Tea Parties for the Elderly with the Aviva Community Fund

In association with The Aviva Community Fund 2017

There is nothing like a good cup of tea and a slice of cake to cheer a person up – of any age! I certainly feel better after a good cuppa, maybe it has secret medicinal ingredients as a simple tea and a chat can brighten up the darkest day. That is the purpose of an amazing community group I wanted to talk to you about today – Contact the Elderly. They are dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation in the elderly community by hosting tea parties for those over 75 who live alone. All of their hard work was rewarded last year as they were funded £10,000 by the Aviva Community Fund meaning their good work can continue to go from strength to strength this year and for many more to come I am sure.

Last year the Aviva Community Fund awarded £1.7 million to over 450 community groups across the UK, allowing them to continue the important and beneficial work they do in our communities. This will be the third year of the program, with the Aviva Community Fund opening to submissions on the 12th September 2017, during this time members of the community can submit an idea that will make a real difference to a local group or charity they’re passionate about, with the chance to secure funding ranging from up to £1,000 to £25,000, this will go to a voting stage and if they are selected funding begins in January 2018.

I was able to have a long chat with Anna from Contact the Elderly to hear all about the good work they are able to do since being funded by the Aviva Community Fund in 2016. Here is what she had to say….

Tell me about Contact the Elderly? 

Contact the Elderly run tea parties for those aged over 75 who live alone. They are held every month on a Sunday and each tea party is usually a group of 4-10 older people. Each guest will be picked up from their homes by a driver, taken to the party and then dropped back to their homes again. Contact the Elderly aim to provide the same driver for each guest every time, so they are greeted with a friendly face and the conversation can start from the moment they are in the car, plus the same group of elderly guests attend each tea party so it’s a great way to make a new group of friends and catch up with them on a monthly basis.

How many locations are there around the UK? 

There are over 700 groups around the UK and this number is only growing.

How long has Contact the Elderly been running? 

The project attained charitable status in 1965, so has been running over 50 years now, however it’s really grown in the last few years and they hope to keep this momentum going!

How much were you awarded from the Aviva Community Fund last year? 

Contact the Elderly was awarded £10,000 from the Aviva Community Fund – this money has been able to directly fund 14 groups for an entire year which means 140 more guests are able to attend 12 parties each over the year. That is an incredible difference to so many peoples lives!

Which Ordinary Object has made a big difference to the project? 

The Teacup – Contact the Elderly’s logo is three little teacups – a cup of tea brings everyone together. Aviva Community Fund certainly helped to provide many, many cups of tea.

Do you have any stories where the project has really changed peoples lives? 

There was a lady called Maud, who had lived with her lifelong friend Margie for over 20 years. When Margie passed, Maud told people she didn’t want to live anymore as she felt she had no one – she had no friends or family around her and was completely isolated and alone. Around 5-6 years ago, she spotted an advert for Contact the Elderly and got in touch, she has been going to tea parties ever since. She said “Contact the Elderly changed my life, I feel like I have a whole new set of friends to talk to, it’s wonderful“.

How do you see the project moving forward into next year?

Hopefully Contact the Elderly will continue to sustain groups already in place and grow to open more groups across the UK, especially in rural areas where the elderly are even more isolated. They are looking to also recruit more volunteers.

 

  • Contact the Elderly has 10,000 volunteers and over 6000 guests.
  • Over half of the population over 75 live alone
  • 1 in 10 people over 65 say they always or often feel lonely
  • Contact the Elderly surveyed 10% of their guests, of those asked 95% said the tea parties give them something to look forward to.

Contact the Elderly changed my life, I feel like I have a whole new set of friends to talk to, it’s wonderful“.

It was a pleasure to speak to Anna and hear all about this wonderful cause. It just shows how important those everyday ordinary objects are, like a good cup of tea – their importance should not be underestimated! The project really got me thinking about the elderly in my community and how I might be able to help out too.

Do you know a local project that needs funding?

For local projects, an ordinary thing can mean everything, but funding may be a challenge.

That’s where the Aviva Community Fund 2017 comes in, supporting good ideas making a real difference where it matters most.

Aviva is offering four funding levels, from up to £1,000 to £25,000. To apply for funding, just tell Aviva how your project will make a positive change in one of these categories:

• Health and wellbeing

• Skills for life

• Community support

• Inclusivity

You’ll need votes to get your project to the finals, so start rallying friends, family and neighbours now!  However, Aviva knows how much work it can take for volunteers in smaller projects to pull their entries together and rally voters.

