I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Many moons ago I met a guy in a bar in Kenya. We were the only two white faces in the place. And it wasn't much of a place. I was drunk but he was drunker. He was one of those guys who would always be drunker. And of course he told his story.

He had journeyed to Africa as a young man. Like so many before him, he had been determined to make the Dark Continent a little lighter. His thing was malaria. As a high flying medical guy he wanted to get an up close and personal look at one of mankind's oldest enemies. His studies took him north to what was then Lake Rudolf where he found small communities who had been scraping the same living off the same baked land for centuries. A particularly nasty local strain of malaria maintained a horrific level of infant mortality.

50% of kids never made it to the age of five.

So my man set out his stall to change things. He ended up living on the banks of Lake Rudolf for twenty years and by the time he finally found the cure the British had been booted out and with it the name of the lake which was now Lake Turkana.

But there was a thing. Twenty years had been long enough for him to realise that for this society to work properly it was vital that only 50% of the kids made it to five years old. Were all the kids to reach adulthood, everything would slip out of kilter. For centuries the human population had found a way to rotate the crops they grew to ensure there was always just about enough food to go around. Were he to end the malaria deaths, the situation would soon change. With more mouths to feed the locals would have try and farm the land harder and soon they would turn their fields into dust. Without enough food the young would vote with their feet and leave for the sprawling shanty towns around Nairobi, leaving the old behind. In a matter of decades the carefully balanced society would have been destroyed. He would have killed them with his kindness.

So after weeks of agonising, he decided to keep the cure he had found to himself. Had he made the right choice? Who can possibly say? But he couldn't find a way to live with the knowledge of all those dead kids he could have saved.

So he drank. All the time.

My mind has wandered back to our glum drinking session from time to time over the last thirty years.

I was there again yesterday.

Yesterday I was feeling much the same as endless millions of people all over the world must be feeling right now as the news rolls out from Trump's America. How on earth have we got here? And more to the point, how on earth can we open the eyes of a majority of people up here in Scotland to vote to escape this evolving nightmare? Last week I listened to one Michael Greenwell's Scottish Independence Podcasts where an election boffin called Dr Craig Dalzell laid our the hard facts for all of us on the 'Yes' side of the Indy argument.

There was nothing vary complicated about what he had to say. When IndyRef 2 comes around, we either find a way to win over a significant bunch of old people or we lose.

In 2014 it was the older generation who won it for Better Together. 96% of the over 65's turned out and they overwhelmingly slammed the door in the faces of the 18 to 24's and their dreams of something better. And yes, only 50% of the younger group turned out, but that hardly means they deserve everything they get.

At the time I found it hard to deal with the fact we were the first nation in history to vote against the chance of independence and a better future. I don't feel so bad about it any more. Now I have realised almost every one of the 39 countries who chose optimism and hope were predominantly young nations. They simply didn't have the millions of over 65's to snuff out the hopes of the young.

As the good doctor laid out his statistics, I got to thinking about the broken doctor in the African bar. Over the last thirty years or so, a whole variety of medical breakthroughs have lifted our average lifespan by a whole ten years.

Which is good, right? Surely, it has to be good.

Well. Maybe not so much.

Taking the average age up to eighty has destroyed the ecosystems of our western democracies in much the same way as my alcoholic doctor knew his cure would destroy the balance of nature on the shores of Lake Rudolf.
If the average age in the countries of the West was still seventy, then the world would look like a very different place to the one we are looking at today. Scotland would be independent. There would be no Brexit. There would be no Trump. There would be no prospect of Marine Le Pen.

What we have now is how the world looks when the old are given a disproportionate amount of electoral power.

And this malaise goes way beyond the ballot box. Well over half of the money the governments of the West manage to raise in tax is spent on the over 65's. Of course it is. Politicians of all colours know only too well their only viable route to power is to bribe the old. So we splash the cash on free bus passes and triple lock pensions and to pay for the bribes we cut university funding. Who needs to worry about the long term future when the next election is only a matter of a few years away?

Once upon a time the media might have taken politicians to task for their shameless bribing of the old. Not any more. The young don't spend any of their cash on buying a newspaper which means the press barons are every bit as dependent on the old as the politicians. So is it really any wonder the likes of the Mail fill their pages with just the kind of endless xenophobic nastiness their readers like to hear? Maybe this is why so much of our media seems to spend their time getting all misty eyed for the good old days of the 1950's when it was OK to tell nigger jokes and Britain still had an Empire to call its own.

