The First Part Of My Story: One Family’s Journey To Make A Difference

Heyy my friends. How are we all? Crazy times huh? I have so so many thoughts and feelings right now, but at the end of the day, I’m trying to focus on the things I can do to create change, starting with myself and then reaching out to the people around me, supporting them, having conversations, reflecting and then acting. I often find myself mentally and emotionally exhausted because I feel like I have to be reacting wholeheartedly to every injustice I see or hear about, when really the most powerful thing I can do is to put my beliefs into action every single day of my life, in every choice and decision I make, because change is a long haul and it starts with me.

Anyway, if you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen me talking about how I’ve just published the second chapter of the book I’m writing about my family and the journey we’ve been on. I’m not publishing it the conventional way (but then since when did Gracie ever do anything the conventional way?) and instead I’m writing/posting it chapter by chapter on my family’s website for free. I’m doing this because it’s not just our story, but the story of everyone who has been part of it. I want it to be accessible to all.

Although I just published Chapter Two, I wanted to share Chapter One with you all first as I don’t know how many of you guys have read it. Chapter One is the very tip of the iceberg and a brief introduction into who we are as a family and why we live the way we do, but don’t worry, I’ll be back with the second part soon. For now though…make yourself a cuppa and enjoy Chapter One of ‘Round The UK On A Tenner A Day – One Family’s Journey To Make A Difference’

Chapter One

At first glance ‘Round The UK On A Tenner A Day – One Family’s Journey To Make A Difference’ might look like a very simple story. A family of five who took on the adventure of a lifetime in a self build van, all for a really good cause.

Look again and it might seem like a complicated story, a tangle of experiences and life-defining moments that all led up to us taking a step into the unknown to try and make a better world. We all have that story, every single one of us, maybe it’s leading up to something for us all.

It’s been an extraordinary journey and we have experienced extraordinary things, but at the heart of it is a totally ordinary family – a family who looked at the world around us and saw the desperate need for change. We still do. We set off hoping that we’d find solutions, determined to find the good that’s out there, be a part of it and encourage others to do the same, but we didn’t really know how. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

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All my life, for sixteen years, I’ve sat and listened to stories told at a table beneath a sign that reads ‘it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’. It moves with us into whatever tiny home we live in at that moment in time and actually says ‘it’s better to light a candle than to curse’, perhaps because Dad never got around to finishing it and perhaps as an overhanging reminder not to swear at the dinner table. Dad’s the one who breaks that rule and Mum kicks him under the table (I know because she’s accidentally kicked me instead far too many times), to which he responds with an offended and innocent look “What? I’m making a point!”

These stories we’re told are from the lifetimes of two very different parents who lived very different lives up until the moment they met, stories of how they came to be sitting at this table in this tiny house telling their three home-schooled children about the world and how important it is to be people who think for themselves, care about others and do what they can to make this world we live in a better place for everyone.

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Dad is the most extraordinary ordinary person I know. Ordinary in the sense that his name is Dave (a very nice, but ordinary name), he’s a carpenter (which is quite a normal trade), he struggles just like anyone else and there is nothing that sets him above or below anybody.  Extraordinary because he’s motivated, always making things happen, always moving forward, but never for personal gain, it’s always about building a brighter future for us, his children, and for the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren of everyone in this world because he sees such a need for change in this society we live in.  Dad told me recently that he has no personal ambitions and yet he’s always thinking, always dreaming, always doing. He is willing to give everything to be a part of change, and that’s what makes him different.

Dad has fought for a lifetime against getting dragged into the darkness surrounding him. He has not always won. As a kid he learned what was important in life from the world around him, not the real world but a world constructed by society, the media and the school system to set you on a path that defines happiness and success by material gain. It’s a path that is bound to fail so many people and leave them as outcasts and think about it, even if we do achieve material success, does that equal true happiness? Congratulations, you have achieved the highest level in a system that is fake. Dad learnt that the hard way. He realised that chasing after happiness by pursuing money and expensive things was toxic. He’d seen it destroy the lives of those around him and he wanted an alternative.

When he discovered Christianity, he says it was like he could draw a line under all the negativity and pain in his past and start over and that was the most incredible thing. For someone who had never been offered any other path, he threw everything at it because he thought he was discovering a new world, an alternative to all the darkness he’d grown up with and he was willing to give it his absolute all.

Dad took the message of Christianity at its heart and ran with it, he looked at what is asked of followers of Jesus – a crazy carpenter who tried to turn the world upside down – as Dad calls him, and saw that it’s not about extreme, radical, give-everything-up religion, but it is about being willing to live your life to make a better world. Because of his past and the society he’d grown up in and been so influenced by, my Dad saw the need for that. He saw how important it is. It was around this time that he met Mum.

Mum and Dad bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia twenty years ago, believing, or maybe just hoping, that they’d find people who were changing things for the better out there. When they came home after a year they were the ones who had changed. They’d had an adventure, lived on fish porridge for months and taught most of South East Asia to play the card game Sevens, but they’d also seen how naive they could be and how a lot of people talked about change and no one was really willing to do anything about it, at least not anything that would cost them anything personally. They saw how complex the world can be, but it only fueled their desire to really do something to make a difference.

