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Editorial So often in life we want to know what someone can do for us. Maybe we need to spend more time thinking what we can do for them instead. Here at BUCFP there’s a long list of what’s on offer — cheap and tasty lunches, a massive range of courses, help and advice on all manner of problems. But what can WE do for the Centre? May is a busy month with Brighton Festival and Fringe events kicking off in spectacular style, and here at BUCFP we’ve got our own plans on how best to showcase what we offer. Elsewhere in this issue of Our Voice is a special plea on funding. If we’re honest, we’d all like a bit more cold, hard cash and the Centre is no exception. And although we don’t expect people to pull out a cheque book and sign away their life savings, ideas on how to generate a bit more funding will be enthusiastically received. Perhaps next year’s Brighton Marathon will see Team-BUCFP pound along the seafront? Or maybe you’ve got a smaller-scale ambition to get involved? That’s the message for Spring 2013: ask not what your Centre can do for you, ask what you can do for your Centre!

Editor Liz Neale

News in brief and up and coming Brighton Festival Fringe, kicks off on the 14th May — With the Temporary Housing Group offering a housing advice surgery in a pop up tent in the main area from 11am. Welfare Rights will be giving fuel and poverty advice at the same time. Tuesday 21st May, 2 to 4pm — See the Food project offering cookery demonstrations, workshops, wild food foraging with a free lunch at 1pm! Educations events throughout the week 20th to 24th May — Performances, live music, creative writing, art and lifelong learning information. Friday 24th May — The Participation Project launches its film ‘No Fixed Abode’ and our new Homeless Photography Exhibition — Homeless not Helpless. There will also be a performance from our interactive theatre group on landlords and the housing crisis.

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project Useful numbers Centre Number Tel: 01273 671213 Address: 6 Tilbury Place, Brighton BN2 0RG website: www.bucfp.org email: info@bucfp.org Samaritans Mind Shelter Rough Sleepers Team First Base Day Centre Womens Refuge Project

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Our Voice Magazine contributions If you would like to contribute articles, stories, art, photographs, poems, letters etc please send us an email at: ovbucfp@gmail.com Our Voice Magazine Meeting Every Thursday at 11am in the main area Victim Support Drug Open Access Service Mediation Service

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Our Voice is the magazine of Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project, which provides practical support to low-income and unwaged individuals and families. Services include classes and workshops, training courses, child care, lunches and drop-in welfare advice. Run by volunteers and project workers, for more than 30 years we’ve offered community support in a safe and friendly environment. Find out more at www.bucfp.org

Acknowledgements Editor: Liz Neale Sub Editor James Garside Richard Ince

Regulars

Layouts Derek Lundberg

Who’s who @ BUCFP

page 4-5

Beauty Aloe Dear!

page 6

Creative Corner

page 19

Contributors:

Recipes

page 22

Brighton Woodcraft Folk

Some of the faces you’ll see around the centre All you want to know about this wonderful plant Poetry from our very own Gary Jones

Try these mouth-watering recipes from Romania and the Caribbean

Photography: Derek Lundberg

Don Connigale Ron Denyer James Garside

Features

Richard Ince Gary Jones

Stopping at Brighton

page 8

Allotment Big Dig

page 10

Derek Lundberg

The Power of Social Networks

page 11

Manuel Muriel

Amnesty in Brighton & Hove

page 12-13

Funding

page 17

Lucian Sanda

What home means to us

page 20-21

Tony Supersad

Brighton a personal perspective Our part in the Brighton Big Dig

One dog’s rescue by social networks

An interesting article on the work of their local group Help us to help those less fortunate in your local area

Tino B. Leonard

Liz Neale Susi Oddball

A journalism project from the children of Brighton Woodcraft Folk

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Who’s who @

BUCFP Our centre prides itself on being a user-led organisation. It’s hands-on, grass roots, life at the coalface. But however you like to think about it, there are people working hard to provide a vast range of services, and surprisingly those people can be users and volunteers, or users and workers too. Here we profile some of the faces. idea at the beginning of the financial year, I’ve never got a complete knowledge of what money is coming in. A lot of it is short-term funding or funding for a one-off project.”

Mary Dunmore Office Projects and Finance

Mary is certainly the go-to person for all things admin-based — she runs the front office and reception with the help of 20 volunteers each week and also keeps an eye on BUCFP’s money matters. “I manage the money that comes in and how it goes out — I make sure we’ve got money in the bank,” she explained. It’s an essential role, of course, especially in our tough economic environment. She said: “The funding in this sector is never secure and I never have a final

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“It’s very interesting to see how volunteers come in — for a huge variety of reasons — and gain in confidence and then move on, maybe to jobs.” But she also loves her role as a day coordinator, working with centre users. “It’s not like a lot of office jobs where you just sit in an office and deal with projects,” she said. “Part of our role is also to be front of house and that’s the part of the job that I really, really enjoy, it’s a very satisfying part of the job. “It’s very interesting to see how volunteers come in — for a huge variety of reasons — and gain in confidence and then move on, maybe to jobs.”

