Scrapping of the Maintenance Grant – TAKE ACTION

So this is going to be a quick blogpost today as I want to get out as many ways of fighting against the recent conservative decision as possible. As said in this Observer article – using secondary legislation, the government have decided to completely abolish maintenance grants for poor university students. This means they have decided this quietly, completely avoiding discussion in the Commons and the Lords. Completely avoiding a vote and allowing the public who will be affected by this to voice their opinion. What a scummy government.

The maintenance grants is set in place to help half a million students pay for university life. It basically allows poor students to go and get the education they dream of and now our government is basically slamming the door in the face of these ambitious students without even a proper debate. The government have used their power in a cryptic move that renders them even more untrustworthy. They did this ‘move’ hoping nobody would notice. But the people always notice and people are angry.

If you would like to read more into this story check out these links:

So, action must be taken, and the more people fight against this choice – the better. Here are some ways that could help this fight in the long run:

  1. First of all, follow NUS_UK on twitter, the National Union of Students care very much about this matter and have taken to tweeting about it miraculously today. Retweet their arguments and get them out there to your twitter followers. Social media is a great start to spreading any information. 
  2. The NUS website has a great page up at the moment that guides you through contacting your local MP and asking them to debate against scrapping the grants.  You can phone, email or even tweet your MP. 
  3. Sign this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/109649 The more signatures, the better.
  4. If you’re around London this Tuesday and have spare time you could always join this emergency protest in Parliament Square. Obviously it is very short notice and people have busy lives to get on with. (Gross how the government decided to do this during exam period). So if you can’t attend, do not worry!

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Do not let the government get away with such a cowardly, devious move! Share this post and the petition above and fight for the #grantsnotloans movement. Everyone deserves an education.

Thanks for reading,

Helena

 

Growing up with Hearing Loss

My hearing deteriorated when I was in primary school. The most I remember from it is having an intensely painful ear infection and then soon enough being told by a doctor and audiologist I had lost hearing in my left ear. It seems like a massive blur to me now but I know I had to go through a lot of tests – blood, urine, CAT scan etc. Those tests where they stuck little pads to your chest to measure whatever. I was in juniors of primary school when most of these happened so I can’t remember them very well. But alas since then I have had hearing aids.

My first few hearing aids were always so glam. I always asked for ones where the mould had cutesy stuff on it because they could put stickers on the inside or make them glittery or coloured. Admittedly did and probably still would, perk you up about having to wear something in your ear to be able to hear like other kids. I do remember getting teased about it up until around year 8 where I started to avoid even mentioning it to teachers. I was ashamed of my own disability and didn’t want the special treatment teachers went about it. I didn’t like being moved to the front of class so I could hear, I cringed whenever the teacher double checked with me if I had heard everything and god forbid the monthly check the school doctor would do where they’d come and take me out of class to do these little tests to check my hearing and if there was any changes. Looking back I definitely shouldn’t have been ashamed of something I could not have controlled. I shouldn’t have believed something was wrong with me, when really, there was something morally wrong with the children that would get a kick out of teasing me about it. No, whispering rude sentences to me because you know I can’t hear it, asking me if I heard you, then giggling when I say no, isn’t funny at all. It’s anxiety-fuelling and a complete waste of both our times. Get on with your school work and stop being a tool.

Recently in the past few years I’ve finally overcome this embarrassment of my hearing impairment and try my best to bring it up to all people I spend time with on a regular basis. Mainly because A) I am a bit of a ditsy person and sometimes forget my hearing aid and B) Well, either way, it hardly makes it a good day when someone gets huffy and puffy with you when you say you couldn’t hear them or ask them to repeat themselves. However there’s still something in me that stems from, perhaps, the teasing as a child or comments I have gotten as an adult, that makes it rather difficult to bring it up unless asked.

Twice in my late teenage years I have had times where my problem has been dismissed as ‘over-reacting’ or ‘fake’. ‘Shut up about your hearing, you’re not even disabled’ or ‘Oh forget it. I’m not repeating it – you and your so called ‘deafness’. Those sentences stand clear to me in the back of my mind. Obviously because they were like stabs through the stomach from people who at those times were mature in age (well you should be mature at 17-19? Right?), and because they made me feel nervous about telling people about my hearing again.

