The Journey to Mental Illness

Reblogged with thanks to Leasa and discover more at lostsouls24.blgspot.co.uk

I dreamt about writing this piece all night and in my dreams it was just right and I got my point across perfectly, so here’s hoping the conscious self is as astute as the virtual one!!

I dreamt about a journey that I’ve been on from my childhood through to police service and the point at which I find myself now. I saw it as a journey and would like to try and put that into writing thus making sense of what I saw last night.

The Time prior to joining the Good Ship ‘Police Service’!

The way I see it at nineteen years old prior to joining the police service of the late 80’s,  I was a middle class child, and an only child at that, fairly protected from the worlds horrors. My Mother was a bit of a bully and my Dad a respected banker. The bullying had taken quite a toll already leaving me lacking in confidence and somewhat socially reticent.

I left school and worked in a bank where I realised I wasn’t as useless as my Mother made out and when a co-worker was accepted as a police officer I also decided to join up, to embark upon the journey it represented. My Mother was adamant that I was making a big mistake but I forged ahead and was accepted starting my voyage aboard the good ship ‘Police Service’ in August 1989.

The ports visited along the way!

The first port the good ship police service visited was training school. The streets here were littered with sexual discrimination  something I had never encountered up until this point. It never really made sense to me back then why I was treated differently because I was female. Of course there were the obvious uniform differences, skirts, tights, a handbag and no truncheon. The commandant demanding of me one parade if I was merely the ‘course mascot missy’ or are you ‘a real police officer?!’ The venom in some chaps faces just because I was there, others because I shared a self defence mat with them I was never really prepared for that. It scolded my young self and provided the wake up call I probably needed that this was not necessarily a holiday rather a voyage of self discovery.

The second port was my initial posting and another liberal dose of sexism. I was nicknamed ‘the strumpet whore’ for no other reason than I was a female. I was naïve sexually so I know for a fact it wasn’t due to any promiscuity! I accepted this name willingly as I wanted to fit in and back then I think I even wore it as a badge of honour representing what I felt I had achieved so far. Along sexism street I was pinned against walls, called names, banned from attending certain incidents and touched up by the sergeant in charge of my probationary two year period. A baptism of fire. I recall very vividly watching a Detective Inspector balling very loudly at a shivering, cold, wet, rape victim in the enquiry office of the station interview room about how she had been asking for it, and what did she expect dressed like that. I think it was at this part in my journey that I started carrying a rucksack for those chips that got gouged out of my shoulders.

As time progressed I developed very chipped shoulders yet I saw them as well earned war wounds. Trophies as you will. I was succeeding where I had been told I would fail, I was proud to be a police officer. The service was the making of me I thought and despite the sexism I enjoyed the camaraderie, I felt like I belonged to something worthwhile and I knew I could be good at it.

The places I visited along the way have shown me the horrors of human nature, I have seen bodies broken beyond recognition, babies raped, and low lives willing to assault and thieve from the elderly. I have held the hands of parents whose children have been snatched, told people their loved ones will never be coming home again and given of myself to allow others a smoother passage.

As I have travelled this route like from all good journeys I have kept images of the things I have seen along the way. The horrors are all stored in my rucksack lest I forget. The sudden deaths, the road traffic casualties, the crashed helicopter pilot, the raped baby, and indeed the sounds of that baby being raped. Many, many memories.

That old adage that the police service deals with five per cent of the population ninety per cent of the time is very true but it was easy to lose sight of this fact along the way. The way I viewed the world and myself was shaped by these experiences and I never really knew what damage they were causing along the way.

The rucksack got heavier and heavier with the flotsam I collected until my first visit to Mental Illness in 2002.

