Tag:

mums

Grandparents inspired to take action after daughter-in-law’s traumatic pregnanc

This article was first published in January 2014 in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald.

Grandparents Bruce and Bev Bodio are on a mission to help expectant mums deal with difficult pregnancies.

The couple, who live in Stockwood Road, Devizes, were so inspired by an invention which helped their daughter-in-law Carrie, that they’ve turned her story into a business venture.

Carrie, who’s 43, gave birth last year to her daughter Evie after going through a pregnancy which almost crippled her.

“When I had my older daughter Millie ten years ago, I developed a hernia. These can cause problems for pregnant women in varying degrees. Basically it causes aching, a dragging sensation, stinging and can be agony when you are on your feet for any period of time.

“With Millie, it was there and it was achy but it was manageable. However, when I became pregnant with Evie the weakness was already established and things became much, much worse.”

During the second trimester of the pregnancy, the hernia in Carrie’s abdomen got bigger and caused constant pain which restricted her movements.

“Very quickly, I was so debilitated I couldn’t even stand to make a cup of tea. I couldn’t go shopping or do anything without holding my abdomen to relieve the pressure. The only relief was to sit down all of the time.

“I ended up going to the hospital and was told that I would need surgery once the baby was born and I just had to put up with it. They wouldn’t do anything during the pregnancy because of the risk to the baby.”

Various aids exist in the UK to help women with pelvic, hernia or back pain during pregnancy but for Carrie, they didn’t work.

“I looked and tried the belts on the market and found they were expensive, ugly, huge bands which were uncomfortable, unsightly and they didn’t work for me. I wouldn’t have been able to wear them with leggings or nice clothes.”

Carrie tried several do-it-yourself attempts to support the hernia, including wrapping a coat belt around her abdomen so she could go out. Nothing worked for any length of time.

“Eventually,  I gave up and did some research online to try to find something which was more suitable.”

That research led her to contact an American mum, Caroline Christensen, who also suffered hernia problems during her pregnancy. Like Carrie, she couldn’t find any product on the market which worked – so she designed her own.

Carrie said: “She told me she’d love to sell in the UK but didn’t have any idea how to do it and the cost of buying a single item and having it delivered here  pushed up the cost.

“I was so desperate to get something which worked – but there was always the risk that it would be a waste of money. For most people when they are having a baby, they don’t have money to throw away.”

Carrie took a chance and received the product known as the Baby Belly Band. She also told her family about it.

“Within minutes of putting it on, I felt like a different person. I felt secure, it’s flexible and I knew it couldn’t hurt the baby as it’s soft and stretchy. Overnight my life was transformed. I could wear leggings and nice clothes without worrying that everyone could see I was wearing a ‘hernia aid’.

“I’m not one to bang on about this or that wonder product but this simple invention gave me such freedom.”

Unbeknown to Carrie, her finding the Baby Belly Band was only the start of this story.

Mother-in-law Bev said: “I decided to look into the product and do some research. To see the transformation in Carrie who was finding it difficult to stand or walk, made me realize that we had to do something to get this out to other women affected by hernias.

“Women with these problems can face months of discomfort, worry and stress which is just not healthy for them or their babies.”

Bruce said: “I’ve been self-employed for 20 years and am a specialist in helping companies sell their products internationally. This is my area of expertise. Carrie knew I did something to do with distribution and mentioned the belly band to me, but that was it.

“I just couldn’t believe that one day she couldn’t even make herself a cup of tea and the next day she was able to go shopping in Bristol.”

For information on the Baby Belly Band, which is licensed as a medical product, visit www.babybellyband.tel

Or e-mail bev@tricorn4.com

 

 

 

Showjumping is in this family’s DNA – meet Rosie Pyle

(this article was first published in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald on October 17 2013, this content may be slightly longer due to the newspaper editing process)

TALENTED horsewomen Rosie and Sam Pyle have an exciting personal challenge ahead of them  – the mother and daughter are about to go head-to-head in their first national competition together.

Rosie, who’s 14 and a student at Malmesbury School, is a rising star in British Show jumping and is following in the footsteps of her mum Sam, 46, who has also had an impressive career in the sport.

Next month, they’ll be taking part in the Dodson & Horrell National Amateur and Veteran Championships 2013 at the Aintree International Equestrian Centre in Liverpool. They’ve both qualified for the 90 cm class.

