Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lloyds Bank

At first, I was outraged to read this piece about Lloyds pulling out the credit card market:

particularly as it had followed hot on the heels of the news about Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Stephen Hester's £963,000 bonus. However, according to Martin Lewis from, charity credit cards do not give good value for money - typically you'd need to spend £100 for the bank to donate just 25p.

Martin (he and I are on first name terms; he's one of my Facebook friends!) He advocates the following method for giving more money to charity via your credit card:

Step One. Get a top cashback credit card

Cashback credit cards are very similar beasts to charity cards; yet rather than paying the charity, they pay you a small percentage of every spend made. However the big difference is that the best cashback cards pay you substantially more than charity cards give your chosen good cause; this can be up to £5 per £100 spent. So switch to one of these (see the Top cards section later) and you get more and can then donate it.

Step Two. Donate the money via Gift Aid so the charity can reclaim the tax.

If you donate money to a UK charity, provided you're a taxpayer, then tick the 'Gift Aid box' on the donation form, and the charity can claim back the tax you paid on that money when it was earned. This means for every £1 a basic rate taxpayer gives, the charity actually receives £1.28, and it doesn't cost or impact you in any way (read the full charity giving article).

This is actually even better than standard tax relief at the moment. The basic rate income tax rate dropped to 20% in 2008, which would mean a charity should receive £1.25 per £1 donated. However, the Government's implemented a 'transitional tax relief' to bump this up by 3p, to £1.28, until 2011.

Compare this to what happens with the charity cards. There the donation doesn't qualify for Gift Aid tax relief; so for every £1 that goes to charity, the charity only gets the £1, nothing more.

For higher rate taxpayers, Giftaid works even better. Declare the donations made on your self-assessment tax return, and you can claim back the rest of your tax too. This is an EXTRA 25p per £1.00 you've donated; meaning donate this too and in total your charity receives 50% more than it would have done without any Gift Aid relief.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Today's charity was Daybreak which is a lovely group for parents with young children. We've started going since the beginning of the year and have been overwhelmed by the friendly welcome from all of the mums there.

They had a fundraising coffee morning this morning to which I'd donated a bag of good stuff including clothes that the little man had ALREADY grown out of and some new toys and books but today we bought a new outdoor suit (as he's grown out of three) and tickets to the tombola. Somehow I managed to avoid the cake stall...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


We received a very strange thank you letter today through the post from someone called "Yolly" thanking us for "DVD's and pen's" [sic] . The only thing is that I only know one Yolly who is in her 20s and would definitely not put an errant apostrophe in the word "pens"....and we didn't buy anyone pens (or "pen's") for Christmas.

We also got a thank you card from a baby whose parents had preprinted some cards saying "thank you for your gift(s)" which felt a tad....well....impersonal.

I suppose though that the NSPCC can be excused for their use of the bracket in their thank you letter!

We'd like to say a huge thank you for requesting a Letter from Santa from the NSPCC. We hope the letter(s) added some extra magic this Christmas for the child or children in your life. We're delighted to announce that, by requesting your letter, you have helped us in raising £1.7 million.

Your support means that we can continue our vital work protecting many vulnerable children and young people, through services such as ChildLine and the NSPCC Helpline. Between Christmas Eve and 4 January, ChildLine received over 48,500 contacts by telephone, email and online chat. Every £20 raised by Letter from Santa will help us to respond to another five children who contact us.

If you would like to find out more about the NSPCC and our work with children, you can visit our website If you have an enquiry or any feedback about Letter from Santa, please email us at

Thank you so much for your support and best wishes for 2012.

Monday, 23 January 2012

World Book Night

Just blogging about Dannie's readathon on 4th Feb and funnily enough, this email from World Book Night appears in my inbox. I signed up to be one of their "givers" and thought this was to let me know their decision, but it's a request to spread the word, so I am now making like jam and giving it a spread...

It's January 23rd so we're now only 3 months away from World Book Night and there are only 8 days till giver application closes. We wanted to write to you to let you know what happens next and also ask you to help us spread the word even more.

Next steps

In mid February you'll be informed whether you've been chosen as a World Book Night giver (see below for more information about how givers are chosen and choices allocated) and which book you'll be giving away
We'll ask you to choose immediately which participating local bookshop or library you want to collect your books from
Approximately a week before World Book Night we'll let you know when your books are ready for collection
In the meantime we'll be keeping you informed of some of the exciting things happening for World Book Night 2012

Help us spread the word
We've been overwhelmed by the incredible passion of the applications that we've received. But we still haven't reached our application target and we want as many people as possible to know about World Book Night and have the chance to apply to be a giver to share their love of reading.

