Q&A Answers – Just Some Stories Of Hope & Humanity Plus The Odd Avocado, Pirate Queen And Baby Goat…

There are many things we need in these times, including to pull together and build resilient communities, but also to laugh and dream together and stay positive so, without further ado, here are the answers to your questions. Also it took me so long to finish this post that my brain is just like ‘what even is writing any more?? What even is thinking??’ *keels over* *realises that Keeling over is a sailing reference and starts squealing* 

Lucy

What do you think your alter ego would be like?

 

I….I have no idea how to answer this (As you can see, I am off to a fabulous start here) Okay so for most of my life I was convinced that I was Nancy Blackett (hahaha who am I kidding, I’m still totally convinced). For those poor deprived souls who don’t know who Nancy Blackett is, READ SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS. Ahem, Nancy Blackett is everything any self respecting female pirate should be. She was originally called Ruth, but obviously had to change that to Nancy because all pirates are Ruthless™. She also may or may not have almost blown up her Uncles ship with a firework, led an expedition into the Himalayas, been captured by a rival pirate queen in China (but came to a friendly agreement – kinda- because queens supporting queens, amirite?) and have iconic catchphrases such as ‘jibooms and bobstays’ and ‘barbequed billygoats’. So yeah, Nancy Blackett is officially my alter ego. 

What is one experience that has changed you for better or worse?

Obviously the whole journey of our challenge – learning firsthand about both the severity and tragedy of the issues our society faces and the incredibly strong power of human connection and ordinary people standing up for what they believe in, building their communities and transforming, and often saving, lives. 

One particular experience that stands out is the time that I’ve spent with refugees and asylum seekers on this journey. To many of us, refugees are just sad statistics on the news, numbers and figures with no faces, nothing we’ve ever really encountered before and a concept far removed from our own lives, but then suddenly that all changes. I turn up at a BBQ in Glasgow that aims to bring the local and refugee communities together or a centre in South Wales and these people become human, they make you laugh, they tell you their stories, they cut your little brothers hair, share their traditions and customs, teach you how to cook their amazing food, play cards with you, speak from the heart even though they barely know your language. Then you hear of all the desperate, tragic, inhuman things they’ve suffered, the danger they’ve faced to get here and all you want to do is protect them and offer them a loving, safe home here. Then you’re told how your people have treated them, these ordinary people who come here desperate and fleeing for their lives with their families, how we turn them away, treat them as less than human, spread lies and meet them with hostility and you think….why? How can we do this? 

This is an experience that taught me about humanity, hope and resilience and prejudice and I hope that by sharing my experiences, I’ll help make others think a little differently about how we view and treat our fellow human beings. 

Elsie 

Do you have visions of your future self and what are they doing? 

*takes deep breath* So you might regret asking me this because I have a literal list buuuut I want to be an advocate for building community and empowering young people throughout my whole life and I aim to work in sail training as I see the huge impact it has on my generation and I’m passionate about sailing, but then I also want to be a revolutionary renaissance style poet who lives in a barricade somewhere in Paris, a fisherwoman from a tiny village in Greece or Cornwall who wakes up at the crack of dawn and rides the waves all day before going home to her tight knit community of fellow fisherpeople, a social and political activist who marches through the streets calling for change, a free spirited traveller who goes wherever she feels like and touches people’s lives in spontaneous and meaningful ways and I also want to sail around the entire world meeting people and making a difference, maybe as part of a race, I’m not sure. 

Anyway, whatever happens, I’ll almost definitely be living on a boat, writing, writing some more, yelling at people about the importance of hUmAn ConNeCtiOn and trying to start a revolution. Note to future Gracie – if I’m wrong don’t @ me. 

If you could have one of your blog posts read by the entire world what one would you choose? 

Ahhh, this is a tough one. Probably this one or this one. Yes I do not understand the word ‘one’ and yes you are going to have to click on them to find out which posts are hidden behind these links. Oh wait, I have one more…..hahaha.  

How are you at this moment in time? 

Thank you for asking! I’m okay. The world is insane and uncertain right now and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t overwhelm me, but I’m trying to focus on the fact that maybe this will show us the necessity of the connections we make with others. If anyone wants to vent or talk about anything, you can always hit me up. This is a scary time for us all, but we’re in it together.  

Isabel

Have y’all settled back down completely after your big trip??

We’re at home in the South East of England at the moment, we actually only planned on being here for a few weeks before heading off travelling again to promote the importance of community and create events to bring people together, as well as our give our TEDx talk and for me to volunteer with several sail training charities, but with what’s happening in the world at the moment, we’re going to have to stay home for the foreseeable future. After being off travelling for so long though, I’m kind of enjoying being a farm girl again. 

How’s the tedx speech coming along?? 

I started again eleven times, but have now finally finished apart from a few tweaks!  I’m not giving anything away but it’s about the power of human connection and how a changing value system gives us all hope for the future. Anyone interested in a post about the writing process at some point? 

Have you seen your community come together well to deal with the virus?

We’re getting there! At the moment, we’re growing veggies, we’ve just got hens for eggs and we’re cooking extra dinner every night to make sure that, as long as we’ve got food, our neighbours do too. We’re taking precautions and keeping safe, but also helping each other out where we can and trying to make our community stronger. Even though I’m usually like ‘No I dOn’T Do GaRdEniNg, I wRiTe ImPoRtAnt PoStS aBouT soCiAl ChanGe’ but it turns out digging and sawing and building fences is pretty cool 🙂 

Grace

What is one of your biggest inspirations?

Ordinary people who stand up for what’s right, but don’t get a ton of recognition, who build their communities and shine like beacons of hope in the darkness, people driven by a desire and desperation to make this world a better place for all of us, people who aren’t always strong or powerful, but are passionate and dedicated. 

