Saturday, 9 December 2017

Woodside is Watford

You have till the 11th December to make your voice heard

There are plans afoot to rearrange boundaries of our MP's constituencies. If you haven't heard then along with reducing the number of MP's the idea is that the actual constituencies become similar in size so that this is a fairer representation of the people. Whether you agree with this idea or not isn't the subject of this post... however... this effects a lot of people and many aren't happy with it!

Are you in Woodside, Abbots Langley or Kings Langley??

So the Liberal Democrats in particular have started a petition for those people affected in the Woodside Ward to be able to register their desire to stay in Watford. Basically the change means that people in Woodside (and Abbots Langley... and Kings Langley) will be voting for a different MP in a different area to the one they are now.

I personally grew up in Kenford Close which is one of the streets affected by these changes. This has always been a part of Watford and suddenly due to some figure manipulation in central government this apparently needs to change.

This is a question of Identity. People from Woodside belong to the town of Watford... not St. Albans. Everyone you speak to in Woodside identifies with Watford. So it is a nonsense that just because it makes the numbers look right that the people of Woodside suddenly start voting for an MP that represents a town they don't identify with at all.

Below an interview with the Deputy Mayor and local LibDem councillor Peter Taylor

You can register your dissatisfaction about these changes in two place but beware you have until Monday 11th of December to do so....

Watford Lib-Dems page Woodside is Watford Boundaries Commission Boundaries Commission page

For a look at how these Boundaries might affect you a screen shot of the Boundaries commissions proposed changes...

Basically... Watford will be delineated by the A405 and then the A41 where they conjoin down to the Hunton Bridge roundabout. Abbots Langley is hived off... along with WOODSIDE and even LEAVESDEN GREEN School ends up in St. Albans too! 

Please share this post with anyone you know who will be affected... serves no one but the politicians and does nothing for the people of Watford (or St. Albans for that matter)

Monday, 4 December 2017

Wellbeing Cafe collaboration with L4GSWHerts

Developing our local community through collaboration ... as we approach 2018, we extend a very warm welcome to the Wellbeing Cafe... 

There is a growing group of local businesses that are beginning to come together to create something really rather special.

There is little doubt that if we join forces and support each other we can achieve far more together than we could by just going it alone. With times being tough for all independent businesses and signs that this is likely to be the case for a while, there is no better time to vote with our feet and get busy co-creating and doing business with each other.

The Wellbeing Cafe in North Watford on Imperial way is in good company.  +The Kitchen Croxley, Perk Coffee (Carpenders Park), Villiers Coffee House (Bushey) and Flourish Artisan Bakery already work alongside Link4Growth by hosting both networking events and 'Learning Sessions'.

Nina from the Wellbeing Cafe is already hosting an open / inclusive networking event on the 3rd Friday of each month (the next one being a special on the 15th December) but is keen to open the doors and welcome a more diverse range of community and business initiatives at the cafe. After an extremely interesting conversation earlier this week and with so many common touch points, co-creation and collaboration was an inevitability. L4GSWHerts will provide support and assistance for the networking event on the 15th December and then we will begin to work more closely in the new year.

Help for the local 'Small Business' Community

During 2018 as part of the Business Development Network we are going to be expanding the popular Link4Help event and work towards offering a free, weekly (in different locations), business support service. 

This is already up and running at The Kitchen Croxley, on the last Friday of each month, and provides a space for those running (or embarking upon running) their own business, to get some independent advice, guidance, signposting and support from other local business owners. The Wellbeing Cafe will be the 2nd such venue to host a Link4Help event and further details will be available soon. 

Are you ready for the Business Development Network?

If you are in the SWHerts district (see list at bottom of the post) and are running your own independent business you will know how much of a challenge it is, and, the enormous list of things you have to consider nowadays. The list is quite simply endless.

However, we don't have to know it all... help is at hand, however, where are you at?  Do you share the thinking behind the items listed below? 