Every day is different, she said, but that’s part of the appeal. “It’s a very reactive job where you have to prioritise the people all the time,” she said. “You have to be able to multi-task, I think that’s the key to it. It’s just a different way of working and as long as you go with the flow things get done in the end.”

Derek Lundberg Trustee, Volunteer & IT

Derek has been volunteering for a couple of years in a variety of ways, including teaching IT classes, computer support and working on every aspect of Our Voice magazine. He first found out about BUCFP from St Patrick’s Hostel and had been at the centre for around nine months when he was asked if he wanted to become a trustee. He said: “The trustee’s role is really to make sure the centre is running to its guidelines and to the benefit of the centre users. “We attend a trustees’ meeting once a month and other meetings, such as development day, where we discuss how to push forward and run the centre for the next quarter or however long it might be.”


Derek said part of the appeal of being a trustee is working more closely with how the centre functions. “The volunteering bit is really just to kind of give something back, having skills that you can put back for the benefit of others,” he said. “As a trustee I suppose it’s that you’re a little bit more involved with the running of the centre.”

“We are very community-based and we open our doors to everyone.” He added: “I would like to see more help from outside businesses — more donations. It’s difficult to keep the funding up. “We are very community-based and we open our doors to everyone. We get all of our funding from outside sources but we are always needing more. I’d like to see more businesses and corporate people — offering practical help and donations, investing in the community in which they operate.”

Ben Woodling Volunteer — Welfare Rights

Ben arrived at the centre three years ago to do a couple of courses in music recording and improvisational drama. When he was thinking of volunteer

work, 18 months ago, he came back. “I was interested in doing some useful work, something helpful in terms of volunteering and working in welfare rights seemed something I could really do that would be useful in society,” he said. “It looked quite interesting as well and it has been. “We have a meeting once a week which allows us to update and recap our knowledge but I would say I’m still learning all the time. “As an advisor you give out advice on claiming benefits. We try to run two drop-in sessions every day at 10am and 2pm. We answer questions on income support, employment and support allowance (ESA), disability living allowance (DSA) and working tax credits, housing benefits and overpayment of benefits.

“We see a lot of homeless or semihomeless people facing serious economic hardship.” “We do come in handy for people who feel they just don’t know how to deal with forms, or people who can’t write very well — people who really need these kinds of benefits.” Ben said ongoing government cuts have proved challenging for everyone. “We’ve seen serious cuts in housing benefit and sickness or incapacity benefit — that has been changed to ESA,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of people applying for this and a lot of anxiety about ESA. “We regularly see people in the centre who can’t afford to eat. We see a lot of homeless or semi-homeless people facing serious economic hardship.”

But working in welfare rights is also very rewarding, he said. “I think you see a real kindness in people — they’re very grateful for the work we help them with and that’s really nice to see,” he explained. “When awards or benefits are granted it’s nice to see how happy people are at that point. It can seem a bit bleak sometimes but there are a lot of good things to this work.”  

Saturday 1st June 2013 This year’s Kemp Town Carnival has something for everybody: street theatre, break dancing, the grand custard pie fight, belly dancers, four stages with a diverse range of over 26 of Brighton’s finest live bands and performers, Samba bands, Tea dancing and Lindy-hop performances, magicians, children’s entertainment, dance displays, live graffiti art, creative workshops, tugof-war, Morris Dancers, fine ales and ciders, barn dancing, Arts, Crafts and other great market stalls, wonderful foods and the gorgeous annual Parade of Flowers! Keep up to date and sign up to their newsletter to find out more about their amazing pre-carnival fund-raising events, workshops and showcase events running from February through to June. www.kemptowncarnival.com

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Beauty Aloe Dear! By Tino B. Leonard

Imagine having a source of natural beauty treatments at your fingertips. From adding shine to dull hair to curing burns and blisters, Aloe Vera is the super-plant you need in your home. It has a long history dating back to ancient civilisations from Africa to China, Greece to Arabia, often incorporated into royal beauty regimes. Queen Nefertiti and Cleopatra were famed for their beauty and known to bathe in milk and honey. They also realised the magnificent properties of this prickly little plant and used it as a beauty treatment. It is a non-toxic, succulent plant which stores water in its fleshy leaves, allowing it to survive in areas of low natural rainfall. Although it looks like a Cactus plant, and like Cacti flourishes in warm and dry climates, it actually belongs to the Lily family. This little gem is widely grown as an ornamental plant and can survive in Britain too — provided it’s kept indoors! I myself have one and use the sap from the leaves as a natural face-