“My aim is to be better than my mum,” the teenager joked when we met at the family home in Sherston.

In spite of the joking, there’s no doubt this young woman has a bright future ahead of her. In the last year, her competitive spirit has taken her to more national events than ever before and her sights are now set very high.

“I want to be able to jump at the Horse of the Year Show just as my mum did – I even want to try for the Olympics. I was inspired by London 2012. Just watching everything and feeling the atmosphere, it just looks like an amazing experience and the thought of jumping for my country – that would be really good.”

 

Rosie & Saint are riding high - and hoping for more!

Rosie & Saint are riding high – and hoping for more!

 

She’s also very clear about who inspires this ambition.

“My hero is my mum. I admire her because she had an amazing career with horses and, because her family didn’t have the money to buy the most expensive horses, they bred their own. She followed in her own mum’s footsteps and I want to follow in her’s.

“My granddad tells me stories about mum’s career, often around the travelling, the friendships and the adventures and it just sounds so much fun. Mum is still friends with many of the people she jumped with and I want that too.”

Most recently, Rosie was awarded the NAF Shining Star Award for her work as a member of the British Show jumping Wiltshire Junior Academy. She was nominated in September by coach Nicky Florence.

Nicky said: “Rosie is a pleasure to coach is always immaculately turned out at both shows and training. Her riding has gone from strength to strength as she is very understanding of her horse at all times and she always listens attentively to any advice she is given.”

At home, the Pyles’ family life revolves around horses. They have three of their own who all require daily care and exercising, as well as travelling nationwide to compete. Behind it all, Sam works as an estate officer at Charlton Park and dad James, runs his own independent estate agency James Pyle & Co.

Sam was brought up around horses – her dad Bob Rumble bred horses and her late mum was also an accomplished rider. Bob has already bred Rosie’s next horse, Hunny, who will be suitable to ride competitively in a few years.

Mum Sam said: “Horses are in my blood, I was brought up with horses and its second nature to me. I’ve not been a pushy mum but have always hoped that my girls would enjoy riding as much as I have.”

Sam describes her career in show jumping very modestly. She worked as a professional rider for ten years on the national circuit and competed in the Horse of the Year show. Given her background, it’s hardly surprising that her first child was on horseback from an astonishing early age.

“I would put Rosie in a saddle basket on the back of Didi and lead her when I was walking the dog. It was the easiest way and I did this from about six months old.”

Rosie first memory is, however, rather different.

“My earliest memory of riding is actually of falling off. I was riding my pony Thomas in a field with Dad leading and I fell off, I fell right next to a stone and remember crying because I’d been close to hitting the stone! I was probably about six.

“I also remember going to try my new pony Tommy and sitting on him and feeling really scared because he seemed so much bigger than Thomas. But I soon realized he was easier and I thought I could jump with him.”

Rosie’s life with horses is charted by the names of all who have played a role in her life so far – from Didi, to Thomas, to Tommy, to Gamble, to Ted and now Saint. Sister Katie, who’s 11, is now riding Ted as she begins her career on horseback.

Horses even play a role in her school life as Rosie is a member of the school equestrian team where she competes with her teammates Evie Dyer and Kirsty Poulton.

None of this though, comes cheap. Looking after three horses and travelling around the country is an expensive business. It’s a full-time family commitment to keep the sporting spirit strong within the home.

“I work at Charlton Park,” said Sam. “My job pays for the horses and to cover our costs as much as possible. James supports us all too, in fact we all support each other in any competitions we take part in.”

They did admit though dad James and granddad Bob often sneak off at the weekends to indulge their own secret pastime – boules!

 

The police, young people and mental health…in Wiltshire…

Today I’m reproducing an article I wrote for my family column in the weekly newspaper, The Gazette & Herald, which covers much of the county of Wiltshire. It was published on Thursday August 29 2013  and I’m reproducing it here at the request of one of my Twitter followers, an organisation which I much admire, Wiltshire Mind. To follow me on Twitter, you’d be most welcome at @mum3fi, and you can find the Gazette & Herald @wiltsgazette. 

 

Some time ago,  I wrote about an Ofsted report into the safeguarding of vulnerable children in Wiltshire and the fact that the county’s local authority had been found wanting.

I also reported on the fact that the 2012 report had prompted action to be taken and went through some of the measures to improve the situation for vulnerable and looked-after children in the county. I should point out that the report didn’t suggest any children had come to harm as a result of failings.

However, buried within that 2012 report was a comment which really stood out for me – and which I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of ever since.

It said ‘the established practice by police of using section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to hold some children or young person in custody where they have committed an offence is inappropriate’.

It goes on to say ‘this practice is under review given that there is now a dedicated CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) out-of-hours service that can provide more timely and potentially more appropriate assessments’.

This prompted me to find out about Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. It’s headed ‘mentally disordered persons found in public places’. It allows that a constable can remove and detain someone for up to 72 hours until he, or she, is examined by a registered practitioner or mental health professional.

What does this mean? Have the police in Wiltshire – or anywhere else for that matter – been holding young people and children, in custody for up to 72 hours when it’s suspected they might have mental health issues?

Since raising questions around two months ago, I’ve been on a journey of epic proportions around the ‘system’. But the answer to my key question is – yes.

A number of children each year have been arrested and held, usually when they’ve committed an offence, and the police believe mental health issues have contributed in some way.

Several times the term ‘Freedom of Information’ was used by various voices but last week I finally got some figures from Wiltshire Constabulary. They are:

2009 – four children (under-18s) were held under Section 136.

2010 – six.

2011 – four.

2012 – three.

But to confuse matters even further these are not the definitive figures. The police have recorded ‘pure’ cases – those where a child clearly has, at first point of contact, mental health issues. However, there have also been a number of cases where an arrest has been made and police officers have subsequently sought help as they’ve suspected mental health issues.

Taking these cases into account as well, the total number of children between the end of 2010 and the end of 2012 who were held under Section 136 was 23.

So what has been done about it? The Wiltshire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB –  partnership between Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust) insists much has been done.

In December 2012, mental health services for under-18s was taken over by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, known as Oxford Health.  It immediately introduced the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Protocol.

To cut through the jargon this means when police officers respond to a young person in ‘significant mental health distress or crisis’, the officer contacts CAMHS from the scene by phone. They can do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emergency mental health assessments can then be offered or an appointment within 24 hours.

The officer provides information including:

*         Presentation – how is the young person behaving?

*         Need for medical attention – is the young person hurt?

*         Circumstances of the incident

*         Concerns regarding safeguarding or welfare

The CAMHS worker checks the electronic health record system to see if that young person is known. If so, the worker may speak directly with the young person and propose a safety plan or speak to parents or carers.

If distress can be reduced through a phone conversation, the young person is normally offered an urgent assessment on the morning of the next working day.  If concerns remain, an emergency assessment can be offered in a safe location such as a CAMHS clinic or police station within two hours.

If the young person is not known, there may be unknown risks and an urgent mental health assessment can be offered.

The options are discussed with the officer at the scene who always reserves the right to use a 136 detention or other police powers.

In a statement WSCB said:

“It’s a system which enables officers to gain a mental health perspective to inform their decision-making and consider alternative options.  It also ensures CAMHS are alerted to mental health concerns at an early stage stage and can offer an urgent assessment whether the young person is detained or not.

“The benefits of this collaboration between mental health services and the police, is that distressed young people who require urgent mental health support can receive this quickly, in the least restrictive manner which ensures their immediate needs and risks are reduced.”

The Board says that so far, the new system is working.

“We are pleased to report as result of this protocol there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of 136 detentions under the Mental Health Act of young people under 18 years.

“In the last two years, prior to the introduction of the protocol, there were 23 ‘136’ detentions – this has reduced to three since December 2012.”

Mental health issues in the under-18s - how do the police deal with this?

Mental health issues in the under-18s – how do the police deal with this?

 

We’re not talking about many children, of course, but we are talking about children. Children suspected of having some kind of mental health issue. Children who could, quite legally, be  held for up to three days. Let’s hope this new support system keeps on working.

 

 

 

Reviewing a Sunday spent in the garden

Gardening – a term which fills me with dread. I’ve always hated gardening and everything that goes with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike gardens, I appreciate the effort which goes into a garden but I just don’t want to bother with all of that myself. If I had a choice between gardening and reading a book – the latter would win. As would cooking, cleaning, ironing, walking, driving and much more…

The only time I choose to go to a garden centre is to meet someone for coffee and cake – never for any other reason. A couple of years ago, a close family member bought me gardening vouchers for my birthday and I almost spit out my dummy. When, some months later, I raised the issue I was told that I was ‘approaching the age when I’d be into that sort of thing’.  A comment guaranteed to ensure that when I hit 60 I’ll be even less interested in gardening than I am now!

Today, however, I was part of a family team of gardeners. Having stared at the weeds growing up alongside our house for a couple of months, my need to deal with a problem boiled over. And my usual strategy – kicked in. We all muck in and do it in a morning – or I will be spending all day doing it myself. Always works.

So I now have cuts and bruises from pulling brambles, after my gloves ripped and my feet were black after realising that gardening with crocs on probably wasn’t such a good idea.

I then had to go to a garden centre with my other half to buy some plants to fill the space left  by weeds and brambles. Somehow we actually ended up at B&Q – a place which also ranks in my list of awful places to visit.

Flower

This is not the flower bought today for our garden

So today’s lesson is this – I still hate gardening but having grasped the nettle (quite literally several times) the place looks a little better.

How many months until I have to do some more?

 

Child benefit, Leveson – a 2012 rant from a Wiltshire mum

As journalists, we are not often able to express opinions about political things – and many of us just don’t want to – but today is different.

Today I feel the need to say what I think both as a journalist and as a mum – and it’s two gripes here:  the Leveson inquiry and child benefit.

LEVESON:

I’ve waited a few days to say what I think of the Leveson inquiry, sometimes it’s best to wait and take stock before opening one’s mouth.

My first point is that a small number of journalists, mainly working on national newspapers, have acted in a despicable and unacceptable manner to ordinary members of the public, and the families of celebrities. Neither of these do I condone.

I also don’t condone senior owners and managers in newspapers getting all cosy to politicians and senior police officers to create some comfortable ‘honey pot’ where deals are done. For this there is fault on all sides.

I have less sympathy with celebrities who court the newspaper press when they feel like it – and moan when they don’t like the type of coverage they get. However, no celebrity should have his/her phone hacked and family members harrassed in any way. Journalists who have used these methods are breaking the law.

People who break the law in any profession are unlikely to be stopped by introducing more laws. For some, the story will always be the goal whatever the means.

I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years and I’ve never hacked anyone’s phone, nor have I ever been asked to do so. I’ve never camped outside someone’s house because my employer is interested in writing about their private lives. I was asked to do this just once – I said no. I just didn’t feel it served any public interest at all.

Does this mean I would never write a story of that nature? No – I would and I have, but only when that part of someone’s life encroaches into their public life eg. in criminal cases, politicians who are caught out and action taken against them which comes into the public domain.

Do I think a law should be introduced to control the Press? No, I don’t . The past is paved with good intentions – but whatever the intent of such a law, it could mean that later it’s used to restrict the freedom of the Press even more – and we have a restricted press in this country as it is.

“What!” you may think – well, when I first moved from newspapers into television, I had such a shock when it came to what could and could not be done. In television, the guidelines laid down are far more stringent than in any newspaper and they are, in my personal experience, strictly adhered to.

Take secret filming for example. Due care and attention must be taken before secret filmig is ever approved. As a producer, you cannot just think or suspect that someone is doing something wrong, illegal or immoral – you have to have a strong case. That then has to be approved by the highest manager in the building at the time with a legal opinion. If you jump that hurdle and carry out secret filming, there is another process to decide if it can be used or not. I have been involved in such cases and that secret filming has never been aired.

When journalists break the law they should be prosecuted. I cannot support any restriction of freedom of the press beyond what exists already in the UK. There are thousands of journalists in this country working in towns, villages and cities who are doing a good job bringing stories to light, spreading information and allowing people to have a voice – and some of those stories save lives, bring people justice and raise awareness. This happens every single day.

If you are in any way considering that journalists’ rights should be restricted further. Look no further than revolts, uprisings all over the world where freedom of speech and expression is at risk. The Press in all its forms is one of the first things to be sacrificed or taken over in a time of conflict. It happened in WW2, the Falklands, still happens in China and lately, only last week, communications were cut off in Syria.

CHILD BENEFIT

Image of a five pound note

Money, money, money…..

As a family we’ve known for some time that we will probably lose our child benefit. Now it’s happening, and we are going to miss that extra bit of income each month. We are not a family on very low income, but neither are we a family where the child benefit goes into a savings account for our children’s future – it’s part of the budget for the month, as was always intended.

I do, however, accept that it’s going, I’ve long felt that it’s a benefit which should be means-tested. But this cutting of child benefit is not means tested. It’s a clumsy, discriminatory money-saving tactic which will do damage to this government in my view.

There are two things which have really angered me about this decision to cut child benefit. The first was illustrated when recently talking to some friends. We are two families where both parents work and each have three children. In my friend’s family, the husband is just earning below the higher rate tax level, the mother is also just earning under that higher rate as she has a middle management role and she works part-time. This keeps her earnings below the threshold. My husband is a higher rate tax payer, I’m self-employed and my earnings are not stable. I’ve been self-employed for almost four years and in only one year have I earned enough to match this other family’s household income. On average their family income is about £5k a year more than us – but they can keep their child benefit. How can that be right? In my view, we should both lose it.

The other thing that has really riled me is the letter to my husband where he could opt for me, his wife, to lose the benefit. The benefit is in my name but I’ve received no communication at all. As the higher rate tax payer, he has the letter allowing him to cut off that money on my behalf – which proves to me this is just done for ease of administration. This discriminates, mostly against women and particularly against women who stay at home and don’t go out to work.

Maybe this government thinks all of those families with healthy incomes, but where both partners are under the threshold, will volunteer to lose their child benefit out of a sense of moral duty. Will they b******s!. Would you?

I could have made the decision to keep the benefit with my hubby declaring it on his tax return next year, but then we’ll get hit with a big tax bill. I suppose the only benefit of that would be that I could keep the money, earn interest on it and then pay it back at the relevant time. A part of me wants to do that to be bloody-minded.

However, the plot thickens. You can opt out of child benefit online – where the higher rate tax payer signs in – but the partner – fills out the form. You then get a confirmation that you have ‘requested’ for that benefit to end. The whole wording suggests it’s a voluntary act, like you’ve made an altruistic decision to give up that money to help the nation. That kind of wording really worries me – could it be used against you at a later date if your circumstances changed and you needed to re-apply? Or if it was introduced again universally?

However, I’ve had to ‘volunteer’ to give up my child benefit because of my partner’s earnings. So I either have to bear that loss or I have to try to find extra work to make up the difference each month. Happy New Year!

 

Disabled? In receipt of benefits? Need social care?

This is a different sort of blog for me – it’s my journalist head trying to get at the truth of the matter, so this will be particularly relevant to you if you are disabled, in receipt of benefits or in need of social care.

Two important pieces of legislation are happening as we speak – The Health & Social Care Act and also the Welfare Reform Act 2012. These two laws have the potential to make significant change to how we provide health and social care and how we provide financial support to many groups in the country.

I’ve not got any particular political axe to grind – but I’m interested to know what people’s thoughts, feelings, hopes, worries or concerns are around these laws. I’m not at all sure that people know what is proposed in clear detail. For example, single parents will be encouraged strongly to work once their youngest child reaches five – at the moment it’s 16. Is that good or is that bad? It’s felt that too many people are claiming Disabled Living Allowance and there is an aim to cut that cost. So the DLA is to be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment. What does that mean in terms of assessment of need? Who will carry out the assessments and when?

Will changes to social and health care affect vulnerable groups – for good or ill? eg. dementia sufferers and/or their carers or families?

Another thing which interests me is the idea of an organisation called Monitor overseeing or looking at the health service – what’s that all about? Is this a private company scrutinising a public service? Is that a good or bad thing?

 

Are there any thorny questions around these laws?

Are there any groups out there who are actively campaigning? Or is the public feeling that there are too many scroungers getting an easy life by not working and claiming everything under the sun? I’m skeptical that that is the case but I could be wrong?

Please let me know your thoughts and feelings? Do comment. Or send personal message which I can keep private (though please clearly state if you want that to be the case).

 

First day back at school – what’s it like for you? From one Swindon mum.

Today many children went back to school – as a mum of three, I have three of these days to deal with this year as all three children are at different stages.

Today will possibly be the most long-winded and it reminded me of the trauma that many working parents feel when they are trying to do the right things for their children at school – and get to work on time. It’s a daily battle.

