‘Are You Okay?’ Day

Thought this was interesting – a national campaign in Australia, which culminates in ‘R U OK? Day’ this coming Thursday.

‘R U OK?Day is a national day of action on Thursday 13 September 2012, dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs.’

I think it’s a great idea. How many times do you casually get asked “Are you okay?”, and you may feel like the only response you can give is “aaahh, I’m fine,” when the truth may be a little bit different?

Encouraging people to ask the question at all is a step in itself, in our sometimes hectic, all too busy lives.

R U OK? website

R U OK? Day - tips

R U OK? Day icon

R U OK? Day website http://www.ruokday.com | twitter feed https://twitter.com/ruokday

Why not ask a friend, a neighbour, or a colleague if they are okay at some point today? There are lots of handy tips on the website. Then make a promise to yourself that you will ask again a little bit more often in the days ahead? It’s good to stay connected.

– Stuart


How Self Compassionate are you? Be your own best friend!

Hopefully this quick film we made illustrates the value of being kinder to ourselves especially during stressful times.

There is a field of work known as ‘Self Compassion’ which has its origins in Buddhism.  If you are interested in finding out more about self compassion I can recommend looking into the works of Dr Paul Gilbert, Dr Kristin Neff and Dr Christopher Germer.

It was our first attempt at filming on our community reporter course.  There is some background noise but hopefully the captions help diminish this.  We had a great workshop on filming and editing which was led by Jon Beech of Touchstone in Leeds.

I hope you enjoy the film


Woodhouse song thrush

Hyde Park or Woodhouse Moor, as the Friends of: more accurately call it, has to be one of the most popular and busy open spaces in Leeds. I have a particular nostalgia for it as it was a place where,as children my brother and I played. Our family lived in Woodhouse Square. Little Woodhouse, (check out the stunning slideshow on Little Woodhouse Online http://littlewoodhouseonline.com/gallery/?show=slide)

Several years ago my brother returned to live in this area, adjacent to the park, and it enabled me to regularly use the park for exercise and much needed time for reflection after visiting him. My brother’s long term, chronic mental health problems affected his motivation, preventing him from strolling with me, these visits often left me heavy hearted, but walks across the moor to town raised my spirits. Taking photographs there gave a creative outlet to my melancholia and feelings of frustration at not being able to ease his distress.

After one such visit on Good Friday this year the park was less of a bustle than usual, possibly because of this a song thrush felt bold enough to alight quite near me, being very short sighted I rarely spot birds, so it was a special privilege, it had it’s beady eye on me and stood his ground, tilting it’s head to listen to the few words I passed with him, too scared to scare it off by slipping out my camera phone, I simply enjoyed the few minutes granted me. It had been raining therefore he was too busy looking for a wormy treat to honour me with a song.

My day brightened. I planned to research  more information about song thrushes, as I was sure I’d read they were in decline and I planned  to return the following day with my camera…………..

…within the space of the next few hours I received news that my brother had died suddenly. The memory of sighting that chirpy little song bird comforted me and seemed even more special.

It’s my experience that loss of any kind…. opportunities missed when ill …… people close to us in death……can push us in to a state of transcendence, a heightened awareness which is not accessible most other times. I’m not sure I believe that birds are the messengers they are described as in myth and legend  but I like this Turkish saying  ‘his soul bird has flown away’.

I’m sure Woodhouse Moor will continue to be my favourite urban stomping ground for years to come, it feels a safe enough area for a lone walker to stroll, I’m reassured by the presence of the wardens who patrol regularly in their buggy.

The park has been the setting for some dramatic and  interesting events both during the civil war in the 17th century and in more recent times for my personal battle with the ‘stormy search for self’, I’ll save these stories for a future post, possibly on my own blog site! yes. although previously dubious about the usefulness of social network blogs etc, I’ve become so enthused during the training course to see it’s potential as a creative outlet for expressing thoughts and musings which might otherwise be left under wraps.

Sue Margaret

How to write a successful and interesting blog post – tips!

There are numerous perks of being a Community Reporter for Leeds Wellbeingweb one of which is free expert led workshops.  Recently we had a fantastic session on how to write a successful blog. The session was led by John Baron who is a Journalist and has worked for the Guardian.

We started with a brainstorm session: What makes a good story? Why is a print headline different to online? How to structure a blog post?

Here are some tips:

A story needs to be interesting, engaging, unusual – perhaps, and well written.  Like any good story, a good blog has a beginning, middle and end.

Start a blog post with a winning headline.  An online headline needs to be descriptive and informative. It should contain keywords which an internet user is likely to search for when using a search engine.  Printed headlines differ as they appear in context, alongside the written article and often with a picture. Newspaper headlines are more likely to be a play on words.

Next we need a clear introduction. The introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention and explain the story.  In terms of the story think about the following:  ‘What, Where, Why, When and Who,’  which are commonly described as: ‘The five W’s.’  John advised us to keep the introduction brief and suggested that it should be no more than 20 – 30 words in length.

The main body of the blog post follows and needs to engage the reader.  A well written blog flows well and is often quite punchy.  Here you can include facts and perhaps quotes.  We were told that writing short sentences helps.

The summary can include things which are interesting but not crucial. Internet readers tend to have short attention spans and tend to flick around from site to site.  Get the juicy bits in early on!

It’s not all about structure and writing though, a blog post could be fantastic but what is it without an audience? Link to other sites and use ‘Categories and Tags’  to increase ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO).  Linking and tagging means the blog will appear higher up in the results of a Google search,  attracting more readers to the blog. Remember to ensure the headline contains keywords that Internet users will search for rather than a play on words.

John Baron was a fantastic tutor and led a great workshop.  He also manages a local blog: South Leeds Life. He left us with some simple words of wisdom  ‘Write, rewrite and rewrite again.’

Finally, if you’re still reading and if you are interested in blogging there is an excellent article which managed an interesting headline, but also came up on the first page of my Google search: ‘Google Doesn’t Laugh: Saving Witty Headlines in the age of SEO.’

Happy Blogging

( oh and don’t forget to spellcheck !)


Cardboard Hill

I wrote recently about Woodhouse Ridge, my nearest little bit of wilderness. I learned more about the place through writing. Apparently there was a skirmish here, between Royalist and Parliamentarian forces, during the English Civil War. It is said that the “Beck ran red”, with the blood of the fallen, hence, the place name “Stainbeck”, just over the way.

Writing that piece also led to an interesting exchange with Nigel Lees, the secretary of of WRAG, the Woodhouse Ridge Action Group. The WRAG website links you to a great aerial photo of the Ridge, in case you’re wondering where exactly it is. In fact there’s a good stock of photos of the Ridge on the web where you get a sense of the Victorian and Edwardian history of the place – some of these sites and structures don’t exist any more.

WRAG have landed a grant from Caird Bardon Communities Fund and from Wade’s Charity and are applying for a further grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, for conservation works to the bandstand and to Batty’s Wood, which will kick off next year. If you’re interested to get involved their next action days are Sundays 30 September, 28 October, and 25 November. They meet at either the Delph Lane or Ridge Terrace entrance to the Ridge. Contact Nigel on 07929 998168 on the day.

Nigel sent me an interesting map of the Ridge which named a little piece of the wood Cardboard Hill. The name intrigued me. The same patch has also been called Long Rigg and Whinny Field, but what ancient custom or incident lost in the mists of history could possibly have given rise to such a name? All was revealed when Nigel sent sent me the following photos.

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