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mask. If you don’t fancy growing a live plant it’s also available in powder form, capsules, bottled gel, juice, tinctures and extracts, from most health food stores. Here are some of the benefits of this amazing plant. Medicinal There are many Aloe Vera benefits, from health to nutrition, as it can be used for both internal and external applications. The juice is reputed to help with asthma and boost the immune system. It’s said to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 Diabetes; although the data is considered insufficient to support these claims. Aloe Vera juice acts as a natural laxative, so be warned! Skin The gel of this plant contains approximately 75 nutrients including Amino Acids, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Enzymes and Vitamins A, C, F and E. Treat yourself to this relaxing mask: mix 4 tablespoons of Aloe Vera, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt, and 6 tablespoons of fresh cucumber juice in a bowl. Apply to face and neck and

leave for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water, then with cold water to close the pores. It’s ideal for all skin types, especially sensitive and acne-prone skin. Hair It can be used as a safe natural treatment to prevent hair loss, dandruff and a dry, itchy scalp. To easily incorporate it into your hair care regime, add 2 parts Aloe Vera gel to 1 part of your usual shampoo or conditioner. Teeth This little beauty is also useful for promoting strong healthy teeth and strengthening gums. There are many toothpastes which contain Aloe Vera as the main ingredient, as it prevents bad breath. Massaging the gums and teeth with the gel can work as an alternative DIY remedy. So, if you decide to venture down the Aloe Vera plant route, keep in mind that it has many wonderful benefits. Have fun finding out what works best for you, and remember, it’s not called the ‘miracle plant’ for nothing.  


Laughter emanating from the Clown Convention

By Susi Oddball

Down the road in Bognor it’s a laugh a minute when the annual Clown Convention takes place each spring. I headed there in March. I thought to myself, “What should I write about apart from enjoying Bognor?” Thank you everyone as without you it isn’t possible to have that giggle of clowns. I met up with all my clown friends including Flat Hat, who I’ve not seen for over 20 years, and I’m proud of him. He has all the qualities of a great clown and to me he is already. Michael Pearce was there too and I’ve not seen him for 16 years, even though he only lives near Croydon. He’s an amazing man and is still himself, talented, funny and I love it. He’s  recently been awarded ‘top comedy magician’, by those very important top-magicians, so it got me thinking about laughter. Laughter refers to an audible expression of happiness or an inward

feeling of joy. It’s the result of a joke or tickling. The study of laughter is called Gelotology. Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones. So my advice to you is have a good laugh, it does you good. Have you ever felt like if you don’t laugh you’ll cry? Well, it’s true, it releases the emotions. It’s also good for the body. A good belly-laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterwards. It provides a good workout for the heart and there’s even a type of laughter yoga in America. Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a ‘threat’ or a ‘challenge’. Little kids laugh 400 times a day. One study showed that grown-ups only laugh 11 times a day, and yet another said

only four. Humour can give us a more light-hearted perspective and help us view events as ‘challenges’, thereby making them less threatening and more positive. In the 1980s a doctor found that laughter was the perfect medicine when he arrested his cancer just with laughter. Norman Cousins watched old comedy films, like Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy, and just laughed until he’d no trace of cancer left. Remember the story of Grimaldi? When he went to the doctors with depression, the doctor told him to go see the brilliant clown Grimaldi — that would cheer him up — not knowing that he was speaking to the great Grimaldi himself! Anyway you get the idea. It’s better to laugh and it’s our job when we go out there and clown and if even one person laughs at us we could be saving their life! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  

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STOPPING AT

BRIGHTON

I’ve visited many towns in my life but none quite like Brighton. Anyone might say the same — the gentleness and friendly spirit of community and other particularities of this town can’t easily be found somewhere else. The traces of time passing are everywhere and people love the town as much as the town looks after its people here and now. Thanks to the gentle atmosphere, and friendly community spirit, everyone is soaked in the everyday image of town enthusiasm whatever type of activity they might do. I tried to work out the differences between here and other places and I found it in the energetic personality of this lovely place where every day I can see new things.

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Imagine that two people run in a marathon, facing its psychic walls and struggling with the body’s limits as well. The idea of winning drives them to keep on running to the finish, whatever doubts might appear in their mind. Despite the fact only one will win the trophy, both of them face the same struggles of body, mind and soul. Each step one takes motivates, inspires or maybe even helps the other runner to take their next step. Each runner’s struggling becomes a sort of communication, and maybe even an energy. If one stops running the other one has no challenge or reason to improve his running. I think that from here you can see the idea of ‘bright’ in Brighthelmstone — maybe it’s no accident there’s such

By Lucian Sanda an expression of energy in Brighton. By volunteering we show our companions how to learn and to teach, to give and gain that excellence, and get the meaning of ourselves. It makes us complete and directly connected to life’s communal values no matter what is dictated by society’s idea of our legal status or human rights. Any one of us can run in different ways so that we all live in this town as one single body called community. We  are linked together in time, through life experience and social institutions like family and education, where we learn respect, caring and sharing. These are endowments to our soul that last forever. Beware of stopping at Brighton — you’re likely to stay!  


at the BUCFP Where the outsiders come alive! A celebration of inspiring events for everyone, exploring what it is to be an outsider. Made by people whose voices aren’t often heard. Come and explore fuel poverty, food poverty, free education and more through photography, film, art, debates, food and theatre — look at our website for information. The festival starts on the 4th May and finishes on the 2nd June.

