... Chickpea curry seems to be popular! I've also started hunting in the shops for the cheapest but sensible options, I found a bag of oats for 49p yesterday, that you can mix with water and microwave. the bag claims to have 12 portions in it, so even if i eat double it's still 10p a time for breakfast, so I will be going back to buy it soon. still not found rice for less than £1 but will keep looking. One thing I haven't seen yet is people using reduced to clear foods. I got a pummet of plums earlier this week for 77p... it had more than 10 in it, which makes those around 8p each. If I can get a similar deal on 2nd June, I can have fresh(ish) fruit instead of biscuit or dry cracker for snacks.

Another tip I did pick up was to check out Jack Monroe. Her recipes are budget friendly, and she also took part in the live below the line challenge. Her guardian article on it is here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/may/01/jack-monroe-one-pound-a-day-below-the-line   and she also recently posted a potato curry recipe that is quite cheap as a whole: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/14/jack-monroe-potato-courgette-curry-recipe If I take out the courgette and corriander, I can make it at 50p a portion which will be quite filling too, that will cover two dinners or a dinner then lunch.  Quite tempted to buy her book actually but wary as there will be meat or fish based recipes in it, as I wont need those. might suggest on her site that she could do a vegetarian cook book as so many of them out there are full of delicious but expensive meals. and I should know...I have 12+ vegetarian or vegan cookbooks at last count Including Rose Elliot and two Linda McCartney's :) Going to go through them all soon to see if they give me any ideas beyond chilli - curry with veg, lentil or chickpea. xx


Started shopping! spent £1.79 so far....
15th May 2014





More shopping and sponsors
17th May 2014

Between Friday and today, I've brought a bag of breakfast oats for 49p, it's a 500g bag and each portion is 40grams, giving me 12.5 portions at 4p a portion (rounded to nearest penny) ... besides typos on my last update, the 1kg of rice, cost me 40p, is 70grams per portion and 14 portions out of it, making it 3p a portion (again to nearest penny) ...which is even better than I first thought! I've also brought some food bags so i can split food up into portions before I begin so that I do not get tempted to put more in than what the packaging states.

I've received another online donation, this time from a member of swap-bot.com, which is a giant online crafts and trading community website, and also £30 in cash donations from 4 of the ladies from Manchester Vegan Society, which is awesome!

This puts me half way towards my goal, and my spending at £2.28, leaving me with £2.72 to spend on more supplies to get me through the 5 days :) 


Nearly finished shopping....
19th May 2014

Since Sunday, I've brought soup - 25p, sweetcorn - 21p, chickpeas tin - 50p, and soya milk, at 59p, but as a bottle normally lasts me 7 days, it means my tea will cost less than 10p a day no matter how many of cups of it I drink. which brings me to £3.83....I've checked out my options for frozen veg and snacks, the cheapest I can find is 75p for frozen veg, and a pack of biscuits... wanted to get fruit but that seems to cost much more! As I already have flour & yeast I could make the flatbreads suggested in the recipe pdfs, at cost per piece or buy a loaf of bread, which seems to be around 50p for the cheapest around here.... I've also received another £7 in online donation and a colleague at work has said she will sponsor me £5, which I will get off her once I have done the challenge! Just two weeks to go now!


Nearly there....
22nd May 2014

I found a packet of rich tea biscuits for 23p, so these will cover my snacks as I can have them with tea... this takes me up to £4.04 though, just enough to buy a bag of frozen veg and then make do with as little spice as possble! which that will be harder for me as I love chillis and hot sauces. so much so I was once bet a tenner that I couldn't eat a whole jar of haberneros chillis (aka jalapenos) ... 5 mins later there was an empty jar, the smell of pickling vinegar and ... well they welched on the bet and brought me a drink instead. ah well. I'll be missing the scotch bonets and bottle of blazing saddles from the fridge.

A dear cousin also donated £10, (awesome Terri!) which brings my total up... now I just hope that one of you reading this will find it in your hearts (or wallets) to donate some spare change to help get my total up. I am really hoping I will reach my £100 target before I start my challenge week on June 2nd. Please make me going without my favourite food addition worth it!

Hey, if I manage to raise even more than my target goal, I will accept any chilli challenge that can be thrown at me (not in the eyes!) providing I do not have to eat meat/fish/animal by-product to do it!


Starting Monday!
31st May 2014

Just need to collect the £5 from my work colleague who sponsored me and I will have passed my initial £100 target that I set when I signed up to take part this year. Hurrah!

I've still not brought my bag of frozen veg, but have since found a reduced to clear bottle of UHT organic sweetened soya milk for 46p, (use by July) making my daily cups of tea even cheaper! and better soya milk to go in it. :D my bf brought the 59p bottle off me so that I could have the money back to my £5 budget. It brings my £4.04 current spend down by 13p to £3.91 YAY! This means I can still have 75p for frozen veg and use more herbs/spices in my cooking! All I need to do now is split my portions up and I'm raring to go!

In my free time, I have also taken up Rainbow Loom ® but unfortunately I'm stuck with other loom brand to use as nowhere sells or has in stock the official loom or bands near me, at £1 a bag of bands. It's keeping me busy and I have started using it to make various objects. I am hoping it will make a good hunger pains distraction! Apart from a few snapped bands, so far so good!



The Night Before
1st June 2014

Just had my last regular meal so to speak, using up what was left of the fresh veg and other stuff that would cost too much to use during this week as I'll be starting my challenge in the morning.

Have measured out 5 x 40g bags of oats ready for breakfast each day, and 10 x 70g bags of rice incase I decide to have rice for both lunch and dinner or add it to something like the vegetable soup to make more of it. the rich tea maths works out at 0.8p a biscuit, so I can have at least 3 a time! 23p for the packet with 29 in it.

I've also had a another larger donation from my friend Kes, which truely takes me over my pre-set target. Woo! Looking at other people's blog posts and twitter feeds, it seems that quite a few also lost a pound or two in weight from doing this, so to see if that is the case, I will weigh myself now and again after the last meal on friday night. I am currently 13 stone and 2.8 Ibs ....  fingers crossed I'll lose a couple.

See you all in the morning!

Pamela xx


Day 1 - Breakfast!
2nd June 2014 





Day 1 - Breakfast!

2nd June 2014

Day 1 - Lunch, snack & Dinner
2nd June 2014 



Day 1 so far....

2nd June 2014

This first day has been harder than I expected. My breakfast oats, which work out at 4p a portion tasted ok without added sugar or anything, so I will keep them as they are. I had this with a large cup of tea, but didnt drink it all. The soup I had for my lunch was a little disapointing. I would normally eat a whole tin to myself and have bread or crackers with it, whereas I only had half and nothing with it. I took a bottle of water with me to work and put 3 rich tea biscuits in my bag in case i needed a snack.

I ate breakfast around 9.30 am, had the soup around 12.15pm and by 2.30pm I felt dizzy, a little sick and my stomach was growling. As I couldnt eat in work, I saved my biscuits for the bus ride back to where I am currently staying. I was really glad I'd had the foresight to put them in my bag as they gave me the energy I needed to get back.

For dinner I made chickpea + mushroom curry using half a tin of chickpeas, 1/4 a jar of curry sauce, 4 mushrooms and some water. I also cooked my 70g of rice in a little too much water! This meal tasted nice enough to me and is very similar to what I would normally go for. I had a 2nd cup of tea, but smaller this time.