However, being deaf, hearing loss and tinnitus effects more than 11 million people in the UK. That’s one in six of the population. As well as this, I found it interesting to learn, on average, it takes people up to 10 years to address their hearing loss. (x) You’d think such a thing is crazy, but then when I thought about my history with it up until now – it doesn’t seem all that strange. In this day and age, especially when you’re young, it’s hard to admit to something that can effect your social activity. I admittedly have a complex where I think my hearing loss would burden or annoy people, because they’d have to change their behaviours to accommodate me and ‘I don’t want to anger people’. However, now I have to say to society – boo freakin’ hoo.

Believe me when I say I struggle listening or hearing you. I like being polite to people and believe me never in a million years would I avoid trying to listen to people during conversation. It doesn’t take you much to just repeat what you had to say. Teachers and employers – if you have an employee who has hearing loss and is struggling with concentration or hearing instructions. Try and talk to them. Nobody asks to lose their hearing, lose their sight or any other able ability. Stop assuming that everyone has perfect senses. Assumption makes an ass out of you and I. Or something like that.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

Helena x

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Ta-da! One of my two aids! :o)

Dear 2015..

Dear 2015,

You’ve been a roller-coaster of a year. It’s like you weren’t exactly certain where you wanted your head to be at and kept changing your mind every month. I understand cause I am like that too. January and me had a bit of an argument this year, do you remember? I was finally coming to terms with how and how I shouldn’t be treated – I was questioning a lot of what was going on and at one point January didn’t seem to like it. In fact January seemed to want to see me crying on the bathroom floor with left-over tacky Christmas drinks at one point – which I still don’t appreciate January, but I am eternally thankful for when you turned around and pushed me in the right direction near the end. The year was extremely different to others since then and I know it was for the best.

February dived in with a lot of adventures up it’s sleeve. I got to explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh and see my lovely sister and brother-in-law. I got to visit the small, hidden village of Todmorden and meet some funny people and my confidence was slowly growing. Like a small seedling. Admittedly some days it’d have troubles uncurling it’s leaves – scared it was showing off too much growth when other people were not ready for it. But small progress is better than nothing. March was fizzy and sweet like pink lemonade and the spring definitely blossomed some optimism inside me. I began a second game project at my old job and saw a great band live. March was the bittersweet month of this year and I was comforted by her visit.

April showers mostly reflected my stress levels. Some days everything would be clear and other days you’d be stuck trying to fix a broken umbrella torn apart from the wind and reckless rain. Luckily April lectured me in the importance of people’s intentions. Some people will not need or want you when you can’t give them anything and other people will expect things from you that you never promised them. April’s tough love at the time felt cruel and hurt my head, but now I look back and see how much progress I made and I wonder if April knew how her tough attitude made me stronger. May was like a softer twin of April – still wanted to push me to extreme lengths but was full of understanding when it became too much.

June and July were blurs of sweat and motivation. Admittedly in July, I had a lot of hope for my career – then it was unknown to me what turns the Winter would give me. But I am nostalgic for that relaxed feeling I would have surrounded by friends I had made for the past year. I wish July would tell me if I had done the right things or if there was anything I could of done to ensure I would have more times like I did the past year, with those same people. But July was quite secretive and would only tell me so much. In future, I must learn to be patient but plan ahead.

August put me on a plane and taught me to conquer my fears. “You need to do these things once”, August pleaded with me. I guess August was right. There’s something about going through an airport and to a new country alone that strengthens your bones. There’s also something about standing in a hot, stuffy crowd at your first ever festival that makes you fall temporarily in love with the world. Hearing a massive amount of people sing their hearts out to one of your favourite songs along with you is almost overwhelming and I think even next August won’t let me forget the thumps in my chest as the blurs and bright lights of festivals span around me like neon ribbons.

