Short term mission in Nepal: a reflection

I’m back in the UK after completing a short mission trip with Interserve in Nepal for just over 2 weeks. What a complicated, adrenaline filled, wonderful, frustrating, inspiring, delicious experience it was! This is a whistle stop tour, so please bare with me cos its pretty long!

This past April the country suffered an earthquake that left thousands and dead and even more homeless. Interserve had planned to go to Nepal prior to the earthquake, but as I witnessed the ongoing media coverage, I felt compassion and wonder at a country determined to ‘get back to normal’ even after such a life changing event. The earthquake made Nepal even more vulnerable, and as a country rife with injustice, it gave those willing to exploit an even larger opportunity to carry out their exploitation.

My expectations before travelling were simply this: I am not going to change the world in 2 and half weeks, contrary to popular belief! I am going to learn and witness first hand work that is being done to prevent exploitation and bring about justice through sustainable social business. I had not even contemplated the concept that Nepal has the fastest growing church in the world. And that the government is on the verge of releasing a constitution focusing mainly on religion which has spun the country into political rife and uncertainty! How influential those latter events had been in our trip!

There is a heck of a lot of stuff going on Nepal at this moment in time. Then our team of 8 white, fairly middle class, foreign Christian tourist missionaries showed up….

We arrived in Kathmandu to a hearty welcome from the staff at the Interserve mission partner we would be working alongside. The company exists to encourage transformation through justice and adventure tourism with 3 social businesses: a B&B, cafe, and adventure tours. Bonus is, they are Christians! What is genius and got me totally buzzing when I got there was that actually, the company is completely accessible for non-christians as a tourism company and their passion for christians and non-christians is shared across the board!

The B&B business is superb. Its friendly and cosy and employs women at risk of exploitation to work in all aspects of the business. They have a ton of activities to choose from – adventure tours, prayer walks, scavenger hunts and they really made us feel welcome when we touched down. It was on a justice tour that this issue of exploitation in Kathmandu and Nepal in general really started to impact me, and the team. We visited cabin restaurants, observed massage parlours and discussed the history of the sex industry with the in country staff. It was an eye opening experience, setting the scene for our trip as we prepared to leave Kathmandu and head for Nepalgunj, where we would be completing most of our mission work. Although this justice tour was hard going, nothing inspired hope more than arriving back at the B&B. There was an overwhelming light that exudes from the house and its staff and the presence of God is wholly real and prevalent there!

Whilst I believe the Holy Spirit has claimed the B&B I was reminded that when you feel like you make headway with Christ and proclaim the gospel, the enemy finds a way to infiltrate forcing you backwards. Our time in Kathmandu set our scene for injustice but also allowed our feelings of spiritual battle to surface also. Members of the team struggled with illness, sleep deprivation and had concerning dreams in those first few days in Nepal which really put our trip in perspective. We committed to praying hard each day, for the staff and for the community work we would accomplish and the political situation, willing God to influence the constitution and quiet fears of protest and anger.

Before we knew it, it was time to hop on a plane to Nepalgunj, the second biggest city in Nepal which is right on the Nepal/India border. Now the reason Nepalgunj was on our radar was for that very reason – the border. It has recently been encouraging more exploitation to take place with girls being taken for sex and migrant workers taken for labour. We visited the border and spoke with police officers. The relationships between the partner and the police were incredible to see! Usually some of the in country staff and/partners are allowed to work with the police to interview potential exploiters and observe those at risk of exploitation. As we listened we prayed, aware that the border was in fact quieter than normal due to political unrest – more police were on duty – and we were assured that it can be quite easy for those at risk of exploitation to be moved across the border into India with no hope for returning.

Our guide and translator and overall hero took us to a bunch of his friends’ houses, where we were able to listen and pray into their stories of how they committed themselves to Christ and the persecutions they were receiving as a result of it. One lady shared that she was the only Christian in her village, and that the rest of her community disliked her because they believed she had annoyed the Hindu Gods by accepting Jesus and not serving the other Gods. I had never heard a story like that before, and truthfully, I was really shocked.

