Europe-bound for charity car rally

SISTERS Bella Forster and Sarah Bogart have teamed up with friend Kelly Johnson for the fund-raising adventure of a lifetime across Europe.

They are taking part in The Crumball Rally, a three day annual event where they will be driving from France to Prague in a customised Peugeot 206.

The race is called Mission Impossible, covers 1500 miles and passes through Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany.

mission route map

Raising money for three different charities, the artwork on the car reflects this with the creative colours and design.

Bella, 34, who lives on Chepstow Avenue, Sale said: “I support MIND and chose the jigsaw piece to symbolise how puzzling mental health can be. Sarah’s supporting Cancer Research with the pink bodywork whilst the blue represents Kelly’s choice of charity, The Alzheimer’s Society.

rally pic

They have already raised over £700 and have had lots of support from local business owners including J.Davidsons Scrap Metal Processors in Broadheath donating the car and a full tank of petrol whilst Quayside Bakery, Eccles are supplying them with bread and doughnuts for the journey as well as making a generous £300 cash donation.

The donated Peugeot 206 has a fabulous spray job, done by Sarah, 30 and the clutch has been fitted by mechanic student Kelly, 29.

carpic

The trio, who have six children between them, are eager to raise as much cash and awareness for their chosen charities as possible and welcome all donations, as well as advertising space on their car for business owners wanting to support the cause.

For more information, or to make a donation please contact Bella on 07825 642870 or email bellaforster@hotmail.co.uk

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A morning with the police…

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Have you ever wondered what the police do behind the scenes or how they prioritise issues in your area?

Greater Manchester Police recently began a new initiative where members of the public could  go out on the beat and share the experience via social media, as community reporter.

I decided to apply as I was intrigued as to what the role of police officer in my local area (Sale West) would be and how they play their part in keeping our community safe and crime free.

The first community reporter, Harriet Blake, went out with the police in Chorlton and shared her experiences via Youtube and a blog post on Netmums.

As you can see Harriet really got behind the scenes, had a camera crew, attended a team brief and also met with Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

I was very excited and a little nervous when I received an email in April telling me I had been successful and a date would be made for me to go out with local police.

After a long wait I finally got an email asking me to be at Altrincham Police Station on Wednesday June 19 at noon and also to sign and return the disclaimer, indemnity and other related documents attached.

It was at this point that I began to realise that my experience was not going to be at all like the one portrayed by Harriet.

No camera crew for me, no team brief and certainly no meeting with the Deputy Chief Constable.

Arriving at Altrincham Police Station around 11.30am, I was greeted by the officer on the desk who then went to find out who was expecting me. Having no name as reference this took a while.Eventually I was informed that someone had forgotten to pass the information on regarding my visit and they couldn’t actually accommodate me that afternoon.

The officers that I spoke to had not heard of the community reporter role and I had to explain why I wanted to go out with them also, why I had specifically asked for Sale West.

I explained that the role of community reporter was something the police had initiated and that I was to share my experience on social media. I clarified the choice of area by pointing out that I am co-founder of SaleWestVoice and, having recently shared my experience of visiting the cctv office covering Sale West it seemed a logical choice.

We rearranged for Friday June 21 at 10am and I was assured that I would accompany an officer in and around Sale West, perhaps focussing on fly tipping and bike crime as they are among the current issues faced.

Friday morning was crisp and bright as I once again set off for the police station, this time I was indeed met by an officer who was to take me out on patrol around Sale West and discuss what the police are doing to keep us safe.

We set off towards Sale and were soon on the estate where we drove around as the officer explained that he was looking for suspicious vehicles or anything else untoward as is part of the daily routine.

I am happy to say that there were no suspicious vehicles and all was peaceful and quiet.

Whilst we were on patrol in the car a motorist flagged us down to say that she had seen a man acting suspiciously nearby. After taking a description of the male and the reason for her concern the officer thanked her and went to look for him.

I asked on what grounds would he stop the man, should we find him and he explained that whilst the police can not stop anyone without a valid reason, the fact that he had been reported as acting suspicious was reason enough and, if found, the man would be stopped and possibly searched.

We did not find the man and nothing else was reported whilst we were out, other than an older resident expressing his concerns about the speed some people drive down Firsway which, I have to agree, is a valid point.

The officer and I discussed the fact that bike theft is a problem and he advised me that anyone who owns a bike can register it online with immobilise.com. If your bike is then stolen you have a much greater chance at getting it back, when it is unregistered it can be harder, sometimes even impossible to match it back with the rightful owner.

