People like me don’t write books…. Until they do.
My name is Michelle, and I am as ordinary as they come.
When not working or writing, you will find me playing football, walking the parks, sitting in coffee shops, reading, or listening to podcasts.
I have completed academic qualifications and spent most of my career in sports development. My love of sport and staying active has taught me the value of strength, endurance, tenacity, commitment, and grit. Transferable skills that have served me well in life. I would say that my greatest lessons have come from living, from life and from challenges.
Life has taught me some very valuable lessons, and I did not want to keep those lessons to myself. To say I loved my family well, just didn't feel good enough.
I didn’t set out to write a book. The words just appeared and as each word appeared, I would write, and I just kept on writing. This is when I got intentional. I wrote story after story.
Gradually I started to share my work, all be it in very small stages. I had no big plan. No big goal, only to write and use my words to promote love, compassion, hope and kindness.
Then there was a shift, and I have never been able to articulate what caused or created the shift. Only that when you start to dream and believe, the universe pays attention.
Of the 86 stories I had, there was one that resembled a story. Not a reflective account, a story I could share.
I sat with it for a very long time, I thought ‘people like me don't write books’, but after great research, I transferred the story into a manuscript. I finally found the courage to send it to a publisher.
And so here I am! Author of a children’s book
My dream is that any child, anywhere in the world can pick up this book and feel visible. My hope is they will know the world can see them and they are not alone in their suffering. While our suffering varies, the feeling of being alone in that suffering is universal. I don’t want that for the children of today. I don’t want children feeling discarded.
Whatever environment children are born into is completely out-with their control and regardless of how alone they may feel. I want this book to remind children they matter Every life matters. Every child matters, and no one life is more valuable than another.
I know a book cannot solve the world’s problems, but I want my words to offer comfort. Offer them an escape into the possibility of love. While they are in a position that they have no control over.
I believe LOVE is the one thing no child should ever have to go without.
Just for today: Allow yourself the space to dream, to ponder, to hit notes you never thought possible.
Thank you for reading.
Nestled within the bustling city of Manchester, UK a peculiar establishment once resided - the Doll's Hospital. Not your typical child-friendly haven, this hospital, housed in the now-defunct Imperial Hotel on Piccadilly, held a reputation shrouded in dust, dismembered limbs, and an air of mystery.
Though the exact timeframe remains unclear, the hospital likely served its purpose for decades, with memories stretching back to the 1970s. Imagine climbing a "grotty staircase" to reach a room more akin to a "flop-house" than a place for beloved toys. Jars overflowing with doll eyes, arms, and heads would greet you, painting a picture of a struggling business, yet one strangely persisting.
Adding to the intrigue was the proprietor, an "elderly, stocky" man whose hostility towards curious visitors became legendary. Your own encounter, along with the lack of welcoming vibes, paint a vivid picture of a place where childhood wonder took a backseat to something slightly unnerving.
Though short-lived encounters like yours left lasting impressions, the Doll's Hospital's story ultimately came to an end. The Imperial Hotel itself was replaced by the Malmaison Hotel, erasing any physical trace of this peculiar establishment. While some may lament the loss of its odd charm, others might be relieved that children seeking doll repairs today have more cheerful options.
This glimpse into Manchester's past serves as a reminder of the unique and sometimes unsettling chapters that color a city's history. While the Doll's Hospital may be gone, its legacy lives on in the memories of those who dared to step inside, offering a cautionary tale (and perhaps a spark of curiosity) for future generations.
Remember, the truth has a funny way of reinserting itself.
P.S. Though the Manchester Doll's Hospital is no more, fear not! The UK still boasts several delightful doll and toy hospitals, ready to breathe new life into your cherished companions. Check out these resources to find one near you:
Let these havens of care and repair give your dolls and toys a happily ever after!
Late last year, the serenity of a village in Bokkos, Plateau State, Nigeria, was shattered by a brutal attack by unknown gunmen. The violence left at least 140 villagers dead, homes destroyed, and families devastated. In the aftermath, survivors sought refuge and solace in an camp in Jos. While the trauma of the attack lives on, they remain resilient, rebuilding their lives and clinging to hope for a brighter future.
