Haiti: One Year On

by Brian Inkster 12. January 2011 00:12

I received an e-mail newsletter from Habitat for Humanity about Haiti, one year on, and thought I would share it with you:-

Haiti’s devastating earthquake on 12th January, 2010 left over 200,000 people dead, 190,000 homes destroyed and 1.5 million people without a roof over their heads. In the year following the earthquake Haitians have had to contend with a vast array of challenges, from hurricanes to post-election unrest, cholera and underlying extreme poverty. Yet in the face of such devastation the Haitian people have a stoic resilience. Against a background of massive devastation they are determined to build back their lives.

Habitat for Humanity aims to help at least 50,000  of the earthquake-affected families during the five years following the disaster. With the support of generous donors and partner organisations Habitat for Humanity is making good progress and has to date served 24,000 families in Haiti, approximately 119,000 individuals.

These are families like Natasha and Barthol Louis and their son Barnavens. Their home was destroyed in the earthquake and the young, growing family had just a few rusty metal scraps to shelter them. Thanks to the support of people like you they recently moved into one of the first upgradable shelters in Léogâne. With another baby on the way (Natasha is now very pregnant) it was imperative for the family to have space and security: the transitional shelter provides this for them. Find out more about some of the families we've helped so far.

So far, your support has helped us to:

    * Distribute over 21,000 emergency shelter kits.
    * Create a stockpile of 3,300 emergency shelter kits in case of further disasters.
    * Provide 900 transitional or upgradable shelters.
    * Assess 2,000 damaged homes.
    * Train more than 500 Haitians in earthquake-resistant construction techniques
    * Set up Habitat for Humanity Resource Centres, to maximise the supply of construction materials and services to local people.

Please pass this on to anyone else you know who might be interested – and thank you, on behalf of the people of Haiti, for your support.

Best wishes

Ian Walkden

One of our InkstersGive Sponsors, Tom Valenti of Valentilaw, was in Haiti last year seeing what Mediators could do to assist. See: Mediators as early responders – follow up and a discussion of a recent trip to Haiti

Donate to The Habitat for Humanity Haiti Appeal

Download a detailed report or view the video:-

 

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Haiti

No Water

by Brian Inkster 27. December 2010 21:25

On Christmas morning Nicola and I were in the kitchen preparing Christmas lunch when we heard the noise of running water from above. Then we saw the water running down the walls from the ceiling. We assumed we had a burst pipe caused by the thaw after the big freeze that preceded it. So we turned the water off. Would it also affect our gas fired central heating system? I phoned Scottish Gas and I was directed through to a call centre, possibly in India. After some deliberation and consultation with others I was told to switch the heating off. Presumably in India they did not appreciate the affect this would have on us in Scotland in mid winter! Thankfully, I managed to get a hold of our local plumber, even on Christmas Day, and he told me that this was nonsense. The central heating was a sealed system separate from the main water supply and would work fine notwithstanding that we had turned the water off. So at least we had heat, if not water. Our neighbours kindly supplied us with buckets of water so we survived Christmas Day and ‘Boxing Day’ (I understand that Boxing Day cannot fall on a Sunday) without water from our taps.

The plumber arrived this morning and discovered that we did not in fact have a burst pipe (as such). A pipe that carries water from the roof has an old connection that comes within the wall cavity but has been blocked off (after the pipe became redundant and had been cut from whatever item it used to drain water from within the house). The lead that sealed it was not holding it watertight. The main pipe down the side of the house was completely frozen. As the snow thawed on the roof it was running down the outside pipes but backing up when it hit the frozen pipe and ended up coming inside the house! It was just a coincidence that it stopped coming in when we turned the water off at the mains – so we could have had water running from our taps on Christmas Day and ‘Boxing Day’ after all!

Living with water from buckets for two days was not a great hardship compared with the problems the current weather has caused for many. We did have to become much more economic with our use of water and it did make us think of our friends in 22 de Enero. I blogged on 17 November 2009 that “The water that the residents have access to is largely underground and away from the housing area, making it difficult to find potable water for family consumption.” We helped Germán to build a water tower but many families had to walk some distance to fill buckets of water and carry them back to their homes. In Glasgow we were able to simply pop next door.