They gave everything within them but struggled to see how they could change anything. They took a homeless drug addict who’d become a good friend into their home to try and help him and when the landlord told them to kick Mark out or for all of them to move out, they said that either all of them stayed or none of them did. In the end, the landlord backed down. When they eventually felt it was time to move on they got Mark some help at a rehab centre and then moved into their car to go wherever they felt they could make a difference.

Mark taught Mum and Dad a lot. He taught them not to judge people on their circumstances, that everyone has a story and they’re not always in control of the way their life plays out. He taught them about overcoming your past and your struggles, about fighting back from rock-bottom even when it takes everything within you and you’ve got nothing going for you in life.

That’s part of my parents journey, one they’re still on now. So are we – Evan, Irys and myself. In the end they did get a new beginning, but it wasn’t by becoming Christians. It was a part of their lives, but ultimately they are their own people, defined by their experiences and the lessons they’ve learnt. Christianity taught them a lot, but it’s not how they choose to describe themselves now. They’ve been disillusioned with society, with people and with religion, but still they make crazy decisions that most people don’t seem to understand, all in the name of creating a better world.

They’ve let all of the experiences they’ve had motivate and not destroy them, though it’s not been easy at all. Their experiences have shaped every part of them, the good and the bad.

My parents care, not only in the way they talk, but in the way they think and act as well, in the decisions that they make, the path they choose to walk and the way they’ve raised their kids.  They’ll be the first to admit that they’ve been naive over the years, but still they learn and grow and continue to do what they can to create change.

Mum and Dad have shared many experiences, they’ve been on this journey together and although what I talk about here is only the tip of the iceberg, it’s part of what’s made them who they are today and consequently what’s made us – me, Evan and Irys – who we are.

Mum’s a different character with different life experiences to Dad, but still cares just as much. She’s less extreme and more gentle, less revolutionary and more ‘let’s look for the good in everyone’. Mum will talk to anyone and is always full of positivity and enthusiasm.

I’ve learned from them both to stand up for what I believe in, to use my voice whenever I can, to be ‘a light in the darkness’. As an eleven year old with no life experience, but a head full of stories and a heart just bursting with a desire to change the world and make people feel less alone, I started writing a blog, a blog that I have used as a platform to share my thoughts on for over five years.

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Dad would always tell me that honesty is the only way we can change saw anything. If we’re honest with ourselves and with others, only then can we start to make any difference. And so that’s what I did. I wrote honest words, words about myself and who I am and who I wanted to be, words about my life and my family and friends, words about the world and what I thought and what I wanted for the future, for myself and for others.

And people read it, other young people who think like I do. So many times when I’ve been in despair about the fact that no one else seems to care all that much, I reach out to those people, some of whom are my best friends now, because they understand and they have ideas and dreams too and together, we hope we’ll be able to achieve something better, for our generation and for generations to come.

We’ve lived on the farm/campsite in Sussex where Dad has worked for eleven years now. When I was five years old, Evan was three and Irys was 18 months we arrived there in a big blue bus that dad converted – the first in a steady stream of tiny spaces Dad has built and we’ve lived in ever since – we got stuck in the mud and never left.

 

We originally set off to travel because Mum and Dad had made the decision not to put us into the school system, partly because of their own negative experiences of it, but mostly because they didn’t feel that school prepares young people to be individuals who care about the values that are important to us – freethinking, community, hospitality, collaboration and not competition and a desire to make the world a better place. It was a personal choice, but they didn’t want us to be the only homeschooled kids in the area and so we headed to Sussex, where we’d heard there was a huge support network of people doing education differently.

Ironically, we never got hugely involved in the home education world down in Sussex, but we did make the farm our home and the people there became family.

I guess you could say we had an idyllic childhood, growing up in a safe environment, living in various tiny homes with free range of 200 acres of fields and woods and rivers, surrounded by people who love and care about us, Dad working right next door, with several hundred new friends for us to make every week during the holidays. It certainly had its challenges, but we spent those years learning from life and from the people around us, discovering our passions and pursuing them, and being taught by our parents how to be people who make a positive impact in this world.

 

I have eleven years worth of memories of summers where we hardly saw Mum and Dad because we were out all day playing barefoot in the fields, building tree houses in the woods, swimming in the river, working hard in return for ice-cream, carrying out (mostly) friendly battles with the campers, riding our bikes down the hills with no hands and wrestling in the mud. Then at night we’d be sleeping out under the stars and listening to music in the big tipi. We knew every single inch of that place and every single person. As young kids, we never had any doubt that this was where we belonged. The kids that would come for a week in the holidays would ask us where we lived and when we answered ‘here’, they’d argue with us that it just wasn’t possible. After we assured them that it was, they’d be so jealous.

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It might’ve looked it, but it wasn’t a perfect life. In fact we struggled with it often as we got older and came to be more aware of the world. For a few years, we went between travelling parts of the UK in our van or on our tiny pedal powered canal boat, searching for a way we could truly make a difference and for people who thought the same way and staying at the farm, to be there for the people who we care about.