Amidst the hardship, a beacon of hope emerged in the form of Rhoda Sanda Daniels, a volunteer representing The Peopleshub Organization in Nigeria. Recognizing the urgent need for normalcy and education, Rhoda visited the IDP camp, reaching out to children whose schooling had been disrupted by the violence.
Her visit wasn't just about lessons; it was about encouragement and fostering resilience. Through her dedication and warmth, Rhoda brought a sense of hope and purpose back to the children's lives. The photos accompanying this article capture the joy and determination rekindled in their eyes.
But the journey to recovery is far from over. Many families still grapple with the trauma of the attack, and the need for support remains immense.
This is where you come in. Your generous donations in January provided much-needed assistance, but the need for partnership and collaboration continues.
Together, we can stand alongside these families, helping them rebuild their lives and reclaim their futures. With your compassion and commitment, we can ensure that even in the darkest of times, hope prevails.
The silver screen might be dimming on a beloved Scottish treasure – the Screen Machine, our mobile cinema bringing magic to communities near and far. With news of funding cuts, this beacon of shared joy and storytelling faces an uncertain future. We need to save the Screen Machine!
Since 1998, the Screen Machine has woven its magic across villages, towns, and even beaches, igniting imaginations and fostering connections through the power of film. Families gathered under starry skies, shared laughter resonated through the air, and memories were made under the glow of the projector.
More than just movies, the Screen Machine fostered community. Imagine pre-film picnics buzzing with excitement, locals sharing stories, and friendships blooming under the shared experience of cinema. It was a breath of fresh air, a chance to escape the ordinary and celebrate the power of shared experiences.
But now, this vital project risks fading to black. Potential funding cuts threaten to silence the projector, leaving communities yearning for the return of their mobile cinema haven.
This is not just about losing movie nights; it's about losing a vital community builder, a platform for shared joy, and a champion for accessibility. Imagine the impact on remote communities who rely on the Screen Machine for their only cinematic fix. Imagine the children whose faces wouldn't light up with wonder on these magical movie nights.
We can't let the final scene be a fade-out. It's time to raise our voices and fight for the Screen Machine! Here's how you can help:
Together, we can write a happy ending for this beloved project. Let's ensure the silver screen keeps rolling, bringing joy and community spirit to every corner of Scotland. Remember, the power of film, and the power of community, lies in our hands.
Join the movement and save the Screen Machine!
Seeds of Resilience: AFSA LAUNCHES 21 SEED CASE STUDIES FROM 10 AFRICAN COUNTRIES
|[Thiès, Senegal ] – January 23, 2024 – In Africa, farmers' seeds are the basis of agricultural production, diverse and healthy food systems across the continent. The Farmer managed seed system (FMSS) is the dominant system for food crops and agrobiodiversity conservation for family farmers. They persist and thrive despite well-funded programs promoting corporate seed. The industrial food and agriculture regime they are part of. Whilst receiving little or no support from public policies and frequently denigrated in the public narrative.
Seeds are about culture, tradition, spirituality, cooperation, solidarity and survival. Providing diverse and healthy food to feed families every day, and livelihood. Today's seed embodies centuries of knowledge about how to conserve, exchange, plant and guide it to fruitful expression. Africa's rich diversity of food crops is thanks to diverse ecosystems to local farming communities. Notably women, the custodians of seeds.
In its continuous quest for food sovereignty, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) scales up the positive narrative behind farmers’ seed varieties outdated and outlawed by corporations.
These twenty-one case studies have been collected from nine African countries and India. From the most hostile environments of the Sahel (Niger) to equatorial wetlands (Gabon), saline soils (Tanzania) and oases (Tunisia), the authors show us how farmers' varieties meet the nutritional and economic needs of populations in traditional, agroecological production systems.
