Get nominating!

 

I’m very honoured to be judging the “Inclusion“ category award in this prestigious BBC event.  There are six other categories too.  I’m sure that many of you will know someone who perfectly fits the bill.  Please do take the time to put them forward.

BBC Radio Solent announces the launch of their Community Heroes awards.

In a year where the station will celebrate its 50th anniversary on December 31, BBC Radio Solent is reaching out to the heart of its communities, showcasing the people, their stories and the work that goes on across the region.

The awards aim to recognise unsung heroes across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, celebrating individuals and groups who go the extra mile to make their community a better place to live and work in.

Head Judge, Managing Editor Sarah Miller, comments, “We’ve been at the heart of communities for five decades so it felt like the perfect time for the station to celebrate some of the work carried out every day by people in the South. Solent has always been a station that cares about the community, running campaigns that are about improving people’s lives and showcasing the amazing work that happens in the south.

“It’s the perfect chance for communities to come together and nominate their local hero! I’m looking forward to reading the nominees’ stories, whether it’s about someone’s bravery, companionship or kindness. I know the strongest stories will make powerful listening on BBC Radio Solent.”

There are seven categories to choose from, including Volunteer, Young Achiever and Coastal. Portsmouth sailor and fellow judge, Geoff Holt, who was awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing, said “On a daily basis I see amazing people doing amazing things to help others. So often these people give their time and commitment to others asking nothing in return, these are the unsung heroes within our community. I would encourage people to nominate their Community Hero so we can learn and share the work of these amazing people.”

The seven categories are as follows:

Young Achiever – Awarded to anyone aged 18 or under, who has demonstrated maturity beyond their years.

Coastal – someone who gives their time, energy & passion into making our coastline a better place, whether by marine conservation, protecting the environment, education or saving lives.

Services – Presented to a member of the emergency services or the armed forces for commitment to their profession.

Carer – Someone who cares for an individual or group of people on a regular basis.

Good Neighbour – Awarded to an individual or organisation that helps make the neighbourhood & local community a better place to live or work, either on a regular basis or through a single act of kindness or courage.

Inclusion – an individual or group who strives to break down barriers, enforce positive messages, reach out to minority groups and bring people together.

Volunteer – Awarded to a person or group who gives up their time voluntarily to help others, perhaps contributing to local sporting life, helping out at a local charity or good cause.

The BBC Radio Solent Outstanding Achievement Award – a winner from the above categories will be picked as our overall Hero.

Head to bbc.co.uk/solent for the terms, privacy notice and details on how to nominate; the closing date for entries is midnight on March 1st.

 

Best wishes

 

Penny

Tel: +44 (0)1329 841814

 

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Director Disability Dynamics: Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Registered in England and Wales Registration No: 04058702

Registered address: Laylands House, 25 Catisfield Road, Fareham, Hampshire, PO15 5LP

 

 

 

 

Champion community spirit

Start your New Year by celebrating someone who makes a difference to our local lives: the BBC Radio Solent  Community Heroes Awards  https://www.bbc.co.uk/radiosolent.

I’m honoured to have been asked to judge one of the awards (Inclusion) but also wanted lots of other local people to be featured too.  Who do you know who has given years of unsung community service; who has changed lives or attitudes; who makes the lives of others better and happier?

All of you would fit one of the categories or know someone who does – so please get nominations in.  It would be wonderful to see some familiar faces at the dinner please.

Here are the details of the awards and nomination process:

There are seven categories as follows:

Young Achiever – Awarded to anyone aged 18 or under, who has demonstrated maturity beyond their years.

Coastal – someone who gives their time, energy & passion into making our coastline a better place, whether by marine conservation, protecting the environment, education or saving lives.

Services – Presented to a member of the emergency services or the armed forces for commitment to their profession.

Carer – Someone who cares for an individual or group of people on a regular basis.

Good Neighbour – Awarded to an individual or organisation that helps make the neighbourhood & local community a better place to live or work, either on a regular basis or through a single act of kindness or courage.

Inclusion – an individual or group who strives to break down barriers, enforce positive messages, reach out to minority groups and bring people together.

Volunteer – Awarded to a person or group who gives up their time voluntarily to help others, perhaps contributing to local sporting life, helping at a local charity or good cause.

PLUS

The BBC Radio Solent Outstanding Achievement Award – a winner from the above categories will be picked as our overall Hero.

Nomination Details:

  • Must be over 18 to nominate someone.
  • Must have the nominee’s permission to put them forward for an award.
  • The deadline for nominations is midnight on Sunday 1st March 2020.
  • The shortlisted candidates will be announced on Friday 13thMarch
  • The Awards Dinner will be on Monday 30thMarch 2020 at Carey’s Manor in Brockenhurst   – hosted in partnership with student chefs from Brockenhurst College.

 

 

Help or what?

Kate and I roared with laughter as we tested one of those kitchen gadgets that are utterly useless https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKd7uD4GTbk&feature=youtu.be and end up languishing unloved and unused at the back of a drawer.

She’s a wildly enthusiastic supporter of the visually impaired people who are assisted by Southampton Sight  www.southamptonsight.org.uk

She’s passionate about encouraging blind people from the city and further afield in Hampshire to get back in to the kitchen: more independence, more social activity and more pleasure alongside better health and  better budgeting.  No wonder she loves her job when she can make a difference for so many.