As we hung out in Nepalunj, we noticed more and more the affect the government was having on the political situation. Cars were prohibited on the roads, shops and businesses were closed and schools stopped classes for days on end. Local people got restless and countless police stood on street corners with riot shields ready to intervene if anything got serious. I am reminded of one experience we had at the end of our trip when we stopped for lunch in a little shop in the central market. It was our last day in Nepalgunj and we entered the shop to eat. Before we knew it the first shutter on the window was down and we could hear voices on a loud speaker just outside the shop. It was clear that this shop had been feeding the incoming protesters and then before he knew it the shop keeper had 8 foreigners sat cautiously at the back of his shop waiting to be served. People in Nepal are scared Christians are going to convert them. They believe most white people are Christians – hence our caution whilst travelling around Nepalgunj! So we are in this shop, drinking our cokes and snacking on our samosas, when a group of at least 50 or so march past the shop, shouting, chanting and waving sticks and machetes. Our shop keeper lowers the second shutter and we down our cokes and quietly get moving. It was a scary moment. The local people have such pent up anger and frustration – anything small could have set them off – including our white tourist faces!

During our time in Nepalgunj we were scheduled to visit some different community groups to deliver some basic teaching on multiple subjects. We presented a lot, to bible school students, women in credit groups, and then a specific community group called the Badi. They are deemed to be the lowest Hindu caste group of Nepal suffering much discrimination from other Nepali people groups and are known quite consciously as the prostitute community. Parents raise their children to become prostitutes, encouraging them never to marry and to aspire to this profession much like their ancestors. The prostitution of the community emerged from a livelihood of dancing and entertainment, and now the community people maintain this worldview to outsiders. We were to visit this community on two occasions but due to lack of transport were unable to. One of these communities also cancelled on us because they were paid to protest in the upcoming political marches in Nepalgunj! When we did visit a Badi community closer to where we were staying, it was a total highlight for me. The village leader was ballsy and welcoming and we delivered our program on a communal rooftop in the sweltering sun to around 50 women and children! It was chaos! We sang songs and taught some basic hygiene principles in hand washing and tooth brushing. We painted hands and invited the women to do a hand print on paper, so that they could practice washing their hands afterwards in a nearby bucket of water. After hand washing we wanted to encourage a practice of gratefulness and thankfulness – something we believed and prayed the Badi could have more of, especially in their current situation, so invited the women to write their thanks on strips of paper that we then made into one long paper chain. It was a short and sweet day of working with the community and allowed us a team to start to understand the complexity of this people group. For so long they have not cared what anyone has thought of them and they have been proud of their profession as they follow on from their ancestors. We may not have inspired them to give up their profession, but I firmly believe our work that day encouraged the relationship the partners have with the community to help further future development, so that an ultimate worldview shift can take place in their minds, bodies and hearts.

On multiple occasions we had the opportunity to meet and pray with women who had been loaned funds from the partner to start their own business. We met M, an ex prostitute who was now working as a tailor to support her young daughter. She was incredibly kind and generous to us and our translators and partners sung her praises exclaiming her gift of hospitality and hardworking spirit. She wasn’t a Christian, but wanted us to pray and keep praying for her and our translators sister who works closely with M and other women, mentioned that they had been reading the bible together and learning more about God, which was really exciting to hear!

P borrowed some money to complete a training course in the production of shoes. She has a small shop in Nepalgunj that sells school shoes, smart black shoes for men, and sandals for women. The shop had only been open for a couple of weeks and we were delighted to meet her and her two children and see the amazing handicraft that was her shoe collection! A few of our team bought some of her shoes, which I’m pretty sure counted as her first couple of customers! We learnt of her story and how she came to train, own and now run her business. She had been in a couple of abusive relationships, with husbands promising her goodwill and treating her appalling, as well as some domestic exploitation that occurred during the Civil war where she was forced to leave her village in search of work. Now she says her husband lives abroad, and that she is fearful of his return and what he will make of her new skills and success. When she shared this story with us she said that only the day before a Muslim man had asked her to be his wife in return for her working for him using the skills she had developed in shoe making and running her business. I felt such awe at P’s ability to continue working and providing for her family, and although she mentioned she is still worried about money I believe and pray that she will experience tremendous favour as she continues to attend the local church affiliated and learns more about Jesus.