In the Dosso region of Niger, 7 case studies on the preferred varieties of seven vital crops in selected communities identified farmers’ varieties that farmers know intimately and retain deep skills regarding their cultivation, uses, processing, storage and marketing. In many instances, these seeds are the backbone of the local economy and are key to cultural identity and respect in the community. In all cases they outperformed improved varieties, ostensibly because they have been adapted to the specific environment in which they are cultivated and are amenable to further adaptation because of their genetic diversity.
In Tanzania, six case studies emphasized on seed quality insurance using consistent farmers’ protocol and criteria. The studies also showcased the large diversity of seed a community develops which makes its population autonomous (seed sovereign), healthy and economically strong because of higher productivity and nutrition value found in specific indigenous varieties of beans, maize or rice. The quest for dignity through food is also experienced in Zimbabwe, Tunisia where women reviving the old durum wheat.
Burkina case study is about conservation technology, Togo and Senegal focused on seed production skills and quality insurance for bigger market favourable to farmer managed seed systems, namely on vegetable seeds which is a big market that usually excludes farmers, especially in urban areas.
In conclusion, this collection of seed case studies opens our minds on the followings
·Farmers have strong and various protocols to establish quality seeds standards.
·Farmers seed varieties are in many cases more productive and more nutritious than the so-called improved varieties.
·Women farmers play a crucial role in selecting seeds that define our food systems
·Communities play a key role in biodiversity preservation and should be first partners of gene banks, either locally, nationally or at international levels.
Explore and Download Seed Case Studies
Nestled among the cobbled streets and industrial heritage of Burnley, Lancashire, lies a story far more captivating than any mill chimney or terraced row. It's a tale of local grit, audacious dreams, and a man who dared to challenge the banking behemoths with nothing but a minibus, a big heart, and the unwavering support of his community. This is the story of Dave Fishwick, the "Bank of Dave," and his meteoric rise to fame.
Fishwick, a self-made millionaire with a deep-seated love for his hometown, witnessed firsthand the struggles of local businesses and residents facing stiff winds from traditional banks. So, in true Burnley fashion, he decided to roll up his sleeves and do something about it. In 2011, the Burnley Savings and Loans, affectionately known as the "Bank of Dave," opened its doors. It wasn't your typical financial institution – think more warm smiles, community gatherings, and interest rates that put people before profits.
Word of "Bank of Dave's" unorthodox approach spread like wildfire. Local businesses found a lifeline, savers received fair returns, and the community buzzed with newfound hope. But Dave's ambition transcended Burnley's borders. He took his fight against banking bigwigs to national television, charming audiences with his blunt Yorkshire wit and unwavering conviction.
Then came the pièce de résistance – a Netflix biopic charting Dave's journey from minibus mogul to financial maverick. "Bank of Dave" catapulted the Burnley hero onto the global stage, offering a heartwarming glimpse into the heart and soul of a town often overlooked. Millions across the world witnessed the power of community spirit, the tenacity of a man fighting for what's right, and the sheer audacity of taking on the establishment with a cheeky grin and a down-to-earth charm.
But for Burnley, "Bank of Dave" is more than just a feel-good movie. It's a validation of their resilience, a celebration of their working-class values, and a beacon of hope for a brighter future. Dave may be the face on the screen, but the film belongs to the community – the shopkeepers, the families, the dreamers who have woven the fabric of Burnley for generations.
As the credits roll, a profound question lingers: is "Bank of Dave" just a heartwarming story of one man's crusade, or a spark that ignites a wider revolution? Perhaps it's both. For Dave, it's proof that even the smallest pebble can create ripples in the financial pond. For Burnley, it's a declaration that their stories deserve to be heard, their struggles seen, and their spirit celebrated. And for the world, it's a reminder that sometimes, the most extraordinary tales emerge from the most unexpected corners, a testament to the human spirit that thrives against all odds.
So, the next time you hear the name "Burnley," remember it's not just a town on a map. It's the birthplace of a financial revolution, a community that dared to dream big, and a man named Dave who proved that sometimes, all it takes is a minibus, a big heart, and a movie deal to change the world.
