Have you ever considered volunteering? My first major volunteering role came with the Citizens Advice Bureau when I left university. I had messed up my Law Society exams. Even though I had articles offered with a local solicitors’ firm, I had pretty much decided I did not want to do that sort of law.

So on my Dad’s suggestion I found myself at the Citizens Advice Bureau asking if I could help put leaflets out or something. I did not realise then that there are loads of volunteering opportunities available with Citizens Advice. I found myself training as a generalist advice worker. That involved going on training courses in Leeds. working through training packs and shadowing advice staff. I was so looking forward to doing an interview with a client myself but was a bit scared when my first case turned out to be about medical negligence which is hardly the simplest advice topic around.

After that first blip. I found myself coping well and specialising in money advice going onto a part-time paid job and then a full-time one. I guess I am trying to say that volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau is interesting and can lead to great things. Here are a few things you need to know if you are considering volunteering.

Initial contact

You can turn up at your local Bureau like I did but these days you can fill out an online enquiry form and then the Bureau will get in touch. You might be invited for a chat or to an open day followed by you completing an application form and having an interview.

Training

You will be given a full induction and training for your role. The training is free of charge and of a good quality. It is respected by so many different employers and educational establishments too so well worth undertaking. You will be supported by a tutor in the Bureau, self-study packs and a course away from the Bureau.

Time

There is no minimum time requirement as such and it is really about what you can offer and what the Bureau needs. Most Bureaux advice sessions take place during office hours but even if you work full-time you could get involved in fundraising, marketing or other roles.

Expenses

Your out-of-pocket expenses are covered by the Bureau. Bear in mind some Bureaux are unable to provide childcare or other carer expenses.

Conclusion

I am a big fan of volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau. I feel it can help you develop skills and qualities early in life that can last you a lifetime. It looks really good on a Curriculum Vitae if you are job-seeking whatever age you are. Many retired people find it helps them make friends and utilises their existing skills. It’s also a great way to meet people on moving to a new town or city.

You can find out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice really easily.

The Pramshed

Lucy At Home

Liverpool is a city with a strong history and a great culture. I used to visit the city with my Dad when he was working there and also once with a female friend who lived in nearby Chester. Later, I had to go to deliver training sessions in my own career.

However, it is one of those cities where I feel I have not really got to know it as well as I would like.

So for my next visit to the North West, I am going to research what to do in Liverpool One and have actually already made a start. The challenge is that there are so many fascinating events that I may need to keep going back for more.

Storytelling

As a writer I love anything that celebrates the power of the written word. Liverpool are putting  on a great event including book swaps, celebrity appearances. book reviews and competitions. Magic will be created with the reading trees so this is something that will appeal to all the family.

Accessible exercise

Our family is not the most sporty one in the world so exercise needs to be fun and easy to do. Greenbank Sports Academy is a centre of excellence in physical education, sport and recreation that is owned and run by disabled people. They are putting on special table tennis sessions and I reckon ever I could manage this fun way to add some movement to our Liverpool trip.

Art

I have always loved visiting art galleries. It is one of those things that somehow has disappeared from my life since becoming a parent. I want to get back to this lovely pastime and to take my daughter who is such an artist herself. The Tate Liverpool is on the Albert Dock so in a lovely location as well as giving us a chance to stop and stare at the works of famous artists.

Going crazy!

I have always loved crazy golf and it equally popular with all my family. I have so many fond memories of games by the sea and at Butlins. So I will head to Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf. It sounds superb with promises of a jungle swamp and a live volcano!

Food and drink

I love finding quirky eateries and Liverpool has so many to choose from. I plan for my trips to be active ones so we will need regular refuelling. I really fancy trying some Japanese food at Yo! Sushi where there is a conveyor belt allowing you to pick what you fancy. The restaurant chain is also the only one in the UK to serve Japanese Seabass.

Have you visited Liverpool? What did you enjoy most about the city?

 

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The Pramshed

I have the luxury of a spare room in our new home. I am thinking it is time I spent some time designing a room of my own. I was brought up as an only child really as my brothers were adults when I arrived on the scene. When we were offered the chance of sharing rooms at college, I chose to have my own. I value my own space.

Spare Room

Of course with a husband and 3 children, space of my own was not realistic for many years. In the earlier years, you have to be around to keep an eye on your children and to keep them safe. I did not even go away from home apart from with work without children until my son was 10 years old. Even then I felt guilty.

Now my children are teenagers and a tween, they don’t want to spend every waking moment with their Mum. My husband likes to watch quizzes, crime shows and so-called male comedy shows on the television. None of these are my thing so I am going to make use of our spare room.

When we viewed the house, I noticed the spare room and wondered what to do with it. In the time we have stayed here, it was a dumping ground for cases and boxes when we moved in, then it became an office for my husband but he now wants to work from upstairs. The spare room in now my oyster!

Mindfulness

I want to use the spare room to try mindfulness. I need somewhere to contemplate and the room is perfect as it has a restful air and a beautiful view of the forest. I want to write, draw, read and listen to music in there.

Sleep

I don’t always sleep well in our marital bedroom especially as my husband is often awake during the night and also because he snores. The spare room will be great for a nap when the mood takes me.

