#VodafoneWoes Day8 – Finally Some Good News

I am beyond delighted to be able to update the whole #VodafoneWoes situation and say that my phone line was  finally reconnected this afternoon.

For those of you that have been following the whole debacle, or are stuck in the same cycle of pointless calls to Vodafone, you’ll understand just how awesome this really is. Anyone not read the story so far, take my word for it – it’s been a lengthy, mind numbing process and I am so glad it’s over.

I’m not sure what actually triggered the reconnection, several things have occurred in the last few days that could be responsible, but I will share my ‘journey to reconnection’ for anyone still stuck in the loop with the Vodafone Customer Service team.

At last....

                  At last….

Reaching the complete end of my tether after #Day6, I set out on a mission…..

  • Realising that no Vodafone execs are on Twitter and email addresses for them seem non-existent, I turned to LinkedIn where I found several including Jeroen Hoencamp (CEO at Vodafone UK), Jan Geldmacher (CEO at Vodafone Global Enterprise Ltd.), Petek Ergul (Head of Technology Demand, Planning and Quality, Vodafone UK) to name but a few. I sent invitations to ‘connect’ with all of them and when both Jan and Petek replied, I sent them copies of my #VodafoneWoes blog and asked for their help.
  • They both replied: Jan to say that he was passing it to the ‘directors helpline team’ and Petek to explain that she would reach out to the ‘customer operations team’ and also try to resolve the issue.
  • Meanwhile I emailed Watchdog, Rogue Traders and ITV’s Tonight show with full details of my complaint, also pointing out that there are hundreds of people complaining on social media about the terrible service from Vodafone – some still without a line after 6 weeks…. Once emailed I ensured that I told Twitter I had done so and tagged them, using the #Vodaphone then others also began to do the same, between us Twitter began to get kinda noisy where Voda was concerned and it was all negative publicity….
  • I took full advantage of Vodafone being in the news (launch of VodaTV and the CEO’s vote to stay in the EU) and tagged them with comments on shoddy customer service, again using the #Vodafone on Twitter.
  • I printed off a copy of my complaint and sent it to Vodafone HQ in London – recorded delivery of course ;)
  • I still called the Customer Service number several times a day but began to demand that full notes were added to my account each time so that when I inevitably called back again the call handler could see how long it had been dragging on for, as well as all the broken promises of reconnection and call backs. (I was promised a call back from over 20 different call handlers during the week and not one has ever got back to me.)

This morning I called first thing and was connected to the Egypt call centre where I was told to “Wait 24 hours and it should be on” for the umpteenth time.

I left it a couple of hours and called again, this time getting the Irish call centre and a very helpful call operator called Jade. She took the time to read all the notes and admitted herself that it was totally ridiculous, somewhat beyond belief in parts but that she would try her best to get the line operational. Speaking to her supervisor and explaining just how vexed I was by this point (browser open looking at trains to London to visit Voda HQ in person) she said that they would try their best to get it on by tonight.

As we were ending the call she noticed there was a note on my account – A man called Will in the directors office had left me a direct number, asking me to call him to discuss the issues I was facing at my earliest convenience.

Fearing it was too good to be true, I rang the number and couldn’t believe it when I was connected straight to a human being in the UK from the customer relations department :)

After a lengthy phone call where I explained just why I was so so fed up with Vodafone, pointing out all the many failings I’ve encountered this week, he promised to sort it out and get my phone on quick time. He confirmed what price package it was on, sim number etc and I began to believe that it may just happen this time – and it did, just 3 hours later.

So, while I am beyond delighted to be reconnected, I still have the dongle to sort out as well as a refund and hopefully some compensation for the worst week ever, courtesy of Vodafone.

I also think it is pretty sad that I’ve had to go to such great lengths to get something so simple done – what chance do those who aren’t so social media savvy have?

If you are struggling to get anywhere with Vodafone feel free to comment on this post and I will try and help where possible :)

UPDATE: Vodafone Woes #Day5


I would love to be writing this update to say that Vodafone came through after all, and that my line was now operational…….sadly this is not the case.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more ridiculous in the whole #VodafoneWoes drama, the interaction – or rather lack of it from ‘Customer Disservice’ was taken to a whole new level this morning.

While I found writing my complaint down yesterday rather cathartic, I woke up this morning feeling really frustrated and anxious about the whole situation and that’s not good when you’re trying to deal with 3 cats, 2 dogs and a herd of children.

Being the eternal optimist I decided to call Vodafone yet again, in the hope that maybe this time I would get a call handler that could actually handle my call and deal with the ongoing problem where so many others had failed.

Call #1: I waited on hold to speak to a customer disservice operator for 35 minutes before my call was answered. He took my details and seemed to understand the problem. He asked why the number had been disconnected in the first place and as I started to answer him the line went dead.

Call #2: I opted for the ‘call back option’ and, after 20 minutes I got a call from customer disservice operator called Sinah. She was very apologetic about the whole thing and said she couldn’t understand why a simple reconnection was taking so long. She then assured me that she would solve the problem and had escalated it to her manager – between them they would get the line back up and running in the next 2-5 hours. She also said she would call me back after 3 hours, just to check if it had been done, and if not she would chase it up again to ensure it would be on by 4pm at the latest.

I thanked her for her help but explained that I had been promised a call back from several operators and not one has ever actually got back to me. I also expressed my distrust of her promises as I have heard it countless times before over the past 4 days. At this point she gave me her full name and promised that she would be the one to restore my faith in Vodafone.

