I get up to lots in the Southend-on-Sea community. If you like, you can buy Ko-fi to help fund it all.
Basic Income – What would you do if someone gave you free money? Not the Lottery, but a small amount that gave you much more choice about how you spent your time..?
We need a fairer system and I believe Basic Income could be it. There are various ways to do this, but essentially, everyone gets an unconditional payment, which should suffice to cover the basic costs of living. Not needing to worry about getting into debt (and becoming a slave to it) or where the next meal’s coming from, gives people the freedom to get more out of life and to contribute more to the lives of others. Trials from around the world show some amazing outcomes. People don’t sit back and rely on the income. They get work to supplement it. They set up businesses (imagine being able to set up that business you always dreamed of!) they adopt healthier lifestyles, their children fare better, the pressure on statutory health services reduces, they do more in their community, they spend more – helping the economy, and so the list goes on.
I conduct talks and discussions about Basic Income and hope to arrange an Alternative Living Conference – looking at economic and environmental models for our contemporary age – soon.
Southend Soup Community Micro-Funding – We hold regular events around Southend that bring people together and help fund community or arts – or small business – projects. Come along, donate a fiver – or what you can afford – hear three or four great proposals, eat some soup (often made on site by volunteers) vote for your favourite and they win a pot of money to go do Good Things. After five years (I set this up in 2013) I finally got around to setting Soup up as a constituted group, or Small Charity, so we expect to be able to do more and fund more for our community!
Support Together Southend – I facilitate a monthly peer-support group for people living with, or supporting someone with, mental illness. Although independent of the charity, the group is supported by Rethink Mental Illness. I apply an Appreciative Inquiry approach to sessions – focusing on what helps maintain better mental health – acknowledging that mental illness isn’t usually fixed, people have good days, bad days and even worse days. However, we can share stories of what helps us to manage and get the best out of life. We often have guest speakers, and talk about people’s aspirations so we can set up sessions around those. (The group’s really keen to do some singing and/or drumming if anyone can help?)
Southend Swift Conservation Group – I set up an informal group in 2017 to help Southenders help our swifts; beautiful (noisy!) summer visitors that are with us from late May til the end of July. So far we’re recording sightings and nest sites – information we can share with Essex Wildlife Trust (we have a contact at the Belfairs Woodland Centre, where swift boxes went up in 2018) and RSPB. The plan is to go further; leafleting areas where swifts are nesting to raise awareness of their conservation, talks to schools and groups, and building and installing nest boxes. Please do get involved if you love swifts!
Free Hugs! – Since 2013, I’ve been organising hug sessions in Southend High Street. We started out doing a couple of weekends at Christmas – a truly depressing time of year for many – then expanded in subsequent years to include World Kindness Day in November. Why do this? Because in this busy world, too many people feel alone. Too many people are isolated and have little to no connection with others. And, at the time of year we go out, too many people are feeling the pressure of having no money, yet being expected to provide for their families and to join in with a gaiety they don’t feel. Huggers often come from people involved with Southend Soup, but anyone is welcome – preferably vouched for by someone who is a Soup regular.
Great Get Together – in 2017 and 2018 I’ve organised, with friends (Dan Turpin, Revd Melanie Smith and Gina Costin) a local Great Get Together: a free picnic, BBQ and fun day for all the family. The Great Get Together is a national event held in memory of Labour politician Jo Cox – a supporter of refugees murdered in 2016. Jo said we have more in common than that which divides us. The Great Get Together is a chance to celebrate what connects us. In the case of our events, that tends to be a love of giant Jenga, tug-o-war, and sausages. Anyone can organise a Great Get Together. Visit the website to get involved with the next one.