Steph’s Place

I have voted for Steph’s Place in the National Diversity Awards this year.

Here’s why

I think Steph’s Place deserves recognition for the brave work they do. I know Steph has been threatened and has many enemies and I actually think I take Steph’s work for granted. Many regimes are actively working towards removing all our human rights. Most use the tried and tested tactic of attacking the rights of minorities and immigrants, de humanising and demonising them, creating fear and moral panic which leads to hate. Make no mistake, an attack on the Human Rights of ANY MINORITY is an attack upon ALL our rights and freedoms.

I have followed Steph’s Place for a year or two and I love the mix of journalism, comment and opinion. Steph’s Place has a way of putting LGBTQ+ issues into perspective in a way that no other Group or publication online or in print can.

There is never any hint of hate or hysteria. No attempt to be controversial unless unearthing facts and presenting them in a matter of fact way then letting the reader form their own opinion is controversial. Perhaps that approach to researching facts and presenting them is controversial nowadays.

God bless,
Pauline Stoker,
xxx

Steph’s Place can be found at Steph’s Place

To vote for Steph you can use this link to the National Diversity Awards Web Site


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The Laser Clinic Morpeth (Blog style)

Shining light on unwanted hair

I found The Laser Clinic Morpeth Ltd when I looked into alternatives to shaving off the dark facial hair I felt I had been cursed with. Facial hair on women is a lot more common than most people realise. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects 10% of women and one common symptom is growing dark facial hair which starts during puberty. Growing facial hair can lead to loss of confidence and low self esteem.

Laser hair removal, where laser light travels down the hair and burns out the follicle, was once offered to PCOS sufferers by the NHS. The treatment is still recommended but no longer funded by them.

There are very few clinics offering treatment in my area, Tyneside. I didn’t fancy Newcastle, the city isn’t car friendly. From my research I learned one side effect is redness where the Laser light had burned down to the follicle. It’s a temporary effect but I didn’t fancy walking the streets or standing at a bus stop with a red face. The clinic I chose was near Morpeth north of Newcastle. The web site said there was plenty of car parking space yards from reception. The cost of treatment seemed reasonable and I was willing to pay. I hate shaving.

My Sat Nav took me to the Laser clinic without any fuss. It is just a few miles from the A1. As I pulled into the car park I saw Susan the clinics owner, coming down the short path from the reception room to greet me. We had already messaged via Email and she had explained that a patch test would have to be done before the start of treatment. Like all cosmetic procedures there are some risks and side effects and Susan explained them to me. The risks are low and side effects temporary but everyone is different hence the need for a patch test. Susan helped me fill in forms which collected relevant medical information, and she explained what is meant by ‘informed consent’.

Susan is very friendly and personable, I felt immediately at ease. Susan has clients from as far as Bishop Auckland in the south and Jedburgh to the North. She can keep her prices down because she has low overheads and business rates are not as high as those in the city.

Susan has many clients who come to her because of unwanted hair growth due to PCOS. ‘‘I enjoy my work as a Laser Technician and get a great sense of satisfaction knowing I am helping people with their skin problems which in turn boosts clients self confidence and self esteem.’’ Susan can treat a wide range of skin complaints including thread-vein, rosacea, scar and pigmentation removal and acne scarring. Laser hair removal treatment does take multiple sessions to work effectively. Hair grows in phases. Facial hair grows then is dormant over a 4 to 8 week period and needs to be in the growing phase for the treatment to work.

I asked Susan about the beginnings of her Laser Clinic business. She told me about the stress of trying to juggle family life and a nine to five job in a Science Laboratory in nearby Morpeth. ‘‘I just felt I was not in control of my life’’ she explained. ‘‘Neil my husband was a Fire Fighter working shifts that couldn’t fit around our family life. I felt I was letting our young daughter Holly down. Organising childcare was a nightmare and having to beg for time off to see Holly on sports days and what have you was very stressful.’’