September, October and November all hid under a blanket together and invited me to come and sit with them. I wonder if it was fun for them to watch how patient I could be over three months. The months all merged together with their mild, crisp airs and constant flickering of my phone on and off as I waited for emails. I hope they wanted to punch and kick as much as I wanted to when the long wait came to an end. I wonder how they felt when they saw me in tears questioning why I wasn’t good enough to continue my career. They had no answers. Quiet pats on the back followed and the small, tender push to go and find something else. I remember it was November’s pale, cold hands that were the hands that pushed me forward to my current career. Although I think November didn’t know me well enough to make that choice, I still thank her for getting me out of my self-pity.

December’s eyes glowed amber colours symmetrical to the street lights on a Winter evening. She was perfectly still and reserved like a magical fountain of some sort, but every so often she’d open her eyes wide and they’d shine like tinsel and glitter and hypnotise me. My heart and head would become jumpy and excited and convince me I could do anything. But then December’s eyelashes would crinkle with frost and everything came to a halt again. I think December knows how much I rely on other people and that when it comes to looking after myself I can instantly stop dead in my tracks and crumble. Instead of waiting on the year to validate me with gold, shining eyes, I must understand that I can do great things without the nod of approval.

So thank you 2015, for teaching me confidence. Thank you for giving me the strength to come away from relationships that were hurting me. Thank you for giving me the hope of new friendships and relationships that make me more happy and push me in the right direction. Thank you for keeping me humble and making me tread through storms to realise what I have the strength to do.

I am excited to see what 2016 brings. I know I am going to do great things.

Have a good one everybody,

Helena x x

 

Sometimes being selfish makes me feel good

This post is probably more of a personal, ‘what I did today’ blog post than anything else. Lately in the run up to Christmas I think everyone’s getting a little more stressed and retail is probably not the most favourable place to work right now. Although I must say having little old ladies and men go ‘are they making you work Christmas Eve?!? bless you, you poor thing’ is kind of endearing – to which I halfheartedly laugh and go ‘Aw I know’, don’t think they’d bless me as much if I told them I said I’d work Christmas Eve if I could have New Years off so I can stay at home hungover..

But yeah today has been an up and down kind of day. I definitely started today off on a positive note – my UCAS application is almost sent off! I finished my personal statement and got it double checked at my old college (shout-out to Trafford College, my rights as a student to get help with University applications lasts up to 3 years after leaving!), paid for the choices and now I just await my tutor to attach a reference and off it goes! I’m feeling extremely excited about it.

Then at work I did get a slight bollocking about ‘wandering off’, when really I had gone to help on a department that had no staff. I thought I was taking the initiative and doing something that would be helpful to the rest of the store/staff but alas. I’ve never been good with being shouted at, especially in front of peers, so that did put a downer on my day.

So after work tonight when I went Christmas shopping with my mother – I decided to be selfish and treat myself. It’s very fulfilling ‘treating yourself’, even if it’s short lived. I do recommend having ‘treat yo self’ moments. Obviously not everytime can be self indulgent purchases BUT, you can try things like bubble baths, treating yourself to chocolate/cakes, watching your favourite movie, buying yourself some takeout – even I class having naps as treating myself after a long day cause it just relaxes me so much. Naps always give me a bit of an energy lift because I get so cranky when I’m tired.

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Bubble baths are great for de-stressing

But yeah I went and got myself… (drum roll) ANIMAL CROSSING HAPPY HOME DESIGNER!

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Please excuse the bright pink pj bottoms…

It’s been so long since I treated myself to a video game; considering they are one of my favourite things. I’ve heard good things about this spin off and Animal Crossing is one of the most relaxing games I’ve ever played. I can’t wait to play it.

I also got myself a big ass jumper. Or in a less sweary description – a men’s medium size cream jumper from Tesco’s. I love getting men’s jumpers because they just seem so much more thick and baggy than womens. I do love the designs and cuteness of women’s jumpers but sometimes I can’t take the ‘fitted’ design. I look good in them in the daytime and then after eating or drinking, the fitted bit tugs over my little food belly and I feel so uncomfortable. Sad face.

