|Stopping the bleeding|
Monday, March 05, 2018
I work for a charity that focuses on saving lives. So even as a fundraiser I am trained in first aid. I think this is an amazing attitude for the charity to take, and who knows – one day it may come in extremely useful.
My colleagues and I did our annual refresher today – keeping up to date with changes in practice (such as when to call 999 in relation to a choking – advice that has changed in the last 12 months) to refreshing our knowledge and practice of CPR.
The pace of change that we see in every aspect of our lives, especially technological, is also affecting how first aid can be delivered. There are now some amazing apps you can download on your phone that will teach you more about CPR, that will alert local first responders, and eventually there will be other innovations like drone delivery of urgent medical kit like AEDs (automated external defibrillators – those things that deliver the shock to the heart).
In some Scandinavian countries, up to 80% of the general public know how to do CPR and use an AED. In the UK it’s more like 40%. Given that CPR dramatically increases your chance of survival after a cardiac arrest, the more people who can deliver CPR and are confident in using an AED the better.
What would you do if your loved one had a heart attack? What would you do if your child started choking? If you suffered a major injury that resulted in a lot of bleeding? If you can find the time, you could save a life. I feel more confident now that if needed I could do the basic first aid that could buy the vital time you need before the professionals arrive.
If you have an AED in your town or at your place of work, know where it is. Don’t be afraid - find out how to use it - as our trainer said, you can't do any damage as they are automated to help you do it right, even if you've never touched one before.
And do search for First Aid apps on your phone.
When the snow comes, it brings many things. Sometimes it brings real hardship, and for those without homes I felt concern, and for those without water I felt sympathy. For those who have been cut off without supplies, I am so glad that we have a military who are able to respond not just to conflict but to the needs of our people. However, for me the snow that came in the form of the ‘Beast from theEast’ was a gift.
|A snowy lane |
in the forest
We live busy lives, and taking the time to just enjoy our environment is not always easy. But when you are snowed in, there’s no option. Of course, you have to be in the right place to be snowed in, and with the right resources, and I was amazingly lucky.
On the Monday evening I headed to Suffolk so that my journey to Norfolk the following day would be easier. Well, I was wrong there! The journey to Suffolk was fine, only one briefly worrying snow flurry on the way, but the roads and the weather for heading to Norfolk on the Tuesday (even in a four by four) was impossible! We were stuck in traffic, and then the weather deteriorated and we headed back to the forest. Oh yes, the forest, near the sea!
We returned home, abandoning the queues of traffic and the journey back to my friend’s house in the forest was much easier. We had plenty of food, plenty of wood (hardly surprising) and the internet. I could work from my temporary home.
|Enjoying the snow|
I was visiting my new friend, who I didn’t know that well, but who I instantly hit it off with. The first few times we have met we laughed so much; both with a slightly off beat sense of humour and a sense of the ridiculous, we also both love the natural world. So being snowed in with someone I didn’t know that well (and who didn’t know me well either) was an interesting test of our friendship. Especially as I didn’t actually get home until the Sunday so it wasn't just a day or two.
My friend has two dogs, and dogs love snow when they can run around in it, play in it, and chase each other through the trees and round the garden. On the Tuesday I phoned my boss – it made sense to work from home, but I also took some time off too. I was in a snow filled wood, I was going to take advantage! (And most of my colleagues hadn't made it to work either, so a lot less emails than usual.)
The time we had together was a gift – we were able to get to know each other better and indeed had a lot more laughs and fun. From walking in the woods and trying to find the dog after he’d gone tearing off after some (much faster) deer, or chopping wood in the garden with a chain saw and log splitter, the
|I discovered I chop wood left-handed|
|Snowy tracks told |
their own stories
My delight in Suffolk has stemmed from my childhood when I spent many happy holidays near Foxearth (where I also met my first ghosts, aged just 3). My week being snowed in near Southwold has only confirmed my love for this beautiful county.