Registering only takes a few minutes and could save you a lot of hassle, not to mention cash. You can also register other gadgets on the site, click on the link above for more details.

Addressing fly tipping is an ongoing issue and there are many incidents of it taking place in and around Sale West. Not only is it an eyesore and a blight on the community as a whole, it is also an offence which can lead to a fine or imprisonment.

Fly tipping can be reported via the council website, and they have a rapid response unit available in all areas to deal with rubbish dumped on council land. As much of the rubbish is actually left on Irwell Valley land this can become an issue and should be reported to them directly.

The officer that took me on patrol was very professional and was happy to offer general advice on crime and communities. He pointed out that the key to low crime includes a strong community where everyone pulls together, having respect for each other as well as the immediate environment.

We finished our patrol just after lunch time and returned to Altrincham station, marking the end of my time on the beat….

I wish I could share more about what goes on behind the scenes, or what future plans the police have for Sale West. The fact is I can’t because I just don’t know. Whilst my time out with the police was interesting and totally different to my usual Friday morning, it wasn’t quite what I had imagined.

police info

On a brighter note there is lots of useful information on display at the station, here are some links that you may find useful:

  • INTERNET FRAUD AND SCAMS…If you have been affected by a fraudster or online scam you can report it to Action Fraud 24 hours a day, seven days a week on action fraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 1232 040. The website also lists a handy A-Z of different fraud types as well as their Top Tips to protect yourself from fraud.
  • DATA PROTECTION ACT 1998…The ACT covers personal information from which an individual may be identified. The information may be held on computers, other applications which process information automatically, paper records and other media, such as video and cctv. The police use personal information for a variety of purposes. In addition to holding personal information for the prevention and detection of crime, apprehending and prosecuting offenders, public safety, maintaining criminal record disposal histories and investigative and intelligence purposes.This information may be shared with other agencies and individuals, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REQUEST ACCESS TO ANY INFORMATION THAT YOU BELIEVE THE FORCE MAY HOLD ABOUT YOU AND TO BE TOLD WHAT IT IS TO BE USED FOR. To request this information simply visit THIS PAGE and download the application form, returning it to the address shown.
  • VIOLENCE…If you, or someone you know is at risk of violence from a partner YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK about an individual who you think may have a violent past. “Claire’s Law’ can be used by anyone and is a new scheme to protect victims of domestic violence. For more information on requesting a disclosure under this scheme visit gmp.police.uk or endthefear.co.uk.

On a final note, much of the intelligence the police rely on comes via CRIMESTOPPERS. They are also available on 0800 555 111 and any information can be given anonymously…..

Pic of police emblem with thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/jza84/ via creative commons.:)

Parenting woes and stubbed toes…

girl smoking

“Schizoid behavior is a pretty common thing in children. It’s accepted, because all we adults have this unspoken agreement that children are lunatics.”    ― Stephen King

Remember the days before you had children?
The days of late nights for social reasons, late mornings for sleep catch-up purposes and being able to go to a party/holiday/shopping trip on a total whim – often catching a ‘last minute bargain’
This was the period of your life known as B.C….Before Children.
However, if, like me, you have entered the ‘other’ part of existence known as W.C…..With Children, no pun intended, life is probably rather different:
The dark days of late nights due to baby/child/teenager being sick/stubbing toe and demanding attention. Early mornings every morning as the kids seem to work on a time zone similar to that of Narnia. Never being able to go anywhere on a whim. Ever. This is also closely linked with supermarket meltdowns and getting fleeced for term friendly holidays.
kid superman
Here are some situations that I am sure fellow W.C survivors will relate to, some more than others….
1. You know the name of every Skylander ever created but can’t remember where you put your door keys…again.
2. You try to pay for your shopping at the corner shop and find 3 buttons, 1 stone, a fluffy sweet and an elastic band in the pocket where your money used to be.
3. The only similarity your life has with that of a rock star is the group of whining ‘groupies’ that follow you everywhere you go chanting your name….think Stewie.
4. Your social life starts to resemble that of a very old nun. A very old anti-social nun. In fact you begin to suspect that said nun actually has a better social life.
5. On more than one occasion you have climbed into bed after a hard days parenting, only to find that one of your little darlings has beaten you to it, done a wee and then got back in their cosy dry bed…..true story.
6. Having a shower becomes a family event with the kids in and out wanting a poo, help with a shoe lace or other urgent ‘problem’ that needs immediate action.
7. Helping the kids with their homework consists of opening multiple google search windows and bribery on a massive scale.
8. Holiday priorities change from ‘great beach and stunning vista’ to ‘kids clubs and babysitting facilities’.
9. You start to sound more like your mum than she ever did…
10. You arrive at work in your slippers, very scary hair and last night’s bolognese on your shirt…and it’s only Monday.
 If you have yet to experience the joy of parenthood, please don’t let me put you off, you might be one of the lucky ones that gets a text book child that is well behaved and polite…If on the other hand you have already had children and know the odds of actually being blessed with text book kid are less than 0.01 I salute you, feel free to add to the list if you feel I have missed something;)
naughty kids
Photo credits:
Girl smoking with kind permission of  peagreengirl via Flickr/CreativeCommons.
Superman baby courtesy of simosmme via Flickr/CreativeCommons.
Naughty cupboard thanks to lucyfrench123 via Flickr/CreativeCommons.

