Black Lives Do Matter But Is Your Donation Really Helping?

If you have donated to the Black Lives Matter cause in the past few weeks, chances are that you did so believing it would help end the racist, oppressive rhetoric that has been peddled for far too long, or perhaps go towards bailing someone out following an unfair arrest, but do you know where you your money is really going?

According to Wikipedia, Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international human rights movement, originating from within the African-American community, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police brutality and police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.


In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, a city near St. Louis—and Eric Garner in New York City.

Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions and/or while in police custody.

In March 2016, Black Lives Matter helped organize the 2016 Donald Trump Chicago rally protest that forced Trump to cancel the event. Four individuals were arrested and charged in the incident. Two were “charged with felony aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest”, one was “charged with two misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing a peace officer”, and the fourth “was charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting and obstructing a peace officer.”


Last time BLM hit the headlines was right before the 2016 US Election

As you’ll be aware, the movement has returned to national headlines (it is a US election year after all) and gained further international attention during the recent, global George Floyd protests following Floyd’s death by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

So, back to the funding….

Before we look at where your donation may have gone, it’s a good time to point out that Black Lives Matter have received over $100 million in funding from the Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy among others.

If you visit the Black Lives Matter website and click on ‘Donate’ you are taken to an ‘ActBlue‘ Donation page.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 23.57.33

See Contribution Rules – Actblue Charities

ActBlue is a nonprofit technology organization established in June 2004 that enables Democrats, progressive groups, and nonprofits to raise money on the Internet by providing them with online fundraising software. Its stated mission is to “empower small-dollar donors”.

In fact ActBlue are behind countless BLM fundraisers (more on that in a minute) and, if you look into their expenditures (thanks to Opensecrets.org), you’ll see that some of their biggest expenses are huge contributions to the Democratic Party.

Another notable fact is that ActBlue has several disclaimers that allow them to keep funds for their own purposes if the recipient does not cash or otherwise rejects the donation.

In other words, if BLM don’t claim all of their donations they could inadvertently go to ActBlue.

Question then is where would these funds be distributed and could they be used as ActBlue campaign contributions?

ActBlue say “In the event that a campaign or committee (a) fails for 60 days to cash a check from ActBlue which includes your contribution (after ActBlue makes repeated attempts to work with the campaign to ensure all checks are cashed), or (b) affirmatively refuses a contribution earmarked through ActBlue, your contribution will be re-designated as a contribution to ActBlue. Contributions to social welfare organizations which are similarly not cashed or are affirmatively refused will be kept by ActBlue and used generally to support its social welfare activities.”

So they are claiming that they’ll use their unclaimed donations for’ social welfare organizations to support social welfare activities’ but knowing that the current 2020 cycle has seen over $1 billion in contributions from ActBlue to federal candidates alone I’m kind of sceptical that this is strictly true.

Here’s a breakdown of ActBlue expenditure for 2020:

Administrative Rent, utilities & office expenses $2,315,932
Administrative travel & lodging $740,063
Administrative consulting $495,589
Administrative data & technology $364,777
Miscellaneous administrative $158,856
Administrative event expenses & food $111,586
Accountants, compliance & legal services $74,166
Campaign Expenses Campaign events & activities $87,604
Campaign mailings & materials $1,181
Contributions Contributions to federal candidates $1,057,598,402
Contributions to committees $173,518,241
Contributions to national parties $118,292,171
Contributions to joint fundraising committees $30,054,811
Contributions to state & local parties $21,077,128
Miscellaneous contributions $365,971
Contributions to state & local candidates $83,239
Fundraising Fundraising fees $1,351,269
Miscellaneous fundraising $13,123
Fundraising consulting $9,875
Fundraising data & technology $-53
Media Miscellaneous media $11,775
Broadcast ads $8,447
Web ads $3,380
Unspecified media buys $1,830
Salaries Salaries, wages & benefits $15,849,366
Strategy & Research Campaign strategy & communications consulting $355,863
Campaign data & technology $23,500
Unclassifiable Unclassifiable $1,003,419
Unclassifiable event expenses $756,979
Unclassifiable data & technology $547,507
Unclassifiable printing & shipping $91,885
Unclassifiable consulting $82,984
Unclassifiable supplies & equipment $657

And this: Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 00.07.47

Yes, that’s right – if you’ve donated via any of the pages using Actblue the chances are you’ve chipped in towards to Biden campaign, or perhaps Bernie 2020  – whatever the case I doubt this is what you had in mind when handing over your cash.

This article, from July 2019 with the headline “Democrats’ Favorite Fundraising Tool Hauls in Record Donations“, reports that ActBlue, the “online fundraising platform for Democrats”, had recorded its highest number of donations as contributors poured $12 million into campaigns and progressive organizations on the last day of the second quarter.

The 390,000 donations topped the platform’s previous one-day record of 306,000, while the $12 million contributed on June 30 was the second-highest dollar total since ActBlue’s founding in 2004, the group said.

The surge of donations came as the party’s 24 presidential candidates hustled for funds ahead of the second-quarter deadline, emailing last-minute appeals to supporters – however, ActBlue didn’t say how much of the last-minute donations went to presidential candidates.

On June 1st 2020, following the mass BLM protests, the New York Times reported that they had ‘spurred a surge in donations’, Giving ActBlue its ‘Biggest Day of the Year’ and that with money flowing to candidates, bail funds and charities, the “Democrats’ online donor platform” processed over $60 million between Friday and Monday, a sign of strength for the party.

The mass protests that have swept the nation in recent days to express outrage at the death of George Floyd have been paired with a flood of financial donations, as hundreds of thousands of Americans have opened their wallets to give to charitable groups, community bail funds and Democratic candidates.

And on ActBlue, the central online hub that processes money for Democratic candidates and causes, Sunday was the single largest day of giving in all of 2020, with donations of $19 million, according to a New York Times analysis of the site’s donation tracker.

Then donors set another record for the year on Monday, topping $20 million shortly after 9 p.m.

The sums given on ActBlue on both Sunday and Monday topped all the presidential primary debate nights and election nights in 2020, and were more than double the amount given on the final day of April (monthly deadlines tend to drive online political giving). The previous high for the year was the day in late February when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the South Carolina Democratic primary and revived his campaign for president; donors contributed $18.3 million that day.

In all, ActBlue processed more than $60 million between Friday and Monday, a sign that the energy spilling into the streets nationwide might also be matched by a wave of money for Democratic causes.

ActBlue does not disclose in real time how donations to the platform are divided between candidates and causes, but a spokesperson for the site said half of the donations on Sunday went to charitable causes.

ActBlue charge 4 percent on every transaction – soon adds up when you’re talking millions.