All photos (C) Carolyn Sheppard
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Saturday, February 24, 2018
Telling stories is something we all do – whether it’s that little white lie to avoid going for a second dinner at the in-laws, or an enchanting tale to delight the youngest. So when my friend asked me to do a session on storytelling to her local WI, I wondered how to approach it.
This WI group is different – the average age was younger than me, by quite a few years, and the cakes were mostly shop-bought. Not a jar of jam in sight! (Sorry, trying to bust a stereotype rather than dis cake-making skills here).
I started with using my work as an example. Ask me what I do – and I gave two answers:
I am a data protection specialist and I ask people for money
I help save lives every day, by raising funds to keep the … and then I went into much more detail about the charity I work for. Animatedly! I moved around, I used different voice pitches, I changed tone and volume. All techniques valuable in the oral tradition of storytelling.
Following a discussion of what makes good storytelling (including ‘beginning, middle and end’), I then asked them to pair up and tell a story one to the other in three minutes. When it came to swapping over I gave them 2 minutes 30 seconds. Then I asked them to swap partners and tell their story in one minute (to cries of protest). The point of this was to show that you have to focus on the key messages of a story, and build from there.
They seemed to enjoy the exercise as the room was noisy and excitable – a good sign in my book.
I finished the session by telling a story, and asking for criticism. They did really well, picking up on some of the key points that I had talked about and then omitted from my storytelling. I hope they learned something useful.
From my point of view, I met interesting and intelligent women who I enjoyed entertaining and sharing with, and also improved my own performance thanks to their helpful feedback.
And the cake? It was delicious of course!
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The people who went before
Cambridge Ladybirds WI
Friday, February 16, 2018
It was our monthly Writer's Circle meeting last night and we had a 'write beforehand' exercise that we then shared and critiqued. The theme was waking from a dream, and everything has changed. We had an extremely disturbing sci fi story, a ghost tale, a wonderful story about 'shoulder people' (from a truly stunning writer) to name but a few. As ever we had a fun night with much laughter and some excellent writing. Here's my contribution:
My mind tossed in dreams like clouds in a whirlwind. The day before was hurting, tomorrow was a chill wind, brown was a circle and the sound of traffic became a warm touch. My skin went cold and the prickles rose and grew - I saw a forest sprout from them and flood into a valley that sang. Although asleep I knew that my world was changing. The sound of birdsong, struggling to invade the cocoon of consciousness that kept me in that strange world, translated as the worn surface of an ancient oak chest.
Finally awake, I opened my eyes. Last night I had slept poorly – a broken heart makes a difficult bedfellow. Strands of dream tugged at my memory briefly as I slapped my phone in an effort to silence the brittle alarm.
I lay in my bed for a moment, feeling the cool sheets on my bare skin. It felt… like chocolate. As the night fog cleared from my brain I swung my legs over the edge of the bed to place them on the cold parquet floor. The wood seemed to suck warmth from my soles and sent a jolt like lightning up my legs. It felt as if every hair on them had been commanded to stand to attention, and a snatch of the vision of a forest growing before me briefly distracted my arousal into consciousness.
I stood and headed for the bathroom, my head spinning slightly. The bathroom window, unshielded by curtain or blind, spilled white light into the room that felt like diamonds scraped across slate. Squinting, I looked at myself in the mirror. I was still me, hollow eyed and wan with sorrow, yet something had changed. There was a brightness in my eyes that looked back at me with a challenge. There was a new dimension to what I saw, what I heard, what I felt.
Bravely I squirted paste onto my toothbrush and had the strange sensation of a white hare running on heather. I looked at the brush, at my face in the mirror, and started to brush my teeth. Everything was normal and yet it was completely different – as if as an adult this was the first time I had done any of these things … waking, walking, touching, seeing. The brush in my mouth was Tuesday’s meeting, my spit in the bowl was block and tackle, rope twisted and shining.
With the whole world evolving weirdly around me, I continued to get dressed and experienced everything on a different level. My mind was desperately trying to assimilate new sensations attached to old experiences. I wasn’t sure how I’d get through the day. Surely this disorientation would pass?