And all the while the young get shafted and then shafted again. They are the ones who are expected to work and pay all the tax to keep the old in the style they have become accustomed to. The young will never get the chance to buy a house for £3000 and sell it for a third of a million forty years later. The young will never know what a final salary pension looks like. Instead it will be their lot to work for over seventy years and then Christ knows what. Most will never own a house or manage to put together any savings. By the time they reach their final years they will find the coffers have been emptied out.

We get up tight when young people vent their frustration by committing acts of vandalism. But is it really such a big deal? Spray paint is easily enough wiped clean. The acts of vandalism our leaders are committing right now to pander to the old are about a million times more damaging.

It actually borders on complete lunacy.

Here's a couple of examples.

Old people don't like foreigners. They want foreigners kept out. So we've all had Brexit rammed down our throats. And of course our gallant leaders are making it abundantly clear Brexit means much less Johnny Foreigner. 

Because the settled will of the British people is that we don't like Johnny Foreigner.

And according to the tabloid press everything is going swimmingly. No doubt the Mail is filled with adverts for conservatories and cruises.

A few days ago the Royal College of Nurses released some figures which they probably hoped might generate some concerned news coverage. Applications from nurses from EU countries wanting to come to Britain to work for the NHS have fallen by 94% since June.


Every single hospital in the UK has vacancies for nurses. Getting on for third of the nurses in our hospitals are from the EU and right now they are in the process of packing their bags. Who can blame them? All of a sudden this doesn't feel like a very welcoming place to live any more. Oh and of course they have just had a 20% pay cut because their salary is paid in pounds sterling and pounds sterling suddenly are not worth so much any more.

So we need to train our own nurses! Lots of them! More of them! Well, we do train them and as soon as they have the right set of certificates they do exactly the same as the EU nurses are doing. They bugger off. Because the UK is every bit as unwelcoming for young people as it is for foreigners. Having English as a first language guarantees a start in Canada of New Zealand where they also get the chance to own a home of their own rather than paying extortionate rent to some old landlord who has cashed in their equity release bribe.

Then there is the whole thing with universities. This is one of the few things we have to sell which the rest of the world wants to buy. We make billions out of all the smart young people who come from all over the world to attend our universities. And it is a win, win as these very same young people actually pay for the privilege of coming here to carry out the kind of research we need to keep us hanging on in there as a first world nation.

Well the oldies didn't like that. They weren't having any of it. Far too many brown faces on the bus. Some of them even laughing!

Well they won't have to worry about it for much longer. Applications from foreign students have gone the same way as applications from EU nurses. 

You got it. Down by 94%

Professors who have been working here for thirty years and more are getting heavy duty letters from the Home Office telling them they need to make preparations to leave the UK.

Wonderful. Brexit means less nurses and collapsing universities. Perfect. It would be nice if the media gave any of this any coverage, but they don't of course because their old readers don't want to hear it. So they talk about who killed Princess Diana instead.

I can't help but wonder how many medical scientists are in the same boat as my man in the Kenyan bar. Wondering what if.....?

I wonder if they sometimes picture what a world would look like if the average life span was still three score and ten? Who knows?

I guess the only answer is for us to give up our right to vote on the very same day we draw our state pension. And that of course will never happen so it seems we are doomed to put up with more of the same until the patience of the young finally runs out and the pavements glitter with broken glass. Eventually the young will get tired of being screwed over all the time. Then what? Then we will all be in the hands of twenty first century versions of Leon Trotsky and Che Guevarra. It might be a brave new world or it might be a bloody nightmare. History tells us the latter is rather more likely. I for one would be more than happy to give up my vote when I hit 66 to give democracy the chance of working again.

Until then, the best hope of getting out of this evolving nightmare is to try by hook or by crook to find a way to convince the old folk of Scotland to give the young folk of Scotland a decent future by voting 'Yes' next time around.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Three days have passed since I nervously tapped the 'Publish' button and launched the latest First Base funding appeal. Our goal was to try and secure the cash to keep a roof over the heads of Florence and her two children. The target was £2400 and at 2pm on Sunday it seemed a very distant target. I tried to persuade myself even £50 would represent an improvement for the family. £400 would buy them another month. £2400? To be honest it looked like an Everest.

How very wrong I was.


By the time my son and his girlfriend arrived just before four o clock for the Man United v Liverpool game, the page was up to £900. Two months rent and then some.

By half time it was £1300.

