Archive for May, 2012

Okay Social Meedja World. Help me out….

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I have been and gone and done it.

I have approached a few rather large Companies and have asked them to consider sponsoring the blog. Before you ask this is not for me to make money and become a full-time blogger. I am asking said Companies if they would donate to a children’s charity and then I would add a link to my blog. I enclose some of the email sent:-

============================================================================================

Hello,
I am writing to you with what may seem an ‘off-beam’ request. I have been blogging to ask people to donate to children’s charities for a couple of years. I have built up a solid readership and am committed to blogging frequently, I would love you to have a look and see what you think. My blog is located at – https://wheniwas8.wordpress.com/
I would now like to take my blog to a slightly different level whereby I look for some sponsorship for the blog. Please note that this is not for me to make money, I would like sponsors to donate to a children’s charity so that my words, when read, will have a positive experience for children somewhere.
There are a few options to do this as follows:-
1. I could set up an advertising link on the blog and link it to an account that collects commissions. However, I would prefer no money to come to me directly.
2. I can add a link on my blog for your Company and you can donate a small monthly(?) sum to my Charity of the Month. I will select a new charity every month based on the charities that people have talked about on my blog or from a charity that you already subscribe to. I am also happy to write about your work in this regard.
3. I am not experienced in this kind of action and accept that you may have an established way of moving forward with this type of request so I am happy to take your advice.
Please note I am only approaching a few Companies to request this and only Companies whose ethics and brand are trusted and respected.
I am happy to discuss this with you. My email address is xxxx.com and I can also be contacted via phone at 99999999….
I will close by thanking you for taking the time to read and I hope to hear from you soon.
Regards,
Lesley

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So far a couple of ‘we are taking it under consideration’ and a couple of ‘we regrets’. I therefore want to ask you lot to help me out, even if you think I am doing the wrong thing. I don’t think I am but if you disagree and think I am selling out then let me know, I will try to answer any opinions. I think trying to raise money is my end-game and this is just a slightly different way to do it. The questions that I hope you can help me with:-

  • The email above – is it hitting the right note? Should I be wording it differently?
  • What kind of Companies should I be targeting? I know I would like to approach those who are ethical and have links to children. I am not asking for large sums, small monthly amounts direct to agreed charities would be, I think, the best way. I don’t want to be handling any money, that way complication lies.
  • Do you know of any Companies who would be interested in donating to charity on a fairly regular basis and would like some free advertising as a result? If you do please send them my way:) I am happy to write about their desire to do good…
Lastly, if there are any angles I haven’t considered here let me know. This is not my area of expertise (I think that is fairly obvious) but I think it does have a small degree of merit if I can persuade the right people to link in to this site. And to all Companies, wouldn’t you like to advertise with me? I am cheap and will say thank you an awful lot…….

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

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May 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

Tears and Smiles….

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

There is only one person to blame for this post and that person isn’t me. This post is laid firmly at the door of Brian, a friend of mine from that Twitter (@BrianDLondon if you wish to follow his nonsensicals).

Brian is also one of that select band, using the term loosely, that I have met in real life. He is a warm and slightly bonkers person with a love of cycling and, as I found out at the last tweetup, of rollerblading. As I said, bonkers:)

Brian also raises a lot of money for good causes through cycling, sponsoring and being an all-round good egg. He will  hate that I said that but this is my blog and he will have to live with the notoriety. A cause very close to his heart is Operation Smile. Brian has raised significant amounts for charities that deal with cleft and lip deformities and has talked about this in the comments section adding a large total to the blogroll for which I am very grateful.

Most recently Brian shared a YouTube video with me and that is the point of this blog. I would like you to watch the video, less then four minutes of your time. If this doesn’t make you cry and smile then you are made of sterner stuff than me…..

I don’t need many words tonight as the video says it all. My few words – there are thousands of children born with lip and cleft deformities every year. In many countries these children are shunned and even their families may see them as a source of shame. They can fail to thrive due to feeding problems. The amazing thing is less then one hour can change this. One hour and about £145 – wouldn’t you like to make a little princess smile?