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For all those years, there’s always been people sitting round the fire eating with us or someone dropping by for a cup of tea, some days it’s one person after another and Dad talks all day and doesn’t get any work done. We tease him about the fact that he can drink tea all day and not pick up his tools once, but it makes a difference to all those people who know they can come to us and we will welcome them and be there for them no matter what. They enrich our lives too and so our kettle is always hot. If you sit with the backdoor of our truck ajar, you’ll always be able to hear laughter and banter or, very rarely, the sawing of wood and hammering of nails.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the struggles of other people, especially my generation, as though they are my own. Maybe it’s my parents urging me to be ‘a light in the darkness’ with both my words and my actions, maybe it’s the way they’ve led by example, maybe it’s the way they’ve brought us into their discussions whenever they’ve talked about change or about what we can do to help others, but ever since I was young, I’ve begged them to help me do more, never really knowing what ‘more’ was.

Then a few years back, when a close friend of ours wasn’t well, we volunteered to look after his 95 year old Father in his home in Kent for the winter, which was quite the adventure in itself. Whilst we were there, the three of us kids learnt to sail in dinghies on an oversized pond near Maidstone. Our instructor was a lovely man, slightly eccentric and more than a little hardcore, we sailed throughout the entire winter in extreme wind, rain and even snow, practiced capsizing in the freezing water without a wetsuit among us and when the whole lake froze over and we couldn’t sail, we went out on kayaks to break the ice.

 

Still, we weren’t put off and a love of sailing was forged. A year or two later, an opportunity for a young, home educated person to go on a voyage as part of a crew on a yacht came up and I took it, not knowing what to expect. And so I discovered the world of sail training and have never looked back.

 

Sail training is a movement made up of organisations all over the world who use residential sailing voyages to make a positive impact on people’s lives, especially young people.

I knew in my heart from the first time I stepped onboard that boat that this was going to be a huge part of my future. I felt the difference it made to me personally and saw that reflected in all the young people around me.

At sea you learn to live and work as a team, to face challenges head on and overcome them, to achieve things you never thought you ever could, how to lead people, have empathy with others, plus so many other invaluable life skills.

There’s also an almost indescribable feeling of self confidence that sailing gives you, it makes you feel like you’re worth something, like you can do anything. For just a short time, you, your team and your boat are all that matters. Not your phone, not your appearance, not all the stress and anxiety inside your head. It gives you something to take back into everyday life, something real, something you can look back on and say ‘I did that, I survived and, actually, I flourished”.

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Last October, Evan and I sailed from Plymouth to Cowes on the Isle Of Wight to take part in the Small Ships Race. We were all huddled up on deck at 1am in the morning, feeling the deck pitching below us, all of us soaked to skin for the tenth time that day, hungry but too seasick to eat, all falling asleep huddled up in a heap of salty, wet waterproofs and windswept hair and yet ask any one of us and we’d tell you that this is one of the best experiences of our lives. Ask one of us who’s been a few times before and we’ll tell you it’s what keeps us going, it lights something up inside of you, something that doesn’t stop burning for a long time.

I discovered sail training at around the same time that I fully realised that some of my friends and lots of young people of my generation are really struggling. Suddenly my friends were getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder or anxiety or depression or an eating disorder. They were hating school, feeling hopeless, attempting suicide. It completely shattered my heart and still does, but we stick together, support each other and so we get through the tough times.

I saw how sail training was making a huge difference in the lives of young people, including myself, filling us with renewed hope and confidence and I hoped that sail training could be an answer for everyone.

A friend of ours asked Dad why he decided to take that step to do this challenge and he answered with one word – desperation.

That’s how I was starting to feel. I still do. When my friends – talented, caring, unique, smart individuals – are telling me they want to die and there is nothing I can do to change the way the world makes them feel except be there for them, I feel desperate. Something has to change.

Bring stuck on a boat with a load of people seems to be a really effective way of forging the strongest friendships and so I’ve come to know my crewmates’ stories and their struggles and yet on the boat, when half of our deck is underwater and the wind is blowing us along as fast as it can take us and we’re hoisting sails and then dropping others and tacking back and forth across the open ocean, waves crashing over our bow, our struggles are irrelevant and are replaced with confidence, focus and pride.

When we’re all mucking about in the galley, singing along to Disney songs at the top of our lungs, stirring the food we’re cooking for our team and laughing our heads off at stupid jokes, it’s the same.

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There are so many young people who don’t have that. Sail training showed me what’s possible, but it can’t save everyone. There must be other solutions out there and if there’s not, maybe it’s time to start creating them.

Something that really impacted Dad and that he’s remembered back to so many times when he’s talked to us about the importance of making a difference, is the story of a young lad who’d grown up in care, got into some quite serious trouble and had been kicked out of the flat where he was living. As part of his job at the time, Dad went round to do some odd jobs around the place and sort out his stuff. He came across a screwed up piece of paper on the floor and picked it up to check if it was something important. It was a note that trailed off after a few words.