What would you tell your past self if you could?

Funnily enough, I’ve never even thought about this before. Maybe just to always have hope for the future? I feel like if we have something to be hopeful about, we’ll be okay. Also YOU’RE RIGHT, YOU ARE TOTALLY NANCY BLACKETT and btw, you’re gonna go on a ten month journey in a fifty year old campervan with all your family living on a tenner a day and it’s gonna change your life. Yeah, don’t ask me what that’s all about and yes, avocados do become your favourite food. No, they don’t taste like soap, they are my LIFE and don’t you even dare- 

Amielle 

What is something you wish you did but did not do?

Learn Italian? I was trying for ages a few years back because I really wanted to go and volunteer at a drug rehab centre based around the Italian culture of food and family (it’s incredible and successful and I still really wanna be part of helping out there),  but I never really got into it. I used to go to this ladies house and we’d make fresh pasta and speak only in Italian and so I know how to throw up my hands and exclaim ‘apron’ and ‘WaSh YouR hAndS’ but that’s about it. 

Erin

How did you react when your parents announced you’d be travelling around in a camper van for a few months?

So it was my idea?? Kinda??? It was a joint idea I guess. Me and my brother and sister all wanted to make a difference, so we all did loads of brainstorming and SOMEHOW this is what we came up with. Don’t ask me how. To this day, I’m honestly not sure. 

Were there any parts of the journey where you wished to just be at home?

I don’t think so. I have A Thing against giving up on pretty much anything so yes there were times when I found it a challenge, but I just reminded myself why I was doing it and that I am an extremely stubborn, determined person who most definitely. Does. Not. Give. Up. 

Also it quickly became just like daily life to me so it was just a chapter of our life and not really something I could just go home from. Mo (our van) was home, for all we were concerned. 

How do GCSEs work in the homeschool system?

Being homeschooled, GCSEs are actually optional. You can do them, but you are under no obligation to. For me, I have nothing against exams and recognise that most people have no alternative, but I am currently focused on other things like helping build a system where 👏 our 👏 lives 👏 are 👏 not 👏 determined 👏 by 👏 how 👏 well 👏 we 👏 do 👏 in 👏 standardized 👏 tests 👏 lol

Jo

where are you in awae?

You better believe I spent the entirety of the two nights I had access to Netflix binge watching season three and ohmygosh no words no words apart from this series is so SO important and HUMAN RIGHTS and can everyone please watch this now and it’s so beautiful and Shirbert is goals and sorry Anne but Gilbert is 😍 and Cole is my BABY and Ka’kwet’s story is so necessary and just wow how does something so perfect even exist but I’m so glad it does. 

recent favorite song?

Kind of obsessed with 70s/80s music right now so probably Town Called Malice by The Jam, Ride A White Swan by T Rex, Big Brother by Hazel O Connor or If The Kids Are United by Sham 69. I also love Of Monsters And Men at the moment, their songs Wolves Without Teeth and Your Bones are beautiful. 

opinion on oversized sweatshirts?

YES

do you play an instrument and if so what kind?

Sadly not :(( 

who would you have over for dinner?

Tracy Edwards (skippered the first all female crew to compete in a round the world sailing race and PROVED EVERYONE WHO SAID THEY WOULDN’T SURVIVE WRONG by actually winning several legs), Anne Shirley Cuthbert from aogg/awae, Sephy Hadley from Noughts And Crosses, Callum McGregor from Noughts And Crosses, August Boatwright from The Secret Life Of Bees, Jo March from Little Women, Enjolras from Les Miserables, Mr Keating from Dead Poets Society (why are all of these fictional oops?), Steve Biko (anti apartheid activist in the 60s), also people throughout history who have made a huge impact, but don’t get their stories shared in history classes or . And I know I’ll think of an absolute ton more as soon as I publish this. 

thoughts on religion/faith?

So I feel like this is 100% something I need to write a whole long post about because I have A LOT of thoughts (interested/not interested?), but I’ll do my best to summarise here. 

Religion/faith and my parents have a long, complicated and unique past and it’s a huge part of who they are today and so although none of my family belong to a certain faith and I have not been raised religiously, I have been brought up with some of the principles of faith and stories about this crazy carpenter who turned the world upside down and it’s definitely had an impact on the person I am today. 

We all need something to believe in – personally I believe in God/the universe/a higher power/whatever you want to call it and the power of humanity. I have faith that there is something guiding all of us, but that the actions and choices we make are our own. I believe there is good in people and that there are aspects of good in all religions and faiths. 

If I’m being honest, I don’t entirely know yet, but then again do any of us really know? I’m learning about myself and the world around me though, step by step.  

what’s something the world needs right now?

COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION. WE NEED EACH OTHER, PEOPLE. What is so complicated about that?! If we invest in building our communities now, it gives us young people hope for the future and people around us to support us even when things are tough. 

how does someone apply to do a tedx talk?

Jo please do a TEDx talk I beg you. Firstly you need an idea with sharing. There are TEDx events all over the world so find one near you online and then find out when applications open, write them a letter/fill out a form to tell them all about you and why you should share your idea with the world and ta da you have appliedddd!! 

are there any legal hoops you and your family have to jump through to be able to do what you do?

Ummm. I don’t think so? I mean this is just normal to me so idk, but imma say no? 

Rose

What’s your dream pet?

Please don’t come at me animal lovers, but I’m not really a big animal person? *hides* I do love goats though. Myself and my friend Aqsa often obsess over goat memes and baby goats and goat socks and yeah I should probably stop there-

Where would you like to travel to one day?