One ActBlue page where supporters could split a donation across 37 different bail funds reported more than 20,000 donations worth about $1.5 million as of late Monday morning. Such funds help cover the costs of posting cash bail for those jailed before trials, and are seen as a way to support protesters who have been arrested.

Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 20.45.32

We’ve all seen the devastation caused by ‘professional protesters’ with their own agenda, and the way it has impacted on so many. It’s obvious that civil unrest comes with a high human cost, from destroyed neighbourhoods and livelihoods to life changing injuries or even death.

What isn’t quite as obvious is the fact that civil unrest mixed in with a media backed movement is also a very quick way to generate very big funds for others – namely the Democrats.

Drake donated to the cause – chucking $100,000 to to ActBlue under the ‘National Bail Out for protestors’ umbrella, proudly displaying the receipt on Instagram as did ‘K-pop superstars’ BTS who donated $1m to BLM – an amount that was then matched by their fans using a ‘BTS Army’ donation page hosted by – ActBlue. Could not make this up…Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 23.43.08

In a nutshell, people who are donating money to BLM, in the hopes of achieving racial justice, are possibly having their money rerouted to Democratic politicians, through ActBlue, for purposes of financing re-election campaigns – something I doubt many are aware of or would be happy about.

Here’s just a few of the fundraising pages backed by ActBlue – I’m sure there are more but I’ll list a few to get the ball rolling and please feel free to add your own in the comments.

Justice for George Floyd

Black Lives Matter

The Movement For Black Lives

Move Black Lives Forward 

Donate to Bail Funds for Protestors

Our Black Church

The more people that are aware of what they are funding the better – if they still want to hit that donate button then it’s all good, just check where your money will be going before parting with your card details, you might just change your mind.

I’ll end with a link to this Medium article that I came across as I was researching this post, asking the million dollar question “Is the Black Lives Matter Organization a Money Laundering Scheme?”

Journalist Diego Marquez reports that the Managing director for the Black Lives Matter organisation – Kailee Scales – had conducted a disastrous Reddit AMA, during which she was hard pressed to disclose where and how exactly the money received from donations to BLM was being used.

Interestingly, she refused to answer said questions, and the ensuing controversy was enough for moderators to lock the thread.

The suspicions didn’t die there, however. And the internet got to work to find out what exactly was going on behind the scenes at BLM.

It didn’t take long to figure it out.









Go Back Home

The man you told to go back home

Has been here longer than me

He came here in the seventies

From his own war-torn country


The fact you can’t see your own doctor

Or get on the housing list

Has nothing to do with immigration

And everything to do with a government that take the piss


From Cameron to Bojo, with a dancing queen in-between

None of them give a shit, it’s very clear to see


Our young are sad, feeling lost

Mental health services cut due to cost

National Health is on its knees

They’re selling it off, Boris and his cronies


Working long hours with nothing to show

Families on Tax Credits, wages so low

Regular folk are struggling to survive

Yet the 1% continue to thrive


So don’t tell me that Boris is the man for the job

We can all see, he is clearly a knob

Take a minute and think about what you see

They’re not out to steal your job or your TV


The truth won’t be found in the paper or news

Fact is that as a country we have so much to lose

The diversity that makes the UK what it is today

Is the very reason I voted to stay

Brexit text with United Kingdom and European Union flags





eBay scam update #3 – The ‘One Mile Rule’

I ended my last post about to write to Luxembourg but, after taking a deep breath (and receiving an email from eBay requesting my outstanding £8.18 of fees despite them owing me nearly £300), I decided to have one last try at calling them – the case is very straight forward and I’ve submitted so much evidence that surely someone could just see what has gone on and reverse the decision to refund the scammer, couldn’t they?

At 8am I spoke to a bloke called Anthony who told me he was in the ‘Final Resolution Centre’ and he would look into the case for me.

After being on hold for a minute or so he said that, according to the system, the case had been closed on 20th September and asked me to confirm I had received an empty package (by now hubby is also communicating with eBay about his phone that was also stolen). I explained that the package had been delivered to my neighbour as the buyer had edited the eBay postage label and that it was indeed empty. He then went on to say that he could see the notes both Niamh and the previous customer service guy had put on the system and he couldn’t understand what was going on and why this wasn’t dealt with already.

Anthony promised me that he would speak with the advisors involved and get back to me within 24 hours, going on to say that he was in work all week, my case hadn’t been on his desk before and he would take ownership of the problem until it was resolved. I explained that I had heard this before and he told me to relax for the next 24 hours, put it out of my mind and he would call me back – even if it meant calling a dozen times.

Wednesday – 10am: No call from eBay. Not sure why but I really did feel that we were going to get a resolution and I can not believe Anthony has ‘done a Niamh’ on me. Feeling exasperated I call eBay yet again.

Spoke to someone in the Philippines who can’t see all the notes but does tell me the case is closed and the reason is the item was scanned as delivered.

I started to explain the situation but the language barrier makes it impossible and I’m left with no option but to request a call back from Anthony. I’m told he will call me within 24 hours. Frustrated doesn’t even cover it…

Thursday morning – Guess what, no call for anyone in eBay at all. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

I call them and have one of the most ridiculous conversations I’ve ever had in my life with an advisor who found it appropriate to keep talking over me and telling me “you don’t understand, Miss Talulah”.

I tried to explain but she repeatedly cut me off to explain that the item had been delivered and the case was closed. I told her to look at the faked labels that are uploaded on my account and she said, and I quote “If the labels had been edited Royal Mail would not have accepted them.” – I asked her to clarify and she again said that they couldn’t have been posted as they would not have been accepted. Say what?!

I (angrily) asked her if she was seriously inferring that I had made the whole thing up, including editing the label and despite me having an email from Royal Mail confirming that item was delivered to number 1 as that is where it was addressed to, and she couldn’t really give me an answer.

However, what she said next left me so gobsmacked that I asked her to repeat it so I could write it down – I strongly feel that this is something ALL eBay users should be aware of and would put money on it that they don’t….

The eBay advisor said: “eBay policy states that, as long as any returns are delivered within a mile of the address they are meant to be, eBay will deem it delivered and will find in favour of the buyer. Our records show your item was delivered within that radius so your case is closed.”

To clarify, I asked her if I was right in thinking she was saying that as long as a buyer sends a return to any street at all within a mile radius of the true address it would be seen as correctly delivered and she replied with: “Yes Mam.”

At this point I was losing the will to live and asked if she could please get a supervisor or someone, anyone to call me back and she said that she could see a refund request had been raised on my case and that she would look into why it hadn’t been actioned and a supervisor would call me back within 48 hours.