One day a work colleague told her they were having a tattoo removed, another had already told her she was having Laser Hair removal. Susan was curious and did some research. ‘‘I was looking for a way to take back control of my life. Escaping the nine to five seemed the only way so I needed to be my own boss.’’

Susan learned all she could about Laser Treatment. She contacted manufacturers and studied with Manchester University gaining the qualifications and skill necessary to operate Laser equipment effectively and safely.

‘‘Lynton, the company I bought my Laser machines from are brilliant’’ Susan told me. ‘‘I still work closely with them. I can ask for advice from one of their medical doctors if there’s something I’m not certain about and they take care of the regular servicing and calibration of my machines. I’m just so happy now I have control over my own life and It’s such a joy knowing I am able to use my Laser Technician skills to help my clients with their skin problems’’

All of Susan’s machines are NHS approved and Susan is a fully trained and qualified technician but she has had clients who have had treatment elsewhere who didn’t get the results they wanted. She told of one man who came to her for help with thread-veins. ‘‘He came to me with a low expectation of what could be done for him. His first words as he came through the door were ‘Right, I know there’s nothing you can do but I’m here so lets get on with it.’ The poor man was desperate. He couldn’t believe the result after I treated him and was over the moon. The problem is there are cheap machines on the market and they are not NHS approved so can’t be expected to produce the same level of success that more expensive machines can attain.’’

‘‘A lot of my business comes from word of mouth but when people have laser treatment from another place and don’t get the result they expect, they tell their friends and their friends think laser treatment doesn’t work. It’s such a shame because laser treatment does work and it does help people.’’

There is some discomfort during treatment I have found. Many people describe it as like being twanged with an elastic band and multiple treatment sessions will be required. I don’t mind a little discomfort. I am so glad I found Susan and her Lasers.

The Laser Clinic can be found online at www.thelaserclinic.org.uk
or Email susan@thelaserclinic.org.uk for more information.

By Pauline Stoker

Should periodic CPC training be replaced with First aid training?

Commercial drivers must undertake 35 hours of CPC training every 5 years. The average cost to drivers who’s employer will not fund them is around £400. They have to take the course in their own time. The purpose of CPC is to make our roads safer for all users and was an EU initiative.

Driving an HGV requires us to be in possession of our driving licence, tachograph and CPC cards to prove we have undergone all the required training and are working according to the law. Perhaps for this reason the 35 hours of ongoing periodic CPC training seems to focus on the legal side of commercial driving.

HGV drivers find periodic CPC training a very emotive subject and it is fair to say most would like to see it scrapped. They view the CPC as a very expensive waste of time. At least in the present format. After all, the periodic course is the same as the initial training course and teaches nothing new. The only difference is that most drivers have had a lot of experience actually doing the job. An expensive, time consuming exercise in ‘teaching Grannies to suck eggs’.

Could the course be improved? If road safety concerns are the reason for ongoing CPC training then should it not actually focus on delivering that outcome. Most commercial drivers see ongoing CPC training as a necessary evil. Periodic CPC training is simply not value for money. So how could the course be altered to provide value for money while at the same time making our roads a safer place for all road users.

One driver, Stan who has been driving HGV class 1 vehicles since leaving the army told me he thought the course should focus on first aid. Stan was quite specific, he told me good quality first aid training could save lives. Stan explains ‘‘I was first on the scene of a nasty accident just 2 years ago and my first aid training let me deal with the situation I found myself in’’. Stan was working night-shift and saw the car ahead leave the road and go off into the trees. There were 3 seriously injured people and the police told Stan later that his actions saved lives that night. Stan learned his first aid in the army. I worked with Stan at Parkside Logistics in Birtley and have had similar experiences also working night shift.

I have been first on the scene of two accidents just 2 years apart. I was lucky as I only had to contend with minor injuries and shock. It was horrible, both accidents were on main roads but during the quietest time of day. I don’t know how I would have coped if anyone had been seriously injured or trapped. It was very traumatic just the same. My heart sank as I approached the vehicles expecting the worst. I still cry when I think back to it. According to H.S.E. the first people on the scene of an RTA are quite likely to be commercial drivers especially during the quite night hours.