I never ever want to be a tourist if I go anywhere, I just want to wander and explore and immerse myself in the culture, I want to live my life there in that moment if that makes sense. I’m absolutely determined to sail around the world one day so there’s that, but I also love the idea of…

  • Greece and Italy 
  • Jamaica 
  • Central America 
  • The Middle East 

I can’t really explain why, I just have this picture of the culture and people and atmosphere in my mind and I want to experience it for myself. 

What did you do for fun while on your journey?

One of my favourite things to do for fun was swim in the sea since we were by the coast pretty much every day and I love the ocean. 

What was your favorite moment on your journey?

You ask the impossible of me, my friend. So many. So so many. 

What’s your favorite kind of tea?

 

Ahhh I love tea. I mean, I’m British so I feel it’s pretty much my patriotic duty to say just normal English Breakfast tea/Builders Tea which is pretty great, but Echinacea & Elderberry is also really nice and so is Liquorice. ALSO CHAI CHAI CHAI ALL THE WAY. 

Saania

What is your biggest fear?

I’m not scared of many things, like I actually love water and heights and the dark, but sometimes I can become afraid of the future. I see so much pain and negatives and suffering in the world and amongst people close to me, and then I see so much apathy and ignorance as well, but I can always find something to be hopeful about because there is so much good and warmth and beauty and strength in this world too and we need to be part of it. Yay for me spilling all this on the internet by the way.  Enjoy my incoherent ramblings y’all. 

What is the silliest thing you have heard people say about you?

Well sometimes we’re sitting in our van Mo, which is quite old and rusty (just part of its character) and people walk past not realising we’re inside and go ‘wowww this will look so nice when the paint job is finished’ and we’re just like ‘excuse me….?!?’ Technically about Mo not me, but hey we all know Gracie is terrible at sticking to the rules. 

Adria

is there anything you miss about your life before the challenge? 

I mean….avocadossssss and a tenner a day budget don’t really mix, but then again lots of kind and thoughtful people have given me an avocado as a present so yay. Anyway, no, not really. It’s a journey that has changed my entire life forever and determined the course of my life. I can’t go back now after what I’ve learnt and discovered and I don’t want to. 

what are some small ways for people to make a difference?

Live what you believe in, every day. Stand up for what’s right. Be a human being. Connect with other human beings. Take the time to see something from someone else’s perspective. Put someone else before yourself. Talk to your neighbours. If you see the opportunity to be kind, take it. Get involved in your community in whatever way you can. Make an effort. Step outside your comfort zone and talk to that person who looks lonely. 

any secret projects?😌

Most of my time at the moment is taken up by digging in the veggie patch, building fences and looking after chickens (Coronavirus really has gone and turned me into a gardener haha), but I’m also starting a school project about social and political history and all the things that make us human beings, the complexities of social issues and the fight for human rights. I want to understand other groups of people as best I can – their history and their culture. I believe most discrimination begins with ignorance and that when it comes down to it, none of us are all that different and have no reason to hate or oppress one another. I want to learn about the world so I change it more effectively. So I’m very excited about that. 

I’m also about to start a series of live interviews with ordinary people making a difference in their communities on our social media this week so head on over to check those out (were called One Life Share It) – hopefully they’ll be a ray of hope and light in these times, plus provide some practical tips for what you can do to help others. 

what’s the name of that super hot friend of yours? i think her name starts with an a then d then r then i then a? but i’m not sure???

Anyone else know who she’s on about??!! 

Jk jk – meet my slightly chaotic, but very cool best friend everyone 🙄😇 

Sarah

what’s your favourite and least-favourite thing about the challenge?

I think the best thing was getting to see the strength and dedication of normal people rising up to support others and tackle the issues our society faces and getting to be part of a movement for change, but the worst thing was seeing firsthand the reality of the effects these issues are having on people’s lives.   Things like meeting communities hugely affected by suicide, meeting parents who have lost their kids to it, people living in total poverty and teenagers who’s entire families have been killed and then have fled their homelands, is shocking, Still it’s motivating and eye-opening and once you see and hear it for yourself, you can’t ignore it, you have to join the fight.

what’s the most empowering book you’ve ever read?

My favourite book of all time is Noughts And Crosses by Mallorie Blackman. It blew my mind. I literally spent days after finishing it totally stunned, just thinking it over in my head and making sense of it. It weaves every single relevant issue in our society today into an incredible story of strong,  desperate, overwhelming love. It’s complex and twisted and beautiful and ugly, but Mallorie Blackman is a GENIUS and one of the greatest storytellers of all time. I have no words to tell you how much this book means to me, except that I honestly believe it should be compulsory reading for everyone in the world as it’s so so important and I truly think it would make everyone think differently about others and make the world a better place. 

what’s the wisest piece of advice someone’s ever given you? 

I really had to think long and hard about this, but my parents have always lived their lives by the principle that ‘what you sow, you reap’ and they’ve passed that on to me. We’ve done a lot of crazy things based on this because we believe that if we care about others now, we’re helping create a world where we all care about one another. 

what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

I once stood up in front of my entire scout troop and told them I personally didn’t want to go to laser tag as I didn’t think the kids whose parents had been shot would find playing a shooting game ‘fun’, but that they could go if they wanted. In the end, they all ended up coming to my house to cook on a campfire and play in the woods 🤷‍♀️ 

what’s a song that best describes you and your personality?

Probably Lost Stars from Begin Again. There are so many songs I love with all my heart, but I just connect to the lyrics of this one so strongly. 

MCR OR FOB? (My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy for those who don’t have the same taste in music as us) 

I actually can’t believe you’d do this to me Sarah 😂😭 As soon as I think I’ve made up my mind, I change it again. I love mcr because of the way their songs make me feel and because of the passion and emotion in their voices plus they’re such legends, but Fall Out Boy have so so many amazing tracks that are so empowering and I have so many nostalgic memories of dancing round to their songs so I don’t knowwww. I love them both, but if I had to choose…..mcr, I think??? Patrick Stump please don’t haunt me.  