By full time it was £2000

We reached the target five hours after asking the question and by the end of the evening we had gone well beyond our wildest dreams. A donation of £1000 from a local trust took us through the £4000 barrier.

Almost a year's worth of rent.

The next morning I made my accustomed early morning drive through the quiet streets of Dumfries to collect our 50 loaves of donated bread from Greggs. I unloaded and fired up my laptop to find we now had 11 months of rent in the kitty.

The phone rang once at nine and once again at quarter past as reporters from our two local papers liked the idea of giving space to such a feel good local story.

Once again social media made the jump to the traditional media.

I sent a text to Florence.

"Hi Florence. Could you and Abigail call in to see us today? We have some good news you will be pleased about. Mark"

Florence texted back and we agreed on one o clock.

The world was dismal grey as I drove up the Nith valley to Kelloholm to pick up our weekly donation of 70 packs of sliced ham from Brown Brothers. I called up Moxy from Dumfries and Galloway Refugee Action to restore her faith in human nature. She told me the boffins claim January 16th is statistically the most depressing day of the year.


Not this one

Florence and Abigail arrived at one o clock on the dot. At first they received the news with complete disbelief. I hadn't told them of our fundraising plan in advance. To have raised their hopes would have been way too cruel.
Once their disbelief turned into astonished belief, there were a lot of tears from Florence. But the right kind of tears. And it is not so very often we get the right kind of tears in First Base.

They left with beaming smiles. They left with the knowledge they were not about to be tipped out onto the cold winter streets. It was a good day for First Base. One of the best.

So where are we at now?

Well, as I write this donations on our page sit at £3200 and the Gift Aid comes to £600.


Then there was the £1000 from the local Trust.

A total of £4800

So we will be able to make sure Florence and her children have a roof over their heads for the next year. Surely that will be time enough for the Home Office to do their stuff. And if it isn't, we will have to find a way to keep helping them. This week I will have a chat with the landlord and arrange for First Base to pay the rent once a month for as long as the fund lasts: like I said, twelve months as things stand now.

I really need to say a truly massive thank you to each and every one of you who has helped to make this happen. Here is the text Florence sent to me which is also to every one of you.

'Dear Sir.


What a present. Help in a time of need and trouble. On behalf of myself and my children we say a million thanks. God bless you richly and we appreciate you always for your love and concern.


So feel good about yourself. Feel very good. You deserve to.

There is an awful lot of anti immigrant hate in the air right now. We see it on the front pages of the tabloids. We hear it in the words of Trump and Farage and Le Pen. Yesterday we saw our Prime Minister more than willing to put the UK economy on the line in exchange for the chance to be harder on immigrants.

Sometimes it feels like all over the world the same kind of storm that engulfed Germany in the 1930's is beginning to gather force.

On Monday afternoon things seemed different. Our Just Giving page was a window onto a better world where very many people hold a very different view.

Thank goodness.

Sadly the feel good moment didn't last all afternoon.

The phone rang.

A worker from a support agency out west in Stranraer. She had been reading the blog about Florence. Maybe I could advise a client of hers? I said if I could, I would. Would I mind speaking with him now? Sure. Put him on.

I'll call him Ron.

Ron and his family fled Mugabe's Zimbabwe in 1993. A pretty smart play. Anyone with white skin living in Zimbabwe in 1993 didn't exactly have the longest life expectancy.

Ron was 12. His sister was 14.

They went to school and settled in whilst their dad filled in the forms. In 1997 'leave to remain' was duly granted by the Home Office.

Ron left school and started work. For his first twenty years of adulthood he worked all the time. He drew not a penny of benefits and all of his taxes were paid in full.

He was a productive citizen.

For ten years he worked in a warehouse and he would still be there today if he hadn't fallen in love.

Love meant a move up to Dumfries and Galloway so his partner could be closer to her family. They set up home in a small village way out in the countryside and things slowly but surely went pear shaped. No matter how hard he tried, Ron couldn't find a job. So they made a joint claim and got under each other's feet. They had too much time and too little money.
They argued and split and Ben found himself in homeless accommodation in Stranraer eking out his days on Jobseekers. Eventually he was given a flat to live in.

He was unemployed for long enough to be a candidate for the Work Programme. They arranged an unpaid placement. He gave the trial his all and at the end of the placement period the manager was impressed enough to offer him a job.

Thank goodness. 

Maybe with a decent job he would be able to rebuild bridges with his partner?

Time for the paperwork.

Name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number, biometric ID....

Biometric ID?

