Tag Archives: charity

Wavertree Playground or The Mystery

As a child growing up in Liverpool, I have happy memories of visiting “The Mystery” or, to give the park it’s correct name, “Wavertree Playground”.
The unofficial title of “The Mystery” derives from the fact that the donor of the land wished to remain unknown. It is, however believed that the land was gifted by a Mr Holt of Liverpool, (http://www.old-merseytimes.co.uk/wavertreeplayground.html).

My friend Shanelle is volunteering in Zimbabwe to educate young people about HIV/AIDS

I have received the below email from my friend, Shanelle who will be volunteering in Zimbabwe, in July to help educate young people about HIV/AIDS. Any help anyone can give would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,


“I have
until the 20th
June to raise just under £300 so I can volunteer for 10 weeks in Zimbabwe. I will be working in Bulawayo with other British volunteers for a charity called
Progressio, delivering workshops that will empower young people and educate them on HIV and AIDS awareness.
I would really appreciate it if you took the time to donate to my justgiving page, or shared the link to your Facebook wall/social media pages and let
your family and friends know. Thank you!


Shanelle Webb”.

A Liverpudlian In London

It is frequently remarked by northerners that Londoners are “cold”, “unfriendly” and “always in a rush. As a Liverpudlian born and bred, who has lived and worked in London since 1994 I can see both sides of the coin.

One of the grimmest portrayals of London is that of the poet, William Blake. His poem, London is unremitting in it’s critique of the poverty and exploitation which prevailed in the UK’s capital city at the time when Blake penned the poem.


“I wander thro’ each charter’d street,

Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.

And mark in every face I meet

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infants cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry

Every blackning Church appalls,

And the hapless Soldiers sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlots curse

Blasts the new-born Infants tear

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse”.


I have come across, admittedly in a mild form, the criminal underbelly of that great metropolis. Some 10 years ago I was walking through London’s mainline Victoria station. I am registered blind and had become lost in Victoria’s cavanous interior. A gentleman approached me and enquired whether he could be of assistance. I explained that I wanted to get to Crystal Palace to which my saviour responded that he had just returned from offering medical assistance in Bosnia, his daughter was picking him up in her car and she would be happy to offer me a lift. With a little trepidation I accepted my new found friend’s kind offer.

“I have left my luggage in the luggage lockers, can you lend me some money to retrieve it”, my saviour then said.

Dear readers I have a terrible confession to make. Despite having money in my pocket I said I had none, to which my “friend” responded that he would

“Be back in a minute”.

Readers, the moment I heard his footsteps departing, yours truly walked in the opposite direction!

The above was, almost certainly an attempt to scan me. however, not having been born yesterday I failed to fall for the seeming “kindness of strangers” trick. Such scams go on up and down the UK and in every corner of the globe. However they are more often practiced in large cities, such as London where the chances of being apprehended are remote (in a village, for example the scammer is likely to stand out like a saw thumb).

London can seem uncaring. There is a huge homeless problem in the capital. I have often walked past people sleeping in cardboard boxes on Victoria Street and in other parts of the city. On a few occasions I have given money but in most instances I have not. To the casual observer the actions of busy Londoners hurrying past rough sleepers can appear callous. However, practically speaking one can not give to every homeless person. Again giving to people begging on the street frequently (but not always) leads to one’s money going to feed a drug or alcohol habit rather than going on the purchase of food. Consequently I will readily give to registered charities such as Shelter and The Passage (the latter charity being specifically aimed at helping homeless people in and around the Victoria area). Such organisations have their accounts audited, are regulated by the Charity Commission and one can be confident one’s donation is helping those who genuinely require assistance.

I personally have experienced a good deal of kindness when traversing London. People of all nationalities have gone out of their way to assist me when lost. AgainI’ve witnessed people assisting ladys with prams to negociate the steep steps at my local station.

