Leaving Care Day 1

Luckily John and I both like porridge so that was breakfast taken care of.  But the budget wouldn’t cover the extra healthy bits we usually have in it, like fruit and seeds.  We missed out on lunch (not deliberately – it just happened that way) and then had a vegetable curry for tea – with half of the cheap nans to fill us up.  The rice came from our lovely local food bank.   We cooked in the slow cooker we have as we were really worried about the cost of actually cooking if we used our oven – there’s only £10.00 each in the budget for electricity!!   But the ingredients only cost 78p for each person.

It hit me pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to have long, hot baths or put the kettle on whenever I wanted to – or have the central heating on more than 3 hours a day –  many of the care leavers have prepayment meters, so when the electricity runs out that’s it for them.


Leaving Care Challenge

Just before Christmas, a young care leaver and her support worker came to the full council meeting and laid down a challenge.  They asked as many County Councillors as possible to try to live on £57.90 a week just like they have to.  I used to work as a residential social worker and a teacher at Aycliffe Young People’s Centre, so I thought I ought to respond to the challenge.  My partner, John, has agreed to do it as well – he thought it would only work this way as he does the shopping and the cooking!!  We started on Monday this week and it isn’t easy – you have to set aside money for heating, cooking, water and the TV license and it costs £4.50 every time you need to go anywhere – the cost of a return bus fare.  You get a list of food etc. you are allowed to put in your cupboard to start you off – not much though – and then after that it is up to you to make the best of it.


John did a shop at Aldi and Tesco – looking for bargains like these nan – but what hit us immediately is you need to know how to cook to eat cheaply.  And you need to be able to get to the shops to take advantage of cut price deals – and that’s not easy if you need to get a bus.

Shildon Remembrance Day 2016

I think this will probably be my proudest day as mayor of Shildon.  So many people turned out to honour those who died serving our country, or were injured both physically or mentally, as well as those who are serving today.  It was a great honour that Olga was there to lead the laying of the wreaths and to have John with us together with our friends from the recently revived British Legion branch in Shildon.  It was wonderful to see so many children there from the rainbows, brownies and scouts.  My thanks go to everyone involved including the representatives of our local churches and the bugler from the Salvation Army.


Tesco to the Rescue

How fantastic are the Tesco store manager and staff?  Shildon Alive said they were getting short of food in the food bank – and straight away they offered to hold a food collection in the store at Tindale.  They did all the organisation and most of the work – and in a day they collected all the items you can see and more!  Over 360 altogether.  And they delivered it all to us this afternoon.  Now all we have to do if the same thing happens again is tell them and they’ll do their best to help.  It really makes you feel that there are people – and companies – out there who really care.


Tea in Hackworth Park And The Flying Scotsman

As part of an amazing day yesterday, a group of mayors and their consorts and other invited guests, including Lord and Lady Derek Foster  and MP Helen Goodman, attended a civic event – ‘Tea in the Park’ – at Hackworth Park in Shildon.  We had tea in the Rest House provided by a wonderful local firm, and listened to the Durham Constabulary Brass Band performing in the band stand in the park, which looked at its stunning best.  Afterwards we all decamped to Locomotion for individual explorations of the site and visits to the Flying Scotsman.  I might have known though – Anthony Coulls and Locomotion manager Gary Campbell ambushed us and gave us the guided tour and access to the Flying Scotsman in all her glory.  I cannot thank everyone at both the Town Council and Locomotion for helping me to show Shildon off at her very best and  making this such a wonderful day for everyone.