Christmas feel good story

In 2013 a teenager collected hundreds of supermarket vouchers to buy £600 worth of shopping for 4p so he could give the food to families:

Jordon Cox, 16, scoured endless websites and magazines and gathered hundreds of coupons for dozens of products.  After spending hours each day searching the internet for coupons, he managed to collect 470, which he took to his local supermarket, and filled three trolleys with food and household items.  The bill came to £572.16, but once the coupons were factored in the bill was reduced to just 4p – a saving of 99.81 per cent.  The teenager, of Brentwood in Essex, donated all his food to the charity Doorstep which gives food to disadvantaged families.

He said:

“I read an article that said a thousandth of the UK population are unable to eat this Christmas because they don’t have any money.  I decided wanted to help as many people as I can, and to also show that it’s possible to shop very cheaply, if you know how.  It’s not an exact science, so you can never really work out ahead of time how much the total is going to be. I was stunned when it came up as just 4p.”

He started his Christmas shopping project on December 1 and scoured hundreds of in-store magazines and websites for money off and cash back coupons.  His shop, at Tesco Brent Cross, ended with an hour stop at the checkout to unload his items which included 200 packets of biscuits and 60 packs of butter.

He said:

“The lady at the checkout had worked at Tesco for 19 years, and she said she’d never seen anything like it before. I had a big crowd. I felt like a celebrity.  My heart was pounding and the adrenaline was pumping when we got to the till. So much could have gone wrong.  I could have left some coupons at home, or not read the terms and conditions properly. Some of them might have expired too.”

Vicky Fox, who works at Doorstep, said families who he had helped out were overwhelmed by the donation. She said:

“I’d call his gift a great and generous act of a young man and what he did made a real difference.  He’s made a really difference to families who work with us to survive on extremely low incomes and do need the help.  He made such a different to people living on the breadline.”

He bought:

  • 20 packs of frozen Yorkshire puddings
  • 20 jam roly polys
  • 80 packs of butter
  • 23 packs of Quorn mince
  • Four Gressingham poussin.
  • 40 black puddings
  • 200 packets of biscuits
  • 23 blocks of hard cheese
  • 20 pots of Yeo Valley organic yoghurt
  • 19 bottles of fruit juice.
  • 10 boxes of Paxo stuffing
  • 40 bottles of Anchor whipped cream
  • 15 bags of frozen Brussels sprouts
  • 4 packs of After Eight mints
  • 15 Covent Garden Soups.
  • 10 bags of Florette Salad
  • 36 packs of Cauldron tofu, vegetarian sausages and falafel
  • Crumble mix
  • Haribo sweets

Two opportunities with the Prince’s Trust for young people in the New Year

Are you aged 16-25, living in Southampton or the surrounding areas and interested in Football or Retail but out of work?  There are two courses coming up to help you achieve your goals. Both are free with travel costs reimbursed.

Football programme in partnership with Saints Foundation

Monday 28 January 2019 to Friday 8 February 2019

  • Course runs at Goals, Millbrook
  • Learn coaching skills from professional coaches
  • FA Level 1 Award in Coaching Football, FA First Aid, and FA Safe Guarding
  • Meet new people, build confidence, and improve your communication and teamwork skills
  • Get three months support after the programme
  • Lunch provided
  • Taster day on Wednesday 23 January 2019
  • text “Football Saints to 079 4351 1218

Retail programme in partnership with Marks and Spencers

Monday 11 February 2019 to 9 March 2019

  • Learn about Customer Service and the various roles at Marks & Spencer as well as receive on-the-job training
  • Get regular feedback and guidance via a dedicated buddy
  • get the chance to secure guaranteed interviews for positions at M&S
  • Improve your teamwork and communication skills as well boost your confidence, interview skills and your C.V.
  • Up to 6 months support after the programme
  • Info day on either Tuesday 29 or Wednesday 30 January and taster day on 4 February
  • txt ‘Retail”’ to 07943511218

Interested? Call 0800 842 842 or email joseph.harket-burgess@princes-trust.org.uk

**Please be aware that due to the success and popularity of these courses the last time they had to close recruitment early because all spaces were taken up quickly**

Best children’s Christmas story book

One of my favourite resources for the Christmas season is Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan.

Nicholas Allan writes and illustrates the nativity through the eyes of a grumpy inn keeper who is unexpectedly at the centre of Jesus’ birth.  The story follows him as he is woken up repeatedly by Mary and Joseph and guests visiting the newborn.

I first heard of the book when I was a child and it was used for a Sunday School drama to present the Christmas narrative to the whole church.  As a children’s and youth worker I’ve used it numerous times, be it with young pre-school children, older teenagers, or non-Christian adults.  The book is easy for people to follow and join in, and yet still allows for profounds truths to be taught.

It can be bought in a number of sizes – from A6 just to fit in the pocket and use to tell a large group of people, to a large A4 size which a class of children can crowd around and look at the pictures.