We had embarked on the classic English chicken and mushroom pie when she produced what appeared to be a pair of scissors with a small chopping board attached to one blade.      With all the enthusiasm we could muster (and even more strength), those scissors just couldn’t get through something as soft as a chicken breast.  We gave up and went back to a trusty sharp knife: does the job and easier to wash-up.

I love kitchen gadgets and wouldn’t be without my talking scales and thermometer plus the gizmo that will read any barcode and record my own voice label.  But, otherwise, all my kitchen equipment is the same as anyone else’s.  Years ago, I had an audio alarm designed to sit on a mug  and beep when water, tea or coffee got near the rim.  But now there’s a super heater that will boil and pour the right amount of water with one button press – on sale anywhere.  I must have been given at least three talking jugs but I never used any of them: they take up too much space, are too fiddly and too slow.  It’s easier to remember that 100cl water weighs 100g and use the scales instead.

Visually impaired herself, Kate described how she manages and completely understands how gadgets that claim to be “disability-friendly” don’t always do the job.  Often choosing mainstream kit that is familiar  and easier to find is the answer.    That water heater fits the bill as do a chopping board with a rim on one side to reduce spills,  a knife-block that stores the knives between bristles rather than hard-to-find slots, a knife sharpener that clamps to the work surface and more.  None of these are more expensive or difficult to find but they are gadgets that are slightly more thoughtful than the norm.

My top two kitchen tips are about storage.  A blind person hunting for the right-sized lid for a plastic storage box is either super-organised or wildly frustrated.  My answer is Lakeland stacking boxes: three different size boxes that all use the same lid.  The joy of throwing the old mismatched collection away.

Secondly, I got rid of most of the kitchen cupboard shelves and replaced them with two or three metal “vegetable or pan” drawers in each.  No more scrabbling around to find what has slipped to the back of the cupboard.  A wonderful friend (Clare) gathered over a hundred ice-cream boxes from her daughter’s café (again, same size/same lid) and these neatly slot in to the drawers to keep the contents separate and neat(ish).

The moral of this tale is that making a kitchen or other space more accessible doesn’t always mean spending lots of money or getting specialist kit.  Understanding the core problems, making the most of off-the-shelf solutions and using your imagination can make a massive difference.

And thanks to Hampshire County Council for sponsoring our cooking sessions for local people with visual impairments.

 

 

 

Where are all the other blind cooks?

Back in Hampshire, I managed to find Steve and his Sri Lankan beef curry – but I’d been lucky to discover him. https://youtu.be/gS0RlZ9lF4o

There must be thousands of visually impaired people across such a big county but it was difficult to locate some who would cook with me.  Begging e-mails to the organisations for blind people plus the other charities and voluntary sector organisations failed.  Was it me?  Was it the prospect of the video camera?  Or are blind people not cooking?

Thanks to Southampton Sight, that supports people from beyond the city, I managed to find Steve, Kate and Sue who all generously shared their time, recipes and cooking tips.

Steve’s curry was especially new: I’d never used Sri Lankan flavours and my tube of tamarind paste had been languishing, unloved and neglected, in the cupboard for more years than its “Best Before” date could bear.

Most inspiring was Steve himself.    He is one of those precise and meticulous cooks who gets all his ingredients prepared first and then can cook easily without making a mess – which is important when you can’t see well.  He has enough residual sight to be able to read the spice labels with a magnifying glass.  This is always tricky with any level of sight loss so I try to always keep the spices in the same order and then trust to memory, smell and taste.  He was particularly careful with the tin of coconut – notorious for that large lump of coconut solid that usually slides out of the tin at the last moment to splash in to the pan.  His advice was to give the tin a good stir at the start and break up the solids.

Most caring was his concern that his usual level of chili would be too much for me and the other guests.  It’s a fine cook who is ready to lay down his own taste for the sake of others.  And it was delicious.

If you know anyone who has lost some or all their sight, why not encourage them with their cooking?  Being independent in the kitchen can be so satisfying  and rewarding.  Perhaps one of the videos might help show what’s possible?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sight loss is the easy bit

There are blind cooks everywhere like Gary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz2pEXCS4X4&feature=youtu.be

but few have the additional complications of his rare condition.  I learnt more as he showed me his paella-risotto -combi.

Back in my home kitchen, I was keen to hear from other local people with different levels of visual impairment.  There were tips to share and new recipes to test.  The common theme was  that limitations of sight needn’t limit life.

First up is Gary who has the incredibly rare Bardet-Biedl Syndrome that can result in extra fingers and toes, other physical drawbacks  and, commonly, gradually deteriorating sight.  Gary was typical in having had a busy and successful early career but found it increasingly difficult to work as his condition became more evident and was eventually diagnosed.

His enthusiasm and motivation remain undiminished: he’s active across the local community of blind people, led one organisation and actively supports others.  His frequent gym work-outs help him keep active and counter other consequences of his condition.  And, of course, he is an enthusiastic cook with a great repertoire  of recipes including his “roadkill”.

This is definitely not a name for a dish that is inviting or sets one drooling with anticipation.  But ignore the name and remember it as a one-pot wonder of a warmer as autumn draws in: chicken, herbs and spices made colourful with tomatoes.  With rice included in the pot as it cooks in the oven, it is easy on both the cook and washing-up.

Next time, I’ll show Gary my equally easy crumble recipe  inspired by him.