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When One MP Meets Another

FAMILY’S CHILDREN’S EDITOR MARTHA PEARSON CHATS TO MP FOR PENDLE ANDREW STEPHENSON

CAN YOU EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT AN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (MP) DOES?

“The entire United Kingdom is split up into 650 different areas, each area is called a constituency and each constituency is represented by one MP. So there are 650 MPs – MP stands for member of parliament – and we all come together in London and we decide the laws of the land and how the country is governed, how much money we spend on things like schools or parks or a whole range of other public services. Our job is to represent local people in the area we represent but also to play a part in that national role of deciding on the laws of how we are governed.

HOW DO YOU BECOME AN MP?

“You don’t need any special qualifications, you don’t need to go to university, you just need to put yourself forward in a general election.”

WHAT’S A GENERAL ELECTION?

“In a general election everyone over the age of 18 can go to their local polling station which is normally at the local school or church hall and they put their cross on the candidate they want to become their MP. In Pendle I have been elected four times now. I was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and each time everyone had to go to a polling station and put a cross next to my name or someone else’s name. It’s a bit like standing for school council and having your classmates vote for you by presenting your ideas. My job is similar to that although rather than convince a small class of people who I can speak to individually, I have to represent thousands. I represent 80,000 people so I get out and meet as many people as possible across Pendle and say why I’m the best person for the job. I also post leaflets through people’s door to tell them about our good ideas and why they should support me.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN PENDLE TO HELP THE PLANET?

“We’re doing lots in Pendle to help the planet. At the moment I’m working with the council to plant 1,000 extra trees just this year, we are trying to ensure we have better tree coverage in Pendle than we currently do. I’m also working with the Woodland Trust to improve our local recycling rates and I’ve been speaking with the county council to install more electric charging points for electric vehicle. We’re looking at how we can install more charging points and therefore make things easier for those who want to go green. There’s lots of different things happening in Pendle on the environmental front, but there’s also lots more to do because we still aren’t living very sustainably so we need to all play our part to make the world a better place.”

HAVE YOU EVER MET THE QUEEN? IF SO, WHAT IS SHE LIKE?

“I have met the Queen, she’s absolutely lovely and she’s very small. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her Majesty the Queen on a number of occasions. I held a role in government, I was the Vice Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household and I had to take messages from the House of Commons to the Palace and get her Majesty to sign them. So I would go to see her Majesty fairly regularly. She is absolutely incredible, so well informed and knowledgeable, her service to this country is an example to us all. I’m a huge fan. It was a huge privilege to met her because so few people get an opportunity to do so.”

WHAT IS BORIS LIKE?

“He is exactly the same in private as he is public. His hair is even crazier in real life. He is a character, really engaging and personable to talk to. He has lots of funny stories. He is a more thoughtful man than he is sometimes given credit for, but sometimes the preparation for his speeches are funnier than the speeches because he thinks of things that he could say and everyone in the room says, “You can’t say that!”

DOES HE HAVE A HAIRBRUSH? IF NOT I HAVE A SPARE ONE HE CAN HAVE.

“I will pass that on to him. I think he needs a better hairbrush. I question whether he actually has one at all.”

WHAT FOOTBALL TEAM DO YOU SUPPORT?

“I was brought up a Manchester City fan and I’m still a Manchester City fan. I admittedly haven’t been to see them for a long, long time. I support Burnley as well but I wouldn’t claim to be a Burnley fan because I’m not born and bred here. I was a City ticket holder back in the days when we didn’t win anything. The moment, they won our first silverware in 30 years I gave up going to matches. So I’m probably more of a Burnley fan these days!”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE PRIME MINISTER ONE DAY?

“I don’t think so, it’s a job that I have huge admiration for anyone who is Prime Minister, I don’t think I could take that level of responsibility, that level of scrutiny and that level of intrusion in my personal life. The Prime Minister can’t go anywhere without body guards so huge admiration for Boris. I don’t think it’s something I’d want to do myself.”

QUICK FIRE ROUND

What song do you like to dance to?

“It would probably be something absolutely terrible, like, ‘Barbie Girl’… that song would be before your time!”

If you could be anyone for a day, past or present, who would you be?

“Winston Churchill.”

Where in Pendle is your happy place?

“At home in Colne, when the work is done and I can put my feet up. I particular enjoy the winter months when it’s cosy.”

Yorkshire pudding or Lancashire hotpot?

“Yorkshire pudding.”

Ketchup or brown sauce?

“I’m odd, no sauce.”

Do you have gravy?

“Of course. Chips with gravy or curry sauce but I’m not a red or brown man.”

Red or blue?

