Cherry Fayre – Enrolling the kids

Cherry Fayre – Enrolling the kids

What an amazing event by Axminster’s “Light up Axminster” in aid of raising funds for community’s Christmas lights. I first made contact after I was approached by Cindy Furse who runs the group and organised the idea and was bringing together activities. I decided being involved would be a great opportunity to gain exposure for the 70/30 campaign. After speaking with Sara and spinning off idea after idea we came up with decorating cupcakes, arts and crafts and face painting. I do have to say Sara was amazing and arranged all that we needed to cover the 2 days. I’d like to think her inner child.

Day 1: First day of the Big Picnic. Emily and I laid out all our cupcakes and decorations and let the young people loose and what a hit it was! We were completely packed. We were stationed between the spit roast pig and the outside bar which I initially thought would be awkward, but really didn’t make a difference. In fact, I hardly noticed for all the cake crumbs and icing. The kids pigged out and then hyperly skipped over to the enormous bouncy castle! We asked for donations and made about £6.75 pence – shame, but it wasn’t really the point, as we were making our presence known. A great evening was had by all.

Day 2: Again, Emily and I had our Arts and crafts stall plus face painting. Sadly our original face painter pulled out so we had to advertise for a replacement. In the end my Ex partner did an hour and a friend did the rest. Noah set the trend by having his face painted like a tiger and looking just great! The chair was never empty; butterflies, lions and tigers… they all looked amazing! Emily and I concentrated on our community poster with arts and crafts and, as the day progressed, it turned into an amazing piece of work with so many talented children full of expression getting involved.

“It was incredible to see so many happy faces filled with such pride. The day was incredible – a buzz with excitement; there was a constant supply of children, some coming for the first time, others returning two or three times!”

We lead an extra stall with material on 70/30 that people browsed over, flicking through leaflets whilst engaging in odd conversations about the Campaign.I now feel confident that our next meeting there will bring a few newbies along. After the event, we made the local paper and our we’re thrilled to say our art work made a massive impact on the community and now takes pride of place in the local Co Op for all to see. Success!

Axminster’s Big Picnic

Axminster’s Big Picnic

Last weekend Rob Robinson and I had the heartfelt pleasure of spending time with local children and parents at the community Cherry Fayre.  The week long celebration was organised by a handful of inspirational people from our area (namely the fantastically energetic Cindy Furse) and combined a multitude of events aimed at bringing together the community in a spirit of sharing and supporting local businesses and interest groups. The entire initiative was well received and promoted our joint vision for an inclusive and positive society.

As 70/30 Ambassadors, we felt moved to provide fun and stimulation for the youngest generations and were blown away by the creativity and imagination of our children. Our cupcake design stall on Friday evening was so popular that Rob had to do several quick trips to the shops for more supplies! On Saturday we provided arts and crafts materials for the children to make a joint picture of “Our Community”, with some exciting characters, trees, flowers, homes and even a few bug monsters and funny noses!  Some children chose to take their creations home to share with their families, but most very generously donated their artworks to be displayed on the community notice board in the local Co Op.

Our focus was on encouraging creative play and so we made the decision to pass around stickers, balloons, pens and leaflets but, as there were young minds around, not to do too much talking at this point about the more sensitive topics involved in the campaign. Many parents stated an interest in looking up the 70/30 Campaign and we are in the process of sending out invitations to our next group meeting to have the more grown up discussions about protecting our children as a wider society into the future.

The spirit of the Fayre was joyous and relaxed, and the 70/30 logo was everywhere we could get it, and so – step by step – we are introducing our peers to the idea that we all have the power to create change and turn our passionate desire of empowering communities to protect our children into effective action.

We are forging strong links with like-minded people and groups in our area and we hope to continue to lead by example, cherishing our children’s creative minds and supporting each other in the tough times we all face as parents. There is a great sense of coming together down here, and we are so grateful to the Campaign for supporting our efforts by providing information, inspiration, and fun art materials for us to keep forging ahead with our collective mission. Thank you 70/30 for leading the way!

An enlightening Train Journey – the attuned family

An enlightening Train Journey – the attuned family

Sitting in the train from Haywards Heath to London. A pleasant and kind looking couple get on at Gatwick. They have their two sons with them – looks like a two year old and five year old.