Londoners are, in my experience wary of falling into conversation with strangers. This perhaps flows from the number of people (real or imagined) who are out to “scam” them. On returning to Liverpool I am struck by the ready manner in which people will engage with strangers. “good morning” is, for example frequently addressed by Liverpudlians to total strangers, something which, in London rarely happens. For instance on entering the newsagents close to where my mum lives I am greeted with “hello love” despite the fact I rarely go in there due to residing in London. This puts a smile on my face and makes the day feel brighter. Doubtless some Londoners could learn from the cheery manner in which Liverpudlians greet fellow residents of that city and strangers alike.

Having been born in Liverpool the city will forever maintain a special place in my affections. However I feel at home in London. I love the vibrancy and tolerance of the city (it is a place where people of many different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds live, more or less harmoniously together). My heart is, in short split between these 2 great cities although the larger part does, I think reside in Liverpool, in the heart of Woolton Woods and Speke Hall.


Possible Anthology To Raise Money For Guide Dogs – Update

Many thanks to everyone who expressed support for the idea of producing an anthology to raise money for the Guide Dogs For The Blind Association (http://newauthoronline.com/2014/09/17/possible-anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/). Thanks go especially to everyone who reblogged my post and to those who have offered to provide stories for inclusion, or other forms of assistance.

I have been asked about the theme of the anthology (a perfectly reasonable question if ever there was one)! I suggest that stories in the anthology deal with interactions between dogs and humans. However I don’t wish to preclude stories about other animals either as sole characters or as part of an animal/human relationship.

I don’t yet have an editor and would be grateful if any editor who is able to offer their services free could please get in touch. As previously explained, I lack editorial expertise and do not have the capacity to produce the final product. I will, of course render any assistance possible, including liaison with Guide Dogs. However I need the assistance of an editor to progress the project.


Many thanks for everyone’s continuing support,



Please Help Find Tess The Missing Guide Dog

Below is the text of an e-mail which I have received from The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association (GDBA) regarding a 6-year-old guide dog which went missing in Scotland. GDBA are asking for the public’s help in reuniting owner and guide dog. As a guide dog owner myself I know very well the incredibly strong bond which develops between owner and dog. To me Trigger, my guide dog is not merely a mobility aid (although he does a fantastic job), he is also a close friend who accompanies me almost everywhere. If, by any chance you can help Guide Dogs please do contact them.


Many thanks,




“You may have heard through the media about Tess, the guide dog who has gone missing.


The six-year-old black curly coated retriever disappeared while walking off-lead with her owner in Nairn, a seaside town about 16 miles east of Inverness.

Obviously this is an extremely distressing situation, particularly for the guide dog owner, and we are doing absolutely everything in our power to reunite

the partnership.


We have enlisted the help of local organisations and agencies in the effort to find Tess, including the police, dog wardens, veterinary practices and the

SSPCA (Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).


We have been in touch with rail networks, as well as Royal Mail to get word out to postal workers and drivers.


An appeal was launched in local media shortly after Tess’s disappearance on 23 July and thousands of people have now got behind it on




Guide Dogs volunteers and supporters have been playing a vital role in our appeal to help find Tess and we’d like to ask for your support too.


Although she went missing in Scotland, Tess could now be in any part of the UK, so we really do need everyone’s help to find her. If you see a dog who

looks like Tess for sale in your local area, or notice that someone has recently acquired a black curly coated retriever, or if you have any other concrete

information which may help us, please get in touch with us immediately on 0800 688 8409. Please do not reply directly to this email.


We are running a poster campaign to widen the appeal.

Please download our new official poster


share it on Facebook



or print it off and display it in your window (particularly if you live in Scotland).


The more people who support our appeal, the better our chances of finding Tess and reuniting her with her owner.


Jayne George

Director of Fundraising and Marketing”.


About Suffering They Were Never Wrong

“About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood …”.