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

May 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

M&Ms The Sequel. This Time it’s Personal!

Today I will be asking you to comment, not about a donation to charity as is my normal plea. Today I would like your opinion on the contents of this post. This is a follow-on from my previous post on M&Ms, link to the post here; I also include a brief summary below.

I wanted to follow up for one reason, the reply I received from Master Foods USA, the manufacturer. I quote the reply in full below:-

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“Dear Ms. Miller,

In response to your email regarding M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES.

Thank you for your email.

We’re pleased to hear you enjoy our M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES and appreciate your taking the time to tell us so. Your comments will be shared with our Marketing Associates.

Have a great day!

Your Friends at Mars Chocolate North America”

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Hmmmmmmmmm. I think they missed the point? Was I too reticent in my original post? I try to be balanced and perhaps that dilutes my message. In that case, let me be more clear….

Although there are no untruths in the packaging of a ‘Big Bag’ of Peanut M&Ms they are being sleekit. Definition – smooth in manner, plausible, sly, cunning – the perfect word in this case.

Summarising the sleekitness, the ‘Big Bag’ shows a portion of M&Ms to be 45g and 232 calories as per the front of the bag.

This is normal, calories and percentages clearly stated on the packet. HOWEVER, the packet was not one ‘portion’ of 45 g, it was 70 g. The second picture below shows the reverse of the packet:-

At no point is there a clear statement of the number of calories in the bag. If you had a quick look you assume there are 232 and not approx 360 calories in the bag. In my opinion this is deliberately done and that is wrong. We talk a lot nowadays about transparency, we talk about openness. We also talk about value for money during these lean times. We talk about understanding what we eat and teaching our children to eat healthily, balancing all food groups with the occasional treat.

I believe that this kind of labelling goes against all of this. It is not open or transparent, I think it is an attempt to sell more candies by letting people think they are consuming less calories than the bag contains. I wonder why food manufacturers do this? I know we live our lives in a rush, everything is grab and go so that we can get on to the next thing. Why would anyone want to take advantage of this?

I would ask all manufacturers and retailers to do the following:-

  • Label clearly. If you are going to have a calorie count on the front of the bag then make this the amount of calories in the bag. If it is a family-sized bag then by all means state calories per portion but state clearly how many portions are in the bag and/or the number of sweets in a portion
  • Stop trying to hide price rises by making the product smaller and charging the same price. Prices are going up, this is not palatable for any of us. However, I feel more cheated when I know a manufacturer has reduced the packet size and charges the same price, when I know my crisps or chocolate bar has got smaller. Why not provide both? You are investing in different packing and this has a cost; why not have both and let the consumer make their own choice.
  • Stop trying to play games with your customers. Do not have a display showing ‘Big value pack – Four Tins for £2.20’ when you have single tins for £0.52 just underneath
  • If you are going to have a BOGOF (buy one get one free) then ensure that if it is fresh foods than it can either be frozen or has a long sellby date. Let the BOGOF be good value, not an excuse to get the shelves cleared
  • Stop rearranging the shelves to disrupt customers’ routines. You say it allows people to see foods they wouldn’t normally notice, I say you are trying to get more product shifted through impulse buys.
  • Remove the sweets from the checkout – this one has been irking parents and the weak-willed like myself for decades.
  • When a customer takes some of their time to provide feedback do not take the compliments and ignore anything that could be perceived as criticism. I was quite gobsmacked at the reply from Mars. Yes, I said how much I loved M&Ms but surely my use of the phrase ‘sleight of hand’ could have been at least acknowledged? Sending my feedback to the Marketing Associates does not make me feel that my comments will be given any consideration, let alone serious consideration.
So, today I ask you to comment on this blog to tell me how you feel food manufacturers and retailers get up your nose. Do you agree with me? If so please let me know, if not then please let me know. If there are other bug-bears that I have missed please let me know. I want to have comments attached to this post so that I can send this on to the Mars Company and see if they have any further comment to make….