BUCFP at the Fringe — Rough Guide to Being an Outsider

Where the outsiders come alive! A celebration of inspiring events for everyone. Photography, film, theatre, art, and food. We will be hosting our usual Art exhibition, with a new issue of Our Voice magazine, and we’re adding extra activities this year. All events will be held at Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project, 6 Tilbury Place.

Brighton Festival Fringe, kicks off on 15th May — with the Temporary Housing Group offering a

housing advice surgery in a pop-up-tent in the main area from 11am. Welfare Rights will be giving fuel and poverty advice at the same time.

Tuesday 21st May, 2 to 4pm — see the Food Project offering cookery demonstrations, workshops, wild

food foraging with a free lunch at 1pm!

Educations events throughout the week 20th to 24th May — performances, live music, creative

writing, art and lifelong-learning information.

Friday 24th May — The Participation Project launches its film ‘No Fixed Abode’ and our new Homeless Photography Exhibition — Homeless not Helpless. There will also be a performance from our interactive theatre group on landlords and the housing crisis.

Homeless meetings Every first Friday of the month at 11- 3 0Am in centre Main area EVERYO(NE welcome 9


The Big Dig By Richard Ince This year’s ‘Big Dig’ day at the Centre allotment in Walpole Hill was a chance for people, who’d never been to the allotment, to meet our regular volunteers and see what’s been happening. The cold easterly winds that have made us shiver for so long dropped off when we headed up there on 18 March. The skies were clear and the sun shone until evening. Volunteers worked as usual and visitors wandered round, enjoying the peace and splendid views across the town to the sea. The site is built on a considerable slope so it is wellterraced and paths have been repaired. The bottom of the hill has been overgrown for a long time but is now being cleared. I watched one volunteer as he cleared masses of old carpets which had been under the soil and scrub for years. They’d presumably once been used as weedsuppressants. There were also bundles of bindweed roots,

which look like balls of spaghetti. They have to be removed scrupulously as they spread like wildfire. Mick, an allotment volunteer, said it was hard work but very relaxing and that he really enjoyed coming here. Children love this place, and several wandered round or sat happily on the ground. One looked with her mum into our little pond, which was full of frogspawn. It was unusual to see frogspawn so early, due to the weather, but reproduction waits for no frog or man. Centre worker Emily had invited an expert on medicinal and nutritious plants and herbs. We followed Sarah-Jane round the allotment while she gave a fascinating talk about our plants.

“The willow tree was used for pain-cure long before aspirin was developed from — yes, the willow tree.”

Many of them are in common use for cooking, but also have medicinal properties. Parsley is rich in Vitamin C and iron. Rosemary, which is used in many dishes for its flavour, is said to be great for indigestion. Fennel, which tastes of aniseed and goes great with fish, is also good for indigestion. Borage is used for respiratory infections. And Thyme is a regular in many gardens. I never knew there was a curry bush, but it’s true, and the leaves have a mild scent. We’ve a lot of comfrey plants, whose leaves are put into a large bin of water — this eventually turns a muddy brown and is used as fertiliser. The wild nettle is rich in minerals and vitamin C. The leaves of Goose-grass, also known as cleavers, can be eaten like spinach after soaking in water overnight. Lots of common plants are healthy just used normally in cooking. But if you want to use them to treat a specific health problem, you need to talk to someone experienced to understand the procedures. Just remember that before all our modern medicines people used natural resources to treat their ailments. The willow tree was used for pain-cure long before aspirin was developed from — yes, the willow tree. Clearing a big allotment creates a lot of stuff to burn, so there’s often a bonfire. This is popular in winter — what better, after working hard, than sitting round the fire chatting and listening to music. On this day, Ben, who’s a Welfare Rights and office volunteer, played his guitar. If you’re interested in being an allotment volunteer get in touch with Emily via the office. The kitchen uses a lot of the allotment produce and volunteers can also take produce home.  