Yes. We need that now. Don't worry. It won't affect the job offer. You just need to apply for it.

OK. No big problem.

So Ron completed an application form and his world suddenly fell apart.
No, he couldn't have any biometric ID. Why? Because he wasn't a citizen of the UK. When his dad had completed the paperwork back in 1997 he had cocked it up. He thought ticking the 'do you have children and if so how many?' box had been enough. It hadn't been enough. He screwed it up and was only granted 'leave to remain' for himself. Not for Ron. Not for his sister.

A can of worms had been opened.

His new boss said he could only keep the job offer open for a couple of weeks. Ron asked if he could take the job and not get paid. Just to keep it open. The manager said he would see what he could do.

The Job Centre were duly informed of his illegal status and all of his benefits were taken away. The Home Office said he would need to pay £1300 up front to fill in their forms.

And right now £1300 might as well be £130,000.

Was I able to advise him? Not as much as I would have liked. I told him I am no kind of expert. I'm learning on the job. Case by miserable case.
I explained how a lawyer was the absolute number one priority. Was he eligible for Legal Aid? He thought he was. A local solicitor was looking into it.

I told him about what Florence had told me about how proving 'deprivation' to the Home Office might mean a reduced fee. Could he prove it? He could. He has been surviving on food parcels for ten weeks and the Salvation Army are keeping his power on.

I heard some distant alarm bells.

Are the Council still paying housing benefit?

They are.

You need to be careful about that. Once they tell you in writing you are not entitled to any State Benefits they might well throw the book at you if you do.

So was the only way to keep on the right side of the Home Office to give up his flat and sleep on the street? I didn't know. You need a lawyer mate. You really need a lawyer.

I finished the call after half an hour or so and much of the feel good had drained away. Would the UK deport a penniless homeless guy to Zimbabwe? A penniless, homeless white guy?

No chance. Surely?

Instead Ron will be stuck in limboland for a while. Maybe for years. A non person. A non citizen. Like our esteemed Prime Minister has recently said

'A citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere.'

The walls are going up and the doors are being double locked. People are being dragged from their beds at 3 am and locked up in bleak detention centres whilst the media turns a blind eye. A 52 to 48 vote is being used as an excuse to dust down a playbook from 1930's Germany which should have been incinerated long ago. 

When the guns fell silent in 1945, the world took a collective breath and we knew we had to find a better way to make the world a safer place: a place where people were not dragged from their beds at three in the morning and driven through the night to detention camps. In 1948 this aspiration became a reality as countries across the continent signed off on the European Convention on Human Rights - EHCR. One man had been the driving force to make this great step forward for humanity become a reality.

Winston Churchill.

The EHCR was a towering British achievement. And now all kinds of hateful people want out of it. How Winston must be rolling in his grave.
Sadly it is becoming increasingly clear 52 to 48 is being used a licence to become a nasty xenophobic country. It is ugly in the headlines. It is even uglier at street level. At First Base level.

In my bones I can feel we will be seeing more and more Florences and Rons in the coming months and years.

And as with so many things in life right now, the only glimmer of hope lies with Nicola Sturgeon finding a way to get us out of this nightmare. Any Edinburgh Government will realise the staringly obvious. Scotland's problem is the same as it has been for hundreds of years – too many people leaving and not enough people coming. If our old folk are to be looked after in the decades to come, 120% of our young people will need to become carers.

That's right.


We need as many Florences as we can get and we need them in a hurry. We need to be allowed to make our own decisions about this.

We need out of Dodge.


If you want to see how the fundraising page is going follow the link below.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


To be honest, I have been putting off writing this. Blogging is a strange sort of thing in many ways. Sometimes a blog is nothing more than a means I use to get some thoughts off my chest and it really matters not a jot how many people take any notice. Why would it? 

But other times it is more than that. A few months ago our charity was on the brink of running out of cash, so I wrote a blog asking for help. That was a big one and if nobody had shown any interest, First Base might well have been dead and buried by now. Thankfully the response was spectacular. The response was more than £12,000 on our Just Giving Page. The response was enough for us to be taken off the life support machine and discharged to fight another day. 

Last month I asked if there were eighty folk out there in the ether willing to stump up a couple of quid each to help out a food parcel client I gave the name of Donald. Donald was man in his mid forties with learning difficulties who had been sentenced by the Job Centre to live in the cold and dark for three months thanks to a benefit sanction. I crossed my fingers and hoped to hell that maybe £50 would come in: enough to put the lights back on for Christmas. In the end over £8000 hit the Just Giving page and we were able to establish the Donald Fund which now puts the lights back on for at least two people a week.