Mental Illness the first visit
 
 
In 2002 I split with my husband getting divorced. I was appointed Detective Sergeant on a Sex Offender Unit and was dealing with paedophiles, viewing their putrid child abuse images day in, day out. A warped perverse world that somehow became my normality. I didn’t cope very well with my personal crisis, the new job, the subject matter and getting in to another relationship with step parenting duties all within a matter of months. In fact it all became too much and I fell ill and had some time off with stress. Now no one ever told me I was visiting mental illness, there were no road signs or maps. In fact it wasn’t something I was even aware of until two years ago. The doctor gave me pills which I took for a while but after I was belittled and laughed at by my police officer partner for being a light weight I quickly agreed that I didn’t need them, for I was a passenger on the good ship police service. I was therefore invincible.
Mentally Ill people were our ‘clients’ the people we dealt with, that person in the cells banging their head off the wall or the street wino who seemed to talk utter gibberish about their time in the military. Oh how we laughed about that. no it certainly wasn’t us the invincible police officers.
Not very long after returning to work I took a five year career break. Deep down I knew why but I never let on, not even to myself. It’s hard to explain, but I knew I wasn’t coping, I knew my mind was weakening but I couldn’t acknowledge it.  I cast out depression refusing to accept that it was actually a part of me now. I left it on the dock and tried to sail away without it.
I had a baby, traumatic in itself with an emergency caesarean, near critical blood loss and a week in hospital being transfused. New baby and parenthood, plus starting a successful property business left me thinking it may just be possible to disembark from the good ship police service. My rucksack was really heavy with life’s chattels and challenges, so we did plan that I would leave the service, run the business and bring up our daughter. However the good ship relationship then sank without a trace just as I was trying to board it, my rucksack proving far too heavy, that together with all our extra baggage it disappeared beneath the waves.
So I found myself a single parent facing an unwelcome return to the good ship police service as I needed to support us financially. I returned to a refurbished vessel,  departments had changed, policies and procedures with them and it felt much like I was entering a parallel universe, everything  the same yet completely different at the same time. New challenges now existed as I tried to balance parental responsibility with the demands of policing and that insatiable see saw between job and your child that can never possibly be balanced. The guilt that goes with that challenge just becomes an extra rock for the rucksack.
Mental Illness the second time around
 
 
Four years in to my return to the good ship police service I find myself two years into a posting on the Professional Standards Department. An unforgiving environment dealing with anger and discontent. Members of the public making complaints about police officers or the service in general, people you had to visit and sit and listen to whilst they spat putrid nastiness at you, in turn police officers feeling aggrieved and affronted by you asking them to account for their actions giving you the run around and / or the cold shoulder plus unsupportive line management heaping more muck in your direction regardless of the weight limits or you being obviously off balance. That’s all before the IPCC cast their shadow in your direction.  It was a hell hole, it is a hell hole.
This is when I visited mental illness again. This is was when I looked in the mirror and finally said hello to my old friend, acknowledging the black dogs reflection for the very first time. Even then it took me six months of physical symptoms, convinced I was dying of some mystery illness before I allowed myself to entertain the dark canine.
Oddly I thought that once I had greeted the black dog and given it a bone it would settle down in it’s bed and go to sleep but how wrong I was. It had days when it hassled me non stop always there never silent, and others when it was perfectly happy to curl up in its basket and sleep. But once he’s come to you, you have a pet for life. He’ll demand attention at the most inopportune moments and sometimes you cannot make any headway through life but for its high jinx.
As I approached the half pay point of having been six months absent from the service and after the captain had commenced the sanctions against me known as UPP (Unsatisfactory performance procedures) for not being at work I forced myself to climb back aboard the good ship police service. Financially I had no choice but I knew it was more a case of when I’d be ill again as opposed to if.  The black dog came too, he won’t be left alone you see, not under any circumstances. he is very insistent that he stays in your company at all times.
This time I found acknowledging my illness out loud to people very cathartic, it seems to make people very uncomfortable I can see that and honestly part of me enjoys watching them wriggle about when I discuss it. But the captain had the last laugh ultimately as the accommodation was never adapted for keeping a pet nor was the workload or type. Nothing ever changed from before I was ill to when I returned. I even found a good proportion of the work I’d left in my tray was still sat there waiting for me six months down the line.
I battled on for a further two years. Despite my dislike of the work I knew it was a guaranteed desk job, with 9-5 week day shifts and this suited my ever present battle with balancing that damned see saw. I knew I was selling my soul to the devil in some respects but it felt like a necessary evil.
Just before Christmas 2016 I knew I was wobbling, I started getting very tearful at work. I found myself dog tired the minute I sat down at my desk, to the point that I could barely keep my eyes open at nine in the morning. I would get so angry at silly things and I felt a burning hatred for the environment and people around me. Completely paranoid, watching people automatically assuming they were talking about me and burning with resentment. It’s like an allergy to work, I could feel myself welling up with tears as I approached the building daily, the hyper ventilation as I approached the office, the nausea as I entered. It repulsed me, I feared it and I’m terrified of returning to it.
Mental Illness revisited
 