What Joey Essex teaches us about Christmas

Heat Magazine: Will you put a nativity scene under the tree?
Joey Essex: What does that mean?
Heat: You know what a nativity scene is, surely…
Joey: An activity screen? Is it a box you put presents in
Heat: You know, when Jesus was born…
Joey: Oh! The hay round the bottom of the Christmas tree!
Heat: His mum and dad, Mary and Joseph…
Joey: They put him in a cot?
Heat: A crib…
Joey: Like a house? What was that song they used to sing? :Bursts into song “Baby Jesus! Bethlehem! And he used to sit in a little barn?” That was a sick song. I really want to start going to church.
Heat: And the three wise men brought him gold, frankincense and myrh…
Joey: [incredulous] How do you know all of this…

Krish wrote more on how modern society understands (if at all) what Christmas is about. Here’s the original interview.

Christmas video 12: 88 Piano Keys Control 500,000 Christmas Lights!

The Piano Guys have created a brilliant video of Jon Schmidt controlling half a million lights from his paino.

500,000 Christmas lights, linked to 4,900 digital channels to ensure that the entire spectrum of the piano’s keyboard was featured brilliantly.  46,000 watts of juice were used to electrify this!  The piano was actually being played:

A camera attached to a drone served as the primary angle to capture the captivating Christmas Spirit of these festive homes.

The best bit is:

The police actually did show up. For real. (We’d like to thank them for their kindness and mercy. 🙂 No pianists were harmed or jailed in the making of this video … yet!

Community Christmas Meals

Communities are being encouraged to provide companionship to older people on Christmas Day by running a community Christmas Lunch event, joining up with others at a local pub or restaurant, popping round for tea and cake, perhaps organizing a film viewing or anything else that can be enjoyed by all those that take part. This should be a chance to meet up with old friends and make new friends creating bonds in the community that last well beyond the single day.

If you have elderly or older clients or anyone needing somewhere to go for a Christmas Meal they can put their post code into this website and it will bring up all the options in their area. Some even include transport!

If you cannot find your area, keep checking as the site is being updated regularly. And of course if you know of a scheme that isn’t already on the site this is a great place to add it.

Christmas Health & Safety

Christmas Health and Safety reminder:
 
There is some official concern at the intentions expressed in public songs.
 
Please be advised that all employees planning to dash-through-the-snow-in-a-one-horse-open-sleigh, going over-the-fields-and-laughing-all-the-way are required to undergo a Risk Assessment addressing the safety of open sleighs.
 
The assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly where there are multiple passengers. Please note that permission must also be obtained in writing from landowners before their fields may be entered. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.
 
Benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available for collection by any shepherds planning or required to watch-their-flocks-at-night. While provision has also been made for remote monitoring of flocks by CCTV cameras from a centrally heated shepherd observation hut, all facility users are reminded that an emergency response plan must be submitted to account for known risks to the flocks. The angel of the Lord is additionally reminded that prior to shining-his/her-glory-all-around s/he must confirm that all shepherds are wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to account for the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory
 
Following last year’s well publicised case, everyone is advised that legislation prohibits any comment with regard to the redness of any part of Mr. Rudolf Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr. R Reindeer from reindeer games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence.
 
While it is acknowledged that gift-bearing is commonly practised in various parts of the world, particularly the Orient, everyone is reminded that the bearing of gifts is subject to Hospitality Guidelines and all gifts must be registered. This applies regardless of the individual, even royal personages. It is particularly noted that direct gifts of currency or gold are specifically precluded under provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Further, caution is advised regarding other common gifts, such as aromatic resins that may initiate allergic reactions.
 
Finally, for those involved in the recent case of the infant found away in a manger, with no crib for a bed, Social Services have been advised and will be arriving shortly.

The Twelve Stats of Christmas

Ten lords a leaping, three wise men, two turtle doves. Christmas really is all about stats.  This week Pete Benton, Director of Data Collection at ONS, treated BBC Radio 2’s Steve Wright and his afternoon audience to a festive feast of seasonal statistics:

Love them or you hate them, their place in Christmas tradition is undeniable – Brussels sprouts.  According to some highly informal ONS research commissioned by Pete….

  • Supermarkets sell approximately 750million individual Brussels sprouts at Christmas time, but if you estimate how many are eaten, it’s only about half of that.
  • 25% of the whole year’s sprout sales are in the two weeks before Christmas.
  • An area covering 3240 football pitches are used to grow Brussels sprouts in the UK – and if you lined all those sprouts up, they would stretch from London to Sydney.

The occupation with the largest proportion of Christmas Day workers though was clergy, with 51% working. In total though, on Christmas Day 2016, 1.082 million people worked – that’s 3.4% of all in employment, and on Boxing Day 2016, 1.574 million people worked – 4.9% of all in employment.

Christmas marks the birth of a special baby and ONS data show that 1,391 babies were born in England & Wales on Christmas Day 2016.  When it comes to seasonal baby names, in 2017 – we had 166 called ‘Angel’, 4 called ‘Gift’, 37 ‘Star’s and 5 ‘Merry’s.  Holly was especially popular in December, 209 baby girls were named Holly in December 2017, compared to an average of 72 each month from January to November. For boys, last year there were 967 Gabriel’s, 398 babies named Nicholas and 120 named Noel.