Homeless/Begging Beat-Up

I’ve not written anything for a while, mainly because of my move to Christchurch changing my focus on various things; particularly getting back into my old passion – photography, check my Instagram.

Anyway, over recent weeks I’ve noticed more beat-ups against homeless and people begging on the streets; sure, there’s been beat-ups before, but there’s a new wave of this happening throughout the country and, quite frankly I’ve had enough of it.

As some of you will know I have always been supportive of people who don’t have what others have, those who struggle to find housing and those who struggle to make ends meet. And, before you say “but it’s their choosing” – stop!

Who chooses to be homeless? Sure, there may be a handful of people who prefer not to have a fixed abode, but they are few and far between.

And, to those who say beggars are only doing it to finance their drugs and alcohol – I call bullshit on this; yes, there are some that do that, but again they are few and far between.

Since being in Christchurch, just like when I was in Auckland, I have gotten to know some of the local street people and, what a great bunch they are; actually, I’ve reconnected with a couple of bods I knew from Auckland.

Now, back to the beat-ups, Auckland retailers are tired of them on the street, sure some can be a right royal pain in the butt, but why aren’t retailers just going up to them and asking them nicely to move on rather than being heavy handed and calling security patrols or police? A little polite dialogue can work wonders and earns respect for all concerned.

Now I’ve also read recently about community space design that seem to be done in a way to deter people from loitering, street furniture made in such a way that people can’t lay down; spikes on edges of buildings, sprinklers in doorways; aren’t we a great lot that we would sooner do things to deter than to face people and talk about any issues.

In Christchurch recently while talking with a couple of the street people, we were approached by the boys in blue and asked to move on; actually, more precisely they were asked to move on. They were sitting on seats installed for public use; so in my mind had every right to be there.

These cops told the guys to move or they would be moved on for trespassing. Me being me, I couldn’t bite my tongue and asked if this applied to me as well; no they said, only the street people, well, that made my blood boil. That, as I pointed out to the constabulary was profiling and discrimination, I was asked to shut up, and to mind my own business. Um, it is/was my business.

Eventually the cops relented and moved on. We won.

Just the other week, again I was talking with a chap on the street I have gotten to know, when someone from a security firm came along and told him he had to sit at least one metre from any shop frontage. When I asked if this was council policy or a council bylaw, I was immediately asked for my name, address, and date of birth, yea right, I ain’t giving this to anyone other than the police. This person tried to tell me she had every right to ask and that I was in breach of some law for not providing it. Um, sorry, you’re wrong I said. She then demanded to see some form of proof of identity, I told her no way, that she had no legal right to request that.

She got all huffy and was about to call the police for assistance, I even offered to make the call myself, lucky for her someone else from the company came along and defused the situation.

And, now, just over this last weekend I read a thread on Facebook, where someone was asking what help she could offer to a newly found young woman sleeping rough. While most people offered sound advice, one person chimed in saying that asking for help for a woman was sexist, that homeless men are more at risk on the street than a single woman. Well, again I had to call bullshit on this.

I have seen and spoken with women sleeping rough who have been exploited, used as sexual pawns.

We all need to understand our homeless, we need to get to know them and offer them any help we can. This help could be as simple as getting to know them, offering them help when they need it, steering them to the right agencies. Remember most people are only a few pay cheques away from being in the same boat.

What will you do to help those living rough?

Should you be blogging?

In short – yes, your organization should be blogging.

But before you rush off and get started, lets look at when, how, why and what to blog.

First it’s a good idea to check blogs in the same field, sector, area of interest you have.

You’ll also want to spend some time thinking about who your audience is, there’s no point writing for the wrong audience. What can you offer that will be of interest to your reader?

Make yourself a promise before you read this –  planning will go a long way towards making your blog the success you want, but don’t over plan – it will only slow you down. 

Promise.

OK. Here we go, here’s a few pointers.

1. Listen and research. What are others blogging, saying about you, your sector, then think about where what you want to blog about fits. There’s a range of tools you can use to help you work this out – start with  Google Blog Search and Google Reader  will help make it easier for you to keep tabs on what’s happening and it will also enable you to read and comment regularly. Don’t forget that Twitter Search will also help you find content that ‘talk’ about your field.

2. Do you know who you want to talk to with your blog? Not everyone you want to talk to, who you want to share stories, information with is interested in what blogs can offer – research who your audience could be, do this the same as you would with any facet of your organization’s communication strategy. It’s not a one size fits all. 

3. Do you know who your ideal reader is?

Why would they want to read you’re sharing?

Are you offering anything they can’t, don’t get somewhere else?

4. Why are you blogging? There will be a range of reasons, and maybe you need need to convey your reasons by having different people, different ‘departments’ involved in your bog to cover they “whys” 

Are you blogging to tell your story?

What do you want to achieve – understanding, support, supporters, money?

5. Can you write it all yourself, or are there other who can do it too – or better

Some people can do it all – but in reality, most can’t. You need people who are good at research, building a readership base, and who know when is the ideal time to blog – using outsider can help, but the time it take you to talk to them about your goals, the purpose of your blog is taking away time that you, or someone else in your organization could be doing some fabulous blogs.

If you can’t do it all yourself, and most likely you can’t – think about the qualities you want from someone who can do it. Do they like to write, do they know what your ‘story’ is, do they know who to write that conveys your message, your story? You need to ‘hire’ someone who might do blogs for you the same as you would for any other position in your organization. 

