Wanted – Superheroes for special hounds…

Could you be a superhero to a special hound? ‘Super fosterers’ are being sought by a rescue charity in an innovative scheme to give some of the dogs in its care ‘that little bit extra’ while they wait for their forever homes.

GRW+Murphy

Greyhound Rescue Wales is looking for the right people to help rehabilitate a handful of hounds in a three-month pilot project. The scheme is a unique opportunity to learn excellent dog training and behaviour skills, with full support from the organisation’s team of experts. Fosterers will gain an invaluable insight from GRW’s Behaviour and Training Consultant during phone calls and Skype sessions and will follow weekly training schedules to help bring out the best in each dog. And for the three-month period, fosterers will receive a small daily allowance of up to £10, in addition to ongoing food and vet fees.

Greyhound Rescue Wales re-homes around 300 ex-racing greyhounds – some of whom are badly injured or have been ill-treated – and lurchers each year. Many find their forever homes soon after coming into the charity’s care but some, through no fault of their own, are overlooked by prospective adopters. Their particular needs have been caused by mistreatment, poor socialisation or a high prey drive, yet spending time in the right foster home is more likely to lead to a successful adoption

Dog Behaviour and Training Consultant Kerry Sands said: “Super fosterers will need a basic grounding in positive, force-free dog training methods and be prepared to follow a pre-designed training plan to help the individual hound learn about life in a home. Sighthound experience is not essential, but fosterers will need to be calm, confident, adaptable and resilient to the ups and downs of rehabilitating dogs with specials needs and/or challenging behaviour.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone wishing to boost their dog training skills and to improve the lives of these wonderful hounds, who have been overlooked by prospective adopters through no fault of their own.”

To find out more about becoming a super fosterer, please contact Kerry on 07980 853672, email superfoster@greyhoundrescuewales.co.uk or visit www.greyhoundrescuewales.co.uk.
The dogs:

Wilson
Wonderful Wilson, a six-year-old black greyhound, is a dog trainer’s dream. Smart, motivated and sociable, he loves to be in on the action and is happy when he has problems to solve! He responds well to impulse control training and this would need to be continued in his foster home. Wilson needs to be in a home with adults or adults and teenagers.

Murphy
Marvellous Murphy, five, is another beautiful black hound with a calm and gentle nature. He is a fabulous assistant to GRW staff and volunteers when it comes to training other dogs, often acting as a ‘stooge’ to help moderate reactive behaviour. He would be best placed in a home with children over 10 and ideally with another medium or large dog.

Cooper
Super Cooper, a black lurcher, is thought to be about five and is a big hit with staff and volunteers at GRW’s Hillcrest sanctuary – in fact, he’s even had ‘Cooper’s Field’ named after him! Smart, happy and eager to learn, he’s a dream companion for anyone learning about dog training and behaviour. In need of a slow training pace with a gradual introduction to life in a home, he needs to live without children or cats but gets along well with other dogs.

Sasha
Sassy Sasha, approximately four, is a three-legged lurcher following an early-life amputation. Her breeding is not quite known, although she shows some terrier traits! Sasha can be quite reactive to other dogs and needs an experienced and confident home, probably with no children, where her fosterer will be rewarded with lots of fun and her big personality!

Fern
Fabulous Fern, also thought to be about four, is a sweet and lively lurcher although, due to possible abuse and neglect in her early life, she can be cautious and hand-shy. She responds well to a calm and consistent environment and to boundaries, proving she is smart and quick to learn. She would fare best in a home without other dogs but would possibly be fine with calm teenagers.

 

Pokemon insurance now available…

Not wanting to miss out on the recent Pokemon Go craze sweeping the world, one canny insurance company have launched what they are calling ‘the world’s first Pokédex insurance’, in response to the growing popularity of the new Pokémon Go game.

