I always enjoy getting feedback from readers about my column, particularly when I meet them in person. There are two things people have been keen to talk about over the past few weeks. One is my foolhardy promise to run the Marathon this year and the second is the idea for a school uniform recycling project.
Sadly, my training has been far too scarce in the past month. First the snow and ice made it impossible to get out on the road and then I injured my Achilles tendon. I've been using ice packs and resting the foot; talking and acting like a real athlete, whilst hoping that my body will remember that it's capable of running five miles in an hour, when I get back on the road some time this week, I hope.
I have been plodding along my route from Plaistow to Stratford: on to Maryland, then Forest Gate and back home. Before my injury, it was time to step up the distance and time and do the circuit twice in one day. Now it will have to wait until I get back into condition.
Passers-by are kind enough to cheer me on and I am very grateful to all of them. I must admit it is a little dispiriting when those strolling home from the tube walk past me as I jog.
The other issue which has caught people's interest, the school uniform recycling project. Thankfully, it is making much better progress than my Marathon training, at the moment!
Last week, I met with a number of local charities from the 4in10 campaign to plan our next steps in the “Kit For Kids” project. I am excited by this new initiative, which will help Newham parents recycle their kids’ school clothes at the end of the school year. School uniforms are so expensive and children grow so fast. It almost seems they grow out of them as soon as they put them on. Buying expensive uniforms must feel like throwing money down the drain. It is such a waste to send uniforms to the jumble sale, when there are plenty of other parents who need those very uniforms for their own children.
As we are all trying to do our bit to help the environment, and saving money is always a bonus, the recycling of school uniforms seems a sensible way to kit out our kids for school in an eco-friendly and cost-effective way.
It’s not just school uniforms either. All the other paraphernalia that kids seem to need for school - PE kits, bags, coats and shoes – will be included in the initiative.
We had a really productive first meeting and it was great to see so many different organisations working together to make this very practical idea a reality. We will be writing to all schools in Newham, asking them to get involved and I hope that they’ll jump at this dual opportunity to help the environment and parents’ pockets.
Whilst the Government continues to improve life for families with improved tax credits and benefits, free and extended nursery provision, there's also a great deal we can do locally.
That’s why I’ll be supporting the Kit For Kids campaign which will help make a real difference to the lives of Newham families.