23 April 2015

Ugly Mugs

Whenever you see a fundraising campaign, the charity beneficiaries always seem to be the same.  Whilst charities such as Cancer Research and the Save the Children Fund are vital, many smaller charities are helping people and saving lives that most have never heard of. 
It is so important that these smaller charities receive exposure too as they need funding too.  With this in mind, today I want to highlight a charity called "National Ugly Mugs" which aims at protecting sex workers from violent offenders. 
The term Ugly Mugs was first developed in Australia in 1986, where the phrase ‘ugly mugs’ was used to describe punters who became violent.  They understood that distributing descriptions of ‘ugly mugs’ could warn other sex workers and help to keep them safe.  The first schemes in the UK were started in 1989 in two cities and are now run nationwide.

So why should you care about the lives of sex workers?
Since 1990, 149 sex workers have been murdered in the UK.   A study undertaken by the Home Office shows that more than half of women in prostitution have been raped and or seriously assaulted and at least 75% have been physically assaulted.  Those figures would pose a significant argument for crimes against sex workers being treated as hate crime.

A report by the Trussell Trust has showed an appalling rise of 163% in people having to utilise food banks, with nearly one million adults and children being forced to access them in the last year.  The austerity measures implemented by the Government has forced many people into looking for alternative ways to make ends meet and for some, this can lead to sex work. 

The atypical image of a sex worker is a scantily dressed woman on a street corner but the truth often is, especially in the current climes, that it could also easily be your next door neighbour; un-noticeable to a passer-by in the street.

The Home Office study shows that 74% of women in sex work identified paying household expenses and supporting their children as being the primary instigators in being drawn into sex work.

Everyone deserves help and everyone deserves support.  You cannot impose a moral line on safety.  It is only with schemes like the National Ugly Mugs that sex workers are feeling more confident about coming forward and reporting crime because of the stigma involved and the worry that they will not be taken seriously.

Alex Bryce, Director of Services at National Ugly Mugs has said:

"National Ugly Mugs is saving the lives of some of the most unfairly stigmatised people in our society and bringing to justice some of the most dangerous offenders."

The National Ugly Mug's reporting scheme is vital in bringing information about dangerous individuals to the attention of local constabularies and the National Crime Agency.  This has already led to nine convictions of serial repeat offenders.  In its first year of offering supporting, 480 incidents were reported, including 120 sexual assaults.
The cost of running the Ugly Mugs scheme for one year is around the same of investigating a rape and around the tenth of investigating a murder.  They are desperate for funding to allow this scheme to continue and this is where we come in.

My good friend Shona is a support worker for sex workers who works alongside Ugly Mugs in Lancashire.  As well as offering support and liaising with the police to report attacks on sex workers, she also is out at night twice a week providing condoms and panic alarms, along with a colleague who offers Hepatitis B and other vaccinations.

Shona is new to running but has set a goal of running the 10K Great Manchester run and has set up a JustGiving page with to a view to raising much needed funds for Ugly Mugs.  To date she has raised £885.00 in donations but the more that can be raised, the better.  You can donate to Shona and this very worthwhile cause at Just Giving

*Also posted on the Huffington Post

20 April 2015

Organza Check Skirt

I have been dying to show you this skirt.  I recently spotted it on +Simply Be and although it is right out of my comfort zone, I knew that it had to be mine.

So today I am working completely out of my usual floral dress box and into a black, transparent check skirt!

 photo DSC03010_zpskkwt77ps.jpg

 photo DSC03004_zpsrriaddlt.jpg

 photo DSC03008_zps2hskncu1.jpg

I had originally bought a bardot top to go with this organza check skirt but it just was not working on me so I have improvised here.

The skirt I would say is a little bigger so I would advise you to try the size down from your usual.  

Also, although this may be just me, I found that the white underlining stuck at little to my legs and rode up in places.  I resolved this issue with what you can see in the photographs as I am actually wearing a black silk slip underneath the dress which is doubling up as my top.  A little risque this time!

 photo DSC03006_zpsudsbdzka.jpg

 photo DSC03002_zpsztbg8tbr.jpg

Given how much I love this skirt what I therefore need to find is a v neck vest type top, preferably with a higher back.  If anyone spots one, please let me know!

So, what do you think of my latest acquisition?

 photo Signature_zps0e0a9a8a.png

16 April 2015

Spring Transitions

At this time of year, you never really know what the weather is going to be like.  In London yesterday it was 25 degrees I'm told but "up North" I'm afraid it was cold, wet and miserable.

When it comes to clothing, this time of year I always tend to struggle.  Do you dress for potential sunshine and end up cold?  Do you add an extra layer and be roasting hot all day?  You can never tell. 

What I tend to end up buying are dresses that I can style for both Spring and Winter.  Transitional pieces that you can either wear with tights, a cardigan and a chunky necklace or with bare legs and sandals.

On Sunday I was wearing this Dickins & Jones Floral Print Shirt Dress from the +House of Fraser  It is currently in the size, reduced from £65.00 to £26.00 and is available in sizes 22-26.  The jersey fabric lends itself well to this time of year and being a shirt dress, you can fasten/unfasten buttons at the neckline in order to change up your look and also suit  the weather.  I found the dress true to size.

 photo DSC02995_zpssrkxlt5j.jpg

As it was right between cold and warm on Sunday I styled the dress to match both.  My black t-bar wedge shoes, a chunky gold necklace and a silk slip underneath, but with an extra button or two left undone at the neckline.
 photo DSC02991_zpszyxzgnni.jpg

 photo DSC02986_zpsamcwgqad.jpg

This is my first foray into the plus size dresses section at the House of Fraser and I will definately be back.

*This dress was gifted to me but all opinions are my own

15 April 2015

I Feel Good

You know sometimes when you spend ages getting ready for a night out, an event or even just a blog post, and the reflection in mirror isn't what you hoped? This challenge is for those times when you look in the mirror, no pre planning involved, and think "I look good today". 

We all have our good days and our bad, but this challenge is to record those good days and to remember that confidence, at any size, is beautiful.

I was looking through my photographs the other day and I came across this photograph from Plus North last year.  I am pretty sure that I didn't share it at the time, hence sharing it with now.  
 photo plus north pic_zpsvoyh8lmq.jpg

The dress, as the sign says, is from So Fabulous at +Very.co.uk 

I look so happy and I really did feel good that day.