“I want to be a good boy, but there’s no one there to help me….”

No matter what we might like to tell ourselves, it’s a crime for someone who’s born into a situation they have no control over and set up to fail in life, to want to change, but be given no help or support whatsoever.

You can’t create a society that fails the vast majority of people, just to watch them as they struggle and then blame them for their shortcomings.

We didn’t know what we’d discover on this journey, but we couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. We had to be part of the change.

Crazy challenge idea after crazy challenge idea came up for discussion, we’d get excited about it, then it would be discarded, built upon and come back to life as a new, slightly different concept, just for the process to repeat, over and over again.

All of those people who would drop round for tea most days would sit and listen patiently and give their input as we enthused about taking a bathtub around the UK coast and photographing it in front of famous landmarks along the way to raise awareness of sail training, rambled on about putting a wood fired oven on the back of our other van (yes, yet another vehicle) and touring all the coastal sailing clubs making pizza and fundraising as we went.

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One day we got out of our van we were living in at the time to find Dad eyeing it up with his measuring tape. Later he’d constructed a huge window front facade that looks like its from Dickensian times or something, stroking his chin as if imagining the big, bushy beard he’s planning on growing for the occasion, he told us he’s thinking about cutting the side of the van off to make space for this window front so that we can create a ‘Smugglers Haunt’ and stick with the ‘coastal theme’ on our fundraising adventures.

We laughed – he couldn’t be serious – but then that evening, I caught him looking at stuffed parrots and golden candlesticks on EBay and suddenly I wasn’t so sure……

Somewhere in amongst all those crazy ideas, Round The UK On A Tenner A Day was born, and that’s when the hard work started. Time to stop dreaming and start doing.

We wanted an idea that would be interesting, challenging, something that would engage people, make them smile, make them want to be a part of what we were trying to do.

Mo, our completely unique and homebuilt 1968 Morris traveller camper van, the vehicle we had decided would be our home for the challenge, was a huge part of that. Mo knows no social boundaries, she welcomes everyone. Everyone loves a Morris and everyone loves to come and see how we all fit inside. And that was another aspect of this adventure …would we all fit inside? Dad and Evan built Mo when were all quite a lot smaller and so living in such a tiny space was definitely going to be challenging.

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We’ve always been strong believers that it’s when people of all backgrounds and walks of life come together that we can achieve positive change and so that’s what we wanted to try and create – something that would bring people together.

At the time, we had no idea how strong the power of human connection would be throughout our journey and the impact it would have on us and how we choose to continue living our lives.

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Sail training as a whole is made up of lots of different charities all with a slightly different ethos and working with slightly different groups of people and as we did our research, we came to realise that we wouldn’t be able just to fit into a pigeonhole with our support of one charity over another.

That’s when we discovered CatZero, the cat among the pigeons, as I dubbed it.

It was like CatZero were putting everything we believed in into action, working within the community to transform lives and create a brighter future for everyone.

They were using the concept of sail training that I love and believe in so much as part of a wider programme to change people’s lives. They were truly helping people in need to go forth into their future with the skills and confidence they need to succeed and to give back to their communities. CatZero are empowering people and helping them to help themselves. They are hope in the darkness for so many. All that’s needed is the desire to change.

For us, we had to put everything into what we considered as the next chapter of our lives and so we did. We sold our car, donated everything we’d save from living on a tenner a day to CatZero and began making all the necessary preparations.

One day, during that winter of planning, we got up early to make the five hour journey up to Hull to spend the day with all these people we’d read so much about and talked to over the phone.

It’s said that CatZero is like a family, something many who complete their programmes have never had, and immediately we felt welcomed into that family.

We were sitting round the table with Dave, one CatZero’s founders, after a tour of the offices, being introduced to all the staff, looking round the boat, talking more about CatZero, who they help and how exactly they do it, when we were asked what our heads for heights were like.

We were led over to CatZero’s 72ft challenge yacht to meet the skipper, Danny…… and to climb the 30m mast, high above Hull marina.

Mum was absolutely terrified and didn’t really want to do it at all, this would be a huge step out of her comfort zone, but that’s the point. CatZero do this with many of the participants on their programmes, to challenge them, but also to show them that they are capable of so much more than they think, give them a sense of immense achievement and teach them to work with others as a team.

We all did it and absolutely loved it, Mum even opened her eyes at the top and let go with one hand to wave!  We got just a small taste of what this dedicated team of people do to help others. As we took the five-hour journey back home to Granny’s in the dim light of a winter evening, we all felt inspired and motivated to support CatZero in whatever way we could.

And so began the whole six months of emails, negotiations, social media, film making and fundraising. It was hard work, but it felt so good to be moving forward.

Then suddenly it was April and we only had a month to go and all those things you keep saying you’d do nearer the time have crept up on you without you even realising it.

We set off from the farm on April 23rd, I think more people hugged me that day than any other day in my life. The moment had arrived and we sit in Mo, ready to set off, on our way to Hull. I looked around me at my family, the people I’d be sharing this challenge with for the next eight months.

