Day 51 of 100 Days

Sarah Swaysland

Saturday, 20th February 2021

Today really felt like the first day of spring. The temperature hovered at around 15 degrees, and we had blue skies! I was able to get out into the garden to make a start on the pre-sowing jobs to set myself up for my Tomato Project 2021, which you will be hearing a lot more about in March. At the same time, my son was able to recreate his favourite accidents from Thomas the Tank Engine in his sandpit and in the border, all of which seem to involve Gordon.

What: Crisis Volunteering
Organisation: Shout 85258

After a really positive day in the sunshine, I felt very well-prepared for my Shout shift. My partner was using the spare room as he had some extra weekend work to do, so I was in the kitchen with the football on to keep me company. As you know, I love sport as a background to work and the cricket is back on next week. It’s a day/nighter test in India next week, which means it actually starts at 9am and goes until 4pm - this is just perfect.

This week, Shout published a to celebrate reaching 500,000 conversations. This is an absolutely remarkable number of conversations, and really highlights how essential this service is. Some of the key insights showed that 65% of the texters are under the age of 25, there were an average of 1,400 conversations a day on the platform at the beginning of 2021 and 38% of texters had never spoken to anyone before. Also, and I can attest to this as a volunteer, the biggest spikes in people texting in were usually seen after a government announcement. I'm planning to put in a shift on Monday, because Boris is due to set out his roadmap for the easing of lockdown, and I imagine there will be people who will find whatever he says difficult to take. This is despite the fact that Boris usually delivers the more positive messages and leaves the bad news to his minions.

Today, I also submitted my application to be a volunteer counsellor with Childline. I hope I hear back soon, as I’m ready to get going and feel especially engaged because I feel like I’m ready to take the crisis volunteering a step further, after volunteering with Shout for five months now. It’s so strange, because I never could have imagined this when I first started volunteering with Shout. I was so nervous, and every conversation I had seemed like such a huge step, where now it comes a lot more naturally.

Lastly, on the back of cleaning up all my pots ready for my Tomato Project in March, I received a text from Resina, one of the people I met through my Tomato Project last year, about joining the local seed swap WhatsApp group. There are 30 participants in the group, and they seem like a collaborative bunch. I’m hoping that they’ll be able to help me out with some pots when I get into my tomato project, as last year I was scrambling around for pots to put my toms in.

In a nutshell, the Tomato Project happened last year, and saw me grow circa 300 tomato plants by seed (I was amazed that they actually took) and I ended up making new friends, distributing one to every house on my street and about 170 to the local food bank. I’m planning on doing something similar this year, albeit better-planned and with more varieties of plant.