Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Walking the Green Chain Twice.

This summer's sponsored walk is happening twice.  The first was last week on the hottest day of the year and the second is next week.  The reason for this is due to one person being ill and unable to do the walk last week, it was not due to the immense heat of the day. 

Now this means there is still a chance of others getting involved.  Next weeks team are planning to walk 24 miles of the Green Chain Walk between the Thames Barrier and Nunhead.  Contact Dave on 020 8690 4646 if you want to join in.  A fabulous lunch is provided!

Doing the walk last week reminded me how green South East London is, large parts of the walk are in parks or wooded areas.  It was probably the parks I had not been to before that I liked best, so Maryon Park in Woolwich and Sydenham Hill Woods were highlights!  In fact Sydenham Hill woods provided the coolest part of the hottest day of 2013.  The path took us down to the entrance of a disused railway tunnel, which was shooting out the coolest blast of air.  It was a challenge to move on!

The walk serves a number of purposes.  We raise money for the Feast, our weekly outreach meeting that serves 100 people a 3 course meal.  Each week costs us £150.  The Feast is a remarkable event where people who have suffered much have an opportunity to build genuine friendship and begin to rebuild their lives.  The walk is another moment where those who have benefitted from the Feast can make a difference so we encourage former 'clients' of the Feast to do the walk.

If you don't think that 24 miles is for you, perhaps you would consider giving financially.  One of the easiest ways to give is by text justgiving, all the details are below.
You are able to give by text message through JustTextGiving by Vodafone. Text JRPW24 plus the amount of your donation to 70070 (e.g. JRPW24 £10 or JRPW24 £5).

You can give any of the following amounts by text: £10/£5/£4/£3/£2/£1 & donate a maximum of £30 in one day. Texts are charged at your mobile phone operator's standard rate. The Jericho Road Project will receive 100% of your donation. You must be 16 or over & please ask the bill payer's permission. For full terms, conditions & more information, visit

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Do you run a Foodbank?

This is a question I have been asked many times, here is my answer..

I run the Jericho Road Project which houses homeless people, feeds the hungry and defends those who have no voice!

We have though chosen not to do a Foodbank. These have become the thing to do for churches and projects like mine.  Foodbanks have had national publicity and significant political support.  A system that allows agencies in the locality to give out vouchers to those in need to get an emergency handout must be great! well I am not convinced that Foodbanks are that good for the poor!

Before I give my reasons for not doing a Foodbank let me say that we DO give out food to people who are destitute.  We collect harvest food from schools but we only give to it to people and families who have NO income or in extreme circumstances.   We have a local social worker who uses our supply of food to help a family who have at times no other source of food. But in order to keep the food for those who are destitute we have to say no to many people who want a 'hand-out'.  For example I refused to give any food to a man who gets full benefit and has a freedom card for London transport (free travel) despite his well practised tale of sorrow!  I would rather help in ways other than a food hand-out.  He didn't like it but he comes back every week and has started to help out at the end of the evening! He will benefit more by helping others than by begging for food!

3 key reasons why I do not run a Foodbank.

1. The people providing the food are not building relational connection with the person in need. The connection is a helper and recipient one.  I understand the aim/limit is for people to make 3 collections of food but it seems that people in 'need' learn how to make the best use of the system by sending others to get food in their place.
2. The recipient is not lifted up out of poverty.  Their immediate needs are being met, food on the table tonight, but it does not address the medium/longer term needs or the more complex and difficult issues!  Perhaps in some cases a connection is made or referrals are made to the relevant place that can help, such as debt advice.
3. I have read press releases, been to Foodbank's and statistics are given out that demonstrate how the demand for food has gone up and that means that there needs to be more Foodbanks.  Firstly public awareness means more people will make sure they get a free hand-out but of course the statistics are going up when the government are creating more people who have to 'beg' for food.  Their strategy for dealing with people who don't /are not able meet their standards is to suspend people's benefit for months at a time.  They can only do this  and get away with it with a rapidly expanding food charity sector picking up the shortfall. 

Last Wednesday highlighted the problem really well.  A lady who should be aspiring to get training and work, who has no obvious drug and alcohol issues and is socially very able told me that she got some food from a 'Foodbank' in Camberwell.  She also told me when asked that she was getting full benefit so I asked her why she got a handout, only to find that she went back the next day and got a 2nd handout!  When I explained this was not good for her and not what a food handout should be doing she replied "this [where she got her handout] must be a really good Foodbank".  

I heard John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, say recently that "I know people are going to change when they start talking about what they can do for others".  I would rather help people become contributors in society rather than receivers.  It stops the poor being kept in poverty! 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Requested by my Grandfather

By popular request; well my 94 year old grandfather has definitely requested this, my fingers are at work creating another blog.  Perhaps my recent hiatus from blogging has been because Twitter has taken over my attention.  Although interestingly, blogs remain available to see for a long time, much longer than Twitter which seems that each Tweet has a momentary lifespan. Unless of course it lands you in trouble!

But of all weeks to re-engage with the blogging world, this takes some beating.  Of course you can ask the Aussies what that feels like!  It appears we are living through the most glorious age of British sport - where ever you look there are world beaters from our shores - 2012 was remarkable but just this last weekend Alastair Brownlee, the British Lions, Dan Martin (cyclist born living in Birmingham, representing Ireland, winner of Sunday's Tour de France stage) and of course Andy Murray all dominated world sport!  Even the leader of the Tour is racing for our nation although at times I wonder if he would rather be recognised as African (he was born and raised in Kenya).

Even the weather is remarkable but it has been playing havoc with the Allen family's plans.  Let me explain, the last few weeks of this term have been as busy as Christmas - I know, I know we chose to have 4 children!! International nights, awards night, 4 different sports day, picnics, bbq's and not one of them has been cancelled because of bad weather!  We also spent the week with 11 people staying at our house, the 6 of us, our lodger Katie, a German girl staying for 5 weeks, my sister Catherine, her boyfriend Steve (an Aussie, get in there!) and his cousin Connor (another Aussie, bring on the Ashes!). Add in the dog and we have been a happy dozen.

But Sunday was a memorable day, Not only was it one of the great British sporting days, it was also my grandmother's 98th birthday and it was a fabulous day to be at King's Church. Now if Church does what it was designed to be; it will be full of life, growing numerically and lives being changed positively. Sadly much of what is reported about churches is the opposite!  But on Sunday King's had a massive picnic at Ladywell arena in the afternoon, huge numbers of people at the services with a good number of people publicly responding to become Christians, there were baptisms and lots of new people!  I love my job and days like Sunday are a real joy!  

My grandfather and my grandmother have lived through more than one British male winner of Wimbledon, I wonder if I will!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Frogs, Referees and Ned Boulting

Thursday is not my normal day off.  Today has not been a normal day!  It began when I walked the dog to the local shop this morning and on the pavement at the corner of Verdant Lane was a couple of frogs in a rather intimate position.  The dog was fascinated.  So interested that later today she brought a dead frog into the house.  I'm really thankful it was dead!

One of my aims for the day was to get a referee for the Under 18s cup match that is taking place on Saturday.  I have recently become 'interim' manager - don't worry I have agreed to the title and won't be having a Rafa rant later in the season - and have needed to gather the lads and get things organised.  By this morning I had my squad but I needed a ref.  All those I directly contacted were not able to do it.  I even called in Twitter for help. 

On my travels today, I stopped at Sports Direct to pick up some linesman flags.  At the moment I picked the flags up in the shop, a man near me asked me if I was a referee.  I said "no, I'm a manager of a football club.  Are you a ref?" He replies "Yes".  It turns out he refs in the South London churches league that King's Church team play.  I had to keep checking if the conversation I was having was genuinely happening.  I phoned him this evening to confirm that he will referee Saturday's match!

And then, if my very un-normal day off could be any stranger - I drove past a runner today and immediately I thought that it was Ned Boulting - itv cycling & sporting presenter, with the wonderful, enviable job of working at the Tour de France.  After a quick internet search I discover that Ned indeed lives in Lewisham.  What a great place to live!

Just as I'm finishing this blog - guess whose voice has just made a contribution on the Spurs vs Inter match on itv3 - Ned is the touchline reporter!

Not a normal day off.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Why I marched to Save Lewisham Hospital (thinking about Billy Bragg)

Last Saturday was the second time I have gone on a protest march.  My previous march was an anti-Nazi rally when I was about 19 years old.  I remember marching down Brixton High Street and finishing at Brockwell Park where Billy Bragg sang and others spoke.  Last Saturday Billy would have been in his element.  There is something timeless about protests.

The cause is a just one - whichever was you look at it and explains the facts.  Huge recent investment in Lewisham Hospital.  Huge population growth in SE London.  A poor consultation, with hidden information about how much of the site will get sold off.  These are just some of the facts! Only someone who has no knowledge of SE London except looking at the financial mess that surrounds the borough of Lewisham could come up with such a decision.  It is hard to find a logical argument to close the A&E / maternity department, especially when you realise that local hospitals are stretched to cope with their current demands.

Billy would have loved the size of the protest last Saturday, the strength of the speeches from local MP's (well done Heidi!) and the passion from the matron of the A&E dept (brilliant).  He would have loved the sense of unity against a Government's disregard for people's wants and needs.

I'm not sure though what Billy would have made of the protest song by Question that has been released. - It's not my choice of music either!

And I doubt that Billy Bragg cycled, he would have struggled to carry his guitar!  But I cycle a lot in South London.  Yes I cycle because I love it, it's cheap, convenient and healthy but this is all because South East London is a tough place to travel around.  I can travel as fast or faster than cars most of the time.  I can get to Woolwich hospital way faster than a car, it is a slow journey!  Why ask thousands to make that journey adding extra traffic problems and accidents!

But Bragg was always up for the fight, regardless of the opposition.  Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham has spoken tonight with passionate words to carry on the fight whatever happens this week.  Maybe there will be time for Billy Bragg to sing again!