But yeah! Always take time in a week to self care and treat yourself! I hope everyone else is having a good week in the run up to Christmas.

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Thanks for reading!
Helena x x

 

Train Rides

This year I think I’ve been on train journeys more than I have done in my entire life. Growing up I always imagined trains as a transportation you get when you’re going on a big journey, much like a plane or even a boat. However now I probably use trains more than I use buses.

Not that it makes train rides feel less adventurous. In fact, as silly as it may sound, train journeys feel different every time I get them. Even if I’m going to the same place.

You have the morning train. It’s crowded and weirdly warm. The only sounds are the buzzes of people’s music in their headphones or the sharp flick of newspaper pages turning. The grey, fuzzy sky gives the train a weird sense of comfort, the lights in the train are on and it emits a fluorescent glow and people are slowly waking up to the day.

The afternoon train can be different. This is the train where you’re already awake. Your eyes don’t strain when you look out to the countryside view shoot past and the train is mostly empty so you can indulge in the fervour of your own headphones and the radiance outside. It’s the kind of train you get when you have a day off work. When you feel free and laid back because you have no worries about being too late or too early. You can just be in complete relaxation as the train glides along the tracks.

The evening train has a lingering stench of beer and handsome perfume, but it gets your blood pumping and your curiosity heightened. Different conversations and stories flit across the air of the train from different groups and the contrast between matte black trousers and shiny, new nightclub dresses let the world know that tonight is going to be different for everyone. Some people might fall in love tonight, some people might get in a fight. But at the end of night everyone will wake up with the same bittersweet hangover.

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In 2016 I hope that I’ll explore more places in the UK and it’ll be very exciting if I get to visit Huddersfield and Leeds for University interviews. Is there any places you hope to visit in 2016? Share!

Thanks for reading,

Helena x

You do not decide the world that lives inside my brain

Sometimes in my life my anxiety causes me to not feel that I am really inside my head. Sometimes I feel like something that is watching a human walk around and I try to help it make decisions but sometimes it just zones out and isn’t completely present. This is called dissociation and it is an experience where you feel separate from your body and your sense of identity and thoughts, as well as the way you view the world and yourself change quite drastically. Sometimes when I get into these weird states where I don’t feel 100% there I find it harder to remember memories or even mix up memories that are other peoples or sometimes I’ve noticed recently when I have realistic dreams I sometimes believe these are actual things that happened way in the past. For example I had a dream one of my friends had a tooth growing out of their gum, as if they were having their final adult tooth growing through or something along that lines and I feel like I can remember avidly them telling me they had toothache and pulling up their upper lip to show me it. However a few weeks later when I asked them about their tooth apparently that never happened and their gums were normal.

In these states my anxiety can be a real struggle as well, you don’t feel right about your identity, you worry that people think different of you than what you want to believe, you are worried that your interests and what you like might come across as fake or false or even in really  bad  states I even feel that I don’t have a personality at all. But at the end of the day my anxiety and struggles make me. They help me grow as a person and coming to terms with them and being able to sit back and go ‘no your worries don’t define you, you have these personality traits that make you lovable’.

Growing up it was definitely not that easy to accept how sensitive I was to comments about my personality, choices, thought processes or dreams. When I got to the age of picking my GCSEs, I excitedly dragged my mum to the GCSE Art stall to discuss what doing the GCSE was like and the head of art turned around and said that I shouldn’t do it. That I wouldn’t be able to handle it and I would not pass it. Yet here I am, I passed GCSE Art and passed my college course of Art and Design with a DMM Grade (D being Distinctions, M’s being Merits. These are almost like A’s and B’s in A Level Terms).  I am proud of my younger self for not letting the teacher’s words cut me to the core although the amount of times I’d sit at home over my work and cry cause I didn’t think art was right for me. I will continue being strong like my younger self was during that time and not let people tell me what and what I shouldn’t do with my dreams and ambitions.