I've decided to avoid watching tv lest I see anything that I know will make me crave foods, and to use a shallow bowl for my meals instead of the larger plates I normally use. I had heard that using smaller plates or bowls is a good diet trick as it makes you think you are getting a bigger portion than you are, as there is no space left on the plate, whereas on a bigger plate, the same portion would leave gaps. So, tonight's viewing for dinner was episode 1 of the 2003 anime series, "Bottle Fairy" as an animation is not going to make me want to eat what is on screen.

Cost Breakdown for Today:

  • oats 4p
  • tea 3p
  • soup 12.5p
  • biscuitsx3  0.8x3 =2.4p
  • curry sauce 5p
  • chickpeas 25p
  • mushrooms 5.5p
  • rice 2.8p
  • small tea 2.5p

equals = 62.7 pence ...enough for a few more biscuits later :)

Day 2 so far....
3rd June 2014

After my last post yesterday, I had another cup of tea at 2.5p and 3 more biscuits at 0.8p each, making this extra drink / snack cost 4.9 p , and making the final day's total when I fell asleep come to 67.6 pence over all!

So far today I've had...

A small cup of tea at 2.5p, bowl of breakfast oats at 4p, and for lunch, chickpea & mushroom curry with rice, at 25p for chickpeas, curry sauce at 5p (added water to it) mushrooms at 9p and rice at 2.8p = 48.3 pence for my day up until now.

I have also now purchased a 1kg bag of mixed frozen vegetables from Asda for 75p for adding to meals. This brings my physical spend for the week up to £4.66  :D

For dinner I am planning to eat the remainder of yesterday's soup, with frozen veggies added to it and rice on the side. I estimate this will be 12.5p + (100g of veg) 7.5p + 2.8p making my meal cost 22.8 pence. Entire day would then be  71.1 pence!! I can have more tea and biscuits later if I want to :D

Not sure if it would be cheating to take what I did not use of Monday' £1 to carry over into the week as there's 32.4p left there, but as this is my first year, I better not unless I get really tired / sluggish and need a glass of coke, as my sig. other found a bottle of it for 17p (1.5 litre) so that I could have a glass if I got sick of tea or tap water. Covering all bases.

Promise I'll post pictures later xx

Day 2 - breakfast, lunch & dinner
3rd June 2014


Day 3 ... getting easier
4th June 2014

Hello all!

Update on yesterday, I added approximately 2p worth of pepper + mixed herbs to my evening meal, and had 2 biscuits as a snack later on, bringing yesterday's total up from 71.1p to 73.11pence by bed time.

I was hoping that I would gain another sponsor or two but nobody has done so. Ah well.

Today... well it's getting a little easier now I'm getting more used to it, I've been whipping out the scales for every meal so I know exactly how much is going into it, and my boyfriend made me a price breakdown spreadsheet, which holds the name of everything i have, the price per full unit, the full weight, and the clever bit is if i enter in how many grams i have used it tells me the cost per use, to 3 decimal points! This has made the maths much more exact. On the last day, in the interests of full disclosure, I am happy to provide a screen shot of the spreadsheet in case others want to see what I paid and where for items. It also turns out that what he said was a 1.5L bottle of cola was in fact a 17pence 2 litre bottle! So I had a 400ml glass with my dinner.

I'm still feeling hungry practically most of the day, but the best thing to do is to try to ignore that grumble and get on with things. No real sponsored task is easy, so why would this be? A friend got me a bag of posh dairy free chocolate buttons as a thank you for looking after their cat while they are moving house, so I have those as my treat on saturday when this is over. It's quite sad really as there are so many people for whom the grumbly tummy will never go away, so it makes me more determined and grateful that while I may not have what I wanted in life, at least I have a roof over my head, a safe place to sleep and a full tummy at night.

Ok, today's breakfast was porridge oats, as per usual with a cup of tea, for lunch I cooked 60g of kidney beans with 70g of sweetcorn and mixed it with 70g cooked rice. While small and very light, it was also reasonably filling, and probably one of the easiest things to make in a rush. For dinner, I made a vegetable chilli with 200g chopped tomatoes, 64g of sweetcorn, 60g kidney beans, 100g frozen veg, way too much water added to make the sauce.... and a pinch of mixed herbs and a heaped tea spoon of chilli powder (I'd call it 5p on herbs n spices combined) with 400ml of cheap cheap cola.

Breakfast tea & oats = 0.064p lunch = 0.178p Dinner = 0.484  making today's total = 0.726p ....rounded up 73p!

Day 3 Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner plus 2 drinks
4th June 2014


Day 4... hmmm....
5th June 2014

Update on day 3, I had a second glass of cola after writing my post, at a cost of 3.4p, making day 3's total up to ... 77p rounded up! :)

Today started off well enough, I had a small cup of tea and breakfast oats as I have done all week, had kidney beans, sweetcorn and rice for lunch and set off to travel to work. Along that journey I was not feeling myself at all. My boyfriend who was driving happens to have diabetes, said the feelings I was describing sounded exactly like when he has a low blood sugar level (he takes insulin for his) so I used his testing kit (it has disposable pins so nothing is ever used twice) and my level came up at 4.6 which is low for me, I am generally in the higher 5's or lower 6's which is the healthy range, so I had to dip into his sweet supply (what he takes when he needs sugar) and ate a mini pack of love heart sweets.(the kind you see in party bags) Based on what he paid for a 3 kg bag of them, they work out at 6 pence each, however I am aware that somebody genuinely living below the line would not have access to these. I did feel much better after I had eaten them... and in an emergency you have to have something. I think the dip in my levels is because of what I have been eating this week as all my fruits and sweet treats have been eliminated from my diet during the challenge.

I got through work ok, and made vegetable chilli with rice for dinner with a large mug of tea and feel a bit more like myself again after eating. I did go a bit nuts with the spices and so I am hoping there is enough of the day's budget left to have a small cup of tea with some biscuits later on tonight.

Today's breakdown....

  • 40g breakfast oats + small tea = 3.9 + 2.5 = 6.4
  • 70g rice, 68g kidney beans + 28g sweetcorn = 2.8 + 6.5 + 3.7 = 13
  • emergency mini love hearts = 6p
  • 70g rice, 100g frozen veg, 200g tomatoes, 70g kidney beans + chilli powder = 2.8 + 7.5 + 1.55 + 6.7 + 6 = 24.55
  • large mug of tea = 3.5

today's total = 53.45 pence rounded up becomes 54p!!

Day 4 Breakfast, lunch & dinner plus drinks
5th June 2014
Day 5 ... almost over now!
6th June 2014

Update on day 4, I did have that small cup of tea plus 4 biscuits I mentioned I was thinking about in yesterday's post, which takes that total up from 53.45 to 59.15  (53.45p + 2.5 + 3.2) which rounds up to 60p by the time my head hit the pillow. no wonder I've been miserable, not even eating to my full allowance!

Day 5 is finally here! This morning I had breakfast oats [40g] and a cup of tea (3.9 + 2.5 = 6.4p ) Potato [176g] & mushroom [22g] curry [110g] with rice [70g] and a 400ml glass of cheap cheap cola for lunch ( 7.7+ 6.1 + 5.0 + 2.8 + 3.4 = 25p ) and finally for dinner I had potato [170g] and mixed veg [100g] Curry [110g] with rice [70g] ( 7.3 +7.5 +5.0 +2.8 = 22.6p)

and finally as an evening treat, a small cup of tea with 3 rich tea biscuits (2.5 + 2.4 = 4.9p )

full total is.... 58.9p or 59p! woo!