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Internet Will Make You Free – The Power of Social Networks Earlier this year a stray and scruffy white Labrador was spotted wandering by a roundabout near a supermarket in Cartaya, southern Spain. It was abandoned as a puppy with a polyester cord around its neck. Its life was a slow-death, full of suffering, fear and frustration. It was spotted by someone, probably a woman, who felt sorry for it, shocked by its bleeding and strangling neck; by its immense suffering. She took a picture as it was walking to nowhere in search of a piece of food, to its next session of torment. The picture was uploaded to the internet and shared on Facebook in search of advice, for any clue to help this unfortunate animal. People all over the world commented on the heartbreaking picture of the animal, its struggling head, a face showing resignation to its cruel and daunting fate. In just a few days 130 people liked the post on its capture, 40 shared it and 50 commented on it. They urged action to rescue the dog from its hell but the animal was elusive, scared of any more mistreatment from humans that had already delivered so much torment. Soon a group of people went to search for the animal — but it ran away and hid. Through rainy and windy weather the volunteers tried once again, meeting as they’d already arranged online. The circle was narrowing, or so it seemed, and they, together now with a vet, were increasingly close to finding its whereabouts. Despite the bad weather they kept trying. Posts on Facebook kept up the pressure and the search became a frenzy. One day, wet and after a patient wait, they spotted its hideout — a clogged drainage hole. They prepared the operation: anaesthetic darts, a makeshift stretcher made from a pallet, all logistic arrangements. On the final day, exhausted and hopeless, cornered into its cave, the dog peacefully surrendered quietly, awaiting its unknown fate.  

By Manuel Muriel

The emaciated dog was found in March

‘Freedom’ the dog, happy and healthy in the pine forests outside his animal shelter in Andalucia Below is a link to a video about Freedom’s story: http://youtu.be/3MNcSDLZ9bc

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Amnesty International Brighton and Hove Group

According to an old Chinese proverb, ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’ In 1961 Peter Benenson, a British law yer, did just that when ‘The Forgotten Prisoner’ — his newspaper appeal about Prisoners of Conscience — sparked an international movement dedicated to the protection of human rights. Amnesty International became one of the biggest and most trusted voluntary organisations in the world with over 2.8 million members in more than 150 countries. Amnesty International Brighton and Hove Group is one of the longestrunning local Amnesty groups in the UK. The group was established in October 1964 and is a hub for human rights activism in Brighton. Its members are all volunteers, supported by staff and volunteers at the Human Rights Action Centre in  London.

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Ester Federica Zanetti, who joined the group when she first moved to Brighton three years ago, says: “Since the beginning the group has been an essential part of my life. I’ve got to know people from around the world. I wrote to them, I listened to them and I know we gave them a real possibility to change their lives for the better. I love the passion, the tenacity of all members of our group. It’s inspiring and hopeful.” The group holds monthly meetings at Community Base in Brighton with guest speakers and workshops, a monthly fund-raising collection in the Lanes, and an annual Write for Rights event. They’ve a mailing list of more than 200 people and distribute their newsletter to all Brighton and Hove councillors as well as making it widely available in the local area. Liz Maudslay, group secretary, says: “What’s so important for me is being part of a group of people spanning a

By James Garside

very wide range of interests and age groups but all sharing the same goal of working together to address human rights issues.” The group is committed to Amnesty UK’s main campaigns — The Arms Trade Treaty, Forced Evictions and Middle East and North Africa — and has been involved in national campaigns including Abolition of the Death Penalty, Terrorism and Security, and Stop Violence Against Women. Their priority campaign for this year is fighting for the rights of Afghan women. Sue Williams, new member secretary, says: “Each campaign has a nominated co-ordinator, but they always need help and we’re always looking for people with publicity, media and fund-raising skills.” As part of the campaign for a strong Arms Trade Treaty — a globally agreed set of standards to regulate the trade of all arms — group members met


with Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, who subsequently made a strong public statement in support of the Arms Trade Treaty and wrote to Vince Cable to stress the role his department must play in the negotiations.

“If you could give even one person some hope by letting them know they’ve not been forgotten, and that there’s a community out there fighting for them, why wouldn’t you?” Emma Parker, group chair and member for more than ten years, says: “There are already treaties in place to regulate the trade of many products, including dinosaur bones and bananas, so this doesn’t seem too much to ask!” Luke Beale, Control Arms coordinator, says: “Like many people I find myself getting increasingly frustrated with politics and the media. Getting active with Brighton’s Amnesty group is a way to counter this. People question whether activism can make a difference, but if you could give even

one person some hope by letting them know they’ve not been forgotten, and that there’s a community out there fighting for them, why wouldn’t you?” Several of the Brighton and Hove group’s members work as volunteers at the Amnesty Bookshop in Sydney Street, where the group displays newsletters and information, and they also hold a monthly stall outside the bookshop to raise public awareness of current campaigns. Jill Francis, Amnesty stalls coordinator, says: “Through Amnesty’s expertise and direction I’ve been able to take part in actions which I believe will make a difference. Our local group has organised many fund-raising and awareness-raising events which have been fun as well as serving a purpose.” A weekly Amnesty show on radiofreebrighton recently featured a telephone interview with Luis Munoz, a Chilean exile living in Sussex, who spoke for the group at Amnesty’s screening of Pablo Larrain’s Oscar-nominated film ‘NO’ at Dukes@Komedia in February. Emma Parker says: “One of the things that stands out is how we’ve joined forces with other local Amnesty groups, such as the Lewes Group, the volunteers from the Amnesty