So we'd like to ask you to join with us in spreading the word as far and wide as we can whether via twitter, facebook, email or good old fashioned word of mouth. Whatever you do remember to direct people to to sign up (and you can use this special shortened version that goes straight through to the application page

And to make things as easy as possible you can just forward this email to a friend, use the links above to follow us on twitter or facebook and then simply retweet or share our application messages. Or simply copy the message below (be sure to mention which book you've applied to give away and say anything else you want to about your World Book Night plans) and forward it to all your friends.

You probably know that I love books and I'm a passionate reader, so I've signed up with World Book Night so that I can share that passion and help spread a love of reading. I'm hoping to be one of 20,000 people chosen to give away 24 copies of a fantastic book on April 23 to people who don't regularly read. The book I've picked is... and I think it's amazing. The deadline to apply to be a giver is January 31 and you can apply as well or find out more by following this link

How Givers are chosen
We don't want you to worry that by telling your friends about World Book Night your chance of being chosen as a giver diminishes.

Each appliation is time and date stamped so the earlier you apply the more chance you have of being successful and of getting your first choice of books. Givers will only be be chosen first and foremost on their commitment to give books to non-regular readers and the answers to the questions where, who and why are taken in to account regarding this. We're committed to a wide geographic reach of givers across the UK so where you're based does have some influence on the final choice. Finally, though we are looking for 20,000 givers we are only looking for 800 givers per book. Inevitably some books end up being oversubscribed (and we can't tell you which these are) and if you've chosen books for all three choices that have already reached their capacity it will be impossible to allocate you your choices, which is why many givers were disappointed last year. We will endeavour to offer you another option if this is the case.

Thank you so much for your support


I've just signed up for the readathon organised by the wonderful Dannie...I am (or should that be 'was') an avid reader but books at the moment are limited to those moments (HOURS) when I am feeding the little bean! These are mostly at 3am and mean that I have to read and re-read everything a few times to ensure it's gone in!

Anyway, here's the details and the link. I am going to try to read 'Catch 22' for the 3rd time!



The aim is to read for up to 12 hours with a top prize given away to someone who takes part for the whole 12 hours! Dont despair though, you can read for anything between 1 hour to 12 hours, whatver suits you.

You can follow the blog to see how things are going on the day, read motivational posts and leave your own comments and chat together! It is well woth following the blog on the day as there are prizes to be won along the way, from book token to signed books.

It costs £5 to register to take part in the challenge to what will be a fun and eventful day.

Why not also get friends and family to sponsor you, either for how long you read or for completing the challenge. Every little helps and all monies will be going to Clic Sargent. Sponsor money can be paid online on this site either individually or when all sponsor money has been collected. Contact me for a sponsor form at

So, get your snacks ready, your books piled up, a snuggly and warm place found, get your self comfy and ready to begin!


Thursday, 19 January 2012

It's my life

The ever-surprising St NIc's coffee morning today where I bought some toiletries and managed to win some chocolate on the tombola....

We aim to relieve the needs of children and adults with neurological conditions through the provision of Conductive Education, equipment and courses.

Its My Life Trust, working in partnership with Royal Park School in Sidcup has created the opportunity for Conductive Education. This provision increases availability and accessibility through funded weekly sessions and intensive courses with the aim of establishing a full-time centre of excellence.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Fareshare by Circus Mum

I've finally had a chance to catch up with my blog spying and was very taken with this post by the awesome Circus Mum :

That we live in a world where people throw away food because it happens to have a "best before date" on it, while others are starving just defies belief. Note that it's called a "best before date", not a "don't eat after date".

During harder times, I've been a freegan and have lived perfectly well on the food that's been thrown away. I'm now lucky enough not to have to do this, but absolutely no food has been thrown out in our household for years. I just wouldn't be able to tip food into the bin knowing that there are millions of people starving.

Please have a look at Circus Mum's post if you can - she says it all much better than I can. There's also a link to Fareshare here:

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The fabulous, fantastic psychedelic volunteering fair

This Saturday sees the annual Volunteer Centre event return to Newbury's Corn Exchange. It's a chance to stroll round at your leisure and see the range of different charities that serve the area and chat to current volunteers to see if your skills and interests could help them.

Last year I went with the intention of helping out at some charities for older people but also ended up signing up for a conservation charity. This was a great way to meet people and get outside. I managed to explore parts of the town that I didn't even know existed!

I'm looking forward to this year's event - if not to sign up for something new, then to see what psychedelic costume organiser Garry Poulson is wearing!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Saturday, 31st December - DIngley Family and Specialist Early Years Centres

Today is the last day! Admittedly, I'm running a bit late, but the baby's appearance is to blame for that. (And my inherent laziness!)

I took the little bean to Sainsbury's for a coffee (for me, not him) and put all my change in the pot for DIngley Family and Specialist Early Years Centres thereby ending my challenge for the year! I'm going to keep doing things for charity and listing them here as and when they arrive, but I'm not going to continue trying to ensure I do something for each day.

