Much dreaded day of the year!

A much dreaded day is coming up for me. My birthday. A day that causes stress in me, my family and friends. This year though, instead of getting gifts, cards, messages and money, I decided to do something different. Below here are some of the causes that I believe in. It would mean the world to me, and make my day and my life so special if you can do any of these for me. Please do message me (privately) if you are able to do any of these, or your own thing if you’d like, and I will cherish that in my life forever.
Bring a box of chocolate to the local ambulance, fire station, A&E (or police station if you dare!)
Give motivational books, posters or materials to the local youth hostel near you. Alternatively, send me a donation for buying these things or send these things to me and I will personally deliver them to the local youth hostel that I work in.
Homeless people- 1, Give a fiver or tenner to a homeless person. 2, Create a care package with snacks, sandwiches, toiletries etc and give it to 5 homeless people. 3, Get to know a homeless person, get to know his/her circumstances and get him a sandwich of his choice for 4 weeks.
Donate money or clothes to your local Barnardos charity for children (or any children’s charity of your choice)
A donation for the older people’s cafe (LinkLiving)that I volunteer at (I will specify what the money will be used for later on).
Help elderly with their shopping.
Ask a shop assistant how his or her day has been.
If you have a grandparent who lives near you or with you, give him/her a hug and a kiss.
Leave a compliment under a young girls profile picture of herself.
Leave a note on your rubbish bin for the man/woman who collects your rubbish thanking them for their service.
Finally, if you are religious, say a little prayer for me to be always grateful for the life I have and blessings I have in life. And for my catholic friends and relatives, may be light a little candle or say a decade of rosary/divine mercy chaplet for me?
Thank you
I will be sure to have the best birthday this year!

X and O’s


All my life, I’ve been way too hung up on playing the ‘X and O’s game the right way, the way I know how to play it. Recently though, I’ve been challenged by a 14 year old boy that resulted in my changed views not only about this game but also about my life in general.

‘L’ is a young man that I work with who is diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome which means that he struggles to understand some basic concepts, and remember or retain information. It poses a lot of difficulties for me during session as I would struggle to engage him in any focused work regarding his referral behaviour. He has limited ideas about his own abilities and limitations. For instance, L used to say that he knows how to play chess and when we try to play chess, he would play it like snake and ladder and move things about.

L and I used to love playing x and o’s-the simplest yet most competitive game for both of us. Couple of months back, L introduced this new version of X and O’s with loads and loads of rows and columns. I vaguely remember saying to him ‘I’m not too sure how it’s going to work L, why don’t we try and stick with the old one?’. And we did. Mistake No.1.

Last week, however, when we were playing x and o’s as usual, I got out my last piece of paper from my Narnia bag (as he calls it), drawing numerous rows and columns I said to him, ‘let’s play it your way’. And we did. Score No.1.

Not only I had the best x and o’s game of my life, it made me learn an important lesson in life: Life is too short if you keep on trying to play it the way you know it.

Ps: I still won the game though.

‘Archie do you know what I like about you?’ ‘Nothing’!

So, I travel about 20 miles everyday in the horrendous traffic to do sessions with my young people in a behavioural school. Now, behavioural school was not something I was familiar with till I started this job. As the term suggests, it’s a school for kids with behavioural issues who are unable to cope with the main stream schools. Almost all of them are young offenders.

Since I’m pretty much a regular here, most of the kids who go here know me pretty well and I’ve got 5 of my own young people who attend this school. Some on the other hand, look at me with me a raised eyebrow probably wondering why there is a random lady with a Barnardos badge turning up at school every day. Among one of them was this boy named Jack* (not his real name*). Jack was of a peculiar character. If he’s not coming with rude comments, he will be rapping out aloud to some tunes. Staff always seem to be having a ‘fun’ time with him trying to get him to listen to instructions.

Anyways, I put on my Monday best his morning, get into my car and Drive over to the school to have a session with one of my YP. The usual chit-chat with the school staff takes place whilst I was waiting for my YP. Jack, who was having a one-to-one session with his key worker turns around and asks me ‘Archie, do you know what I like about you?

<whattt??? Does he really know my name? Aww he likes something about me!!!!!>

Me: what?

Jack: Nothing


Jack: ‘do you want to hear a joke?’

Me: ‘yes!’

Jack: ‘look in the mirror’.

Me: hahahahahaha

Jack’s key worker: ‘please don’t encourage him Archie’

Me: more hahahahaha

I don’t know his story…he doesn’t know my story; he made a joke and I laughed out loud! He seemed pretty pleased about it.

Behavioural issues or not, he made someone’s day.

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<Seeing young people rightly for who they are not for what they do wrong>