So that’s a wrap?! Thank you so much to everyone who asked me questions. Stay safe and strong. Share your thoughts in the comments along with any other questions you may have! Sending love xx 

Rage, Rage Against The Dying Of The Light + Q&A!!

So there’s this thing called the blogosphere. I’m part of it and so are you. It’s throbbing with world weary but optimistic hearts, creatives that rage against the dying of the light with every angry word and hopeful question, rebels with and without a cause, dreamers just muddling their way through, people who desperately desperately want to get their voice heard, human beings capable of both world changing love and all consuming hate.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world right now, but we’re part of something special and we should celebrate it. We should not let our voices be crushed by hopelessness but instead speak LOUDER about the things we care about. I urge you all, as bloggers with incredible platforms, to spread hope and love.

And whilst we’re here, I thought it would be cool if we got to know each other better. We’re all along for the ride peeps. May as well make the most of it.

So yeahhh, ask all your questions about me, guys!! However random, deep, crazy…..comment it down below👇

Love to all. Stay strong 🤙

i’ve been infected with hope

We’ve spent the last few weeks discussing and writing our TEDx talk,  finding the best way to tell our story of discovery, connection and, above all, hope and I don’t want to give anything anyway before the talk in April, but the message we want to share with you cannot wait seven weeks, especially with this virus and the effects it’s having on society at the forefront of our minds. We all need to hear it now. 

What if I told you that, on our journey, we have come across something pretty incredible, something that is revolutionising the future of our society and spreading throughout our country just as fast as the Coronavirus is, but infecting us with hope instead? What we’ve discovered is that our value system as a nation is shifting monumentally, and continues to shift a little more with every ordinary person who sees the need for change in their community and stands up and makes a difference. 

 

Starting when we’re children and continuing throughout our entire lives, we are taught to pursue materialism, but are now coming to realise that material things are not what make us happy. Possessions can so easily become worthless, whilst human connection is strong and runs deep. If we invest in our communities now, it doesn’t matter how much we earn or how well we did at school or how big our house is any more because life becomes about caring and not counting and a value system based on community excludes no one. 

Our generation don’t have a ton of hope for the future – our planet is being destroyed, knife crime and violence are on the rise, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to afford to own our own homes, we’re in the midst of a mental health crisis and now there’s this virus to contend with too, but putting our energy into our communities gives us something we can all believe in and contribute to, as well as a support network of people who care. If the value system changes now, whilst we’re young, and we grow up caring about the people around us instead of feeling lost and resentful , the future we will go on to create looks a whole lot brighter. 

We all have a choice when it comes to how we personally deal with the Coronavirus and other issues our society faces – we can become fearful, distrustful, insular and self centred or we can pull together. I recently saw on the news that there has been an outbreak of the virus in the town of Buckie in North East Scotland, but if there’s anyone who will pull together when they’re struggling, it’s them, as we spent some time there on our journey and the strength of their community spirit blew us away. I have no doubt that they’ll get through this – together, as a community. 

It’s like, amongst the chaos, all these shoots of hope are springing up everywhere, not just naturally but because they have been deliberately planted by people who see the desperate need to make a difference. But why now? Maybe it’s like new growth after a fire that destroys everything. Maybe it’s just the right time for change.These shoots are the beginning of a new value system and when they connect at the root they are what stops our society becoming an unsurvivable and hostile desert.

We’re not sure of how everything will pan out, but it might turn out that we have to stay at the farm where we live for awhile instead of going off travelling as we planned. We’ve ordered a load of food so if we wanted to we could just hole ourselves up, but we have a whole community around us as well so, if the whole situation with the Coronavirus goes downhill, we plan to grow food, cook for people, create a space where everyone’s welcome and use it as an opportunity to bring our community closer together. Have you ever heard the story of stone soup? Individually they had nothing, the odd carrot here, some salt and pepper there, but together they created a hearty meal that fed them all and kept them going. 

The change is happening, people. Are you in or are you out? 

 

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Share your thoughts in the comments 👇 xx

If The Kids Are United We Will Never Be Divided

Heya people. Yeah. Long time no see….things have been hectic what with writing my TEDx talk (yaaa that’s a thing) and planning for the future now that me and my family have finished our Round The UK On A Tenner A Day challenge (oh yeah that happened too).

I wrote this for our family’s website One Life Share It, but decided to share it on here as the message of empowerment is incredibly important to me as a young person. Enjoy and please add your thoughts in the comments and discuss with each other. As always, I want this blog to be a platform for connection 😊

I originally took on this journey on behalf of my generation because, though I know that the issues my peers are facing are big and complex and overwhelming and that I cannot solve them, I want young people to know that there is hope, that people do care, that people are willing to be part of bringing about change and that no one has to be alone in their struggles. I want to somehow give my generation the platform to feel empowered and proud and hopeful. I believe that community and human connection have the power to do that.

On our journey, we’ve discovered that by rebuilding their communities ordinary people are creating their own solutions to the struggles they face. Simply by coming together, crossing divides and supporting one another, they are changing the face of the society we live in for the better. I want young people to be involved in this. I want them to feel the same sense of belonging I’ve felt through being part of these communities, the same sense of pride and warmth and empowerment. 

It’s plain to see that my generation are struggling, but I’ve learnt that when we are given the opportunity to be part of our communities and help make them a better place, we are simultaneously given hope for our future too. If we are an essential part of our communities now, we will feel responsibility and care towards them throughout our lifetimes because they’re ours and we played a part in shaping them. Young people have so much to give – our talents and gifts, our life experiences and knowledge, our ideas and creativity. Our communities and society are our inheritance, but we are part of them now.

