Monday, 14 August 2017

Kicking off the SWHerts - Peoples Health Service (PHS)

Are you involved in any aspect of Health and Wellness?

Do you believe that people could be much healthier if they had access to information that would enable them to make better choices?

Would you like to be part of an evolution of Health Service provision that focused on helping people to make adjustments in their lives so they stay fit and healthy for longer?

That is what the Peoples Health Service is all about... one more important thing... it is not a government or pharmaceutical led initiative... it is something that we, 'the people' are able to build ourselves.

On Wednesday 16th August at +The Kitchen Croxley 7pm we have the first of what it is hoped will  be replicated with similar events right across the country. An Open Evening to share the

  • The principles behind the initiative
    • No one is in charge
    • This is a co-create initiative
    • Facilitated by a community coach whose role is
      • Empower people to consciously choose between Follow, Lead, Find your own way
      • Take responsibility for the choices made
      • Everyone is free from the pressure to meet the needs or expectations of others
    • Make it up as we go along. Journey together into the unknown with the spirit of an adventurer
    • Understanding that as an interdependent initiative we can face all challenges through our collective knowledge, expertise and experience. Resourcefulness and Resilience
    • The only right way is that there is no right way
  • The tools that we might use to get organised
    • How to share information online
    • Calendars
    • Local community hubs
  • How it will be delivered - Open Health / Wellness days
    • Local coffee shops
    • Free information services
    • Preventative health care
    • Sign posting and connecting
  • Where to register as a SWHerts-PHS health practitioner (service provider / business)
    • Local directory for health & wellness service providers
    • Place to share updates and news
    • Public so that any local people can connect with those providing services
  • The SWHerts-PHS health forum (for everyone interested in health / Discussion forum) ... this area is for people to ask questions, and for people to respond... personal profiles only
There will be plenty of opportunity to Network and to discuss all of the above

Please do join us this Wednesday

This is a fabulous opportunity to get involved at the grass roots level and to turn the tide of public health. We all know it is a huge issue and the only way it can be effectively tacked is if we all begin to play our part.

If you know of anyone in the Health & Wellness sector from Nutrition to Yoga, fitness to acupuncture... or homeopathy to reflexology... all are welcome... 


This is something we must build, for ourselves. If you are passionate about Health & Wellness and would like to take an active role in changing how health is delivered in this country... this might just be the chance you've been waiting for...

Please visit the events page on Facebook and let us know you are coming along

See you there on Wednesday... 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Nascot Lawns Update

Following on from the previous post on the devastating situation with the intended closure of the Nascot Lawns childrens respite centre, below is a quick update and some links to further information.

We had scheduled an interview with Richard Harrington MP for Watford a couple of weeks back but this was unfortunately postponed as Richard felt that the interview might jeopardise the discussions being held with CCG and other authorities involved.

Here is the recent announcement made by Richard of his progress so far.

What is known so far having has a brief conversation with Marlene Rhodes is that not much has happened since the announcement. Preparations for alternative provision of services has not really moved from the starting line, and most parents haven't even had their 'assessment interviews' scheduled as yet. It is no real wonder that Richard has secured a 3 month extension of the closure date (October 31st orginally) to the end of Jan 2018. Anything less than a postponement would have proved a disaster for the families and the existing 'overstretched' community / health providers.

As stated in the last post on Nascot Lawns, no one has thought this through at all. It may well be that the Nascot Lawns site would provide a much needed one off injection of cash... but at what cost to the families who use the centre and to the social / care services that will have to pick up the slack? It smacks of ... "well that's off my budget, someone else can pick it up now... not my problem". Same old story of pass the buck until we're buried in bureaucracy, red tape, and endless fruitless discussions.

Surely finding an alternative site (on perhaps less desirable development land) to continue the service provision would be the most desirable solution. Perhaps some of the fund generated from this 'transaction' could be earmarked to do just that.

Let us hope for all concerned that Richard and the other MP's continue to pile on the pressure. A real chance to deliver what the people want here rather than what the 'numbers people' think adds up on a spreadsheet.

You can keep up to date with all the developments as they happen over on the Save Nascot Lawns Facebook page here... featured also on BBC Radio here.

The campaign recently had a supportive and much needed  Guest blog from Amanda Batten - CEO of Contact a Family.

Via the Facebook page is a petition to support the campaign if you haven't signed it yet please do pop over there via the link above and give your support. This campaign needs everyone of us behind it.

Monday, 24 July 2017

SWHertsPHS - The People's Health Service

How could we transition to a more healthy way of living and maybe avoid the blight of many of the more common ailments that appear all too frequently in our modern way of living?

Our health is the most important thing we have. Very often we only appreciate this when suddenly our good health is snatched away from us.

Many of us spend more time taking care of our car or house than we do of the only vehicle that really matters; our own physical body. Often we hear people say... my health let me down... really? ... or perhaps was it the irresponsible way we treated our body?

If we were able to
  • Notice when things were going wrong with our body
  • Become more aware of the needs of our body
  • Make simple adjustments to improve the performance and reliability of our body
The benefits to all of us (and to those dependent on us) is that we would have a better chance of living longer and being able to enjoy a higher quality of life during those years.

This SWHertsPHS is an initiative to empower us 'to be able to get good, relevant information' and perhaps make better health choices. It is not a replacement for the NHS or Medical services. When things have already gone wrong and we need medical assistance, then we are all grateful for the local doctors surgeries and hospitals... but what if we could avoid being sick in the first place? What if we started to build a whole preventative health care service? We already have many of the bits in place... perhaps all it needs a bit of co-ordination and collaboration to have a much greater impact.

