Thursday, 28 September 2017

The A21 Campaign


'Carve your name on hearts and not on marble' 

Charles Spurgeon

On the morning of 14th October, while I am in the final stages of preparation for the fortycubed Charity Gala Dinner, one of my heros and table hosts will be taking part in The A21 Campaign Walk for Freedom in London.  Christine will be joining a group of other 21st abolitionists as they walk single file in black shirts with yellow bandanas across their mouths.  

The A21 Campaign

Christine first heard about The A21 Campaign when she attended the Hillsong Colour Conference in London.  It is a non-profit organisation 'fueled by radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored'.  The A21 Campaign is taking on a great global challenge.  To eliminate the illegal trade of human beings and exploitation (recruitment, control and use) of people for their bodies and their labour.  Through force, fraud and coercion people everywhere are being bought and sold against their will.

The statistics are shocking.
  • Millions of slaves worldwide today - more than at any other time in history
  • A $150 billion industry
  • 99% of victims are never rescued
  • Every 30 seconds another person is trafficked 
  • Types of trafficking include sex trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, involuntary domestic servitude and child soldiers
  • Methods to recruit victims include false job advertisement, abduction, false immigration and some are sold by family or friends
  • Fastest growing criminal industry in the world

To reach, rescue and restore


At the heart of The A21 Campaign's approach is the focus on 'the one'.

'The one woman, the one man, the one child trapped and exploited, unable to see another end to their story. But we see the one, and we fight for the one, and we sacrifice to restore the one… to give them freedom and independence and the chance at a better story.'

The organisation seeks to reach the vulnerable, rescue the victims and to restore lives.

Christine and the 1

It can feel overwhelming.  When Christine first heard  the statistics, she was horrified and heartbroken.

'Once my eyes were opened, I could not close them again; never unknow what I now knew.  

Most people are familiar with the story of The Good Samaritan.  It is about a man who is traveling along a road when he is assaulted and his belongings are stolen. First a priest and then a Levite walk by and do nothing to help.  Then another man walks by; a Samaritan who took pity on the man and showed him compassion.  He stopped and helped him and went the extra mile taking him to an innkeeper and paying for his care.  

It is not that the priest or the Levite were bad people but they had other agendas to attend to and walked on by.  I am not comparing myself to the Samaritan but I decided that in the case of A21, I wanted to follow in his footsteps.  All the Samaritan had to do was to reach out to the 1.  We don't have to be capable of everything but we do have to be willing to do something.'

Christine's Campaigning 

For anyone who knows this petite, Welsh powerhouse, you will know that she has enormous levels of energy and boundless compassion.  She is also great fun to be with and her efforts to raise funds and awareness for The A21 Campaign have been well supported by her far-reaching network of friends.

Christine recently ran a Prayer group which took time each week to focus on the facts of modern slavery in one country at a time.  The group ran for 9 months and the numbers of people involved steadily grew from 4 to 25 people over that period.  She also organised an abseil for a group which raised sponsorship and this year, Christine held her third and largest A21 Campaign coffee morning with 15 cakes donated, each representing a different country from the Prayer group list.

I was delighted that Christine agreed to host a table for The A21 Campaign at the fortycubed Charity Gala Dinner and I can't wait to see what she gets up to next!

If you would like to learn more about the work of The A21 Campaign please click here and if you would like to make a donation as part of the fortycubed campaign please click here.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Tell 9 people!

'She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails' 
Elizabeth Edwards


The wind in his sails

Martin was sailing before he turned five years old.  His parents still sail regularly and impressively, his dad still windsurfs despite turning 80 years old at the end of last year.   We've had 3 sailing boats in our 20 years together and I can say with some certainty that sailing is not for me but it is one of Martin's great passions.  

We've had a ridiculous number of hobbies and interests over the years but never considered youth work as something we would enjoy.  Circumstances led to us taking over running the youth club on a Sunday evening at our church for children aged 9-13.  We didn't realise when we took it on that this would become the highlight of our week.  The opportunity to have fun and get to know these inspirational young people has been a blessing and has opened doors for us to get much more involved in our local community.


Worlds collide

It was through Martin's job that he first got involved with The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust which combined his passion for sailing and working with young people. Dame Ellen MacArthur was on Martin's radar from 2001 when she raced single-handedly around the world in the Vendée Globe when she was only 24 years old!  She took her fame, influence and passion for sailing and founded The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust in 2003.