Awae has my entire heart go watch it now ❤️

We are a generation who crave social interaction and I believe that we can find the same belonging we seek in our friend groups and online in our communities amongst people of all generations and walks of life. I can tell you from my own experience that we can find as much fun, laughter, support, strength and purpose from spending time with groups of people in our communities as we can in the familiarity and restriction of our comfort zones. Community exists in so many ways, shapes and forms, but every single one of us has an invaluable part to play in it. 

Older generations, please recognise the necessity of what we have to contribute and help us get involved. Guide us with your experiences and wisdom, but listen to our voices too. Young people, I know it may be hard to know where to start and that it’s a step outside of our comfort zone, but our communities are as much ours as they are anyone else’s and we have to take ownership, we have to work together to make the communities and society we live in better for everyone using what we’re passionate about and what we’re good at. I know you probably hear this a lot, but this is our future and the power to shape it lies in our hands. It’s up to us what we do with it. 

My Thoughts Following Our UK Elections + Where We Go From Here

As a young person, scrolling through social media and the news over the last couple of days makes me feel desperately worried for our future. Not solely because of the results of our UK general election and what it proves about our country and what we have come to value (the headline on the BBC this morning was ‘what a Conservative win means for your money’ as opposed to what a Conservative win means for the less well off, homeless, disabled, refugees and many others who may struggle), but because even now, just days after we’ve voted and everyone has had the chance to have our say, Facebook is still full of petty arguments, profanities and insults. To put it simply – division.

However, amongst all the fear, frustration and grief that I see around me, I still have hope that we can come together as human beings. 

I definitely don’t understand all the nuances of politics and all the pieces of the bigger picture, but I’ve been on a journey that most people will never have experienced and it’s shown me a lot about social division, where the divides lie and what it looks like when people come together. I’ve been welcomed into communities in every area and accepted by people from every background and that has taught me to see life from many different points of view. So I speak only from my own experience. 

This is not really supposed to be a political post but if you look around you at the society we all live in, you’ll see circumstantial inequalities and social issues at every turn and if we don’t play our part in making a difference now, those issues will affect us all. I don’t have to go into detail, the amount of people I’ve met recently who quite simply have given up watching the news because of the negative effect it’s having on them says it all. 

Some of us are totally disillusioned with our current political situation and some of us got what they wanted, but in the long run, division doesn’t get any of us anywhere. As a society, we need to decide what we value and look at the consequences of those values for our future, just like we seem to have done with environmental issues. Social issues are no different, if we don’t take action, it affects us all, not just those on the frontline. 

For example, relatively recently it’s become frowned upon to fly around the world and valued to be ecologically aware for the sake of the environment and humanity simply because we see the effects that things like flying will have on our future and it terrifies us.  

We’ve taken that power into our own hands to act on environmental issues, why can’t we do the same for social ones? Issues that are affecting people NOW? 

We’re at a tipping point and, I speak to young people specifically here, we are the generation who need to care. Even if you got what you wanted in this election, it’s obvious that we can’t rely on politics to bring us together any more. We have to do that ourselves. I’m not saying politics doesn’t affect people’s lives, but what’s done is done. It’s up to us to make the difference now. It’s up to us to stand in solidarity with one another and make sure no one goes hungry or can’t pay their rent. 

Visiting what most people would describe as ‘socially and economically deprived” communities on this journey has been eye opening for us and hopefully for you as you’ve followed our progress. These places are described as deprived because of all the social issues and because there isn’t a lot of wealth and affluence, but these people have something most of us don’t seem to have nor to value, but something that brings great support, contentment and wholeness. 

It’s hard to sum up in words, but these people are there for each other through everything, full of passion and energy, they have empathy and a deep commitment to the people around them. Politics makes their life difficult, but they are hospitable, generous and incredible despite of it. Who’s in 10 Downing Street does not define them and we don’t have to let it define us. We, as a country, can recognise that division does not serve any one of us and come together in our communities and as a nation. I truly believe that. What do you think? 

 

X

The Future We Choose: My Thoughts On Education

I wrote this post in response to everyone asking “what about school?” over on our challenge Facebook page. I thought I’d sit down and try to explain what education means to us. I hope this gives you a slightly different perspective 😊

For us education is about so much more than just schoolwork, it’s the way we choose to live our lives and the future we choose to build for ourselves and others. It goes way beyond the confines of 9am-4pm, five days a week, beyond classrooms and books and screens. I’ve often heard the quote ‘if you feel like you don’t fit in this world, it’s because you’re here to help create a new one’ and I think education is the same – if we don’t fit into the system (and who really does?), maybe it’s because we’re here to help shape the world we really do want to live in. It is the choice and responsibility of us all to play a part in creating the future we want. 

Because of their own life experiences, my Mum and Dad decided to home educate us because they wanted to raise us to value things like community, hospitality, individuality and collaboration. They are not professional teachers or academics who thought they could do better than the education system, they’re just people who want their kids to care about others – not as an afterthought, but because life is not always about just personal gain and success. By trying to make a difference and by connecting with others doing the same, by talking to people and hearing their stories and perspectives on life, we learn what’s important. 

Being educated in this way, I feel like I have control over my life and my future. I’ve felt like I’m missing out before, like people at school have something I don’t, like their education and lifestyle is some elusive prize that’s just out of my reach, but when I talk to my friends and they tell me that being surrounded by people all the time just makes them feel lonelier and doesn’t necessarily equal good friends and that they’re not motivated to learn any of the material they’re taught because they don’t see the relevance to their future, when they tell me how restricted and stifled and moulded school makes them feel, I realise what a privilege my education is. Tell me, is education supposed to stifle young people and squeeze them into a box they don’t fit in or is it supposed to prepare them for their future? 