I am still waiting for Sinah to call me back………

Call 3, 4, 5 and 6: Having waited until 4.30 and the line still being inactive I decided to call customer disservice yet again. I tried to get through using the 191 number only to have the call dropped each and every time. On the 7th attempt I tried using my daughters phone in case it was my number that was causing this and this time I got straight through. Make of that what you will.

Call 7: This time I spoke to a male phone operator, when I asked to speak with Sinah he had no idea who she was and said that she was ‘probably in a different building’. He went through the standard apology and after putting me on hold several times he explained that the previous call handler hadn’t completed all of the steps needed to



reconnect the line, but it was ok because he would do that now and it would be back on within 24 hours. At a loss for words by now I said ‘ok, speak to you again tomorrow when it doesn’t happen’ and he assured me profusely that it really would, and that he was even going to send me a confirmation text. Whoop whoop.

When the text arrived it states, as you can see, that the reconnection will take place within 24 DAYS. Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, it appears that @VodafoneUKhelp want to anything but help and have taken to totally ignoring me. Despite following me on Tuesday and tweeting to ask that I ‘DM’ (direct message) them my issue, they have refused to interact with any of my numerous tweets tagging them as well as all of my ‘DM’s’…..

I have sent a hard copy of my complaint to Vodafone head office and will update my blog until this situation is resolved and adequate compensation has been received. Oh, and the dongle removed and refunded of course ;)



Vodafone Woes….

I have been with Vodafone now for a number of years and never really had a problem. Until recently that is….

Firstly I should explain that I have 4 phone lines with them – mine, my hubbies, my daughters and my second youngest son. My phone bill averages at over £100pm and I have always paid it on time and in full.

It all began to go wrong back in March 2015. We went away for a few days and my son ran up a massive bill, by using a shed load of data whilst ‘Minecrafting’ of an evening.


As soon as I saw the bill I called Vodafone to explain what had happened, and to request that more data be added to my sons number to prevent it ever occurring again in the future. ‘The Customer Disservice‘ (they don’t seem to provide an actual service so this name seems more fitting) adviser that I spoke to assured me that what I really needed was a dongle with some data on. Unconvinced but feeling somewhat pressurised I agreed and the dongle arrived a couple of days later. By this time I had realised that I really didn’t need a dongle at all, just some data adding to my sons line as requested, so I returned it the same day it arrived and received a text message soon after confirming it was back with Vodafone safe and sound.

When the April phone bill came I was disappointed to see that, along with my 4 phone lines, the dongle I had returned – unused and sealed as it had arrived, had still been billed to my account.

Being the good customer that I am, I paid the bill in full and called ‘Customer Disservice’ to ask that it be removed immediately and the money taken from my bank be credited back as a refund. She apologised for the mix up and confirmed that they would sort it out as a matter of urgency as she could see that I had, indeed returned it as stated.

Little did I know then that this was to be a pattern that would continue right up until today (November 2015) and I am still being charged for a dongle I never used. Each month I would check the bill, call Vodafone to be assured that they would remove it for me and arrange a refund only for it to appear the following month again.

This week things took a serious turn for the worse and I am now a very unhappy customer indeed – as are many

Twitter is full of complaints about Vodafone customer service, or lack of it.

Twitter is full of complaints about Vodafone customer service, or lack of it.

others judging by the countless complaints about Vodafone on social media, particularly Twitter.

On Tuesday morning I opened my November bill and was horrified/annoyed/upset to see that despite my countless calls every month for the past 8 months, the dongle is still on there. I called Vodafone ‘Customer Disservice’ and had a little rant about the clear lack of communication they have going on and was told that my problem was down to the returns department. Allegedly they never updated my account when they received it back and that was why I was still being billed. The representative then assured me that she had fixed everything and that the dongle would be removed the same day, I would receive a full refund on my next bill and (after me requesting some form of compensation for my inconvenience), a £20 good will gesture would also be credited to my account.

I ended the call feeling fairly optimistic that the problem would finally be resolved and I could look forward to a slightly lower bill next month. How naive was I…….

Within 5 minutes of me ending the call to Vodafone my hubbys phone lost signal and ‘no service’ appeared on the screen. Thinking this was just a coincidence I called Vodafone back and asked why the number had gone off. They talked me through several trouble shooting fixes, finally asking me to try the sim in another phone which established that the problem was with the sim itself and not the handset. She wasn’t sure why this had happened but advised me that the quickest way to fix it would be to go to our local store where that would be able to read the notes she’d added to my account and give him a new sim card there and then. Easy, right?

He duly went to the Sale branch of Vodafone where the staff gave him a new sim as suggested – he left the store thinking that it was all sorted and called me to give me the good news. Thing is, when he called it came up as my daughters number instead of his own. My daughter was in college at the time and messages me when she finishes to arrange for me to collect her from the Metro-link,  so if he had her number what number, if any, did she have??

Panicked I called Vodafone for the third time that day to be told that it was the store at fault and that they had ported the wrong number to the sim card they’d given my hubby. The only way to rectify this, they said, was for him to return to the store in question so that they could fix the problem. They also confirmed that my daughters number had been disconnected at the same time, meaning that I had to phone the college to pass a message to her to call me from a phone box when she got off the Metro – something that as a 17 year old in 2015 she has never done before.

Hubby returned to the store and, after an hour of calls to various departments it finally became clear what had caused the problem. Apparently, when I called to cancel the dongle for the 8th time, the adviser that took my call actually disconnected his phone number instead, leaving the dongle online with no cancellation or refund in sight.

On Tuesday evening I had a lengthy phone call with someone in the technical department where he confirmed that they had accidentally disconnected the phone and it would take 24 hours to reinstate it as they had to let it completely ‘switch off’ before they could switch it on again. He promised that he would deal with it himself first thing in the morning (Wednesday) and would call me to let me know it was in hand.

