Monday, 31 October 2016

Herts Prems celebrating World Premature Day

To commemorate World Premature Day on or around 17/11/2016 HertsPrems are seeking to turn our schools, offices, and everywhere Purple.

HertsPrems was founded by two local preemie mums Bekki and Audrey who experienced the preemie journey 2010 www.hertsprems.org

Since then the duo have gone from strength to strength in their fundraising efforts via https://www.justgiving.com/teams/hertsprems

Supporting parents online and since a year ago run monthly stay and play sessions at The Reddings Children Centre in Bushey which has become a well recognised hub and look forward to operating a charitable enterprise given the chance

To close World Premature Day activities a Charity Quiz night is being hosted by Bushey Beaumont House Care Home, High Stree Bushey, WD23 1QN on Thursday, November 24 at 7:30 PM - 9 PM. Entry is £5 which will include a ploughmans supper. Tickets must be booked in advance!

Please email heather.constance@barchester.com to book yours 0208 421 8844

Friday, 28 October 2016

Council Expenditure information lagging and interesting figures too!

The council should be providing us with an up to date list of all expenditure over £500 in any calendar month... at the moment the councils website only goes up to the end of the financial year March 2016... which I think ought to be sorted... anyone know who should be contacted to deal with that?

Also there are some very interesting payments... huge amounts go out each month in B&B payments... I am not saying these aren't valid... but shouldn't that money be used in perhaps a different way? worth considering at least or querying how that money is being spent... Simply Pleasure Limited got a payment around the 20th Jan 2016... not sure what that was about... but interesting nonetheless...

Worth a look... sorted in biggest expense first... the December 2015-through March 2016 spreadsheets listed folder below...

Council expenditure over £500 folder

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Business Award for Local 'Womens Lawyer' ~ Camilla Khawaja-Choudhury

The recognition of my work is very humbling, the fact of the matter is, The Women’s Lawyer, is a simple concept which was for many a year, remained a figment of my imagination; a dream that finally realised in 2012 amidst the government announcement of legal aid cuts.

It is imperative people have access to justice, the view that ‘justice in England is open to all, like the Ritz Hotel’, Sir James Matthews, must be addressed and changed; my practice is a very small attempt to make a big difference. I assist women with Divorce, Cohabitational Breakdown, Financial and Children Matters. Legal Aid is not available for such cases and the impact of this has led to severely unfair outcomes, in relation to both cases involving contact and money. Justice must be made available to all, the key to this is awareness and education; but most importantly affordable legal advice, which is what I provide.

I won the Best Business Woman in Legal Services Award this week, the Award is in recognition of my work with women on low incomes, those whom may have been entitled to legal aid, pre the cuts. The Award also highlighted my work in the community, I hold a free legal surgery fortnightly in Tesco Extra, Watford; this too has been a huge success.

Link4Growth were with me from the very outset, offering support and opportunity by way of spreading the word amongst the community in Watford; this was an invaluable support and allowed me to reach people whom perhaps may not have known of the support available.

The Best Business Women Awards (BBWA) are all about recognising great women in the business community. The business world is full of talented and dedicated female entrepreneurs who not only run successful businesses but in many cases also juggle the needs of their families.

Contact : www.thewomenslawyer.co.uk   @thewomenslawyer

2 Years on and what of the New Watford Market?

It was the 10th October 2014 that we saw the opening of the New Watford Market adjacent to the old Clements / TJ Hughes building. It was a fine clear day and as you can see from the picture it was a striking image that welcomed those first to experience what had moved 200 yards or so from the old Market location.

There was a sense of optimism about the new container style from those involved in its design and construction, however it wasn't met quite so enthusiastically by the traders themselves. There was a huge division with what was a minority saying "we're here now we have to make the most of it", whereas the larger contingent complained of the market being unfinished, no signage, unwelcoming, cold and very dark (everything was black). The move happened just as the cold weather began to set in which meant customers had not built up any habit of visiting the new market... no bus served the new market closer that 150 metres either which exacerbated the problem. Reports began to come in that trade was in the region of 50-70% down across the piece.