Now I really am at my wits end but am refusing to let this go – in the meanwhile my hubby has had a message from another eBay seller saying he has just been scammed in the same manner by the same buyer – despite them being aware of whats going on for almost 3 weeks, eBay are still allowing him to trade.

As they won’t tell you who he is – I will…

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 23.13.03.png

The name they are using is Louie Lawson and their paypal address is lawson1543@tutanota.com

The other account which scammed hubby and we now know its the same person is Freddie Barker – known on eBay as crazy9867how and using paypal address barker.freddie@yahoo.com

I’m off to finally send that letter to Luxembourg but first I’m going to send a copy of all 3 posts to each of this lovely lot over on Linkedin.

I’ll keep you posted…


**UPDATE** – Friday Evening: Still no call from anyone at Ebay but I did receive an email at around 17:15 from a ‘supervisor’ saying they had tried to call me and if I still needed assistance to give them a call back. They did not call me. I have no missed calls whatsoever on either my mobile or landline.

Off to call them again…

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eBay – Protecting Scammers, Screwing Sellers

UPDATE TO MY PREVIOUS POST, ‘eBay finds in scammers favour despite overwhelming evidence’

After writing up the chain of events that have led to us being out of pocket and feeling totally disregarded by eBay, I decided the next course of action would be to get on the phone and start making noise while gathering advice.


I would like to say that the problem has been resolved – that eBay have reimbursed our losses and taken the situation seriously, after all goodness knows how many other sellers have been ripped off by scammers that are enabled/protected on the platform, but that would be untrue.

This is what has happened so far:

Spoke to Citizens Advice – Advised that the usual procedure would be to send a breach of contract letter to the buyer demanding payment/return of the phone and giving a deadline in which to respond before escalating to civil court. However, as the only name and address we have are fake there would be no point in doing this as the summons would never arrive. They also explained that they couldn’t really advise me as regards to eBay as it is not a UK based company – I needed to speak to the European Consumer Centre.

Spoke to European Consumer Centre – Spoke to a lovely lady called Lorna who advised me to report the scam to Action Fraud, ask eBay to reconsider their decision to issue the refund and also inform Paypal. Apparently Paypal are covered by the financial ombudsman while eBay isn’t so she said they may be able to help me. Lorna also explained that it would be worth looking through the terms and conditions for eBay to check for any points to raise with them – when you make an account the small print apparently states that the contract is between the seller and the buyer, meaning that eBay don’t actually have to pay anything in this situation. It would appear that while eBay are more than happy to make a shed load of money from their ‘marketplace’, they are less enthusiastic when it comes to solving disputes fairly or dipping in the kitty when they’re clearly at fault…. Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 15.41.07.png

Spoke to Action Fraud – Reported the whole chain of events, recording the two stolen phones as separate cases. The gent I spoke to gave me a reference number and explained that the information will be collated at a national level and we should get an update in about three months time, too late to help us but hopefully in time to help prevent the scammers from ripping off some other poor sod. Also advised to speak to Paypal as they might be able to help me if they can see the transaction has been carried out by a fraudulent account.

Spoke to Paypal – Once I had explained the whole (lengthy) story to the adviser who took my call her response was a resounding: “Wow”.

Once she’d commiserated with me, the advisor said that she would have to speak to a manager as she didn’t know where to start, popping me on hold while they looked into it. I knew it wasn’t going to be good news by the tone of her voice when she came back on the line – she apologised before explaining that her manager was looking at the account as we spoke and could see what had happened, and that they could also see a name and address for said scammer. Obviously (data protection) she couldn’t give me any information – however she was able to take from me the other Paypal account details involved in the scam.

Basically, Paypal are saying that when you sign up to eBay you are giving them permission to both put in and take out cash from your Paypal account and apparently Paypal have to honour eBay’s decision regardless. The only way for us to get our money back would be if eBay reversed the decision to find in the scammers favour and issue a refund – instead if they had found in our favour (as they clearly should have) we wouldn’t have this problem.

eBay have caused the problem and they are the only ones with the capacity to fix it but they are refusing to do so.

The next course of action for me is to write it all up in a formal letter of complaint to eBay HQ in Luxembourg – recorded delivery of course, explaining exactly what has gone on and requesting that they step in to reverse the decision, refund my money and do more to stop this happening again…..



eBay finds in scammers favour despite overwhelming evidence

I’ve written this in a bid to warn other eBay sellers of a scam that’s left us out of pocket to the tune of almost £1200 and totally frustrated at the lack of care or fairness shown by eBay – not to mention the fact that they’re enabling a scammer to carry on, despite knowing exactly what they’re up to and having evidence to support it.


I’ll start at the beginning and try to keep it succinct however there is a fair bit to explain so please bear with me and as always, please feel free to share, comment or offer any pearls of wisdom…


My husband and I both have eBay accounts which we use to buy and sell – I mostly sell kids clothes and the like while he sticks to electronics – recently we decided to sell our mobile phones (iPhone 7’s) and each listed them on our respective accounts. They were both fully working, in excellent condition and scuff/mark free, having been kept in cases with screen protectors.

A couple of days later they sold and whilst we were packing them we noticed they had both been purchased using the ‘click and collect’ option eBay now offer, allowing them to be collected from a branch of Argos. *Mine was sent to Argos in South Ruislip by special delivery at a cost of £7.30 and hubby’s went using same delivery method to an Argos in London.

UnknownAbout a week after they had been delivered we both got an email from eBay saying that our customers wanted a refund as the phones were faulty – mine claimed the camera no longer worked whilst hubby was told the light on his didn’t work. As soon as the buyers started the return process Paypal stepped in and held the funds for both – £289 + pp from mine and £295 + pp from hubby’s.

We both chose the option for eBay to issue return postage labels and sat back to await the returns arrival.

Some time passed until, last Monday (17th September) at 10.33am when hubby and I both received eBay emails stating that the returns had been delivered and we had 48hrs in which to refund the buyers.

I checked the porch and hall (lived at same address with same postie for years – no issues before) but could find no sign of any packages at all so I rang the sorting office. The lad who answered explained that the system was down and I would be better calling in the morning to speak to the supervisor.

Tuesday 18th Sept: Called the sorting office at 8am to be told that the postie had scanned our items outside number 5 (we live at 9) and he thought he’d delivered them to number 3 or 5. Customer service guy said he’d asked the postie to try and remember where he had put them so they could be retrieved and I assumed it was a (stupid) mistake.