After some fun in Bardia National Park at the end of our trip in Nepalgunj, we made it safely back to Kathmandu to the B&B to catch up with the staff and complete our shopping and preparations for going home. Once back in Kathmandu, we learnt that 24 hours after we had left Nepalgunj, 8 police officers had been killed and a 9pm to 9am curfew had been put in place to protect the local people. It is only now that I reflect on our experience that I realised how much God protected us in Nepalgunj! I have never known anything like the protection and provision felt in Nepalgunj on the days we were there. I still feel connected to the spiritual battle in Nepal and believe that prayer for the country and Christians that live there is a priority right now! Blessings and proclamations are what protected us in Nepalgunj and that is what I will continue to do as I return to my life here in Manchester. The people I met, the stories I heard and the actions I witnessed have greatly impacted my life, and I urge you to pray for Nepal as a country at the moment as the government works out its constitution and the local people work out where they fit into it.

 

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Drafts

I have started so many blogs this year. I just haven’t really had the time to finish them. I was going to talk about truth, heartbreak, theatre i’ve seen, Manchester nuggets i’ve experienced, love, travelling, charities, home, the fact that blogging is so 2013, belonging, community, and so on… the list is endless.

Today, on Tuesday 16th September 2014 at 18:59pm I am (just about) certain of the following things:

1. Social media is actually a form of torture. TAKE A BREAK. (Yeah yeah, I know i’m blogging but i’m going away soon so you wont hear nothing!)

2. Manchester is my home and the community I have built here are not worth giving up for anything.

3. Having a ‘career’, a relationship, money, an iPhone, a clean house, a routine & a perfect family doesn’t mean you have it ‘sorted’. The world is bigger. I know God is bigger, even when I don’t feel it. It doesn’t mean you are a better person or more attractive for having those things or more mature. No-one has it ‘sorted’. Everyone is just trying to survive.

4. One Tree Hill, cheese, red wine, The OC, gin, John Legend, Cineworld, and salt & vinegar pringles doesn’t make the shit go away. I’ve enjoyed more than enough of this all summer and it just delays all the ick. Embrace the ick. Everyone gets it at some point.

5. Laughing is better than crying, but crying is not a sign of weakness. I wish laughter made us fly.

6. Provision has been put in place because we are part of a PLAN. Some people just don’t quite know it yet. I forget sometimes.

7. Honesty is important. Sometimes i’m a little bit brutal. I’m working on it.

8. Gossip is never okay. Hiding behind a ‘caring and accountable’ acquaintance is not acceptable. In AND outside the church.

9. Travelling isn’t always about running away. GO SEE STUFF.

10. Anger should be dealt with by focusing on what makes God angry in the world. He does not take every personal offence that we throw at him literally does he! Volunteer. Go hang out with your neighbours.

11. I know myself. I always try to communicate from a place of love. I want the best for people, but situations, moments and people influence how I get there and often my reactions suck.

12. Open Mic Nights are brilliant.

13. I’m going to hang out in Bangladesh for 10 weeks with Tearfund and i’m cacking my pants. But, you totally have to go and do stuff that scares you in your twenties, right?

14. We screw each other over, again and again and again and again. We just need to learn a little bit each time. Lower them expectations peeps.

15. Elderflower cordial is an excellent addition to a Gin and Tonic.

16:

be still

A reflection in 6 parts

As we near towards the end of 2013, I cannot help but think of all that has happened this year. I haven’t written in what feels like forever, when quite frankly I have had a giant list of things that I totally could have shared with you. Instead I suppose I’ll touch upon some of my highlights, some that have definitely happened in the last 3 months or so!

After I finished a bunch of summer internships – BBC Performing Arts Fund, Library Theatre, Whitworth Art Gallery, I applied for a Marketing & Schools Co-ordinator job at the Challenge Network in Manchester. At this point I was so bored of applying for jobs. Annoyed at how poor I was and scarcely conscious of the fact I might have to move back home if I didn’t get something soon. I went into that job interview pretty flipping nervous. It didn’t stop me telling my interview panel quite confidently that I believed I could do the job, and do the job well. Two weeks later I got a call from them with a start date of December 2nd. My first choice, as it was going to fit in perfectly with the trip to America I had planned for November. So highlight number 1 – applying and successful getting a job. Next year I want to smash it!!!

