Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A casual Sunday morning chat with Edith Bowman and free fall over Oxfordshire...

"What would you think if I jumped from a plane,
Would you stand up and think I'm insane?
Sponsor me a few pounds and I'll be grateful,
And I'll try to release my canopy.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I'm gonna fly high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I'm gonna SKYDIVE with a little help from my friends."

(Sung to the tune of the Beatles- With a little help from my friends)

WELLL that was my poor attempt at writing a song to aid my fundraising... it must have worked a little as I have raised over £600 for ActionAid! 

On Sunday 20th March 2011 after only a few hours sleep, much to their dismay I woke my whole family up so that we could set of to Hinton Airfield. With the arrival time of 8am we had to set off just before 6:30am. On our way up we were dancing and singing along to Edith Bowman on Radio One and I decided to try to text in to get a shout out for all of the wonderful Bollocks to Poverty vollies that were preparing for their skydive later that morning! 

THE TEXT: Hey Edith, I am on my way to Hinton airfield to join 10 other ActionAid bollocks to poverty supporters and jump out of a plane at 10,000ft! We have been raising money since November and most of us have beaten our targets. I can't believe the day is finally here! A big shout out to everyone raising money for charity especially everyone taking part today...you are all AMAZING! Aliceja Fisher-21-Basingstoke

Little did I know that this text would lead to a bit of airtime on her show! A few minutes later I had a missed call on my phone, I didn't really think anything of it as I had text off a new sim that noone has the number for so I assumed it was just a prank call and left it to ring through. I then received a text saying I had a voicemail so I rung 901 to pick it up and another call came through, so I answered and it was Edith's production team. After having a little chat about what was happening, they asked me if we could pull over so that we didn't lose signal and whilst my family sat in the car listening I hopped about outside the services with excitement. I was put through and this is what happened next...

We were then in a bit of a rush to get to the airfield on time but we arrived dead on 8 am and met up with everyone else taking part. We had our training with Neil Long who prepared us for what to expect and had us all on our tummies practising the free fall position and actions.

It was then a waiting game for our turn, the first group set off, with everyone wishing them luck and then waiting to be able to see them falling through the clouds above us. They all landed safely and were very excited by the whole experience. The rest of us were still waiting anxiously for it to be our turn and to be called to get into our harnesses and meet our tandem instructor. My group were finally called and we set off to kit up and meet the person we were then to be trusting with our life! I was lucky enough to have Neil, who although at first had made me feel a little nervous with some wisecrack jokes was really great and chatty and helped me to relax a bit and not feel so nervous.

We headed down the runway to the plane in a Top Gun like fashion (minus the aviators) and clambered (in a lady like fashion of course) onto the plane. All ready to go my fear of take off set in and I kept my eyes firmly shut, waiting for a nudge from my cameraman when we were up. The wait to get to the right height was probably the most nerve wracking, nearing 13,000 we buckled up and prepared for the jump. Hats and goggles on, tightening up the attachments and last positive thoughts that in a few minutes we would be safely back on Earth! The hatch opened and I watched the girls in front of me fall with their instructors and cameramen out of the plane. Nicole was clearly nervous and wanted to back out but went for it (not that she had much choice). I was then suddenly hovering out of the plane eyes wide open, and ready to go....

The first bit was pretty scary, my goggles shifted position right into my eyes, so I had to sort them out, which freaked me out a bit, and I found it a little hard to breathe (which you can kinda tell from my video) OTHER THAN THAT it was AMAZING! I loved it! It was MEGA scary but totally worth it! Shouting Bollocks to Poverty on our way to land distracted me from the instructions on landing, but luckily we didn't land in a heap we were safely back on our feet. 

This post has mainly focused on the day of the event, but what I would like to highlight before I finish is the whole reason we all reached to the sky and leapt from a perfectly good plane. We were all raising money for Bollocks to Poverty - ActionAid who work to improve people's lives every day and work relentlessly to change whatever is keeping them trapped in poverty. Which means they have a better chance of ending poverty for good. 

You can check out where any donations to ActionAid go here!

The amazing group who particapted in the Big Bollocks to Poverty Skydive raising over £4,500 for ActionAid

Schtop Tax Dodging!

Tell SABMiller's Chief Executive to SCHTOP Tax dodging NOW! 




        type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="482" height="302">


In the early hours of Friday 18th March 2011 armed with a cup of strong coffee I joined 4 other ActionAid campaigners in Woking to campaign outside SABMillers offices. Dressed in dashing beer bottle outfits our aim was to target employees as they entered the office and hand them a leaflet about ActionAids campaign

WHY!? Our objective was to influence staff moral and force an internal communication on SABMiller's approach to tax planning.

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE? SABMiller's approach to tax planning undermines the positive work the company does on sustainable development, they can take the lead and develop a socially responsible approach to tax planning.

WHAT DO ACTIONAID WANT? SABMiller to stop using tax havens to siphon profits out of poor countries and to make tax justice a key part of their sustainable development programme.

For more information about this campaign head to the ActionAid website now. Find out how you can be a part of the campaign.

Key Facts:

  • The world’s 2nd biggest brewer and number 1 in Africa
  •  Owners of over 200 brands, including Grolsch, Peroni, Castle and Miller
  • Make profits of £2 billion a year
  • HQ just off Park Lane in London
Why should you take action?!

• Developing countries lose more to tax dodging than they receive in aid.

• SABMiller, owner of Grolsch, dodges its taxes by siphoning millions into tax havens.

• The money African countries lose each year could put an extra 250,000 children in school

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

ActionAid - Don't be a biofool...


The amount of corn required to fill a 4X4 tank with biofuel would feed a child for a year – that’s a staggering 1,000 meals, or the equivalent of 40 meals in every gallon of biofuel.

Using industrial biofuels means putting poor people’s food into rich people’s cars ... in a world where one billion people are hungry, this is simply wrong. 

ActionAid's campaign against biofuels - explained
Uploaded by ActionAidUK. - Watch original web videos.

Back in September I attended two days of training with ActionAid Activista in London. A group of young people from Universities across the UK met to learn about the new biofuels campaign and look at ways to campaign on campus, gain signatures for our petition and lobby our local MP. It was a really great experience and I was enthused about going back to Southampton and shouting "Bollocks to Poverty!" and trying to encourage people to sign up to be a part of an Activista group in Southampton. I massively failed though... 

James Blair from the ActionAid office came down for our stall during freshers week at the end of September and together we managed to sign up a good 50-60 people, of which I was hoping at least 3/4 people would attend the first meeting. I booked the room for the meeting, spread the word, bought some chocolates and capri-suns for refreshments and eagerly planned what would happen in the first meeting...I planned away and the evening of the meeting arrived. I convinced a friend to come along for moral support and to find out more, and we headed to meet people on campus...after 15 minutes only one person had turned up. I was gutted, at the time I thought that I had done enough to rally the troups to be a part of Activista. This blow knocked me off course for a while. I was convinced noone wanted to be a part of it, I thought I had done enough to get people interested and I decided for the simple reason of not having the time to spend organising things on my own I would back off for a bit and try and spend my time in a different way.

However recently I have seen the great things that other Activista groups are up to and I realised that I most definitely have not tried everything and I am now more determined than ever to get University of Southampton Activista group up and running properly. I graduate in July and I really want this campaign to run on campus. I don't want to let my fellow Activistas from across the UK and across the world down! 

I have spent a lot of time recently learning more about biofuels so that I am able to tell people more about this campaign. I am determined to inform students at the University of Southampton about the negative impacts that the use of them can have, even if I am doing it as a one man band! I would also encourage anybody reading this to learn more and look to join the biofuel debate. It would also be great if you could email the UK Secretary of State for Transport now to remind him that biofuels cause hunger and climate change!

Do something about it TODAY! Don't be a biofool! Understand the impact of biofuels and shout Bollocks to Poverty! Don't let anyone else be pushed into a life of hunger! Use your voice, stand up and shout out, tell the Secretary of State that this is unacceptable...

Continue the fight for a HungerFree world. Help put the brakes on biofuel production by demanding Zero Meals Per Gallon