 
So here I am again. Revisiting my old stomping ground. Sick. Ill. Unwell. Mad. Zombie like. Slightly agro phobic. Battling demon headaches and constant nausea. Joints aching and swollen. Fearful of the telephone ringing, panicked by work emails and sorely tempted to move to the outer Hebrides and an uninhabited island away from people, policing and myself. Except I guess I would sort of have to be there wouldn’t I!
My rucksack is overflowing and it feels like I’ve been cast adrift in a small rowing boat away. Pushed away from the master vessel I’m bobbing around without direction. I’m out of my depth when I look over the side yet I feel too weak to row anywhere.  If I stand up the weight of my rucksack rocks the boat. I have a map but cannot seem to make head nor tail of it and instead I find myself staring at it bemused. I sort of know how I might be able to get this boat to the shore, I might even be able to tether it when I got there but I truly cannot be bothered. The captain of the master vessel, police service, hasn’t transmitted an SOS message for me and it seems that their expectation is of me saving myself as they have no responsibility or jurisdiction over my predicament.

I am lost on the sea of Mental Illness, my only apparent grid reference is  ST1 GMA.

 

POLICE LEADERSHIP

Reblogged from Mental Health Cop’s great series of articles thank you Insp Mike Brown!

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I heard the Health Secretary Jeremy HUNT deliver a speech at today’s Crisis Care Concordat Summit in London, the first major speech he’s delivered on mental health, we were told. Almost the first thing he did was praise the police service for the leadership shown on the subject of mental health crisis care, driving much of the debate that led to the creation of the Crisis Care Concordat itself. I might be wrong, but my sense was the comment did not land well with everyone! One service user tweeted about this, wondering whether it should be the police driving certain aspects of healthcare provision – and of course, I don’t think there was a police officer in that room who wouldn’t happily see the issues we face being confronted head-on by senior health leaders and commissioners.

History shows another approach became necessary, for a range of reasons perhaps uniquely understood by the police.

BACK SEAT DRIVERS

Following his speech, the Q&A session saw Commander Christine JONES from the Metropolitan Police, the lead for the National Police Chiefs Council asking, “Mental health services are underfunded: at what point will parity of esteem be matched by parity of funding?” Almost immediately, we saw reaction about how senior health leaders were unlikely to challenge as directly as this. Again: the police driving the debate, literally, with the Secretary of State for Health on the general topic of mental health, not a question specifically about policing! Would Commander JONES be asking that question if a senior health leader were doing it or likely to do it? … I doubt it.

After I woke this morning, my attention was drawn on Twitter to an article by Lord BLAIR in today’s Guardian, a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. This article was bouncing around the conference room at the Oval, in hardcopy … “have you seen this?!” and so it was handed from person to person. It quite obviously divided opinion amongst the non-police professionals present (and on Twitter). It ranged from ‘flabby opinion’ that was ‘not offering any solutions’ to some who thought it was imprecisely making perfectly valid points about the outcomes we see from our current arrangements. It’s obviously not for the police, serving or retired, to tell the health system how or when to ensure upstream intervention in mental health care any more than it is for health professionals to get specific about how the police should discharge their responsibilities under criminal law. However, it is perfectly fair comment for NHS staff at all levels to flag up problems in policing and say, “What are you going to do about it, Copper?!” Or similar.

