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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Shrewsbury...is where the heart is...


Combined ukelele bands at The Big Busk--everyone smiled!


So The Big Busk in Shrewsbury is over. An event which filled a whole town one sunny Saturday with music and happiness--from contemporary guitar duos to opera and dancing flashmobs. With any luck, it could become an annual event. What better way to remember Ben Bebbington, who would have been 44 on Saturday. Ben, a musician, poet and artist was killed last year, and his loving family wanted to find a fitting way to remember him.

Martin from Shrewsbury Ark
This was a stunning, uplifting, positive way to pay tribute to Ben, and to raise money and thank everyone connected to the Shrewsbury Ark. The centre, near the town`s railway station, proved to be a special place for Ben, and continues to be a safe, caring refuge for homeless and vulnerable people in the town. It`s great that so many more people are aware of its work now, and that its coffers will benefit from the collections around town on Saturday.
Big Busk`s support crew

But what`s also important is that support for the Ark and other groups like it, carries on. And with it, a deeper awareness and understanding of this message: any one of us can fall on `hard times`.

People like John. He has nothing whatsoever to do with the Ark. But I got in touch with him after seeing him appealing on a local website for `pretty much everything` you`d need to set up home.

It turns out John had a good job, but was made redundant. He told me: ` I had to settle for whatever I could get to keep the wolves from the door.`

For John, this meant taking a job paying the minimum wage. And here`s how life can really kick you in the teeth when you`re down. As well as redundancy, John`s marriage was breaking down, and he was left more than £10,000 in debt. That`s since been paid off, but it`s left him with a poor credit rating.

John was able to stay with friends and family for a while--but these were all stopgap measures. The time came for him to try and branch out on his own. And on a low wage, that`s not easy, as he explained to me:

"The problem is that to find a flat you are talking £400 plus per month rent for most properties, plus a deposit of £500 plus, a credit and reference check of £200 and then have to have a guarantor. Add onto this the costs of furnishings and suddenly it is easy to see the difficulties that can be encountered."

And that`s why John, once a family man with a good job and comfortable home,  found himself on a website asking around for donations of furniture. He`s getting there, and has found a property to rent for the time being. It needs a lot of work, and is further than John would like to be from his job, but it`s a place for him to call home.

For many of the people who use it, The Shrewsbury Ark is the closest they will have to a home, or a base. They can find friendship, food, warmth, advice, and a place to shelter.

If you have a home, it`s such a haven, whatever shape or size it is, however much it cost. I had this book as a small child. It`s called `A Little House of Your Own`, by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. I kept it, because it always filled me with wonder. It had pictures of all the little places a child could call home if they needed to play house, or just escape on their own. I tried all of them. Scrambling into huge cardboard boxes and cutting out windows. Pegging out huge sheets on the washing line and weighting down the edges with stones to make a hideaway tent for me and my toys. Your own space.Your own base.

In adulthood I`ve always cherished my own home...that moment you unlock your front door--slamming it , bloody hard, sometimes, if you`ve had a bad day; shutting out the world if you need to.When I had bad times at work I`d rush home for respite during my break...even for 20 minutes. At that time, it was like an oasis in the desert.  I`m so lucky that I could do that, and it`s still my haven. I`m a Londoner and people often joke that it can take years to feel like a `local` once you move to Shropshire.

But this Saturday, thanks to the Big Busk, and its love and hope, and the hard work of Ben`s family and friends, Shrewsbury really felt like home. Where the heart is.



COMMENTS:



many thanks Jane, very well written.


Well said Jane! Here's hoping the effects of are long lasting!



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1 comment:

  1. From The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran: Speak to us of houses... "What have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power? Have you rememberances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of your mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain? Tell me, have you these in your houses? Or have you only comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?.... Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.... And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing. For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion in the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of the night.

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