Every Little Counts

Snowman, Winter, Grasses, Hoarfrost

The last thing I would be doing any December, let alone this December is shopping on the high street. My reason: I have over two hundred relatives. Most of us deliberately work part-time on a reduced income so that we can work for charities on an unpaid basis. We don’t waste money on silly things.

But I was talking to a friend who has been shopping on the high street, and she tells me she was squished together with crowds of other shoppers (groan!) who were not wearing face masks outside (fair enough it is inside we have been asked to wear them, but groan!) and she told me something I found interesting.

She said more shops have chosen to go plastic-free in their gift ranges. They are using environmentally friendly packaging. She appreciated that so much that she deliberately chose to only buy plastic free packaging. Now, I have to admit, it brought a smile to my face.

This is a time of year when the scale of wastage, pollution and over-consumption is staggering. But for those who do care about the world we live in, every little counts.

_______________________

I wrote the above about a week ago. Everything has changed over the weekend. All non-essential shops are now closed in London. The lifting of restrictions has changed dramatically. I will be all on my own on my days off this week! I can’t travel from London to Wales or to the North of England. Jack left London early. He was going to travel today, but when his mother had a fall last week, he drove straight up to his new property and he has been helping his parents with shopping over the weekend. He will stay at his place and work, spend Friday with his family and then when he is sure his parents can cope, he will make his way back down to London at some point.

19 thoughts on “Every Little Counts”

    1. Melody is one of the most sensible people I know. She is practical, resourceful, careful about what she buys, she accepts hand-me-downs, shops at charity shops and does not waste money on trivialities. She has done that since she was a teenager. That has allowed her thrive on an average of around 2-3 days of work each week allowing her to give large amounts of time to volunteering.
      Remarkably she is always giving, she never turns up without a little something to give – be it a packet of biscuits or some flowers or balls of wool – people give her all sorts of things to say thank you and she gives them to others.
      Ask her about her about the lessons she has learnt from her relatives, many of whom have been working as volunteers for decades and from her time volunteering in Africa and in Eastern Europe. She has so many tips and inspirational stories on how we can thrive on a shoestring budget.

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        1. lol – I don’t think on does live and pay the bills without working Angel! I have always worked part time and been able to pay all my bills by reducing my expenditure and spending very carefully.

          However, when I was invited to be a full-time international volunteer I was not paid any wages for five years. We were sent to wherever there was a need, and basic accommodation was provided (that was sometimes twelve of us sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor) along with meals. Our skills, energy and time were needed to train others in the areas we were sent. We were working long hours and sharing our skills freely. So in that case the voluntary donations the charities assigning us had received from donors was sustaining our existence somewhat.

          Everywhere we went local people no matter how little they had would always want to share with is. I remember very very poor families from Liberia sharing mango. We gave them all the gifts from back home – crayons and notepads for their children, copies of the scriptures in their languages, as well as giving them some of the excess provisions we had especially rice. We always had plenty of rice. We shared everything we could. We could not give away everything that belonged to the charities we were working for, but we would give away much of our own personal belongings before we returned to England. We knew it would be easier for us to replace clothing etc when we got back.

          Special times. But even when I have worked as a volunteer here in the UK, I have just worked to cover my basic needs and a little extra to be able to share something with others. Annette is right, I am famous for turning up with a packet of biscuits. I learnt a long time ago that when you practice giving you seem to end up with more than you started with.

          It is not always easy. I have had times when I was a little anxious. I remember going to sleep one night after eating the last two slices of bread in the house and knowing it was a couple of days until pay-day. I woke up the next morning and there was a crate of apples on my doorstep with a note from some neighbours to say they had a huge crop from their orchard and hoped they might be useful.

          Then I went to walk the dog for my landlord who had gone away for the weekend. He had left a note to ask if I wanted the leftovers from a dinner party which were in the fridge. If I did not, he asked if I could throw them away.

          I have never gone without. Never. Sometimes I when a volunteer project had gone over schedule I knew I needed to find some work soon. Often after praying the phone would ring and someone would ask if I was available for a decorating job or a cleaning job etc.

          Sometimes I wish I had written down every single mini-miracle and answer to a prayer in my life. But what I have noticed is that sometimes putting work and money first in life leave people with little free time left to give, and sometimes little money. When I put my time and energy firstly to giving and volunteering I seem to have everything I need, which is not really a lot. Food, clothing and shelter are our needs. It is amazing how some people can thrive on a very small budget.

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          1. That’s a beautiful testimony! I appreciate you taking the time to share it.

            I remembered you had mentioned some housekeeping and I wondered if that was the way to do it.

            Total respect for you. 🙂

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            1. Housekeeping has been one source of income, also accounts, secretarial and admin work, proof-reading, gardening, decorating, animal care (horses, dogs, chickens etc), nursing care with patients who were terminally ill, driving jobs, modelling, and all sorts of adhoc-roles for weddings and parties and events.

              I just put the voluntary work first and fit in earning some money around that. It has always worked. But I don’t take anything for granted.

              My family are made up of mostly part time workers who volunteer for charities. The restrictions on work this year have meant that the flow of income was drastically reduced. So as a family we came to an agreement last spring. Those of who are earning more than we needed have been pooling our excess wages. We have a family pot now which has been steadily growing. If anyone is in need at any point it is good to know that we have been setting aside those funds to be able to support each other. After all some of my family have made huge sacrifices for decades. We will never allow them to suffer after the life of giving they have led.

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        2. I am not quite understanding your question dear. If you are content with less you can reduce your working hours in order to give more time to volunteering. It’s a choice to be content and make do with less. But I think most volunteers would agree they feel the richer for it.

          We have been roped into some projects. I have taken annual leave and used time off at weekends. But Melody has been able to reduce her cost of living so that she can work part-time on a paid basis.

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            1. When I was 16 and I walked onto my first construction site and met 300+ volunteers from all over the country, I was fascinated by how they could live on a part-time wage. I learnt a lot of tips from them Angel. I definitely learnt to see money as simply a tool, and paid work as a means to access that tool. But I saw that either I could be in control of money, or I could let money and desires for all sorts of non-essential things money can buy to control me. I chose to limit my desires for non-essential things drastically, and use my time to make my life richer with the things money cannot buy.

              Every person’s situation is different, but there are so many ways to save money. Time is so precious. Time can be used to do so many wonderful things, and help people who are desolate.

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    1. Not physically – but he called me seven times yesterday!
      Now I am trying to convince him I am absolutely fine here. I want him to make the most of the freedom he has up in the Lakes. It will be good for him to go for walks with his family ( they cannot mix indoors, but where they are they can mix outdoors – it’s just freezing!) and I want him to enjoy that for as long as he can. He can work remotely from his new house. I think he will be happier there for a while.

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    1. Yes but Jack, family and other friends chewed my ear off on the phone yesterday! I did not feel alone. Also the online party was amazing! I was overwhelmed by the response! ❤

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    1. I am encouraging him to stay there. In London he will be marooned. But while he is so close to his family, he ought to make the most of it. He is living in his new house, but he can still go for walks with his parents and his sister and her family.

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