My education is preparing me for my future. Maybe not the future everyone else is aiming for, but the future I want and am trying to create, a future that looks brighter.  I can equip myself with the skills I need, pursue my passions and work on my weaknesses. And I want to be a voice for all those other young people too and bring them with me into that brighter future. 

The honest truth is that we definitely haven’t got it all worked out, it’s not easy doing things differently and we’re all constantly learning and failing and growing, but we make it work because we believe in it. 

As for the practicalities, life on the road teaches you a lot in itself, as well as all the opportunities to learn that trying to rebuild community and give a voice to ordinary but amazing people making a difference presents. When you listen to people of all backgrounds, cultures and walks of life and join in conversations, when you step outside of your comfort zone to go somewhere and meet people you’d never normally interact with, when you have to motivate yourself to make things happen every single day, you learn pretty fast. 

To give you a bit of an idea of what our education has looked like recently, my sister Irys wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up and so she has got in touch with several rock pooling projects on the South coast and has met up with two of them over the last week or so. She’s been rockpooling with two different experts, asked questions, taken loads of photos, learnt about a ton of different species, gone back and researched them all and then written about them on her wildlife and photography instagram account.

My brother Evan has just started writing his Junior Survival manual to share what he learns about the wild and inspire other kids to get outdoors. He’s currently working on a chapter about attitude, reflecting on his own struggles, talking about the importance of remaining positive in all situations and including the thoughts of several people that he’s been in touch with, including Craig Mathieson – an explorer who started Polar Academy, taking young people on expeditions to make a difference in their lives, which is something Evan is aiming towards for his future. 

I continue to do all our social media, writing and communications for this challenge and for our CommuniTea events, as well as organising visits to community projects. I am also constantly trying to be a voice for my generation through making connections with individuals and organisations empowering young people to be leaders and change makers, through my writing, through my blog and through pursuing my dream of working in sail training because I’ve experienced how it changes lives. 

This is on top of the conversations we have daily with a wide variety of people on a wide variety of subjects and all the day to day challenge stuff, from finding places to ask for water to exploring a different local area every day. 

And then people say “well, what about exams?” and yeah, it’s a good question because surely we can’t get anywhere without the stamp of approval of the education system? I consider life to be our teacher and life to be our exam, the experiences we have test us and teach us and at the end of the day, they are what we have to show for ourselves – what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learnt from it. 

And if my very unique ‘exam’ results prove that I can talk to just about anyone, understand the importance of community in our society today, am compassionate and can see things from other people’s perspective, have the motivation to make things happen and knowledge of the world around me (good and bad) then I’m happy and if an employer doesn’t want to take me because I don’t have conventional GCSEs then that’s not the path I want to go down. 

And now the big question – will this put food on the table? Well, my education has taught me to be resourceful, it’s taught me that a family of five can live on a tenner a day and travel the entire UK coast on that budget and yeah, maybe I won’t live in a huge house when I’m older, but does that mean I’ll be any less happy? We’re all so conditioned to think that money equals big house and nice car which equals happiness, but I’m learning is that no, it really doesn’t. Contentment and materialism are not the same thing. However, contentment and community are always connected. 

Our education is far from perfect and it’s a constant learning process for us all, but when you put yourself and what you believe in out there for everyone to see, you do start to find your place in the world.

What are your thoughts on education? Do you go to school? Are you home schooled? Pros and cons? What do you want for YOUR future? How are you working towards that? Tell me everythinggggg💙💙

questions for when you’re sad

Go check out my best friends new blog ❤ crazy proud of her for having the courage to start over and for always being true to herself. Also, whilst I'm here lol, thought of the day inspired by conversations with several friends….if something's not our problem until it becomes our problem and then we're shouting about it and demanding change, how do we reverse that attitude? Things will affect all of us eventually, we all have a role in shaping the society we want to live in.

Writing Dump ft random poetry and recent ramblings

Hey all,

Forever and always this blog has been a place where I can be completely honest and express myself and that often means sharing my very random,rambling writings. So often I have this sudden thought or a feeling and then this desperate need to capture it, other times I think for ages and ages about what I truly want to say and write something carefully orchestrated and expressed, sometimes I just…..write and let all the emotions flow through me and form themselves into words.

I recently had a notification telling me that I started blogging five years ago. Half a freaking decade. So kinda as a very Gracie celebration of that (staying true to what A Light In The Darkness has been for all that time) and partly because I have loads of random snippets of writing that need to be somewhere except taking up a thousand drafts in my docs, ta da…here you have a writing dump!

Before you ask, sometimes I’m okay and sometimes I’m not. And that’s okay. This writing is honest, but it also reflects only one moment in time. At the moment, my life is a whirlwind of emotions and experiences, but mots of all – hope. All I want to do is capture that in some way, but don’t worry about me – worry about the world we live in and what we can do to make it a better place.