Dressed, ready for work, I went downstairs and prepared breakfast – where a landscape painting, soft silk and ball bearings all contributed to the experience of eating cereal. Everything looked normal, and tasted normal, yet everything had a new dimension too.
I left the house, thoughts of the unceremonious dumping by my boyfriend, and the tumult of three days before – had Tuesday only been three days ago? – disappearing as I tackled the walk to the tube and negotiated my short commute with a world of new senses invading every single experience. Could I continue like this?
I exited at Tower Bridge, and joined the throng towards our office. Glass, like a lambs bleat. Concrete, smoke over water. The roar of traffic, flames on an open log fire. My phone buzzed – and the strong sense of purple was almost shocking. I looked at the message – from Aunt Emilia. Aunt Emilia, who could not say certain words because they felt like bricks in her throat. Aunt Emilia who was sensitive and fey, and yet the most creative, loving and extraordinary person I knew. Aunt Emilia, who – suddenly – I realised I understood. I thought this was a gift, or a curse, from birth. But it seemed for me, that a broken heart (and the smell of old wet paper pervaded) had triggered the condition.
I swung through the doors into the office and thought about James, his corduroy callousness, and a river of leather swept past. I thought of how I would like to feel – happy, free, loved, and the painted wooden door of an old stone cottage swung shut in the breeze. I started to choose how I felt and different images, sensations, tastes and smells pervaded my every step as I climbed the single flight of stairs and into our open plan office. “Good morning!” I looked around and saw colour, tasted new and familiar things, the air was tangy with orange and pebbles. A new day had truly begun.
(C) Carolyn Sheppard 2018
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Image (C) Royston Writer's Circle
Monday, February 12, 2018
At a fundraising conference last week one of the things the presenter said about leadership was ‘prepare to be lonely’. I think depends on what type of leader you are and what kind of organisation you are in. I think there’s probably a bit of ‘it’s no fun’ in the attribution of ‘lonely’ to leadership. But I’m ready to argue the point.
I am prepared for others to have ‘the fun’ and for me to enjoy that they are having it. To be a leader you have to delegate, let your team have ownership and control of things that, in the past, you may have not only done, but really enjoyed doing! Letting go of the detail doesn’t mean letting go of the fun though.
Let your team run with the fun, and I don’t think you will be lonely. You may have to make HR and other strategic decisions without them, but where you can, with their input. Watching them flourish and create, and deliver on your overall strategy has to be your ‘fun’ – not the doing, but the achieving as a team.
I love seeing my team do great work, and have a boss that appreciates input from everyone. It really makes a difference in my motivation and I hope my team’s too.
I like being a leader. It isn't easy, but thanks to a great team above as well as below, I'm not lonely at all. And I'm having my portion of fun too.
Feel free to comment below.
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Friday, February 09, 2018
Goodness, its mid-February already and I haven’t blogged yet. I’ve been busy, and lots has happened, so perhaps a short blog on fundraising is due - overdue! So here's my account of yesterday's conference.
I attended ‘Fundraising Live’ – an opportunity for fundraising professionals to get together and share best practice, network and see what’s innovating in the sector. It’s not just ‘another conference’ – I find real value in attending events like this where the content is from peers, not just suppliers and ‘look at mes’.
Two presentations really stood out to me yesterday – the first was from Plan International who realised that the expense and emotional commitment of sponsoring a child meant that it was costing more and more to recruit individuals for sponsorships. They did some really in depth research that helped them identify a lower cost proposition that would increase sign up and, of course, mean more money for their cause – children in poverty.
Some might argue that spending money on research is taking donors’ money and not spending it on the children, but in fact what they have learned means that more money will reach the children in the longer term. As a sector we can’t spend 100% of donors’ money on beneficiaries – if we do we won’t improve, increase our effectiveness and help those who need it most. The money would quickly run out.
