As part of my promotion of diverse charities throughout June 2012, here is a guest post from Scrapstores UK.

Let’s start an epidemic and make creativity is contagious

There is an exciting epidemic sweeping across Britain and its called Scrapstore syndrome. Closely related to make-do-and-mend-alitis the symptoms are known to be highly contagious on account of the enormous amount of fun people have when they are exposed to scrap.
The source of the syndrome can be traced back to 90 specific scrapstore locations across the UK.  First documented in the United States and Australia in the 1970’s; a rogue strain was brought to the UK by backpackers who had been exposed to the phenomenon on their travels.

The first known UK outbreak occurred in Hackney; London where it is still flourishing. The idea quickly spread and continues to grow thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure this highly infectious idea reaches up to 74,000 community groups so that millions of people are able to enjoy scraptasticly fun activities.
The outbreak is being transmitted by word of mouth, press and social media. People involved in arts, crafts and play are particularly susceptible to being entranced by the shiny textures and bright colours.

Be warned; the known effects are:

  • Excessive smiling, laughing and wellbeing
  • Talking and sharing of ideas and projects
  • Making friends and enjoying yourself
  • A compulsion to experiment and be creative
  • Sensory overload from the variety of scrap
  • Withdrawal when unable to visit the scrapstore


There is no known cure however those affected are encouraged to talk about their experiences and upload photos of their creations when under the influence of Scrapstore syndrome to the scrapstoresUK website and Facebook page.

An alternative treatment is to simply give in completely and become a Volunteer in a scrapstore.

How do scrapstores work?

A scrapstore receives clean, dry and non-toxic materials from local industry and/or businesses that would otherwise be disposed of either in land fill or incineration. Most scrapstores have a membership scheme where you pay an annual subscription and a nominal charge for materials, some are funded to be able to offer  resources free to ‘paid up’ members.  
Who uses scrapstores?

Children’s centres, Early years settings, Registered Childminders, Out-of-school clubs, Activity Clubs, Scouts, Brownies, Cadets, Respite Carers, Arts and Crafts Clubs, Mainstream and Specialist Educators, Home Educators, Art and Design Student Groups, Family Support Groups, Day and Residential Care Centres, Adult Further Education Settings, Families, Artists, Schools and Pre-Schools.

Every scrapstore, no matter the size, is independent, run by a small but committed group of staff, many or all of which are often volunteers. ScrapstoresUK is the national charity created by the scrapstore community to support and represent them, to be a common voice with the media and national businesses and to be a facilitator to share the knowledge spread out across the scrapstore community.  ScrapstoresUK has a board of Trustees, the majority of whom run scrapstores.

If you have not yet been affected by Scrapstore Syndrome please visit website to find your nearest scrapstore or to donate to our charity so we can help more scrapstores.

 Main scrapstoresUK helpline:           0844 997 8000     



Twitter: @scrapstoresUK  
Head Office Address: Unit 14, Gilsea Park, Mona Close, Swansea Enterprise Park, Swansea. SA6 8RJ
scrapstoresUK registered charity number: 1126044 company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, number: 07864468.

Life is getting back to normal after the Jubilee and so if it is Thursday, it is time to list my reasons to be Jubilee.

1. I am cheerful about living in a community that puts on so many events and where the business supports them so that they are rather fabulous.  Arts and crafts event for children, art exhibition, quiz, carnival and so much more.

2. I am happy that whether everyone appreciated it or not I did put on a good show for the Jubilee decorating the house and making lovely tea parties for days on end complete with special plates, tablecloths etc (of the luxury paper variety).

3. I am smiling about enjoying the good telly bits of the Jubilee.  For me, this was most of it.  I am not a Royalist but I enjoy the history, the fashion and the soap opera involved in us having a Royal Family.

4. I am relieved that I have finally sat down and worked out the logistics about going to BritMums Live.  That email about it being only 2 weeks away was a bit of a wake-up call.  Childcare is sorted so the next step is to arrange an outfit or two and a haircut.