Most smaller projects ask for funding up to £1,000, so to recognise all their hard work, Aviva will automatically give the first 200 projects to reach 1,000 votes in this funding level the funding they ask for. If you’re one of the lucky 200 projects, Aviva will let you know. If you’re not one of those 200 projects, you’re still in with a chance of winning your funding.

To get involved, submit a project or vote visit www.aviva.co.uk/community-fund. Entries opened on 12th September, closing dates for entries on 10th October 2017.

New Mum Style, Fashion & Laundry with Ecover #ad

It’s inevitable that when you become a Mum, your style completely changes. Not only does your body shape completely change, but your day-to-day activities are totally different too – clothes are not so much about fashion any more but about comfort, ease and practicality. When Violet was born, I didn’t have a clue who ‘Lyndsay’ was anymore, I was ‘Violet’s Mum’ and although that was music to my ears in my blissful new baby bubble – I realised I’d completely forgotten to look after myself. Four months down the line and I was still in my frumpy old maternity clothes – so I dragged myself to the hairdresser and into town to buy some new clothes. As I started to look after myself again it gave me such a boost, I’d not realised how important it is to look after your own unique sense of style as a Mum, especially in the early days when you feel so at sea in the daunting new realm of Motherhood.

So, last week I was invited up to London to attend an event hosted by laundry brand Ecover, who had partnered with celebrity stylist Alex Longmore to discuss everything from laundry tips to finding your style as a Mum. As a relatively new Mum, this was perfect for me as I’m in need of a helping hand in both of those areas if I’m honest! I met up with fellow Brighton blogger Lauren and Sophia of Tattooed Tea Lady (who I’ve known online for years but never met!) and headed to central London to meet the team and for a couple of hours of baby-free time, plus a few sneaky cocktails too.

Ecover offer a range of cleaning and laundry products, which are not only environmentally friendly but as they are powered by plant-based ingredients this makes them ideal for using at home with a young family as they are gentle enough for the most sensitive skin and can be used from babies very first wash.

At the event, we were able to experience the new range with Ecover fragrance expert Cassandra Browning – that lady is a genius when it comes to scents! It’s amazing what goes on behind the scenes of putting together a fragrance and she’d set up a little test for our noses to try and work out the elements that come together to create the new Ecover scents. I found it amazingly interesting, but I also realised I’m RUBBISH at identifying scents too. We had a good giggle as most of our guesses were way off the mark! Talking about scents, the new range features Lavender & Sandalwood, Honeysuckle & Jasmine and Apple Blossom & Freesia, which are all just dreamy and make doing the families laundry way more appealing – I just love that warm clean scent of fresh laundry on the heated drying rail. It’s such a homely smell that fills the whole house, so a scent you enjoy for your laundry is so important!

We were also able to have a 1-2-1 consultation with celebrity style expert, Alex Longmore – She has styled the likes of Dannii Minogue, Joanna Lumley, Little Mix and Zara Phillips (just to name a few!) so I knew I’d be in safe hands. She was also so lovely and put us all at ease which I was pleased about as talking about style and my new Mum-body is a bit of a sensitive subject.

I think the shock of needing a whole new wardrobe was a surprise to me as a new Mum – when I was pregnant, I kept all of my old clothes as I thought I’d be back into them within weeks. I was wrong – they never returned. My first challenge was to find clothes I was able to breastfeed in – thats a tricky one! I made quite a few mistakes in this area, only realising when I’d get to a cafe that I’d practically have to take my whole top off to feed my baby. Secondly, I was a much bigger size than before – I piled on 5 stone with the IVF treatment and pregnancy, so when I got my old wardrobe out, nothing fit, which at first made me feel pretty down but once you think what an amazing journey your body has been on to create a human, I can sort of forgive it for adding a few extra pounds along the way too.

My final challenge was that as a Mum, I was a new person. Times had changed and my style had too – I wanted to wear clothes that were comfier, more practical and easier to upkeep, so I decided that instead of trying to force myself back into my old style, I’d accept my new way of life and just start again. It’s taken me about 5-6 months to be comfortable with that decision, but I’m honestly feeling better than ever at the moment about finding the new me.

Talking to Alex couldn’t have come at a better time and although I could write a whole post on her amazing style advice. Here are a few key takeaway tips:

  • Detox your wardrobe before baby – Oops, I really should have done this, shouldn’t I? Just embrace motherhood style and start again!
  • Colour can give you a boost – Red & blue hues reflect the light to make you look radiant when you are actually sleep deprived. I find a sweep of bright lipstick always brightens even the most boring of outfits.
  • Embrace flats – trainers, flat boots, sandals are all perfect for pram-pushing and running about after kids but they don’t have to be boring, Alex showed us a selection of footwear with glitter, studs and more to jazz up those feet and make flats less frumpy!
  • Keep a capsule wardrobe – jeans and leggings that can be mixed and matched, colours that go together and most importantly, fabrics that can easily be washed and ironed. As you are likely to wash capsule clothes more often, Ecover is recommended as a gentle way to protect and preserve those must-have items!