In November I went to the States for 3 and a half weeks. It was magical. Full of art and beer and old friends and new ones. Some real blasts from the past were mixed in with some memories that I will remember for the rest of my lifetime! I gloried at the art in Manhattan, drank craft beer from Microbreweries in Portland, and sampled the foody delights of the Seattle Pike Place Market. It was just what I needed. A chance to get away from Manchester and have some ME time. I love my friends and my God and my life but pheweeeee it gets a bit busy sometimes and I really don’t put myself first. I stayed with friends I had not seen in years and was reminded of family memories that truly touched my heart. I was inspired by the creativity that oozed out of the country but remained perplexed at the social needs of some really poor communities. I made friends from Australia, Austria and Switzerland and spent a large majority of my time swapping stories – one of my all time favourite things to do. Highlight number 2 – USA! USA! USA!

Before my crazy summer of working for free and planning a holiday I graduated University. Something I knew I would always do but there was still a teeny weeny part of my brain that thought I wouldn’t get a 2:1. I did however, and comfortably walked across the stage in the Whitworth Hall to gain my certificate. Its a very hyped up event, totally over-priced and a bit weird, so my favourite part was seeing my family come together for lunch afterwards. We ate and drank and I showed them my new gaff in Didsbury. Highlight number 3 – BA (Hons) Drama, 2:1

I’m not bored with God anymore. I think when you finish a stage in life – which is largely connected to education – you feel like its the end of the world. Nothing is certain, and no matter how much people say ‘God has a plan for your life’ you just want to tell them to bog off and say why hasn’t anything happened yet. What have I learnt in 2013? Patience baby, its a true virtue that you have to PRACTICE. As much as I believe that people have a lot of common sense and things that appear naturally to them its frustrating when not enough emphasis is put on practicing disciplines. Whether you are in church or not! Practice time keeping (something I am getting better at!), practice patience, practice silence, practice love. This year I have learnt to practice. When I have gotten better at something – patience, time-keeping or loving people its made me just WOW over how God loves us and ultimately wants the best for us. Highlight number 4 – learning to be obedient and patient. (I still have a long way to go!)

In June I moved into a house share with 7 strangers in Didsbury. Its wonderful. We are our own little disjointed family, challenging each other left, right and centre and learning that just because we are all different doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. 8 people in a house gets busy and messy and stressy mind, but I really do love them, and I totally encourage you to live with randoms or do a house share cos it sure does keep you on your toes! Highlight number 5 – housesharing.

Things happen when you least expect it. Like boys, jobs, bad moods, arguments, and creativity. I’m pretty sure the best way to be is to embrace it all really. Try and be an open book. Know how to make yourself feel better when you feel crummy. Love people, REALLY. Highlight number 6 – trying to love perfectly so that fear is cast out. THEN blessings come tenfold!

 

mandela

Glamorous Camping

Glamping! Yes people, it is an actual thing.

I am a trusted camper, like real camper. I’ve done festivals, weekends away, week long exploits in sun, snow, rain, mud, EVERYTHING.  But my my would I glamp again!

The weekend booked in the calendar for myself and two other friends, just happened to be the start of the rainy season in lovely Manchester. We’ve had a stunner of a summer, so its totally to be expected that at one point its gonna piss it down. I got complacent you see, but now I am extremly weary of wet feet syndrome and frizzy hair o’clock. The. Rain. Is. Back.

We left Manchester for Anglesey around 6ish after a trip to Tescos and the chippy. At this point its cold and had been raining all day. We hit the motorwary and as we get past Chester and to North Wales I get far too excited at seeing the sea. I never see the sea! It looked rather chilly, but so pretty nonetheless. We were glamping in a YURT. In a small village called Rhydwn, about 25 minutes from Holyhead.

