30 things later….


Here we are, five days into December and already galloping our way towards Christmas. I managed to complete my ‘Do One Thing’ challenge and have given myself a couple of days to exhale before giving some feedback.

Firstly, I’d like to say that it’s all about community. The park runners who baked; the mums who ransacked their homes to come to the swap-shop; the willingness of people to wash cups instead of using disposables and those who donated to great causes. I am so grateful to my friends at Belfast City Council, Brenda McMahon, Mary Brady, Gráinne McMacken and Jackie Fraser who took time to chat with me about recycling and to share ideas.

This is just a quick bit of feedback and I’ll send more on at a later date:

  • A massive thanks to Ormeau park runners who raised £300 for the Burma Campaign from our coffee morning on Saturday the 23rd November. I spoke to a representative from the charity yesterday when I transferred the money and he was audibly moved when he heard the amount we were donating.
  • At the start of the month some friends came round for lunch as part of ‘The Big Broth’ event and between a few of us we raised £50 for the charity ‘Centre Point’  for homeless people. This shows how having a small event at home can be a most worthwhile endeavour, and provide an opportunity for a catch up too.

  • I am thrilled that the PTA at my children’s primary school has been so receptive to ideas of how to minimise our use of plastics.  We have changed a few traditions at our Christmas Fair: this year Santa will give books instead of selection boxes, and we have also invited a couple of local store holders with a commitment to environmentally friendly products.
  • The Hospice Shop and Oxfam on the Ormeau Road were the happy recipients of a few bags of toys and some bric-a-brac from the Swap Shop. That evening was such a success that we’ve vowed to do it again. My children benefitted extremely well from the event and it has ignited their enthusiasm for a few games and jigsaws they hadn’t played with for ages too, but weren’t ready to part with. We’ve all decided it was the party that has kept on giving.
  • I’d like to thank the fabulous Nuala Walls down in Riah Hair on the Ormeau Road. Upon enquiring what happened to all the magazines in the salon when they were out of date, Nuala said ‘Have Them!’ and contacted me to lift a boxful on Friday 30th. I delivered most of these to Anadale Nursing home, but took out the Marie Claire and Red,  as I didn’t think the elderly residents would appreciate the articles on ‘My adventurous sex-ploits’ in the former. (I may be wrong: maybe it would liven up their day nicely.)
  • I sent a petition off about protecting our libraries and the MP for South Belfast sent the following in response:

Dear Helen,

Thank you for your email and for taking the time to contact me to outline your views about library provision.  I fully agree that Libraries play a key role within our communities, not just for educational purposes but also to provide a community space and other services.  Library funding is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland, however, I am happy to do what I can to support and protect this great community service.

Kind Regards,

Emma Little Pengelly MP 

  • We’ve actually been visiting our local library more since November as now I know some of them are under threat I’m determined to use them more and show support. Yesterday my girls suggested that we go to Cregagh library and raced ahead in excitement. We got a great welcome and I even got peace to browse, while they took a wee seat to themselves.
  • By far the best thing about the campaign is the number of people who have chatted to me since, and said that they are making their own presents (and giving me homemade gin, that was an unexpected delight) and who are going to organise some events of their own. People I didn’t know very well at all volunteered to bake for me and help with washing up at parkrun. I feel indebted to all my friends on the Ormeau Road who are so supportive and  willing to help. When one looks at the news, the world doesn’t feel like the kindest place at the moment, but a quick flick through my mental notepad and it’s all the good stuff coming to the fore. Thanks all xx