Working in First Base can be hard at times. The whole point of being there is to try and help people out. Most of the time we can do this. The door opens and someone comes in who can't afford to buy any food to eat. So we give them a bag of food. We give it with respect and without judgement. We treat them like a human being. And if we can help out in other ways, then we help out in other ways. We don't pretend to be miracle workers who can transform every aspect of their lives, but we can make sure they leave our building feeling better about life than when they walked in.

That is how it is most of the time.

But not all of the time.

Sometimes we come to know really nice, decent people who are in a terrible situation and no matter how hard we try, we just can't solve their problems. I promise you, this is not easy to live with. These are the times when I would love to walk in Bill Gates's shoes and be able to write a cheque to make the nightmares go away. But I am umpteen million dollars shy of even polishing Bill Gates's shoes. Managing a charity and writing novels are not exactly up there with lawyering when it comes to filling up a bank account.

So there are days when I come home to my warm house and eat a meal in 
my warm living room and feel completely utterly helpless and useless because surely it should be possible to do more.

All of which brings me to Florence and her family. To her nineteen year old daughter Abigail and her ten year old son Thomas. These are not real names of course. I never use real names. I wonder why I have instinctively chosen such Victorian sounding names? Maybe it is because the family is from Nigeria and like all West Africans they have perfect old school manners.

Where to start? The bare bones, I guess. The facts. Things in Nigeria were going from bad to worse in the place where Florence was living. I won't go into all the details. Google 'Nigeria' and you will find plenty of these details. Boko Haram. Suicide Bombers in market places. Gun toting gangsters. Industrial levels of corruption. Starvation in the countryside. Murder and mayhem in the cities. Schoolgirls abducted...

Florence found herself all alone with no family to support her. And like mothers from the very dawn of time, her first instinct was to find a place where her two young children might be safe. So she sold everything she had to sell and came to the UK on a work visa. When she and the children arrived and made their way through password control they were entirely legal.

And then she did exactly what it said on her visa: she worked. She studied hard and soon had all the right certificates to spend her days providing care to the growing number of us who need all the care we can get. She did the job we are desperate for more people to do and her taxes were deducted at source.

After three years her work visa was renewed. Why wouldn't it be? If we are to make any kind of fist of looking after our growing number old old people, we need all the Florences we can get.

In the meantime Abigail and Thomas thrived at school. Abigail was forever at the top of her class and got an 'A' in every exam she sat. College was more of the same and she was offered a place at University to become a midwife. Isn't that another thing we are crying out for? I do believe it is.


All was going well. A new future was being carved out. An excellent bargain had been struck. The UK offered the family a chance of a safe future and in return we received three outstanding citizens. No benefits were claimed. No laws were broken. Instead six years' worth of taxes were paid.

In full.

But when Florence applied for her work visa to be extended for a second time, the answer was a flat 'no'. Times had changed. The Government had made the rash promise to reduce the number of migrants to the tens of thousands. Now we didn't care so much about the millions of old people in need of help dressing and having a bath. Now the only thing that mattered was pandering to the angry headlines on the front pages of the tabloid press.
Now the Home Office was told to use every bit of small print at their disposal to get people out. Nobody cared if these were people who were working and contributing. Such things no no longer mattered. Only numbers mattered.

When Florence appealed the decision, her appeal was turned down.

And when she appealed for a final time, her appeal was turned down again.

This was when things started to get very dark.

The next straw to clutch at was an application to be granted 'leave to remain' in the UK.

OK. Fair enough. But not so easy. You see, if you apply for 'leave to remain' in the UK you are not entitled to any State benefits whatsoever whilst the Home Office grinds through the paperwork. Not even if you have paid six years worth of taxes? In you dreams.

Worse still, you are not allowed to do any paid work. Not so much as an hour's worth. And if you are caught doing so much as an hour's worth of paid work, it will ruin any chance you might have of being granted leave to remain.

In other words you find yourself bang slap in the middle of a Kafkaesque nightmare. You are expected to live on fresh air for months on end whilst your application crawls through the system. I guess there are are reasons for this. The Home Office wants to make the process as hard as possible. They want people to give up and accept the offer of a free plane ticket back to the place they ran from. There is always plenty of money in the pot to pay for plane tickets. Families are expected wire money into the UK to enable their loved ones to keep body and soul together whilst they wait.

And wait.