1)

the sun glares in your eyes but i see all the stars in the sky shining back at me, 
your laugh rings out over marble floors, 
mouth stretched wide in a sculpted smile, 
your voice spirals up echoey staircases that swirl like cinnamon buns
and then slides back down the banister like a child at play
smooth though
so smooth

i fall into you blindly and laugh when we blend together like blue and grey on a rainy day, 
we surf waves of our own creation,
our hands melting into the ocean like we’re part of it too,
twisted tendons
souls that struggle to find the words 
except
‘i’m here
and i always will be
i promise’

– for a friend 

2) – inspired by knife crime and desperation

and with your words my heart burst into light that blinded me and lit you up and we danced in the darkness, twisted together in shadows and strength.

when you tell me about the fight you got into, the blade twists in my gut too and i can’t breath for a minute. then i close my eyes and count to ten and let the rawness hide itself in my heart until someone makes me cry again. just know that when my dad says i need to come shopping instead of staying in the car to write, it’s not really him who sends the tears streaking down my face – it’s you. and not just you. it’s also millions of others like you. when people ask me what’s really wrong i can’t tell them because they don’t understand that you can’t see through your anger and frustration and confusion and that you’re drowning in it all and i keep trying to guide you through and my every word to you is filled with oxygen to keep you breathing for just a little longer because i can’t let you leave me. i can’t let anyone leave. 

so I double text and triple text and ask ‘are you okay?’ and don’t care what anyone thinks or says because i care too much. but it still never seems like enough. it should be but no, it’s too little too late. 

and i want to do this. i want more than anything to take all this pain and turn it into something beautiful and maybe that’s just because we’re all a revolutionary at heart..at the moment the best way I can describe it is that my words mean both everything and nothing. like they are what I inhale and exhale, what i need and what i create and they are all i can give you. 

they’re words i hope will change things. words i hope will keep you alive. these words are not empty, they are the carriers of great things, of a new world, of lives yet to be lived. futures twisted and bent out of shape. i want to straighten them out but i can’t. and they’re oddly alluringly beautiful like this mess of words that makes no sense. did you know you could get high on tragedy? 

every night i pray to god that you’re okay and that you find the strength to keep going. i wish on every 11:11 (stupid how you clutch at straws am I right?) and squeeze my eyes tight shut and sometimes i’m so happy that you’re happy and sometimes i’m just not. sometimes because you’re not. sometimes it has nothing to do with anything. 

this makes no sense at all but neither does the tangle of emotions inside me and i think that’s why i love words so much because when they fit together, they fit. and they are the truth of the writer and then the reader. they can be written in stone and mean completely different things to completely different people and still be perfect, messy truth. 

when you tell me that you hate yourself, i hate everything. i hate the society that made you see yourself that way and i hate that i can’t change it. and no one understands. no one. because i’m locked in here and yet i’m free as anything. no one understands that the reason i cry is because it’s so beautiful and so painful all at the same time. and im okay. i promise. its okay. 

and maybe i’m confused and i’m making it all up. maybe you’re the same. maybe neither of our stories match reality. maybe we’re all crazy. but to me this is the truth, this burning, explosive soul that’s running out of oxygen, but never out of words. 

there. that’s it. i’m done. 

3)

Lil note – me and my family have started organising CommuniTea events on our challenge. They’re basically all about bringing people of all backgrounds together to bridge the gaps and divides in our society and because we believe that when we come together we create a better future for us all.  This is the speech I read at our first event…

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a voice for my generation because I’ve felt their pain and wanted a better future for us all.  For so long, I’ve done my best just to fight the symptoms, trying to be there to listen, offer what advice I could, answer the phone when my friends are crying. I’ve sat there watching anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, self harm and hopelessness become the norm and felt helpless. What could I do to stop this wheel in motion? How could I reverse it? 

For me, CommuniTea means getting to the root of the problem. It means finding a way to catch my friends and stop them slipping through my fingers like the future that’s slipping away from all of us. It’s bridging the gaps so that people can’t fall through. 

It means being able to tell them that people do care and have their back, and actually mean it when I say it. It means that no one is alone.  It means being able to do more than just try to pick up the pieces when they fall apart. It means finding something that holds us all together. 

So often we think that we’re better off on our own, just looking out for ourselves, but we’re not. That may be the unspoken narrative society feeds us, but on this challenge I’ve seen what happens when people come together and I’ve felt it in my heart. 

We all struggle and we all feel pain, but even where there is darkness, especially where there is darkness, people are pushing through like flowers through concrete. They are breaking down all of these complex societal issues and problems and coming up with one, simple solution that we can all be a part of.

It’s called community and we’ve seen it in action in almost every single area we’ve passed through on this challenge. You just have to look. We’ve seen how the pain in people’s pasts can be healed by the purpose that caring for others gives them and the comfort of knowing that there are others who care about them too. 

We’ve seen how people overcome their struggles through coming together and forging relationships. They’re sharing their lives and creating positive change at the same time. They’ve realised that this is where the change starts. Here. Now. 

And the best part is that it’s happening everywhere and absolutely anyone can be a part of it. I can’t promise anyone that it won’t be a step outside of our comfort zones, but no one ever achieved anything by being comfortable. I’m a fifteen year old girl and I’ve just spent nearly six months stepping out of my comfort zone every single day and it’s the best experience I’ve ever had. I want you to experience that magic too. 

It’s not really magic, but it feels like it. When people come together, when people really care, it brings out the best in us all, the smiles the joy, the connection, the feeling of being a part of something. Part of the solution, not the problem. 

Sitting down to eat and talk and laugh and play cards with asylum seekers, you realise that we’re all just human beings. Feeling the most welcome and at home you’ve ever felt anywhere after just a couple of hours in the inclusive chaos of a community in South Wales area where people struggle and are almost forgotten or written off by the rest of society, but are there for each other through it all, changes your perspective. Meeting all these young guys in Glasgow who have nothing going for them, but refuse to let the darkness drag them down, motivates us to help them and others rise. 

I can’t tell you how important this is. To me. To you. The darkness affects us all, but so will the positivity. It will light us up and set our souls on fire. We just have to give it a chance. 

4) Some random one liners that might be something more one day and quite possibly…..won’t.

 i can’t talk to you because you won’t talk to me and this is how i learnt that life is not fair. 

Humanity is one part pain and one part strength. 

If I asked you if you know the same things I do, if I asked you whether you’ve seen the hearts that cry out, even unknowingly, would you give yourself to them if they would take you?