What became abundantly clear pretty quickly was that this new market would need to be very different to the one that left charter place. Many stall holders would not survive. 2 years in... of the 33 that made the move to the new market 6 have survived... Many stalls are empty but there is a constant stream of people looking at moving in... the mix of stall holders is very different nowadays... some just for the day as a pop up shop... some in the street... others operating both inside and outside. Flexibility seems to be the order of the day while the market regains a sense of itself and what it needs to be.

The market looks like it will survive... many thought it would see fewer summers than it has already but the darkness and cold returns very soon and a 3rd winter for the market approaches fast. At long last the long promised weather protection has been erected around the market which gives some respite from the elements, when the wind is in the right direction... and it does feel warmer upstairs in the food court (in October) at least.

There is a mood with the new people in the market of higher levels of positivity, that people know what they have taken on and accept the challenge... the memories of the old market are fading fast or do not exist at all for the new people...

As was said 18 months ago, this new market must carve out a new niche for itself in Watford. The old market has gone, the new market is here to stay, but comparing it with what we had in Charter Place would be a pointless exercise. The Charter Place chapter for the market can now be considered fully closed, the new market chapter has begun... where will it lead? ... only time will tell!

Interviews with some of the traders start at 16 minutes 20 seconds in the video below.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Annual Croxley Green Book Sale

Last weekend Saturday 8th October between 8:30am-2:30pm saw the Annual Croxley green Book Sale in support of Christian Aid.

We were delighted to receive this report by organiser Chris Gregory whose hard work contributed to the success of the day.

“So many books!” exclaimed a visitor when they arrived at the Croxley Book Sale which was held on Saturday 8th October at the Baptist Church on Baldwins Lane. The annual sale, now in its tenth year, receives thousands of second hand book donations from local churches who organise them all into categories and sell them to raise funds for Christian Aid.

This year they raised over £1,200 for the international charity, but there is also a real social dimension to the event. “It’s no longer just a book sale – it’s turned into an enjoyable sociable occasion”, commented Niamh Murtagh, one of the organisers. “We see friends and neighbours bumping into each other and stopping for a chat over coffee and cake before they continue browsing.” Hundreds of people attend from all over the local areas, many returning each year, so keep an eye out next October. As Gill, a regular, said “We come back because there’s always such a good selection.”

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Audentior Awards 2016 - Celebrating Watford's Volunteers

I was delighted to attend Watford's 2016 Audentior Awards as a representative of The Michael Green Diabetes Foundation and as a guest of Watford Council's Chairman, Darren Walford and Watford's elected Mayor, Dorothy Thornhill. Many thanks to them for their kind invitation.


We are one of the Chairman's two nominated charities for this year, along with Watford Workshop. Both charities were there as part of an award ceremony to celebrate the achievements of Watford's charities and volunteer organisations.

It was great to chat with the other invited guests over drinks and canap├ęs in the foyer before taking our seats and being entertained with a brilliant showcase of Legally Blonde by Cassio Productions - the show will be in full swing at Watford Palace Theatre from 9-12 Nov and I urge everyone to go and applaud this amazing group of talented young people.

The film reel backdrop that played throughout the evening gave us a real insight into the work of the volunteer organisations in Watford and full credit must go to Ian Port and Steve Martin of Think About it Films for their hard work in putting this together. You can watch the film reel on their website: Think About It Films

Thanks to all involved: those who cooked the delicious foodie offerings; those who served drinks; those responsible for the pretty table decorations; and those who had to clear up after us all at the end of the night!

Thanks also to Darren, his wife Tanya and their daughter Yaz, Linda from Watford Workshop, plus the others on our table, for a fun evening of friendly conversation. Huge thanks also to everyone on the night for their generous donations towards the raffle - approx. £1500 was raised, with the funds being split between MGDF and Watford Workshop.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Getting YOUR messages into the community, now both EASY and FREE!

Probably the biggest challenge for any of us involved in any organisation of any type is getting our message to the people who might want to hear it. That goes for  a community group, charity, local sports club, faith groups, schools, health information providers, local small business or just local events that are happening in the area.

Did you know that 97% of what goes on in our community is good news which never reaches us. Most of the news that reaches us concerns the 3% of less savioury not so good things. Bad news sells newspapers but it does little for the community in terms of providing valuable information that we need or seeing the amazing work that great local people (unsung heroes) are doing locally around us.