“Blue!”

Family Spring 2022

Wild Nights Out

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Adventuring in the outdoors allows you to discover your senses and experience the wonders of the wilderness, especially at night time. Chris Salisbury’s Wild Nights Out describes the magic of exploring the outdoors after dark and provides thrilling nature experiences that will allow you to connect with the outdoors and your own primitive instincts. Perfect to play with children on a weekend in the woods.

Hawk Eyes

This exercise is a test of your range of peripheral vision. It’s called Hawk Eyes because of the extraordinary capacities of raptors to locate prey from great distances.

Ask the group to spread themselves at least arm’s length apart from each other. Instruct them to extend their arms straight in front of their bodies and point their two index fingers skywards.

Next, ask them to look into the distance between their two upraised fingers, preferably focusing on a distant object like a tree.

Tell them to slowly move their arms apart, keeping them straight and at eye level, wiggling those raised fingers so that their peripheral vision can detect the movement. Encourage them to continue until they have spread their arms to the point where they can just barely see those fingers in the ‘corners’ of their eyes whilst still looking straight ahead. Even when our eyes are fixed upon a distant point, we can still keep our wiggling fingers in our peripheral vision until they reach the edge of our range.

Equipment required: NONE

Ages: 6 and up

Number of participants: 2–30

Notes

Explain that this is the broad range of human vision and it’s surprising how far it extends. We have, as humans, about 150 degrees of peripheral vision per eye. But the visual field has been measured at 181 degrees in some people, which technically, I suppose, is seeing ‘behind’ you! People who wear glasses will notice that their range is slightly restricted when they try this exercise.

Barefoot Walk

For a Barefoot Walk (also called Nightline by some activity leaders) a rope tied between and around trees creates a ‘handrail’ to follow. Holding onto the rope helps participants feel secure and keep their balance, allowing them to immerse themselves in exquisite sensory exploration as bare feet contact the Earth, soil and humus.

Set up the handrail in advance; the terrain must not be threatening so that people can go barefoot without fear of puncture wounds.

Start by explaining that each person will be following the rope in turn. Invite participants to take off their shoes and socks, because it will increase the sensory experience.

Appoint at least two helpers to manage ‘traffic flow’.

One by one, call people forward to start travelling along the rope. To avoid ‘traffic jams’, send those who have opted to keep their shoes on down the trail first, because they will tend to move more quickly. Allow at least 2 metres (7 feet) between participants.

Equipment required: 1 rope, 15–25 metres (50–80 feet) long, blindfolds (optional), natural objects (optional, see Notes and Variants)

Ages: 11 and up

Number of participants: 4–12

Notes and Variants

Wearing a blindfold dramatically heightens the experience and means this can also become a ‘nocturnal activity’ during the daylight hours.

As an extra embellishment, gather some natural objects in advance, such as skulls, feathers, shells and bones. Tie each item to the rope at intervals for people to explore with their fingertips. This has the added bonus of slowing things down.

Bloodhound

Start by asking an assistant to lay out a short trail about 5 metres (15 feet) long on the ground, using a substance that has a very distinct smell, for example vinegar or an essential oil like peppermint or tea tree. This can be done by applying the pungent substance to a rag, then tying the rag to your foot and then stamping your way over open ground to establish a trail.

Choose two people to be ‘bloodhounds’ and blindfold them. Challenge the bloodhounds to attempt to follow the trail, on all fours with their noses to the ground, marking the trail as they go by placing sticks or ground pegs in the ground. The odours will dissipate quickly, especially on a hot day, and so set the bloodhounds on the trail without delay.

For a more advanced challenge, ask two helpers to simultaneously lay out two separate trails of contrasting smells, making sure the two trails cross at some point. Set a pair of bloodhounds to follow each trail, and watch what ensues when one trail crosses over the other. Inevitably there might be some confusion at the point of intersection, but that is the point of the challenge, and this also leads to some of the fun and enjoyment of the exercise. (Detecting the odour trail is slow work, so there is no danger of anyone getting hurt, even if two bloodhounds accidentally collide.)

Equipment required: 2 blindfolds, vinegar and/or some essential oils, rags, sticks or ground pegs

Ages: 8 and up

Number of participants: 2 per trail (any number of trails can be laid)

The above excerpt is from Chris Salisbury’s new book Wild Nights Out – The Magic of Exploring the Outdoors After Dark (Chelsea Green, £14.99) and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.

How to Raise Eco-Conscious Children

Here, James Partridge from Greenshop shows you how to teach your little ones about the environment. With climate change firmly in our minds right now, it’s important to teach future generations to show care for the planet. So, how can you teach your little ones to care for the planet?