The main agenda at the CCC today was all about health – a couple of the workshops focussed on policing and legal issues but the main room was all about health. Quite right, too! – the police should be much less of a voice in this, ideally. That they aren’t does lead to certain observations which I make very reluctantly after today’s events. We need to see achievement and progress in this area: not just activity – and this means we also need to describe what we’re actually trying to achieve. The Concordat obliged local areas to produce an action plan, uploaded to the Mind website in 2015 – I’m told this plan should be refreshed and updated by all areas in early 2017. In addition, we heard today about the Five Year Forward View plans that are required, in order to deliver on the NHS England strategy for mental health during the remainder of this Parliament. Of course, those following developments in health will know that various areas have grouped together to produce Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), in order to make the NHS as a whole sustainable in coming years.

PLANS ABOUT PLANS

So what about those 2015 Action Plans – how many areas have ensured delivery of the majority of their contents? If you remember the mapping process set down by Mind: areas were to go from Red to Amber when they’d agreed to some principles to work in partnership; and then Green once uploaded to the Mind website. I remember commenting at the time there should be another colour for completion of the plan, even if just 80% complete. However, one police officer today described his local CCC leadership group as a talking shop where “nothing gets done”. It’s not the first time this month I’ve heard that said, quite honestly. So in addition to those plans, which now need revising, we see then need for more plans after the Five Year report and all of that has to fit in to STPs concerning overall NHS efficiency – the plan of plans!

We know from recent media coverage, that more than half of CCGs are cutting the funding they give to mental health as a proportion of their overall budget, despite suggestions from Government that the proportion should increase. That is the context within which any plan needs to be seen and we know that the trend in terms of crisis care is an upward one – barely a week goes by without coverage on increases in crisis related issues: whether systemtic or individual. No-one who follows current affairs in any detail could fail to understand that there are dynamics at play in society that effect mental health which do go beyond the health service but none of that explains decisions we see to situations ever more towards the social justice safety net that is policing and criminal justice.

I also prepared a question for Jeremy HUNT, in case no other police officer put their hand up. I was going to ask, “What should we conclude about mental health and crisis care if more people than ever before are being detained under s136 MHA, more people are going missing whilst mentally ill, more people are being arrested for offences and then being assessed under the MHA in custody?” There was a sense today amongst (at least some of) the police officers that whatever progress is being made on CrisisCare – and there is lots of it! – it seems to be at the expense of upstream interventions. Those of you who follow along on social media know I’m all too fond of quoting Archbishop Desmond TUTU: “There comes a point you have to stop pulling people out of the river, get upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

POLICING IN MENTAL HEALTH

When I first got involved in working on the policing interface with our mental health and wider health system, I remember specifically saying to myself that I wasn’t ever going to get myself in to the position of being caught telling healthcare professionals how to run their health service or how to deliver on their professional obligations. This was partly a question of manners: I’d be prepared to listen to anyone about the impact of the way we police on them, but it is ultimately for the police to square away competing demands and priorities in how police services are run, held accountable as they are through various processes. I took the view that that the reverse courtesy should be applied in how I worked on mental health.

But if I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years on this topic, it is a conclusion very reluctantly reached and best summed up in a matephor from my other area of professional interest: public order policing. Progress on mental health has come when police officers or police services form a cordon, take ground and hold the line. History shows that problems in health-based Place of Safety provision actually came not from the Concordat – no doubt it helped – but from some forces saying, “Enough is enough: this will have to change and it will change with or without the consent of the health system”. We’ve heard recently about problems in partnerships where the police are being routinely expected to handle the fallout, often unlawfully, of a health system that has decommissioned too many inpatient and specialist beds whilst apparently disregarding s140 MHA and other obligations. History shows that resolution of those operational problems has come from senior officers tweeting to publicly shame the system in to gear and from actual or threatened legal action.