Five reasons you should go travelling…

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When I was a child holidays abroad were something other families did whilst we spent wet weeks in Wales, often camping.My first trip out of Britain was to Jersey where, aged 21 I got a small taste of life beyond the shores of the UK.It did more than whet my appetite and I have in the years that followed been to many amazing places around the world.

Learning something new about myself and the world on my travels, I have fantastic memories of souks in Dubai, lunch in Monte Carlo, shopping in Nice and meeting Mary Poppins at Euro Disney.Taking the children with us on many trips abroad has also opened their minds to different cultures and instilled in them the urge to spread their own wings when they are older.

Dubai

The benefits of travelling are vast and the reasons numerous…here are my top five reasons you should go travelling today.

1. To connect with other cultures.

There is much to be said for getting down with the locals in another country.They will show you the true beauty of their culture, be it with traditional homemade dishes or giving you a heads up on the best place to get a bargain.Be prepared to have misconceptions blown out of the water as you see for yourself the reality of life in another country, it is often not what you would expect.

2. The sense of achievement.

The feeling of managing and planning a journey into the unknown is great, especially when it is a success.In all our travels we have yet to have a ( major ) mishap and a little forward thinking goes a long way.The confidence boost of getting to your destination without losing a child or your luggage alone is worth the effort.

3. To take a break.

They say a change is as good as a rest and never is this more true than when travelling.The time out is sure to charge weary batteries and force even the busiest person to slow down.

4. See something new.

There is a whole world out there waiting to be explored and never before has travel been so accessible.Flights are available to many far flung destinations and can be very reasonably priced, especially when booked in advance.Who knows, you may come back inspired to make a change or at the very least will see life in a different way.

5. To learn.

You are never too old to learn something new, from a different language to cooking an exotic dish. You can always learn about yourself too and what better classroom than on location in an interesting part of the world.

The bottom line is travelling is good.Young, old and everyone in between can benefit from a break in routine and a journey to somewhere new and exciting.

Where are you planning on visiting next? Me, well Italy has great pasta and I love a good lasagne so who knows…..

trunki

Photo credits:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/summonedbyfells/ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dubai_night_skyline.jpg and http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trunki_1.jpg   via Creative commons

Does the Kindle spell the end for books in print?

books         kindle n books

As a dedicated bookworm, I recently faced a very difficult question, the choice between downloading a new book on my Kindle or purchasing the print edition instead.

Whilst pondering this serious matter I took to Twitter to see what my fellow bibliophiles thought I should do, and also their preference when it came to such decisions.I was pleasantly surprised by the response and the reassurance that whilst the Kindle does has a role to play, it will never take the place of printed books.

Here are a few of the points raised that will hopefully convince you too…

1. BOOK SIGNINGS… I have, on some occasions enjoyed a book so much that I have wanted to get my copy signed by the author themselves, in person. This involves attending a book signing which is an event that every serious bookworm should take part in, at least once in their lifetime. Aside from the obvious pleasure of meeting said author, I have found many a kindred spirit in the rainy queue outside a book shop and, after sharing hours of bookish banter we have then become firm friends.Obviously the Kindle fails on this one, the first and last time I asked an author to sign my digital copy ended badly, with a situation involving an angry crowd and me crawling on the floor hunting for the end off my stylus.

2. SPINE APPEAL… Books look great. The vast array of covers, size and style of printed books are an absolute feast for the eyes and my bookshelf takes pride of place at home.This doesn’t mean that all my books live on the designated shelves, they are scattered all over the place – from the coffee table to the kitchen side, each seeking to draw me in at any opportunity. The Kindle however is not quite as alluring, even with a smart case and matching cleaning cloth.Granted, it currently has over 100 books ready to be read and a shiny colour screen but it just does not tempt me in the same way a book does.Books, particularly new books smell good too…I have been asked to leave many a bookshop for sniffing my way around the fiction aisle whilst sighing contentedly.