The global population is now increasing more than 80 million every year, which means it is set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 according to data from Population Matters. With this in mind, there has been a conversation recently around how to raise children so that they are eco-conscious and understand the importance of looking out for the environment.

So, how can you show your kids how they can care for the planet? By involving them in nature, taking time to do activities like gardening, and showing them easy practical actions like recycling, you can raise children who enjoy being eco-friendly and who will find ways to preserve their environment.

Here, we’ll take you through some ideas for activities that you can do with your kids to ensure that they learn about the environment and have fun while doing it.

Take them outdoors

The most important thing that you can do to encourage your kids to be conscious of the environment is to take them outside to enjoy it. Walks, hikes, outdoor playgrounds, and sports can all become great ways to get your little ones enthusiastic and involved in their surroundings.

While they’re outside, it’s a great opportunity to learn about nature too. Tell your child or children about the landscapes you’re exploring and have fun learning more nature facts as a family on your trips. This will introduce kids to nature in an exciting, fun way that will stick with them for life.

Get children gardening

If you have a garden, it’s a great idea to involve your kids in planting seeds, weeding, and planning for the different seasons. This will give them a deeper connection to the environment and allow them to learn about nature in a fun way. It’s also great for kids to be active, and gardening is a brilliant way to get them moving outside.

You can try choosing some seeds together and planting them in spring. This way, your little ones can watch the process of growing something from the very beginning. If you choose some edible plants, such as vegetables or herbs, you can also taste them once they’ve grown.

Spend time with animals

Animals are of course affected extensively by environmental issues, whether it be waste, pollution or climate change. So having an understanding of animals will be very helpful to showing your child how important it is to be environmentally aware. As a bonus, they will enjoy spending time with pets and wildlife, and learning about them.

So, take your little ones to child-friendly farms that allow them to meet animals, and try out wildlife walks in nature reserves and parks to learn about beetles, snails, and squirrels. If you have the time and space, you can also try getting a pet once your kids are old enough to be involved with an animal’s care.

Encourage kids to recycle

Another easy way to show your kids how to be eco-conscious is to get them helping with the recycling. This is something that they can learn how to do themselves or help a parent with. Show them which materials can be recycled, and how to neatly arrange the recycling to be packed away.

While they’re outside, it’s a great opportunity to learn about nature too.

You can also tell them about all the different things that can be made out of the materials once they’re recycled. If you’re unsure, you can look up things that are made out of recycled materials online and see how the packaging you’re saving will be used.

DIY projects and mending

Doing DIY projects and mending things with your children can show them how to make their belongings last longer, therefore creating less waste. This can include things like making craft projects out of old cardboard or packaging, or mending clothes. You can learn different techniques for mending clothes, such as sewing cute new shapes onto them, or using wool to darn a hole.

Doing some DIY can be a fun craft activity for a rainy afternoon, as well as a way to involve your kids in reusing things and making objects last longer. You might also find that through doing this with your kids, you discover some new ways to reuse things!

There are lots of activities you can do that can get your kids involved in being eco-friendly and conscious towards the environment from a young age. Your little ones will enjoy spending time outside, as well as learning about how to preserve it. By making it fun to learn about the environment, you can be sure that your kids will grow up eco-conscious and with a love of nature.

Relaaaaaax! Managing Children’s Anxiety with Mindfulness Techniques

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According to the Children’s Society, there has been a 50% increase in mental health issues over the past three years, with an estimated one in six children aged 5-16 years suffering with a mental health problem.

Anxiety is one of the more common mental health issues experienced by children. In young children, the symptoms of anxiety can result in difficulty sleeping, nightmares or starting to wet the bed, as well as tearful, irritable and clingy behaviour. And in older children, they may have angry outbursts, lack confidence in trying new things, have problems eating and sleeping, or get caught up in negative thought patterns.

Recognising that your child is feeling anxious can be concerning, but teaching them mindfulness techniques is a wonderful way to help your children manage their anxiety and find calm. Helping your child to practise mindfulness can teach your child how to self-regulate their emotions, relax and help them to gain focus and control in stressful situations.

The basic concept of mindfulness is to become aware and take notice of yourself and your surroundings. It is simply noticing what is happening right now. It gives you time to stop, to think and make sense of things.

Research has shown that practising mindfulness with your child can have numerous positive outcomes from helping with self-regulation, to improving resilience and even impacting school grades. Some of the effects of mindfulness practice can impact the child in later life and actually change how our brains work.

