Tag Archives: youth

Love Not Fear – Visions of the Future

Looking back through a huge catalogue of 17,000 images, I rediscovered a photo I took of my daughter, three days before lockdown. 

One good thing to come out of lockdown (aside from the incredible rosemary fries at Honest Burger, Bold St) is time to reflect. I don’t mean philosophically, although I’ve done a bit of that too. But through the massive haul of images I’ve taken over the last year, and one really stood out.

Now, I don’t profess to be anything other than a hobby photographer. Three years on I’m still only just getting to grips with my Canon 1300D (see, total amateur), but I’ve honed a skill for capturing absolutely ANYTHING that catches my eye. This has become a way of life now and just walking around the estate to the shop, throws up endless snap opportunities (it also adds an additional 10 mins on to what should be ‘nipping’ to the shop).

My daughter, Cleo is my willing subject. When she’s not throwing the peace sign at me and touching her nose with her tongue (eww) she genuinely loves setting up shots, looking at the light and how it affects the picture, and she’s nailed the ‘vacant eyes’ look which encourages the viewer to take in the entire scene, rather than just her little frame.

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I took this picture in Stockbridge Village, Liverpool. We’d been to a friend’s birthday party at the swimming pool. It was bedlam, full of fun and laughter and friends and good times. On the way home, we took a shortcut behind the housing estate and along the side of the primary school. Through a gate designed to stop people on quad or motorbikes avoiding police detection and along a path of broken paving stones.

The route was like a post-apocalyptic Total Wipeout course. Littered with broken glass, mattresses, small fire debris, kid’s plastic toys, laughing gas canisters, and household waste. There’s always dirty nappies, isn’t there?

On approaching the gate, we’d been full of chat, laughing about the kids having fun in the pool and playing party games. Walking along the path, each step felt like the party colours faded away. A modern-day Wizard of Oz scene.

I took the picture and we quickly moved along through the end gate. Far from an out of body or time travelling experience, the two minute stretch of wasteland was just plain eerie.

Love Not Fear (www.lovenotfear.co.uk) is a citywide collaboration uniting our communities through a digital vision board with people’s hopes and visions of the new world. It’s a place to plant the seeds and spread the message of the positive changes we want to see in our future through all creative mediums.

I have added my photo to the Love Not Fear vision board as a reminder that if we don’t take action to look after our community land and spaces now, the dirty nappies, mattresses and broken glass will be all that’s left for our kids. I’ve named the photo ‘Economy Class’. Investing love in our communities will help us to not fear the future for the generations to come.

You can add your Love Not Fear artwork here.

 

 

 

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#IAMMPCT

I’m still walking around with a big smile on my face and wishing I was 16 again following my visit to the ACC Arena yesterday morning. I may only be an honorary Scouser, but I’ve never been more proud of this city’s youngsters.

The last of the September sun shone brightly over the Albert Dock as training providers, students, parents and press flocked to see what the Motivational Preparation College for Training (MPCT) can offer the young people of Merseyside….and the launch event knocked my socks off!

The MPCT encourages learners to be the best possible version of themselves through education and motivational learning methods. Only, this isn’t your run of the mill sixth-form college. Students take part in daily inspection, drills and adventure training along side classroom based vocational qualifications. The flexible training programmes are aimed at 16-19 year olds and offer support and guidance from enrolment right through to employment, enabling students to make informed choices about their futures.

Yesterday I heard first hand from teenagers who’ve overcome deeply-personal issues with traditional schooling and social problems. They spoke about their experiences with positivity and acceptance, another testament to the emphasis the college puts on building confidence and emotional wellbeing in preparation for the world of work. A number of students took to the stage to speak about their journeys through military preparation training and how it has instilled in them important life skills like taking pride in their appearance, punctuality and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. (Find me a parent who wouldn’t marvel at a teenager taking pride in ironing their own uniform and laying off the pot noodles!) #IAMMPCT

16 year old Nicole made a huge impression on me. Currently the only girl on roll at the newly opened Liverpool branch of MPCT, Nicola said there was no point in starting a two year A level course having gained her GCSE’s this summer, because her heart wasn’t in it. She is focussed on becoming a combat medic and is working hard to ready herself for selection into the British Army next year. I’ve never met a more mature, determined and out-going teenager. She made me want to up my game.