I came away from the event feeling full of inspiration and tips on how to style up my look as a new Mum and with a new found love for laundry fragrance too. Since then I’ve been using our Ecover products at home and loving trying all the lovely new fresh scents, which fill our home with gorgeous floral, clean, warm fragrance for hours after each wash.

For more information on the new range by Ecover, visit their website , plus Alex Longmore will be sharing some more style and laundry advice over on their Facebook page soon too!

 

11 ways Motherhood has changed me as a person

Today my Timehop reminded me of what I used to look like pre-baby. Well, I’m probably being mean to myself as it was a picture from 2010 so thats 7 years ago now so it’s silly to compare – but looking back I almost don’t recognise myself! I was young, perfectly preened on a night out. Plus, I WAS NOT EXHAUSTED. I can’t really remember what that feels like – being a mother turns your life upside down and now we are seven months down the line, it’s hard to remember what life was like before! What did I do with all that time? Why did I moan I was tired? WHY did I think I was fat when I fitted into a size 10/12? Oh how things change!

All of this being said I wouldn’t change it for the world – Violet is everything to me and so is being a mother. I just LOVE motherhood. I feel like it came so naturally to me and I don’t mean that in a boastful way as I certainly don’t know what the hell I’m doing most of the time –  but I mean I just love every second. Taking care of Violet and watching her learn and grow is my world. I feel in my element when I’m with her, which fulfils me more than any job or hobby I’ve ever had.

So, I thought today I’d talk about some of the ways motherhood has changed me as a person – hopefully for the better, although at 4am when I’m feeling tired and grumpy, maybe not so much…

I’m more patient

There is one thing you need buckets of as a mother and thats patience. Babies like to test this out a LOT, usually just as you are about to leave the house when you are already running late – I swear that is babies favourite time to fill their nappies! Or they like to scream when you are in a quiet cafe or puke down your new top, you really do need to be ready for anything and not be frustrated when things don’t go your way. I find my patience is tested to the max when I’m tired but I just tell myself ‘tomorrow is a new day’ and it is.

I have more compassion

Having a mini-human on the earth that I care so much about has made me one emotional train-wreck. I cry at adverts these days. I thought it was the pregnancy hormones but it never goes away. I feel like I’m more caring towards people around me and more understanding of situations that happen.

I forget things

Another thing I thought would be pregnancy-related, but no! Baby brain sticks with you forever – gone are the days I can write 3-4 blog posts in a day. If I write 1 I feel like it’s a miracle as my brain just works so SLOWLY these days. I also have a habit of forgetting simple things (like closing the front door – kind of important!) and leaving the house in my slippers.

I’m less anxious

 Before baby (and even in pregnancy) I would worry about SO MUCH – Goodness, I don’t know where I found the time to mull over some of the trivial things in life. I think childbirth changed everything, I suddenly felt like if I could push out a baby and keep her alive, I maybe should give myself a bit of credit and stop worrying about things so much. That logic seems to have worked as I worry so much less now (although I do still continuously google baby related questions, so no one is perfect!)

I can adapt

Before Violet arrived I loved a routine. I was a creature of habit for sure, however babies certainly don’t do what you want/expect them to do. I find if you do want them to do something, they’ll do the opposite, it’s like they just know! I’ve learned I need to to adapt at the drop of a hat and be ready for anything.

I am a skilled multi-tasker

During the week I feel like a Mumma-Octopus, I usually have about 4 things on at any one time, with one eye on the baby, the other filling the washing machine, whilst the dinner cooks and I’m halfway through a blog post.  I never seem to be able to dedicate myself to a single task now, there is always so much to do so learning to multi-multi-task is essential!

I don’t care about what people think

Motherhood is filled with judgemental opinions and comments – it seems everyone has an opinion they feel the need to force down your throat. I think this has given me good practice in not-caring what people think. I am doing things my way and how it suits our family and thats final. I welcome opinions but doesn’t mean I’ll accept them all!

