Whats the Big (Society) idea ?

Yer Man David Cameron, off coalition Government fame has been chatting about his BigSociety again,

Here are the bullet points from Wikipedia;

The plans include setting up a Big Society Bank and introducing a national citizen service.[4] The stated priorities are:

  1. Give communities more powers (localism and devolution)
  2. Encourage people to take an active role in their communities (volunteerism)
  3. Transfer power from central to local government
  4. Support co-opsmutualscharities and social enterprises
  5. Publish government data (open/transparent government)

It’s all a bit nuts if you ask me……………………. but it all makes sense. I like it! Society is made up of a random bunch of people and local matters, matter to local people.  We all have different skill sets so why can’t we all give just a little bit back to society instead of taking all the time.

I have been doing charity work since I was 14, I started helping out with the Beaver Scouts, now (a few years later) i’m still scouting.  I don’t actively run a Friday night group any more but I use the skills learnt in my paid employment to sit on scouting boards, executive committees and also run events.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my paid employment but there is something satisfying about helping to educate kids through scouting.  Some of my happiest times have been spent in the pissing rain at scout camp.  Often I spend more time working for free, than working for money.  So why can’t we all do it?

Because we (as a society) are a bunch of lazy, selfish, freeloading morons……. don’t believe me?  What have you done today to make you feel proud (yeah)? If you can’t answer that, then you need to do something about it (now will be fine).

One of DC’s idea’s is to have a National Citizen Service, a sort of unpaid bunch of people (manly over 16 years olds) that can help out when the time arises.  It’s a great idea, the UK is one of the only EU countries that does not have a civil defense service and I have seen the civil defense do great work in Ireland during the floods.

Northern Ireland is the only UK state that does not have a 4×4 response team, despite calls to set one up.  During the Cockermouth floods in England, the 4×4 response team were as vital as the police and army were at getting people safe.

What can I do ? Give your time, like I said, everyone has something to offer and maybe just maybe if we all club together and do just one little thing, give just one thing back then we can make this world bearable for our children.

 

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Save the forests, sell the forests

Last year, David Cameron’s coalition Government announced controversial plans to sell the nations forests and free up some cash for our failing country.  It was wrong.  It was wrong because there was no immediate plans as to who would buy them or what would be done with them.

Today, David Cameron’s Government U-turned this plan. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told MPs the Government had “got this one wrong”, as she announced the current consultation was being halted.

Speaking on this, Labour’s leader Ed Miliband MP said

Virtually every person in the country could see selling off our forests was a foolish and short-sighted policy but they went ahead regardless. Now they are panicked into a retreat hours after Mr Cameron said they would carry on with their consultation.

Ed Miliband is also wrong.

Selling off the nations forests can only be a good thing……… if done right.

Let look at the facts for a second,

Government owned forests, both public and private are a burden on the public purse and what do they actually provide us?  A nice place to take our kids and dogs when the sun is shinning and a habitat for wildlife to flourish.

OK, so the later of my point is worth keeping them for but who says for the later to happen, they have to be state owned?  When people talk about selling off the forests, they automatically think of hungry fat cats swopping in and building concrete jungles but it doesn’t have to be that way.

With the correct model, more forests could be open to the public, enjoyed by all and be …….. er profitable?  Sure, lets think about it, even in public forests, most of the woodland is actually shut to the public due to our fancy pants health and safety laws, it just would not be safe for the average punter to be rambling about it.

Let’s get a forest and use all of it for the good of society.  What am I talking about here? well how a forest that contains

1.  Land for public’s and rambling (ok we have that already, i’ll move on)

2. Houses that are eco-friendly and built from the timber actually grown in the forest, that would be a nice place to live

3. Eco-office’s, again built from the timber in the forest and powered from power generated from woodchippings from the forest, what a great place to live

4. Let farmers use the land to….. er farm

5. What about a school in a forest?  I’d love to send my Daughters there, what a great place to learn

6. A hotel ! built again eco-friendly.  What a super place to holiday

6. An adventure centre, Scout den, watersports centre, farm shops, cafe’s on the river, research centres, theaters you name it.

I’m talking about a sustainible, profitible venture that doesn’t cost the Governement (utimately us) a penny.  It can be done, with the right guidlines and objectives in place it should be done.

A forest for all…….. lets do it!


CEOPs latest drama ‘exposed’ focuses on sexting

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, make good short films, really short films.  Well researched and executed hard hitting short films to educate kids and parents on taboo subjects.  Their website is pretty cool too.

Their latest drama ‘Exposed’ is aimed at 14-18 year olds and is focused on ‘sexting’ and the forwarding of ‘naughty’ pictures and video’s and the related consequences of the youth for both.  Below is the promotional drama for the actual video, I can’t show you the actual video yet as it’s only available for teachers and youth workers and I hope CEOP release the drama shortly on YouTube and Facebook as this needs to be easily shared online between teens, not just played in the classroom.

When you get the chance, watch it.  Get parents to watch it and get young people to watch it.

Updated : The movie is now online : watch it 

Read the rest of this entry »


This volcano business is all getting a bit serious

Is there anyone that is not effected ?

I have heard all the stories about people going into survival mode in a bid to get home, buses, cars, trains, boats (oh my!)  John Cleese grabbed a taxi from Brussels to France for 3k !  My buddies wife is stuck in Brussels, I spoke to a guy on Friday who was busing it from Dublin to Belfast to get a ferry to Scotland and then head on down to London to get home.  I read another story about a guy who picked up some random people and between them they got his car onto a ferry, he is now arranged to go a date with one of the girls he chipped in with (result!).

That said, to me I thought I was largely unaffected by the whole this and put it down to ‘just a decent news story’  That is until I actually thought about it in a bit more detail and the various knock on things that will be effected. Read the rest of this entry »


Are you addicted to the Internet ?

Sky News writes about Internet depression and addition.

Whilst I won’t touch on the depression side of things I must look at addition.

The study says

Her team identified a small group of 18 hardcore internet users who spent many hours online each day and were classed as “internet addicted”.

“While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities,” said Dr Morrison.

“We now need to consider the wider societal implications of this relationship and establish clearly the effects of excessive internet use on mental health.”

This interested me somewhat and I went on to think about my Internet usage, the past, the present and where it has led me to today. Read the rest of this entry »


What a weeks its been ……. for the McQuillans and for Politics

I have had loads of stuff I wanted to talk about on russellmcquillan.com this week however I have been so busy I have not had a chance to open the laptop and think about writing something, so most of my thoughts have been pushed out on twitter.

Anyway, I though I would just grab a moment to put the week down on paper (so to speak) and what a week it has been ! – not only but for Northern Ireland politics and in the McQuillan household’s.

Read the rest of this entry »


Top Gear Challenge : Race to Cork

After months of debating the best type of transport in Ireland and of
course chatting about the legendary show that is Top Gear, we (Lagan
Valley Explorer Scouts) decided to take the debate one step further
and run our own version of one of Top Gear’s races across a country.

The challenge was set; we would meet at McDonalds Sprucefield at 5am
on Saturday 27th June and see who would be the first team to arrive at
Cafe Hi, Merchants Quay Shopping Centre in Cork 250 miles away.

We had three teams:

Team 1, made up of Harriot, Alison and Mark went for the public
transport option, taking the bus to Dublin (no trains at 5am, shame!)
and then catching a train to Cork.

Team 2, made up of Warren, Clare and Pudz decided to fly however the
only flight they could get left from Dublin at 9 – so they to would
need to grab the bus to get that far.

Team 3, made up of myself, James, Stu and Hylands took 2 cars and
would drive the full way.

We then had three weeks of excitement, doubt, double checking routes
and talking big talk of who was going to lose.

It very quickly became 5am on 27th June and the race began, and this
is what happened.

I was in the Car Team.

Too much talking and eating of burgers meant we did not actually
realise 5am had passed and we set off, all be it 5 minutes late.
Straight away we had an advantage as we were rolling whereas the other
teams would have to wait 15 minutes on the bus, zero traffic at 5am
meant the drive was the most pleasurable I have ever taken added to
that the banter between the other car over the CB radio and the
banging tunes on the CD player I cannot think of a better way to
travel.

At 6am we had made great progress, I received a call from the two
teams on the bus who had just came past Newry but we had just zipped
through the toll road at Drogeda.

At 7am we had shot round the M50 in great time and where on the road
to cork, The other two teams had got off the bus and split up at the
airport with the Plane team checking in for their 9.00 flight and the
train team grabbing a cab across Dublin for their 8am train, this is
where (for them) the fun began !!

At around 7.10am I received a call from Warren, my brother in the
Plane team who informed me that Clare had forgot to print her boarding
card all was not lost though as the lovely girl at the check in desk
of (lets call them) Bryanair offered to reprint it for her for a mere
€40, what a lovely company to fly with!

Things were not running smoothly for the train team either, the bus
had came into Dublin 10 minutes late making it incredibly tight to get
the 8am train, the taxi agreed to zip across Dublin for them, getting
them into the station 6 minutes before the train was due to leave.
That however was not the end of their problems, their tickets had been
pre-booked and the reservation machine was not finding the tickets
against the credit card they had booked with, a long queue meant they
could miss the train.  They got sorted though with minutes to spare
and boarded the train just as it was about to leave.

With everyone now south of Dublin, adrenalin was starting to pump and
everyone was getting excited and concerned that the other teams would
arrive first.  At this time we spotted a sign by the side of the road
– CORK – 39KM, What? Really? Fantastic, we where defiantly going to
win.

The phone call’s pretty much stopped at this stage, the plane team
were through security, the train team had boarded and we where very
close to Cork – the race was on big time.

We entered Cork city at around, 8.15 and began looking for the
shopping centre.  We parked up to asked a taxi driver who informed us
it was right behind us, a quick lap of the one way system we parked
and began to laugh hysterically (knowing the plane has not taken off
yet!)  At 8.35 we arrived at the cafe and won the race.

The next hour and a bit was pretty boring, we were waiting on the
plane team landing and checking in…… not wanting to let people
know we had won – I decided to update my facebook with ‘ flat tyre,
this could cost us the race!’ straight away Harriet texted me to laugh
(the joke is on you now Harry) at around 10.15 the Plane team checked
in again to say they had landed and were on route to the meeting
point, the race (or so they thought) was on again.

Sat in the Coffee store, two of my party had gone to cash machine and
I began to panic – the rules stated that all the team had to be
present when the 2nd team arrived to count as a victory, oh noes ! I
quickly rounded them up and we sat quietly in the corner waiting, I
could hear Pudsey from the plane team coming around the corner saying
(I think we have won ……….. oh f&*^$£^%£)

That was it, the car won, the plane came second and later the train
team came running in and lunch was on them !

Times….

We all left at 5am, checking into the end-zone at

Car 8.35am

Plane 10.35am

Train 10.55am