Being self-employed I’ve deliberately kept all three days as free as possible and I’ve not regretted it. After years of children at school, I finally found that it’s best to be as free as possible on days like today. It’s brought the stress down to a bearable level.
Last Friday it was first child to secondary school – getting up far too early, stressing about uniform, putting a tie on for the first time and the horror of my daughter in realising that she has to master this every day for the next few years! What a trauma. Then it’s the ‘what if’ period – what if I can’t find my friends? what if I get lost? what if I can’t find the toilets? what if I’ve forgotten my PE kit?

Notice that these ‘what ifs’ are not the same as us parents? Like, ‘what if the work is too hard? or what if my child gets bullied? or what if my child is naughty?’

What I did not have to do was take my child to school – no it’s now an early bus there and back, but that brings it’s own trauma about safety, on the road and on the bus.

Still we got over that day and today it was child number 2.

 

This trip is a move from Yr 4 to Yr 5 of a very laid-back child who is having a new teacher and some new cardigans but everything else is familiar.

 

However, what a parent so easily forgets over the summer is the hurdles one has to deal with in simply getting your child to school.

The traffic is worse and finding a parking space that a) isn’t a daft and unsafe place to park b) isn’t inconsiderate to residents. And then there’s always the risk that residents will simply object to you parking outside their house, even if it’s not unsafe or illegal to do so. I had this the other day (not on a school day) but on a new estate where there were no road markings at all. I was a visitor to the area, there were no yellow lines, no parking signs at all but a resident wrote me a snotty note and put it on my windscreen informing me that I should ‘park round the back or else’. Clearly he or she thought I was psychic and would know by osmosis that there were parking spaces elsewhere.

 

Back to today, my child gave me a quick kiss and disappeared, eager to see her friends and to find her way around a new classroom.

 

I then had to have at least five conversations with other parents about their particular experiences. Some clearly were parents who were short of adult company over the previous six weeks. I had the time, so it was no problem. But when you are working it’s so rude to say ‘that’s great, bye!’. Then I remembered her new cardigans and also the medical form for her asthma medication.

 

On entering the school office, there was a queue of mums waiting to do similar things.

I could see those eager to be away, hopping from one foot to another – knowing how they felt, I was relaxed about letting them jump the queue.

But then the form-filling – is it really necessary to fill out at least two forms saying the same thing? My child has asthma, she can self-administer her medication when she needs it – which is about once a week. She’s proficient at it, she’s learning to carry her inhalers herself at all times – but she’s not allowed to at school. This I know and accept. But there must be a more efficient way of dealing with this. There was one form and then another, both asking the same thing. This exercise took about 20 minutes and then I had to wait for her new cardigans – luckily that took about a minute.

So my youngest child was pretty bored by the time we left school at about 9.30am – goodness knows what it will be like on Friday when he starts for the first time. I’ll be lucky to get a coffee in before I’ve got to pick him up at lunchtime. Oh joy!

First day at school can seem like a long, uphill slog

Should we put sports’ day photos on social media sites?

Today was sports day at my children’s school. It was a fun day and they did really well. I took some great pics and was all ready to publish them in action on Facebook – didn’t really think about it being a problem.

school racing track (grass)

can we put sports' day photos on the internet? should we?

 

Then a text arrived which stated that no photos could be put on to the internet at all.


This immediately raised my heckles. How dare anyone tell me not to publish photographs that I had taken of my children with my camera! Angry I fumed on Facebook.

I checked up with the Information Commission’s website which suggests that some schools do go too far – saying parents cannot video or photograph children taking part in school events and that’s not in the spirit of Data Protection.

 

Schools, it said,  should not hide behind this as it does not cover photography for private use.

 

But what is private use? As far as I can see it doesn’t say ‘don’t put these photographs on the internet’ – though education guidance does say that.

 

Schools get very upset with mums like me. I do question things which seem to invade my freedom. Just because a headteacher says it is so – is it? just because a lawyer says it is so – is it? Why should we just say ‘yes miss, no miss’ when we’re adults?

 

I’ve filmed a lot in schools and the permission process is extremely rigorous – rightly so. I’ve often had to film around one or two children whose images cannot be shown and that’s fine. Some children need to be protected for clear, identifiable reasons.

 

 

I took the opportunity to talk to some other mums. One, a teacher, said she was happy and gave the impression that I was being like a stubborn child not to bow to this edict about personal sports day photos.

‘We are lucky,’ she said ‘that the school allows us to take pictures’.

Are we?

Another mum said she could see both sides – there are several children in the school who cannot be filmed/photographed for their own protection. This I do get.