6. Don’t do it all yourself, you want others to offer suggestion on what makes good content for you

Grab some people together, brainstorm ideas on what could make good content. Are you wanting to only use your blog posts to gain help, support, is it to gain comment on issues your organization is involved in, is it to share stories from the battle lines? A group will help you and take ‘content pressure’ off you.

7. When will you blog? It’s true that the more you you post blog content, the more you’ll be read.

But do your supporters, your subscribers want to hear from your everyday? Do you have the resources, the content to do it daily?

Post on a regular, once a week is good, 2 – 3 times a week is even better. But, weekly is better than nothing.

When thinking about your blog, your content and frequency – bare in mind that blogging isn’t only about the writing, it’s much more than that. You will also need to read, research and write. Maybe blogging is the new 3 Rs.

Whatever, whenever and how you blog, have a purpose, a team (at least to discuss content) and have a calendar.

So should you blog – HELL YES.

If you have other pointers on blogging please share them, what’s worked, what hasn’t – when is a good time to blog, when isn’t? What should or shouldn’t you blog about?

Blogging to make a difference

Blog_for_peace

September 21st is the International Day of Peace, a day when individuals and organisations can participate in peace activities. 

International Day of Peace – or PeaceDay as it’s sometimes referred was first celebrated in 1982. 

This year Save the Children – New Zealand  are encouraging New Zealand bloggers “… to take this day to explore the theme of peace”. 

Your peace blog could be on anything that had the objective of raising the issue of peace, participating in a peace activity, or any number of things –

Save the Children – New Zealand suggest: 

“Peace could mean an end to war, achieving zen, ending an office feud, or secretly burning the neighbour’s drum kit. Or it could mean being the Officer of the Law who goes round to investigate a shameful case of musical arson. Whatever the topic, whatever the tone, it’s over to you.” 

When you’ve done your Blog for Peace let Save the Children – New Zealand know – tweet them (@SaveChildrenNZ) and make sure to use the hashtag #blogforpeace.   

Save the Children – New Zealand also ask that you post a link on their Facebook page and add a Blog for Peace Twibbon to your profile pic. Your name will be added to their blogroll of participants. 

What are you waiting for, it’s not too early to start looking at what you could blog about – remember #blogforpeace 21st September. 

 

Are you blogging?

Blog

Blogging is a great way to keep in touch with the community, to share thoughts, ideas and tell the stories of the work you’re doing. 

Some look on blogging as something that’s too hard to do, too hard to come up with ideas and too time consuming – it can be, but it needn’t be. 

Let’s look at some of the benefits of blogging for your charity.

Blogs help you to get quick, timely news out to your supporters and wider community

Blog posts need not take hours to prepare, typically I spend about 30 minutes to an hour preparing my posts; whereas newsletters or other forms of communicating with your audience can take a lot longer. 

What you share on your blog needn’t be only about what you’re doing, blogging allows you to share news, information and other titbits about your sector. 

Blogging is the (almost) pain free way to stay in touch. 

Give readers multiple ways of subscribing, email, rss – look at using services like Feedblitz or Feedburner Email to allow subscribing by email.

You can further build trust with your supporters through your blog 

Blogging allows you to be personable with your supporters, more often than not supporters can see any charity as faceless, a blog can help break down barriers. 

It’s good to be ‘human’ and let you’re personality come through the blog.  Being human with your blog will allow conversations through comments … remember to build relationships, you have to have conversations. 

Some charities have a fear of negative comments, Don’t. Any comment gives you the opportunity to ‘talk’, to explain and clear up any misgivings, any misunderstandings and so much more. 

Be seen and heard – Reach more people

How often do you have to see something to remember it? More than once no doubt, the same can be true with blogs, and the best way to reach more people, to be seen and heard is to share your blog though as many channels as you can. 

Some suggestions would be to:

  • Include an excerpt in your e-newsletter, with a click through to the original post
  • Share links to your blog through Twitter, FaceBook,
  • Encourage your readers, supporters and others who receive your blog to forward it to people they feel would be interested 

Note: If you’re sharing your blog on social networks – FaceBook, Twitter, Digg etc, it could pay to post notifications to the new post multiple times. If you do approach if differently each time. When you tweet a link to the post the first time use the title of the post, later share it using an interesting fact or “pull quote” with the link.

Blogs can make life easy

What? I hear you ask. Simple, once you’ve been blogging for a while you will notice that you’ll have content that you can use in other forms of communication; your own newsletters, content for ‘sector’ newsletters. 

Media coverage/interest can be gained

We all do it, we sit and hope, fingers cross that a reporter will be interested and cover a story about the work we do.- blogs can help create your own coverage. 

There’s been plenty of instances where people have used a blog to cover an event, or something happening in the community. If it’s covered well and often enough it can eventually gain attention from media. 

Don’t forget that reporters and journalists use the internet to search out experts, references to subjects – so, if you write on the same topics repeatedly the chances are that when a reporter searches your issue, your posts may appear in search results.

Don’t thing of your blogs as another chore – they can be fun

Don’t think of your blog as another ‘job’ that has to be done, see it as an extension, as a tool in your communications arsenal.Some people decide they want to blob, but then palm the work off to someone who may not have the same passion, understanding or general interest in the sector; don’t fall into this trap. 

Do it yourself, or get someone, or a number of people to do your blogging – most of all have people who can communicate well, enjoy researching and writing.

If you have patrons and ambassadors invite them to be a guest blogger, to talk about why they’re involved. 

There’s also value in having some of the people you help contribute to articles, they can share their stories. 

What are you waiting for? Your blog won’t start itself, start thinking about your blog and how beneficial it can be to your charity. 

If you’re already blogging, how has it been for you, what have the results been?