And wait.

But Florence had no family. So things started to become desperate. London can be a very cruel place when you have no money. She heard things were better up here in Scotland. People were kinder. There was less Brexit rage at those unlucky enough to have the wrong accent or the wrong skin colour.
So Florence spent what money she had left on a bus north to Dumfries and three months up front rent on a flat. Thomas settled into a primary school but Abigail's offer of a place at university was withdrawn.

And they waited.

And prayed.

And waited.

By the end of November they were on the brink. The rent was due and they had not a penny to their name.

This was when they came through our door.

Were we able to help? Of course. But only a little. We make sure they have plenty to eat. Thanks to the Donald Fund, we have been able to keep the heating and lighting on. D&G Refugee Action came up with a month's worth of rent. Enough to see the family through Christmas. Enough to see them into 2017.

But now the rent is once again due and if nothing happens the family will find themselves on the streets of Dumfries. In the winter. In the wet and the cold. A mum and two kids. At this point in the State will step in. The State will take Thomas into care. For Florence and Abigail there will only be the pavement.

A nightmare.

And of course it is just so utterly, sickening unfair. If Florence was only allowed to work, she would have a job as a carer within a matter of hours. And she would be a wonderful carer for anyone she cared for. She is that kind of person.

But she isn't allowed to work. If she is caught working, there is every chance the family will be woken by a hammering on their front door in the wee small hours of the morning. Awoken to find men in uniforms telling them to pack their things. Awoken to a van ride to a place of detention. A plane ride home to the place they ran away from.


What is the road Florence and her children need to travel now? Well first they are required to prove to the Home Office they are indeed 'destitute'. To do this they will need letters from all the charities and community groups who are trying to keep their bodies and souls together. Once the Home Office is satisfied they don't have tuppence to rub together, they will be allowed to apply for 'leave to remain' without having to make the £4000 up front payment such an application normally costs.

Then they will apply. Will the application be successful? The good news is it almost certainly will be. Any child who has been in the UK for more than seven years has an automatic right to remain here. Thomas is twelve - a child - and he has been here for seven years. Thomas also has the legal right to have a mother in his life. Well Florence is his mother so she will also be allowed to stay.

Things are much more frightening for Abigail. She is nineteen. An adult. Her hope is the judge will listen to her younger brother when Thomas begs him not to take his sister away. I think there is every chance the judge will indeed listen. Thankfully judges are not quite so desperate to pander to the tabloid press. And why would any judge not allow this polite, intelligent young lady to stay?

But the thought of the judge not listening keeps Abigail awake at night. When she speaks, her voice has not a trace of a West African accent. She doesn't really remember Nigeria. She is understandably terrified of getting off a plane in Lagos with not a penny to her name and nobody to take her in. It is hard to imagine anyone finding themselves in a more desperately vulnerable position. 

Abigail is one of our volunteers now. She is coming in on Fridays to work with other volunteers. She is a part of our team. And the thought of one of our team being sent to such an utter nightmare will keep us all awake at nights.

But I don't think it will happen. I don't want to think it will happen. Despite everything, I retain some faith that the judge will show some humanity.


All of which I guess brings me to heart of the matter. First Base would love to be in a position to cover the rent for the next six months whilst the Home Office keeps Florence and her children in limbo. We would love to allow them to feel safe for a little while.

But we are a tiny little charity and we can't afford it. So I am asking for your help. And yes, I know. The world seems to be falling apart all around us and millions upon millions of people need help. Well I am biased. Florence and Abigail and Thomas are not statistics to us. They are a lovely family in an absolutely hellish place. And none of us can solve the problems of the world. But we can make an absolute difference for one family. They are right here in Dumfries. They are here now. We have a genuine opportunity to make an actual difference. We can do something clear and tangible. And right.

Oh and by the way, every penny we raise will go straight to paying the rent. Not a single penny will go to paying for fat salaries and fancy offices. First Base isn't that kind of charity. Thank goodness.

I guess that is about that. There isn't a whole lot more I can say. The link below will take you to a Just Giving page I have set up. 

I have set a target of £2400 which is enough to provide a roof over the family's heads for the next six months. Is my target a pipe dream? I hope not. If a relatively small number of you donate a fiver each or so, we can get there.

Like I said, I put off writing this. And now I have been putting off the moment of truth when I hit the 'publish' button and pass the point of no return. I haven't told Florence about this blog. I couldn't stand to build up any hopes.

So I guess it's over to you. Here's the link again....