To be honest I have been pretty miserable not being able to eat what I want, which is another aspect of being in poverty, you can't eat what you want and will be hungry until the point of shrinking the stomach is reached.... which I doubt could ever happen to me! On the flip side if my maths has not failed I have lost just over 4lbs in weight this week, and went to the supermarket before I made my evening meal without impulse buying! So I now have some fresh peppers and hash browns for tomorrow's breakfast :)  My friend Terry has also donated, which helps to raise my end total even more!

How I have felt this week has not put me off taking apart again in the future should the opportunity arise, however I would not recommend what I have been eating as a diet as I know it was lacking in particular vitamins and minerals, which is very bad despite how low in fat / calories it all would have been. As I never ate the baked beans I had brought either, I can have those tomorrow instead.

See you all again soon!

Day 5 - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, plus a snack!
6th June 2014
The Plug 

I'm Living Below the Line for The Hunger Project
Total raised so far
£154
My Goal
£100
Pamela Berry
WHY I'M TAKING THE CHALLENGE

In today's world, extreme poverty and inequality are unjustifiable and unfair. Live Below the Line demonstrates the problem in a concrete way, while raising money to address the problem. Support me as I live below the line by donating now – your generous support will go towards fighting extreme poverty. I feel that many causes and problems in the world have become invisible. I am taking part to shine some light on what can be done to help.
 
Online Donations Shout Out!


  • Terry King donated 
  • very proud of you xxx
    £10

    Kes Samuelson donated

    Hey Pamela, I like food too much to the challenge myself. Well done! :-)
    £40

    Sarah H donated

    £10

    Amy Cox donated

    Good luck! x
    £10

    TERRI-ANN KAVANAGH donated

    You go girl, love me, Paul and Blue x
    £10

    Laura Aust donated

    I don't think I could ever do this unless I had to - I'm looking forward to your updates as to how it goes!
    £7

    Terry Franks donated

    Best of luck! (";)
    £7

    Zoe Richardson donated

    zoev1975 on swap-bot. Sorry it isn't more. You are doing a truly wonderful thing, best lof luck!
    £5

    Clare Garrad donated

    Well done! I am planning to do this myself in the summer. Just need to block out a week to do it in. 
  • £20










Started shopping! sent £1.79 so far....

15th May 2014
- See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/2014/vegankitten#sthash.A4SQJqxr.dpuf
So here I am! This is my first time taking the live below the live challenge, it will be interesting to see if there are any other outcomes besides me reducing my shopping budget to less than half of what I usually spend on mon-fri foods, and also as a vegan, my recipes won't be the same as the suggested ones!  I predict I will be starving most of the time as I am a big eater and make very generous portions usually.
I am planning to do my 5 days at the start of June, so that I may use this time now to get support and sponsors to cheer me on.
Wish me luck!
- See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/2014/vegankitten#sthash.A4SQJqxr.dpuf
!

Gearing up!

12th May 2014
So here I am! This is my first time taking the live below the live challenge, it will be interesting to see if there are any other outcomes besides me reducing my shopping budget to less than half of what I usually spend on mon-fri foods, and also as a vegan, my recipes won't be the same as the suggested ones!  I predict I will be starving most of the time as I am a big eater and make very generous portions usually.
I am planning to do my 5 days at the start of June, so that I may use this time now to get support and sponsors to cheer me on.
Wish me luck!
- See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/2014/vegankitten#sthash.A4SQJqxr.dpuf

Gearing up!

12th May 2014
So here I am! This is my first time taking the live below the live challenge, it will be interesting to see if there are any other outcomes besides me reducing my shopping budget to less than half of what I usually spend on mon-fri foods, and also as a vegan, my recipes won't be the same as the suggested ones!  I predict I will be starving most of the time as I am a big eater and make very generous portions usually.
I am planning to do my 5 days at the start of June, so that I may use this time now to get support and sponsors to cheer me on.
Wish me luck!
- See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/2014/vegankitten#sthash.A4SQJqxr.dpuf

Gearing up!

12th May 2014
So here I am! This is my first time taking the live below the live challenge, it will be interesting to see if there are any other outcomes besides me reducing my shopping budget to less than half of what I usually spend on mon-fri foods, and also as a vegan, my recipes won't be the same as the suggested ones!  I predict I will be starving most of the time as I am a big eater and make very generous portions usually.
I am planning to do my 5 days at the start of June, so that I may use this time now to get support and sponsors to cheer me on.
Wish me luck!
- See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/2014/vegankitten#sthash.A4SQJqxr.dpuf

Gearing up!

12th May 2014
So here I am! This is my first time taking the live below the live challenge, it will be interesting to see if there are any other outcomes besides me reducing my shopping budget to less than half of what I usually spend on mon-fri foods, and also as a vegan, my recipes won't be the same as the suggested ones!  I predict I will be starving most of the time as I am a big eater and make very generous portions usually.
I am planning to do my 5 days at the start of June, so that I may use this time now to get support and sponsors to cheer me on.
Wish me luck!
- See more at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/2014/vegankitten#sthash.A4SQJqxr.dpuf

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Project52 on... How to Change the world

During my hiatus from Project52 a year, I've been studying 'How to change the world' in association with Coursera and Wesleyan University.

As part of that course I did pop quizzes but also had to write several short essays on the subject. Here are two highlights from that writing. Due to the nature of the course, copyright terms etc I cannot reveal the full essay questions posed, so these are shortened.

 Imagine that you have been put in charge of allocating a considerable amount of resources to address extreme poverty in one region of the world

Deciding how to use aid resources to address extreme poverty, there are three questions that must be addressed. These are:

1. What methods are best to target the three Key points in improving the lives of those in extreme poverty; education, health, economic growth?
  • Look at recent history: what past actions could be improved? Looking at sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest level of extreme poverty globally at 48.5%. The land is dry, largely suffers from drought, with little food, education or health care for it's population.
  • Refering to the Millennium Village Project, as documented by Jeffrey Sachs in his book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. Money was split up and used for: malaria treatment and prevention, free school meals, medicines, fertilisers, tools and seeds for agriculture. This met the three key points above, meals will help students focus on education whilst giving them a positive incentive for attendance. Malaria treatment and prevention, such as the use of treated bed nets will help keep people healthy so they can provide for their families. Finally, the use of seeds and fertilisers, especially heirloom seeds which can be kept after the harvest, and traded or replanted the following season, will ensure that farmers can grow not only what they need for family, extra produce could be sold or traded at markets, leading to an economy for the community.
  • Sanitation, especially that which can be built and maintained by anyone is a necessity.
  • Ask the people what they want to come out of the aid. This will help educate those involved at every step and to promote inclusion with decision making.
2. How to make sure that any aid or resources given will not be squandered or lead to social unrest?
  • Place conditions on the aid, with penalties if these are broken. This way more aid will get through without any "skimming off the top" at a government level.
  • RCTs: Randomised Controlled Trials, as favoured by Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo in Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, RCTs used included self-selection to determine who the most poor in an area were, how people would use malaria nets if they were given them for free, charged full price or at a subsidised price, for example. Using the model of RCTs, tests would be done to determine which villages would be willing to support others once they had their own improvements under way, and who would sabotage efforts using violence, e.g. the slaughter of livestock or the contamination of bore holes. Once results were studied, it could then be determined which villages would make the best candidates.
  • What Works in Development? Thinking Big and Thinking Small by J. Cohen & W. Easterly, the authors discuss malaria nets being used for wedding veils, for catching and drying fish. Is this misuse due to lack of education or mistrust? Education about prevention taught to women (mothers) solves this as it is them who will implement the nets at home.
3. How to make sure that those supported by the aid resources will continue to survive once the aid stops?
  • Education,
  • Economic growth
  • Easily maintained sanitation
 Education will ensure people learn how to take care of themselves with sanitation (hygiene) and medicine. Farmers' crops can be continued for the future using hardier plants with heirloom seeds, for market trading (economic growth) Make it easy for people to educate others, include women and younger people in all key decision making as they will be the ones to maintain developments to encourage equality within the community aided by the resources discussed.
Find ways to assess and then reduce your carbon footprint

Topic 1 >assessing and reducing carbon footprint

As I already have a personal interest in recycling, it seemed a logical next step to take would be to look at my own carbon footprint and that of a few friends in the UK and USA for comparison.

Starting with the two suggested sites, Handprinter.org and Joulebug.com, I found handprinter to be a poor measure as it did not allow for location or lifestyle of the person filling in the calculator. I found it hard to use as I recycle, switch off lights when I leave a room, and consume local produce. These are all things that contribute to having a lower carbon footprint but Handprinter does not consider these. Joulebug is a tool for habit formation encouraging reductions of carbon production and did  not appear to be useful for calculating actual usage. Joulebug would be more beneficial after looking at footprints and identifying where change is needed.

I chose to use Carbon Footprint.com's calculator (http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx) As it gave more accurate results, allowed for the cost of energy rather than units used, for lifestyle information such as transit used and diet. This was simple to use and gave a wider range of results so that people could see how they were doing compared to others in their country and where they may be able to make a sustainable change.

Table of results:  NB All figures are in metric tonnes of CO2e

nameHouseFlightsCarMotorbikeBus & RailSecondarytotalcountry / average
myself0.1200002.522.64UK 9.80
Ms A3.532.202.07005.3113.11USA 20.40
Ms H.Z.0.430.679.76005.9616.41USA 20.40
Ms V.L.D0.3604.73002.717.79USA 20.40
Ms C0.134.490002.667.28UK 9.80
Mr A0.1203.0600.012.575.75UK 9.80
All who took part are all lower than their countries average, and on discussion, all had a 'give myself a pat on the back' mentality when shown their results, so how to encourage reduction and make people care? 

As noted by many academics, people often have a 'not in my backyard' attitude; they will not do anything until the crisis affects them directly. In an interview with E. Kolbert, [A Reporter's Field Notes on the Coverage of Climate change] she recalls John McCain saying "It’s very unclear whether our political system can deal with a problem like this because usually we wait for a crisis and then we deal with the crisis, and that’s just not the way climate change works. You can’t deal with it once the crisis hits."  Looking at other sources by E. Kolbert, such as her report on 'In Galapagos, An Insidious threat to Darwin's Finches' It is clear that even some scientists will wait until an issue has become a problem before they try to solve it, rather than monitoring situations and taking preemptive action against any changes.
In 'Climate Stabilization Targets' report by the National Research Council (USA) it is clear making change now would be better late than never. Change, unless it happens now will be fruitless as it will take years for the carbon to offset on its own naturally once we stop adding to it. This is where Joulebug would become beneficial. Joulebug gives examples of how people can make a smaller footprint, such as sharing showers and using compostors for food waste. Initiatives such as Joulebug will help encourage change today to bring down all CO2e levels before it is too late.





 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

week 25 - getting behind petitions

Hi Everyone!

I'm ashamed to admit I let my day-to-day life interfere with Project52 and missed out on doing a week 24 post.  Tsk Tsk!

As those of you who are regular readers will know, I recently completed Live Below The Line 2014, which I think took a bigger toll on me than I first expected, as I haven't been quite myself, but I'm putting this down to not having all the fresh fruit and veg I usually go through, so I should be back up to speed again soon!

I recently joined SHINE, as a spina bifida sufferer I am hoping the charity will be able to help me, and that I will also be able to help them in October for Spina bifida awareness day. I have attended one meeting and I am hopeful that one day another member will want to guest blog on here to help share their experiences on what can be a very misunderstood or scary condition.

In the weeks leading up to this point, I completed an online course in hyperlocal community journalism, and am now embarking on another course on sustainability as I am keen to learn how Project52 can become sustainable and more beneficial for you, the reader.

As a regular petition signer, I am vocal online on what I support, and am please to announce that two petitions I had signed have had positive outcomes. These are to have the anti-homeless spikes removed from a location in London, and another to have a young lad with autism moved to a specialist team led unit in his home county, as his current one is over 10 hours travel away and as a result has missed out on family life.

If you would like to read about these two petitions or perhaps even add your own signature to them, you can read them here: please-bring-my-son-back-home-bringjoshhome-   and here: -remove-the-anti-homeless-spikes I am pleased that my voice has contributed in a positive way.

This week's 'I want to talk about...' will be about how to write a good petition or spot a well written one with a valid cause. Don't forget to drop by later this week to read all about it!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Week 23 - It's On! live below the line 2014

  I am now in day 3 of my Live Below The Line challenge week, if you want to read up on how I have been doing with it, visit: www.livebelowtheline.com/me/vegankitten So far I have felt hungry. A lot. I have however raised £144 for The Hunger Project UK, so hopefully it will all be worth it.

It has been an interesting challenge, it has made me scrutinize my portion sizes so much so that I am having to weigh ingredients before I cook a meal so that I can work out the cost of it. I have managed to stay under the £1 budget for each day so far, which is good as I thought I'd be pushing it almost every time. My sleep hasn't been effected by it too much, as I have tried to have a biscuit close to bed time so that I do not sleep on an empty stomach, and I may have lost 2 Ibs in doing it to this point, but I have never heard my stomach grumble so much 2 hours after a meal. It would be dangerous to do this on a full time basis as there is no fruit at all in my meals and vegetables are tinned or frozen. I'm really starting to miss having bananas now. It is startling how much we take having a roof over our heads and a full, really full tummy. I may be on minimum wages and not be in the life style or career I planned for myself, but I am feeling more grateful for what I do have. I also have some chocolate saved for Saturday as my reward for the week.

This week is also the start of petitions & protest season here at project 52. As a regular petition signer, I run a facebook group for sharing petitions in, which has until recently been largely unnoticed. I made the mistake of signing and sharing a petition that was aimed at the removal of a band as a headline act at a music festival due to the fact this particular band has been glamorizing bear hunting. I posted that I had signed and shared it in my group for the attention of the petition writers. What followed has been a steady trail of abuse by males my own age or older, mostly for the fact I am a girl, then secondly for admitting to signing it. Despite the fact they themselves will not be in attendance at the festival or are even fans of this band.

This has made it clear to me that while a petition itself can be good thing, it is also important to check just who will be effected by it and if indeed it contains factual information, as many have claimed this petition to be false, and I myself have stumbled upon petitions that are clearly false or misleading as the events they are campaigning against happened years before they were written. Or did not even occur in the first place.  I think for my next feature it will be valuable to those of you who are interested in the role of petitions for a guide to be done, looking at how to write one, how to keep those signatures safe so that others are not attacked for it as I was. And of course, how to deal with trolls that you'll come across if you wish to use social media to share your petition.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

June & July - Petitions and Peaceful Protests


The summer months are often the key time of year for peaceful protests, the weather is good, voting for new parliament / MP's has taken place in the UK, and new policies that effect the residents of the country or state are being brought in for public debate and reaction. This is the time of year that it is not uncommon to find protests and marches taking place on a weekly basis on a country wide or even global scale.

Why Protest?

Peaceful protests are often a very loud and visual way of getting your view point across whilst also raising public awareness for your cause. Project52 would never ever encourage violence at a protest as while those present may feel very passionate for their cause, we as individuals have a right to our own opinions and this right should be respected as free will / freedom of speech.

A positive example of peaceful protesting and a good use for petitions from recent months was the ones held against the use of Angora, taken from the Angora Rabbit, often in an inhumane manner. Many of the protests against the use of Angora held outside stores that stock Angora products were non violent, entry to the stores was never blocked - a suitable distance was always maintained, and petitions against it had thousands of signatures to show that the residents of the UK did not approve of Angora use. As a result, several shop chains stopped ordering new products made from it after being shown the reality of how it is collected. An internet search engine will give you results displaying how it was collected from the rabbits if you are unaware of this particular issue.

Why use Petitions?

A petition is a document or file on which has a key statement about something the author of the petition would like to change. It is then signed by people who agree with that key statement and are willing to declare that agreement.

Petitions are usually kept at an information table during a protest or march sign up location, or in recent years, are hosted on a specialist site, such as Care2 for example, and then shared through social media, collecting digital signatures, names and addresses for the signatures so that it may be verified if necessary at a later date.

Due to the speed and usage of modern technology today, a petition can often surpass it's signature goal within weeks, making it into a viable legal document that can be utilized as a tool for positive change much faster, resulting in the possibility for a bill to be presented in the law houses around the world in a more suitable time frame than previously done.

During the next two months, Project52 will be presenting petition links of interest to the readers (you) that will have been signed by myself, along with background information where ever possible focusing on the petition itself,  along with lists of dates and locations for protests / marches planned by other groups/causes that may be of interest for the readers of Project52.

Together we are stronger, united we stand. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Week 22 - Almost time

Sorry for the delay on this week's post, I have been doing extra hours at work so that I will have more money to put towards the activities I wish to do for the latter half of this year in regards to Project52ayear. This has left me a little frazzled but I am determined not to drop the ball so to speak.

Following on from earlier this month, one of the participants for the Hate Crime Survey has asked to be able to share my final article with a few members of his local constabulary. I am hopeful that it will be beneficial to them and help in a positive step forward into having discrimination against sub cultures added to their own local definitions of hate crime, as it has already been done in both Bolton and the city of Manchester. Fingers crossed!

I am now a little nearer to my goal of raising £100 for The Hunger Project UK, in participation with Live Below The Line 2014. I start my challenge week of living off £1 a day for 5 days on Monday, so if any of you reading this visit my blog on their site, expect daily updates!

This can be visited at: www.livebelowtheline.com/me/vegankitten I'd like the outcome to be that more people are encouraged to waste less and to help those who may be living in poverty in their areas. Anything else is just a bonus! I have also taken up the craze that is Rainbow Loom, and so I am making small gifts using this method to say thank you to anybody who donates to my fund. All donations made through the site link go straight to the charity itself.  




Wednesday, 21 May 2014

I Want To Talk About ..... The Other Faces of Hate Crime

I Want To Talk About .... The Other Faces of Hate Crime - A Project52 investigation

In a change to the usual Q&A features ran by Project52, I chose to draw on my own experiences and produce my own investigation into a subject close to my own heart.

"The Other Faces of Hate Crime"


If you asked any person on the street, most would typically answer that racism is what hate crime is. They would be correct in this, as racism is a form of hate crime, but it is not the only kind. There are hundreds of kinds of discrimination in this world, many of which fall under 'hate crime'. The most predominant after racism are disability, LGBT and sub-culture discrimination. This investigation focuses on the latter two.

In a recent survey held by Project52, the majority of replies came from individuals who were of legal age for gay or lesbian relationships in countries where it is not illegal to be gay. It is unfortunate but there are countries where even the suspicion of being gay could equal a death sentence or prison term. These individuals would also have been active in LGBT or sub-culture lifestyles prior to and post the death of Sophie Lancaster, of whom the charity 'The Sophie Lancaster Foundation' is based upon. It was helpful that the responses came from individuals who were around at this time as they would remember what life was like in the before and after, predominately in the last ten years. 

For myself, as an individual who chose to dress in a manner that reflected my musical preferences, aka sub-culture; goth, rocker, mosher, emo. I remember what it was like to not be able to walk out of my own front door alone without a stranger on the street shouting 'mosher' at me. For wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a t-shirt or vest top. Hardly exposing or risqué clothing, yet it brought me ridicule for it. I consider myself very, very lucky that nothing worse ever happened to me beyond name-calling, as so many people were not so fortunate. I don't recall it ever happening when I was accompanied by somebody, perhaps that second or third person would put them off doing so for the repercussions.

Eventually I stopped wearing the baggy jeans, so as not to draw that unwanted attention and to be able to fly under the radar of local thugs. Didn't stop me wearing any other items of clothing associated with being a 'goth' or 'mosher', but I would save most of those for nights out with friends. Today my main dress is a mix of trendy, emo and geeky, but as I am in my work uniform 5 days a week, it is rare that I am in the streets of my home town in my own clothes. This, I believe has reduced the incidents that I have suffered myself in recent years.

My own experiences may seem hardly relevant to the topic at hand, but if anyone reading this has no experience of being under distress caused by others for the 'crime' of being yourself, it is important to understand what it can be like for the rest of this piece to make sense to you.

Going back to the results of the Project52 survey, a large percentage of those who did answer are based in the north-west of England, which is where I was born and am still based, and is also where Sophie Lancaster was born, raised, lived and was murdered. This means that they will have an awareness of what went on.

I know some of you who have kept on reading this far will be thinking, "who was Sophie Lancaster? why is she important?" Well, Sophie in many ways was just like me or you. Sophie liked going to the cinema, dying her hair and listening to rock/alternative music, she liked to write and would have gone on to university had she lived.  Sophie would also do all she could to support her friends and loved ones. I do not wish to romanticize the image or idea of Sophie, as that would be against the wishes of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, as while it was set up in memory of Sophie, it would detract from their main goal and turn her memory into a commodity.  I will add that Sophie was also a friend of a friend whom I met myself once or twice. As time goes on, the details of our conversations do fade away, but I still remember this tiny girl with long dark hair who loved rock music.

The Sophie Lancaster Trust was set up by Sophie's mother, Sylvia Lancaster and supported by Sophie's boyfriend, Rob and closest friends, following her death in August 2007.  Sophie, herself had suffered verbal abuse on several occasions due to the way she dressed and wore her hair, as she was what they called a "mosher". One evening, Sophie was on her way home after a night out with her boyfriend, Rob, when they were attacked by a small group of men for being "moshers". Rob was very badly beaten but survived, but Sophie was kicked to death simply for being herself. Those who took part in the survey by Project52 will be aware of her story, but beyond those individuals, thousands upon thousands will not know what happened or why it is important to teach others to be tolerant and understanding of those who are different to themselves.