The Vision

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that seeks to rebuild young people's confidence after cancer, using sailing to support, empower and inspire young people.  The results of a recent survey brought a smile to our faces!  To see the difference just one trip can have on these young people is remarkable and EMCT offers that support for as long as they require.


The Boy in 7 Billion by Callie Blackwell

This book tells the harrowing but inspirational story of Deryn and his mum, dad and brother and their journey with cancer.  Callie recalls the impact of the Ellen MacArthur trip Deryn enjoyed after months of gruelling treatment:

 'The boy I sent away on that minibus - a boy with no confidence, a shadow of his former self who was too scared to go outside in case he caught a bug or hurt himself - was certainly not the same boy they delivered back to me five days later.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust gave me back my son.'  

Tell 9 people

The Trust is currently using #tell9people to highlight that they only have funding to reach 1 in 10 of those young people who would be eligible to take part in an EMCT sailing experience.  If you can help EMCT reach more young people please consider donating via the fortycubed page. Their website is full of stories of young people who have been positively impacted by their sailing experiences. As a trustee and volunteer on the occasional sailing trip, Martin has found that the young people also have a profoundly positive impact on him.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Cystic Fibrosis Trust

'The question is not how to get cured, but how to live'

Joseph Conrad 

In a week when social media is full of back to school photos, it seemed appropriate to write about the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.  As with other chronic but often invisible illnesses, parents have the usual concerns and fears about waving their child goodbye at the school gates but these worries are magnified and multiplied.  I recently had cause to learn more about Cystic Fibrosis and quickly realised how little I knew.

What is CF?

'Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition affecting more than 10,800 people in the UK. You are born with CF and cannot catch it later in life, but one in 25 of us carries the faulty gene that causes it, usually without knowing.  

The gene affected by CF controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. People with cystic fibrosis experience a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs, causing a wide range of challenging symptoms affecting the entire body.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust website 

You can watch a video which explains CF in detail here.  The presenter of the video has CF and is waiting for a double lung transplant.  

People with CF cannot meet other people with CF


I was extolling the virtues of social media in my last post and it also plays a vital support role for those with CF and their families.  During times of crisis in my life I have always searched for other people in the same situation.  People with CF cannot mix with other people with the same condition because they can carry bugs in their lungs which, though not harmful those without the condition, can be very harmful to others with CF.  Therefore, sharing knowledge and building up a support network inevitably happens more often across social media than through direct contact with others in similar situations. 

Therefore when it comes to education, it is inadvisable to send a child with CF to a school if another person with CF attends that school.  This means a sharp learning curve for staff and other parents as they try to treat children with CF in the same way as their peers whilst limiting risk as far as possible.

The Daily Routine

  • People with CF may need to take over 40 tablets per day to help with their digestive system and to thin the mucus in their systems.  Some children will have a semi-permanent line fitted into their chest to allow for easy access for antibiotics. This will limit their ability to take part in swimming and contact sports.
  • Children at school are likely to face physiotherapy sessions both before and after school every single day and some will need additional physiotherapy during the school day.  Physiotherapy helps the child to clear their lungs of mucus and helps to prevent infection.
  • Coughs and colds are more of a risk to children with CF because their lungs are more vulnerable and can be damaged by repeat infections.  
  • It is inevitable that children with CF will have periods of absence from school due to regular clinic visits and it is also likely that there will be some periods of illness. 
  • People with CF often need an additional 1000 calories each day due to low digestive efficiency.  This can be difficult to achieve, particularly for children.
Of course, everyone with cystic fibrosis is unique and will have their own relationship with CF and their own range of symptoms. 

Sign up to be an organ donor!

I am writing this post during Organ Donation Week 2017.  Great steps forward in specialist care and treatment have meant that people with cystic fibrosis are living longer and healthier lives than ever before.  Despite these advances, many people with the condition will reach a point where they require a double-lung transplant to prolong their life. There is a shortage of suitable donor organs.  Approximately a third of all those on the waiting list for a lung transplant will die before they receive a donor lung.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust 

When the Trust began in 1964, around 80% of people with CF would not reach their 5th birthday and 90% would not celebrate turning 10 years old.  Now half of those born in the UK with the condition will live to celebrate their 40th birthday and a baby born today can expect to live even longer.  

The Trust invests millions every year in research and provides information and support to those people facing CF.  The Trust campaigns to ensure the voice of the CF community is heard and the Trust is working towards a time when everyone with CF can lead 'a life unlimited by the condition'. 
If you would like to make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as part of the fortycubed challenge, you can do so via this link.