With no offer of a temporary sim card or emergency phone number from either the tech team or ‘Customer Disservice’, I ended the call and headed to the Vodafone shop in Sale to see if they could help. I explained that they still hadn’t switched the phone back on, despite me explaining that my hubby uses it for business and it was costing us both time and money while we were being passed from one incompetent call handler to the next.

I have to say that the Sale branch of Vodafone were extremely helpful and gave me a temporary pay-as-you-go sim with some credit on so he could at least make calls in the meantime. The manager was disgusted at the runaround we’d been given and explained how frustrating it was for her and her colleagues to be on the receiving end of such complaints without the proper support to resolve them. I was also informed that there was another customer with a very similar complaint that had been without their number for 6 weeks before it was finally sorted out……..

Despite being told by Vodafone on several occasions that someone would call be back to no avail (for the record the only Voda representative to ever return my call is the assistant manager at Sale branch, thanks Dean), I duly waited until lunch time Wednesday and, having no call back from Vodafone as promised, I decided to call them again.

Unknown-6This time I was on the phone for 50 minutes, passed between 6 call handlers and asked my full name and phone number a staggering 9 times. I was then told there were no notes from the night before so we were no nearer the phone being switched on, but not to worry as they would do it straight away and we could expect the phone to be operational within 24 hours.

At this point I began to feel like I really was being fobbed off every time I called – told to wait 2 hours, 24 hours and, latterly 72 hours and the line would be active again and also meaning that there was no point calling back until that time had elapsed as they can’t/won’t give you any further information. I’m sure the buffoons staffing Vodafone ‘Customer Disservices’ are given a script to read and if you try and discuss anything other than a general enquiry with them it leads to total communication breakdown, cross wires, tears (mine) and long painful silences (theirs).

Another 24 hours passed and my phone line was still not active so, on Thursday I decided to call Vodafone. Again.

I had to explain my whole situation again but was optimistic once again when Omar in ‘Customer Disservice’ apologised and said that he would action it straight away and my phone would be up and running in 2 hours. I questioned this, I mean 2 hours is too good to be true, right? He confirmed that he would ‘handle it personally’ and it would be on for sure so I had no option but to hang up and wait some more.

2 hours later…….phone still not on

I called Vodafone ‘Customer Disservice’ yet again (see a pattern forming here) and this time was told that the phone number couldn’t be reactivated by them at all and every time he tried to submit the reactivation form it was coming up with an error and not allowing him to continue.

  • I asked why Omar had promised me it would be on within 2 hours if this was the case. He had no answer.
  • I asked why it was taking days to reconnect a number that Vodafone had cut off in error. He had no answer.
  • I then asked why I was being told something different every single time I called and why the notes that were put on my file were incomplete, wrong or, in some cases, totally absent. Again he had no answer.
  • Instead he stuck to his predetermined script in a drone like manner repeating that he would refer it to the reconnection team and it should be on within 72 hours.

At this point I was seriously losing the will to live and had developed a banging headache from being on the phone to Vodafone so much without getting anywhere so I ended the call having absolutely no faith in what he’d said at all and feeling rather despondent.

Your line reconnection we can not do....

Reconnect your line we can not…

This morning (Friday) I decided to visit the Vodafone Sale branch in an attempt to get the phone put back on before weekend, they had been so helpful on Tuesday that I hoped they would be able to do what so many ‘Customer Disservice’ team members had tried and failed.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the case – they were extremely helpful in so much as they gave us more credit on the temporary sim they’d given us on Tuesday, and the assistant manager did try to sort the issue on the phone, but he got no further than I had managed the day before. After spending a ridiculous amount of time on hold and repeating himself several times he too was told that it should be on at some point on Saturday.

I asked what time Saturday but they were unable to provide me this information, despite it being them that put a 72 hour time span on it in the first place. The staff at Sale Vodafone advised me that if it didn’t come on as promised then to call them back and they would try again, also that they aren’t open on Sundays but the Trafford Centre branch is…….

So that brings me to where I am now.

  • It’s almost 8pm Friday night and the phone line is still inactive.
  • I have no idea if it will actually come on tomorrow and the thought of having to repeat myself to Vodafone ‘Customer Disservice’ again is making me feel physically sick.
  • My husband, who is self employed, has lost an immeasurable amount of business and numerous calls as people try to contact him and get a dead tone.
  • Remember the dongle I mentioned? It is still on my bill and showing as active………

Have you had a similar experience with Vodafone? – I’m interested to see if this is a widespread problem and if anyone else is still waiting to be reconnected.

Indeed they do....

Indeed they do….


The religious landscape of Britain has changed dramatically in the past 30 years, with Islam becoming Britain’s fastest growing religion. Having doubled in numbers to around three million since 2000, 47% of Muslims are UK born, 33% are aged 15 and under and it’s estimated that one in ten children under the age of four is a British Muslim.

Despite this we know very little about the people behind these statistics other than what the media tell us – do they really want to ‘Islamify’ the UK, can you really be both British and Muslim and what is the truth behind all those scary headlines?

muslim header

I spoke to two very different British Muslims to find out more…

Social commentator and civil rights activist, Mohammed Ansar lives in Hampshire with his wife and children. He says British Muslims are facing mass discrimination on many levels, with far-reaching and devastating effects:

British Muslims are having a civil rights crisis. We’re being overwhelmingly and disproportionately discriminated against in terms of employment, housing, health and education – meaning that we have a whole section of society being pushed to the edge and marginalized.