You can bring these mindfulness practices into your daily life with your child:

  • Pick a time. Morning wake-up or bedtime are ideal opportunities to practise some mindful meditation. A calm start to the day can really set up a child for the day ahead. It also gives you some opportune time to spend quietly together. There are a number of free child meditation apps that can guide you through.
  • Don’t jump in when there are tantrums. Soothe and support. Always calm your child first. Then ask what is going on. To make sure you understand, repeat back to them what they tell you. Then ask what they think the solution is. A child will be much more onboard if they are part of the solution.
  • A handy activity is to use a glass jar and get a child to add water and glitter. Get the child to shake the jar and see how the glitter swirls around, ask them to describe what is happening to the glitter. Explain that this is what it is like when feelings are out of control. Put the jar on the ground and wait for the glitter to settle, then explain this is what we need to do when our feeling is out of control. We need to be still and take time to settle too.
  • Try to slow things down. Be mindful that your children will sometimes find transitions hard. Take time to ask their opinion and what they think, or what they would do in certain situations.
  • Notice their mood. If you pick up on your child’s mood, express that to them. Increasing a child’s language around feelings helps them to express themselves and be mindful. So, for example when your child is tired when out and about you can acknowledge it with “I can see you are really exhausted, but we just have five more minutes’ walk and we will be home”.
  • Practising breathing techniques can be really helpful. Teaching conscious breathing in and out, and fast and slow, can help your child relax and unwind.
  • Notice their surroundings and explore senses. When out, ask your child to describe the setting- in the park ask questions like, what do you see? What can you hear? What can you smell?
  • Remember young children may have short attention spans; however, when practised regularly, a child will become more open to mindfulness practices and they will become second nature. These skills will not only become part of your family routine, but they will be lifelong skills imbedded in their growing brains making them more resilient and ready to take on the stresses of life.

Breathing Techniques to Teach your Kids

Before we teach kids anything like numbers or the alphabet, we should teach them to breathe correctly. Breathing is essential to our development – it changes the way we feel and interact with each other. The best part is, once taught, we can help each other. Oliver James, author of 21 Breaths: Breathing Techniques to Change your Life shares three simple breathing techniques you can do with your kids to help them feel calmer, sleep better and boost their confidence.

Sooth Anxiety

The breath known as 4:7:8 is world famous for relieving anxiety. By slowing our breathing down and extending exhalation (compared to inhalation) we can, metaphorically, adjust our own mood dial. Breathing to reinstate balance is such an empowering and simple way to help kids feel grounded and calm. Here’s a simple exercise you can do with kids whenever they need it:

•Inhale for four counts
•Hold your breath for seven counts
•Exhale, slowly, for eight counts
•Repeat four repetitions (or for longer if necessary)
•Supercharge this breath by gently pressing your tongue to ridge of tissue above the front (top) teeth. This pressure point stimulates deeper focus.

Confidence Booster

Bull Breath encourages the release of confidence boosting endorphins and neurotransmitters, to give them a little boost when they need it.

• Standing up, start by feeling your weight evenly balanced on your feet.
• Rise up onto your toes and do mini jumps, letting your heels hit the floor. Turn the hops into full jumps.
• After 20 hops, return to standing. Keeping your knees slightly bent, squeeze all the muscles in your leg and bum, to feel solid and grounded.
• Raising your arms up 90 degrees, with elbows and fists held tight (imagine a strongman pose), press your shoulders backwards and downwards. Allow your upper and lower body to feel strong.
• Make a face like an angry bull. Breathe strongly and quickly through both nose and mouth.
• Breathe this way, powerfully, for thirty seconds. Repeat three times, or as many times as helps you to feel empowered.

Sleep Booster

Rising Tide Breath is a brilliant breath to do with kids just before you say goodnight:

•Shut your eyes and take a breath deep into your lower belly.
•Hold your breath and squeeze every muscle in your body for as long as you can.
•Exhale and relax. Repeat this two to three times or until your body begins to relax.
•Let the next inhale be slower than the one before. Filling from your lower body up to the collarbones, feel it stretch every part of your body.
•As this wave-like sensation meets your collarbones, imagine the inhale to continue upwards. The muscles in the back of your mouth will feel like they’re starting to lift and broaden; much like the sensation of a yawn.
•Pause again on your next inhale. Once again, squeeze your entire body and then, as you exhale, let the whole body let go of any tension.
•Continue until you feel relaxed and sleepy.

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WIN PLAY BUNDLE WORTH £100

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WIN a Vivid outdoor toy bundle

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When One MP Meets Another

FAMILY’S CHILDREN’S EDITOR MARTHA PEARSON CHATS TO MP FOR PENDLE ANDREW STEPHENSON CAN YOU EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT AN...