Bookshop and the Sussex University Group to bring a wider range of skills and resources to our campaigning.” All Amnesty groups take on a Prisoner of Conscience and campaign on their behalf — sometimes for many years — so the group was thrilled when theirs, Cuban journalist Pablo Pacheco Avila, was released in 2010. But as Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Laureate, once said: “One prisoner of conscience is one too many.” The group’s work continues unabated and they have two current long-term Prisoner of Conscience projects. Emma Parker says: “We were delighted last year to follow the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi to Britain. It was very moving to know that our work as Amnesty members contributed to her being free to come here for the first time in 24 years. It really goes to show how worthwhile the work of Amnesty is and how much we can achieve if we work together for human rights.” Michael Fisher, website co-ordinator, says: “I always enjoy our group’s annual letter writing vigil in December. The atmosphere is great and it takes us back to the traditional Amnesty ethos: writing letters to prisoners of conscience. We always have amazing cakes as well.”  

Amnesty International Brighton and Hove Group Meet on the first Thursday of every month 8-10pm at Community Base, Queen’s Road, Brighton Email: brightonandhoveai@googlemail.com Or Tel: 01273 232397 www.amnesty.org.uk/brighton Photo - Amnesty Bookshop, Sydney Street, Brighton Photo - Arms Trade Treaty: Group members Jill, Angus, and Madeline meet with Caroline Lucas.

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Sewing Group 2013 By Liz Neale

Welcome to the centre and pull up a chair! Thanks to the hard work of the weekly sewing group you’ll have a more comfortable rest. Group co-ordinator Debra Wardle and a host of other nimble-fingered volunteers meet every Thursday from 10am to 1pm and one of their biggest projects has been to smarten the sofas. “We’ve been focusing on making the chair covers for the centre, that has been our top priority,” she said. “I’m very much into interior design and have done a few courses so I had a few ideas on what colours they needed to be. We all came to the conclusion that Hessian was going to be a good fabric with the piping in check colours. We worked together on this as a group and it was very much trial and error because none of us had ever made chair covers before.” She added: “We supported each other and I’m glad to say it was very successful. We had a volunteer, Mary, who was a professional seamstress so she guided us in the chair-cover making and for that I’m truly grateful. She gave us a lot of support before she left to go travelling and without her it would have been difficult.

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“When we finished the covers there was a sense of relief but also a sense of anti-climax.” Debra said anyone was welcome to join in, even if they’d never sewed anything or used a sewing machine in their life. “Come along to the group — even if it’s just to watch at first,” she said. “We’re quite a friendly group. Over a period of time you’ll gradually get used to the machines and get quite confident. “At the moment we’ve been trying to upholster a chair in the office. We’re teaching ourselves how to do it.” And it’s not just about a needle and thread — volunteers have been busy with wool too. “As an offshoot of the sewing group we decided that it was a good idea for everyone to have knitting needles and wool to make a blanket for the centre — to knit a square for love,” she said. “The idea’s to have the centre logo in the middle. “I thought while I was unemployed I wanted to give something back to the community and this is my way. I believe in that — I think it’s important that what we take out we give back. 


BUCFP

Leavers 2013 This year we’ve said goodbye to three of our valued workers. We give our heartfelt thanks to Suzy King, Wendy Scott and Helen Smith for all their hard work and wish them well for the future.

Suzy King

Helen Smith

Wendy Scott

“I really enjoyed working at the Centre as a Family Support Worker. I was there, part-time, for three-anda-half years and my main focus was on outreach work, visiting families and schools in the City Centre. It was a real privilege to have such a diverse job. Alongside getting to know some families over a long period of time it was great being the Day Coordinator once a week, taking over office duties if a volunteer didn’t show, packing Fareshare produce into the kitchen, getting under the Chef’s feet, painting the toilets and my particular favourite — serving lunches and giving out free food. I first used the Centre when I was a homeless, single mum in 1993 and it will always be somewhere close to my heart, a haven for a lot of people. I will always remember certain individuals from the Centre and will visit when I can.” Suzy is now a community and schools development worker at Whitehawk Primary School.  

Helen first came to the Centre for the fabulous crèche, and volunteered in the kitchen. She enjoyed it so much she went on to jobshare the Food Worker role for nearly four years. She  also worked for Due South restaurant, putting her background in the catering industry to good use here. During that time she also had her second child, and finally decided to resign from her jobs this year so she can concentrate her work energies on her small family business Acorn, pairing up English language learners from overseas with homestay teachers in this country. As Food Project Worker Helen implemented the Safer Food, Better Business food hygiene practices, helped to set up the regular allotment work group, and worked hard to improve the quality and variety of our dinners! She’s well-loved by the cooks and never fails to inspire in her passion for good food. If you miss her you will get a chance to see her at our fab food event happening here on Tuesday 21 May — she’ll be joining the other volunteers in their aprons to make a delicious free buffet.  

