Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Carers - the invisible army

I am honoured to be part of a small team of facilitators currently running a series of 9 consultation events in various regions of England asking carers to have their say and their input to the revised national carer’s strategy.

The 'New Deal for Carers Strategy' will be published in early 2008 by the Department of Health.

Today I met another 10 fantastic carers as part of that process.

I have worked closely with carers for over 20 years and I sometimes rather arrogantly start to think I know a fair bit about the subject of carers. Then I am pulled up short and reminded with yet another amazing story from carers themselves how little I actually know about what it is really like to be a carer.

Today two people in my group told me they have been caring for their spouse for a total of 15 years between them and neither of them has ever had help from the services that are meant to help them such as social services and the NHS.

For instance neither have ever received respite care – indeed one of the two did not even know what the expression ‘respite care’ actually meant.

It is incredible that in 2007 we have so many 'hidden carers' who are just 'doing the job' from a sense of love, duty and obligation and they are not asking for help because they do not know they are legally entitled to it.

The Government is getting care on the cheap through carers goodwill and the more we can promote the needs of carers the better.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wilberforce - the greatest ever Englishman?

I am currently reading 'William Wilberforce – a biography' by Stephen Tomkins.

The book mainly catalogues Wilberforce’s long battle to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself.

There were many disappointments and defeats along the way for Wilberforce as the politicians of the day found reasons to defend the slave trade – based purely on financial grounds.

One of the many lessons from the life of Wilberforce is that if you have a vision - never give up on it. It may take a life time to achieve but if your cause is just then it is worth fighting for.

The slave trade was finally abolished 200 years ago in 1807 and the first commons motion Wilberforce put forward was in 1789. It took him 18 years to get a majority in the House of Commons but he never gave up fighting to abolish something he believed was inhumane.

Slavery itself was finally abolished in 1833 and Wilberforce died three days later – a lifetime’s ambition fulfilled.

How many of us give up on our big idea?

Who knows what might have happened had we kept going.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

And now for something completely different ...

I hope readers of Simplicity Blog enjoy this wonderful Alan Jackson version of one of my favorite hymns 'How Great Thou Art' - it is beautiful - and it reminds me of the wonder of God.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome Reece

At 3.41 am Friday 21 September 2007 my second Grandchild came into this world.

My daughter Nadine gave birth to Reece – a brother for Sebastian who is now two and a half years old.

This photo was taken just over an hour ago. To me as a 'mature student' on such things this technology seemed the stuff of science fiction not so long ago!

I got a phone text multi media message from Nadine which contained this photo. Annie, who is my in-house IT consultant as well as the best wife in the world, worked out how to download the picture to my PC and here I am with the ability to proudly show Reece to the whole world just over an hour later – I’m gobsmacked!

Thank you so much God for protecting Nadine and delivering Reece safely into our world.

Somehow my painful gum infection seems less important …… Life is so precious.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sorry to have been 'away'

Life is good

This week has been to some extent the 'week from hell' because I've been on the road since Monday through till Thursday evening.

Monday in Nottingham
Tuesday in Birmingham
Wednesday in Middlesbrough
Thursday in Cwmbran, Wales

A total of approximately 1000 miles – all by train - and not one late train in 20 connections – brilliant service - thank you.

Hence my apologies for lack of posting on Simplicity Blog this week – it has been a wee bit tricky to find the time whilst also carrying a pretty annoying and painful gum infection since Monday too. So sleep has been pretty important.

I will try to get the wires buzzing again in the next few days with some reflections about some of the stuff I’ve been doing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sound advice

Three simple bits of advice from the sermon today in our local church. I suggest this could be the mission statement of all managers and leaders in business:

Quick to Listen

Slow to Speak

Slow to Anger

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Irate mother punishes 61-year-old son

One of the funniest stories from Nicky Gumbel last Sunday was about how we all need to 'grow up' spiritually. He related this wonderful story from Italy. You can see the original story by clicking here
An irate mother took the house keys and allowance away from her 61-year-old son because he did not come home when he was supposed to and did not tell her where he was going when he went out.
According to the La Sicilia daily, the 81-year-old mother even went to the police in her home town of Caltagirone to ask them to convince her “hard-headed” son to “behave correctly with his mamma”.

The son replied that it was his mother who behaved badly and added that “my weekly allowance isn’t enough… and she doesn’t even cook well”.

After locking her son out of their home, the mother told police that “my son doesn’t respect me, he never tells me where he goes at night and comes home at all hours”.

“I was forced to punish him by taking away his keys and locking him out after he yet again came home late at night. He always complains about my cooking and this just couldn’t go on,” she added.

According to the son, “it’s not my fault. She always treats me badly. I’m unemployed and the allowance she gives me isn’t enough. And her cooking is really awful!”.

A policeman was able to convince the mother and son to reconcile and they returned home together, where the son was given back his keys and allowance.

Wonderful - thank you Nicky!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All our Children are 'Gifted'

On the theme of children I was, last week, a facilitator of a discussion on the future support needed for our children in the UK in order for them to achieve their full potential.

This is the event that gave me the wonderful experience of meeting Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the second time. I feel very privileged.

Mr Brown has made it a personal priority to promote young people and I was impressed by his enthusiasm about our young people.

I was more impressed that he stayed at the event for almost 2 hours.

Normally, in my experience, MP’s (never mind the PM!!) arrive at such events, deliver a speech written by a civil servant and then leave for 'another' engagement.

It was tremendous to see Mr Brown spend time with a number of young people listening to their views. He had no notes or autocue's for the short speech he made - most of the time he was there was spent listening.

This had got me thinking about how precious our children are.

I am reminded of my hero Tony Benn who said that during his 50 year plus career as an MP he came across political opponents who advocated special schools for ‘gifted’ children. Mr Benn said that he had 4 children and they are all ‘gifted.’ His children all have children and they are all ‘gifted.’ He said that all the thousands of his constituents over 50 years had ‘gifted’ children too.

Unsurprisingly I fully agree with Tony Benn ... all our children are ‘gifted.’

We need to celebrate our children.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Anita Roddick

How sad to hear of the sudden death of Anita Roddick founder of the Body Shop.

Her book Body and Soul is one the most influential in my thinking about mangement and leadership

She turned tradional business thinking on its head completely and she will be sorely missed.

Click here for the BBC News Report

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gordon Brown, Nicky Gumbel and The Proms - all in four days!

Apologies for lack of posting – It's been very hectic for a few days

Brilliant weekend – Annie and I went to Hyde Park, London to see the BBC Proms in the Park on Saturday evening and then saw Nicky Gumbel speak at Holy Trinity, Brompton on Sunday morning.

Also heard this great quote form Prime Minister Gordon Brown who I had the immense pleasure of meeting last Thursday.

"Children may only be 20% of our population but they are 100% of our future"

I like that.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

More on Poverty

I had a very insightful comment from a 20 year old person called Amelia in New Zealand about one of my recent postings on world poverty and it got me thinking again about this issue. Thank you Amelia.

I just can’t get the enormity of this out of my head.

On our one planet 20,000 - that is TWENTY THOUSAND people die every day – mainly children – due simply to poverty.

At the same time I hear that the amount of money we spend in Europe on ice cream would be enough to provide an education for every child in the world.

We all have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we are doing practically to help. I may well write about this issue but I must do more. We all must do more.

Think for a moment about how in our enlightened society of 2007 we believe the slave trade was degrading, inhumane and scandalous until its abolition 200 years ago thanks to the efforts of people like William Wilberforce. I wonder if the children of my great grandchildren may look back on 2007 and say ...

‘In 2007 in such a supposedly advanced civilisation how could they possibly have not only allowed, but openly condoned such scandalous poverty on the same one planet that had such obscene wealth?’

Mahatma Ghandi when asked what he thought of democracy in the western world replied ‘I think it would be a very good idea’

I have great faith in young people who will I hope keep rattling the cage for justice.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Eagles are Back!!!

I have been a fan of The Eagles for as long as I care to remember.

I was thrilled to hear they are about to release their first studio recorded album since 1979. ‘Long Road out of Eden’ will be available in October and contains 20 new Eagles songs.

One track 'How Long' was released as a single two weeks ago and can be heard on the You Tube link above.

Annie and I has the great joy of seeing The Eagles in Concert on their Farewell 1 Tour when they visited the NIA, Birmingham in June 2006.
That was another ambition achieved - to see the band for real.

They were brilliant live and this latest release will hopefully see The Eagles in the charts again- that would be incredible. If not it won’t matter to the millions of Eagles fans around the world who will buy the album anyway.

Enjoy this if you are a fan of The Eagles and if you are not … one question ...

Why not??!!!!