The second interesting presentation was from Greenpeace. They have used Virtual Reality to give people a sense of what it’s really like in environments like the Arctic and the rainforest. Amazing! With causes that deal with issues that are so far removed from our daily lives, something like this is a tremendous way to help bring people nearer to the cause and really understand why their help is needed. And it resulted in more sign ups to support too.
Sometimes people complain that fundraising is turning into just another profession – that it’s full of people who are in it for the career, and the money (really?), and complain that highly skilled, specialists get paid for what they do. All I can say is that without us, picking up what the government has dropped (so many people I spoke to worked in social care, have lost funding, and are desperately trying to serve people in dire need), and taking notice and making a difference where it’s truly needed, then we would all notice very quickly indeed.
Running a charity, working for a charity, is a demanding and thoroughly difficult job, and it’s getting harder. Yet we all want to do it – because it is so rewarding.
The final comment that struck home was about taking care of fundraisers. We have a high turnover and we have a high ‘burnout’. This isn’t an easy profession, but together we change the world and make it a better place. A day at a conference is not a waste of donor’s money – it’s helping to achieve that change that we all want to be. I love my job, and I'm not ashamed of being paid to do it.
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Sunday, December 10, 2017
Walking from where I live towards the heath there is a small hill approaching the station. It was slippy and several of us stopped to help push cars up the slope. It wasn't the best day to drive really, but it was quite fun pushing the Porsche (although I did get spattered in grey snowy sludge as it's wheels spun).
There was an air of pleasantry - people tugging kids on sleds, dogs eagerly trotting in smart coats, adults in hats and gloves and generally most people were smiling and willing to say good morning and look you in the eye, conspiratorial in the joy of snow.
When I reached the heath there were lots of people sledging and just having good old fashioned fun. Snowball fights, large mounds of snow being rolled in anticipation of snowmen, and dogs excitedly rushing around, chasing irretrievable snow balls.
I felt so peaceful being on the heath, walking through the woods in the snow. I have many happy memories of being on the heath with my children - sledging and building snowmen - and I cherish this wonderful place that is fabulous for people and wildlife both winter and summer.
More photos here: Flickr All pictures (C) me.
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A walk on the wild side
A night on the Brecks
Sunday, December 03, 2017
|Miracle on 34th Street (C) 20th Century Fox|
Having watched a few – I have to say ‘schmaltzy’ – Christmas movies, I’ve come up with a formula for the perfect story. The ingredients you need are:
- Small US town
- Snowy region (preferably near Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Buffalo etc – cities in the ‘snow zone’ or miraculous snow in New York)
- Single parent family (this facilitates the inclusion of children whilst permitting a romantic storyline)
- The children are polite and well behaved
- A problem (St Nick has lost something, one of his elves is in trouble, his ‘magic’ is being depleted, family home about to be repossessed etc)
- A ‘miracle’ themed object (star, angel, animated snowman, special house etc)
- An ‘unbeliever’ (cynic who has had a negative Christmas experience, loss of family, etc)
- A supporting cast of friendly uncles, aunts, neighbours, friends
- A reluctant romance
- A penchant for choosing the rural career over the city life
- The conversion (cynic is provided with undeniable evidence that ‘Christmas miracles’ exist – whether Santa is real or that against all the odds lost family members are found)
- The ‘spirit of Christmas’
- A happy conclusion
And by observation, it seems to be a largely white, middle class cast of characters - though I think we can dump that in the ‘historical’ bin and be a bit more inclusive! Sometimes (but not always) there is a bit of religion.
By contrast, UK Christmas stories seem to contain a mix of the following:
- Disaster (sometimes averted)
- Unlikely romance with a specific challenge (societal, etc)
- Badly behaving kids
- A nativity play
- A supporting cast of idiots/comedians
- Cynicism in the majority
- Conflict resolution
- A happy conclusion
What’s do you think – do you have a ‘top ten’ (or top three) ingredients for Christmas stories? Post your thoughts in comments below.
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