I looked at Dad, sitting at the wheel of Mo, his own creation, ready to leave everything behind in pursuit of creating a better world and a better future, whatever that might look like.

I looked at Mum, sitting in the passenger seat, map out on her lap, ready to go out there into the world and meet people and touch everyone’s lives with her positivity and enthusiasm …often whether they like it or not.

Then there was Evan, straining to look out of every window all at once, video camera out, ready to capture the moment. On one hand, we knew he’d drive us all absolutely crazy in this tiny space when he’s either hyper or he’s grumpy. On the other hand, we don’t know what we’d do without him to make us laugh at our lowest moments or to be ready to help Dad fix any problem that might come up or to be eager to show kindness to a stranger.

Irys is sat there quietly, camera in hand, as always. She couldn’t wait to explore the wild world of the UK coast, to have her head in rock pools recording every little detail or to sit on the rocks with her binoculars watching for dolphins, to learn new facts and meet new people, to discover an environment where she can flourish, grow and become more bold.

Me? I was exhausted before we’ve even started. For me this journey had begun a long time ago, with planning and web designing and hundreds of emails and drafts that have been scrapped because they’re ‘well written, but not quite what we want to say’. But I couldn’t wait. I was so happy to finally feel like I was doing something to contribute to change. I was so happy because I feel like maybe we were setting something in motion. Something that really would make a difference.

We didn’t know what would happen on this journey, we didn’t know if we’d find the good out there and get to be a part of it, we didn’t know if there were people out there who thought the same way, other people willing to fight for change. What does this better world we’re trying to create look like? A world where people of all walks of life live and work together in harmony and no one is left behind? A world not necessarily free of struggle, but full of hope? A world of community and sharing, where people think for themselves, but care about others? We’d be naive to think we could achieve that, but maybe, just maybe, we could make a start?

I guess we were about to find out….

Ahmaud Arbery and How ‘Human’ Is An Action Word

I’ve been talking about this a lot over on my Instagram, but I’d thought I’d share it here too as important is an understatement.

I wrote this post in response to following the story of Ahmaud Arbery – a young black man followed, shot and killed by a white ex policeman and his son, both armed, when Ahmaud was out for a jog in his Georgia neighbourhood in February. They followed him as they believed he looked like the suspect of a recent burglary. His killers were only arrested yesterday after a video of the shooting surfaced and were charged today.

The world is hurting so much right now, in more ways than one, but what confuses me is that somehow we’re all human enough to be brought to our knees by a virus that’s only a few months old and yet not human enough to recognise that our society is filled with the biggest killer of all, one that’s been around since the beginning of time – inequality and division. The news is filled with numbers and statistics of those dying from Covid 19 and we’re all taking steps to rid our world of it, we wash our hands and stand two metres apart, but still we let injustice and inequality run rampant throughout society, wreaking destruction and pain, and consequently anger and division. And when I say society, I mean the society you and I both live in for our entire lifetimes on earth, the society we shape with the actions we take every single day.

To me, human is a verb not a noun. It requires action, it requires love, it requires listening, it requires change, it requires compromise, it requires openness, it requires acceptance, it requires honesty and it requires conversation.

And the worse thing is that I’ll look back on this and I’ll tell myself that I should be more positive and that my ramblings won’t solve anything, but no. Some things need to be said and not just reframed in a more lighthearted and digestible way. We don’t get to switch on and off, this is reality and it doesn’t go away just because we want it to. This is how I’m feeling right now. I’m finding the world I live in and the world I’m part of frustrating and painful and I can’t even begin to imagine how much more so it is for those directly affected by inequality and injustice. And though I am proud of many elements of society, there are huge chunks that I am deeply ashamed of.

I’m just so tired of living life like when one day ends we have to wake up and start fighting for the next one to be a good one. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I wanna be a bridge, but bridges get trodden all over and it’s not long before your back starts to hurt. So tired of someone’s humanity being the irony in the punchline of someone else’s thoughtless joke. So tired of not understanding enough and so tired of understanding too much. So tired of humans not being human. So tired of history repeating itself and cycles that seemingly can’t be broken.

At the end of the day, how hard is it to love and respect each other? How hard is it to care about the life of someone compiled of the same molecules and atoms as you are just in a slightly different arrangement? Someone who stares back at you with the same eyes you look out through? Someone with a heart and a soul like yours? How much evidence and statistics do you need to start acting like a human, bearing in mind that human is a verb, taught to children in schools as an action word? How many more people have to suffer injustices before we do anything about it?

I’m not saying these things are simple. Life is complicated, people are complex, but love is not. Love is a very basic choice and anyone who ever made any difference understood that. If we let our love for our fellow human beings guide our actions, and yes we absolutely have to take action, we can rarely go wrong. Love leads to equality. Division leads to more division. Aim for unity in everything you do.

Dry Your Tears, We’ll Make It Better Together

Story time peeps. 