Hence why the Community Communications Hubs Websites (CCHW) are now being set up around the country. South West Herts is the first to get such a website and the great news is that 1st... it's free to use and access... 2nd it's free for you to post your organisations updates and information... 3rd anyone can update it... meaning you don't have to send your information to an editor for approval or wait to see if it will be accepted or not. You can post what you want to say, when you want to say it, when you are ready!

So... how can you find out more and how can you start to get your organisation up and running?

We are putting on two training evenings, completely free (except buy your own refreshments) at the local independent coffee shop +The Kitchen Croxley on the 12th and 26th October from 7pm-9:30pm. These will be hands on sessions and by the end of the evening you will be able to post your information onto the CCHW. So please join myself and +linda anderson for a fun but incredibly useful and beneficial evening for all.

Bring a Laptop, Tablet or Mobile phone and let us get you sharing what is happening in your organisation with the rest of your community.

If you are reading this then you are already on the community communications hub... please take a look around we are now beginning to include all local community organisations... and do read the About Us section here for more information about what this is all about.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Reason Coffee Shop paving the way to Sustainability with takeout Coffee Cups!

You might not know this but there was a huge outcry a few weeks back as people woke up to the fact that our beloved take out coffee cups are not actually bio degradable.

One could have been excused as the vast majority of us have been for thinking that as they are paper of course they will compost that goes without saying... Unfortunately not so. The Lining in these cups is made from oil and hence they are landfill like a lot of other products we probably assume will degrade easily. If you consider the success of the Coffee Shop culture not just here but across the world then you can envisage the magnitude of this problem; it is huge! You see people walking about holding a coffee cup everywhere you go... 20 years ago, no one did this.

So +Reason Coffee Shop and Book Store in the Parade Watford High Street has lead the way by sourcing a totally degradable take out coffee cup. +Neal Emery (the proprietor) has sourced this from Holland, and this is inline with his philosophy of leading awareness to a more sustainable and harmonious way of living on this planet. Please take a look at the video below as Neal shares more details with us.

I am sure that as part of the +Coffee Shop Union and as our local independents begin to discuss this matter between them we will see all of our local independents switching to alternative suppliers. One of the key benefits of being part of the Coffee Shop Union is the sharing of knowledge and information and the speed with which changes can be implemented.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Calling all budding Journalists!

Are you a young writer? Are you looking to get into media, communications or journalism? Would you like an opportunity to practice writing and help your local community at the same time?

If so then we'd love to hear from you. South West Herts has launched its Community Communications Hub. The purpose of this hub is to ensure that the good news that happens in our local community gets out there and all of us have the chance to find out what is going on locally. 97% of what goes on in community is great stuff, but where can we report that? I mean... report it ourselves, without needing approval of an editor or someone else who is 'in charge' or has another agenda.

If we could get to report all the good work that is going on in the community, we would start to realise that actually where we live has a lot going for it... we just didn't know... but now, we can really find out!

You'll also be involved in the first of its type. We will be rolling out over 80 of these community communication hubs right around the country and we're starting right here in South West Herts. They are free for people to use and each town / suburb / village also has its own notice boards so that literally everyone who wants too can add posts and no piece of news needs to be missed...

Full training on how to use the platform will be given... just a desire to write, learn and contribute is all you'll need.

We will be running two workshops in October for people to come and learn how they can begin to take advantage of this exciting new platform... the 12th and the 26th of October both will be at +The Kitchen Croxley from 7:00-9:30pm. This is our chance to participate in our communities and feel like we belong.

Please email southwesthertsDL@link4growth.biz for further information or tweet @L4GSWHerts ... or stop by the Kitchen in Croxley and ask for +linda anderson (and maybe buy a coffee an some cake)

Local L4GSWHerts CommunityTV News Show 30th September 2016

With Just +Tania Clarke away this week +Diane Richardson hosts a packed show containing no less that 2 outside broadcast interviews with my good self, all the news with Diane... +Neal Emery provides all the upto date sports news and +Catherine Baldwin tells us about all the social and charity news in the area.

In the show I will be interviewing +Rachel Brett about the launch of the +Link4Growth SW Herts Abbots Langley #Link4Drinks and also Robin White membership secretary of the Abbey Flyers user group about the news of closure of the heavy rail for a bus service.

Lots and lots of news... enjoy!