Thanks for your support!

Dingley Family and Specialist Early Years Centres is a registered charity that provides a place where children, from birth to five years, with special needs and disabilities come to develop skills through play. More than this, it is a place where their parents and carers are welcome, where they can make friends and share experiences.

Every child who attends is regarded as an individual with the right to take a full and active part in every day life and Dingley aims to facilitate their entry into the next stage of education.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wednesday, 28th December - World Challenge

Just had time to buy a hurried biscuit (which is much better than a Nice biscuit) from the first coffee morning of the year at St Nic's Church Hall in Newbury.

McBaby started crying (perhaps memories of being elbowed at the jumble sale table) so had to run home to feed him!

World Challenge provides educational expeditions in the developing world which teach life skills and expand minds outside the classroom. Our bespoke 3 to 6-week student travel itineraries foster team spirit and leadership skills.

As the original school expeditions company, World Challenge offers an unrivalled range of expeditions geared to the education of young people. With over 20 years of experience, students and teachers benefit from a level of expedition safety and service second to none.

Tuesday, 27th December - Cancer Research UK

MrBaby and I had to visit the doctor today and as the weather wasn't the best, we dried off in Boswells Cafe in the Kennet Centre where I made a donation to their Cancer Research UK collection tin. I then doubled this when the lovely waitress carried my coffee to the table for me!

Fundraise for one hour

You can do a lot in just an hour

Whether you decide to charge an admission fee for your fundraiser, get sponsored by friends or simply ask for a donation, you’ll be helping us to save lives.

Take a look at some of our suggestions below, and get your fundraising pack for loads more!

... hold an office sweepstake

Don’t wait for the next World Cup – who’ll win X Factor or be the next character to leave your favourite soap?

Get your free sweepstake poster in our fundraising pack.

... challenge yourself to a sponsored bounce

Do a sponsored bounce on a trampoline or space hopper – great keep-fit fun for all ages!

... flex those dancing feet

Hold a one hour danceathon or a dance competition, charge for entry and challenge friends to show off their best moves.

... organise festive fundraising

Go carol singing or ask for donations instead of Christmas presents.

... set yourself a hairy challenge

Men – get sponsored to shave your legs / chest / back for charity.

... clear out the cupboards for cash

Going, going, gone! Auction unwanted clothes, furniture, pictures – anything you like.

... bring and buy

Raid your wardrobes and host a clothes sale in your lunch break.

... set up a 'battle of the bands' competition

One hour – one or two songs each and friends donate to cheer each other on or sing along.

... become a karaoke champion

Get your friends together for karaoke and find out who is a soulful superstar and who failed to make the top 40!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My review of the year!

If I hadn't had a baby, I think I would have got there with my challenge, so I'm not going to beat myself up about reaching the beginning of 2012 having left my charity blog unfinished!

It's been a great year and I've learned so much about different charities and the clever things they do to raise money. If I hadn't been pregnant for most of the year, I would have done more exotic things such as swims, runs, parachute jumps and treks along various world heritage sites. As it was, the most challenging thing I did was the Race for Life at 4 months pregnant!

I have some heroes to list here:

1. Marie Curie Cancer Care

2. Sue Ryder - an inspirational woman and a great charity

3. The guy who works in the YMCA shop in Newbury - always welcoming, always cheerful, always says thank you for donations.

4. Dannie - for following my blog so avidly and commenting! It really has cheered me up and kept me going!

5. The NCT - at first these ladies scared the bejesus out of me, but now I really know the amazing support they offer first time mums like me (and also first time mums UNLIKE me, ie those who know a little bit about what they're doing!)

6. The Big Issue - just a brilliant concept, great sellers and a wonderfully readable magazine.

7. The West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society. Their passion and dedication has often brought a tear to my eye. The local group pioneered the concept of Singing for the Brain - I've cried at these sessions watching people with dementia who cannot communicate suddenly come to life when singing or tapping along to familiar songs.

8. Terrence Higgins Trust - very impressed with their personal thank you letter.

9. Bletchley Park -go, go, go!! Amazing!

10. Helen and Douglas House - lovely charity shop, well worth a visit. Classy stocky that's well priced.

And "villains"

1. Oxfam - not as a whole, but just the shop in Newbury. Dreadful rudeness on EVERY occasion, and I am still sore that they didn't thank me for donating my wedding dress!!

2. RSPCA - again a wonderful charity in general but our town's shop has dubious customer service - a real shame as the shop is an absolute treasure trove.

I'm going to keep going until I do something for every day this year and I am going to keep this blog going throughout 2012, although I won't be doing something every day! Thanks for reading.

m xxxx