Mohammed Ansar

  Mohammed Ansar

The removal of EMA for example means that the hardest up families in the UK are going to struggle to send their kids to college. When we have eighty percent of British Muslims on or below the poverty line, the removal of this one benefit will have a disproportionate impact on that community.

We need to define our narrative. With foreign policy and global events, the media today is defining Muslim life in Britain using people that we would consider to have more in common with terrorism, far removed from Islam and the true Prophetic traditions. Then we have a whole other group at the other end of the spectrum; not really upholding authentic ideals of Islam but at the same time are very secular progressive – so much so that they themselves are quite happy to be drinking and going to strip clubs while defining ‘counter radicalization’ and pressing very hard on British Muslims in a bid to try to reform Islam by telling people how to live. I think there’s a real hypocrisy there.

We’ve had, and continue to have an onslaught of Islamophobic propaganda in the media, aligning the Muslim faith with immigration, terrorism, in fact, when it comes to British Muslims we can be conflated with anyone; child sex abuse claims, drug trafficking, sex trafficking – all the worst aspects of society are being pushed towards the Muslim ‘issue’, helping to demonize British Muslims on an almost daily basis.

uk muslim

Don’t panic – I’m Islamic (and British of course)

As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, British Muslims are constantly being called on to ‘prove their loyalty to the UK’ and I for one am sick and tired of it. I try not to lend myself to it and have refused to support campaigns calling for such action because it just doesn’t help. It creates a false narrative and takes away from the real issues we’re facing. Sadly, it seems to be the younger generation of British Muslims who, being sometimes less experienced in terms of understanding the political dimensions, are drawn into the debate and see it as being a modern-day ‘Cool Britannia’ – almost like a ‘Cool Muslimia’. Young British Muslims seem to think ‘I can be Muslim, I can be inclusive and contribute to British society but I must be able to put clear water between myself and those with different values.’

We never see this with non-Muslim communities – when there’s a paedophile ring, which has a dozen people in it who are white Christians, we don’t then see those communities marching on the streets saying ‘not in my name’. We don’t see outrage on Twitter or other social media where people feel the need to say these people don’t represent me. We certainly never see outrage when Britain bombs Libya or performs airstrikes in Iran and Syria to support president Assad and we don’t get Christians feeling the need to put clear water between themselves and David Cameron.

The British Muslim community is disproportionately targeted and we’re not treated on the same equal footing as everyone else. It has to change. British values include a sense of fair play and equality but this isn’t what we’re getting. There’s been some really ugly, neo-conservative interests infiltrate both the government and the media, that’s why we’re seeing influence on foreign policy both here and abroad, as well as the media agenda. We need to shine a light on this and ask the people to wrestle it back to some form of fairness.

uk muslim flag

Rucksana Malik is a 38-year-old self-employed British Muslim who lives in Manchester with her husband and 2 young sons. Rucksana says British Muslims do face discrimination in the UK but they bring much of it on themselves and should do more to integrate:

        Rucksana Malik

The biggest issue the British Muslims in the UK are facing is lack of cohesion. Nobody pulls together and it’s frustrating, we can’t even agree what day Eid is on most years so it’s no wonder that he non-Muslims are confused about what Islam really stands for.

The perception most people have of British Muslims is only what the media show them; the Muslim girl in the pub on Eastenders, comical community leader Mr. Khan in another slapstick scene, or the founder of Quilliam visiting a strip club for his stag night. We need to all pull together to show a more accurate picture of what we’re really about because this is not it.

This misrepresentation has had a massive impact on British Muslims on many levels, including the rise of Islamophobic incidents reported recently. The majority of people who have strong opinions on Muslims and immigration (yes, they go hand in hand now, thanks to the media) tend to get their information from either sensationalist shows on TV or hate filled stories in the paper.

Disinformation stops unity and any good that is done by the British Muslim community doesn’t get reported on. However, there’s a lot more that some of us could do to integrate better. I know Muslims that, although they’ve lived here for over forty years, still don’t speak English and I have a big problem with that – they don’t wear English clothes, won’t eat English food but still want to live over here. That I have a problem with, and I can understand why people who are spoon fed the misinformation on top of seeing this have a huge problem.

Some British Muslims could do well to chill out and put their own affairs in order before getting all stressed about having Sharia patrols outside mosques to stop couples holding hands and other ridiculousness. We need to remember that there’s still places in the world where it’s illegal to practice as a Muslim, and just be grateful for the freedoms we have in the UK.

Some of the blame for how we are portrayed must lie with us, the British Muslims. Yes, we want to keep our identity, so I’m not going to integrate to the point where we go down to the pub together and I have a pint with you, but, if you’re my neighbour or

Rucksana and her son

                   Rucksana and her son

in my local community, I want to know what you’re called, I want us to have enough of a rapport to have a chat. I want you to take an interest. I want to know if you’re not well or if you need any help with anything. Yes, it’s nice that you send me a Christmas card. I don’t celebrate it and I’m not going to send you one back but I’m going to find a nice way to tell you to tell you that.

I’m not just going to come out with ‘Kafir this, kafir that’ which, incidentally just means disbeliever, not the bad, almost swear word the media have alluded to. British Muslims seem to over react to a lot of things, like when it’s Christmas and some nitwits will start a petition to ban the lights because ‘we don’t do Christmas’. The reality is that it doesn’t matter, even if they are all over your street it doesn’t mean that you’re participating. Incidents like that do get a lot of media coverage and, in turn, does a lot of damage.

Some of the scaremongering headlines have even got people terrified that we are trying to ‘take over’ the UK. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I wouldn’t say I was a ‘moderate’ Muslim, I’d probably fall into the category some would label ‘extreme’ but even I have no wish to ever try to make this an Islamic country and don’t know anyone that does. It’s nowhere on the Muslim agenda and I wish the media would stop implying that we are some kind of imminent threat to British civilisation.

Some of the things that so many British Muslims make priority are rather strange too, like cartoons. They organize big marches and get everyone all fired up about things like that. Yes, as a Muslim I do find it offensive and I don’t agree with it but there’s far more important things to focus on, like educating the Muslim youth and getting them out of the houses, the bars, the strip clubs, and into a mosque. It’s hypocritical the things we choose to make an issue out of. They’re like sheep, everyone jumping on the bandwagon ‘I’m a Muslim, I’ve pride in my religion but I don’t pray or go to the mosque’. I wish they would save their breath and stop making it difficult for the rest of us.

I’m proud to be British and Muslim; anyone who says you can’t be both has clearly misinterpreted the religion, there’s no conflict and I’m happy to be both a fully practicing Muslim and a totally integrated member of British society. I don’t expect anyone to make allowances for me as a Muslim in any way. If I go somewhere to eat and they don’t have halal meat I’m not going to make an issue, complain or even start a petition – I’d either choose something else or choose not to eat there. There is literally nothing that I have to do as a Muslim that being British would prevent.

I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore but I don’t have a problem being off for the festive holidays. I don’t have an issue with seeing a Christmas tree in the town centre, the countless fairy lights or even hearing carols for the 3 months before and during the event. I don’t find it offensive because it’s not offensive – it’s just what other people do and we’re supposed to be the religion of tolerance after all. These are all examples of what could show British Muslims in a really good light with how we choose to react.

As with any community, we do have issues, one of the most worrying is the number of British Muslim youths being radicalized by UK foreign policy. It’s given them a channel for their aggression and their free time, because, let’s face it, nobody is encouraged to work. There’s no incentive for anybody to do anything positive then comes along the perfect excuse to get fired up and excited about something. These ‘Muslims’ don’t have a purpose or focus because religion isn’t taught enough at home so they have no fear of anybody, whether it be God or the police; they have no boundaries in that respect and are just looking for trouble, it’s more a political issue than religious uprising.

The government needs to stop interfering with things that are nothing to do with us; we’re not at war with anyone and I would have no problem fighting with the British Army if we were, regardless of whom that was against, but we’re not at war. That’s not to mention that the millions of pounds spent meddling in these distant lands could be much better spent over here.

Maajid Nawaz - before the strip club 'incident'...

Maajid Nawaz – before the strip club ‘incident’…

My biggest fear as a British Muslim living in the UK is not my racist neighbours or the lads who shouted abuse at me when I visited the park with my children. It’s not even the group of ‘men’ that spat on me as I was walked home from the supermarket just last week. What really scares me and makes me fearful for my children’s future in the UK the most is Maajid Nawaz and other so-called moderate Muslims; those that seek to vilify the rest of us that don’t fit their self-styled mould. We have more to fear from them than any non-Muslim as they undermine everything the rest of us are trying to achieve. Nawaz was the one who said that Muslim women don’t need to wear hijab in this country because ‘you’re putting yourselves in danger’. No, we’re not – you’re putting us in danger by coming out with idiotic comments like that, and then you’re caught in a strip club!

The reality is that real Muslims, the ones who follow the religion correctly, are not the ones you should be concerned with. We’re the ones that don’t try and impose our views on other people, respect other religions and, despite what the papers say, manage to integrate perfectly well in our society – yet we are labeled as extreme. It’s the ones that don’t pray 5 times a day or go to the mosque that are the deemed ‘moderate ones’ and yet they’re far more dangerous than we could ever be.

They’re the ones that breed the idiots who want to go and join ISIS, thinking it’s the answer to their prayers, not us. All this goes undetected while the ones they have monitoring these people, like Quilliam, focus instead on people like me that are just trying to live a peaceful life in the way I see fit. It’s the ‘non-Muslim Muslims’ that are a real danger to society, not the ones truly following Islam – it’s about time the media realised that.

Ruqaiyyah praying

Making Easter Egg-stra Special Nationwide


H&T Pawnbrokers has launched a nationwide campaign to collect Easter eggs to donate to local families. Last year they collected a whopping 7,000 eggs and this year they are aiming for 8,000! All eggs donated by the general public will be given as a special Easter treat to children’s charities, food banks and poorly children at local hospitals.

Staff are 'eggstatic' with donations so far

Staff are ‘eggstatic’ with donations so far

In Birmingham over 85 eggs have already been donated by generous members of public; the North London stores have received 120 eggs; in the Manchester area 250 Easter eggs have been collected as well as 13 sensory toys – Their target is to collect at least 300 eggs to donate for a special Easter egg treat this year for children and families in need in the Manchester area.
In Hull over £140 has been pledged to crack 140 (real) eggs over the store manager’s head to raise money for Kids in Crisis! The eggs have been donated by Iceland and the store in the Prospect shopping centre is holding an egg cracking event to raise funds for Kids in Crisis on 4th April.

Local people are asked to drop in Easter eggs at their closest H&T store.

Donations can be made any day up to 1st April 2014. Customers can also donate £1 and H&T staff will buy an Easter egg or a teddy to add to the collection.

“We think Easter is another opportunity for us to support our local communities and give a little smile and a lovely surprise to as many children in need as we can this year.” says John Nichols, CEO H&T Pawnbrokers.