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

May 22, 2012 at 10:40 am 6 comments

I’m not picking on M&Ms, I still love them but……

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

My family know my love of Peanut M&Ms, they buy them for me now and then knowing that will make me smile. Yesterday, I was handed a ‘Big Bag’, immediately ripped open the packet and snaffled them. Scrummy 🙂

I then looked at the box showing the number of calories. I never look before eating, that would start the guilt too early and I hate spoiling the M&M experience. It said, I quote, ‘Per portion (45 g) kcal 232 12%, the latter being the percentage of ‘normal’ daily intake. The picture below shows it quite well:-

This is all as normal, calories and percentages clearly stated on the packet. HOWEVER, the packet was not one ‘portion’ of 45 g, it was 70 g. The second picture below shows the reverse of the packet:-

Mmmmmmmmmm, no pun intended. I will be honest and say when it comes to a peanut M&M I can happily ignore the calories but will check how many calories I will consume in half a tin of beans. However, I read. I read everything, including the back of a packet of sweets. The packet of M&Ms was not lying to me, there are 232 calories in a 45 g portion and I ate a 70 g ‘big bag’. To work out the calories I actually consumed you divide 232 by 45 and multiply the result by 70 – approximately 360 calories. I am able to do sums as well as read….

I say again, there are no lies on the packet. However, there is what I would term a sleight of hand. If you just look at the front of the bag you could easily assume you are consuming 232 calories. We talk a lot about educating children about the food they eat, we encourage them to balance their proteins, carbohydrates and 5 portions a day with occasional treats. I hope children are also being educated to look closely at the small print on the bags of their daily treat when sweet manufacturers are displaying this kind of information. I would have been happier if the bag was 90 g, you could say it was two portions?

Added to this I googled M&Ms before I started this post. When you go on the official site you get the following message – ‘As a responsible manufacturer, we need to check your age to ensure that we adhere to our commitment to market our brands responsibly’. You are then invited to enter your MM DD YYYY date of birth. I nearly choked when I read this.

As it says on the title of this post I do not want to pick on M&Ms. I will continue to snaffle them frequently and not worry about the calories until much later. I could start on the supermarkets where you can buy one tin of Product A for 50 pence whilst above that (at eye level of course) there is a four-pack of Product A with a big sign saying ‘Great Value, Four for £2.20’. That also irks me.

I just want to remind everyone to read. Read the packets. Encourage your children to read the packet. Let them see what the real world of treats and sweeties is about. Let them enjoy a treat but let them see the calories consumed…….

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

PS – I contacted the manufacturer and sent them a copy of this post too….

May 13, 2012 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Causes? No, Effects.

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

Twitter was all of a frenzy last night. The #BBCQT hashtag was flying through my timeline with indignation/support/seething rage. The topic was the Rochdale child sex trial and whether race was a motivating factor. There was a lot of dancing around the subject and there was, astonishingly, a discussion (I paraphrase) whether the background/behaviour of the girls and their families was a factor. This made my jaw drop.

Sexual abuse is about control, taking power over another individual and using this power for your own lustful purposes. Domination is a scary term but for some it is the ultimate dream. The very thought of it makes me feel nauseous.

Abusers of the young can be very patient. They are happy to work slowly and gain trust. I was a teenage girl once and I still remember how I felt. It does not matter how confident and outgoing a young girl is, they are rife with insecurities. Am I pretty? Am I too fat? Am I just an abnoxious person? Will anyone ever love me? Young girls can have lots of love and support, be told they are beautiful by those who love them. Their head will translate this to ‘You have to say that, you are my mother/father’.

Any girl who receives flattery and attention will initially be suspicious, will bridle at the thought. However, if it continues with no request for payback then it can slowly build trust. Not in all cases, I don’t want to give the impression that this can happen to all young people. However, those who have that vunerability can be at risk and can come to believe that they are thought of as special for their own sake by those who groom them slowly. When they are hooked, young people become dependant. Their self-worth becomes dictated by the abuser. A little praise will lift them, a little punishment will leave them looking for ways to please. And so the vicious circle continues unless someone breaks it. In this case it took a long time for the circle to break. It was initially thought that one of the victims who approached police would not be a crdible witness; it took another two years before a decision was made to prosecute, yet another horrifying part of this whole case.