What are the ambitions for the SWHerts PHS (People's Health Service)?

  1. Encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health 
  2. Prevention is better than cure. Reducing the burden on the NHS... a reduction by 10% would make a world of difference to the hard pressed health service. 
  3. Weekly Health Hubs. Meet specialists, get information, make connections and get signposted 
  4. Online Health Community. Meet practitioners and specialists, find out information, ask questions all from home or work.

How will it work?

Starting in September... initially bi-weekly... the South West Herts PHS (People's Health Service) will be operating in a local venue (TBA, but something like a local coffee shop). The idea is to make preventative care far more accessible to us all.

An electronic diary will be made available and shared so that specialists intending to make themselves available can do so. These will be hourly slots. People wishing to meet specialists can then come along at a time when they know someone will be there who can help them. All these information / signposting services will be offered for free.

We Need You!

This is a collaborative co-creation initiative. It's our chance to start helping each other. If you would like to get involved in helping this launch then please do get in touch via Email :

All those who offer services aligned to the Health & Wellness industry are invited to participate (contact will be made during August) with the initiative. If you want to make contact and get ahead then do Email : 2 dates will be announced during August where anyone interested to find out more can come along. Those dates will be announced very shortly.

Summary of Services

  • Regular meetings 'Get Health' days (weekly over time)
  • Connect with a wide range of local health professionals
  • Access throughout the day
  • Online community to continue questions and conversation

    For local health professionals
  • Raise the awareness of how your services can be part of preventative care in the community
  • Get Found: Local Health & Wellness services directory (free to use)
  • Chance to meet local people in a non-pressure environment

Additional Colateral

Special Services being made available

There are some 3 million diabetics in this country and a conservative estimate of 2 million+ walking around undiagnosed. HBA1C is the most effective test for Diabetes and also to monitor that the condition is being managed effectively.

HBA1C testing has been severely cut via the NHS with type 1 diabetes sufferers receiving only 1 test per year and type 2 patients even less.

As part of 'taking responsibility' for our health we will be offering low cost HBA1C testing with hospital quality machine and other tests (over time) right into the community at these events. This enables anyone with the condition to obtain tests when it suits them as often as they wish.

If you are involved in any of the areas below (not exclusive to these)... or any complementary area... then please do get involved...

Nutritionists, weight loss consultants, Homeopathy, Essential Oils, Acupuncture, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Energy workers (Reiki, Crystals, Sound, Magnotherapy), Massage, Amatsu, Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga, Pilates, Fitness, Exercise (Gyms / Spinning / Zumba), Hypnotherapists, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Life Coaches, First Aid specialists, Alexander Technique specialists

also... anyone involved in Charities such as Age concern, Alzheimers, Dementia, Stroke Support, Cancer, Diabetes, Heart, Disability, Family support, Children, are more than welcome to participate.

The more information we can collate and make available through an easy to access online portal the better. People will be on hand during the PHS 'Get Health' days to share how to find the information / connections you need too.

Watford Homeless Project

There are so many good causes and charities… what makes helping the homeless one of my interests?

Many years ago, when I was training to be a teacher in Manchester, it happened to me. Luckily, the council were successful in forcing the landlord to overturn their decision, and, as it happened just before the Christmas holidays, my family could take me in while I found another flat for the next term.

I’ve always had asthma, and the damp and cold top floor of the townhouse in Heaton Moor was acerbating the problem. I love the vibe of Manchester, but anyone who has ever lived there will tell you that it never seems to stop raining!! The rest of the country will be in glorious sunshine, but not the Mancunians I’m afraid! In these conditions, I caught a nasty chest infection and, feeling weak and not having a telephone (this was in 1993, so no mobiles!) I considered walking to the telephone box 20 minutes away to make the call to my university, to explain that I wouldn’t be coming in.

The landlord had a phone on the landing, one floor down. I would certainly have asked permission first, but thinking that everyone was at work, I used their phone to make the call. The landlady (I think she was called Val, but it was so long ago I’m not certain) caught me in the act. She went ballistic and screamed at my partner and I, telling us to get out right away. Frightened, the two of us grabbed what we could and were literally thrown out on to the street.

It’s hard to believe, as the Ruth of today would not have been so easily intimidated! To cut what could be a long story short, the council intervened and explained to the landlady that she was breaking the law, that we had to be allowed to see out our tenancy and access our belongings.

When I see the rough sleepers of Watford, I can easily see how one or two wrong turns in your life can send you on to the wrong path. There is no doubt that I shouldn’t have used the phone without permission, and I’m sure that many homeless people would also recognise that they have made mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes snowball, one bad decision leading to another and another.

In my work with the Watford Homeless Project I have had the opportunity to hear their stories; sometimes stories that start out like mine, but these don’t have such a happy ending. Some of the community have had successful careers, families and the trappings of financial success. It is hard to comprehend, but that guy you see begging on the street in dirty clothes has at times run businesses, and could probably knock your maths skills into a cocked hat – even when he is blind drunk!

They all have an interesting story to tell. The next phase of L4G outreach work (Watford Homeless) is going to be to hear their stories, to listen, understand and hopefully through sharing and communicating with the community, to help them to heal. That said, not every rough sleeper is looking for change, to be fixed, or for charity; whilst I will continue with practical support (e.g. fundraising) I believe that this venture is about developing a mutual understanding between us all, and a different sort of change.