Each child sits with a parent – the younger first sits content on his mother’s lap. The other sits next to his father. They are peaceful, content and calm children – mirror images of their parents who treat them with love and respect. Including them naturally in their interactions – the mother occasionally runs her hand through her younger son’s hair and gives him a kiss on the head. 

“They’re a beautiful sight – a happy and content family. But I bet it’s not by luck that they are so. Rather as a result of what is clearly attuned, respectful and compassionate parenting.”

The younger boy gets off his mother’s knee after about ten minutes later and enjoys the view. He coos with delight at the scenery and points things out to his parents and older sibling. Later he picks up his colouring book and quietly uses it.

Meanwhile his brother reads and looks out the window. At their final stop, about 40 minutes later, the father addresses his boys “okay guys we’re getting off here” – without a word or issue they alight. Their absence of their peaceful presence is noticeable.

Why did I join the 70/30 campaign?

Why did I join the 70/30 campaign?

I joined the 70/30 campaign as it was getting started towards the end of 2015 and over the time I’ve been involved and met our incredible ambassadors, I’ve become more conscious of being slightly different from most of our volunteers.

I don’t have kids. I’m in my early (getting on to mid) 20s. I don’t have experiences of the maltreatment that we’re all working so hard to prevent.

So why am I an ambassador and why do I want to see more young people involved with our campaign?

When I joined 70/30 I was finishing up an internship in an art gallery, which had left me not knowing what I wanted to do, but knowing I didn’t really want to do art.

Before this, at university, I’d done a lot of work around student mental health and I knew it was something I was passionate about.

Not wanting to be left with nothing to do, I trawled the internet one afternoon for some volunteering opportunities. Having read through the work of WAVE Trust and their arguments for prevention, I was sold on the 70/30 campaign pretty quickly.

I remember telling my parents once I’d signed up as a volunteer, ‘it just makes sense.’

At around the same time, I got involved with a fantastic charity working in youth justice. I was meeting and working alongside young people who had turned their lives around. They were truly inspirational.

The one thing they pretty much all had in common, was a tough time growing up.

As I volunteered in youth justice and with 70/30 side by side, I realised that both groups were talking about the same things. They were tackling the same problems: mental ill health, substance abuse, emotional wellbeing, difficult relationships. They were working to get the right support for people who needed it before things went more wrong then they should ever reasonably go.

Most of all, both were working with people who, in slightly different circumstances, could have been me.

The 70/30 campaign brings together people who are full of expertise, knowledge and experience. It also brings together those who simply have compassion and who recognise that the issues we’re dealing with aren’t other people’s problems. They’re all of our problems.

I could write an essay on the wider benefits of prevention, of what a world in which we eliminate child maltreatment might look like to someone who has never even come close to it. Maybe I will another time.

All I’ll say now, is that we need more people to shout about these issues. We need people who have never given a second thought to what these things to start thinking about the positive change we could make. We need more and more people to get involved!



When my boys have all left home- this is what I shall miss…

I walked into the bathroom today to be met by this amazing geometric wall of bulk- buy loo rolls. It took me by surprise, it made me smile, it made me think and … it spoke so much about my son.

Sam is currently going though, perhaps the most gruelling set of exams I have ever witnessed. His life is controlled to the very minute by revision schedules, crammer sessions, exams themselves and yet more study. I woke him on the weekend to be met with venom. ‘Mother! Sleep is the one thing in my life I still have some control over and you have just ruined it!’ He is fifteen years old and going through GCSEs. Mothers and mornings are never popular.

Children, and especially boys, need to feel they have some choice, some control. In situations where life is stressful or over-ordered this can cause anxiety and an innate need to take back some control. This is at any age or stage of their life, from two to their twenties and beyond.I am thrilled that, one way Sam takes control is by cooking: choosing, buying and combining the most delicious ingredients and taking control of his time, his creation and most wonderfully- our supper.

But back in the bathroom (don’t panic!), he felt the need to take control of the stockpile of toilet rolls. My ‘making the house look lovely’ system is to store the toilet rolls in a pretty, wicker basket adorned with pine cones from our family holidays. Sam’s preferred method is to build a wall, but not a conventional one, oh no, a diagonally patterned wall, a precariously balanced wall, a wall that was a challenge to build, that appealed to his mathematical brain and gave him a sense of achievement.