3. WEIGHT ISSUES… This is a recurring problem amongst those of us that like to travel and read more than one book at a time.It was the only reason I recently bought a Kindle in fact, shortly after the overweight baggage debacle I created last time we went abroad.The same one that saw me sobbing in the airport as I debated whether to leave my clothes rather than any of the eight books I needed to read on our three day mini break…..

4. STORAGE… I am ashamed to admit that I have boxes in the garage crammed full of books, hundreds of books.Unable to fit any more in the house but unable to part with any of them, I have amassed a collection that would rival my local library and that has caused more than one domestic dispute, my hubby just does not understand why I need to keep a box full of Enid Blyton classics.This is not a problem for the Kindle.With storage capacity far beyond any garage, it wins hands down for space management and would make any minimalist happy.Print book lovers not so much…

In answer to my question, does the Kindle spell the end of books in print, I would have to conclude a resounding no.

Both can live in harmony, indeed my kindle is very happy on the bookshelf amongst my print classics and has always been a willing holiday companion when called upon.There will always be a demand for printed books and an audience ready to build a bigger garage if necessary.

Are you print loyal, Kindle crazy or enjoying the best of both worlds like me?

Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/  and also http://www.flickr.com/photos/robie06/  via creative commons  for pictures used:)

CCTV in Sale West……The Facts

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After months of speculation surrounding the cctv on Sale West I am pleased to say that we finally have some facts and figures that will hopefully reassure the residents that they are indeed being “looked after” by fully operational cameras and dedicated council staff.

I arrived at Stretford police station this morning just before 10.30am to meet with Colin Wright and be allowed unprecedented access to the cctv office, on the understanding that I would pass on what I learnt to the residents…:)

The office is a hub of activity within Stretford police station on Talbot Road.The station itself is rather grand and deceptively spacious once inside…(think Tardis).

Equipped with loads of technology including multiple screens, projected images, police radio and much more Colin and his colleague were more than happy to show me ALL of the cameras on Sale West and beyond working and recording in real time and with crystal clear images.

Here are some facts:

1.  The cctv does not have video analytic capacity. This means there is no facial recognition or cross referencing of faces from camera to camera.

2.  There is no audio capacity enabled on the cameras…..they can’t talk to you and they can’t hear you either:)

3.  The images captured by the cctv are recorded and are kept for 28 days. During this time the recordings can be requested by the police in order to detect and prevent crime. I can bear witness to this as two local officers called in to collect some footage whilst I was there today.

4.  All of the cameras can pan, tilt and zoom in. I was shown many of the cameras in action and can clarify that Magnolia, Chepstow (Community Garden) and the Community centre area are all covered, as is the rest of the estate.

5.  The cameras can see as well at night as they can during the day…I saw footage of Thirsk at night and can clarify that is was pretty clear…;)

6.  The cctv is connected by both wire and wifi….wired at source and sending signal back to the station.

7.  Whilst Colin is not originally from Sale it is apparent that he is very familiar with the area and is on the ball for matching cameras to locations etc. Other staff are local and also have a vested interest in the safety of everyone on Sale West.:)

8.  The cctv is manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week, even at Christmas……these guys have that many cameras they are sure to have caught Santa doing the rounds to all our well behaved children many a time…..:)

9.  Irwell Valley originally helped with the installation cost of the cctv on Sale West, with the balance funded by the council. Irwell Valley staff do not monitor the cameras and have no access to them, it is all viewed in house by the council staff that have full control over the cameras, in the police station.

10. Colin and his colleagues are responsible for over 100 cameras around Trafford and so this means that they are not always focused on Sale West. However, if they are alerted to something either by the police, public or simply spotting something on screen they can react quickly.

11.  Whilst the off road biking has been picked up by the cameras it is often a fleeting glimpse as they head towards the more covert areas not covered, alleys, some car parks etc.

However…Colin did show me a log of mini moto related incidents that has been complied from sightings, public calls and police reports. It is a priority and will continue to be so, they just can’t see all the cameras all the time….

If you have any concerns about specific problems such as fly tipping, persistent dog fouling, off road bikers ripping up the pavements etc you can always report it, anonymously.

The cctv office can be contacted on 0161 912 1111

Calls are in confidence and will be acted upon.

General information regarding cctv in Trafford can be found on the council website.

Image

Thanks to Colin for allowing me access to the previously unseen world of cctv, and for answering my many questions, some more sensible than others:)

Picture credits:

CCTV cartoon from Google via Creative Commons

Camera photo with kind permission of lydia_shiningbrightly via Creative Commons

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