This is a post about the Rockstar Finance Community Fund – but first of all, an update. I’ve been quiet of late, I know. I’ve been juggling parenthood, my full-time job and Christmas: fortunately, I still adore all three. But I’ve also been doing a lot of flitting, spending time in hospitals.
My beloved Frugal Grandad died in November. Frugal Grandad made the occasional appearance here on Miss Thrifty, and I miss him every day. There are some great stories I’d like to share with you – not here, but in future posts – such as the time he insured his underpants. (And claimed on them.) Ah, the 1950s: they did things differently there…
My dad has been in hospital for the past five weeks. He insisted something was wrong; the GP insisted there wasn’t. Then my dad collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital, where he was found to be suffering from a particularly nasty bout of pneumonia. The industrial-strength antibiotics didn’t touch the sides and he wasn’t expected to pull through – but he did. Unfortunately he is still bed-bound: when he fell at home, he fractured vertebrae.
The long and the short of it is, I’ve recently been spending a good deal of time at the bedside of a poorly and grumpy man. My bedside patter alternates between brisk pep talks about doing everything the physiotherapists tell him to, and… well, just trying to cheer him up, really. The doctors are keeping him on the respiratory ward, where he has earned the dubious honour of being there longer than any of the other patients. Good old NHS: I dread to think what the cost of this prolonged stay would be in other countries.
If you are reading this post in the UK, then you know what the weather has been like here over the past few weeks: absolutely awful. The hospital, of course, is like a sauna. My dad has been grumbling about wanting to go home and in reply, I’ve been gesturing towards the window. Snow, hail and sleet have been smashing against the glass, a gale has been howling outside and I have been saying to my father: “Look! Look how awful it is out there. It’s horrible: it’s so cold and icy, I’m dreading the walk from the door to the car park. You would be shivering at home; even if you could go out, you would probably be blown off your scooter. And here you are: tucked up in this toasty ward, with nice HCAs and nurses waiting on you, and hot meals brought to your bed. I know it’s not home, but you are in the best place right now.”
Then I have been travelling back to Greater Manchester, tired, looking forward to my own hot dinner and warm bed. And here’s the other thing: in Manchester right now, homelessness is twice the national average and the difference between the haves and have-nots is starker than ever. In the city and the surrounding suburbs and towns, as in many other areas of the UK, it is impossible to ignore the steep and steady rise in the numbers of rough sleepers. It shifts perceptions. It is difficult not to feel blessed and lucky – and at the same time, angry at the decision-makers who led us here. Here the hostels have waiting lists, many families are accommodated in B+Bs and, despite the weather dropping below freezing, people are still huddled in doorways and living on the banks of the canal.
The wish to do a little something – anything – to help is what led me to email the American blogger J. Money. J is the founder of a website called Rockstar Finance, which is popular with a lot of money bloggers. Rockstar Finance curates some of the best personal finance blog posts from around the USA and beyond. It also has a Community Fund. Last month, J. Money announced the site was looking for “20 bloggers who can take $100 each and then turn it into some some joy and happiness for someone in their lives who really needs it.”
So I emailed J to ask if the Rockstar Finance Community Fund could cross the pond this Christmas. He shot back: “YES PLEASE!!! We love being international stars!”
Within hours, the $100 had been wired to my account.
I knew what I wanted to do with it. In Stockport, which is my bit of Greater Manchester, there is a great initiative called The Rucksack Project (Facebook group here). It runs every December. You fill a rucksack with items including warm clothes, toiletries, tins of food and a sleeping bag, and take it to a local homeless resource centre called The Wellspring. The rucksacks are then distributed to homeless people and rough sleepers in Stockport and neighbouring boroughs.
I figured that with $100, I could fill more than one rucksack. However I’d been beaten to it: people round here filled so many rucksacks this year, the project organisers had run out of storage space and were asking would-be donors to hold off until January.
So instead, I topped the $100 up to £100 and donated it to The Wellspring, to help feed people over the Christmas period. The Wellspring is open 365 days a year and the volunteers are amazing. Look at all the Brussels sprouts they had to peel!
For every donation of £5, the volunteers were able to provide someone in need with a full Christmas dinner and a gift. At other times of year, a donation of £100 means The Wellspring can provide a meal service to 150 people once a month. (If you are in a position to help: the JustGiving page is here.)
Many thanks to J. Money and the Rockstar Finance team, for the $100 and the command to go forth and pierce the gloom. Thank you, you lovely people! With everything else that has been going on, it has been good to break out and do a little something positive.
I’m not sure 2018 will be able to match 2017 for the ups and the downs, but it’s already shaping up to be a busy one. Spring my dad from hospital, blog more, live smarter and survive my son’s sixth birthday at the local trampoline centre. I’m ready…