Stores are collecting for the following charities and organisations:

– Children’s wards at North Manchester Hospital, Royal Oldham Hospital, Salford Hospital, Stepping Hill Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital
– Oakdale Primary school in Hyde
– Wood Street Mission, a charity which helps alleviate the effects of poverty on local children and their families throughout Manchester and Salford
– Stretford Food Bank

The collection is part of a nationwide initiative by H&T Pawnbrokers, the UK’s largest pawnbroking company. Last year H&T pledged to collect 1,000 eggs across the country for children’s charities and hospitals, they egg-ceded their target and collected a whopping 7,000 eggs! This year they would like to beat this and collect 8,000 Easter eggs.

“We think Easter is another opportunity for us to support our local communities and give a little smile and a lovely surprise to as many children in hospital as we can this year. They deserve a treat! A huge thank you to our generous customers.” says Jean Simpson, Area Manager for the North West.

Eggs for local kids can be dropped at any of these collection points:

H&T Pawnbrokers Cheetham Hill: Unit 5, Cheetham Hill Shopping Centre, M8 5EL
H&T Pawnbrokers Oldham: Unit 34, Town Square Shopping Centre, OL1 1HD
Discount Secondhand Jewellery Oldham: Unit 24, Town Square, Spindles Shopping Centre, OL1 1XF
H&T Pawnbrokers Stockport: 109 Princes Street, SK1 1RW
Discount Secondhand Jewellery Salford: 70 Fitzgerald Way, Salford Shopping Centre, M6 5HW
Discount Secondhand Jewellery Hyde: Unit 5, The Mall, Clarendon Square Shopping Centre, SK14 2QT
H&T Pawnbrokers Stretford: Unit 44, Brody Street Mall, Stretford Mall Shopping Centre, M32 9BB
H&T Pawnbrokers Wythenshawe: Unit 1D, Hale Top, Civic Centre, M22 5RN

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 21.30.41

Festival fun this summer


Summer time is festival time

Summer time fun

Summer may feel like a lifetime away, but festival season is just around the corner and so are the biggest events on the music calendar! Whether you’re more George Ezra or George Fitgerald, there’s an event to suit every festivalgoer. From idyllic beachside settings to pumping party arenas, now is the time to plan your summer escape.

Exit festival

Exit festival

7 – 14 July 2015, Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia

WHY GO: Starting as a student protest fighting for political change and freedom EXIT continues to spread the good vibes in the Historic fortress overlooking the river Danube with a host of different stages connected by cobbled streets, ramparts and tunnels, with something for music lovers of all genres.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Adam Beyer B2B Joseph Capriati, Chris Liebing, Clean Bandit, Catz ‘n’ Dogz, Dixon, Faithless, Eagles of Death Metal, Fear Factory, Hardwell, Hannah Wants, Kill the Buzz, Martin Garrix, MK, Motorhead, Nicole Moudaber, Octave One, Oliver Heldens, Roni Size Reprazent, Simian Mobile Disco, Tom Odell


16 – 18 July 2015, Jaz Beach, Budva, Montenegro

Sea Dance

Sea Dance

WHY GO: Winner of ‘Best Medium Sized Festival’ at this years European Festival Awards, this hot new festival delivers beach party vibes to the best electro beats on the Adriatic coast.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Bondax, FKJ Live, Prodigy, Rudimental, Sigma, Starslinger, TCT’s Wilkinson,and more!



17-19 July 2015, Salacgriva, Latvia

Positivus festival

Positivus festival

WHY GO: Taking place in the picturesque coastal town of Salacgriva, Positivus transports chart topping headliners, underground emerging talent and exciting art and dance stages to their unspoiled holiday location surrounded by woodland.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Basement Jaxx, Charlie XCX, Jack Garratt, Jungle, Kate Boy, Placebo, Robert Plant & The Sensational Shapeshifters, SOAK, St. Vincent, Tom Odell


7-9 August 2015, Katowice, Poland

WHY GO: OFF Festival is a way of life, one that flies in the face of current

Off festival

Off festival

trends and stays true to itself and the organisers and crowd have one serious finger on the pulse when it comes to music. This is the place to discover the boldest and eclectic alternative acts from around the world.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Coals, Girl Band, Golden Teacher, Jacek Sienkiewicz, Kristen, Mick Harveyperforms the songs of Serge Gaisbourg, Patti Smith, Run the jewels, Ride, Sun O))), The Stubbs, Young Fathers


29-30 August 2015, Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands




WHY GO: Just a short distance from the city of Amsterdam, the world’s longest running dance music festival takes visitors on a creative journey, combining the finest electronic music with theatre, movies, interactive installation art, street performers and spectacular shows.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Apollonia, Alesso, Dave Clarke, Dubfire, Hercules & Love Affair, Jeff Mills, Joris Voorn, Martin Garrix, Maya Jane Coles, Porter Robinson, STERAC, Ten Walls


11-13 September 2015, Marrakech, Morocco

Oasis festival

Oasis festival

WHY GO: Oasis is set to put Marrakech on the festival map with its inaugural event this summer! Set in the idyllic surroundings of the Fellah Hotel, festivalgoers will have ample opportunity to explore the city’s rich culture, soak up the Moroccan sun and enjoy a cutting-edge soundtrack supplied by some of the most innovative, forward-thinking artists of the moment.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Adriatique, Agoria, Ame, Axel Bowman, BLOND:ISH, Chloe B2B Michael Mayer, Danny Daze, Derrick Carter, DJ Harvey, Guy Gerber B2B Matthew Dear, MANIK, Will Saul


14-18 October 2015, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam Dance Event

Amsterdam Dance Event

WHY GO: The Amsterdam Dance Event celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, taking over the beautiful city of Amsterdam for 5 whole days and nights of electronic music. The biggest club festival in the world, ADE showcases more than 2000 international DJs, spinning everything from house and techno to bass and dubstep or trance and disco, making it the ultimate electronic music experience.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Over 2000 international DJs, from the biggest stars of the scene to the up-and-coming heroes of the underground. 20th anniversary line-up coming soon!