Those lines of W H Auden came powerfully to mind when I received a call from The National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Children, the NSPCC, who are running a campaign in schools to explain to very young children what abuse is and how to report it. As a donor to the NSPCC they wanted me to increase my direct debit to assist in paying for Childline in schools. The Society say they are receiving an increasing number of calls from children aged around 11 which has prompted the Childline initiative in schools.

The tragedy of the situation is that many children blame themselves for the abuse or somehow try to convince themselves that it is normal. Here in Crystal Palace it is a lovely sunny day but those lines of Auden, quoted above just keep replaying themselves in my head. Terrible suffering of children does go on while we go about our daily lives. As I write this a child, somewhere is being physically or sexually abused. I can give money. I only wish that I could do more.


For Auden’s poem please visit http://english.emory.edu/classes/paintings&poems/auden.html

By Command Of The Lord Chancellor

“By command of the Lord Chancellor, help the homeless”. The man stands there, in the train compartment bellowing out his command. Noone responds. “Help the homeless”, again the Scottish voice booms out on this London commuter train. Once more there is no response from the passengers on the way home to their warm apartments or, like me going to meet friends for a slap up meal, with a nice bottle of red wine in my favourite Indian restaurant.

The same journey, an earlier time.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I am sorry to disturb you but me and my friends need money to buy “The Big Issue” to sell. I wouldn’t usually ask but can anyone spare some change”. The same man, with the Scottish accent asking for money. On this (earlier) occasion there is the jingling of change as one or two commuters give money.

I am not the only person who has observed this gentleman on numerous occasions as he begs for money on the train as it wends it’s way from Victoria towards Crystal Palace. Noone believes his story about needing money for “The Big Issue”, we have seen and heard him before. However a sense of compassion has, hitherto moved some of us to give but, on this latest occasion the gentleman’s threatening manner illicits no charitable outpouring.

I wonder what this man’s story is? There but for the grace of god, chance or however one cares to frame it go you or I.

A Man Of Compassion

It really is a disgrace that in 21st century Britain people are still homeless on the streets. Believe me the conditions portrayed by Dickens are still very much with us. You don’t need me to tell you that hunger and poverty still stalk the land. Just take a stroll under the arches by Embankment and Charing cross stations and you will be confronted by the people society forgot, sleeping in cardboard boxes. There are two parallel cities in London, that inhabited by you and I with our comfortable homes and then there is cardboard city. It breaks my heart to see men and women of all ages huddled in doorways under filthy blankets. Some don’t even own a single blanket, its tragic to see them with nothing to keep themselves warm other than fellow denisons of the streets. On occasions I’ve seen two or three of the poor sods huddled together so as to extract animal warmth from their fellow man. Oh my country, oh my country I weep to see what you have become, a land in which the weak die on the cold streets while the heedless majority parties on this sinking ship.

I do what I can to help. It isn’t much, a flask of hot coffee here, a few sandwitches and most important of all a kind word. What most of the homeless want more than anything else is a sympathetic ear, someone to listen without passing judgement. I’m a good listener, always have been and I think that is why I’ve built up such close relationships with so many of the people sleeping rough.

Its tragic listening to the street people speak about their lives. Take, for example young Janet who ran away from Manchester to London at the age of 14 to get away from her father who’s idea of fatherly love was to sexually abuse her on an almost daily basis. Then there was Mark a successful trader in the city but, come the recession he lost everything and ended up residing in cardboard city.

It is difficult gaining the trust of the homeless. People who have suffered many knocks in life find it hard to fully trust another human being. However I have managed to gain the absolute trust of many a homeless man and woman. Once the relationship is solid I’ll invite them back to my home. Of course they jump at the chance. Who wouldn’t embrace the prospect of a square meal and a clean bed to sleep in.

A little something in their drink and once they are asleep my friend removes a kidney or, sometimes a lung. We are humane men so the men and women are stiched up properly afterwards and given a few hundred quid for their trouble. I’m a charitable man, it’s a crying shame that there are so many men and women sleeping on the streets and we have the cheek to call ourselves a civilised society.