So the lesson appears to be this: the police are bungling around in this arena, still – not always getting it right and we sometimes miss the subtleties or complexities. We are not experts, we are not clinicians and we’re not trying to be. We just have a unique perspective on some of these important issues and one that is all too misunderstood and disregarded. History shows that unless we shout loud and / or agitate on behalf of vulnerable people, we don’t make progress. I’m far from alone in wishing this were not so. As a natural introvert and an experienced public order commander I can tell you that shouting and agitation is occasionally a tactic in taking ground and making progress: it is to be used sparingly, recognised as a restrictive or coercive practice and it is not without collateral intrusion. However, it does remain a legitimate tactic and leadership is recognising when it is required, when the collateral intrusion may be worth the risk and involves not over-playing it. If we want that voice to quieten down, I suspect we need to see fewer, clearer plans about what the destination is and how we get from here to there without violating the rights and expectations of vulnerable people who are all too often caught up in it.

Notice the above didn’t really focus on the public we serve? – neither did today.


IMG_0053IMG_0052Winner of the President’s Medal from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award.


SMPL request

The SMPL team are building a comprehensive list of services and support for our ex-servicemen, reserves and their families across Surrey. This will be published in September 2016 and submitted to the Ministry of Defence, the Office for the Police & Crime Commissioner and the Surrey Civilian Military Partnership Board.

ArmedForcesCovenentWe know that there are some amazing people out there helping our ex-servicemen and women and we want to capture them all!

You can help our veterans and their families as well as our reserves by nominating any service you provide for the military community or of any that you know about!

The Categories are:

  • Local Government team or service
  • Charity
  • Self-help group
  • Volunteer team
  • Sports organisation
  • Business

You can tell us by

emailing contact@smpl.org.uk

twitter @SimpleIsntIt

facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=smpl

And please share this challenge as widely as you can – we need to capture national services supplied locally as well. (Just for illustration the Royal British Legion).

Thank you on behalf of all the people you will help by taking part.

Best regards,

Roger

Road to Victory

post by –  Steven McCulley Founder & Owner of LIOS Bikes

Five years ago I was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan.

After setting up LIOS Bikes Ltd whilst in rehabilitation, ‘Road to Victory’ was very kindly produced by Hogarth Worldwide and charts the build up to the LIOS Nano carbon folding bike winning the MR PORTER Nocturne London Folding Bike Race on 4 Jun 16…almost five years on to the day I was injured!

Please check out the short video and spread it as much as possible…

Thanks

 

 

The SMPL team add: What a positive message and good luck to you and the team!

You Find Yourself Wherever You Are! (Or – A Meditation For The Soul)

I love the wording on Dutch Maps – like the ones you find in Tourist Attractions, large towns, or Shopping Centres – it makes more sense than being told “You Are Here”.

“U Bevindt Zich Hier” literally translates into “You Find Yourself Here”.

The question is where do I actually find myself???

Yes – I know that the best place to find the true “me” is in Rotterdam – but what if I am stuck in England???

Well, I can usually find myself when I get totally lost in scenery.  The scenery usually has to include water or unusual buildings or sculptures.  Preferably all three.  (A clue – try taking me back to Kings Lynn – that works.)

If I cannot find freedom in my real surroundings the next best thing is to do one of my hobbies – reading or writing.  I love books and blogs which I can get completely lost in as I read them.  It doesn’t matter if they are fiction or factual – the test is if I can read them in one sitting and then want to reread them.

My favourite blogs are ones where the authors take me with them as they describe situations to me – or explain even the most complicated theories in extremely idiotproof language.

Writing is something else I can find myself in as I get lost in it.  There is just something calming about seeing letters and words appearing on a page as I either move the pen or hit the keys on the keyboard.

I remember reading a book by Steve Bowkett, called “Meditations For Busy People (How To Stay Calm And Stop Worrying)”.  The most memorable line in it was “imagine you are on a tropical deserted beach.  This is your personal shakra – visit it often”.

The funny thing about that is – I cannot stand warm places and my favourite beach has got a rather large port very close to it.  Hoek van Holland beach is almost next door to the ferry terminal.  My second favourite beach – in case you were wondering – is the one at Scheveningen, near The Hague (I always want to type “Den Haag”). 

For those of you who are fans of “The Hairy Bikers” – the beach (or rather the promenade) at Scheveningen was featured on one of their “Bake-ation” programmes.