The foundation's motto, which uses Sophie's name is "Stamping Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere". Their goal is to have the law changed through out the UK, to have sub-cultures added to the list of hate crime or discrimination, so that any attack for being of a sub-culture would carry a harsher sentence as it would do for racism. It is not hard to spot supporters of the charity as their wristbands, in black with 's.o.p.h.i.e.' printed on them in silver can be easy to spot and recognise. I myself wear mine everyday, and have even had people ask me about it, which is wonderful as raising awareness will always go a long way. Of the three groups that this piece and the survey focussed on, it is in the middle, while still quite young, but has made the biggest impact within the sub-culture community.

The Kaleidoscope Trust was founded in 2011 and was given charity status in 2012, making it a youngster in how long it has been operational, but as it has projects in other countries, it has quite a far outreach. The trust does aim to support LGBT or LGBTQ individuals in countries where it is dangerous to be so, whether that is in public or private. It is important that their goal comes true, for those who worry about immigration, think of it this way: If The Kaleidoscope Trust are successful in their end goal, the amount of people seeking immigration to the UK, USA or Australia would fall as the risk to their life would significantly reduce.

Finally, Stonewall, were founded in 1989, in order to fight a piece of UK legislation, known as section 28, which was against the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools. Namely, to make schools teach pupils that it was wrong to be gay or bi-sexual. They are quite well known in the UK due to their campaigns and lobbying for LGBT rights. A Q&A session with a member of the Stonewall team was published recently here on the Project52 a year blog.

Those who did take part in the survey, as there were 60 of you, will recall that I asked about three charity or support groups, these were The Kaleidoscope Trust, who aim to support LGBT people worldwide, Stonewall, who focus on LGBT in the UK, and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, who do include LGBT in the sub-cultures that they aim to help, making all three interlinked in their goals for all to be free to be who they are inside and out.  

Based on the results, a whooping 85% have suffered some kind of discrimination, whether for being a member of the LGBT community, a sub-culture community or both. For over 50% of those who took part, this is a problem in recent years, but what I find even worse is that for nearly 15% of respondents it is an ongoing problem that has not changed at all in the past ten years to present day.

However, for 25% it appears that life has gotten easier for individuals, whether that is due to being out of school, where bullying can be quite high and into the workplace where there are rules in place to protect staff from discrimination, or if they have moved to more accepting areas is unclear. For those 50% that are still suffering, it is clear that the work done by Kaleidoscope, Stonewall or Sophie Lancaster foundation is far from over.

Verbal abuse is the most predominant form of discrimination, as noted by 77% of those who answered this question in the survey, as well as evident in my own experiences as mentioned earlier. The remainder appear to have suffered some kind of physical assault, such as a punch, beating or mugging, but whether this is more recent or further back in time is unclear.

As a final question, I asked the survey participants if they would step in to help if they saw a case of discrimination happening in front of them, of which I am pleased to say that 88% said  yes they would try to help, most likely by reporting it to the police or by stepping in themselves.

In summary, it is clear that the UK, or even the world at large has a long way to go in becoming more accepting of peoples rights to be individuals, I only hope that it can start now, so that if I was to do this again in another ten years, all my answers would be in the past and not present day. In the meantime, I will continue to wear my s.o.p.h.i.e. band with pride.



For more information or to support the charities mentioned, please visit: http://www.sophielancasterfoundation.com/
http://kaleidoscopetrust.com/
http://www.stonewall.org.uk/






Monday, 19 May 2014

Week 21 - Live below the line prep

It's been two weeks since my last official weekly post, although last week's post on 13/5/14 would count as that week's action - registering and starting fund-raising for Live Below The Line 2014, which is a co-allegiance between 36 charities world wide to combine their efforts to help end world poverty & world hunger. I am doing it in aid of The Hunger Project.

So far I'm heading towards my goal of raising £100 for the charity. Participants who take part have to live off £5 (or their country's equivalent currency worth) for 5 days for all their food and drink, including anything in the house that you already own. All must be factored in at cost per portion. I know it will be hard, it's been hard to just find food that will stretch for two meals and be under £1 an item. It's so easy to live off £5 a day, or even £3 a day if you don't buy expensive brands...but £1? and to eat sensibly without skipping meals? near impossible. Yet this is something that many people in the UK or even around the world face every day. No wonder so many rely on food banks or food stamps where they exist.

If you want to see where I'm up to, follow my progress or even donate a small amount...even 50p would be welcome! please visit: www.livebelowtheline.com/me/vegankitten
I'm doing my challenge week starting June 2nd!

This past weekend, I also made chocolate cornflake cakes and donated them for sale on a vegan society UK stall at a local vegan fair. All 12 sold for 50p each and went really quickly! In total, we raised £116 for the Vegan Society, which is a campaign and outreach/support group for Vegans in the UK and Europe.

I am hopeful on my next post that I will have reached my personal goal of £100 for Live Below The Line and The hunger project. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

IDAHOT - International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia - May 17th

Courtesy of IDAHOT - dayagainsthomophobia.org



Well, today is turning out to be extra special indeed as it is not only Body Dysmorphia Day (see previous post) but it is also IDAHOT - International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I guess they swapped the 'And' for 'Or' when making up the hash tag, because Hot sounds much better than hat. Otherwise it would look like we're all tweetings and talking about some new accessory brand instead of something so much more important than the latest head wear fad.

In case anybody was wondering, yes I do lean more towards straight or heterosexual on the sexuality spectrum. Like Katy Perry once sang, "I kissed a girl and I liked it" and I almost once swallowed a lip ring in the process. I am a firm believer in that you should not knock something until you've tried it, but it wasn't for me in the end. Before anyone thinks about having a go, saying that I was using people whilst tipsy to try out a novelty notion or to get boys attention, though many women have done just this. That was not my aim nor have I ever felt the need to stoop to that level of attention seeking through sapphic actions. I have been on the other side of it, where I have had, on more than two occasions had men kiss me or attempt to initiate sex, to then later say that being with me confirmed they were gay, because if they weren't attracted enough to me, that it helped them figure out exactly what they wanted for themselves. This is a rather backwards compliment in itself, but I am ok with it, because for those people, it was better for them to explore with a friend who would still care no matter what the outcome, rather than reject them for good for the crime of being confused on their journey.  Ultimately, I am mostly straight, and currently happy in a relationship with a wonderful man who feels exactly as I do about LGBT rights. I am quite lucky in this part of my life as I do not need to hide any part of who I am to feel accepted by my friends and family and those around me.

Whilst there have been improvements in LGBT rights in the UK, as of this year [2014] gay marriage became legal, instead of having a commitment ceremony or civil union. This in some ways leaves a sour taste, not because of the idea of gay marriage, I am pro-gay marriage, but it shouldn't have to be called a "gay marriage" gay used to mean happy, and it should be returned to just that. A marriage between two people who happen to have the same chromosome pair should not be classified as a "gay" marriage. It should just be a marriage. Just the same as any other union between a loving couple. A happy one.

Earlier this year, I approached Stonewall and The Kaleidoscope Trust, of whom those who are still reading because of #IDAHOT may be aware of them, and what they do. Earlier this week, I published the results of a Q&A session with a member of the support staff at Stonewall, which confirmed what Stonewall do, and how far things have come, but also that we still have far to go in the UK. After looking at the work that The Kaleidoscope Trust does, it inspired me to write a survey on hate crime, especially that aimed at those who belong to the LGBT community or a sub-culture, and the results were quite saddening. The outcome of that will be published later this month, if you would like to return to read more about the survey held by Project52 about the other faces of hate crime.