International research and statistics show that:-

  • One out of every three city dwellers – nearly a billion people – lives in a slum. (Slum indicators include: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.) (UN-Habitat: 2006)
  • UN-Habitat has reported that because of poor living conditions children in slums are more likely to die from water-borne and respiratory illness. (UN-Habitat: 2006)

Habitat for Humanity agree with the Department for International Development (DFID) that it should be "our moral and religious duty to ensure that we are part of a world where no one has to live in poverty; A world in which all have access  to food, shelter, clean water; to a livelihood, health and education; A world in which the rights and dignity of every woman, man and child to live life to the full are respected". (DFID Target 2015, halving world poverty. A Shared Vision of Reducing World Poverty).

Next time you fill a kettle from a tap, run a bath, have a shower or flush a toilet think of those less fortunate in the world who do not have this luxury that we take for granted. You can help by Just Giving.

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Argentina 2009 | Buenos Aires | Habitat for Humanity | Glasgow

Felices Fiestas! from Habitat for Humanity Argentina

by Brian Inkster 22. December 2010 21:54

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Argentina 2009 | Habitat for Humanity

TweetRumours: Charity scammers FollowMeRecord change name

by Brian Inkster 10. December 2010 19:56

Hat tip to @CelebFakeOuts and @DaveGorman for alerting me to the fact that @FollowMeRecord (see: Follow me Record : Another Children in Need Twitter Scam?) had changed their name to @TweetRumours

This I think is reasonable evidence that FollowMeRecord was indeed a scam. Before changing their account name they never tweeted, as they had promised, an update on their fundraising activities. Instead they removed their Pudsey Bear Avatar and their last tweet, as cached by Google, was:-

Perhaps they thought no one would notice the change of name but having changed it and it being noticed they now appear to have vanished. Perhaps further questioning of their activities by Dave Gorman tonight made them decide to change name again or delete the account (like we previously witnessed FollowersInNeed do). Perhaps Twitter suspended the account. Different tweeps were getting different messages tonight some suggesting suspension others suggesting that the name simply no longer existed. Hopefully, however, the account has been deleted or suspended and will not survive in some other shape, form or fashion.

Dave Gorman has tonight updated his blog post on 'Beware of Twitter Scams':-

"FollowMeRecord have recently changed their name to @TweetRumours. When they were called FollowMeRecord they exchanged private messages with me and one of them - Harry - gave me his mobile phone number. He said something like "if you think we're fraudulent you can publish it if you like" and he said something similar in his blog post here. FollowMeRecord were based in Leeds whereas TweetRumours is claiming to be in Southampton.

I called Harry. I said, "Hello..." and he put the phone down.

It all sort of suggests that they were lying in the first place or that maybe it went a bit pear shaped. But TweetRumours definitely doesn't feel like the work of 3 adults. I don't think I'll publish his number. I might well pass it to the police though."

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Twitter | Children in Need

Follow me Record : Another Children in Need Twitter Scam?

by Brian Inkster 19. November 2010 22:23

On Saturday I blogged on Followers in Need : The Children in Need Twitter Scam

Around that time questions were being asked of another similar Twitter Account: @FollowMeRecord

Like @FollowersInNeed they were pledging a 50p donation to Children in Need for every follower. Their Bio stated that this was with the help from their sponsors all over Yorkshire. No more detail was given and the web link was to the official BBC Children in Need website.

However, unlike @FollowersInNeed they responded to questioning by creating a blog with a post explaining the background and how the money was being raised. Apparently "@FollowMeRecord  was set up initially by three work colleagues sat at the pub trying to brainstorm ideas on how to raise money for the charity Children in Need. Robert Whitmarsh, Harry Gill and Sarah Kutchins".

Robert, Harry and Sarah canvassed several local businesses and individuals asking each what the maximum they would be willing to donate. Totting up the totals they had a "Potential" £7300. In their blog they point out that a few people had asked, "Why not just donate the £7300 and be done with it?" Harry explained this as follows: "If you were doing a sponsored silence, say £1 an hour, you would go to individuals asking what they would be willing to sponsor you for and on having completed the task go and collect the funds. The same concept applies here". Harry does, however, admit that the error on their part was not mentioning that they had a target cap to reach of just under 15,000 (£7300) followers and therefore implying that there were unlimited funds available was a "big mistake" and he holds his hands up for it.

Harry says that originally their list of sponsors were listed on the background image of their Twitter page but they were asked to remove/alter it by one of the donors, and ever since the Pudsey Bear image has been there. This seemed a little odd - why would they take all donors down as a result of a request by one and why would a donor wish to be removed in any event. However, as a result of the questioning on Twitter they put up a refreshed list of their sponsors on their Twitter background page (I assume minus the donor who originally wished to be removed).