5. I am indulging in the joys of Half Term making things with the children and sleeping it a little bit.

6. My Dad arrived home yesterday and announced he is taking me and the children out to a pub lunch today. 

7.  More people are signing up to ensure money goes to their charity of choice every time they shop online at no extra cost to themselves.  I am encouraging folks to support Tommy’s the baby charity but you can sign up and choose a charity of your choice to benefit here   The more people sign up, the more money goes to good causes and that makes me very cheerful.

8. My very independent cat lay on my knee for hours last night.  Such a good feeling.


I am attending BritMums Live in a couple of weeks.  It is my first ever blogging conference so it is quite a big deal for me. What are my feelings before going?

I live in Yorkshire and have 3 children so a fair amount of juggling has taken place to make my attendance possible.  I am still undecided on how I will get there but my wonderful step-daughter is taking all three children off my hands for a couple of days.  Yes, she is a total superstar.

I can remember reading all the tweets and so on about last year’s BritMums Conference and being so sad not to have summoned up the time and money to go.

I was determined to attend this year but may well have bottled it had it not being for the wonderful impact Groovy Mums has had on me.  So when Susanna from BritMums got in touch to ask me to moderate one of the workshops,  I said yes.  Of course, that was months ago when it did not seem scary as it was so far away.

So, here we are just two weeks away from the Big Event.

I am looking forward to time away from home and to meeting some people who I have known in the cyberworld for weeks, months and years.   I am a little nervous that I will not live up to people’s expectations but I guess I can only be myself and see what comes of that.  It is easy to blog openly and have your say from the comfort and safety of your sofa.  It is a very different thing to meet people up close and personal particularly when you are overweight and feel like you are on a huge climb-back to the person you used to be.

So how do I feel about BritMums Live?

The first thing to say is that I am really impressed with the diverse content of the various sessions.  I do believe there is something for everyone and how the BritMums team are managing to sleep whilst co-ordinating it all, I have no idea.

I am looking forward to hearing Ruby Wax on the Friday and Sarah Brown on the Saturday.  I admire both women for their individuality and their commitment to helping others.

As I want to pursue my writing of fiction and non-fiction, I am keen to attend the “Getting Published” session.

Then, through some mircale, I am going to the Brilliance in Blogging Awards Party.  I am a finalist in the Change category.  I am not expecting to win and am fine with that as I have seen the other wonderful finalists.  I even have a favourite but better not say who it is.

I am not sure what I will do on the Friday night but quite fancy having a lovely meal somewhere without the usual rigmarole of  “Sit down”, “Use your knife” and so on that accompanies meals with children.  Then again, I have never dined out with bloggers so who knows?

Saturday will be busy for me as I am moderating the “Blogging for the Greater Good” session.  The speakers are really strong though so that has reassured me a bit.  Plus I imagine delegates who attend the session will have plenty to say and I hope to faciliate a good discussion.  I am hoping the session will inspire new bloggers to get involved in supporting charities via their blogs and through participation in the Charity Connections – Blogging It Forward group on Britmums.

Having survived that session with a “Phew!” or two I am hoping to attend the session on e-books.  I keep intending to find out more about this topic so it will be wonderful to hear from the experts.

After lunch, I am involved in the discussion about “Blogging for Happiness”.  I am with two well-known bloggers so may well hide behind them.  Having said that, blogging has always made me happy otherwise I would not do it so much.  That might mean I have something valuable to say.

I imagine by 3pm on the Saturday, all the excitement will mean I am flagging a bit so I think I will not plan that bit of the day too tightly.

So with two weeks to go I veer between blind terror and total excitement.  I suppose I should start thinking about what to wear and quite fancy wearing something more feminine than the usual trousers or pyjama bottoms uniform.  For those cheeky folks who have asked, yes I will be clothed at the conference and promise not to flash my boobs with the sheer joy of it all.

I will probably be OK with the workshops and so on.  My scariest bit will be when I am hanging about during the more socialising bits of the two days.  I will be clutching a cup or a glass, analysing what I should say and why I always end up sounding so dim and wondering whether the loos provide a convenient hiding place at times of crisis.

Ah well, I guess it will all work out in the end and at the very least, provide some excellent ideas for future blog posts.

I suspect I might come across very much like Victoria Wood in that sketch where she said “Has anybody seen my friend?”

How are you feeling about BritMums Live?



Who helps children when a parent or sibling dies?