For Immediate Release: Project Socially Homes Announces The Safe Haven Summit 2024
A Virtual Gathering of Experts to Address the Pressing Issue of Homelessness
Manchester, UK (December 29th, 2023) – Project Socially Homes proudly announces The Safe Haven Summit 2024, a virtual gathering of esteemed experts and specialists from the UK and the USA. This innovative event will bring together practitioners from around the globe to unite, join forces, and address the pressing issue of homelessness.
“We are thrilled to host The Safe Haven Summit 2024, a platform where we can share impactful strategies, explore innovative solutions, and collaborate with respected experts to make a real difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness,” said Amy Varle, Founder of Socially Homes and 2016 Churchill Fellow to US for Homelessness Solutions.
The summit will feature a variety of engaging sessions, including keynote addresses from leading experts, panel discussions, workshops, and a virtual visit to an outstanding ‘homeless farm’ rehabilitation program. Attendees will also have the opportunity to observe street homelessness outreach live and participate in a lively debate on pets, properties, and policies.
“We are committed to creating a dynamic and inspiring learning environment that will empower participants to make a positive impact on the homelessness crisis,” said Samuel Evans, Event Organizer.
Early Bird Tickets on Sale Now!
Early Bird tickets for The Safe Haven Summit 2024 are on sale now until January 12, 2024. Visit Eventbrite to secure your spot and make a commitment to ending homelessness.
Join Us to Make a Difference
The Safe Haven Summit 2024 is a unique opportunity to connect with experts, learn innovative solutions, and contribute to the global conversation on ending homelessness. We encourage you to join us on February 29, 2024, for this groundbreaking event.
Project Socially Homes is a social enterprise dedicated to addressing the homelessness crisis in the UK and beyond. We provide a range of innovative services and support to help individuals and families achieve and maintain sustainable housing solutions.
For Immediate Release: Dr. Willard Wigan MBE Crafts Microscopic Masterpiece "Three Little Kings in the Eye of a Needle" to Bring Light, Hope, and Peace this Christmas
Stockport, England (December 24, 2023): This Christmas, prepare to witness a miracle of miniature proportions. Internationally-renowned microscopic artist Dr. Willard Wigan MBE has unveiled his latest breathtaking masterpiece. He created "Three Little Kings in the Eye of a Needle". In time to illuminate hearts and homes around the world.
More than just a Christmas art piece. This microscopic odyssey represents a beacon of hope and peace during a tumultuous year. "The Three Little Kings," fashioned from minuscule fragments of nylon and glimmering glitter, embark on their celestial journey atop camels forged from the same delicate material. A tiny 24-carat gold crown, meticulously painted with an eyelash brush, graces each king's head. Reminding us of the precious gifts – both tangible and intangible – we seek during this sacred season.
Creating this microscopic marvel was no small feat. Wigan, juggling multiple projects for his popular "Disappearing World" exhibitions, painstakingly dedicated hundreds of extra hours to ensure its completion before the December 25th deadline. Working under the potent eye of his microscope. Often through the stillness of the night, he painstakingly pieced together each element. His unwavering focus a testament to the dedication that fuels his microscopic artistry.
Speaking of his heartfelt intention behind the artwork.
"I hope this piece brings blessing Light, Hope and peace to the whole world this Christmas," expressed Wigan.
He invites everyone to experience the wonder of his creation. Urging us to marvel at the beauty and magic found in the tiniest of details. Where miracles whisper and hope ignites.
"Three Little Kings in the Eye of a Needle" serves as a powerful reminder that even amidst the vastness of our world, the most profound treasures often reside in the unseen corners of existence. Wigan's microscopic masterpiece acts as a beacon. Calling us to appreciate the quiet wonders that grace our lives, the strength in unwavering dedication. With the enduring power of hope and peace that permeates even the smallest spaces.
To experience the awe-inspiring magic of "Three Little Kings in the Eye of a Needle":
This Christmas, let Dr. Wigan's microscopic masterpiece illuminate your spirit. Let it remind you that even in the smallest whisper, light, hope, and peace shine brightest.