Happy Summer

Happy Summer

Visit Turkey in style with the kids this summer

Families with children under five who have struggled to find a luxury tot-friendly resort in Turkey are now in luck, thanks to award-winning baby-and toddler-friendly holiday company, Tots To Travel.

Travel in luxury with your tots this year...

Travel in luxury with your tots this year…

Working in partnership with five-star multi award-winning Hillside Beachclub in Fethiye, Tots to Travel has expanded its exceptional villa and resort portfolio into Turkey for the very first time.

Using their expertise in creating tailored family holidays, Tots to Travel has helped create a range of extra benefits at this beautiful resort designed to make travelling with little ones a joy.

Because safety and luxury can go hand-in-hand, the family-friendly company has selected only the most appropriate accommodation best suited to very young

Family room with terrace

Family room with terrace

children: balconies, access, window security will all have been checked in person. Rooms are carefully chosen so that there is a separate living space allowing adults to unwind when the kids have gone to bed.

To save on parents’ much needed luggage allowance and reduce the stress of packing, Tots to Travel’s Essential Kit Guarantee has been introduced. This ensures all key baby provisions – from Blackout blinds to cots, hand blender to high chair – is provided on site. A Tots Toy Hamper has been added into all rooms, filled with age-appropriate toys for the under-fives.

Wendy Shand, Founder of Tots To Travel said: ‘We’re thrilled to extend our portfolio out to Turkey, at such a stunning and popular destination that offers the height of luxury. Our aim, as with all our villas and resorts, is to take as many of the stresses away from parents when going on holiday while not compromising on quality. This enables families peace of mind so they can relax and enjoy time together and takes the pressure off pre-holiday packing: so much of what you would normally take is already waiting for you!’

Hillside Beach Club has long been a favourite destination with families who have younger children over four. The choice of room type, range of restaurants, pools,

Kidside - Kids club for children aged 4 -7 years

Kidside – Kids club for children aged 4 -7 years

three private beaches, spa and wellness centre – even a floating cinema and a kids club – have made it a clear choice for families year after year. Wendy continues:‘we are the only company that have designed this offering at Hillside Beach Club for our youngest customers, at no extra cost. We know it’s going to be popular!’

Tots To Travel will be featuring three room types at Hillside Beach Club. The Hillside Family Suite with Terrace, which sleeps four in two bedrooms, plus one infant in a cot, starts at £1842pw. The Hillside Family Room with Terrace sleeps two in one bedroom, plus an infant in a cot, starts at £1474pw. The Hillside Family Room sleeps two in one bedroom, plus an infant in a cot and starts at £1474pw. All prices are on a full-board basis. Flights are not included.

To book Hillside Beach Club, or any of the five-star resorts and villas in the Tots To Travel collection, visit: www.totstotravel.co.uk. Or call the team of family travel experts on: 0800 014 2770.

Peaceful protest scheduled against Trafford budget cuts – make your voice heard

A group of Trafford residents opposed to the Council’s proposed £24m budget cuts are holding a peaceful protest outside Trafford Town Hall at 6pm on Wednesday 18th February to coincide with the full budget meeting that evening.

Trafford Town Hall

Trafford Town Hall

Steven Lavery, from the group ‘Trafford Residents Against Cuts’ said: “This is crunch time for saving many vital public services and the voice of residents really does count. We have just seen the Council back down on their decision to cut some school crossing patrols, thanks to pressure from protesting parents. We need as many residents to show their support before we lose our children’s centres, disability services and more.

“We know that there are many people who want to voice their opposition but won’t be able to get to the Town Hall for the protest. You can still have a voice by joining our mass tweet at 6pm that night. Follow us on Twitter @TraffordAction for more details.”

TRAC have also launched an opinion poll to find out whether residents would consider paying more Council Tax in order to save some services. Steven says: “We know Council Tax is unpopular but £2 per household per week could put a real dent in the planned cuts. We’d love to know what residents think.”

Trafford Residents Against Cuts

Trafford Residents Against Cuts

Link to council tax opinion poll –                                                                           – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Trafford_Council_Tax

A Trafford service user is taking Trafford Council to court over the lack of choice offered to residents in the planned adult social care cuts. The Court Case will be heard on Monday 16th February at 10am at the Civil justice centre, Bridge Street, Manchester. Residents are welcome to attend.

TRAC have already handed a more than 2,000 signature strong ‘Save our Services’ petition to the Council. It is still open for anyone wanting to add their signature at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/tmbc-save-our-services


So it would appear that the UK has taken Amazon to heart, we have a love/hate relationship with Facebook and political parties get the ‘hate’ vote.


Amazon – Internet Retail Giant we ApPear to Love

London ad agency, isobel, has conducted some timely research to establish the UK’s most loved (and unloved…) brands.

The survey, conducted in association with OnePoll, polled 1500 UK consumers (18+ and nationally representative), asking them to identify brands against a number of ‘love’ characteristics. The survey also asked respondents to identify those brands, if any, they hated.

Heinz - nation favourite

Heinz – nation favourite

Surprisingly, Amazon, the internet retail giant, is the UK’s most-loved brand polling almost half of the votes (48%); the next three places are taken by food stalwarts Cadbury, Walkers and Heinz with BBC1 demonstrating national affection in 5th.