This is a guest post from Phonenix Bereavement Support as part of my promotion of charities for free on my blog during June 2012.

Ben* was devastated when his Dad died. It was so sudden. He went out in
the morning to work, but didn’t come home. His motorbike had skidded off
the road. Ben’s Mum couldn’t stop crying, and his little brother kept asking
him, ‘When’s Daddy coming home?’

None of us like to think about death, especially our own, but for some children
and young people death comes into their family very unexpectedly and very
suddenly, like in the story above. What happens to children if one of their
parents or a brother or sister dies? Their whole world is turned upside down.
Their sense of security is lost. How many fairy stories are there, where a child
loses a parent? This is because it is one of our worst fears, our most primal
fears. Even when we are adults and a parent dies we can feel abandoned,
lost and alone. We can feel angry, bitter, sad or all of these at the same time.
For children and young people, this swirl of emotions is very confusing. They
wonder, ‘Am I normal?’ ‘Why do I feel like this?’ And often, the surviving
parent or carer is so lost in their own grief that they find it very difficult to
support their child.

Back at school, Ben*discovered that his teachers didn’t know how to talk to
him. They had told other children that Ben would be very sad and might not
want to talk about it. Ben found that no one spoke to him at all, because they
didn’t know what to say.

Children and young people who have lost a parent or sibling can find school
a very difficult place. Thought it is hard to believe, some are bullied precisely
because of their bereavement. Many of them find it hard to cope, and start
behaving in ways they would never have done before. They get in trouble at
school, and can even be excluded. They may try drugs, early sex and alcohol,
because it is a way of forgetting or of feeling close to others.

Eventually Ben heard of somewhere he could go for help. He was beginning to
think that nobody understood, that nobody felt the same as him and that he
was alone. So when he heard about Phoenix Bereavement Support he got in

Phoenix Bereavement Support helps children, young people and their families when someone close dies.

We offer group support and social events to help
bereaved children rebuild their confidence and learn how to face the future
with hope. We also offer one to one support for those who need it most.

Phoenix Bereavement Support receives no financial help from the government
or local council so we depend on our community to support us. To donate and
help children like Ben* please call Tina or Lorraine on 01432 264555 or email You can also like our page on Facebook or
follow us on Twitter @linda_phoenix. Thank you for your help.

*name changed for illustration

Here is a summary of our experiences of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Weekend, a mixof good and bad.

1.  My youngest son and daughter dressing up as a knight and a princess and parading through the local town.

2.  Joining my children for a special sausage, mash and yorkshire pudding lunch.

3.  Watching the flotilla on the television with the whole family

4. Lots of buffet meals because I went a bit mad at the supermarket.

5.  Carnival in the local town with the whole community coming together and having fun

6. The rain meaning I could not attend a picnic party that I had not wanted to go to anyway

7. The Jubilee concert especially Kylie, Robbie, Annie Lennox and Tom Jones.

8. Watching the Jubilee Service, lunch and balcony coverage on ITV.  Loved the focus on dedication and charity work.

9.  Seeing Him Indoors finally getting round to laying carpet in the boys’ bedroom

10.  Feeling a new and improved connection with another blogger via support received and hopefully given.


Bad Bits

1.  Husband getting himself in deep water by lying to me about what he did on Friday afternoon.

2. Teenager in training son throwing a strop at approximately 15 minute intervals throughout

3.  Darling daughter telling me she was bored in no uncertain terms

4. Elderly father complaing our cat had peed on his bed.  It hadn’t but he was not to be convinced otherwise.

5. Argument at carnival leading to me wondering if I could just run away and be myself once again.  Am I the only wife and mum that feels like that sometimes?

6. Having to take out a mortgage to pay for face-painting for the children and also long queues.

7. That terrible moment when Lenny Henry cut off Rolf Harris and “Two Little Boys”.  Terribly disrespectful.

8.  My Dad saying he was not really bothered about the Jubilee anyway when I had tried to make it special for him.

9. Not being at Hyde Park for the Jubilee event due to trying to fit in with other family member plans.

10.My Dad walking in this morning to announce he had chopped his finger off.

So great things and not so wonderful things but life here is never dull.

Hope your Jubilee was wonderful.