On Monday May 4th I volunteered to help on the Fair-trade Stall at the Bilton Gala. It was held in the playing fields and grounds round St John’s C of E primary school. Our stall was set next to UKIP!! They definitely did not agree with the principles of Fair-trade but just wanted immigrants to return to where they came from; they should have supported Fair-trade as that enables people to support themselves and their families and pay for education for their children in their own countries. One member of the UKIP group by their stall had an owl which was attracting the attention of children going past.
We had made a Fair-trade game, where they had to match a card with a fair-trade product on, such as bananas with the country in Africa it comes from and where it can be found on the map of Africa and they had to name the capital of that country. Small children had the help of mums or dads and it was free to have a go at the game; those who completed the task received a mini chocolate egg. I actually found the game quite taxing as geography was not my strong point and needed the help of the game participants to find the countries such as Malawi. It was a good educational game free to have a go with a small reward. Those who participated found the game a challenge and all learnt something.
On Tuesday May 5th I went to the New Wine Group I joined a few months ago. I find the fellowship and time of praise, singing and prayer for each other very helpful and supportive. The previous meeting had suggested we set ourselves goals which might help our Christian development. I knew I found it hard to pray and would benefit from being a member of a prayer group. I have in the previous couple of months joined the nine o’clock prayer group a couple of times a week at St Mark’s Church and found that time so helpful and uplifting and the best way of starting the day; that time has also helped my individual prayer times too. As we sang the fellowship songs and prayed together at the New Wine Group we were all enabled to share and pray for each other’s churches. There were some helpful pictures shared with us, one that we were strands woven together in a basket of praise to God; and the second one which blessed me was that God sent flashes of lightening through black clouds to lighten each of us and make us one. When I returned home to my beloved, he greeted me with a lovely big hug and kisses, making me feel extra special. That day was very special for me.
On Wednesday our gardener Martyn Clayton came and did some more tidying up in the garden. He takes the hard work out of gardening. I joined Beth on the Leeds bus as she had to fill in some forms in preparation for her new job the following Monday. I certainly got fit when we got off the bus and walked to St James Hospital; finding the hospital was much easier than finding the section Beth needed. However she managed to arrive in time for her appointment. We certainly got good exercise finding our way round the hospital. After she had filled in her forms we had a drink together, before finding the location of the stop for our return journey. It was fun going on the bus and good for me as with my bus pass I travel for free. We had a good chat en route and it meant that Beth could check which stop to get off when she went to work.
On Thursday election day I did an hour’s telling at Woodfield Ward, although I was standing for the Labour party in Pannal Ward. I knew I would not win my seat but it was important to me to stand for those who have been so badly affected in the last 5 years; we need more social housing in Harrogate; 866 families needed foodbanks in the last 6 months, 500 families were affected by the ‘bedroom’ tax when there were only 62 smaller properties they could have moved to. I felt hopeful that people’s desperate situations would prevent a majority for the conservatives! How wrong I was to be proved!! My beloved and I enjoyed a lunch out at Table Table restaurant in an advance celebration for my birthday. I had a free meal voucher as I have a card for the restaurant and it was for my birthday valid from May 1st. It made that day good. I also popped into work to see my former colleagues but also only saw a couple of them so decided to go in again at another time when more of my friends would be in.
Friday was my birthday but although I love birthdays and I had greetings from my daughters, son in law and my beloved I did not feel like being happy when I realised that the Tories could carry out further cuts of 12 billion from welfare, put more people on zero hours contracts and give even more money to the rich. I feel it is the end of the world I have known all my life, having been born into the welfare state, the many blessings for me and my family of the NHS free at the point of need. I worry for a society which fails to care for the disabled, the unemployed, those with mental health issues; a society which deprives people already on their beam ends of a month’s money! I fear more deaths, more suicides and people living in tents in this country as they even intend to sell off housing association properties, when there is a real shortage of social housing for low paid!! There is a pop song which has the lyrics: ‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’. I could not stop crying so I felt like saying, ‘It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to!’ I was glad I had stood for the Labour Party in the local election, even though I knew that the Tories would win; I was pleased to find I got 308 votes behind the Lib Dem and the Tory who won, but ahead of UKIP and the Greens. I do support the Greens too but I am glad was ahead of UKIP as I could never support that.
Going to the Acorn Centre as a volunteer did help me get a perspective to change what I could change, to accept what I could not change and the wisdom to know the difference. I had to accept that I could not change it. I was told it did not really make a difference which government was in but I still cannot agree with that, after the last 5 years. I had so much love from my friends at the Acorn Centre for my birthday which cheered me up a bit. Helping the students helped me focus on their needs and definitely made me feel better. Being home with my beloved, watching the first section of the Hobbit, my beloved’s birthday present to me also cheered me. We just enjoyed watching anything but further coverage of the election results.
On Saturday I went to the coffee morning at my former chapel as we were raising money for a new cause. It was lovely to see my friends and once again I found helpful support from friends there. My beloved and I enjoyed watching films from Sky and the Hobbit. We also celebrated my birthday more as we enjoyed a Cava. I just love relaxing with my beloved and watching films. Although it was a disappointing week for me I have been blessed by my family and friends and will continue to pray for the vulnerable, the unemployed, the disabled and those who face sanctions on benefits. I will continue to stand against the zero hours contracts and to stand up for the NHS, even though I fear I will not be able to save those who are exploited nor will I be able to protect the national treasure of the NHS now the Tories plan to destroy public services. All we can do is to pray and support those we personally can.