I called back for an update to be told that the postie was now saying he definitely didn’t have any post for us at all on Monday. Bearing in mind I had been told earlier that they’d been scanned nearby and about the possible mix up, I now began to suspect the worst – that our parcels had been stolen. At this point I decided to call Royal Mail Customer Service.images

After a lengthy discussion with them I was given a reference number and told to call back on Friday after 9.30am for an update. Following this I called eBay to make them aware of the situation and to ask for an extension on the time to issue a refund so that I could get to the bottom of it, explaining that we did not have the phones and offering the Royal Mail reference number. The person I spoke to didn’t want the number and told me to do nothing but wait until the refund date had passed, at which point eBay would contact me to ask why and I could then state my case, including any reference numbers etc.

Thursday 19th Sept a.m: Postman knocks on the door with another parcel for us and goes on to say that he had given that day a lot of thought. He said that he was 100 percent sure that, whilst we had no post at all that day, number 1 did receive 2 padded envelopes that were from eBay and that was what he scanned outside number 5. He went on to say that he was positive they weren’t our phones because they were both flat and very light – he suggested they could have had papers or a sim card in them at most.

Thinking that there had been some strange mix up with tracking numbers, I put together a note including my number for my neighbour and posted it through her door, explaining what I thought had happened.

I then nipped out for half an hour – upon arriving home I saw that I’d had 2 emails from eBay, 20 minutes apart, the first saying the buyer had opened a case demanding a refund and the second saying they had found in his favour and shut the case. With no time to even respond I decided it was best to wait to hear from my neighbour before contacting eBay again – by then I was feeling totally confused by the whole situation and had nothing new to tell them.

Thursday p.m: My neighbour sends me a message to say that she had received 2 empty envelopes on Monday, they had no name on and she didn’t know what to make of it so she had put them in the blue bin the night before. After a couple of messages back n forth she offers to retrieve them and post them through my door.

Now, if you’re still reading this I would like to say thanks and your patience will be rewarded -this is where it gets interesting.

The envelopes are from eBay and are identical,  the way the labels are attached is the same and, interestingly the senders name and address are also the same (different customers, remember?).

Each envelope has an eBay issued label but neither has a name and the address has been edited from number 9 to 1. Suddenly things started to make sense – whoever had done this obviously has some knowledge of eBay and how the loopholes work.


Edited label #1 on empty envelope: eBay scammer circa 2018

By changing the details on the official labels, the buyer had ensured that the packages was still scanned near to our house and, by omitting our names, had almost guaranteed that they would never find their way to us – leaving us unable to prove what had happened. It is only because of our postie taking the time to speak to us and my neighbour still having the packaging that we are now able to fill in the blanks and realise that we have indeed been scammed.


Edited label #2 on empty envelope: eBay scammer circa 2018

I requested a callback from eBay straight away and ended up being put through to an Irish lady called Niamh in the UK centre. After explaining that I now had the packaging and that it was delivered empty to the wrong address she asked me to go into detail about what exactly was on the label.

Niamh was clearly shocked as what I was describing was different to what had been issued by eBay and explained to me that it must have been edited – none of the customer details were correct, the senders name didn’t match the eBay accounts and the only thing that was correct were the tracking numbers.

She asked me to upload photographs of the packaging attached to an email she was sending and said that as it was clearly “a large scale operation” and “involved multiple accounts” she would pass it to the risk management team, getting back to me with an update on Saturday morning at 11am.

Saturday 21st Sept a.m: Niamh called as promised and said she “nearly choked” when she saw the photos – they were so edited it was ludicrous. We discussed the fact that the senders address is actually a freight company and that both had been collected via Argos – pretty much making the whole thing anonymous. Niamh again intimated that we had been caught up in what was clearly an organised scam and assured me it was being escalated to all the relevant teams, as well as the authorities. I asked when we could expect a reversal on the refund decision – after all there has to be some seller protection and it was clear what had happened. I also pointed out that this person now had both our phones and almost £600 in cash – a kick in the stomach with a slap in the face for good measure. She explained it would take time but not to worry, it would be sorted and decisions can always be reversed.

She ended the call by promising to call on Monday with a further update and hopefully some information about a refund.

Saturday 21st 11.30pm: I get an email from eBay thanking me for contacting customer service regarding the iPhone and telling me that they “understand how frustrating it is when a buyer doesn’t return an item in the exact condition it was sent out” and that they “appreciate the screenshots of the labels” I sent.

They then go on to say that because they “did not see the condition of the item when it was receive day the buyer vs how it was returned” they must “remain impartial and having the buyer return the item in exchange for a full refund was the best resolution” so they had decided to uphold the decision to find in the buyers favour.

No mention of the fraudulent label, the empty envelopes or any of the other highly relevant points.

I went to bed fuming and resolved to call first thing in the morning.

Sunday 22nd Sept 9a.m: Spoke to eBay, again. The advisor said that the email had been automatically generated and once a barcode had been scanned as delivered the system acted as such – apparently humans cannot override the algorithm they created but, not to worry – she could see there was an appeal going on and that Niamh would be calling me on Monday with more information.

Monday 23rd Sept 5.30p.m: After waiting all day and not receiving a call from eBay I decide to call them. I’m told that Niamh will be emailed with a request to call me and it will be sometime in the next 24 hours.

Tuesday 24th Sept 9.30a.m: Received the following email from Niamh – perhaps she couldn’t say it to me over the phone….

“Apologies for the delay in getting back to you yesterday and appreciate you working with me to provide any relevant information needed about the returns on your and your husbands account.

I sent the details off to our Risk Management Team and they are doing an internal investigation on the buyer/buyers.

Unfortunately, After reviewing our original decision on this case, we’ve decided to deny your appeal. This case exceeds the 200GBP coverage threshold for a fraudulent return. We also do not have the item in our possession at any stage and cannot verify the condition of the item to deny someone’s statutory right.

As a company eBay cannot cover these costs for a business seller, I’m sure you appreciate it from a business perspective it wouldn’t be financially possible for us to cover every single situation like this. We will internally investigate them for this behaviour and the relevant action will be taken. Last year alone we removed 3 million buyers from site for breaching our returns policy. eBay work very hard at making the site a safe community.

I recommend that you report this to Action Fraud and proceed with the case through Small Claims Court.

I appreciate this isn’t the resolution you were hoping for but hope that you understand the process that has occurred..”


That’s it, no refund, no comeback and no way of warning others, thanks to eBay making it nigh on impossible to leave negative feedback on a closed case.

I’m unsure of what the best course of action is but know that this has to stopped – eBay must be held to account for scamming that they acknowledge themselves is so rife that “from a business perspective it wouldn’t be financially possible for us to cover every single situation like this” – writing the whole sorry state of affairs seems to be a good place to start.