Its black. Like pitch black by the time we get to the farm where the said Yurt is. Its torrential rain and so flipping dark. We pull into the ‘yurt park’ and before I know it the farmer knocks on the front car window and scares the beejesus out of me my friends. Alas, we are in the right place! Following the small but very useful hue of some fairy lights I descend down the hill to a giant yurt with central fire, 2 singles and a double bed, with duvets rivalling that of my own John Lewis number. As much as I wanted to climb into bed with instant fire, we had to unpack the car. Put food in the kitchen, I needed to use the loo, and we had to light the fire with some soggy fuel.  At this point its cold. I need a glass of wine. Its pouring outside and we’re all tired from a full week at work. But, the inside of the yurt has rugs and Scrabble and chairs and cushions and fire and just… ahhhh. We drink wine, we discuss the frivolities of the past week. We sleep. A lot.

Saturday means beaches. Its still Artic outside so its basically put on every single item of clothing you have that you haven’t slept in day. Bacon sandwiches happen. LOTS of tea happens. And then its time to hit the beaches of Anglesey on the farmers request….

What beautiful, peaceful awe-filled scenery I experience over the next few hours. Chasing the tide, walking along a veeeerry windy cliff top, feeling sand between my toes, feeling freeeeeeezing, birdwatching and general pottering around the North Welsh coastline. By Saturday evening back at the Yurt it had stopped raining, this mean OUTSIDE FIRE! I cooked on the electric oven in the kitchen (very surreal) whilst my friendlies made an open fire for us to huddle round, drink more wine and appreciate the stars. Even now I can’t quite believe how we managed to have dry periods in a midst one hell of rainy weekend. God.

I love stars. Thats one of my favourite things about camping/glamping/being outside. Its good for the soul. I thoroughly recommend it.

What did we do on Sunday? More beach pottering. As we leave Anglesey, the storms clear up and the coast looks even more beautiful in the dusk sunshine. I cannot emphasise how much good fresh air does for me. I love Manchester, but now i’m starting the love the Northern countryside & coastline even more.

Lake District now anyone?

 

yurt coastline

 

 

 

 

 

wind

The Work Experience

As a recent arts graduate, I have accepted the fact I will most likely not gain a permanent job in something I enjoy, feel like I can progress in, or is relevant to my degree for some time now. An interesting conclusion, but one that I just fancied sharing some thoughts over.

Finishing University is a bizarre feeling. I am so glad third year is over – but the job hunt is time-consuming, demoralising and hard flipping work. I have spent my summer in 2013 doing work experience, a part-time role in a local gallery, and various temporary supportive roles for different theatre shows. Its been hectic, but (I hope) extremely worthwhile. I am still trying to find out whether all this hard work will lead to a permanent job yet, but for now its kept me seriously busy.

I’ve recently finished an internship with the BBC Performing Arts Fund at the brand spanking new BBC North offices at MediaCityUK. Oh my word was it an amazing amazing time. I learnt a ton about how BBC North works, that actually the employed staff at BBC Performing Arts Fund do a far more than people realise, and that its existence as a charity is so imperative and important to the community groups that have been affected by it. I began to understand some corporate office lingo, fused with an informal hot-desking approach to work and found myself slotting into commuter life a little too easily.

In essence, here are 3 things that I did that I’m pretty sure helped to make my internship all that worthwhile:

1. Ask for a daily task list.paf
During the first few days I had to complete training, basic research and finding my way around the office. Its a bit dull at first but has to be done. Only after these initial few days does the real work begin. Depending on your job description – mine had 3 clear objectives I could work on – start planning and jotting down ideas and plans relating to the tasks. These might be specific for your internship SO don’t forget to ask about general day-to-day tasks as well. This is what I mean by a daily task list. It might include social media updates, calendar scheduling, replying to emails as well as chasing emails. All these might change on a daily basis but are probably a reason why you there for an internship in the first place. Make sure you know about weekly meetings, and know who else is in your part of the office.

2. Be sociable.
So this sounds super obvious but I think it’s quite important. Go out for birthdays! Organise meal trips, recommend bars, stay for drinks after work – make an impression! Not a tipsy, drunken one, just an enthusiastic genuine one! I found myself in craft club, choir and lots of lunchtime cake action. It was great banter.