Using a photograph of your child, with someone who needs to be protected in the background, and should not be shown – well, I can see the logic in that.

However if I can crop the pictures and just show my children I can see nothing wrong with that decision as a parent, if I wish to publish. Of course, I do ask my children’s permission as they are old enough to be consulted about such things.

 

Of course all of this caution is often about protecting children from child sex offenders – who find the internet a fantastic place to hunt and hide in secret.

 


But does that mean that we have to abandon common sense and never put any photographs of our children on the net? Are we allowing these individuals (and there are more than most people think) to rule our freedom online? Should we?

My gut feeling is no. Why should we? Provided we do not reveal too much personal information, should we be that paranoid? Isn’t that giving these people more power?

 

And then a friend sent me a personal message. This friend reminded me that a former colleague is currently awaiting trial on various charges of child abuse including rape – someone that we were both connected to on the internet.

 

It brought me up short. This friend had had more contact with this man – but even the thought that someone could be looking at my children from afar and thinking vile thoughts was awful.

 

I‘d allowed this individual to enter my internet world – this was someone I’d known in ‘real’ life and hadn’t thought twice about connecting with.


I cannot pass comment on this individual as he’s innocent until proved guilty. However this friend has now removed all photographs of her children from the internet as she’s so shocked at this turn of events.

 

What have I concluded? Truth, I still feel uncomfortable about being told what to do with my own photographs.

 

I’m happy to not show others when I don’t have their permission to publish but I don’t want my natural actions restricted by the phantoms of gross human beings who want to prey on children for sexual gratification.

 

I do feel that there will come a time when social media sites will have to be both public and personal – it will be interesting

to see how these definitions evolve over time.

 

What do you think?

Road users who drive me mad!

This morning as I drove down a dual carriage way in Swindon – a cyclist, making his way out of town on the other side of the road, crossed the very wide green verge and then crossed in front of two lines of cars on my side of the road.

Luckily there were roadworks and all the cars were moving slowly so his U-turn was not that dangerous.

But it was annoying.

 

Annoying because within metres of this dual carriageway on both sides is a dedicated cycle path. There is no where on that stretch of road that could not be reached by this cycle path.

 

It was the second day in a row that I had to avoid a mad cyclist when a cycle path was a mere two seconds away.

Both of these road users were cyclists in all the gear – aero-dynamically shaped helmet, lycra body suits, lightweight shoes. Does this mean that they feel they are a cut above the cycle paths – which let’s face it are suitable for all of those on bikes?

I’m not against cyclists per se – as a family we do go out cycling but we do avoid traffic and roads as much as we can. This is easy to do in Swindon which has been designed with the cyclist and pedestrian in mind. Places are easy to get to via road, cycle and on foot.

It infuriates me when cyclists fanny about on the main roads when there’s a safer and better alternative nearby.

 

 

However there’s a breed a road-user that annoys me even more. It’s the mum (or dad) who parks as close to his/her child’s school as possible regardless of whether it’s safe or not. Often not.

 

 

This is a problem I encounter every day. I was brought up across the road from a infants school so I know about inconsiderate parking. But at my children’s school in Swindon, this lack of care has reached epic proportions. I’m not being santimonious – I drive my children to school but I always think about where I park – am I blocking someone in? Is this a safe place to park?

I’ve even had words with a resident who didn’t want me to park in her street, even though I was perfectly legal to do so and was not blocking anyone. She just didn’t want the likes of me (annoying parent dropping child at school) near her house. Well, she chose to live there, so get used to it.

However I do hate the  ‘mad mums’ syndrome. The aim is to choose the worst parking position possible and cause maximum havoc. The minimum standard is to park across a resident’s drive. The best strategy is to park on a corner of a road, blocking every other vehicle’s view or to park on the pavement next to the school and then doing a three-point turn from that position.

In spite of increasingly angry letters home from the headteacher, it’s a losing battle. In the last letter it was as close to a tantrum as you could get in a letter. I’m not surprised as children’s safety is at risk on a daily basis. Many (though not all) of these drivers are young (under 30) and often seem to think they have a right to park in the most dangerous way.

picture of a car, side view with one wheel showing

Just how much disruption can you cause when parking near a school?

So I’d welcome some creative suggestions as to how to shame these drivers into being safe – without breaking the law of course!

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