“I’ve worked in the playroom for just over a year-and-a-half, and was a volunteer for a year before that, working with Judy. Although I’ve been responsible for what’s gone on in there on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, it’s been a real team effort, and I’d like to say a very sincere thank you to all the volunteers I’ve met and worked with. Everyone has something to offer and between us we can offer the children a safe and happy environment to play, learn and make new friends. The playroom allotment trips have been great fun (and quite hard work), digging and planting, having a picnic and several cups of tea, with Carl offering guidance as to what’s a weed and what’s not. I’ll really miss everyone here at BUCFP so I’d like to stay in touch, and will visit, volunteer and cover sessions in the crèche whenever time and circumstances permit.” Wendy is now spending more time at One World Nursery, part of the University of Brighton.  

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Welfare Reforms Housing benefit has been affected by welfare reform since April 2011 and most of the changes have come into place. Yet to come is what is known as the “bedroom tax.” From April 2013, deductions will be applied to the claims of tenants in social housing who have spare bedrooms — 14% for one bedroom and 25% for two or more. Tenants affected by this change should consider taking lodgers as income from lodgers is treated very favourably by both the tax and benefit system. There will be no new claims for Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

from June 2013. This benefit will be replaced by Personal Independence Payments — PIPs. Claiming a PIP will involve a medical examination and point scoring — as with ESA at the present. There are also increased residence conditions e.g. you have to have been present in Great Britain for 2 of the past 3 years. Existing DLA claims will transfer over from October 2013 to 2017. Council Tax Benefit is replaced by a locally devised support / rebate scheme from April 2013. All residents — even those claiming out of work benefits — will have to pay at least 10% of the Council Tax bill.

By Julie O’Hara

This change will affect everyone — SOON. Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants will also be administered by the Council and the local authority is working out a system for the delivery of this service. Universal Credit is supposed to be trialled in the Manchester area from April this year and in the rest of the country from October 2013. This benefit — which will be delivered by the DWP — has got so many problematic aspects that it is hard to imagine this timetable being applied. But more of this later.  

My Dyslexia By Tony Supersad

I wrote about my dyslexia in 2011 for Our Voice. In 2012 I passed my exams — I have Entry Level Certificate in Adult Literacy and Entry Level 2 Certificate in Adult Numeracy — and in 2013 I hope to pass even more. I hope to reach a higher level. I am very happy doing this course as it has helped me a lot. I have made three good friends — called Danny and Paul and Michael — and they have been there from the beginning of my courses. We do have a good laugh but we also work very hard. I met Danny on my Literacy class and now we are on Numeracy class Entry 3. I met Paul and Michael, like Danny, on Numeracy Entry 2. Now we are all in Entry 3 Maths.

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Paul says that what he gets out of this course is meeting new friends and getting his courage back up. He would like to work in sports with children. If he passes Level 3 Numeracy he will go to a higher level like me. I hope that we will continue to be friends when the course is finished. I would like to thank all the tutors and staff for the help in what I have to do. Without you we could not get any better. So thank you all.   Tony Supersad, The Joker in the Pack

Tony shows off his certificates.


Funding

Help us to help Brighton! Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project has provided support to low-income, unwaged and vulnerable people for more than 30 years — and in these difficult economic times, that support has never been more needed or more appreciated. People come here for real, practical help in a safe, welcoming environment. Services offered include classes and workshops, child care, volunteering, affordable lunches, back-to-work training and drop-in welfare advice. With its friendly, community atmosphere, many centre users find it invaluable. However, as the economy flounders, more and more people need our assistance. Add to this the recent public

spending cuts and the extraordinary pressures that all charities are under at the moment (it’s estimated that 15 British charities are being forced to close each day), and we’re financially very stretched. In short, the centre is facing a considerable funding shortfall. An enthusiastic, committed team of volunteers and project workers has so far succeeded in maintaining the wide range of services for the many people, of all ages and backgrounds, who use the centre each day. But to safeguard this level of support we’re asking for your help. Would you like to help us assist lowincome young people, old people, children and families, in the heart of Brighton? Be it in the form of

By Don Connigale

ideas for fund-raising events, oneoff or monthly personal donations, corporate sponsorship or any other suggestions or contributions, we’d love to hear from you. Alternatively you might like to help us distribute fund-raising leaflets, contact potential donors — or you may have some ideas we haven’t even thought of. Remember, any assistance you can give, you’ll be supporting hundreds of individuals and families right here in Brighton. For more information about what we do and how you can help, please visit our website at www.bucfp.org, phone Peter on 01273 671213 or email info@bucfp.org Thanks for your help — we look forward to hearing from you!  

Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project How can we help? We are a community centre in Tilbury Place that offers services to local people: • Food • Free child care • Courses • Advice about work and benefits But are we doing the right things? We would like you to come and see what we do and tell us what we can do for you. What we could do for residents. Perhaps you want to tell us what you would like us to do for people who live around here? You can look at our website www.bucfp.org & leave a comment or contact Peter on 01273 671213 or email: info@bucfp.org We’re interested in what you have to say so please contact us.