So the other day I did an Instagram takeover for an organisation empowering young people to create change in their local neighbourhoods and play a role in building community. I’d never done a takeover before and I was kinda a tiny bit nervous, but at the same time really excited to collaborate and get my message out there. 

In the days beforehand, I put together such a detailed plan, brainstormed, wrote out all the little videos that I was going to make, the main issues and points I wanted to address. Then the day came and the time zones got mixed up, it was pouring with rain, my phone kept dying and the signal was rubbish because of the weather- all my carefully laid plans were ruined. I spent most of the day in stressed-out, frustrated, messy tears not just because of this situation but because of a million and one things going on in my life that reared up and overwhelmed me when I was feeling vulnerable. 

However, I dried my tears, splashed my face with cold water and made an upbeat video outlining all the powerful, well orchestrated points I’d planned out, I examined my eyes in the mirror to make sure they weren’t too puffy and recorded a message talking about our project, the motivation behind it and what a positive impact it was having. I smiled and I laughed and I made jokes and then I turned the camera off and cried a bit more until my mum made me a cup of tea and forced me to eat a dark chocolate kit kat (which helped. a lot) 

When we look at social media, we see exactly what the person who put that content out there wanted us to see. The content they carefully selected and edited, often cutting out all the ‘not so pleasant bits’. The whole “social media is a highlight reel blah blah blah” thing is so familiar that it almost loses its meaning, but take a minute to really think about that because it’s so so true. 

My point is, we need to start creating more spaces in society, and on social media too, where it’s perfectly acceptable to be vulnerable and real and raw and unedited and show your emotions, whether that’s anger, joy, sadness, frustration or excitement, and know that people will support you. 

Thanks for these Pinterest :))

No one ever achieved anything amazing without struggling A LOT so don’t be ashamed to say you had a bad day. We can’t expect turning the world upside down to be easy. Damn, we can’t even expect everyday life to be easy. Life is full of challenges that we will only overcome if we work together and support one another. 

Social media can be such a positive resource, but it can also pit us against each other in a constant and toxic game of comparison. We can’t fall into that trap. Instead, let’s use our platforms to build each other up and support each other. 

That’s why I wanted to share my story about the takeover here today. If I hadn’t, you’d have assumed it went smoothly and that it was completely stress free and I knew exactly what I was doing. I can imagine that if you’d spent your day crying, watching my takeover would make you feel even more alone. Well, guess what, honey? I cried all day too, wipe your tears, let’s talk about this and make it better together. 

Love to you all 💪 Talk to me about your experiences of this in the comments xx

Sowing Seeds: The Project – Send Messages Of Support + Friendship To People Struggling During Lockdown

Hey all ✨  My family and I have just launched our new project and we need you to get onboard!

On our challenge of driving round the coastline of the UK living on a tenner a day, we spent time with some incredible projects who are at the heart of their local communities – supporting elderly people, people struggling with their mental health, young carers, families with whose kids have additional needs, etc. These community projects are relied on by many as a place to support one another and be supported, but of course the virus has thrown a spanner in the works and many people’s lifelines have suddenly been cut off, leaving them isolated and really struggling.

We’ve teamed up with some of these amazing community projects, and are still looking to team up with many more, to start Sowing Seeds, a project all about sowing seeds of hope, offering a hand of friendship to the families and individuals these projects support and showing that there are people all over the country who care.

As a gesture of friendship, we’re going to be sending out sprouting jars – a garden on the windowsill – filled with seeds, goodies and things to keep you busy, because watching a seed grow into something you can eat is such a positive and exciting experience for all ages and shouldn’t be limited by your circumstances. The jars will also be full of messages of support, unity and human connection from us and from anyone who wants to show that they care.

You can send us a message (long or short) via email (graciechick29@gmail.com) social media (we’re one life share it on Facebook and Instagram or you can DM me on insta at gracie.chick) and we’ll write it out and pop it in one of the jars. If you’re UK based, you can send a letter/drawing in the post. Our address is – Wapsbourne Manor, Sheffield Park, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QT

We’ve also set up a Go Fund Me page where you can sponsor a jar, all in all they cost £15 each but you can donate any amount from £1 to £1000 and it will all go towards delivering parcels full of goodies and messages of friendship to doorsteps all over the UK.

We’re all isolated, but that doesn’t mean anyone should have to feel alone. We can beat this together. Please get onboard and show you care. Also SHARE SHARE SHARE with all your friends and family!!

To find out more about us as a family, our challenge and some of the awesome community projects we’ve connected with, go check out our website here – CLICK HERE

GO FUND ME PAGE LINK HERE – CLICK HERE

This is what some of the jars will look like 👇👇

Cant wait to receive all your messages of friendship and support to those finding lockdown really tough!! Thank you so much guys. Take care xx

 

 

 

 

“We Built A Farm In A Week” – musings from your resident reluctant teenage farmer

“You built a farm in a week!” our neighbour laughs as he drives past the once abandoned donkey pen, small dusty yard and strip of disused grass that is now home to a polytunnel, ten happy chickens, a veggie patch with a neat fence, tidy piles of manure and compost, a tea station and seats, water tanks recycled into growing beds and tools stacked in a corner. He’s right, with a bit of thought, teamwork and effort, we have built a mini farm in seven days. But why? None of us are farmers, or even gardeners. This year we had planned to travel the UK spreading the message of the necessity of community, bridging social divides, giving talks and hosting CommuniTea events. 