Unite, the union, also have many misgivings about periodic CPC training. Unite has petitioned the government very strongly on this issue. Ray Sanderson, regional officer for Unite says ‘The CPC is a contentious issue as many drivers just don’t see it’s value. The sector has debated this at length and the view is that it does need a review and we have petitioned government very hard on this.’’

Ray outlined Unites demands.

To make the CPC more relevant to the job the driver does, not just generic topics.

There should be no repeating of modules.

Modules should be done on an annual basis rather than wait until the end of the 5 year period and cram all 5 in.

The CPC should move to a more accredited format rather than just participation. We don’t prescribe a test or pass and fail but some form of measurement of understanding and feedback.

The CPC is a vocational standard and as such should be conducted in working time and recorded as such. Employers should also cover the actual cost of the training. In the vast majority of Unite organised companies this is already the case.

Periodic training may also be the final straw for many drivers. I left the industry in February rather than pay for the CPC which was due. There was always the worry that I would be first on the scene of an RTA again too. The worry that I might not cope next time. First aid training not only saves lives but would go a long way to save an untrained person from later feeling guilty when they reflect back on what they should have done rather than what they actually did do. Given a choice between CPC or First Aid I know what I would choose.

By Pauline Stoker


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A Handful of Cabbage

I remember my first school dinner. We had to sit still as a massive Sunday dinner was dished up in front of us. Meat, vegetables, roasted tatties, Yorkies. I couldn’t believe it, It was only Monday.

We had to shut our eyes for Grace which took ages. I heard a commotion during Grace and when I opened my eyes I saw my plate was just an untidy pile of cabbage, no meat or Yorkies. My poor 5 year old heart sank. I could see where my food had gone, kids either side had loads of meat, roasted tatties and Yorkies.

The table was a mess and some kids were still thieving from each other. Handfuls of meat and Yorkies grabbed from the plate to their right while the kid to their left was dumping handfuls of unwanted cabbage onto their plates. Chaos and such a disappointment.

I managed to grab some boiled tatties off the table, I love cabbage and was very hungry so was still happy after a fashion. Then I put loads of what I thought was salad cream onto my plate of cabbage and lumps of boiled tattie except it wasn’t salad cream, it was from a dish full of Horse Radish which was untouched in the middle of the table . That was the first and only time I ever made that mistake.

Next day I kept my eyes open during Grace and put the plate on my lap. Kids learn fast when food and survival are threatened, well I did. The teachers all had their eyes shut I noticed. School dinners were the best thing about school for me. That and needlework. I didn’t like any of the rest of it.

Years later, In the 1970’s, I watched a frantic game of Mah-jong being played by professional gamblers and was taken right back to that first ever School meal in the Infants. That game of Mah-Jong took place in the bowls of a ships Chinese laundry in 1976. The players all seemed to be playing at once, there was no stopping to study the tiles or even waiting their turn. Arms, tiles and money flying about and everyone shouting at the same time. The air was so thick with smoke from whatever it was they were all smoking I was surprised they could even see the little pictures on the tiles. My eyes and throat were burning. Anyway that’s another story which ended in tears. xx

Novice gardener

Making a start on a neglected front and back garden

I just never have any time to do anything. Not properly anyway. The forces of nature are causing my garden to mutate into a wilderness. What must the neighbours think.

Actually most of my neighbours have concrete drives at the front. Not sure if I would like one myself. I have had plans in my head for ages about what I want to do with ‘my land’. I walk around the area a couple of streets away where the houses are bigger and have room for a drive and a nice garden and get my ideas from them. I even have some of their plants growing on my windowsill. I didn’t pinch the whole plant, the ones I really like are too big so I took cuttings.