I care less about what I look like

Before Violet I didn’t even pop to the shops without a full face of make-up. I straightened my hair every day and always had painted nails. Now? Not so much, I’m happy with a quick 2 minute splash of make-up (or nothing) and my hair in a Mum-bun. It’s not that I don’t have time for it, I probably do but I’d rather spend that time playing with Violet. I still do enjoy putting on a full-face sometimes and when I do I feel extra pampered and special too!

A smile can bring so much joy

Being a mum has taught me that the little things in life are where you find the most joy – beforehand I was seeking big things and always ended up being disappointed. But now, just a single smile or an afternoon with Violet on her playmat singing songs and clapping along. Motherhood teaches you a lot about living in the moment and appreciating the little things as babies change and grow up SO quickly.

Party girl I am not

The other day I drove through Brighton at 10pm on a Friday night, I saw hoards of girls in short skirts queuing for a bar, shivering and huddling together as obviously you would NEVER take a jacket. I’m not that girl anymore – bring me my Pj’s, crochet and a bar of chocolate and that is my PERFECT Friday night, plus there is no hangover either. Win win!

I am fulfilled

This one is hard to put into words, but I feel like Violet was the missing puzzle piece of my life I’d been looking for for so long. I feel complete with her by my side and my heart is so full of love for her in a way I can never describe. Being a mother is just everything I dreamed of and more and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us over the years.

And in case you were wondering…. this is the picture from 7 years ago (I think I prefer the first picture more 🙂 )

 

How do you think Motherhood changed you as a person? 

Our first holiday: Baby Skincare Essentials

I thought I was a pro at packing seeing as I was cabin crew so have packed a fair amount of suitcases, but however packing for a baby is like a completely different ball game! I think I spent more time packing for our holiday than we spent actually on holiday! 🙂 I’m so pleased we took our car as we were able to load up on all the essentials, goodness knows how we would have coped if we’d have been working to an airline luggage allowance!

Whilst packing, one of the biggest struggles I had was knowing what to pack to protect Violet’s delicate skin away from home. On holiday there is so much more to think about – it is a totally different environment where we do completely different activities from our day-to-day life, plus the temperature was obviously a LOT hotter than Violet’s ever experienced too! Knowing what to pack for all eventualities was really important to us as Violet has had such sensitive skin from birth.

So, after all that worrying our holiday was lovely – we played in the paddling pool together, relaxed and visited giant sunflower fields but I will say the packing was definitely trial and error – so to save you the hassle of worrying about it all –  here is our essential list that got us by:

Muslins

Huge, floaty giant muslins are my favourite as they are SO handy for so many things, creating a shade from the sun, a lightweight blanket, wiping up dribble/sicky accidents and so much more. I always carry a Muslin (or two) wherever we go. Our favourite for taking on holiday are these tropical delights from Bullabaloo – they are 100% bamboo and so soft which is perfect for sensitive skin too.

Tent

If you are going somewhere sunny, a UV tent is essential, we used ours all the time. It was the perfect space for Violet to stretch out and play, whilst keeping cool and protected from the sun’s rays too. We love the NSA Travel Centre (picture of Violet in her tent here!) as it pops up in an instant so is quick and easy too.

Suncream

I read so many conflicting pieces of information around suncream for babies under 6 months and in the end I just went with my own intuition and bought a baby sunscreen. My logic is that using sun cream (even if it does contain chemicals) is better than getting sunburned which can happen even if you do your best to shade little ones. We don’t use sunscreen every day so I’m sure the exposure to the chemicals is minimal using it only on holiday too.

Nappy Rash

Protecting little ones skin from nappy rash is key on holiday – with the warm weather to contend with and (hopefully) long nights of sleep, applying ample nappy rash protection is really important. We took Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment away with us as the tubes are lightweight and easy to use on the go as the flip lip means you can grab and apply with one hand (crucial for us with a roller-baby!) We applied this at every nappy change and with a little extra at bedtime as this is a major trigger time for nappy rash as the nappy is on the longest during the night. We also use sensitive wipes for nappy changes which are soft and gentle on Violet’s skin.

Baby Wash

Your babies skin goes through so much more on holiday than at home, with sweat, sunscreen, ice cream and paddling pool water just some of the elements involved Violet needed a bath every night on holiday when usually we’d bathe her maybe every other day at home. Having a gentle baby wash is a must-have with all that extra washing as you don’t want to dry out their skin either – we used Mustela Soothing Cleansing Gel which is so gentle it’s suitable to be used on newborns in NICU.

Lotion

One of the reasons Violet is such a good sleeper is because after every bath we apply a calming, sleepy lotion with a baby massage so she is calm before bed.

So, that was our Baby Skincare essentials for packing on holiday – if you’ve taken your little on abroad this summer, what did you pack for them? 