  • Supporting other local businesses and #BuyLocal wherever possible
  • Agree that collaborating and working together is much for effective than competing
  • That there is enough business for all of us... if we just get more organised
  • Help each other to succeed, and be happy to see others doing well
  • Share our knowledge, experience and expertise... we've all done so many things, and, we have far more to share than we give ourselves credit for
  • Connect people to our ever widening personal network
  • Share willingly and support others without expectation of return
  • Upskill ourselves so that we can participate fully both online and offline, supporting our fellow local business owners

If your mindset is aligned to the above... and you want to engage with others who have the same thinking, then please do get in touch (fill in the form). You can easily come along to any of the meetings (free events) or drop an email to (Chris Ogle)

Watford, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, Northwood, Bushey, Oxhey South Oxhey, Carpenders Park, Kings Langley, Abbots Langley, Garston, Leavesden, Chorleywood and Harefield

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Local Bakery wins best loaf... September Baking awards

It is old news now that Cinnamon Square is a multi award winning local bakery... indeed back in September (2017) down in Park Lane, Paul Barker did it again with his aptly named Church Street Sour, a loaf that gets its distinctive sour taste from a 12 year old culture 'fermented' on the premises.

You can read the full story on the Baking Awards presented by Denise Van Outen in this link Cinnamon Square wins Britains Best Loaf award.

We caught up with Paul Barker the proprietor of Cinnamon Square in a recent interview (shown below). It is incredibly humbling to know that we have a baker who has dedicated almost his entire working life learning about the art of baking and everything that goes with it.

After the interview Paul shared with me some of his more technical knowledge (and there is a lot of it) about the art of baking. One thing that comes across clearly is Paul's passion for his craft. Cinnamon Square is no doubt the epitome of a first class local, community centric bakery and to be really honest we are very lucky to have such quality in close proximity. Paul and his team have 'infected' thousands of local people with the enthusiasm to try baking through classes and workshops held on the premises and they are as popular today as they have ever been.

Please do watch the video below... better still... go down there and pick up some of the finest bread available anywhere in the UK.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Face it

What do you see? Is this an old or a young woman?

What do you see when you encounter a rough sleeper? I wonder if you see a person?

I went into London this week for a business meeting. The meeting ended about 5pm and I headed off to meet my brother at Waterloo station…rush hour! No signal on the tube, so as soon as I got there I head outside to ring him and find out what we would be doing. 

I see the man with the obligatory cup and sleeping bag but wanted to make sure my brother wasn’t waiting somewhere else for me, so dropped him a quick text, before approaching.

Whilst texting, and in my peripheral vision, I became aware of a young woman walking towards the rough sleeper; her face frozen in a look of pure disgust. She practically stepped over him, like a pile of dog poo.

It would be fair to say that he didn’t look good. Everything was dirty; the colour of his clothing stained with that kind of greyish hue that comes from being outdoors a lot. He was bent forward, possibly asleep with one hand sticking out, half way through a cigarette. Gnarled, brown fingers poked out of the sleeves of his checked jacket.

“Are you alright lovey?" I enquired.

He looked up at me, with a grubby face, and teeth like tombstones.

“Ah yes, I nodded off…didn’t get much sleep last night.”

I sat on the floor with him and listened to his story – abridged here – but incredibly similar to the 
other stories I hear. He has lost contact (and doesn’t want contact) with his family over the years; he talked about his young daughter however, that he misses her, but the family feud is too nasty to risk getting in touch.

Me: “Do you like living on the streets?
Him: “Sometimes. In the Summer it’s ok…but when the weather turns it’s no good. I’m trying to get enough money to go to the night shelter.”
Me: “They charge?
Him: “£7.00 but you have to get there early.”

I explain about the provision in Watford, which is quite different. He tells me that London is an interesting city, he hangs out in libraries and McDonalds to keep warm.  They move him on if he falls asleep there, and sometimes he hasn’t got money for a drink in McDonalds to justify being there.

There is a school of thought about not giving to the homeless which I disagree with, if you give this guy money he is going to buy a cuppa and save for a night’s shelter! If he bought say, alcohol after that, do you blame him? Do you enjoy a glass of wine in the evening? What’s the difference?

It’s what we see; just for a minute looking at him as a person and not a ‘tramp’ can make a world of difference.

Make that difference to someone this week. Acknowledge the people on the street – what you think you see at first glance can be an illusion.

Ruth Lee

Monday, 6 November 2017

Small Acts of Kindness - Now not so small...

Back in January 2015 during the coldest few days of the winter Lynne Misner experienced the horror of living in a house without heating. 

Living in a house without heating turns a lovely warm home into a cold, grey and uncomfortable place. It's like going from a colourful world to a black and white one, where everything you do is tainted by the feeling of being cold and trying to stay warm.