Have you faced a similar situation whilst selling on eBay? Interested in hearing from you as I’m planning to keep making noise until someone listens….









Is JoJo ban justified?

Latest tween fashion statement divides opinion in the playground. 


Following faddy trends and sporting the latest fashion have become part of every day life for many school age children both here and in America.

Gone are the days of swapping marbles or trading conkers, today’s children are far more interested in gadgets or discussing the latest YouTube stars.

One popular YouTube star is JoJo Siwa, a 13-year-old girl famous for starring in US reality show Dance Mom and creating the now infamous JoJo Bow.

Large, brightly coloured hair clips with an oversized bow attached, JoJo Bows are used by girls to decorate a ponytail and, although something similar but slightly smaller was popular in the 1980s, they are taking the country by storm.


JoJo Bow of the 80’s – aka The Fergie Bow

This may have something to do with the fact that JoJo, who also sings, has her own YouTube channel and a huge online presence – her videos have had over 2 million views and she has 4.5 million followers on Instagram so, even if you’ve never heard of her, chances are your child has.

Recently releasing a video explaining why she likes to wear giant bows, JoJo has inspired thousands of young girls to follow in her footsteps, even releasing her own range available for them to choose from at a high street retailer.

So, why is this news? Apparently the giant hair accessory is giving teachers a huge headache and some schools have made the decision to ban them completely, leading to one angry parent accusing teachers of treating the bows “like guns.”

The headteacher of one of the schools to ban the bow has justified the decision, saying that they don’t fit in with the school uniform ethos which is enforced to signal to the children that they are part of the school family and there to work, not be distracted by huge accessories worn by their classmates.


JoJo Siwa

School uniform has been subject to debate several times over the years – Michael Gove has previously urged all schools to introduce not just a standard uniform, but blazers and ties too. Then there was the time Ed Balls suggested that local authorities encourage schools to adopt ‘smart’ uniforms and strengthen ties with ‘uniformed’ organisations such as scouts and guides.

Not everyone agrees and one man who has spent eight years studying school related statistics is American academic, David Brunsma, a sociology professor at Missouri-Colombia University. After embarking on the lengthy research he concluded that uniforms do not make schools better and the enforced wearing of one is actually an issue of children’s rights, social control and one related to increasing racial, class and gender inequalities in schools.

See this article about a school in Derbyshire that produces fantastic results, is deemed good by OFSTED and doesn’t enforce a uniform at all.

What do you think – are schools right to ban the accessory or are they making a mountain out of a hair bow?

We need to talk about Prevent, the policy that affects us all…

The Counter Terrorism Act 2015  has had a far reaching and very public impact on the Muslim community since it came into force, however it is not exclusively a ‘Muslim issue’ as the media would have you believe. There’s been a living-wage campaigner monitored by police for his ‘activism, a schoolboy questioned by police for circulating political literature and 3 women suspended from college for questioning why an event about Prevent was cancelled to name but a few. 

muslim header

Prevent has actually been around for a long time but many staff at schools and universities as well as healthcare and local authority workers were reluctant to take part due to concerns over discrimination. However, since the passing of the CTS Act 2015, the Home Secretary now has the power to ‘intervene’ when they are not considered to be enforcing the strategy.

Considering that these are people we expect to educate, medicate and generally keep our children safe, and the fact they were given sketchy guidelines such as ‘monitoring students who appear ‘withdrawn’ or seeking ‘political change’, with the main focus on preventing what the government terms ‘Islamic extremism’ – a fuzzy term to say the least and one far too commonly misinterpreted, is it any wonder they weren’t keen on the implementation of the policy?

Sara Ogilvie, policy Officer at civil liberties group, Liberty said the governments “heavy handed approach risks fanning the flames of division and extremism, not extinguishing them. She went on to say:

“The Prevent Programme has already trampled on young people’s right to freedom of speech, curtailed debate and further marginalised those it most needs to reach.”

No longer are students free to debate foreign policy, instances where ‘rule of law’ isn’t seen to be followed or the even ongoing situation taking place in Gaza. Not very democratic after all…

Despite Ministers struggling to define extremism and with no current usable legal definition of it, Prevent have come up with their own definition and here it is…

” Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for death of our armed forces, whether here or abroad.”

I’m not sure what qualifies the people making these referrals but those considered at risk are referred to the Channel Programme. Interestingly 35% of those referred between 2007 and 2013 were under 18.

So, if your child talks openly about the genocide taking place against Palestinians in Gaza, questions foreign policy that leads to the killing thousands of civilians based on flawed intelligence or talks about the fact that the UK political system sure is undemocratic for an alleged democratic country, then you too could find yourself under the Prevent spotlight, even if you’re not Muslim, as this could amount to your child being identified as “vulnerable to” or at “risk of” being drawn towards extremism or violence.



Sara Ogilvie, policy officer at civil liberties group Liberty, said that “the governments heavy handed approach risks fanning the flames of division and extremism, not extinguishing them. The Prevent programme has already trampled young people’s right to freedom of speech, curtailed debate and further marginalised those it most needs to reach out to.”


Young people can’t even debate foreign policy or instances where the ‘rule of law’ doesn’t appear to have been adhered to, this policy has effectively taken away the voice of anyone who wishes to criticise the government.

Committee Chairwoman, Harriet Harman, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “The difficulty is the definition, for example, I don’t respect religions that regard women as subservient but I’m clearly not an extremist on the path to violence.”

Someone should let Harriet know that, looking at the Prevent definition, she would be displaying extremist views in her not respecting whatever un-named faith she mentioned – the Prevent definition clearly states that a lack of respect for different faiths IS an extremist trait. Amazingly it is quite often this lack of understanding or respect of different faiths that leads to Muslims being labelled as extreme and referred to Prevent…

If we don’t stand together in the fight against Prevent you might just find that when it6abb0d4a2c64581536f0d33328877891 does eventually affect you they’ll be no one left to speak out on your behalf…


This quote has been changed several times over the years, to fit the rhetoric of the day – originally it was written about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Perhaps a modern day edit would replace Jews with Muslims?

So yeah, you might still think that this is ‘just another Muslim issue’ but I assure you it’s really not – we may be the focus now but then what? The media and powers that be always need an enemy, a whipping board, a group to blame. We’ve seen demonisation of benefit claimants to support the drastic, often devastating cuts to welfare payments, we’ve had countless documentaries showing us feckless immigrants to make us feel better about closing our borders to refugees and throughout it all we have had the Muslims. We’ve been blamed for almost everything but believe me it will only be a matter of time before they need a new focus. Just hope it’s not you…..