3. Say yes.
If its a social engagement, a reply to an email, a tweet to send, an assignment to finish, a database to add to, SAY YES. This is a time where you can practice prioritising your work and making the most out of your time in an established company. Don’t feel like you are at the bottom of the food chain just because you are an unpaid employee. Equally, don’t be a brown-noser. It may sound obvious, but I reckon a bit of awareness to what your paid colleagues are doing will stop a an awkward interaction when you pester them for answers when they are right in the middle of something.

My time at BBC Performing Arts Fund was so fantastic, it’s a shame that at this moment in time there was nothing in the department that could have developed further into a permanent role. I’ve maintained good contact with my colleagues that worked there though so I will not be short of a good reference in the mean time!

As to where I am now, I’m back on a temporary run of In the Night Garden Live at the Trafford Centre. (Yes, you know the one with Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy and that freak who washes rocks – Maaaaka Paka!) Such is the nature of the arts world that jobs come and go, especially in front of house and production support for touring shows. I am nonetheless continuing my aspirations towards arts administration, learning more and more about this complex industry as I go!

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BBC Performing Arts Fund – http://www.bbc.co.uk/performingartsfund/
In the Night Garden Live – http://www.nightgardenlive.com/

Life in the fast lane

It has been so long since I have updated this blog. Lots has happened. I pondered separating it into different blogs but thought actually it might be better to put everything thats going on in one post. Theatre, graduation, new thrifty bargains, the ‘job hunt’…

First of all performance wise. What have I seen, witnessed, worked on or been totally disappointed by.

A Dolls House. I saw a production of Ibsen’s masterpiece at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in June. It. Was. Magical. This is one of my favourite plays of all times and I frequently see different versions of it and with the help of the student reservation scheme meaning front row tickets are a tenner, I found my seat in the auditorium of the Royal Exchange’s round stage.

The play is the story of Nora and Helmer and their ‘perfect’ family home. The home is far from perfect however. Helmer is a controlling materialistic idiot who is too self absorbed to see that his wife needs to take a breather from their marriage. The text in this play is so wonderful and so empowering for women at the time of writing in the 20th century. I think a lot of people see Nora as a flake and complete waste of space for walking out on her children, but I have to disagree. She spends the whole play dreaming about life outside of her nest, and finally plucks up the courage, knowing that her children will be taken care of by her nanny and dear friend Mrs Linde. The actress playing Nora literally made me stand up and go YES NORA when she completed her penultimate monologue before walking out, and it reminded me that in a degree full of weird performance art and cultural studies, you cannot beat a 3 act naturalistic play concerning domestic relationships.

Manchester International Festival has just started this month and runs from 4-21 July here in Manchester. I recently started a job at the Whitworth Art Gallery and was lucky enough to be working a 65 hour continuous performance by an Indian artist drawing a Lancashire landscape on a cotton tent. It sounds barmy but the audience and myself found it extremely relaxing and the patience of the artist was something to be in awe of. The artist was called Nikhil Chopra and details of MiF can be found here: http://www.mif.co.uk/

photo

Following on from Coal on Cotton I had the opportunity to see one of the most renown stage directors and quite frankly loony stage directors in the world. Robert Wilson returned to Manchester to stage a new production called the Old Woman. Starring Willem Dafoe (Finding Nemo, Spiderman, English Patient) it was a Russian avant-garde piece full of clowns, miming and monochromatic designing. It was fantastic! And I think I was completely in awe of Robert Wilson, I studied Einstein on the Beach at Uni and he is an amazing American director so I’m so pleased I managed toget myself a comp ticket for the preview!

I’ve just finished volunteering on Manchester Sound: The Massacre. It was a site-specific piece of work played in a secret location in Manchester town centre. It fused the 1989 Mad-chester house music club scene with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Apparently 15 people were sabred on St Peter’s Field in Manchester when they were peacefully protesting about suffrage and better working conditions. The performance was really interesting to witness, and basically felt like a devised piece. The cast were far more successful in the 1819 narrative as opposed to the 1989 culture, and their were some great moments and expressions of freedom from the two time periods.