People who do not know you and the world set out in your mind cannot dictate what you are here on earth for. This post is a reminder for everyone struggling with identity struggles, personality struggles or anxiety. This is for anyone who is trying to decide what to study in University and their peers are telling them to go towards other areas of study yet something else feels right in your head. If you feel drawn towards Science, you go for that Science course – you know yourself better than anyone else knows you.

Today I was having a really bad case of anxiety attacks and symptoms whilst I was at work and whilst putting back some baskets a customer approached me and asked me for some help. She asked if I could recommend a product to cover a hole in her garden. I was hired for the job of working on checkouts at my current job so I advised this lady that I did not have training in homeware or gardenware and that I would go and get someone to help. After running all the way to customer service, unable to find anyone that wasn’t busy and ran back to her. When I told her she turned around and went “No. No. You people are supposed to know this stuff, you are hired to help me.”.

So to this customer and anybody else who thinks I am supposed to know certain things to aid them.
I have a name.
I am a person.
I am not ‘you people’.
I am hired to help as much as I possibly can and to help the store make money.
I am not here for you. I am here for myself.
I am here to learn and gain experience so I can go to University.
I will not let your rude attitude define me and define why I was put here in this store.

I am Helena and I am here on earth to make my dreams happen. I am here to gain happiness and education. I am here in this job because I want to work and earn experience and income so I can go to University and travel.

 

Thanks for reading,
Helena

Halloween Week Goals

I feel like I should have hashtagged ‘Goals’.

I probably have mentioned before how much I love the Autumn/Winter season, if not there’s my statement of adoration towards this time of year. I love getting excited for Halloween and Christmas, although every October I get so hyped up for Halloween by all the store-based and online hysterics leading up to Halloween, whether it’s BuzzFeed going on about loads of cute Halloween recipes/costumes or online illustrations to do with Halloween – I get so excited and when the week comes round it’s kind of a let down. Unfortunately in the past I’ve rarely gone out on Halloween, and as I’ve become to old for trick or treating – I end up just spending it as another day. I really miss when I was young and my adjacent family (e.g cousins, aunties) would have Halloween do’s where we’d all get together and just sit around but there’d be Halloween themed food and music. So I decided spontaneously about half an hour ago, I’d try to actually get some stuff done next week that is going to end with Halloween.

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Obviously carving a pumpkin lantern is on the top of my list. Although it’s a lot of hassle and work (and I have possibly the weakest arms out of everyone I know including my baby nieces), I really want to do one! I like the ideas behind Jack O Lanterns on how they are used to protect houses from the undead or spiritual creatures. Online you can find a lot of interesting tutorials and stencils for funky pumpkin lanterns, one of my favourites I found whilst browsing was from a Swedish blogger called Ruth! She does a tutorial with instructions in both Swedish and English on how to make a pumpkin lantern covered in stars!

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Next up on my ‘Halloween Goals’, is trying to do some themed baking. I used to really enjoy baking when I was younger but recently I’ve become more rubbish at it; a good example is a week or two ago when I tried to make blue vegan vanilla cupcakes which ended up tasting really undercooked and the icing ended up looking like radioactive blue butter…
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But practice makes perfect! So I want to try again next week on something that’s hopefully less likely to turn into sickly goop. ‘Oh She Glows’ is one of my favourite blogs to gaze over when I want to find recipes and on her blog she has a recipe for vegan homemade Rolo knockoffs! I remember Rolo’s being absolutely delicious so I like the idea of trying them. They only require 5 ingredients too!

Finally arts and crafts are always fun no matter what age you are. The Tesco’s website has the awesome idea of egg box Bats. They help reuse the old egg box and only really require googly eyes and paint! Pinterest had some other great examples including making swirling hanging ghosts! You can also make characters like bats or ghosts out of old toilet paper tubes! All these little crafty pieces would look so cool as decorations around the house!

So my plan for next week is..

Tuesday – Make Halloween decorations
Thursday – Make Halloween treats
Friday – Carve a glorious pumpkin

And you can hold me to that! I will post about my experiences with being more crafty and Halloween next week. Are you guys doing anything interesting for Halloween? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading,
Lenah x x

P.S I found this adorable video whilst searching for Halloween recipes and ideas: