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What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘grandparent’? If it’s a little old lady knitting in a rocking chair, then you might want to think again. These days you’re as likely to see an octogenarian tweeting from her iPad as casting off her purl stitch.

Gransnet, the social networking site for the over 50s (don’t let the name fool you – all older people male or female, grandparent, parent or not are welcome to join us!), launched in 2011 and is now the largest social networking site for older people in the country. New members have been joining every day for the past 2 years, to talk about everything from politics to memories, books to relationships, snorkelling to, OK, yes, knitting. In 2013 came the launch of Gransnet Local, a network of sites across the country run by people aged 50-plus, offering listings of activities and events; a directory of services, from health centres to plumbers; forums for discussion of local issues; and the possibility of meeting up.

One of the joys of the internet is that no one has to know what you look like. The great thing about the web is that prejudices – about someone who has a disability, or is over 50 and living alone – don’t have to get in the way of who you are. Gransnetters value this anonymity. Even so, it quickly became apparent that many of them do want to meet offline, particularly once they’ve made friends. Members have taken it upon themselves to organise lunches and visit each other, including in hospital; some have even holidayed together.

Gransnet Local Colchester is the local site covering the whole CO postcode area and is thriving with new groups, businesses and events being added each day. Discussions have started on the local forums and a monthly newsletter is being sent out. Gransnet Local Colchester also has Facebook and Twitter pages for those wishing to take social networking for the over 50s one step further.

It is free to join and free to add to the local website listings, whether it’s to tell everyone about your fantastic hairdresser or inviting us all to your jumble sale. There is also the opportunity for local businesses to advertise to their target market or to offer promotions or competitions.

We want to hear from you if you have something to add to our local Gransnet community.

 

The Benefits of Houseplants

Guest Post by Fiona Wray, a Colchester based homeopath and co-owner of Rather Lovely Organic Skincare and Natural Home Fragrancing.

Houseplants

People of a certain age (well those over 50, so that’s us) according to a recent article in the national press, can apparently teach the younger generation a thing or two. Not about about Facebook or Twitter or Instagram obviously, but about houseplants – the latest craze amongst Generation Rent.

I don’t know about you but I was bought up with houseplants. Cut flowers, unless they came from the garden, were rarely in evidence and since buying my first home 32 years ago I’ve always made sure to have at least one plant in every room. Instinctively it just felt good. There are some plants that I’ve had for such a long time that I practically count them as one of the family and I wouldn’t be without the aloe vera plant an aunt gave me almost 20 years ago which sits on the kitchen windowsill and is such an effective treatment for minor burns.

With rising house prices causing an increase in rentals it seems that houseplants have become the trendy way for tenants to make their mark on a property. But apart from their good looks and in many cases, structural beauty, evidence shows that houseplants can positively impact on our health. They purify our living environments by removing harmful gases released by commercial fragrance products such as air freshener sprays, plug-ins, reed diffusers and scented candles, and help reduce the negative impact of radiation from the myriad devices that we all now rely upon.

As a practicing homoeopath I advise any clients suffering with allergies, asthma and other respiratory complaints, sleep disturbances, headaches and migraine, and depression, to remove all chemical fragrance products from their homes and cars. This simple measure is often enough in itself to lead to positive changes in their symptoms but if they also add house plants into the equation, then improvements can be even more noticeable.

But if you like a welcoming aroma without the downside, it’s still possible to fragrance your home healthily using products made with pure essential oils rather than fragrance oils. Essential oils are distilled from plants, not made in a lab and as such they do not release formaldehyde into the atmosphere. They have a subtle scent that is never overpowering and many also have the additional benefit of antiviral properties. So for health and well-being a combination of essential oil products and houseplants is definitely the way to go.

Whilst Generation Rent spend their time showing off their houseplants on Pinterest we can simply get on with enjoying and benefiting from ours in our own quieter way.

Fiona Wray is a Colchester based homeopath and co-owner of Rather Lovely Organic Skincare and Natural Home Fragrancing

www.ratherlovely.co.uk

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The Private Sector Housing team at Colchester Borough Council

The Private Sector Housing team at Colchester Borough Council help people who own their own home or rent their home from a private landlord or Housing Association to ensure that home is safe and suited to their needs.

If a private landlord or Housing Association is not maintaining a property or carrying out necessary repairs, we may be able to help. The tenant should give their landlord a chance to rectify any problems, but if they feel that they are not being addressed, they can contact the team on 01206 282581. We will contact the landlord and arrange to inspect the property if appropriate. We would identify any defects or repairs with the property that may cause health and safety hazards. We will then liaise with the landlord or agent to ensure that the works needed to remove those health and safety hazards are completed. For example, this may be to resolve issues of damp and mould, lack of adequate heating or hot water, unsafe stairs or steps, unsafe electrics or poorly designed bathrooms or kitchens and a range of other issues.

If a disabled or elderly person is finding it difficult to maintain their independence living at home we may be able to help. For example, if someone is finding it difficult to manage the stairs or any external steps, or to get in and out of the property, to use their bathroom safely or to access the community then we may be able to assist in funding appropriate adaptations through a Disabled Facilities Grant. The first step is for an Occupational Therapist from Essex County Social Care to make an assessment of the person’s needs. If they consider that major adaptations are needed they will make a referral to us. If minor aids or adaptations are needed they will arrange for these – for example hand rails, grab rails or bathing aids. Contact them on Tel 0345 603 7630.

Disabled Facilities Grants are means tested, so depending on how much money the person has in income and savings, they may have to contribute to the cost of the works. However, if the person is in receipt of a low income or has limited savings or is in receipt of a means tested benefit such as Housing Benefit or Guaranteed Pension Credit then they would not have to pay towards the work. We would devise a specification of works needed and arrange for contractors to price this and help the person to complete the application paperwork. The works would be completed and the contractor would be paid by the Council.

These are just the main services offered by the team. There are a range of other ways in which we may also be able to assist with housing conditions and housing related problems. If we are unable to help we should be able to direct you to other services within the Council or externally that may be able to. Please call 01206 282581 and ask to speak to the Duty Private Sector Housing Officer or email housing.private@colchester.gov.uk

 

The Animal Services team may also be of interest to you. We provide pest control treatments for pests such as rats and mice, fleas, wasps, cockroaches etc. We can also advise on pest prevention to prevent pests coming back, there are reduced fees for people in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. We also deal with stray dogs and offer a free dog micro chipping service. All dog owners are required to have their dogs microchipped from April 2016 when new rules come into effect. We can visit people in their home and complete this free of charge. Call 01206 282581 to arrange for either of these services.”

CVS Tendring volunteer goes into business

Volunteering can be a useful alternative to donations for giving back to the community or supporting a charity. It can also be good for improving your work prospects, and with the help of Community Voluntary Services Tendring (CVST) one participant has gone into business for himself.

Andrew Coupe-Harris originally started at CVST as a volunteer for their weekly IT clubs, which are funded by the Big Lottery as part of CVST’s Healthier Independent Longer Lives(HILL) project. Along with other volunteers he makes his time available to help those with no previous experience get started with using email, social media, the Internet and more.

He is also behind Technewbies, a personal one-to-one IT tuition service. With the help of CVST and other local enterprise schemes he was inspired by his volunteering experience to work for himself.

“Volunteering at CVST was an education for me. Before doing this I never even considered working as a tutor, let alone running my own business. To begin with I felt like a fish out of water, but as I got more involved with visitors and helped them with their requests and problems I gained confidence. Just through listening to conversation I learned more about common issues with computers, and the general attitude toward technology. I came to realise that some people need more help than a volunteer could give.”

CVST is dedicated to creating and sharing knowledge to address local needs, and as a part of this they maintain strong links with the local business community.

CVST host a monthly networking event called the Self-Employment Pathway, where start-ups and people considering going into business can come along to talk with successful local business owners.

“I went along to the networking event with no real plan in mind. I just saw it as a chance to run my idea past people in the know. I was able to talk about my idea in detail, and got a lot of great feedback along with further advice and recommendations. I will continue to volunteer at CVST. I feel we both want to achieve the same goal, to encourage more independent living. And I also think it is important keep this link with the community.”

To enquire about further volunteer opportunities or about the Self-Employment Pathway you can call CVST on (01255) 425692 or visit www.cvstendring.org.uk for more information.

If you would like to get in touch with Andrew for more information about how Technewbies could help you call him on (01255) 420952 or visit the website at www.technewbies.co.uk

 

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PICTURED: Volunteer turned business-man Andrew Coupe-Harris with 89 year old Silver Surfer George Piggott.

Can You Help Search For The Stars In Our Lives?

The organisers of a major international women’s conference are looking for 100 extraordinary self-sacrificing ladies who are making a difference for others.

The Extraordinary Lady Speaks Conference and STAR AWARD, themed “I AM POSSIBLE”, celebrates women all around the globe that give their time, energy and resources to make this world a better place and to leave a legacy for generations to come.

Do you know someone in Colchester who you could nominate for a STAR AWARD who supports your charity or who has volunteered her time and resources to improve lives or is a charity Founder or community leader?

LIFT EFFECTS is looking for nominations of those special women who are worthy and deserve a STAR AWARD for sacrificing themselves selflessly and for giving their financial support tirelessly for the sake of others. They could be your mother, sisters, friends, charity or community champions and industry innovators, etc.

“The Extraordinary Lady Speaks Conference and STAR AWARDS (on June 18th, 2016, at Croydon Conference Centre) are initiatives to recognize the ladies in our communities who are role models in the world we live in, where many are searching for such people and to assure the world that such people do exit, despite what is going on around the world,” said Sandra Nelson, the founder of LIFT EFFECTS

“What these ladies do is beyond the STAR AWARD recognition but it tells a story of their journey and the strength of their story lets us know that we is possible.

“These ladies are STARS in their own right, they are everyday ladies doing extraordinary things and giving all they have, not because they have in abundance but because they know that the world depends on them and people depend on them to survive. We want to celebrate these ladies in the face of adversities in the world today and to let them know that someone sees what they are doing and we care, so that they can keep shining the light for others.”

In its second year, The Extraordinary Lady Speaks conference 2015 saw 60 women presented with STAR AWARDS, but this year Sandra and her team want to see 100 women given recognition for their virtuous conduct.

Sandra said: “This year we want more national media houses to get involved and put a spot light to this from the nomination to covering the STAR AWARDs on the day. This is worthy and deserves national and local media coverage.”

“We also want companies, individuals, celebrities, sports personalities and entrepreneurs to come forward to sponsor this worthy cause.”

To nominate yourself or someone else for a STAR AWARD send a 300 word statement highlighting the difference that the nominee has made, on or before  February 28th, 2016, to: LIFTEFFECTS@HOTMAIL.COM

Include any pictures, website details and contact details.

For more information visit http://www.lifteffects.org/

 

 

 

MICROCHIPPING OF DOGS REGULATIONS

It will be compulsory for all dogs over the age of eight weeks in England, Scotland and Wales to be fitted with microchips from Spring 2016. In England the date is 6th April but dates for Wales and Scotland are tbc. Issue 40: December 2015 www.essexruralpartnership.org.uk

The only exemption is where a vet certifies in writing that a dog is unfit to be microchipped. Many vets offer free microchipping as do other welfare organisations. Owners of dogs without microchips face being served with a notice to comply, and may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine if they do not comply with the law. Dog breeders will be responsible for microchipping puppies before they are sold. Breeders will also be required to register their own details and these will be recorded against the microchip for the lifespan of the dog. All imported dogs will need to have a microchip.
For more information please click here:
https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/microchipping/microchipping-changes-in-the-law

Urban Fraud Myths and the Reality.

Do you know your fraud fact from fraud fiction?
Action Fraud and the City of London Police launch its Urban Fraud Myths campaign to let you know the truth about fraud and cyber crime. To view myths and realities connected to
Myth 1 Dating fraud
Myth 2 Spoofing
Myth 3 Pin Safety
Myth 4 Money mules
Myth 5 Public Wi-fi
Myth 6 Intellectual Property Fraud
Myth 7 Insurance fraud
Myth 8 Money Transfer Systems
Myth 9 Passwords
Myth 10 Social engineering
Myth 11 Legitimate websites
Myth 12 Anti-virus software
Myth 13 Charity fraud
please visit http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/resources-and-campaigns/urban-myths   

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Scheregate Hotel updated and Abbeygate Street

Lovely to see new life being added to part of our historical town.

colchesterlife.

Following the blog last week alerting to the fact the front of the hotel had been painted after a while in decline, I questioned whether the decoration of the side would occur for the sake of completion. To my relief it appears the rather wartorn side appears to now be heading in a progressive direction. Minor news I know, but after walking through an underpass to get into town, it’s a pleasure to walk into the highly floral Abbeygate Street (in the full flow of obtaining an autumnal carpet at present below), it was a shame to have to walk past the decaying side wall.

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