L4G’s strapline is ‘What if we knew you?’ What if we knew more about the people in society who only make themselves visible in shop doorways and night shelters? What if we knew their stories, your stories…. our stories? 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Amazing results in SW Herts for Park week with 11 Green Flags... BUT!

Woodside playing fields
We are blessed with having some amazing green spaces in our area. In recognition for keeping the parks in prime condition for the community to use there are awards. These are Green Flag awards.

This year we have received this prestigious award for 11 green spaces :-

Cassiobury Park, Woodside Playing Fields, Cheslyn House and Gardens, Waterfields Recreational Ground, Callowland Recreational Ground, North Watford Playing Fields, Oxhey Park, St Mary’s Churchyard, Goodwood Recreation Ground, Paddock Road Allotments and North Watford Cemetery.

Cassiobury Park - Water park & Community Hub
The reporting of this amazing achievement has been widespread (in the Watford Observer, and on the council's own website) The credit for the achievement has been awarded to two organisations. Deputy Mayor Peter Taylor (Portfolio holder for client services at the council) has congratulated the council (themselves) and their contractor Veolia for the outstanding work they had done (paid for work mind) that both these organisations have undertaken on our behalf.

It's great that these awards have been given and that our parks are of excellent quality for all of us to enjoy however... let us not lose sight of the fact that they are 'self congratulating' for actually doing their job. This is indicative of a much wider issue that we experience in many aspects of our lives today where we are pleasantly surprised and give awards out for people who actually provide the service they are being paid to do...

Sandy Belloni - cleaning the river in Oxhey Park
In two of the above situations namely Oxhey Park, and Paddock Wood... the most important contributor to the success has been sadly overlooked and omitted. That of the very humble +sandy belloni. Sandy is well known in the area for the tireless hours he puts in at Oxhey Park (with many local volunteers) and also as a key member in the Paddock Woods Allotment Association.

Sandy runs a Facebook Group Friends of Oxhey Park and you only have to look through the posts to see the tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment Sandy puts in... wait for it... for little or no reward whatsoever. It's easy to do a good job if you're being paid for it. Sandy does most of what he does for no money and... he helps local young adults gain experience through providing a valuable community service. Veolia would not be able to keep this park up to scratch if it wasn't for Sandy telling them what needs doing... where the graffiti is... what needs sorting out down there...

And yet... everyone knows what a contribution Sandy makes and no one even thought to mention him. This is not an over sight... it is much worse (in my opinion).

Peter Taylor (Deputy Mayor) wrote on the FB Group for Oxhey Park
You are right. I should have have thanked Sandy and the work of all our Friends groups. Apologies for any offence caused. I know that the Green Flag assessors were particularly impressed with the community involvement in our parks.
I for one am very pleased that the Green Flag Assessors were impressed with the volunteers... so impressed they never mentioned them at all...

It is this default mode of the council thinking we're here to give them position and power... rather than they are here to serve their community... that could be partially responsible for the mess we're in today.


Jobs Fair on September 1st... could you help?

Watford - Jobs Fair - Banqueting Suite Watford
The Watford Jobs fair which was initiated by +Richard Harrington (local MP) is being held once again at the Banqueting rooms in the high street (near the overpass) on the 1st September. In what has become an annual event in the town diary it provides a fabulous opportunity for local people to connect directly with potential employers in the area and vice versa.

For more information about the Jobs Fair please take a look at the website here.

Can you help?

There are a number of ways that you might be able to participate

  1. If you run a business and are looking for people why not exhibit there (it's free, visit the website above for further details)
  2. If you are looking for work come along and meet other people who may have job opportunities or at least make some new connections, or just get some new ideas
  3. The Job Centre will be there and are looking for volunteers to do Mock Interviews and / or help with CV writing throughout the day

Job Centre volunteering

Hema Pandya our local Watford based BITC Connector (Business in the community) is working with the Job Centre and looking for a number of volunteers from businesses to support them on the Friday 1st September at the Jobs Fair.

They would like volunteers to carry out mock interviews or provide CV advice to individuals attending the event that are looking for employment. Not only is it a great opportunity to support local people either get into work or seek new employment, its a fantastic opportunity for employees to develop coaching and interviewing skills.

The Jobs Fair runs from 10am to 4pm and will have over 60 employers exhibiting. Last year over 4,000 people attended. The mock interviews and CV advice sessions were hugely popular last year and we know they are going to be well received this year. As such, we would need volunteers to commit to at least three hours of their time or ideally the full day. CV coaching sessions are approximately half an hour long, and mock interviews run for around 45 minutes.
Hema Pandya

Want to help? 

If you would like to go along and be part of this initiative in Watford then please make contact with Hema directly, her contact details are below...

Hema Pandya      
Business Connector Watford  Business Connectors Programme

twitter: @HemaConnects

Thursday, 6 July 2017

NHS Nascot Lawns children's respite centre under threat

So why is it that it always seems that the most vulnerable are hit time after time?

We all know money is tight... but it is a complete misnomer that there is 'no money'. When the money is needed for things that are 'found out' to be wrong... like fire prevention on tower blocks, money which wasn't available suddenly arrives.

However when there isn't the opportunity to gain public votes... when it isn't an emergency... when the people who it effects are unable to defend themselves and it basically hurts the vulnerable in society... the money is NOT AVAILABLE. Doing the right thing 'when no one is watching' seems to be very absent in those that would have us believe are looking after our best interests. Whatever happened to integrity?

If you wanted to look at this from a cynical perspective, here we have a a large property in significant grounds on a plot of land worth millions. We have a remit for all public service providers to save, save, save. In this instance there is not only a saving but the very real prospect of a large cash injection to boot. A double whammy.

What happens to the families? ... 

well the other support services will have to pick up the slack. Really? How will they be seeking additional funding for the increased work and skills required? ... is this a case of, well it's off my spreadsheet, I'm not bothered where it goes at least I've shown some savings in my area? ... and by the way do I get a bonus for finding that cash injection for the one off sale of a community asset?

What of the increased care required for the parents, already at breaking point and surviving with the promise of that tiny piece of respite once in a while. What of the siblings who get precious little of the parents time already... what of the rest of the family members who see loved ones crumbling under the strain... what of them?

Is this not just a complete false economy anyhow?  Has no one even considered the implications. Was this just we have to make cuts, this is expensive, let's just tick that one shall we? ... Has no thought at all been put into the scale of devastation this decision will bring to so many in the borough.

All these parents and families are looking for is for some brave person 'with influence' to actually say. Hang on this isn't right. When everyone has been hammered with austerity measures (not discussing them here) for years and now... this is just one step too far. We have two very powerful individuals (as far as the existing system of governance is concerned) in Richard Harrington and Dame Dorothy Thornhill. If there was ever a time for these folk to show their true colours I would suggest that time just arrived.

Please take a look at the video below... an interview with Marlene Rhodes whose family depend on the services provided at the Nascot Lawn Day centre... there is a petition to sign at the end of this post if you haven't already done so... please sign it...

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Pop up Table Tennis

Table tennis is a sport that we've probably all had a go at. 

I know when I first picked up a bat the challenge to get that ball back on the other side of the table no matter what was an irresistible draw.

There are not so many places to 'give it a go' these days... It seemed with works canteens and social clubs of yesteryear that there were more places to 'chance by' table tennis.

As chairman of the Watford Table Tennis League... my remit is to ensure the future of Table Tennis locally and consequently I have acquired some mini table tennis tables that require minimal space and that can be easily transported.

The idea is to open up the opportunity to experience Table Tennis is a fun way... through increased engagement, new connections... more people experiencing the game and perhaps even discover some new venues which could host more formal Table tennis going forward... In an ideal world we might find a new home for some of the teams that play in the Watford League itself.

If you are interested in new ideas around Table Tennis as a means of bringing people together for a bit of fun, along with other initiatives or just a fun thing to do all on its own then please let me know. You can contact me on twitter @chrisogle or through email

Below a bit of video captured using Google Glasses (video camera built into wearable glasses) so you can see first hand how it was for me playing against Abbas from Shamma Dry Cleaners (Croxley) ... this trial event was hosted by +The Kitchen Croxley

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Kitchen Folk with Christopher Lawley

When I first heard about Kitchen Folk ... I thought it was all about 'Folk stuff' at +The Kitchen Croxley. But it isn't...

The significance in the use of the word Folk is for 'people' and so the meaning of  'Kitchen Folk' is literally... people who meet at the Kitchen Croxley (venue) once per month (4th Wednesday from 7:30pm)

I had visions of Morris Dancers and other 'folkie' things going on and it turns out it is nothing of the sort. So... if you would actually like to experience a kind of 'Camp Fire' gathering of local people who can just be there, support each other, or even share something (no pressure) then that is what it's all about.

Christopher Lawley runs the group... you can catch him on Facebook easily enough and there is also a facebook group here...

Below +Chris Ogle chatting with Christopher Lawley about Kitchen Folk...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Local candidates for the Watford constituency

With the exception of the Conservative incumbent Richard Harrington the 3 candidates, Chris Ostroswki (Labour), Ian Stotesbury (Lib Dem) and Alex Murray (Green Party) giving us an insight into their proposals. +Neal Emery from Reason Coffee Shop & Bookstore provides his views on what he believes are the most important issues of our time...


Non political party related but a view of a Watford resident and Business Owner Neal Emery

Credits: Videos all recorded and produced by Mustr

Monday, 5 June 2017

Table Tennis for fun at The Kitchen

Table Tennis is an amazing game... 

did you know that often you have to make 3 decisions a second when playing the game?

This is brilliant for keeping the mind active and agile... so if you are a baby boomer... time to pick up a bat and start playing!

Table tennis is the second most popular sport in the world after Fishing believe it or not.... and there are more registered table tennis players in China than there are people in the UK...

Table Tennis is a fascinating game... often touted as chess at a million miles an hour it's both an exciting and exhilarating sport that is available to all, very inclusive, and can be played indoors in all weathers. It's really quick to set up and get going so it is a real shame that over the years there have been fewer and fewer venues where you can play.

But there is a little acorn of an initiative starting at +The Kitchen Croxley this Friday from 5-7pm. Two fun sized tables for anyone that wants to just come along pick up a bat and have an experience of just joining in.

This isn't a session for superstars... or would be world champions... it's actually a chance for anyone in the community to come together and have a bit of fun... Afterwards, if you find you like Table Tennis then just ask and we can signpost you on to further information.

Event Details on the Kitchen Facebook page here...

Friday, 5 May 2017

New Coffee Shop opens in Oxhey Village

Local #Bushey resident and Oxhey Village Environment Group member (OVEG) +Angie Carstairs has been keeping a close eye on progress of a new coffee shop in Villiers Road in Oxhey Village.

Well the wait is over and Villiers Coffee House is now open. This week the shop opened with a friends and family day and then both Angela and myself managed to grab some time to make a visit on Wednesday 3rd May to check out the new venue.

What a delight! ... and for me, who allegedly is turning into a bit of a coffee aficionado (allegedly I drink way too much coffee), was particularly impressed with the cappuccino's I ordered. Andy Killpack explains more (video below) about the technicalities of the coffee served at Villiers but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

We were so impressed, that Angela who hosts the Bushey #Link4Coffee event has decided to move the event (every 4th Thursday of the month) to Villiers, beginning in May. A date for your diary Thursday 25th May from 9:30am. Apart from Villiers being just walking distance for Angela, Andy and the team there are local people who really are passionate about building community in the area. The coffee shop is a vehicle to bring locals together much in the same way as pubs have been in the past, but with great coffee and food.

A short interview with two of the Villiers Coffee House team below...

Friday, 28 April 2017

What was this bunch of people doing in the Kitchen Croxley today?

We were having fun but what else?

Sharing knowledge, expertise, tips and generally supporting each other in our businesses.

Once a month... soon to be twice a month, the +The Kitchen Croxley plays host to an informal working lunch.

A FREE to attend event where local business people can come and work together with the specific Intent of helping each other get over hurdles, around obstacles and move on in their business.

So today... here is a short list of some of the things we covered...
  • Screen capture from an iPhone and then upload to Facebook
  • How to use facebook as a CRM tool
  • How to add a workshop with Video and Documents to the +Link4Skills training platform
  • How to create a Facebook Group... upload the main picture, invite people, update the group's description (purpose) and to put on some extra admin people
  • Blogging and why it might be a good idea to start... overview of the main blogging platforms and which ones might work
  • Where to start on a social media business strategy when everyone keeps bombarding you into overwhelm with information and good ideas
  • Website design and benefits of different platforms
  • Accounting... when you are starting out what do you need... bookkeeping... filing... sole traders... partnerships and limited companies..
  • Connections were shared... signposting to other people... useful new apps to make life a bit simpler on the phones
  • What to do after a networking event..
  • How to analyse a twitter account to see if the person is worth following back
  • Bite sized low cost training and how to access it
  • Where to go (apart from today's session) in SW Herts for quick answers, support advice and guidance at no cost (except buying your own refreshments)... so that you can move on in your business without spending a fortune.
It was fun... it was lively... and everyone went away with new knowledge... contacts to follow up... things to try and do... and ideas for growing their endeavour... 

Big thanks to +linda anderson and the team at the Kitchen for fabulous sandwiches and an endless supply of tea and coffee which kept us going throughout the session.

If you want to come along and join us please do... you can find out more on this this SW Herts Help website

which has been set up to help all micro and small businesses across the region... goes under the name of the Town Business Creatives...

Click here to go straight to the page with the calendar of events
(the calendar is towards the end of the page)

Monday, 24 April 2017

A whole new approach to Business Support in SWHerts

If you run a local business and are in SW Herts

...then you are one of the first in the country to get access to a new Holistic Business Support service the "Town Business Creatives".

In the past love it or loathe it we did at least have 'Business Link'; a focus organisation that did pull resources together in an attempt to service and support the small and micro businesses in our community. As with all things government funded they can be just as easily whipped away as they are given, and so it was with Business Link.

In its place we really have very little. With the exception of Business Networking groups (both membership and free) there is very little available for our small businesses today. Basically, when it comes down to advice, guidance, signposting and support, well it's up to you to decide who to trust, and then... "you pays your money and takes your chances".

Blast from the past
The Town Business Creatives like 'Business Link' of the past has not been set up to make a profit. One of its primary goals is to provide a single place of reference (or directory) for local businesses so that the services that are there can easily be found (whether paid for or otherwise).

But more than that... the Town Business Creatives is about providing much needed 'on the ground' support and advice to our local independent businesses. This support is provided via a number of 'events' hosted around the SW Herts area. [... visit here for details and the calendar of events]

The majority of these events are not only 'free' to attend but their purpose is to help move you forward in your business or project. That could be simple tips or tricks, being shown how to do something, some advice or guidance or maybe a new connection that can help with something.

The whole ethos of the Town Business Creatives is that if we put our minds together, if we innovate and collaborate as a team, then we will be able to develop ourselves through shared experiences and knowledge... grow our businesses by supporting each other, and thereby create a robust local business economy... Building this through our communities will have a huge impact on everyone locally whether in business or not.

Click here or on the image below to find out the many ways you can get support and help in your business.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Chorleywood to have a Food Festival 29th May 2017

If you hadn't yet caught up with the news yet Chorleywood is to have a Food Festival

It will be held on the Whitsun bank holiday weekend at the end of May.

The idea is the brain child of Daniel Rolnick who is the main administrator on the This is WD3 facebook group and who also started the WD3 Foodies group in 2015 now with some 2,000+ members.

PRESS RELEASE can be read here :

There is ample opportunity to get involved in this first ever food festival in Chorleywood... the first I am sure that will be of many going into the future...

If you are a Food Fan? Get this date : 29th May into your calendar.. check out the visitor info here

If you are a Local Food Business? Talk to Daniel about being at the festival and taking an active role

If you run a food related business from home? Discounted stand rates to join in the fun

If you have a family secret recipe? Come and share mum's / dad's / granny's tasty treat

If you are a budding food entrepreneur? Now is your time to shine... make a bit of money for your school or charity

This is a real community event. Designed right from the start as an expose of all the fabulous eateries and catering services that we have in our vicinity... but more than that.. a chance for the whole community to come together around one of the oldest discussion topics ever 'Food'.

Below Daniel talking to Chris Ogle about the Food festival... 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Launch of our SW Herts District BLOGGERS website

Finally it is here...

Our South West Herts local bloggers directory.

For those who remain mystified by the term 'Blogging' then please do take a look at the website... there is a section all about "What's blogging?".

Visit our Local Bloggers Directory

Actually blogging all started in earnest back in 2004 but kind of lost its way when social media started gaining popularity... I've a feeling though it may well make a comeback. Blogging is a place where you can actually say things that you want to say without a sea of comments ensuing. It is your space... a chance for you to share where you are at, what you love doing, what's happening in your life...

In today's world there is so much noise and timelines are so fast and furious (and there is some manipulation there too) that we just don't see things that might interest us. Blogging allows us the space to write what we want without fear of reprisal from the hoards... but also... in my view Blogging provides a chance to consider, to reflect and this for many of us is a powerful force for good. Therapeutic? ... probably but also an oasis of stillness to think about what we are writing about.

I like blogs... they have grown up a lot since the 2004 era. Blogs are not throw away spontaneous comments made when under the influence, or as a riposte to an inappropriate post. They are measured more often than not and thoughtful pieces which give us a deeper insight into the mind of the author.

It's great to now have a place to host all our local bloggers content. If you know of a blogger... or you are yourself a blogger then do go onto the website and let us know... we can then pop you into our Blog Gallery and encourage people to discover your thoughts!

Monday, 10 April 2017

History Quizzes coming to SW Herts District

Do you like pub quizzes? 

If so then this might be right up your street... in more ways than one!

Starting in Croxley on the 4th May at +The Kitchen Croxley +David Sawyer will be the quiz master in what will be a 1st for South West Herts we believe. This is a Quiz about Croxley Green... held in Croxley Green about what is happening (or has happened) in Croxley Green... but interestingly where the questions are set by the community themselves.

The idea behind these Community Quizzes is to enable local people to learn (and share knowledge) about the area they live in. There are many local people with a wealth of knowledge about the area and the information is stuck inside people's heads. Being able to research our community, share and discover all this local knowledge in a fun way will hopefully make for a really interesting evening.

We might surprise ourselves and make some new friends and connections just as a result of learning who proposed the question and the background behind it...

When we know more about where we live we tend to feel better about it... and this positive energy has been proven to enhance community... so are we ready for a bit of enhancement?

How will it work? 

  • Practicalities : 6 tables (teams) of 4... each team member paying the entry fee £10 (includes a cake and coffee)
  • Categories : There will be 5 categories lasting 25 minutes each. 2 hours 5 minutes. With an interval in the middle. There will also be a Marathon round... to be completed during the evening.
  • Question Setting : This is the interesting part. There will be a website published this week where you the community can submit your questions (and answers). This gives everyone of us a chance to get at least one question right during the evening.
  • Winning Team : The team that wins will receive a small prize too.

The 5 Categories will be :-

Sport, Geography, Notables, History and Industry + marathon round (set by the quiz master himself)

Running Order

The whole evening will kick off at 7:00pm (for 7:30pm start) and finish around 10:30pm. So a really rewarding and hopefully enlightening evening for us all...

Local Charity raising the awareness of FACS

If you haven't heard of FACS - Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome then you are not alone, until last week I would have been in the same boat. But I met up with Deborah Mann who is one of those behind the locally based charity looking to raise awareness of the condition.

In simple terms those women under medication for epilepsy choosing to have children run a fairly substantial risk of introducing ongoing health problems to their children. Some medications are worse than others introducing a much greater probability of a problem developing.

The charity based in South Oxhey is called OACS (organisation for Anti-Convulsant Syndrome). The website is here. There has been a long list of court appearances in an attempt to seek compensation from the pharmaceutical companies who produce these drugs. Being a small charity there is little that can be done from a legal perspective, especially when the pharma companies can continue legal cases for years and not bat an eyelid about costs.

the charity continues to raise awareness... disseminate information and hopefully bring about changes that lead to more effective and less harmful medication. The implications of current medicine is that not only can the effects be transferred to children, but there is suspicion it can be passed on to the next generation too.

Please do support the events below, both are on the 14th May... click the images or these links to go to the website for further information. Raising awareness talks (OACS Reception) ... OACS Charity Gala evening

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Are you blogging? ... We need you!!

Blogging is massive... millions of people spend their time carefully sharing their thoughts on things that they are passionate about. Precious few of these are even known about! ... let alone the content read and digested by those that might be interested in what has been written

Yet... here is a massive resource for us all... not stories you would see in a newspaper... not things that would reach mainstream channels... but... and it is a big but... things that we in the community are sharing because we felt them important enough to write down.

Writing a blog could be for a myriad of reasons

  • for the simple pleasure of writing
  • improving our writing
  • collecting our own thoughts together
  • as a journal in a type of scrapbook way
  • share our experiences, knowledge
  • to help others with our expertise
  • this South West Herts website is actually a Blogger blog

Whatever it is, whoever it is, they have decided to write (or video Vlog) and share to anyone that might want to benefit from what is being written about... On the SW Herts Community Communications Hub we are always looking for people who are creating content... Well what have we got here then???

People who are already writing... about something they are interested in (and like as not others will be too)... and who live in our area... this sounds like a great opportunity to bring what we are doing together.

It absolutely fits in as well with the South West Herts philosophy of community coaching... 

  1. Provide a space (Community communications hub) that is free from the pressure to meet the needs or expectations of others... no one is being paid... no one has an ulterior motive... there just to help each other
  2. Encourage people to find their own way (they are writing about what they are passionate about)
  3. The only right way is that there is no right way... so no judgement

So we are building a local community mini blog site...

where we can showcase all our local bloggers.

There will be categories... these categories will evolve over time of course to include all the different blogs we have already out there today and easily updated for all the new blogs I hope this encourages people to start!

Are you a Blogger?
Do you know of a great local blog?

If so then please do tweet us the blog address so we can include it on @L4GSWHerts or email ... or fill in the form on our contact us page.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Moments That Matter

This piece has been sent to me by Ian Tottman based in Leavesden. Ian recently gave a short talk on this subject through his work with Herts Mediation.

and it is an extract from the work of a Dr. Richard B. Joelson DSW, LCSW

Many people fail in their effort to enjoy a successful romantic partnership because of either relationship difficulties, or, thinking that they are always doomed to have trouble and fail.

People often think that the trajectory of their romantic lives is downhill. Frustrations and disappointments develop in long-term relationships as early as a few years—sometimes even a few months—after the honeymoon ends and “normal life” begins. People think that the downward trajectory is “standard” and “everyone’s experience.” but long-term romantic relationship do not need to be doomed enterprises. Relationships do change over time, but that change does not necessarily imply that a relationship turns from positive to negative and some relationships deepen and improve with age.

The following are Seven ingredients Richard B. Joelson finds can help to establish—and sustain—a positive and successful romantic partnership:

1. Handling anger and avoiding arguments.

A major problem with anger and the resulting arguments is that neither partner does much, if anything, to avoid them. Instead of “taking the bait” and being sucked in , perhaps by the need to be “right,” instead of having an argument it could have been avoided if one of them had seen to it that the conversation had remained conversational or been postponed until calm was restored. This is not always easy, but certainly possible.

2. Listening to each other.

This is extremely important. Couples in conflict are often so busy preparing their accusations of the other person, or their defense of themselves, that they simply do not listen or hear what is being said. Often responses are just statements often entirely unrelated to what was just said to them. As a result many couples repeatedly recycle the same arguments and rarely, if ever, feel as though any conversation (or “attack and defend” exchange) accomplishes anything. Couples can often need help to “actively listen” to each other so that the dynamic between them changes to one that is productive.

3. Saying “I’m sorry."

Research has shown how difficult people find it to say sorry, both in and out of romantic partnerships. People say, “I know it’s the right thing to do, and I feel sorry: I just can’t say it!” Such responses suggest the likelihood that the individual might feel “weak” or “defeated” if they publicly acknowledge sorrow or regret.

4. Expressing gratitude.

When partners feel and express gratitude or appreciation for each other, they both feel cherished and valued and the relationship is enhanced. These expressions do not have to be confined to major gestures or actions. “Thank you, honey, for feeding the dog," or, "I really appreciate your picking up my prescription,” can be just as meaningful as a thank-you for a monumental gift or kindness.

5. Changing.

Yes, changing. By this he refers to what might be considered the “little things” that become big when they persist over time. These are the kinds of changes that, with some effort, might be easy to accomplish and deliver far greater dividends than the investment required to achieve them. If a wife tells her husband, she really appreciates getting a greeting card on her birthday and anniversary why would the husband refuse to please her and give one? If a husband informs his wife that he does not want to be interrupted by phone calls while at the gym, unless there is an emergency, why does she persist in calling about nonessential matters. When people feel ignored or, worse, devalued by their partners, resentments develop and these can become toxic.

6. Treating each other as special.

A wife once complained to her husband that upon leaving a party he helped every other woman guest on with her coat except her. When she questioned his reply was, “Well, that’s because you’re my wife!” Her response: “That’s the point!” She felt taken for granted! Incidents like this may be insignificant if they are infrequent, but if they typify an attitude or are common in the relationship, they have the potential to cause diminished regard and affection for the offending partner.

7. Hurting with words.

The damage potential of comments made in the heat of battle is extremely high. Words can cause wounds that may not easily heal when calm is restored. They are often referenced when a subsequent argument occurs, i.e., “I’ll never forget the time you told me, ‘Drop dead.’”The above are some of what might be considered “ingredients” of a successful romantic relationship and, perhaps, any relationship. Every one of these ingredients is best used by both partners. 

Above all, the parties should remember that the person with whom they are having conflict may be the very person whom they love the most, and who loves them the same way.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Should you be blogging? ... How do you decide?

Just starting a business? Been told you should be blogging?

Many micro business owners or those just about to start out are bombarded with suggestions, recommendations and tools to help them.

I say help them very loosely. To the 'New' business owner these are yet more things to consider when there are already a million things to do.

When we are starting out the thoughts that will (if they haven't already) pass through your mind are...

  • How on earth am I going to learn all this? ... 
  • How am I ever going to work out how to use this in what I'm doing?
  • How is all this relevant to me?
  • Why should I spend my time doing this rather than that?
  • What is the best use of my time? ... I only have 'n' hours per day, what should I be focusing on?

What we often see standing or sitting before us is someone advising us that this is important and we should be doing it. What we actually need is some unbiased, independent guidance on whether it's a good use of our time now and whether we should adjust priorities accordingly... or is it just a nice to have, and can be introduced later?

To reach a sensible conclusion to any issue like these certainly regarding things you consider yourself to be naive about is to talk to someone knowledgeable who is helping you to find what works for you. So no vested interest in the outcome. Easier to say than do... and tough to find to be honest.

This post is about the subject of blogging... one of a thousand things you might do online. So let's get the basics out the way... (1) What is Blogging? ... (2) What can you do with it? ... (3) Should you do it?

Rembrandt House Watford
Rembrandt House c/o NewToWatford Blog

What is Blogging?

In very simple terms. A blog is a place where you can write your thoughts, with images and video (if you want) and then make available to others on the Internet (publish). 

In the old old days. If you wanted to put something on the Internet you had to be a bit of a technical wizard. Blogging makes it easy for you to write what you want, organise it so it looks nice (just "ok" if you are devoid of design skills like me) and then share it... importantly... in your own space... where just your posts reside. Basically a place for you to 'have your say' about anything you choose.

What can you do with it?

People use Blogs in all different ways. Blogs could be used by a Managing Director of a large corporate organisation to share thoughts on a hobby. Say Dogs, or Hang Gliding or anything. It could be used by a small business owner to share thoughts about their journey in Business in a "no nonsense this is what it's really like out there" kind of way... or... to demonstrate expertise... or just to convey some interesting information about life and experiences... the list is absolutely endless. The important thing to note in all of the above though is this. A Blog must have a purpose.. an objective... a reason to be. You must be wanting to share things to achieve something. 

That might be as simple as ... to improve your writing... to demonstrate you can write... to help others who might be experiencing the same challenges... to enable people to get to know you better... a whole myriad of reasons why people Blog... but you must have a 'WHY' otherwise you just won't do it... and it will be a waste of energy.

Should you do it?

The million dollar question... it isn't hard to blog... have you got 30 minutes a week to collect your thoughts together and the discipline to do it? ... you might want to do it daily... shorter posts (shorter than this one)... short pearls of wisdom... in a "less is more" stylee. Some people Blog because it is an oasis in an otherwise life of turmoil and the quiet reflective mode helps them, rather than for the benefit being directly for others... still a purpose to it though!

In Conclusion

There are lots of ways to blog... there are a few popular platforms on which to blog, selecting the right one for you is important. Are you wanting to have it laid out professionally like a website? ... do you want to spend any money doing this? ... or are you happy to do it yourself and develop it as your experience grows?

Is this going to be the main place you share what you are doing? ...or is it an adjunct to other online colateral you have? ... Is it business or personal? ... is it something for a discreet audience or would you want the world to know about it?

Now you know a little bit about what blogging is and what is possible then have a think about what you might want to talk about and why... to be absolutely honest this is the most difficult bit... if you want to have a chat about that or anything else to do with blogging... you'll find me at one of these events on this page... 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Do you want Networking or are you really looking for support?

We are likely to face come challenging times ahead. Some would say that times are already challenging... but they could get more so as we move through the next 4-5 years.

The Brexit charade will continue to rumble on through... the media will continue to hype up both sides so that those interested will continue to argue with each other in pubs and bars across our SW Herts district. Meanwhile back in the real world and the day to day difficulties local businesses face, the issues at Whitehall and Brussels and even Washington are of little immediate consequence here... paying next months rent is a tad more pressing.

So the question was discussed over in a blog about Networking and its importance to micro and small businesses [please read the blog here]. I am a big fan of networking don't get me wrong. I believe that if you network effectively you will never have to sell ever again... but is the networking environment we've got actually serving the needs for what micro and SME businesses need today?

Well it is up for question. 

What we have as far as networking is concerned was designed back in 1985... that's 30+ years ago... the world we have today is completely different to that era, maybe we're due an upgrade?

Perhaps there were a handful of people working from home back then, with no Internet... today it's 8 million or more working from home, but, connected to all parts of the globe at very low cost.

Do we really need to keep going through the same routine?

When you look at the majority of networking that goes on, there actually isn't much networking going on at all. Much of it is a prescribed scripted format, not all I hasten to add. Contrast that to what we might actually need though. What if we could complement what we're already doing in some way? Worth considering...

What if we had a selection of events / places to go during the month where we know the people we want to speak with are either going to be there or we could arrange to meet them there. Talk to someone who can sort a problem we're having... connect with a few new folk, pick up a couple of ideas, and then be on our way... all of us given the chance to both be supported and help others too. This applies to both community and business related projects and initiatives. But how could we do that?

... If I told you it was already happening in our very own back yard in SW Herts would you be surprised?

Subject of a new mini website coming very soon... maybe the day you read this, it'll already have been shared... All will be revealed in the next day or two ...

If you are as old as I am and remember the government sponsored small business support service called Business Link... it wasn't great but... it was something... some training, some support, some advice, and a place that would connect you to services you could use as necessary. A bit unwieldy as most government things are... but as easily taken away as it was given... as we found out some years ago.

Now... Imagine something similar, but bang up to date... 10 times better... and can't be taken away from us because, we ... yes you and other business owners like you, own it... unbelievable??

If you can get to the +The Kitchen Croxley this Friday 31st March... you can learn much more!!