I would like to finish by sharing *Yusra’s story. She is a mum who is refusing to engage with Prevent and is now facing the possibility of having her children removed. There has never been any allegations of abuse, neglect or anything else that could justify the removal of her children. Yes, *Yusra is Muslim but she could just as easily be called *Yvonne – the prevent strategy is so far reaching that no one is truly safe, well no one who thinks for themselves and questions the powers that be or chooses to live their life in a ‘different’ way, whether that be beliefs or the way they dress. You can read more about Yusra’s case here and the video of her interview is below.

Finally, a big thank you to Cage and all they do to help and support those who find themselves on the wrong side of one of the most immoral pieces of legislation since the Terrorism Act 2000. Cage warned that the CTS Act 2015 would result in children being removed from their families and have been instrumental in helping *Yusra fight her case and keep her children InshaAllah.

Using the ERG 22 report to overcome many of the issues Childrens’ Services had tried to push on *Yusra and her family,the brothers at Cage have also attended meetings with her solicitor, offering preparation work on how to incorporate the ERG findings into her case. With this support and advice *Yusra is now “looking forward to going to court” as she feels it’s the only way “to stop the local authorities from trying to co-erce my family into something that we don’t want and don’t have to by law.”

*Not her real name

To learn more about the fantastic work Cage do, how you can get involved or to donate towards helping them help those in need please visit the website by clicking here 🙂



Tories Shaft Trafford Parents With Huge Cuts To Education Budget…

With so much ‘non-news’ in the mainstream media it’s getting easier and easier for the government to slip dodgy legislation and questionable budget plans through the system with no-one being any the wiser until the either a new Orwellian law affects them directly or they start to feel the pinch of the (many) cuts. One of these budget plans that hasn’t had nearly enough publicity as it should is the Tory plan to cut £3 Billion a year from education spending by 2020. These cuts will have a dramatic affect on schools across the country – this is a look at what it will mean for several Trafford schools.


In these changing and increasingly competitive times, education should be at the very top of the list when it comes to budget priorities – after all, the pupils of today are the workforce, decision makers and changers of tomorrow. Our future literally depends on the skills we teach our children and future generations so you would think that investing in the education of our offspring is a non-brainer, more than ever in these uncertain Post-Brexit times where we are looking to create more ‘home grown’ talent than ever.

And yet they cut the education budget by the tune of 3 Billion Pound…

education-quotes-10Perhaps Theresa May is looking to grow a generation of low-skilled worker bees to fill the gap that will be left by the thousands of European workers set to leave the UK after facing the Brexit backlash from all angles. It has been well documented that, without the hardworking migrants that come to the UK to work, many jobs in agriculture, hospitality, construction and healthcare would be left short staffed and difficult to fill without them.

Something to think about next time you buy strawberries (picked by migrants), pick up a coffee from a shop (staffed by migrants) and drive on a motorway (built by migrants) on your way to visit a sick relative or loved one in hospital (cared for by a migrant).

Anyway, I digress – back to education.

In light of these proposed budget cuts, two educational unions, the NUT and ATL, have set up a website that makes it really easy to search either by postcode or school name to find out how your child/grandchild/niece or nephew will be affected – click to search website.

Please share this information far and wide – I’ve yet to see it in the news and time is running out to make a stand. Also, please email your MP with a request for them to take action on what is a very urgent matter – you can find out who they are by clicking here. 

If you live in Altrincham or Sale West your MP is Graham Brady and his email address is altsale@parliament.uk

If you are are a parent of a child either attending or expecting to attend Ashton on Mersey School, Sale Grammar or Sale High School, I suggest you sit down before reading any further…

First, how a few of our local Primary schools will be affected:

  1. Wellfield Junior Schoolwellfield-jnr

This Junior School will be faced with £18,711 budget cut, that is equivalent to £213 per pupil or the same as losing one teacher, equating to just 2% of their overall budget.

2. Wellfield Infant and Nursery School

Set to lose 5% of their overall budget is this gem of a school in Ashton Village, they face £35,893 of cuts which equates to £216 per pupil, or the loss of one classroom assistant. Knowing how this school works along with how proactive both the staff and governing body are leads me to think that this will be one school that still manages to achieve despite this latest round of cuts.

3. All Saints’ Catholic Primary School

Losing £49,125 from their budget, this will mean a difference of £170 per pupil or the equivalent of one teacher. This will be 7% of their overall budget.

4. St. Marys C of E Primary School

They are facing a 5% overall budget cut which is £42,292 or £170 per pupil – or the loss of one teacher.

5. Woodheys Primary School    st-margaret-ward

Although this school are only looking at a loss of £9,897, or 1% of their overall budget, it equates to £201 per pupil or the loss of 2 teachers.

6.  St. Margaret Ward Catholic Primary

Classed as Outstanding by OFSTED, this school is looking at a 6% cut in their budget, £354 per pupil, £48,456 or the loss of a teacher.

7. Tyntesfield Primary

Loss of 3% of their overall budget, Tyntesfield are expecting a £33,070 reduction in funds or the loss of a teacher.


If these figures have left you rattled, wait until you see what lies in store for our secondary schools – If you’re the parent of a pupil or prospective pupil at Ashton on Mersey school, Sale Grammar School, Sale High School  or Altrincham College of Arts you might want to sit down before you continue reading….

8. Ashton on Mersey School

Big school = Big cuts and they are facing huge ones at that. This overssubscribed and popular secondary school is facing a budget cut to the tune of £ashton-on-mersey-school844,579 or £639 per pupil. This is the equivalent of losing a staggering 22 teachers and is 12% of their overall budget.

9. Sale Grammar School

Another massive cut as this iconic school can expect £676,580 in cuts, 15% of their overall budget and equal to losing 17 teachers.

10. Sale High School

12% of the overall budget to be cut from Sale High, equal to losing 10 teachers or £711 per pupil as they seek to manage with a loss of £398,715.

11. Altrincham College of Arts

Previously known as Green Lane, ACA is looking at a 12% budget reduction – £570,542 or £763 per pupil.


Some tough decisions ahead for our schools and this is just a few of the many that will be affected by the proposed government cuts.

It’s not all doom and gloom – Park Road Primary, Firs Primary and Springfield are amongst the few schools not to be affected by the budget cuts.

However, if ALL our children aren’t getting the very best opportunities then where will our country be in another 20, 30 years time? Will we have a generation that are fluent in a language for a country they now need a visa to visit while lacking in basic employability skills?

Nelson Mandela famously said “Education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world” – and yet we invest more in ‘defence’ year on year and seek to reduce our investment in education. Alrighty then…..

spending pie chart 2016.png

Looking at the UK spending it becomes clear where our priorities really lie and the biggest spend goes on ‘social protection’. Apparently this covers things like Tax Credits and other benefits paid to the public. Now I’m no accountant but how about we call to account the huge companies that are operating in the UK, making massive profits and paying a pittance to their staff?