On Friday 12th of July I graduate! I got a 2:1 for my degree and am so happy. I knew deep down I was getting a 2:1 but it was so amazing to see it on my transcript and I can’t wait to chuck my hat in the air and walk across that stage to receive my certificate. As well as finishing my degree I’ve recently moved from Fallowfield to West Didsbury to a new houseshare. I dived straight in and am now living with a bunch of strangers. I thrive off new people so its been amazing to just slot right in to a house full of young professionals who like to party and are from all walks of life. Its like being in halls again! I miss the Fallowfield crew though, and because I’ve started another internship working full time I’ve missed hanging out with the people that made my final year at University so great!

In the movies, i’ve managed to see Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2 and (finally) The Great Gatsby. The new superman was awful, and so bloody loud. Henry Cavil is BASICALLY there to look pretty. To be fair I expected more from the Nolans. Despicable Me 2 was thoroughly enjoyable and I’ve now decided i’d like a Minon for Christmas…… Gatsby was well, flashy. I’m still trying to make my mind up on that one – 3 weeks later. It was cast very well, but it felt quite alienating to watch. Heartbreaking, but alienating.

This month my great friend Lyz had a clothes sale to raise money for her one way trip to South America. From it I managed to acquire, a long velvet skirt, blue summer dress and my favourite – a vintage T-shirt dress with belt just below the bust. Photos to follow!

Thats enough on my musings I suspect, I am in the middle of an internship with the BBC Performing Arts Fund, but I’ll divulge more on another post. I’ll also let you know how graduation goes!

I realise this has been far friendlier than my previous posts, maybe I am entering into a new season of blogging. Lord knows lots of other new things have started up recently.

Also its SUMMER! Hello heatwave. I’ve just discovered Formby Beach near Liverpool. I’m going back. I’m going to go swimming.

The Art of Clothes Swapping

Recently I have become quite the connoisseur of a good clothes swap. I’ve swished my way into new outfits, accessories and shoes for either free entry or under a fiver!

Last weekend (18th May) I popped down to Ivy Manchester in Didsbury for a clothes swap to raise money for a cause dedicated to serving young people that are out of school – NGage. It was fabulous! I came home with two dresses, a cardigan and a jumper. I certainly cashed in on the M&S Knitwear. As a student, I could never afford clothes from Marks and Sparks!

It was a really laid back atmosphere. Often the organisers will exchange the clothes you bring for a voucher with the number of items you can take – this means we don’t go all murderous eyes and greedy when the bell goes and its time to swap! There was quite a collection when we were let loose to start trying on, and I think I took about 10 things to try on at first… not all of worked on me though! I’ve got a top heavy figure, a big bust and no butt. I did however manage to find a few bits and pieces that weren’t too shabby – dresses that flattered and posh knitwear that wouldn’t go all bobbly after the first wash.

This weekend I headed to Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter for a ‘Waste Not Clothes Swap’. This one was £3 entry and because its the NQ I knew it was going to be vintage and full of quirks. Low and behold I returned home with a couple of nice summer tops (sequins and all) and a Topshop sheer waistcoat, I predicted the latter being a great addition to my classic basic top leggings and heels look I live by, day AND night. There were a few other stalls there as well that added to the scenery and overall it was a lovely way to spend my Sunday afternoon.

I really really love the idea of clothes swapping. I get bored of my clothes so easily, and it just means that you might find something you’d never usually buy but make a great addition to the wardrobe. I’ve also enjoyed the epic LACK of crop tops, skin tight lace and backless everythings that swamp high street stores these days…. I mean it just doesn’t work for me. I like to be comfy, and showing off my best bits, which low and behold isn’t ALL of me.

Clothes swaps are also a great way of fundraising. Its easy, fun and means you get to learn a bit more about a cause and why it exists. In the past I’ve clothes swapped for Oxfam, Stop the Traffik and then Ivy Fallowfield (my church). I think it also provides a more ethical way of approaching fashion – recycling and re-using clothing saves money and can prompt people to change how they view buying things brand new straight out of the high street. So go on, get swapping!

 

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Oxfam: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-together

Stop the Traffik: http://www.stopthetraffik.org/

N-Gage: http://www.n-gage.org.uk

Soup Kitchen: http://soup-kitchen.co.uk/

Ivy Fallowfield: http://www.fallowfield.ivymanchester.org/