Worldwide, what is happening is truly heartbreaking. In some ways, we as a whole, reguardless of orientation have it a little easier being in the UK, in that there are laws in place to protect us, and groups in place to help support us when those do let us down from time to time. However, as I write this, there are at least 59 countries that will discriminate against LGBT within employment, and just as many where gay bashing is rampant, or being gay or even suspected of it will result in the threat of prison or death. As cheesy as it sounds, we are all children of the world and should all be equal in every aspect of our existence, and should be treated as such, regardless of if the person we pledge our love to is the same gender, likes both of the main genders as we love what is inside, not out, though it helps if the wrapping is aesthetically pleasing too! Or, even if the outside does not yet match the inside.

Last week, a bearded lady known as Conchita Wurst (born Thomas Wurst) from Austria won the Eurovision Song contest, and absolutely beautiful she looked too in doing so sparked a new chapter in bringing understanding and tolerance in the face of anti gay countries such as Russia, of which were booed many times during the evening as the crowds voiced their solidarity with Conchita against Russia's stance on LGBT rights. I only hope this is a positive step forward in showing Russia that if it wants to be part of Europe, it needs to get in line with LGBT rights. I don't even like saying LGBT rights, as that indicates a difference between those who identify as heterosexual and those who are on the spectrum. I don't see a difference. We are all human kind and so LGBT rights really should just be called human rights.


This is just how I feel about the state of it today. Just because I am hetero it does not mean I do not care what happens to the rest of us. One day I hope that every country in the world will have a separation of state and religion, but I know it is a very, very long wait, and will not happen in my life time. I didn't want to talk about the face of homophobia or transphobia today, as I won't tolerate it coming from anybody around me. We all know that people have been killed for it, that young boys have been beaten within an inch of their life to 'beat the gay out'. That women have been raped because they are a lesbian. As if sexual assault can make somebody change who they are. Like any form of hate crime, it serves no purpose and makes it clear that the perpetrators are ignorant, ugly creatures who lash out at anything they find to be different or not understand.

Like the pop star and gay icon, Lady Gaga, I could say we were all "Born this way" just as those reading this who just happen to be hetero, gay, bi, trans, queer, two-natured or still just trying to find out who they are, you were also born to be exactly what you are. Unique.

♥ 4 all.
♂♂♀♀♂♀
Equal as 1. 


#IDAHOT Image courtesy of dayagainsthomophobia.org 


Love, 
Pamela 

P.S. Join me on twitter today, @vegankitten or look out for #IDAHOT 

BDD awareness day - May 17th

Today is BDD awareness day!

For those who do not know, BDD stands for Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and is more serious than people think. It is sometimes placed under the eating disorder umberella, which includes Anorexia and Bulimia, and it can be linked to those conditions, but it's roots can often lie with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Earlier this month, a guest blogger shared her experiences with BDD, and more information about it can be found here: http://www.bddalliance.org/

If you suspect that you may indeed suffer from BDD or that a friend or relative may do, please do not go it alone and seek medical help.

I hope that the readers of Project52 will join me in talking about BDD using the hashtag #BDD on twitter. Don't let this condition go on ignored. Let's talk.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Spotlight on... Stonewall & Stonewall Information Service

As part of May's open theme focus on LGBT Charities and Support groups, I spoke to Diana, a volunteer at Stonewall's information service for a little more detail on what that entails.

What made you want to get involved with stonewall and join your current team of colleagues?  I admire the work that Stonewall does and wanted to put my skills to good use
What are the most common questions you get asked by individuals and what do you say to them? – Various, but some of the most common are around Equal Marriage, Parenting, Immigration and bullying or harassment at work – Answer by providing signposting to relevant organisations and/or Stonewall info/publications and guides.
Do you have any success stories or a particular event that has stuck with you long afterwards? – None in particular, but for many callers just being able to speak to someone in confidence who will listen and offer some form of help or direction to organisations that can help is enough. When you sign off of a call and someone tells you that you have helped it can be very rewarding.
What does Stonewall do to set themselves apart from other LGBT support groups and charities? – Stonewall is renowned for its campaigning and lobbying work and also works with a whole range of agencies to address the needs of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the wider community.
Finally, if there is anything you would like to say to the readers of Project52, what would that be? –  I have found volunteering for Stonewall a rewarding experience and if you are interested in helping out get involved either by volunteering or raising money for Stonewall http://www.stonewall.org.uk/what_you_can_do/

With thanks to Diana 

"Stonewall’s info line on 08000 50 20 20 can offer information and referrals to callers on a wide range of topics, including education, parenting and employment. The info line is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm, but you can also find our info service online atwww.stonewall.org.uk/info or email us on info@stonewall.org.uk." 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Live Below The Line Challenge 2014

From 2nd to 6th June (5 days) I'm eating and drinking on just £1 per day with thousands of others across the world in a global movement to help end extreme poverty. It's called Live Below the Line.

I'm taking the challenge raising awareness and funds to support the work of The Hunger Project and I need your help to make a real impact.

Can you spare a few dollars, a pound or even just pocket change and donate to support my efforts for The Hunger Project at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/vegankitten?

£1 is the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line. Eating and drinking on so little gives a glimpse into the challenges faced by the 1.2 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line everyday for everything — that's food, medical care, transport, education, everything.

Find out how to donate and support my efforts for The Hunger Project at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/vegankitten.

Thanks,
Pamela &
Project52

Update: I set my goal as £100 as I was worried I couldn't hit a higher goal... so far I have had £20 donated directly, and three verbal offers of pledges! wish me luck! I've now started drafting my menu for the week. visit soon for more updates. x

Monday, 12 May 2014

M.E Awareness Day - May 12th

Today is M.E Awareness Day!

If you don't know much about it, today is a great time to learn just what M.E. means and what you can do to help!

As a dear friend of mine is a sufferer, I'll be spending the day raising awareness and cheering on her fight to stay strong.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

I Want To Talk About .... M.E.

This week, a dear friend, who also happens to suffer from M.E was supposed to be here as a guest blogger, but unfortunately due to health issues has not been able to. So, instead, I am going to talk about M.E. from what I have seen through being around her.


I Want To Talk About .... M.E


M.E. does not mean 'me'. It stands for Myalgic Encephalopathy, formally known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. It is similar to the more commonly known CFS aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so much that they are often placed together in medical articles. However, they are not the same thing, and often require different treatment, if treatment is to even be given at all.

The friend who was due to guest blog here was officially diagnosed in 2008, but had been showing symptoms for over ten years prior to this. I have seen her go without doing the things she wants to do, as she does not have the strength to do what so many of us take for granted on a daily basis. On a good day, she can walk with crutches, or can sit at a gig, or sit up all night to chat and play games like any other person. These are largely resting type activities.

There are days where I get frustrated for her, as I'd love to see her get up and dance, or come with me on a walk through the woods (at a slow pace, because I do have Spina Bifida Occulta myself, so I can't hike!) or even do a girly day where we pound the streets of the northern quarter [in Manchester, UK] to buy stuff from all the cool, quirky shops. But I know this will never happen as her energy and strength is not high enough to, and it breaks my heart to see her missing out and that she can't share these simple things with me.  

On a bad day, she cannot do anything. Practically confined to bed rest. It is debilitating and extremely painful for her to even move.

I don't want to give many more details than these as it would be against her privacy and unfair to tell her story when she is not well enough to confirm all the details.