In this heightened state of awareness Lynne caught sight of a newspaper article stating that many elderly people on a fixed income often have to make the choice between heating and eating. In the 21st century Lynne questioned why do we still have this going on?

Often from a place of discomfort we see and experience things differently and after scouring the Internet Lynne spotted an "unfulfilled need" and then got very busy.

Gift packs for anyone over 55 who was having to make the choice between heating their home or eating. 50 packs in the first year... 2,000+ in the second and 4,500+ this year...

What was a small act of kindness has now turned into a very large act of kindness and it is growing all the time. The initiative has led to a huge community of volunteers who help out with packing days and managing the logistics of what is now a substantial organisation.

Small Act of Kindness works with the council, local businesses, other community groups and charities... plus they connect together lonely and vulnerable people... working together this is the start of rebuilding community which is vitally important and sadly lacking in this busy busy world we live in.

Below is a short interview with Lynne... the passion and the energy is self evident. Amazing to hear how far this project has already come... there is more work still to do in Hertfordshire... and then? ... maybe supporting the initiative throughout the country? ... It would be a braver man than I to bet against it!

World Premature Day - Audrey Mitchell

This month of November is our month as we celebrate World Premature day!

Events are dotted around on our facebook page. We still would love to keep supporting others like us, so anyone affected by Prematurity please do to join us.

Christmas of 2010 was the worst time ever as a family, our daughter at one month had already had a major surgery to close the whole in her heart PDA ligation two days before christmas.

What should have been a celebration that she would be given a better chance of survival left us watching her go into renal failure post op and being transferred back to her unit, to wait and see on Christmas eve. 

From then on we realised the true meaning of life never to be taken for granted, and have realised the how to offer hope. Hence this Christmas we would like to give Hope to families who spend time during Christmas in NICU by giving them gifts of Hope! We can't do this without your help.

The Month of October saw the founders of HertsPrems Rebekah and Audrey nominated for the Woman of Purpose Awards at the London Docklands Double Tree Hotel on the 7 October (video below). This gave us recognition which we never thought possible, we are so grateful for this opportunity.

I had also been acknowledged in my day to day efforts ... this outlining HertsPrems work till now.

This month also sees the launch of the Gift of Hope Campaign which will initailly be for Luton and Dunstable Neonatal Unit where we had our baby girl in Nov 2010 (born at 23 weeks weighing 1lb3oz / 540g).  She is doing  very well, and we cannot thank enough the Neonatal Intensive care unit in Luton, who proved their worth over and over with their expertise and life saving interventions.

Please support me on my just giving page here

Post  by : Audrey Mitchell

Friday, 20 October 2017


It’s that time of the year…

Scratchy throat, blocked up nose, coughing…yep, we are into cold and flu season.

I often suffer from a cold when the weather turns cold; I don’t think I wrap up enough, or is it just the germs that the children bring to school?

Feeling less than brilliant, I set off to Yoga. Just before the session I notice a rough sleeper under the tunnel nearby. I stop to chat, and explain that I won’t have change until after the class – she replied ‘cheers’ in a croaky voice – someone else who also gets unwell at the start of Autumn.

Q: “Why are you sitting under here though, in the shade? There’s lots of sunny spots?

A: “The police move you on, but it’s not just that, they can give you an ASBO.

I pause awhile to take this in. So, if she is hanging about in more visible areas she will be moved on and face a possible ASBO? Surely not, surely if she wasn’t begging (which she wasn’t, I just happen to know she sleeps rough and I like to help her out) or being a drunken nuisance…?

Apparently so. We, the people in "normal-land", with houses, cars and warm places to go do not wish to see grubby ‘poor’ people on the streets. Even though we are all just one pay cheque away from poverty ourselves.

This is why I can’t get rid of it, the weather…I can’t get completely dry so it just lingers on.

Imagine that. You have a stinking cold, coughing etc and not only do you have to sit in hidden spots under the underpass, but if it rains and you are caught in it, there is nowhere to warm up or put on new clothes. She did have a tent and outside equipment, but they were stolen a few months ago.

I stop feeling sorry for myself and carry on with my day; a day of cappuccinos, laptops, purring cats and friends.

Yes, I have a cold and it is rubbish. Compared to some, however I am very, very, blessed.

written by : Ruth Lee

Want to help? I gather stories from the streets and sometimes run fundraisers to help buy essentials for the homeless. If you would like to do something positive and practical to help, then please get in touch and drop me a line at :

Website :