We are all too busy and stressed out – whether it is connected with employment, health, relationships, financial matters, or anything else.

I read in another book (which I cannot remember the title of at this moment in time) that there are times when unresolved stress and mental anguish actually gives unexplained physical symptoms – if not properly dealt with.

I know that there are people who enjoy walking (my Dad is one of them).  However, seeing as it is one of my primary forms of transport, I don’t see the point of walking for leisure.  If I want to walk I usually have both a destination and a purpose in mind.

A recent kind of a hobby is being showcased on this blog post.  These photos were taken outside St Martin’s House, near Leicester Cathedral, a couple of years ago.

I must admit that my idea of photography will drive most people up the wall.  Not for me the pretty – chocolate box – photos of architecture or scenery.  I like my photos with a twist in them – the kind that makes you wonder “why the Hell did she take that???”.  Either that or the sort of photo which can be interpreted in more than one way.

I was talking to someone today who asked me if I would go for Laser Eye Surgery if it could be proven to be 100% successful.  She was surprised when I said “No”.  Apart from the reason I gave her (I wouldn’t be “Me” if I have it) – I wouldn’t have the most useful escape route ever invented any more if I did.

As it is now – I can easily escape into my thoughts whilst in your presence and you wouldn’t necessarily notice any difference.  Well – that is not quite true.  You would notice a difference but not the major one.

I think I have written before about how my favourite time of the day is when I wake up – before I put my glasses on.  My world is in its natural (for me) blurred state.  My brain can gently tick over as it warms up ready for the day ahead.  When I reach for my glasses it is a sign that I am going to get up and do something difficult – which means waking my brain up properly.

This means that – as well as giving my eyes a break when I take my glasses off – my brain gets a break as well.  You see – without my glasses on my brain just gets blurred images via my eyeballs.  So it switches off and treats whatever is in front of me as a kind of screensaver.  You will notice that I very rarely walk around without my glasses on (unless they are being cleaned – or “defogged” – as I walk or I am inside my own house and I am staying on one level).

We all need a way of escaping at times – be it daydreaming (something else I am very good at), something creative, physical exercise, or something else of your choice.

Some people are happiest in a crowd of people whilst others – like me – prefer their own company or dealing with people one on one.  (I sometimes have to “psych myself up” before I can even face a small group of friends or relatives.  That depends if I think I am going to have to “perform” or not.  If I feel like I can be myself and merge into the background I am extremely relaxed – if I feel like I have to act “normal sighted” I can get extremely stressed out extremely quickly.

We all have our limits as to what we can and cannot cope with.  The trick is not to cross those limits too often (if at all).

You are special because you are unique.  There is no point in trying to be like everybody else because they cannot be like you.  In fact, if you think about it, the only thing we all have in common is that we are all human with a 100% Mortality rate.  Some of us identify as men and some of us identify as women, some of us are right handed and some of us are left handed, some of us are white and some of us are from “Ethnic Minorities”, etc.  The list is endless.

My least favourite rock group (U2) released a single called “One” which has very relevant lyrics;

“We are one but we’re not the same.  We’ve got to carry each other – carry each other”.

Meeting The Mental And Related Health Needs Of Veterans And Families In Wales – New Report

reblogged from Pathfinder International – with thanks!
Wales has one of the UK’s leading services for meeting the mental health needs of veterans, but a new review finds that more could be done to strengthen the national strategy in Wales to meet the needs of veterans and their family members…
The review entitled ‘Call to Mind: Wales’, highlights that while much progress has been made in recent years in Wales with respect to meeting the mental and related health needs of veterans, further improvement is required. Top priorities include increasing Veterans NHS Wales’ capacity, improving data to inform commissioning and service provision, improving mainstream services, and doing more to support families and carers.
The report is based on a series of stakeholder interviews in Wales with three groups: veterans and their families; statutory sector stakeholders; and those in the voluntary and independent sectors. Interviews were supplemented by a comprehensive review of key documents and engagement with fourteen voluntary sector organisations who work with veterans and their families in Wales.
The Wales review, part of a wider one-year review covering each of the devolved nations, was commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust and conducted by Community Innovations Enterprise to build on a similar and well-received review carried out in England in 2015. The end result will be the first comprehensive assessment of how to meet the mental and related health needs for veterans and family members throughout the UK.

» Read more

The Real Junkfood Roadshow (Or – Educating People One Delicious Meal At A Time)


Poem by Ken Duddle (One of the “The Real Junkfood Project” Volunteers)

OK – so it wasn’t technically a “Roadshow” as such.  The “Super Saturday” event which usually happens at the West End Centre, Andrewes Street, Leicester, just moved itself to the Riverside Festival on Saturday.

Before I continue I suppose I had better declare an interest in this great bunch of people.  I am one of the Volunteers.  However, you won’t see me serving or cooking at any of their events (even though I helped out on Thursday afternoon).  I am more of the “Behind the scenes” Volunteer – as in – I do the Admin.

The “Pay As You Feel” concept is a very good idea.  You don’t even have to pay in money – you can volunteer your services instead.  This has the effect of allowing everybody to be treated as equals (whether or not they can afford to pay with money).

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you will probably recognise the “Menu” board from whenever I am having my Thursday night dinner at the “Pay As You Feel Cafe”.

I must admit that Thursday afternoon was an eyeopening experience for me.  Put it this way – I got a big shock when I saw the food which had been collected from various places.  There was lots of it.

At the Leicester “Pay As You Feel” Cafe they also have a “Food Boutique” where you can pick up some perfectly edible food which has been thrown out by supermarkets, etc, that you can use at home.

The motto of The Real Junkfood Project is “Feed Bellies Not Bins” and – if you could see the amount of food which the Leicester gang collect from various places – you may get some idea of the best way to solve the problems with people going hungry unnecessarily.  Use the food which Supermarkets throw away to feed people who honestly cannot afford the crazy prices you have to pay for thngs like fresh fruit and vegetables.

I am really tempted to suggest that the Police sign up to the Junkfood initiative – and either donate their excess food or serve food which has been prepared by their nearest Junkfood Project in their stations.

Is there any way of the Junkfood Project being incorporated into the Criminal Justice System???  Either as a volunteering opportunity or as a place where people can get a healthy meal without being judged???

What I love most about the Junkfood Project is not the food itself – it is the way of bringing the community together – and helping people to learn about each other.

TWISTED SISTER……PRETZELS 

FIT2BORGANIZED

TIPS TO ORGANIZING YOUR LIFE AND STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY

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The next recipe I have really enjoyed making for my family are baked soft pretzels.   I make a batch of these, freeze them, then pop one in the microwave when I feel snacky!  They are chewy, tasty,  salty (or sweet) and satisfying.   Yum!😋

Here’s how it’s done…..

1st make your dough.  Again, I use a bread maker to make my dough using this recipe:

1 1/2 c warm water

1T sugar

1 1/2 t  salt

1 egg, beaten

4 1/2 c flour

2 t yeast

After the dough cycle is complete  (2 hrs) place the dough on a lightly floured surface.

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Break a small ball of dough off and roll it out on a clean, dry surface.

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At this point you can create whatever shapes, balls,  rings, braids, twists you like.  My family loves pretzel bites, so from a strip (pictured above) just cut it into 10, 2cm pieces.

After forming all your dough into pretzels, it’s time to boil them in a large pot of water with 1/2 c of baking soda mixed in.

wpid-2015-04-15-14.25.08.jpg.jpgGently drop 3-4 pretzels in the boiling water and boil for 30 sec., flip, then 30 sec. on the other side.

wpid-2015-04-15-14.32.05.jpg.jpgCool on a drying rack, then place on a baking sheet.   First, brush on a little bit of oil,  then sprinkle generously with coarse salt or cinnamon and sugar.




  • Bake at 400° for 15-20 min.

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Let cool (if you can wait😆) and enjoy! We sure do!

Your Simply Susan recipe of the day! 😆

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