Boys need to feel like they are in control.  (The TV remote is testament to this!). They need to have order and structure in their lives to help them feel safe and secure, however within this each boy needs to feel like he is in charge of something, he has a choice, he can do at least some things his own way.

If he is doing something in a different way to the way you  had planned, try to be less rigid:

  1. STOP– Don’t dive in and correct him, pause, see what he is doing- it may work better for him, after all we are all individuals who function and learn in different ways

THINK– Do you need to channel him to your way or does his way work?

ACT– If it is important that a task is done in a certain way, such as putting things where he can find them in the morning, then, respectfully redirect him, explain in just a few positive words why this system works .

‘We put the shoes by the door so they are easy to find when we want to go out’

Otherwise, we may decide to take no action if none is needed- this is a real skill if you are a parent or educator who feels they need to be in charge!

REFLECT– Look back and see if the way you handled this situation worked well. Whether it did or it didn’t, bank the lessons you learned from it. Use this wisdom to inform the future balance of providing structure, routines and boundaries versus allowing him to investigate, solve problems and overcome difficulties for himself. This helps him feel like he has some control and is also a fantastic tool to support self-regulation.

  1. Rather than telling him to do something, give him two positive choices and ask which he will do first:  ‘Will you clean out the rabbit first or pack your swimming kit?
  2. Let him have some time each day to be creative, to be relaxed, to be free…

Time to walk, play, exercise or just be is an essential antidote to the throbbing theme park- style busyness which dominates our childrens’ young lives today.

The lesson I have learnt from the control tower of toilet rolls is…

to stop being so controlling, to let my son feel as if he has control of at least some aspects of his daily life, at this stressful exam time and into the future.

I will be leaving Sam’s wonder wall of toilet rolls- you can check it out next time you pay a visit.

If you would like to know more about Ali’s courses, to book an INSET or Parent Talk for Making it Better for Boys or so much more visit her website at

Today we are mostly Prawns and Sharks

Today we are mostly Prawns and Sharks

“I wake up early every day…

…open my bedroom window and breath in the beautiful Devon air. My son joins me and mimics my actions. The next 10 minutes is spent copying each other’s exaggerated breathing in.”

We make a drink and read his favourite book, ‘The Tiger who came to tea‘.

Image result for the tiger who came to teaWe have the words perfect. It doesn’t matter that it’s our millionth time reading it or that we know each and every word, it’s the fact we are doing this together. Noah likes to reminds me if I haven’t done the right voice and we laugh about it together. This paves the way our day will manifest.

Its times like these that, as a Father I realise how precious these moments are and how, there is no Brexit, no bombings no violence and anger no elections.

We read and dance, make silly singing videos. We invent games that normally means one of us hiding and the other making a dinosaur sound.

All very different from when I was a child and arguments and drinking ..hiding for the wrong reasons.

So involving myself with WAVE Trust and becoming an Ambassador for their 70/30 campaign in 2016 just confirmed that if every person did a little bit of something that stops child abuse from ever happening then there will be more children enjoying these precious moments with their parents.

It hasn’t always been easy with the campaign and if I said I have spoken to 500 people of which 10 have done something to promote the campaign, then that leaves 490 people who could have done something but chose not to for one reason or another.

My proudest moment was talking at the House of Lords in London and about my own childhood experiences and it was at that very moment, as I wiped my own tear, I really felt I was a part of something big; a movement that is going to change the lives of many, many people.

I campaign alongside people who don’t get paid and choose to make a small difference to a very big problem.

“1 in 5 children are still being maltreated in this country alone”

It breaks my heart, but through the campaigners I work alongside and the great team at head office our vision is becoming a reality. My plan for the future is to talk to the other 490 who didn’t have time or were busy with other things and see if I can invite them to hear my words.

As this week is #VolunteersWeek2017,  I ask you to take 5 mins out of your day to check out the 70/30 Campaign on Facebook (

And don’t be a part of the 490 people who didn’t have time to listen. Instead, be a part of the 10 who are doing something to make a change for our children and theirs.