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Review: Summer Infant Panorama Digital Video Monitor

 

Violet is now officially in her own room – eek! Where did my little newborn go that slept so soundly in her bedside crib next to my pillow? We now have a boisterous 7 month old who was tossing and turning in the night, keeping us awake and getting frustrated when we woke her too. So on the day she decided crawl out of bed during the night to whack me round the face with her little hand, we decided it was time – she needed her own room. The Snuzpod was clearly no longer big enough or safe as she could just climb out. Sad times, I’ll treasure memory of those co-sleeping days forever!

Violet is now in her nursery – which is not just down the hallway, she is now a whole floor away from us – we live in an ‘upside down’ house with our bedroom downstairs so having her so far away is even more nerve-wracking. That’s why having a good monitor is essential for us as we just wouldn’t hear her without it, so we decided to try out the Summer Infant Panorama Video Monitor  which seemed to tick all of the right boxes. This is how we got on….

The most important feature of a monitor for me is a big, clear video screen. I know you can get audio-only monitors, but I like to see what is going on as just being able to hear noises would make me conjure up all kinds of situations in my head – so a crisp clear picture of Violet was essential. I chose the Summer Infant Panorama Digital Video Monitor as it has one of the biggest screens I’ve seen (5″ high resolution LCD to be precise!) but what I really loved is the remote controlled pan/tilt and zoom camera, which means no matter where Violet is in her room I can pan the camera round to ensure I have full vision on what she is up to – Violet can’t get out of her cot yet but this will be handy when she’s old enough to get up and play in her room. The field of vision is fantastic, I can see all of her room so there will be no escaping the Mummy-cam once she is on the move!

Setting up the Summer Infant Panorama Digital Vido Monitor was a piece of cake – the camera and screen come automatically paired, so there is nothing to do but plug in both parts (the screen needing a full charge before use) and then it’s all ready to go! There is a quick start guide in the box just to guide you through the initial setup if you aren’t sure. The camera also comes with wall clips and instructions for attaching the cable to the wall so ensure the utmost safety when using your monitor as you wouldn’t want any loose cables close enough to the cot for your little baby to grab. I was quite impressed with the safety guidelines around this as being a first-time Mum it’s not something I’d have automatically thought of. The monitor is also a 100% private connection as it’s not attached to a WiFi network, so there is no need to worry about network security either.

Since using this monitor I’ve felt so much more relaxed leaving Violet in her room, both day and night. I carry the screen around the house with me wherever I go as it’s lightweight and totally portable – with a 240m range it’s always in range too – it has a clear picture even in our bathroom at the back of the house where our normal WiFi can’t even reach. The monitor not only has a video screen that shows your baby but sound-activated LED lights that flash along the top – going from green to red depending on how loud the sound is. Often it’s the LED lights that catch my eye before I notice Violet on the screen during the night in my sleepy state.

The monitor has a two-way communication, which is fab for soothing Violet if I see her stirring, I’ve found if I just do a few long ‘ssshhhhhhh’ noises through the monitor that’ll often be enough to settle her again if she’s really sleepy. It’s also handy if I’m in the nursery looking after Violet and I need to call down to V to help me or to get supplies like nappies/milk etc as we can talk to each other through the monitor which is so much easier if one of us is with the baby.

Other features are a room thermometer which is essential for working out what to put Violet in for bed at night and making sure her room is warm enough / not too warm overnight, plus a soothing blue/red nightlight which I pop on if I go up and check on her during the night as it’s light enough to see around the room but not so bright it wakes her.

The Summer Infant Panorama Video Monitor has two screen settings – a colour LCD screen during the day:

And an enhanced infrared night vision mode for at night:

I feel like this monitor does everything we needed it to and more, so we’ve been really impressed with it – especially the large screen and the camera that pans/tilts around the room. My only slight criticism is that the battery life is not great for the screen part so I tend to leave it on charge most of the time unless I’m wandering around the house – then it’ll last a few hours or all day if I turn it completely off between naps. Secondly, the night-vision screen can be a little on the hazy side – I’m a paranoid Mum that likes to see Violet breathing and sometimes the picture can be a little too pixelated to see the rise and fall of her chest – but I know, I am being picky here because as monitors go, this is a really great picture, the daytime mode is SO clear.

The Summer Infant Panorama Digital Video Monitor is priced at £149.99 and worth the price for the piece of mind, reassurance and just for the fun of scaring your other half shouting BOO! down the monitor at 2am…. ! 🙂 Highly recommended – a product we use daily and will continue to use for many months (years!) to come no doubt.

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