If they paid a living wage to employees, then they wouldn’t need to rely on the government to top up their money in order to survive and the money saved could be ploughed back into education. Simples.

What do you think about the budget proposals for education? What should the government be investing in and who is going to pick our strawberries?

Get in touch with your thoughts…





Fear + Ignorance = Racist Britain

Last night, while watching #MuslimsLikeUs (more on that later), I tweeted that I had experienced racism myself since converting to Islam and was promptly told that “it never happened.” There seems to be a misconception that racism is reserved for people who are a shade of brown and that the rest of us are exempt from such discrimination. 

Well, as a white British Muslim convert in a biracial marriage with mixed race kids, I’m here to tell you that racism isn’t always black n white – it’s a complex issue, and it’s also alive n kicking in the UK today, along with prejudice, ignorance and a whole heap of hate. 


Quite often our beliefs are formed at home, for most of us that means that by the time we’re adults we have an understanding of the world around us, how to interact with our community and a respect for those that are different from us, even if we disagree with their views.

Sadly others have a different upbringing – perhaps their parents are ignorant of the society we live in, too busy reading The Sun and sending the kids down to the local ‘*Paki Shop’ for fags on benefit day or maybe they think they are superior in some way and don’t feel the need to expand their horizon any further than the latest episode of Jeremy Kyle. Whatever the case may be the fact remains that racism is rife in the UK.

*This word has become almost acceptable despite the offensive way in which it is used – why wouldn’t it be when a judge can even use the phrase in a court room and get nothing more than a slap on the wrist? 

It starts with the kids…

I have four children and have been married twice – my oldest a boy aged 20 and a girl at 18 are both half Bengali and have very pale skin and blue/green eyes. My son is often mistaken as being mediterranean and my daughter looks white.


My youngest two, aged 11 and 14 are half Pakistani and have inherited dark hair, brown eyes and brown skin. In fact you would struggle to know they were mixed race at all as they both look full Asian.

United Nations could learn a thing or two from my household…

They have all experienced racism in different ways due to their appearance – the younger two have been called ‘Dirty Muslims’, ‘Terrorists’ and, of course, ‘Paki’ on several occasions. The abuse has changed with the times too – when my 14yr old was in Infant School, a kid told him that his skin was ‘the colour of poo’ and he didn’t want to play with him.

In secondary school this progressed to name calling based on his colour/religion and after the Paris attacks they began to call him a terrorist.

I spoke to my son at length about this and was horrified when he went on to tell me about other incidents of racism that were going on at school on a regular basis:

  • A Syrian classmate being told to ‘get on his dinghy and f**k off back home’.
  • A Jewish girl told that she should have gone in the gas chambers and calling her a ‘dirty Jew’.
  • A black lad being told by a group of white boys that, and I quote, ‘You are our slave. Your name is Cotton Picking Joe and we are your masters.”

I called school the next day to report what was going on and was told that they could only act on what they actually hear and that they would look into it and get back to me. This was in July and I am still waiting for their response….

The school did contact me last year, with a form to fill in for my son with questions such as “Do you have respect for other religions?” and “Do you understand how to play a positive part in society?”. When I questioned why he had been given it when many others in his class hadn’t, the reply was rather mind-blowing.

They explained that the council had asked them to give out forms to all the children that had English as a second language and therefore might need extra help. The school, in all their wisdom, had decided the best way to determine this was to go down a list of pupil names and pick out the ones that “didn’t sound English”……

Wow. This crazy method meant that my son got a form due to him having his fathers (Asian) surname while his classmate with exactly the same ethnicity was overlooked because he had his Mums (English) surname.

My daughter on the other hand often finds herself in a position where people start with the whole racist rhetoric while not realising she is actually mixed race herself – being only 18 she describes this as one of the most awkward situations ever. Sometimes she feels confident enough to call them out on it, others she wishes the ground would open up and feels uncomfortable in her own skin. She also said this is happening more and more often after Brexit, with people blaming foreigners and Muslims for all the world problems from lack of housing to benefit cuts.

She recently started her first job and has already faced racism in the workplace. She has this one work ‘mate’ who insists on referring to all Asians as ‘Pakis’. Fully aware of my daughters heritage, she continues to use this offensive term regularly, often backed up by another member of staff – in fact the manager has heard her use this term more than once but has yet to reprimand her.

3947905971_9b2ddcfe45We had a lengthy conversation where we looked at ways she could respond to people like this and I explained the procedure for making a formal compliant at work. The fact she appears white but is mixed race means that she’s going to encounter this ignorance throughout life and we talked about how she could turn that into a positive. Being Muslim and white but not wearing a hijab means that I am also often in situations where people start Muslim bashing or being ignorant about other races, often they’re shocked when I don’t join in – I use this opportunity to educate them and challenge any xenophobic views they’re sharing and the look on their faces when I tell them that I am ‘one of those bloody Muslims’ is priceless.

I’ve been met with “But you’re white”, “Oh, so did your husband make you convert” and my personal favourite – “Does that mean you speak Muslim then?”

Other times they seem genuinely interested and buzzing to actually get the chance to talk to a ‘real life’ Muslim and are full of questions. I have had several conversations that have started off with an Islamophobic/racist comment and ended on a really positive note – dawah in action 🙂ae3c5c6ea67580434eda1f1f8c6972bf

“You’re not brown enough to be a ‘proper’ Muslim” and other fairy tales

Racism is not exclusively a white people thing – in fact some of the worst racism I have encountered myself has come from Asian Muslim women.

When I converted to Islam a number of years ago I began going to my local mosque which happens to be in a rather nice part of Cheshire. I was met by several Asian women who, whilst appeared welcoming at first, soon made it apparent that I wouldn’t be part of their ‘circle’ any time soon. The reason? I was too white to be a classed as a real Muslim.

Sure, I could attend the prayer meetings but they wouldn’t eat the food I prepared, they would smile as I entered but I wouldn’t be invited to their homes, they would see me5bd10f538d6cf918e0b0120cb9da9ec3 struggle to remember the prayer but would offer no help, preferring to talk about my failings in Urdu. I was even asked if I washed my rice three times?! and how my husband managed with a wife that can’t make chapatis. In fact they made me briefly question if Islam was for me after all.

Fortunately I discovered a far more welcoming mosque in Manchester where there were more reverts, less judgment and even prayer classes for beginners on a Sunday afternoon. I also realised that quite often the ones that refer to themselves as Muslim are not a true reflection of the faith – something that should be remembered when you watch #MuslimsLikeUs on catchup…



#MuslimsLikeUs or Not?

After avidly awaiting #MuslimsLikeUs on BBC Two this week, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement, at points I found myself shouting at the TV, at others I was shaking my head in disbelief.

It would appear that BBC chose the participants using a controversy scoresheet and boy did they tick all the boxes – We were given racism, white privilege, imperialism, sexism and even a controversy involving an onion.  onion

A varied bunch to say the least, one that stood out to me was Mehreen who, as lovely as she is, was reminiscent of Aliyah, the daughter in Citizen Khan – kind of like an Asian Barbie. She did handle the racist blokes at the homeless shelter with class and eloquence though.

Nabil who was the voice of reason at many point, including the absolute gem – “when in doubt, don’t be a dick.” He was portrayed as a stereotypical angry black man and has been on social media to complain about the way it was edited to cast him in such a light, as has Baraa, the Syrian refugee.

For the record I think they were bang out of order for stealing his onion and he handled it extremely well given the circumstances.

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-19-41-28   screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-19-41-39

Abdul Haqq….well, and I do have my tin hat at the ready, I don’t agree with everything he said but much of it did sound like Islamic teachings to be fair. He delivered it in a really alienating way and the letters he gave out were on another level but I think he was also edited to fit the whole right-wing, pro-prevent rhetoric the Beeb support.

Talking of agendas, #MuslimsLikeUs was made in conjunction with Love Productions – the same company behind Benefits Street, Make Bradford British and Why Don’t You Speak English?  Hardly educational stuff and that sums up #MuslimsLikeUs really, the show left me feeling angry and struggling to identify with any of the participants and if I wasn’t Muslim already I think watching them would have put me off for life and made me even more confused.


I wonder if they will be doing a follow up looking at other religions – say ‘Six Jews in a Gym’ or ‘Five Hindus in a hotel….’

Finally, I would like to end on a slightly more positive note…

Looking at the survey referenced in #MuslimsLikeUs it became clear that whilst there were some worrying responses, on the whole the outlook is quite promising.

The 18-24 yr old demographic have done us proud once again – throughout the whole survey the acceptance of Muslims with this age range was higher than the older ones, in fact the older the respondents are, the less tolerant they become. No surprise there then. In answer to the statement “I would feel comfortable if a Muslim moved in next door to my home” 54% of 18-24 yr olds agreed while only 29% of 65+ felt the same.

One telling response was to the statement “Muslims have failed to integrate into British society” where only 24% of the younger demographic agreed in contrast to 64% of the 65+ group.

Maybe this is because the younger generation ARE integrating, as Mehreen said, “We go to school, we go university, we work. How else do they want us to f*****g integrate?” and the older ones don’t see this. Perhaps they see the parents of these first n second generation Muslims, the ones that do prefer their own community and are less likely to strike up a conversation in the street. The ones that could do more to integrate but are as set in their own ways as much as white old folk can be…

The bottom line is this – racism and ignorance are still as prevalent today as they were when my mum was a kid and we need to talk about it in order to make a change. We need to be more accepting, more forgiving and less judgemental of each other, regardless of race, religion, gender or any other defining features. Each of us have our own path and it can be hard enough to keep your footing without others trying to knock you down so try to play nice eh…


“Part of the perfection of one’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him”




Around the world in forty cakes…

Have you considered baking as a career? Perhaps cake making is more your thing? Do you also have a sense of adventure and fancy travelling around the world?

I spoke to Mark Cooper, Bakery and Patisserie lecturer at Trafford College who, despite struggling at school, went on to do all this and much more. Quite an inspiration. 


Mark and students at Trafford College


“I am really glad I chose a career in baking and cake making. It opened up a world of opportunities for me that I would never have dreamed of.

I had had a difficult life and, after leaving school with few qualifications, I didn’t know what to do and whether I could be good at anything. However, I studied an apprenticeship in a local bakery and patisserie and since then I have worked in some of the most luxurious five-star hotel and restaurants in the world.

It has not all been easy, I have had to work hard and be committed to achieve success.

Yes, this did mean working all hours on low pay at times, in pressurised atmospheres which meant a lack of sleep and I did missing family and friends – but it has all been worthwhile.

I have gained respected international qualifications, a lot of experience, confidence and working skills including management training. On top of all that I’ve made lots of friends from the many different countries I visited.

I’ve worked in St Moritz Switzerland and some very posh fine bakeries and confectioners in Germany and that is also where I got my Masters qualification in Baking and


Chateaux Lake Louise, Canada

Confectionary. As an Executive Pastry Chef I was responsible for running and managing patisserie sections. I was fortunate enough to work for Chateau Lake Louise in Canada, Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Dubai, Ritz Carlton in Indonesia. The most mind blowing experience for me was working for the Royal family of Qatar.

Each new opportunity has pushed me to become better and progress to the next level. I have been able to control my career and decide what direction I wanted to take. By the time I worked on the QE2 I was confident about creating menus and teaching junior staff. Since coming back to the UK I have worked in the retail sector for large cake and bakery companies in their product development department creating new cakes, breads and pastries.

It hasn’t all been about work! In the places where I have worked and with the colleagues I have met I have always been able to lead a great lifestyle. I became a ski teacher, learned how to ice-climb, and enjoyed some wonderful backpacking experiences with great


Ritz Carlton, Indonesia

friends. I’ve become more adventurous with food, experienced many different cuisines and also learned different languages. However, this was all made possible through hard work, believing in myself and my commitment to experiencing as much in life as I could.

I am now passing on all my experience and knowledge as a lecturer of Bakery and Patisserie at Trafford college, where my students are taught the skills to be successful in an ever changing industry. I try to guide my students when deciding which area they want to specialise in i.e. pastry, bakery or cake decoration. I also advise them about the importance of maths and English and how these subjects can help them in their careers. I try to show them that pastry and bakery courses aren’t just about completing courses, gaining the skills and then going off into industry. I hope they learn that they can study in college and then university if they want to-in subjects like food nutrition, new product development, food entrepreneurship, bakery and confectionery manufacturing.

At college my students gain practical skills in the well equipped kitchens and also go out into industry-gaining valuable work experience in hotels, restaurants, retail, bakeries, dessert production sites. They will get the chance to take part in competitions, running shows and volunteering events. These are all key skills in becoming a success in the industry and I am more than happy to support in any way that I can.”

If you would like any further information regarding becoming a student with us at Trafford College, please feel free to contact Mark on the details below

Mobile: 07880618070

Telephone 0161 952 4643

Email: mark.cooper@trafford.ac.uk

Twitter: Trafford College @patisseriearts


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