Well there you go guys! Hope you enjoyed that and maybe it made you think in some way??! How are we all doingggg?? Love as always xxx

 

You Are Never Alone + 5 Ways We Can All Make A Difference

Heyy all,

I wrote this on World Mental Health Day, but the signal in the English countryside is sporadic to say the least. Anyway, it’s a bit late, but no less relevant.

I just wanted to share a reminder that anyone can talk to me about anything (big or small) at any time. I don’t want anyone to go through anything alone ❤ Life is tough and it affects us all so message me through my ‘Wanna Talk?’ page any time and I will do my best to be there for you ❤ I know how much of a difference it makes just to have someone there for you and we’ve all gotta stick together if we wanna make this world a better place so I’m serious – message me whenever guys.

A lot of us don’t often know what to do to help others who are struggling with their mental health and although I’m no expert, here’s a list of things that are simple but (from my experience) make a huge difference. 

Make it clear to your friends, family and members of your community that you’re there for them through thick and thin. Even if you take it for granted that they already know, sometimes a reminder that they can trust you and that you’re there no matter what goes a long way. 

Get involved in projects in your community. On my family’s challenge we’ve met so many ordinary but incredible people who are transforming lives in their own town or city just by bringing people together and supporting one another. Being a part of something can mean so much – having a purpose, being surrounded by people who care about you and finding hope for the future is a lifesaver for so many people.

I’ve done loads of volunteering with groups like these recently and whether they use fixing cars, fitness, sailing, arts and crafts or something else, they’re making a huge difference and what you get from being a part of that is absolutely incredible. Bringing people together is truly the solution to so many of the struggles we’re all facing and it’s creating a better future for us all. I’d tell absolutely everyone to do a bit of research (social media is great like that) and find a way to get involved in a project in their community. It’ll be the best step outside your comfort zone that you ever take. 

It’s the little things. Send your friend a random text telling them how much they mean to you. Leave uplifting notes in library books. If you notice that someone you know seems down, try to find small ways to show them you care. If someone wants to talk, find time to listen. 

Educate yourself. Read up about mental health. Ask questions. Don’t make assumptions. Listen to people’s stories. Don’t judge. So many people are misunderstood because of other people’s ignorance. Be part of the solution, not the problem. 

Be real and encourage others to do the same. In our society, there’s so much pressure to be something we’re not and to hide our true selves to fit in, but that’s where the issues start. It’s not easy, but once we start being open, honest and real and accept others for who they are too, others feel like they can too and society changes for the better. 

So there you have it – five ways we can all make a difference. Mental health is something so many of us struggle with, it’s tough, it’s real, it’s raw, it’s painful. Let’s come together, support one another and show others that they’re not alone.

I’ve posted this on here before, but it was ages ago so I’d like to share it again. It’s a poem I wrote and I would ramble on about it, but I’m going to let it speak for itself. Just remember….you are never alone ❤

What would you add to my list of ways we can all make a difference? Any thoughts to share? All my love xx

 

we are all just human beings

Every year 29,000 asylum seekers flee persecution and destruction in their homeland and arrive here in the UK. They make a perilous and often fatal journey because they are desperate and have no choice. Have you ever had a nightmare where you’re stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea and there’s no safe place to go? Well, we can wake up from it, they can’t.

They leave their country, their home, where they may have been persecuted, threatened, tortured for something that’s just part of who they are – their beliefs, their political stance, their sexuality, ethnic group or just standing up for what’s right. They may have been caught up in turmoil and violence and want to protect their family. Sometimes their only choice is to escape. Ask yourself, if you were in that situation with your family, what decision would you make?

They brave a hard, dangerous and dehumanising journey which, in reality, many don’t survive, to reach the UK – my country.

When they arrive they are often met with hostility, prejudice and a system that seems set up against them.

Why is that? Why are we so convinced that these people have come here to take something from us? Do we ever consider what they might have to give? Why do we assume that they’re here because it’s an easy option? Maybe it’s their only option. Why are we convinced that they’re all bad and they’re all the same? Is that because we only listen to the lies the media tell us and are too afraid of what we don’t know to find out for ourselves?

Mark, Sarah and lots of volunteers run The Sanctuary project at The Gap Centre in Newport city centre (South Wales). They’re providing constant support and a sense of community and belonging to all asylum seekers. They invited me and my family to go along for the day, help out and spend some time with everyone.

First Mark took us on a tour of Newport, we could hardly walk ten steps without Mark stopping to chat to someone he knew from the centre, shaking hands, introducing us, asking them if they were coming for food later.

Once back, we were put to work moving tables, sorting through donations of books and cleaning bathrooms. We then all sat and chatted and ate and played card games before heading off to play badminton.

The whole time, we were made so welcome by everyone. Whether it was the guy who made the effort to teach me how to serve in badminton, even though I was useless (I got it down to a fine art in the end), the guy who took great pleasure in giving my brother Evan a traditional Kurdish haircut, everyone who sat and talked and made an effort to engage with us even though we didn’t always speak the same language, everyone who told us about their lives, their families and their culture. Even though you may feel you already know it, the whole afternoon just made us realise that we really are all just human beings – we all feel pain, we can all smile, we all have hopes and dreams.

I genuinely feel like I made friends. And I had so much fun, playing Uno and badminton and hanging out with all these people of all different cultures and backgrounds. Since when did different become bad? Different is amazing. We can learn so much from different. Different is just…different – not better or worse.

Thank you so much to Mark for inviting us and for telling us about all the incredible work that The Sanctuary do and for letting us get involved. Also thanks to everyone who welcomed us and made us feel like part of the family. All the best to all of you for the future ❤

What are your thoughts? Have you ever found yourself with a different perspective on something after spending time with people you wouldn’t usually hang out with?