The donors are listed as: J & J Decorating Services, Eden Developments Ltd, Premah Plumbing & Tiling, MPM Plumber Merchants, Lecafeshop.co.uk, Northgate Hire Ltd, Fast Response Plumbing, Blue Moon Trading Co, Electrotown.co.uk, Morycon Grocers, Talstine Caterers and Barrocloughs Waste Management.

It was all starting to look a lot different from @FollowersInNeed. There was a list of donors and a cap on the total donation that would be made by them. It looked like a legitimate account. Although as Harry acknowledged "it was a good idea but maybe lacking execution".

@DaveGorman (like me) thought they were legitimate.

However, people were still questioning @FollowMeRecord and it was beginning to get to them. Their last tweet said "Honestly had enough from some of you guys. I'll tweet again Fri @ 10pm then update u guys and close this account. find some1 else 2 'bother'". I thought this a pity and wondered if they had simply suffered unduly as a result of the backlash following on from the scam by @FolllowersInNeed.

4 hours following 10pm on Friday and @FollowMeRecord still has not updated us. Followers stand at 8,865 so that is £4,432.50 going to Children in Need from their donors. Or is it? @CelebFakeOuts reveled in a TwitLonger that:-

"Those of you who have been following for a while will know that on Monday i tackled on a few issues i wasn't happy with, to which i received a mixed response. In one of my tweets i mentioned as being one of their supposed sponsors. The lovely Patrick who owns the company contacted me to ask if there was a problem. We spoke in private and it became clear his company name was being used as a sponsor without his agreement or knowledge. I contacted #childreninneed on Tuesday morning who confirmed that this account was already under investigation so we have left it until today to ask why they have done this. They are getting lots of #FollowFridays now by genuine people who don't know they have lied about at least one their sponsors. If you believe this is wrong, please help us and #childreninneed by retweeting. Thank you so much, C"

Patrick of @LeCafeShop has also tweeted about the situation.

Perhaps Harry from @FollowMeRecord will update his blog or comment on this blog as to what the position is with regard to their sponsors and in particular Lecafeshop.co.uk.

I also picked up tonight that a scam account @03457332233 (which is the Children In Need telephone number) had been tweeting that they would donate 5p per follower to Children in Need and would make that in effect 50p per follower if a certain tweet was re-tweeted 100 times.

Pressure from @ACloakedFigure resulted in the scammer abandoning the account and (as @JackofKent did with @FollowersInNeed) @ACloakedFigure snapped the account up to prevent it being used for further scamming. It, like @FollowersInNeed, now points to the official BBC Children in Need website.

These scammers detract from the genuine accounts and actual fundraising efforts. Even @ChildrenInNeed is an unofficial Twitter account which has existed since 2008 although it has not tweeted this year. However, at least they make it clear that they are an unofficial site and do not appear to have attempted a scam of any kind. The official Children In Need site is @pudseybear. Perhaps best to just follow that one and simply ignore the rest. You can donate at www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey

£18,098,199 had been raised as at 2am on Saturday morning.

UPDATE - 20 November 2010 - 23:30

It is now more than 24 hours after the 10pm deadline by which @FollowMeRecord set themselves to update us and there has not been as much as a tweet from them.

At 10.20pm last night @Cap_Howdy tweeted "Well it's 20 past 10 so where's the update? We want to know how we all did".

At 1.12pm this afternoon @aljharrison tweeted "Looking forward to an update. I think you owe #cin £4269 or even the full £7300 you mentioned?"

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Followers in Need : The Children in Need Twitter Scam

by Brian Inkster 13. November 2010 21:25

 

I noticed on Twitter today many tweets and retweets of @FollowersInNeed's request to follow them in exchange for a 50p per follower donation to Children in Need. I did think this rather generous given the potential to obtain hundreds of thousands of followers. Who were Followers in Need and where was the money coming from? Was this for real or a scam? These are the questions that were asked of @FollowersInNeed by @ACloakedFigure @BackConsulting @DaveGorman @jackofkent @Charonqc and others.

I asked "But can you simply explain to everyone where the money is coming from to meet your pledge?".

Answers were not forthcoming.