Essential items

To make my spare room a perfect retreat, I will need some cushions and throws. I would like it to have a bit of a beach hut theme going on ideally with a retro style deckchair. I would also love a day bed or chaise longue if I can fit one in which I think I can. I happened to find the one pictured above over on Lionshome and think it would add a classic touch to a room of my own. I would also add an easel to tempt me to paint and be more creative.

I asked my best friend what she would do with a spare room and she joked that she would turn it into a private bar and invite the girls around. My brother said he would transform it into a music room with a grand piano. My children predictably said it would make a perfect gaming room. Ah video games! Now you know why I absolutely need a room of my own.

What would you use your spare room for?

 

 

My Random Musings

The Royal Wedding inspired many across the UK to hold their very own party in celebration of the spectacular union. What a day it was too – perfect weather and very much the fairy tale wedding. With a guest list including some of the biggest A-listers from across the globe, it was easy to see why other people wanted to have their very own garden party at home to celebrate.

Garden Party

We finally seem to be getting some warm weather, which means it is the perfect time to start planning for your summer garden party. Even if the Beckhams cannot make it, all you need is some nice weather, some nibbles and maybe the odd glass of Pimms! So what are you waiting for? Here is your checklist to make sure your party is one to remember:

Decorations

You cannot have a garden party without a few decorations to set the scene, so get the eco-friendly banners and bunting to display around your garden. Go to this site for some ideas or you can even make your own from bands of coloured paper.

Put it on ice

Stock up with plenty of ice to keep your drinks nicely chilled throughout the day. You can borrow ice buckets to make sure that you have enough to go round, so people do not need to keep walking back to the fridge.

Music

A bit of careful musical planning will help set the mood, so get your summer garden party playlist sorted with some of your favourites and the big summer hits of the year.

Food

You could offer to do a BBQ but unless someone enjoys being the BBQ chef, it only gets in the way of having fun. So just get some ready to eat buffet food for your guests to tuck into. A nice selection of sandwiches, crisps, sausage rolls, pizza and salad should keep everyone happy. Don’t forget to put some ice lollies in the freezer to cool everyone down if it happens to be a scorcher!

Drinks and mixers

Most people will bring their own drinks to a party out of courtesy but they never know how many to bring. Take too many and you look like you’re a heavy drinker and take too few and you soon run out. So as host, it always helps to have some extra drinks for people in case they run out. Make sure that you stock up with a range of mixers and if you are doing Pimms or gin then you might want to get a nice set of fruit for people to have in their drinks. Don’t forget some nice drinks for the designated drivers like flavoured water and ginger ale – a bit nicer than a glass of fizzy pop.

Garden Party

Party games

If you like to have fun then party games should be on the agenda. From beer pong to board games, you can get everyone into jovial spirits with a few fun games to play. You could even host your own personalised quiz about funny moments involving your guests!

Seating

You might need to borrow some chairs to make sure that everyone has somewhere to sit but you can also have makeshift benches and throw some blankets on the ground for people to sit on. Ask your guests in advance to bring any fold up chairs with them.

Gardening

Get your gardening done the day before the party so that your garden looks lovely and the perfect setting for the ultimate summer garden party!

 

Tammymum

ethannevelyn.com
Cuddle Fairy

Lookers, Motability dealers, have created just what us busy parents are looking for. They have devised some fun and creative ideas to maximise magical memory-making during your car journey. I’m all for anything that makes family car journeys less stressful.

As a child, I am sure I always behaved well in the car. In fact, I remember being shocked at the behaviour of my friends in the car when I travelled with their parents to events. I just don’t see the need to be bouncing around. Perhaps I was a boring child or maybe my Dad as a former police officer had made it clear to me what could go wrong when drivers are distracted

With my own children sibling quarrels are the worst thing at home or in the car. Apart from that they are pretty good and especially now they are that bit older.

As technology is so big a part of our lives today, it always good to have some traditional alternatives at the ready for trips in the car. Perhaps the below may be of use for you to use throughout your next family journey/

Hungry child?

Nobody is happy when they’re hungry and a young tot can panic when those hunger pangs strike. To preventing a tantrum wrecking your day out, keep a cool box in the front seat and pack this with a range of delicious, potentially healthy snacks, with a mix of drinks and treats. This is always a good way to keep the kids happy and if you inject new treats for them, that is also a great distraction technique.

Pack Wisely.

A good way of keeping your children occupied, is by keeping a bag full of all of their favourite things. This may include a range of items, such as books, colouring in items, pens and cuddly toys. With endless possibilities, your children will be spoilt for choice of what they can do!

Fancy a good read?

An audio book can entertain children of different ages and yourself. We used to do this a lot and should get back to the habit. It’s an easy way to learn without realising it and to stimulate children’s imaginations.

Preparing games!

When driving, there are an endless range of games to play with your children… One of which could potentially be “Yellow car”, in which you find as many yellow cars as possible. Why not switch this up and do it with your favourite colour? ‘Back seat bingo’ is also a popular one, in which you draw a grid for each player before setting off, and fill the squares with sites that you must tick off. So if you have a big drive planned, do some research of retro games that have stood the test of time.

I hope I’ve given you some tips to beat boredom during drives with your children.

How do you currently entertain your children on car journeys?

Cuddle Fairy