Unknown-1

No Caption needed…

The British firm, Row which advertises the cover, making references to the Japanese television show launched in 1997, reads “taking up the challenge of becoming a Pokémon Go trainer and becoming the very best like no one ever was is undoubtedly important, but don’t forget to defend your Pokédex (mobile phone) with the UK’s top rated specialist insurance provider to keep you playing the game without interruption”

With reports of the augmented reality game having 5.9m daily users, more than Twitter (4.06m), Pokémon Go has become a phenomenal overnight success.

images

90’s classic with a 2016 twist

During the game players explore the real world using their phone’s GPS and camera to catch virtual monsters. Once caught, Pokémon are added to the player’s Pokédex – a handheld gadget that resembles a mobile phone. Players, known in the game as trainers, must catch as many as possible while levelling up by making use of their Pokémon’s unique skills during battles at local ‘gyms’.

So far so good, right. Below is where it gets interesting – [excerpt from press release]

“Many players have been injured while playing the game, been mugged at secluded Pokéstops, found dead bodies while searching for the Pokémon and even been shot at!
The large use of the game will also undoubtedly lead to more phones being dropped, an increase on the 90% of people who drop their phone at least once a month, according to a survey by phone case manufacturer Tech21.

The same survey states that for 38% of people the biggest stress factor of a broken phone is paying for the repair. Luckily, Row’s new Pokédex insurance covers accidental damage, including cracked screens, plus liquid damage and mechanical faults. In the event of theft or loss, the firm boasts they aim to get a replacement phone to your door within 24 hours of the claim being accepted so you can keep catching Pokémon and winning gym badges!”

So there you have it – rather than protecting your Pokemon from being stolen or securing your account from being hacked as the headline would have you believe, they have simply rebranded their existing accidental damage/theft policy to attract a whole new clientele of Paranoid Poke Hunters.

Wonder what we’ll see next, perhaps a ‘PokeSim’ offering unlimited data just in time for the summer hols, or maybe ‘PokePancakes’ –  after all I was one of the parents duped into buying numerous packs of *Tubby Toast back in the the 90s when my eldest was a toddler and the Teletubbies phenomenon was in full effect.

If you’ve seen any Pokemon related PR campaigns that have made you chuckle or shake your head in despair get in touch, I’d love to hear from you🙂

*  For clarity – Tubby Toast is a round piece of toast with a smiley face on it. Tubby Toast is made from Tubby Bread, and It is one of the Teletubbies’ favorite foods. The Teletubbies make Tubby Toast from the Tubby Toaster. Tubby Toast has also had some fun incidents, the Tubby Toast once made too much Tubby Toast in the Tubby Toast Accident, there was once a Tubby Toast Tower and the Tubby Toaster once made a very big piece of Tubby Toast. The Tubby Toaster made a Tubby Toast Pattern on the Tubby Table. Once, Tinky-Winky made lots of Tubby Toast and put it in his bag. But all the Tubby Toast burst out all over Teletubbyland. The Teletubbies love Tubby Toast……

 

2015 in review

It has been a very busy year – now on to 2016…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Year – New Notebook…

As 2015 comes to an end it can only mean one thing for stationery addicts across the world, time to source new stationery for the new year – including a diary, calendar, note books, useful sticky pads, pens and various other writing paraphernalia. Being super organised (and slightly neurotic) I have already started my New Year Collection n thought I would share my finds with you🙂

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A few faves from Blueprint Collections

I would like to start with a special mention for a very special stationery company – Blueprint Collections. These guys are responsible for some of the super stylish stationery found in John Lewis, Tesco, Primark, Sainsburys, Waterstones, Claires Accessories and many other high street shops.

Always bang on trend, Blueprint Collections really do have something for everyone – their designer, teen and kids stationery sets feature some very well known characters and I have collected quite a few already🙂

One of my all time favourite characters is Wally from the infamous ‘Where’s Wally‘ series and I was beyond delighted to find that he had his very own stationery set, complete with super cute post-it notes and ‘to-do’ list pad (both of which I seem to use a lot of…)

Add to this a cardboard backed A5 pad with a ‘Where’s Wally’ insert and you really do have everything needed to see you into 2016 at work/college/school, including a way to procrastinate away the hours as you convince your work/classmates that they really must help you find Wally before work can commence…..