The rest of the top 10 is occupied by Google (6th), Kellogg’s (7th), retailers Boots and Tesco (8th and 9th respectively) with ITV, the UK’s oldest commercial network, taking 10th spot.

Commenting on the Top 10, Paul Houlding, Managing Partner, isobel said:

“It would seem that longevity works wonders for most. All, bar two of the top 10, predate the 1960’s – with top honours going to Cadbury (1824). Affection, it seems, has been hard won. But it’s not just about affection, it’s about relevance and usefulness and what better proof of that formula than Amazon and Google. Brands that are useful to us, brands that make our lives easier, brands that do what they promise. The question is, can they keep it up? 170 years from now will they have been as resilient as Cadbury?”

With a general election less than three months away the UK’s political parties are firmly under the spotlight and keen to curry favour with the electorate.

However, the isobel Brand Love survey has revealed that the main political parties are amongst the most-hated brands in the UK.

UKIP, the controversial independent party, has been identified as the UK’s most hated brand polling almost one-third of the votes (30%) – closely followed by the Tories in 2nd place (27%) with Labour in 5th and the Lib Dems 6th.

The Top 10 ‘unloved’ brand list is completed by Marmite (3rd), Ryanair (4th), McDonalds (7th) and Starbucks (8th) with Facebook and KFC taking the last two

Love it or hate it?

Love it or hate it?


“It will come as no shock to anyone (least of all the politicians themselves) that the political parties are all in the same unloved boat” says Paul Houlding “but will it concern them? When it comes to polling day are we voting for the party we love or are we voting for the party of most use?”

Are we beginning to fall out of love with Facebook and Twitter?

The research has revealed that the UK has a love/hate relationship with Facebook, the social media giant.

The site, that has over 1 billion active users, polled 27% of the votes to take 15th place in the love stakes but also hit the hate highs with a top 10 ‘hate’ ranking of 9th.

Twitter has also failed to impress in the love stakes polling only 11% of the votes in 65th – one place ahead of Vodafone and two behind NatWest.

Paul Houlding said: “Social media changes by the second and consequently so does our relationship with it. Facebook, the one time newbie, is now the granddaddy. And there is the suggestion that we’re suffering from Facebook fatigue. Is it as exciting? Do I still need it or want it? And with cyberbullying and privacy issues an ongoing concern – perhaps it’s a social media platform we’re beginning to fall out of love with?”

Key findings:

· Gender divide: men vote for Walkers, women for Cadbury.

· Aldi makes the top 20

· BA takes top airline love honours with easyjet in 2nd – beating Virgin Atlantic in 3rd. Ryanair fails to show the love.

· Audi voted the UK’s most-loved car brand.

· Apple, which consistently tops consumer polls, disappoints in 35th place.

· Nationwide is the most-loved financial institution (44th) – one place behind Persil.


1 Amazon

2 Cadbury

3 Walkers

4 Heinz

5 BBC1

6 Google

7 Kellogg’s

8 Boots

9 Tesco

10 ITV



2 Conservatives

3 Marmite

4 Ryanair

5 Labour

6 LibDems

7 McDonalds

8 Starbucks

9 Facebook

10 KFC


Manchester features in New York Times travel list

The New York Times has singled out Manchester as the only UK entry in its highly-esteemed annual list of Places to Go 2015.


Manchester skyline

The city ranks number 26 out of 52 destinations that the publication considers to be most worthy of travel from the United States. The list is an eclectic combination of lesser-known places as well as those that offer a new reason to visit in 2015.

The Whitworth

The Whitworth

Citing ‘a flurry of cultural openings’ including the Whitworth, HOME and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, the city’s listing suggests that 2015 will be the year that Manchester ‘shows off its sophisticated side’. It also acknowledges the significant number of unique hotels getting ready to open, most notably Hotel Football.

Commenting on the announcement Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of tourism at Marketing Manchester, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see Manchester being recognised in this way, in what is set to be an exceptional year for cultural tourism. Marketing Manchester has been courting the US market through promotional activities and campaigns for many years so this is a real coup and we hope that it will inspire a new wave of travellers to discover the city.

“In addition to the culturally significant moments described in the listing, Manchester will also enjoy landmark events including the fifth Manchester International Festival, Manchester Pride’s 25th anniversary and a leg of the Rugby World Cup. It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Manchester Arena which Billboard magazine recently recognised as the third busiest music venue in the world.”

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a fantastic

Hotel football taking shape

Hotel football under construction

accolade for Manchester. The combination of sporting, cultural and historical highlights taking place this year ensures that 2015 is set to be exceptional for this northern city. This is certainly reflected in the visitor figures as Manchester is the UK’s 3rd most visited city for international visitors (after London and Edinburgh) and received almost a million visitors (988,000) in 2013.”

A flurry of cultural openings fills the 2015 calendar of this now edgy city, beginning with the completion of the Whitworth, a ₤15-million renovation and expansion of the former Whitworth Art Gallery into its adjoining park with an art garden and sculpture terraces in February. In the spring, the ₤25 million HOME, a film center and theater, will open. Last fall, the Regency-style former home of the 19th-century writer Elizabeth Gaskell, known to her publisher, Charles Dickens, as “Scheherazade,” opened as a visitor attraction. But it’s not all high culture. This soccer stronghold will be home to Hotel Football, opening in March next to the Old Trafford stadium. The hotel, backed by five former Manchester United players, is one of four new boutiques in the pipeline.

To view the list of ’52 places to go in 2015′ click here :)

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