During the launch event the young recruits showed off some dynamic (and very loud) drill displays, complete with bellowing staff sergeant and hyper-active PT…..every one of those kids was in perfect sync (no tik-toking on this parade) smiling and having a blast showing off their new-found skills.

Every student at the launch made a lasting impression, their desire to achieve is infectious. I sat typing up my notes afterwards feeling proud. Liverpool can only benefit from more success stories to inspire the next wave of kids approaching 16 and beyond. And whether its a career in the Armed Forces or on ‘civvy street’ they aspire to, I can only echo Councillor Ian Francis in thanking MPCT for providing this unique training opportunity for Merseyside’s youngsters.

To find out more about The Motivational Preparation College for Training click here. If you’re on Twitter follow @MPCT_HQ and the #IAMMPCT for all the latest news on enrolment and new centre openings.

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Best Foot Forward

Over the last year I have suffered a brutal break up, I’ve kept a dignified silence on my social media accounts and even attempted reconciliation..but here’s the truth…I’ve broken up with shoes. I mean obviously I still wear them. I’m all for starting new trends but going barefoot in a big sprawling city is unlikely to catch on.

In my late teens I was swept off my feet. Finally freed from the school regulation low heel brogues and ballet flats, I fell in love with brands like Dune, Jones The Boot-maker and Ravel. l owned 130 pairs of shoes by my 17th birthday…..a constant source of drama between emerging fashionista and my practical shoe wearing, shift-working mum. Being taller than your average 17-year-old sixth-former (5ft 10′) I instantly loved wearing heels to further enhance my height and my passion for Mary-Jane’s showed no signs of slowing as I transitioned into my twenties and the world of office wear. I’d look down on those wearing kitten heels to work, thinking i was superior for being able to wear heels for the 9-5 day. I felt unstoppable.

The relationship grew intense with purchases of high-end, iconic footwear to mark the biggest events of my twenties. Dolce & Gabbana neon strappy heels, Vivienne Westwood pirate boots and a pair of the most stunning gold Gina courts among a sea of weekly high street purchases from River Island, Topshop and New Look…..I bought a designer pair for each of my children coming into the world (a Hallmark card clearly wouldn’t do)  I routinely take them from their dust covers now and admire them. (The shoes, not my kids)

So what changed, where did it all go wrong? In a nutshell I stopped making an effort for my shoes…and myself. I let myself get out of shape and stopped dressing up as much. I found solace in Nike and Converse, addicted to the comfort and less likely to break an ankle benefits of wearing flat shoes again. I also have a double Phil & Teds buggy to contend with on a daily basis and the 4 mile nursery/school round trip would take me twice as long in a pair of KG platforms. I felt resentful. Heels are a nuisance in my busy world of being a mum and championship multi-tasker. Elated to read about celebs breaking with tradition and rules at Cannes and rocking metallic, jeweled flats on the red carpet, I was convinced that it’s perfectly fine to live in flat shoes…

But oh the glamour of a svelte black platform court with a seductive red sole and those beautifully cursive letter spelling out Christian Louboutin…Carrie Bradshaw’s midnight blue jewel encrusted Manolo’s…..even Cinderella had it nailed back in 1950…… Oh heels I miss you!

Now that I’ve succumbed to practicality I realise just how much joy I gained from wearing impractical shoes. My confidence soared, my legs looked great and I felt young.

I’ve vowed to change, I’m only 32, we can get back to the good old times, I’m sure. By way of counselling I’ve booked myself and my favourite D&G neon’s into The V&A Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition to rediscover my passion……and possibly my youth.

Wish me luck

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