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Just in time for the Peanuts movie, Blueprint have also released a fantastic range of Snoopy inspired products, each one totally adorable and no doubt much sought after by Peanuts fans, old and young alike. I love the quality of the A5 notebook, and the fact it has a cute cartoon on each page, it makes note taking fun – especially when written using a matching Peanut pen complete with Snoopy charm🙂

 

Other notable stationery in the last Blueprint collection are the ‘old-fashioned’ Coca Cola pieces, my 13-year-old son was well impressed with

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Coke – a timeless classic

the ‘essential’ set that includes a wooden ruler and other trendy items, so much so that I haven’t seen it since he spotted it and he’s now requested a matching bag for school.

My personal all time favourite collection has to be the designer range. I love notebooks, especially really pretty yet functional notebooks with decent quality paper. Yet again, Blueprint don’t disappoint and their Kirstie Allsopp A4 hardback notebook is the business.

As some of you may know, I have a brand new and very exciting project in the pipeline for next year – having secured some funding, I’m launching a hyper-community magazine and am currently up

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My all time fave – Kirstie Allsopp notebook

to my eyes with flat plans and page layout plans. I’ve dedicated my Kirstie Allsopp notebook to the cause and am finding it the perfect place to keep all my ideas together and it looks really smart when I’m going to meetings and other ‘grown-up’ stuff🙂

I have already had a sneak peek at what the guys at Blueprint have planned for 2016 and have my eye on a few goodies – look out for collections from The Gruffalo, Peppa Pig, Designers Guild and Trolls (a real blast from the past and top of my wish list).

I have ordered my 2016 diary from Siratt – it’s an Islamic Lifebook and is full of tips and reminders on how to get the most from your year; after buying my first one last year and finding it really useful I’m hooked. Sadly the Lifebook hasn’t arrived yet so I can’t offer a review yet (watch this space).

If  you’ve got a favourite piece of stationery, recommendation or are a lifelong Troll fan give me a shout – always good to hear from fellow #StationerySistas 

Pop over n have a look at Blueprint Collections on Twitter – tell them I said hey :) @BlueprintColl

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Hot Hair – why being grey no longer means having dull hair

My #review of @whitehothair and why being grey no longer means having dull hair . #HairCare

Books have feelings too

As a self-confessed bookworm and stationery addict I’m always on the look out for unusual and quirky ‘bookish things’, collecting them as some women amass shoes, and with the same ‘you can never have enough’ excitement.

page corners

Stylish and practical

My favourite has to be a good bookmark and I can often be found in the Manchester branch of Waterstones picking up the latest bestseller, browsing for new additions for my collection and having a cheeky brew. It was following my most recent visit that I discovered the absolute gem known as a Page Corner Bookmark🙂

If, like me you are guilty of folding down the corner of the page when you’re reading, this bookmark offers the perfect solution. It gives the illusion of a folded page while saving both your place and, more importantly, the precious book corners from damage.

bookmark 1

no more bent corners

 

Page Corner Bookmarks come in an assortment of designs, each beautifully finished and embossed with different text. The packaging is trendy yet vintage and would appeal to bookworms old and young alike, making this bookmark an ideal stocking filler for the bibliophile in your life .

Created by an innovative team called ‘that company called if‘ the bookmarks are available to buy in branches of WHSmith’s and Waterstones. Bookworms in the Emerald Isle can find them in selected WHSmith’s stores and Eason’s in Ireland and N. Ireland.

bookmark 2

 

#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

Saturday.

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

Seriously?

Seriously?

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😉

Helloooo

Helloooo

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.

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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….

WHAT’S IT REALLY LIKE BEING BRITISH AND MUSLIM IN 2015?

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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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