But then everything changed for everyone and, over the space of a week, the Coronavirus transformed me into a spade wielding, fence building farmer. Trust me, I know absolutely nothing about growing food or keeping chickens and, to be honest, I’m not particularly interested in agriculture or animals. However, I am interested in being in control of my own life and taking power into my own hands to make sure my family and community have enough food to eat. I’d have laughed at you if you’d said to me three weeks ago that I’d now be spending the foreseeable future digging through mud and composted horse poo, I’d have told you that I am a young person who writes important articles about social change and rewiring society – definitely not some green fingered gardener. But now society is being rapidly rewired whether we like it or not, and things have changed, maybe just not in the way we’d expected. Through our week-long ‘farming journey’ I’ve realised that none of us are powerless to make positive changes in the world. Especially since most, if not all, of those changes begin in our own lives. 

Often, the most powerful thing we can do is let our everyday actions speak louder than our words. As the many ordinary people we’ve met who are making a difference in their communities demonstrate, we can’t wait for or rely on anyone else to change things for us and at the moment, we need food, and so I am currently a change-making youth voice doing the most powerful thing I can do right now – getting stuck in growing vegetables and providing for my family and community. A week ago we were staring out at an empty, deserted yard, just trying to envisage what it would even look like if we built all this stuff we were talking about and now we have created an incredible and useful space which will soon (hopefully) yield delicious fresh vegetables and eggs. 

Because we are growing some of our own food, it also means we won’t have to take money from the government. At the moment they are giving out financial aid left, right and centre to keep this country afloat and if they continue to shell out to everyone who is entitled to it, the government will collapse entirely – meaning those who really, desperately need the help will not get it. However, if we all took only what was necessary and those of us who can provide for ourselves make the decision to do so, as well as those of us who have excess sharing with those who don’t, together we could stop our society falling into ruin and build a system based on sharing, support and community at the same time. In this system no one would be at a disadvantage because we are all just human beings with an equal capacity to share and connect. We wouldn’t go hungry because we’d share with one another. I’ll share the food I grow on my mini farm with you, but I’ll also show you how to grow your own, whether you’ve got a tiny corner or fields and fields, then maybe you’ll share what you grow with me. Or maybe you can teach me something in return?

Not everyone can grow their own food, but everyone can be part of a system based on sharing. And the part we have to play, as those who are able to, is to take only what we need and to give what we can. Through one simple empowered act such as growing some food, we have become part of positive change. 

Much like our choice to start farming, being part of the change is a choice every one of us can make in our own lives. It will not be a political shift or one led by any kind of leader, but a revolution of ordinary people choosing to care for one another. We’ve already seen the incredible potential we have to support each another in the face of this crisis, why stop when it ends? Why not use that connection to build a better world? 

You may think that sharing is against our human nature and that we could never shake the overriding desire to get as much as we can for ourselves and then defend it, that any other system is a dreamers idealism, but I think that this crisis has proved what we will do to support one another in our times of need in order for us all to survive. Our world will not go back to normal when this is over, we will have to rebuild it and, during that process, we will need each other more than ever. 

So I have a message for you as I dig my way through this pile of soil – do whatever you can to be part of positive change and share whatever you can too, for like when you plant seeds, you will receive tenfold.

Community In The Face Of Crisis – Why Should This End When The Coronavirus Does?//Discussion Post

images from Pinterest xx

What does an ideal world look like? I’m aware that this question sounds like something you’d ask yourself at 1am as you ponder everything we’re surrounded by and think of everything that ‘could be’, or as some sort of daydream or maybe a game where you get to design a virtual ‘perfect’ world as an escape from reality.

An ideal world is not perfect, but what if it could be real? Imagine if someone hit reset and we got to build the world we want to live in. Imagine if every single one of us – young or old, rich or poor – had a part to play in that because we all have wisdom, skills and ideas to contribute.  At the moment, amongst the chaos, it’s almost like that reset has happened. We are no longer ploughing confidently forward the same way we have always done. When I opened my social media this morning and every morning for the last couple of weeks, it was flooded with offers of help and support for those in need, incredible acts of kindness, neighbours speaking to one another for the first time, meals being cooked for elderly strangers, bags of shopping left on doorsteps, people sharing what they’ve got with others – positivity, hope, unity. The Coronavirus has stopped us all dead in our tracks and given us a new perspective on life, one where we suddenly realise it’s not all about what we can get, but what we can give as well and, consequently, what we receive from giving. 

After this, things will not be the same as before and we have to start building our society back up. That’s just the facts. But we all have a choice as to the world we want to rebuild, the world we want to live in and the world we want our children and grandchildren to live in. Do we all suddenly stop supporting our communities and sharing our lives or do we continue to see the necessity for connection? Do the local Facebook groups we’ve set up to see if anyone needs anything fall into disuse? Do we stop checking in on our friends to make sure they’re okay and have someone to talk to? Community is the most powerful resource we have in a crisis and we are rising to the occasion because of the coronavirus situation, but there is an ongoing mental health crisis too, a climate crisis, a crisis amongst young people with little hope for the future, let’s come together in our communities to fight these catastrophes too because they don’t end when the Coronavirus does. 

The virus has delivered us right to the first step of rebuilding our world to make it a better place for us all – equality. When we’re all facing the same threat, we all have the same purpose – to defeat it – and I think we’re starting to realise that pulling apart in different directions, panicking and getting as much as we can for ourselves alone gets us nowhere and instead we must pull together. When we’re struggling to get food no matter how much money we have, it brings us all into equal standing and from there we can move forward. In a world that values community and human connection over money and materialism, we have to work together and no one is at a disadvantage because we’re all just human beings with an equal capacity to share and connect. 

A few days ago, I saw that a woman who was self isolating had posted a photo of a huge load of food that had been left on her doorstep, bags of dried fruit, beans and tubs of tahini. She explained that a few years earlier she had helped a family of refugees from Syria settle in her neighbourhood and today they had brought round all this food, as well as dropping the same round for this woman’s elderly parents. They had both provided for one another when the other was in need, a partnership so deep and connected that no communication was needed. A friendship built on sharing that crosses social divides. I truly believe that kindness is the currency that can make our world so much richer.

There was also a story recently about a man who is anonymously buying his entire village a takeaway every week during lockdown. What has changed so drastically that someone would be prepared to spend so much providing for the community around them and supporting local businesses just because he’s fortunate enough to have the funds to do so? I don’t know about you, but that is the world I want to live in – a world where those who have excess share with those who don’t, not to be seen as some kind of hero but because they believe in a system built on sharing what we can. 

We can create this world, I promise. It’s very different from the one we live in now, but even in recent days we are beginning to see what it might look like simply in our changing attitude towards others and what is valuable to us. It may seem impossible and faraway, but it starts within us and our lives and the choices we make now. If we panic buy and lock ourselves away and surround ourselves with enough food to last us maybe…four months, what are we gonna do when that four months is up and we run out? Or whether we take what we need for now, make sure everyone in our community has enough, take the initiative to grow what we can, support others and have them support us, invest, build something, create something –  a livelihood, a community, a future. 

We weren’t really connected with many of our neighbours when this situation began, everyone was going about their own business, a lot of new people had moved in since we’d been away and I hadn’t even seen many of them to say hi. So we decided to set up a Facebook group for the immediate area. We put a post on offering to help out wherever we could, cook extra food for anyone who needed it (this was before stricter measures were put in place) and be there if anyone was struggling with their mental health and needed someone to talk to. Suddenly loads of local people started posting on there, just little things but all things that are strengthening our community – people organising teams to dig in the garden, someone picking up some shopping, online resources being shared, seeds being exchanged, excess food being distributed, thoughts and musings shared. 

All over the world people are taking their garden fence panels down so that they can talk to their neighbours whilst both safely in their own gardens. When all of this is over, let’s not put those fences back up again, let’s not reinforce the things that divide us, let’s not forget the conversations we had and the jokes we shared over the garden fence and how we got through the hard times together.

you're all i have left;

It shouldn’t take a global virus to show us how necessary connection really is, but that’s the way it’s happened. Our humanity has been our most valuable resource for a long time. Look at how indigenous people all over the world live their lives, in harmony with each other and the world around them, what do they value? Money and possessions? No, its community that binds them together, their commitment to one another and their total, unwavering unity. We are social beings to our core and we need each other. 

We all need to start talking about what this new world is going to look like. Even the beginning doesn’t work without sharing – sharing ideas, sharing thoughts, sharing conversations, connecting. We need to put everything we have on the table and figure out what works and what doesn’t. We all have experiences of what community feels like to live with or without. We have our own backgrounds and cultures and valuable lessons we can share from ancient ways of doing things. We have friendships and connections that we can bring forward and strengthen. We have solutions to problems. We have wisdom and life lessons. Between us, we have quite a lot of material and financial gain that we could put to good use. We’ve got skills to share and exchange, things to teach one another. We have people who plan, people who discover, people who care for others, people who can create, people who can build, people who can dream, people who can express, people who can organise, people who can lead, people who are fair, people who take the initiative, people who motivate, people who comfort, people who raise others up, people who support, people who carry on no matter what, people who are smart, people who invent and reinvent, people who feel things deeply, people who fight for what’s right and, in this new world, we’re gonna need you all equally. 

shout-out to my absolute favourite movie of all time x

_________________________________________________

Heyy everyone, I hope you’re all staying home and staying safe ❤️ Reminder that I’m here for any one of you at any time if you need anything 😊 We are the voices that will lead us into a new world, but we can’t do it alone.  So we need to start a dialogue about what our future is going to look like…..starting now! Comment your thoughts below and please feel free to discuss  with one another👇

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.