So here are the facts I do know:

  • There is more research into HIV or AIDS or any other publicly recognised condition than M.E. 
  • M.E. is an invisible illness, there are no outward signs of it. 
  • It can cause depression, and there is a higher mortality rate due to suicide or M.E leading to other conditions as it can weaken your immune system, letting other illnesses take hold. 
  • M.E. itself has never killed anybody directly, and due to this, there have been no major peer reviewed studies or medical testing into it.
  • many sufferers cannot hold down even part time jobs due to how random the attacks can be, leading to the majority having to rely on relatives for care or the benefits system, which is often under attack, as how can you prove a condition when it cannot be seen? 

 This month sees the annual M.E. awareness day on may 12th. Please join in with Project52 by raising awareness for M.E in which ever shape or form you see fit. I'll be joining in with the blog bomb! #May12BlogBomb

For more information with lots of big medical words, please visit: http://www.meassociation.org.uk/ 
And to visit the lovely Sally, who started the blog bomb! visit: http://sallyjustme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/may-12-blog-bomb.html  

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Week 19 - choosing your cause

This week, in the run-up to M.E. awareness day on May 12th and BDD awareness day on May 17th, I will be taking to social media to raise awareness for these conditions. If you want to join in, visit the Project52 facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/project52ayear or come find me on twitter! My username is @vegankitten

It is hard to decide which issue is more important than another, is one more important? Are they all equally important? Is there an issue you would like to see raised on Project52? Get in touch!


Take care and look after yourselves.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Guest Blogger: Support BDD day - 17th May 2014 by Roo James.



Hello there readers of this blog.  Pamela has invited me to hijack this blog today.  To make it more piratey, I am typing this wearing an eye patch.

My name is Roo and, among many awesome talents and jobs, I write funny stuff.  Sometimes I even do it on a computer and leave the crayons in their box.  But I am here today to talk about a special event happening on the 17th of this month.  This day is to spread awareness of a mental disorder that affects 1 in 100 people.  It attacks men as equally as women and is not very well known.  Those who have heard of it tend to sadly be misinformed thanks to terrible media coverage.  I am talking about Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

BDD is a disorder where the sufferer believes that they are physically unattractive or deformed to the point of obsession.  Many sufferers find they can't do everyday tasks because they fear being seen or ridiculed.  It breaks their confidence and can lead to depression, agoraphobia, social anxiety, eating disorders, self harm, and suicide.  No one knows exactly how it starts but the most popular theory is the patient is predisposed at birth and then an emotional "trigger" such as bullying, abuse, bereavement, or depression will start off the illness.

BDD gets a lot of negative press.  It is often referred to as "perceived ugliness syndrome" which is offensive because the distress is very real.  It is put down as a lack of confidence rather than a disorder and gets thrown in with plastic surgery addiction and eating disorders. It is something only Supermodels and Hollywood stars get according to magazines. The truth is BDD is actually a form of Obsessive Compulsive disorder.  With OCD, the sufferer will do certain actions such as excessive cleaning to control their environment and not being able to do so causes deep distress.  With BDD, the control happens with the body of the sufferer.  Excessive showering, cosmetics, dieting/over-eating, exercise, skin picking, etc.

BDD sufferers can't just get over it.  To ask a BDD sufferer to just deal with it is like asking someone to hold their breathe for ten years.  It just won't happen.  Not without serious help.  Treating BDD is very difficult.  For a start, it is hard to diagnose and can be mistaken for other illnesses like despression.  Also, many sufferers feel too ashamed to come forward, thinking they are being selfish or they really are ugly.  Secondly (is that even a word?), it is not a common illness and as such, not everywhere has the facilities and training to deal with it.  Lastly, every sufferer is different.  While Cognitive Behavior Therapy and anti depressants are the most popular forms of treatment, each sufferer will react differently and what works for one may not work for another. .

There are charities trying to change this.  BODY for example has been set up for sufferers of BDD as well as those with eating disorders.  They educate people about BDD, offer sufferers a place to get help, and visit schools to teach children about positive body image.  They are funded by people like you and me and they are small but with help and support, they can reach so many people.  Years ago, it was much harder to get help.  I know because I was one of those people looking for help and coming up with nothing.

I suffered BDD from very young childhood.  Yes, you read that right.  I was only a child.  I was not diagnosed until my late teens and getting help was a struggle.  I could not afford to see my closest specialist who was 200 miles away. My doctors tried but it was much like throwing carrots at a guinea pig.  Not that they like that, don't do it.  They tend to get upset.  I had to look for my own treatment program and while I have its butt pretty much kicked, it never goes away.  It sits on the door step, drinking the milk if you bother to still have it delivered and waiting for a chance to get back in.  That is the case for many and that is why it is so important that people like you help.  You can help by supporting charities like BODY.  You can help by educating your children or younger siblings about positive body image.  You can help by writing to MPs and asking for more funding into research and training for dealing with BDD patients.

For more information about BDD and BODY, visit their website.

If you would like to really make me suffer, please sponsor me on a 5k Canix run for BODY here.

Want to contact Roo James?  Fans, agents, and Nigerian Princes can contact her here.

Picture by Meghan Murphy, courtesy of Roo James.  Copyright 2012 -2014.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

May - Choose your cause

So far here at Project52 we have looked at helping causes through donation, sponsoring animals, helping the homeless, animal shelters and letter writing campaigns. Which is fine if you are like me, but you are not me, you may be nothing like me, as you are you. your own self. So what are your causes?

Are you an animal advocate? An humanitarian? Do you follow environmental issues? Are you more of a Medical research enthusiast (more charities and foundations focus on medical research for disease or disability than any other cause type), conservationist, children's charities, or seek for others to have the right to be an individual?

Or, are you still undecided? It is fine to be undecided, as then if you do choose to get behind a cause it will be of your own free will, and not because a parent or partner believes in it.

The big question around it all is this: "What gives us the right to decide? Is a dog's life more important than a cow's? What if that cow, saved from slaughter saves the life of an owner's child one day by raising the alarm that help is needed or by using body heat to keep them warm? Is a child more important than a dog? what if that child grows up to become a serial killer, and the dog, if given a second chance, saves an owner from a house fire? sniffs out a bomb/drugs?  The difference between an ex-convict and a newly graduated student? The student could end up doing nothing to benefit society at large, but the ex-convict could live by example and help stop others following his/her path. Who are we to say which life has the most value?"

While each month here at Project52 focuses on different actions or umbrella groupings for causes eg homeless aid could be shelter, therapy, food donation - these are all separate methods of helping the end cause.  This month [May] shall take a slight change of direction by looking at different examples of some of the causes listed above, such charities and foundations that campaign for others to have the right to be individual or LGBT groups, and rather than making larger active gestures towards those causes over the month, smaller acts will be made instead due to the varying nature of May's focus.

As well as discussing some of the support groups and charities that are aimed at LGBT, myself and a friend who I have invited to guest-blog, will also be talking about M.E. as it is a serious, debilitating disability, but so little is known about it, as it is an 'invisible' condition. May 12th is M.E. Awareness Day, and here at Project52, I am proud to support it. If any of the readers of Project52 have any comments or thoughts on M.E, please get in touch! You can do this through the contact me option on the left.

On top of this, I will also be looking at other lesser recognized conditions, but these will pop up as the month unfolds.



**Content published during May 2014 are the sole thoughts, political and ethical beliefs of the author and are by no means connected to the charities, foundations, researchers or other trademarked groups and are not intended as defamation of character of said groups and causes**