The bio of @FollowersInNeed stated that "money is being raised in some local villages & large companies have donated money!". A tweet claimed that they had already raised £20,000 which would cover 40,000 followers. They were apparently still raising funds. What if the funds raised did not equate to the eventual number of followers x 50p? They were being asked this but were not answering. The reality was that they had probably not raised a single penny from anyone and had no funds to meet the 50p x followers pledge.

Why would 'some local villages & large companies' donate money to Followers in Need rather than directly to Children in Need?

As @DaveGorman tweeted:-

In a very short space of time @FollowersInNeed were receiving retweets from many celebrities such as @Amanda_Holden:-

Such endorsements no doubt helped them to an ever increasing follower count which stood at 12,433 late this afternoon. That is £6,216.50 worth of donations. However, the pressure of questioning from doubting tweeters was clearly getting to them. They had no answers to give. They crumbled and changed the name of their account to @closingaccount_

Interesting that once the game was up they were tweeting "mm", then "bored.." A claim that they were donating £7,000 to Children In Need could no doubt be taken with a pinch of salt. True colours were then revealed with "someone else will take over this account and use it for something else. So please don't unfollow! Especially Amanda Holden, The Wanted, JLS and saturdays fans!! ..And cheryl fans!". Was this the real reason for the scam - simply to gain followers for other purposes? Whatever their reasons it is despicable to use a Charity as a front for such activity. As we have seen at InkstersGive Twitter can be a very powerful force for fundraising. It is a great pity when people abuse this power.

The account then became @lovingtheholden ('lucky Amanda Holden!' as @DaveGorman tweeted) and then @lovingteamsats (lucky The Saturdays). Goodness knows what it is now if it still exists. Hopefully the owner of the account has realised the error of their ways and simply deleted it.

@DaveGorman gives a very good account of what happened and his views and advice in the longest TwitLonger I have seen:-

"I need more than 140chars to answer all the Qs I'm getting about the FollowersInNeed charity scam. Here goes:

1) Lots of ppl were asking me to RT a link to who were promising to donate 50p to Children In Need for every follower they got.

2) That seemed a bit dodgy to me. I mean, that's a promise that requires unlimited funds & there was nothing on their page to explain who they were or how their donation was really related to their follower count.

3) I asked them to verify themselves.

4) They didn't. It became pretty clear it was a scam - any legitimate donor would have been leaping at the chance to prove they were legit.

5) They changed the name of the account. First to something about how much they liked Amanda Holden, then to and the last time I checked to (they're fans of The Saturdays) A lot of people have asked me what I think they were getting out of the scam or what harm it was doing. I *think* they were probably young girls getting the same thrill kids get when they knock on a door and run away... a simple, "ha ha... look what we did!" I might be wrong. There are other worse interpretations available involving malware or spam etc.

6) It's true that they weren't making money out of it. But charity-fatigue is a well known phenomenon. Nobody can RT every charity request they get. If someone chose to RT that one instead of another, real good cause then they have done some damage.

7)When they changed their name, cleverly nabbed the old name to ensure that nobody could use for such purposes again. Well done him.

8)I'm told there are other accounts making similar promises. I haven't looked at them and am not suggesting that they are definitely dodgy. Nor do I know if they're legit. I encourage everyone to apply common sense. If they are legit they should have no problem in verifying how they do what they do. Ask yourself who would donate 50p to a charity in return for you following them - especially if they remain anonymous? How would they afford it? etc.

9) In summary: It was a scam. Not one that tried to steal money, just one that wasted people's time and distracted them from other good causes. The account *now* using that name is controlled by someone else and is harmless.

10)You can follow the official Children In Need twitter account at - but of course you following them doesn't raise any money. You can donate at http://www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey"

UPDATE

Dave Gorman (@DaveGorman) has also blogged on this topic at Beware of Twitter Scams as has George Pearson (@gdhp) on his 57 WPM blog.

See also on the Inksters Give Blog: Follow me Record : Another Children in Need Twitter Scam?

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World Habitat Day

by Brian Inkster 4. October 2010 22:28

Today is World Habitat Day.

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.

This year the theme is “Better City, Better Life” to specifically raise awareness about the need for sustainable poverty housing in urban regions. This is integral to the housing situation in Argentina. 4 out of 10 Argentines live in indecent living conditions, much of it in cramped tenements and precarious shanties in city slums. Over the next 30 years, the urban population of developing countries will hit 4 billion.

Help Habitat for Humanity Argentina implement housing solutions to put into place a sustainable system of poverty housing.

