Newhaverin Leith and life



Over the past few years I've seen friends and colleagues in the Third Sector lose funding from traditional funding bodies with statutory and trust funding drying up and competition for what remains is so stiff it's soul destroying. To the poor bod having to fill in more and more funding applications, chasing even the smallest pots of cash and competing against their partners in the sector, the return on the investment in time can be small but essential to survival.

As a person who donates cash to charities and non-profits it isn't always clear to me how the organisation is spending the money, say following a campaign, and it often feels like a disconnect between me and the organisation whose work I'm so supportive of. So the connective emotion that prompted the support isn't really reciprocated. You press the pay button on a website or you hand over a tenner and that's it.

How can Third Sector organisations take more control over their funding futures and how can donors get better connected to the organisations they support?

Crowdfunding, that's how. Earlier this week the first ever (Scottish based) crowdfunding website for the Third Sector, SoLoCo, officially launched during Social Media Week in Glasgow.

Crowdfunding and SoLoCo allows projects, causes and organisations to funders to connect directly. No judging panel, no filling in of a multitude of applications and no mystery surrounding the project you're helping to fund and what it's doing. Donations go right to the project via the SoLoCo website through PayPal and from the project's page on the SoLoCo site you can link to their social media (all projects using SoLoCo must open a Facebook Group page to keep funders up to date with project activities).

There are currently 11 projects available to help fund including 2 Leith based projects, Leith Festival and Sikh Sanjog.

So now you have an opportunity to support national and local projects directly, have a stronger connection to that project and know that you're helping deliver essential services that are not offered by anyone else in the public or private sector.

Give in a different way.

Runners! Supporting charity in the run up to racing season? Why not give through SoLoCo?

Are you a Christmas time charity supporter? Log on to SoLoCo this time round.

Private sector! Mix it up by giving through this unique platform. You'll be the one on the cutting edge.

Someone like me who gives when they can? Check into SoLoCo, see what's happening and get a direct link to groups you really feel are working to make a difference for communities at a grassroots level. All the cool kids are doing it.

Filed under: Social media 3 Comments

Project hot body week three- introspection

Introspection has always been a throw away word to me owned by religious freaks and self help obsessives but now I own it too. The experience of cutting out food and drink that I'm used to indulging in has been difficult at times but facing that difficulty means I've had to be introspective, examine why I'm feeling defiant or frustrated and challenge myself. It's allowed me to revisit breathing and meditation skills I've learned through biofeedback, ChiRunning and a Samye Ling retreat (at which I think my body went into shock resulting in one of the worst migraines I've had to date- it was probably too much for a beginner) and it's rekindled the fire in me to practice mindfulness in running and in life. It's hard work, this meditation and mindfulness business, especially for a recovering neurotic like me, but the benefits are great. There are small things that have been cropping up in my life that I'm taking as cosmic confirmation my decisions to build on my meditation practice and keeping up the challenge of excluding foods are right like the emergence of buddhify in my world and that today's This American Life podcast (I listen religiously every Monday morning) centered around people's stories of living without. It's small signs of solidarity, of support and motivation and I'll take all that I can get.

Filed under: Fitness 2 Comments

The beauty of sharing social media knowledge

I've had the great fortune over this year to be involved in social media surgeries and social media briefings to formally and informally share my knowledge about using and planning to use social media with colleagues and community groups. The appetite for consultancy on social media is huge, especially in small grassroots groups who could never afford to hire someone in and mostly just need help to get over the threshold by establishing the why, the who and then the how in that order- I insist. There can be a lot of anxiety about using social media for engagement, either because skill levels are low or because entering the social media world is so exposing, but watching the anxiety turn into excitement and ideas is very rewarding. In turn I've learned so much from people I've helped- community walking groups taught me about the mind blowing digital resource exploration site Europeana (I defy you not to get obsessed with it) and how QR codes could be the future of a layered historic walk experiences, an Edinbuzz patient gave me the skinny on Edinburgh's Innertube project, a colleague exposed me to the interesting world of local government Trading Standards professionals using Twitter (who knew?) and a neighbour told me how useful it's been for people in her university course to use Twitter to announce updates to their website, communicate about work and share specific information. How else would I know about all these wonderful things without meeting people because of social media?

And so it goes on. I'll be joining a crack team of volunteer surgeons for a Be Good Be Social social media surgery during Social Media Week next week in Glasgow. I'm waiting with bated breath to find out who's booked in to meet with me to learn about social media but equally I can't wait to learn from them about their work and interests.

The Be Good Be Social surgery is being held on Wednesday September 21st. Sign up here.

Filed under: Social media 2 Comments

Project Hot Body week two- virtue

I'm just past the two week mark in Project Hot Body, a project to slim down, change my attitude to food and drink and how I spend my time. While week one saw me nervously approaching a life of no caffeine or alcohol I'm now basking in the glow of virtue. Smelling wasted or hungover folk on my bus, watching as colleagues get yet another coffee to 'keep them going' and seeing someone tackle a meal of chips reminds me how good I feel for not doing those things. Smug much? Yes, yes I am.

It's only after cutting caffeine that I realise what an anxious person it made me and how unpleasant it was going into work pumped full of something akin to crack. I feel like I'm able to deal with stress in a much better way because I'm not on edge with a coffee high. Cutting booze has also made a world of difference to the way I feel and cutting it hasn't been difficult, definitely not as difficult as I had imagined. Getting the most out of this programme and improving my health and fitness far outweighs drinking loads of wine for no real reason. Missing out the many bottles of wine that would have littered two weeks of my life just goes to show how a goal and focus can make changing bad habits very easy.

There are a few things that I've noticed since the beginning of Project Hot Body that I hope will pass- clumsiness, decreased stamina during endurance sessions and cravings for sweet things which is really unusual for me. I know my body is going through all sorts of adjustments so I'll tell you next week how it's all going. I shouldn't be weighing myself right now but I did. 71.3 kilos this afternoon. You'll notice that's a drop.

Filed under: Fitness 1 Comment

Project Hot Body week one- the weaning

I'm taking part in a programme of intensive Pilates, serious cardio and an exclusionary diet this month. No starchy carbs, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, wheat or gluten. I'm doing it so you don't have to- I'm taking one for the team. My motivations are to change my body composition, maintain motivation through taking part in this with a group, lighten up ahead of half marathon training (I registered yesterday- no backing out now) and to change my eating habits and keep the change.

The programme is an offering from Healthy Ambitions, an independent Pilates, health and fitness organisation in Leith. Headed by Mel, a legendary powerhouse of strength, tough instruction and enthusiasm, the Healthy Ambitions Pilates Fat Loss Detox Plan will probably kick my ass- I know Mel will anyway.

My first Pilates session with Mel is Tuesday morning but she's sent through information and a food diary to get me started. I've stocked up on beautiful whole food and I can't wait to get stuck in cooking recipes from Mel's cookbook she created just for this programme.

I started a week early in what I call the weaning week. Cutting caffeine and alcohol will be the most difficult parts for me while the food part is a cinch so I've taken the past week to really cut back on the coffee and booze. I've done really well this week and have already lost about four pounds with less booze and no starchy carbs or gluten and spinning and running.  Keep up here with a weekly update of the highs, the lows and maybe a mental breakdown. Watch me melt away before your very eyes....

At 31 August:

Weight 73 kilos

In inches: chest 38.5, waist 32, hips 41.5, thighs (R) 23 (L) 23.5, calves 14.5 and biceps 11.5

Filed under: Fitness 4 Comments