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Bibliomancy Fun things to do with a ‘good book’ By James Garside Groucho Marx once said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Although he was joking, he was right about one thing — a book can be your best friend. He was probably also right about it being too dark inside a dog to read, unless you took a torch with you, but that’s not something that we recommend trying at home! We all love books, and it’s probably the love of a great book that got you writing in the first place, but did you know that books can talk and that you can train your favourite book to answer questions? This is a little magic trick known as Bibliomancy that literary wizards have been using for years. Here is what you do: * Pick out a book that you love * Hold it in your hands * Close your eyes and ask the book a question

“Books, like dogs, each have their own distinct personality. Some are more obedient than others.” * Open the book at any page that feels right to you * Put your finger on the page * Open your eyes * Write down the sentence that you’re pointing to,   or the first words that you notice * This is the book’s answer to your question! You can use this whenever you get stuck in your writing, to ask for advice or guidance, to generate ideas for stories or scenes, and even just to ask for a first line to get you started. Because you picked the book and you opened it, no matter what it says, the answer will be useful and appropriate to you. It’s important to work with a book that you love as books, like dogs, each have their own distinct personality and some are more obedient than others. Be patient and with a little training you’ll soon have a loyal and faithful friend to help you with your writing. Just remember to say “Good Book!” and take it for a walk afterwards.

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Creative Corner Ain’t Got A Home The city lights in all their glory In the backstreets, it’s a different story Sitting on a kerb in a no parking zone Why, cause I ain’t got a home

Beaten so bad and left for dead Would this have happened if I’d had a bed Angels of mercy sooth the pain Then patched up and on the street again

The wind howls, the clouds are black Most are immune from winter’s attack The rain comes down with a vicious lash Sleep in a doorway in sodden trash

A life on the outskirts of human decay Just get a job is what they say They can’t see past the shabby exterior If they could it would all become clearer

With the weather cold and so severe I dig a bed under the pier Snuggle down and start to pray Let me survive another day

Living like this is not through choice But what can I do I have no voice They look at me, look right through But remember one day this could be you

The pub spills out with an angry face Looking into the dark scanning the place A vulnerable soul asleep on some seating An alcohol-fuelled savage beating

By Gary Jones

Greed Industrial waste lands barren and dead Twisted steel rusty and red Neglected mines soaked and sodden A way of life destroyed and forgotten

Corporate banquets and bonuses galore Exploiting the people and attacking the poor Despising our services, ready with the axe Hiding offshore never paying tax

Working men once stood proud and free The beating heart of our industry Stood shoulder to shoulder in unity Saw the heart ripped out of their community

A divided country still with pain For selfish reasons and financial gain From public to private to feed the greed A system for profit not for need

The battle for Britain was fought and lost For working people at a terrible cost Ruthless collusion by the political class Dictatorship by the few takes us back to the past

Let’s harness the fire, the desire to fight To confront corruption and put matters right To deal with the spivs and defeat them for good And take our places where proud men once stood

The ruling elite had sown the seed For financial gambling and political greed Politicians should protect, that’s their role Not embracing profit and selling their soul

By Gary Jones

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Recipe ideas

Romanian polenta with grilled vegetables

Method:

Ingredients:

Cook the spinach according to instructions and squeeze out the water. Mix in a bowl with the crumbled and grated cheeses, chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes and salt and pepper. Spread the mixture over half the tortillas and top with another tortilla. Carefully slide these one by one into the frying pan, frying for two to three minutes on each side until the tortillas are browned and the cheese has melted. Cut into quarters and eat.

1 bunch of spring onions (8-9) trimmed and sliced 4 sun- dried tomatoes, chopped A pinch of dried chilli flakes 2 garlic cloves, crushed 300 ml (½ pint) stock 125 ml (4 fl oz) dry red wine 750 ml ( 1 ¼ pints) stock well seasoned with salt and pepper 175 g (6 oz) quick cocking polenta 600 ml (1 pint) tomato sauce, warmed 1 grilled pepper 1 grilled aubergine 1 grilled courgette 175 g (6 oz) half – fat cheese ( cheddar or mozzarella), well drained Blotted dry and shredded basil leaves Shredded chopped fresh parsley

Caribbean rice and peas recipe

Ingredients: 1 medium sized can red kidney beans 1 can coconut milk 2 cups of rice 1 small onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 1 table spoon oil 1 scotch bonnet pepper (whole, don’t chop up) Water

Method: Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid. Place liquids in a pot with beans, onions, garlic, thyme and oil, bring to a boil. Add  rice and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to Medium-Low. Place scotch bonnet pepper on top of liquid and cover tightly for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove scotch bonnet pepper before serving. This recipe can also be made using other peas.

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By Ron Denyer 23


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Our Voice Magazine (Spring 2013)