Monday, 14 September 2015

The Craft Channel Launch

If you’ve followed me for a few years you’ll know that in my previous life (before kids) my career was very much anchored in the craft industry and I was involved in editing some pretty fab craft magazines which you’ll still find on the newsstand today.

So, always keeping a finger on the crafty pulse, I was pretty excited to be asked to attend the press launch of new, aptly named, craft TV shopping channel, The Craft Channel.

Hidden on an industrial estate in West London you’ll find The Craft Channel studios which have been given a new lease of life, painted hot pink and were decorated with balloons and flowers, ready for the arrival of many craft industry veterans. I got to meet some fab bloggers, editors and journalists as we all gathered to celebrate this launch and it really was a fantastic day out.

Watching a show being filmed!

So interesting to see behind the scenes!

We were given a tour of the studios, watched a show being filmed and got to mingle with the craft industry’s finest. I loved meeting the next generation of craft journalists who have now replaced me in my old job at Aceville Publications, as well as Editor of Mollie Makes – Lara Watson (I’m a long time fan), and editor of Die Cutting Essentials, Becky Higgins.

It was also so lovely to meet Amanda of Ginger Mum fame and Anthea of Zing Zing Tree – bloggers who were there doing what they do best and raising the profile of the blogging industry.

Dawn Bibby & Julian Ballantyne showing off the goodie bags!

The Craft Channel will not only be selling all of your latest craft products – covering papercraft, jewellery making, scrapbooking, chocolate making, baking and food – but it will be providing loads of demonstrations,  informative talks, interviews and magazine style chat shows full of your favourite craft celebrities – including Queen of papercraft, Dawn Bibby, the Crafty Beggars, Julie Peasgood and Wendy Turner and if you've ever tuned into a shopping channel you'll probably recognise Debbie Greenwood and Julian Ballantyne!

The channel launched this morning on channels Sky 261 & 660, FreeSat 402 & 815 & FreeView 254. If you’re the type of person whose house is full of scrapbooking paper, unfinished projects and crafty gizmos that your non-crafty friends just don't understand then I think you’ll love this new venture and I hope they fill that gap in the market that takes crafts to the masses and shows people what a fantastic hobby it can be.

Check it out at
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Thursday, 3 September 2015

A human problem that deserves a human response

I've had enough.

I've had enough of humans.

Humans that live in their cosy little houses, with their cosy little western life, with their 2.4 children and their parents round the corner who are living on to a ripe old age.

Humans whose main concern for their children is whether they're in the correct catchment area for their preferred school.

Humans who have never lived in a warzone.

Never witnessed a murder, let alone a mass murder. Let alone the mass murder of their own relatives. Friends.

Humans who have never had to leave behind their homes, families, careers, communities and possessions while they flee for their lives, not knowing whether their families or friends made it. Not knowing whether they died amid the chaos, or perished en route.

Humans who have never had to pretend to their children that they were going on an exciting adventure rather than embarking on a perilous journey where only the lucky survive and the only alternative is guaranteed death.

Humans who have never had to face the choice of which child to save from drowning as they float amidst a sea of bodies - their rubber dinghy capsized because they were not alone in deciding it was a safer bet to put their lives into the hands of human traffickers than stay home and hope for survival.

It's these humans who seem to think they're qualified to judge, qualified to pass comment. It's these humans who declare that the migrants are coming here for a comfortable life on benefits, who brandish them a blight upon society, criminals, thugs, a swarm of beasts.

But it's these humans who have never walked a mile in their shoes - let alone trekked across nations to reach an unknown destination.

I fail to believe that ANY mother would put their child's life at risk in the way that we see day after day, unless they were utterly convinced it was the best option. I fail to see how ANY person would attempt to cross the channel under a lorry unless they were in a state of absolute desperation.

I don't care whether you think they should stay in the first 'safe' country they find. I don't care whether you think they use illegal means or violent means. The fact is, they are humans.

I've seen the comments: 'I hope they all drown', 'why not just send them all into the tunnel and then send the trains through.'. Are you serious? The fact that you even think this crap suggests to me that these refugees are more human than you! How dare you place less value upon a fellow human being because of their refugee status?!

People are dying!

People need help!

People are desperate!

This is a complex problem, in complex times. Nothing is black and white. But it is not a political problem. It is not a religious problem. It is not a societal problem. It is not a racial problem.

It is a HUMAN problem.

And for that, it deserves a HUMAN response.

So, may I plead with you, to think before you speak. Think about the fact that these are individual lives. Individual stories. They are somebody's mother, father, brother, nephew, son, daughter. They had lives. They had educations. They had careers, and families, and homes. They were happy until their lives were turned upside down by war, conflict, genocide, terrorism. We cannot begin to fathom how desperate they are, that they honestly thought that they stood a better chance as a refugee than in their homeland (and while we're on that point, please educate yourself on the difference between a migrant and a refugee).

I live in Kent - the gateway to Europe. I see the effects that illegal immigration has on our communities, on our council budgets, on our road system (hello, operation stack!). I have seen videos of immigrants climbing out of lorries just down the road from where I live.

Am I angry? No.

I'm heartbroken. 

My heart hurts for these people. My heart hurts for their grief, their broken and dispersed families, for the fact that they may never find out what became of their relatives and homes. My heart hurts for those who have perished along the way. Europe has a lot to learn, our government has a lot to learn. Nobody has an instant solution or a magic wand to make this go away.

But in the mean time, let's have a bit of compassion.

And if you can, allow that compassion to move you to action.

History will judge us for our inaction.

Here's a great initiative you can support, run by an everyday person who saw the need and decided to do something about it:

You can also email your MP here.

Share this blog post or any other articles you find which highlight the human plight of the refugee crisis.

Read this interview with Dawn O Porter on how you can get involved.

If you want to shift your focus to Greece then check out this page.

Save The Children are running a Crisis Appeal here.

This article in the Telegraph includes a box at the bottom with five ways you can make a difference - including volunteering your home as temporary accommodation.

Know of any other initiatives of note? Let me know and I'll continue to update with links so everyone can find ways to act.
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