It should turn into a bush when I let it loose into the garden

At my age (63) I don’t want to over do things and the time to dig is in the autumn so I missed that bit. I don’t know where the saying ‘hard work never killed anyone’ came from but I guess it must have been a fairly right wing politician. Hitler or one of them types. It’s obviously not true anyway. ‘Dirt never hurt anyone’ is another saying that’s not true. Probably a slum landlord came up with that one.

Apart from getting killed outright or dying from an infection from the dirt I want to avoid a bad back, losing an eye and stabbing my feet with the spikey shovel. I will come back to that when I remember it’s proper name. I just want to enjoy the health benefits of having a nice garden whilst avoiding the unhealthy side effects of hard work. I wore gloves, glasses and boots for safety. The strimmer is pretty quiet or I would have used the ear plugs I use when Vacuuming.

Fork, that’s the one I was thinking of. Not sure what your supposed to dig with, fork or shovel. I tried both briefly just last year as a test and found they are both hard work. I will just use one till it breaks then switch to the other one.

Some tools and Slow Coach the Tortoise. He does move but I don’t know how, him being plastic like. xx

I have made a start. The first thing I did was cut the grass at the front. I bought a cordless strimmer and it didn’t take long. Just a tidy really to stop kids from knocking every few hours wanting to cut it. They are not cheap either them kids and the flex on their strimmer is not long enough to stretch back to their mam’s gaff so they expect a tenner and free electric. I was £10 up by the time I finished the front and it only took 15 minutes. There is a tree stump trying to take up all the space to one side. I will deal with that another time.

I left the side garden and Sycamore tree stump for another day.

My next priority was to get my Tatties in. I didn’t have time in the Autumn to dig the back garden and don’t have time nor energy to do it now. My solution was to skim the greenery off the top of the soil with the shovel, make little holes with my mini shovel and pop the Tatties in. Some nice new compost on top should make them feel at home and keep them warm and cosy. I planted 27 of them today. We shouldn’t starve to death this year like we did last year. Hoarders stripped supermarket shelves of anything remotely edible last year.

It was still hard work but I paced myself. Took 2 hours but doing it properly would have took a lot longer.

That’s all I am doing for this week. There is a magnificent Nettle patch down one half of the garden. Rather than see them as an eyesore as Mr. Grumpy Pants does, don’t ask, I see them as a fantastic easy grow crop of leaves that can be harvested for a herbal drink and a nutrient rich tasty bit of greenery for the dinner plate. I also know that lot’s of different types of Butterfly like them. I bet I have the finest Nettle patch in the whole street.

I feel like I have taken all day but I have made some progress. I think gardening is fun because it gives you something to look forward to. I can see a fantastic garden in my mind. I am sitting there in the nice warm sun with a good book and a nice cup of Nettle tea in amongst a lovely garden with a mix of veg and flowers. Oh look, there are hanging baskets on the fences and wind chimes and over there a shed with a little patio like on Little house on the prairie. I can see Ma Baker sitting in a rocking chair now. Upside down clay pipe in her toothless mouth and Tommy gun on her lap. Better leave it there.

I have lots of good things to look forward to this year. It’s all very exciting.

I have to take it apart again

I bought this thing 4 weeks ago and it’s still not right. At least I found the lost bits though.

Pig sick. It’s just a good job I didn’t have proper tools or I would have done the nuts up tight and it would just have to stay back to front and inside out. I still think they put L on the right leg and vice versa. My right leg is on the right side and not on the right looking from the front.

They assumed there was only one possible way to put the top on as well. It means they think everyone is stupid and would only see what was obvious without doing any thinking. Thinking about stuff gets me into a lot of trouble and confuses people. I should know better. Never mind. It might still work, it looks quite like the picture as it is. At least the top is actually on the top, just a bit back to front.

The thing will be built soon, There can’t be many more ways to join the bits together, just need to find the spanner again then get another spanner for the other end and do it properly. I’m all enthusiastic now, the end is in sight. xx