Read more about World Habitat Day

Download the World Habitat Day Brochure (PDF)

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Argentina 2009 | Habitat for Humanity

James Morrison Street Party Flickr Slide Show

by Brian Inkster 21. September 2010 23:23

Following on from my last two blog posts there is now a James Morrison Street Flickr Page where many who attended the event have been posting their photos. Here is the Flickr Slide Show of those photos:-

 

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Glasgow

James Morrison Street Party

by Brian Inkster 19. September 2010 20:27

'As part of Doors Open Day on Saturday 18th September 2010, the local community and creative cluster around Glasgow Cross joined forces in grassroots style to transform James Morrison Street into a vibrant public space full of activity and performance.

Between 10am and 4pm there was an eclectic programme of events including film screenings in the urban escape theatre, free homemade soup and Jim Morrison branded toast, a buskers stage, tea and cake, and interactive creative activities. There was also the opportunity to explore the studio spaces of the local design community and the hidden gem of St Andrew’s church. Or you could simply put your feet up in the outdoor living room and soak up the sights and sounds of city street life in a re-imagined car free environment.'

The above is from the official press release. The following is my day:-

My day started before 9am as I was helping Nicola and her colleagues at Page\Park together with others involved in organising the event set up for the day. First task was rolling out the astroturf on the ramp into the underground carpark - this would form the 'grassed' seating area for the cinema. Then there were gazebos to erect and shopping trolley handles to re-label (the shopping trolleys being used for Book Crossing). Meanwhile the bunting (which included some of my shirts!) was going up with a great team effort that solved several logistical problems along the way. The Street Kiosk (winning entry by Boriss Krutiks of Riga, Latvia in the Vox Populi competition organised by Skirmishes) was being put together. By 10am it was all coming together and the first visitors were arriving to sample the soup and Jim Morrison toast - both were very good indeed. There were also cakes available at Goodd/GRAS. Children were getting their faces painted, hula hooping, building sand castles and playing Giant Jenga. Penalty shoot outs were taking place in St Andrew's Square and golf putting on astroturf on James Morrison Street.

I was a Marshal for part of the morning. This involved wearing a High Vis jacket and a cowboy hat and assisting visitors to the event. Towards the end of the day I counted visitors into the Page\Park offices. They had 581. Then the day was all too quickly coming to an end with a final strip the willow on the street with music by the Ardoch Ceilidh Band. There had been music throughout the day from Jasmine, Pipers - Neil and Aonghas, Honesty Christian, Diverted Traffic, The Imagineers, We See Lights and Captain and the Kings.

After 4pm it was time to tidy up with the astroturf being rolled up and the gazebos dismantled. It was not long before the street was clear and could be re-opened to traffic again.

It had been a very successful day and one I had been glad to have been part of. Nicola had been involved for weeks as part of the organising committee - so the part I played was very small by comparison. It reminded me, however, of our time in Argentina working as a team building homes. Today we built temporary structures but ones that played an important part in bringing the community together. It was life affirming to see the results of this. The whole day had been a very positive one. Thanks for this must go to the participating organisations:-

Andy Murray Design, Brown & Wallace, Collective Architecture, Dancehouse, Dualchas Building Design, Erz, Goodd, GRAS, Icecream Architecture, John Gilbert Architects, Kraft Architecture, Lofts Residents Association, Merchant City Marketing Cooperative, Page\Park Architects, the local residents of James Morrison Street and St Andrews Square.

See: Photos of the James Morrison Street Party at InkstersGive

See: Photos of the James Morrison Street Party on Flickr

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Photos of the James Morrison Street Party

by Brian Inkster 19. September 2010 19:57

Hands reach out from Page\Park offices

I am a Marshal!

Making Jim Morrison Toast

Jim Morrison Toast

Music for the day

A shirt or two of mine help make up the bunting!

Bagpipes and Tai Chi - an unusual combination!

The cinema

Hula

Football

Street Kiosk - Winning entry by Boriss Krutiks of Riga, Latvia in the Vox Populi competition organised by Skirmishes theatre

Nicola ceilidhs in the street

Read about the James Morrison Street Party

See: Photos of the James Morrison Street Party on Flickr

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About this blog

This blog follows Brian Inkster & Nicola Walls as they prepare, fundraise, travel and build houses for Habitat for Humanity as part of the Argentina Global Village Challenge 2009. inkstersgive.com is the Corporate Social Responsibility website of Inksters Solicitors with the aim in 2009 of raising awareness of and money for Habitat for Humanity.

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