I am glad this initial trial is over for the sake of these young girls. I hope, as the police say, that further cases are brought to bring any other abusers to task. This is not a matter of race, this is a matter of abuse. Abusers have long colluded and come together to hurt and use children and young people. Abuse is not a matter of gender, colour, creed or belief. It is a malicious use of power gained slowly. Evil acts have no one source, they come from all areas of life but those who abuse often recognise it in others and come together to cause great harm.

These were children that were hurt. They did not ask for this, they have no blame. They were drawn in and used. I hope they recover from this as best they can. I hope they grow strong and take control for themselves, live life and get pleasure from that life. Abuse damages for a long time, I hope they get the support they need to move forward. One step at a time……

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

May 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

All Change? Not quite….

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I am sitting in my kitchen and have my guilty secret, Homes Under the Hammer, playing in the background. Today I start a new phase of my working life. I will  be working from home and to US hours. This is something I have requested and planned for, it will give me daytime hours when I can assist some of my family. People have had mixed reactions to this plan. Some think I am bonkers, some are worried that I will have too much on my plate, some think it is a good thing. One statement has been oft-repeated – ‘I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t have the discipline’.Discipline is not what worries me, I have sporadically worked from home in past roles and am able to focus on work. I don’t even worry very much about the solitary nature of this change; I will go into the office often enough to keep contact. Added to that I work for a US company so my contact with my American colleagues will not change.

I am a happy bunny as I sit mulling over the changes. I am grateful to my Company for allowing me to make this change, I now need to plan my days to make the most of them. This means Lesley makes a list and on that list I have so far:-

  • Seeing family members and providing support as best I can
  • Getting my sporadic exercise plan into an ordered shape
  • Blogging (naturally)
  • A tidier house – (my inner voice is saying ‘Dream on Les’)
  • Volunteering at a local school once a week on a reading programme; I have my training for this initiative later this week. I also have to go through all the normal approvals which will take a few weeks but I am happy that I now have a chance to do this.

The last item is something I have been considering for some time. I can see how my writing a blog now and then could come across as do as I say, not as I do. I don’t like the thought of being preachy, that I hope is not what you read here. I have always been interested in this particular programme and I think I now have the opportunity to do something about it. This makes me smile…

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

May 8, 2012 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

Timezones. Living from a Suitcase.

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

It is just after 8pm as I type this. The trouble is that in my home life it is just after 2am. I am six hours behind my life. I have been in this fugue state for eleven days but have one more day before I travel home. I am in the right place at the moment, for my work this is the right place. Tomorrow I check in, fly overnight and by lunchtime the following day I will be home.

Home. Such a small word but those four letters hold a wealth of meaning. I love my work but miss my home. I have been counting and now I am at one more sleep and a long journey. Sad perhaps? Yes but it works for me. I dared not count until a week had passed as the countdown would have been too long. I miss my own mug for coffee, I miss my own bed, I miss the hugs from my children. That is the worst thing about being away from home, the absence of touch in your daily life. I text, I call, I Skype. Video calls have made life so much easier but they will never be a substitute for a hug.

I am not sad, I am not maudlin in this post. I am almost home and can see it in my mind’s eye, therefore I am happy. However, I cannot help but think about those who do not have that sense of anticipation, that feeling in their fingertips as the thought of love and smiles reaches them. I have that and know how fortunate I am. Life is a fragile thing, something that has been reinforced for me this week. It makes me think we do not cherish what we have, I am determined to cherish, I will travel home with a happy heart.

I ask you this, do you understand what you have, do you cherish? Do you know someone who does not have this in their life and deserves this? Food and shelter are what gives us an existence, being cherished is what makes us thrive. I do want you to donate to a charity that will help children, that is after all the aim for my blog. Today I ask you to choose a charity that will make a child thrive……..

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

May 3, 2012 at 2:45 am Leave a comment


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