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Who will you be an Ordinary Hero for?

March 31, 2015


Tearfund are launching a new campaign next month called ‘Ordinary Heroes’. For more info visit their website. They have a great series of launch events



14 April at 7.30pm POLZEATH
Tubestation, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6TB
Katie Harrison (Head of Media, Tearfund)

Paul Cook (Advocacy Director, Tearfund)

Plus live music from The Grenaways

16 April at 6.30pm LONDON
St Mary’s Church, York Street, London, W1H 1PQ Please RSVP. 
The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres

Dr Ruth Valerio (Churches and Theology Director A Rocha UK)

Matthew Frost (CEO Tearfund)

22 April at 8.00pm CLAYGATE
Holy Trinity Church, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JP
Dr Ruth Valerio

Paul Cook

28 April at 7.30pm LEEDS
St George’s Church, Leeds, LS1 3BR
Mark Powley (St George’s Leeds, Director St Barnabas and Author of Consumer Detox – less stuff more life)

Ruth Koch (Senior Advocacy Associate, Tearfund)

29 April at 7.30pm BRISTOL
Woodlands Church, Bristol, BS8 2AA

Krish Kandiah (President, London School of Theology and Director of ‘Home for Good’)

Henrietta Blyth (Director, Tearfund)

30 April at 7.30pm LINDFIELD
All Saints Church, Lindfield, W. Sussex, RH16 2HS

Dr Ruth Valerio

Sam Barker (Head of Policy and Government Relations, Tearfund)

6 May at 7.30pm LEICESTER
Greenlight, Trinity Hall, Leicester, LE1 6WP
Please RSVP.
Paul Cook

The Return of Special

March 27, 2015

When you were a kid, did you ever have a friend or relative come back from a trip abroad bearing special gifts that you could only buy in that country?  I can remember an aunt bringing back cute chinese pyjamas from Hong Kong, and a school friend bringing over terrible American chocolate.

It’s weird to me that we don’t need people to do that anymore. When I travel I stand in the gift shop wondering what on earth I could buy that I couldn’t get at home. If we can’t find something in our hyper-sized supermarkets, we can order it on the internet and get it delivered to our front door. I know that’s what’s known as progress and globalisation but there’s something sad about it too. Everything is available to me right now if I have the money, but I don’t think it makes life better.

Tonight, for dinner, I could eat Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian, French, Argentinian, Vietnamese… either in a restaurant or in my own kitchen with the appropriate specialist ingredients (this is especially easy in big cities). Everything is an option. Does that make our lives richer, or poorer?

What makes something feel special if it’s always available? What makes it feel like a meaningful gift, or a treat? When every practical limit on our consumption is being eliminated, the price tag is really the only one left.

We wrestle with that question as a family, because we miss ‘special’. Life with God involves a rhythm of sacrifice and celebration, fasting and feasting. Without one side you lose the other (and I really don’t want to miss out on the parties). Alongside that, we believe that the level of consumption that has become normal here in the UK is totally unsustainable for the planet. We don’t think it’s the best way to live – for the planet, for our own happiness, or even for our relationships. Something has to change, and really the only place to start is with ourselves. Yet it’s so hard to work out how to live a different way when no one is imposing any limits. (No government is brave enough, because their popularity would probably plummet).

So we try to find our own. To choose to scale back on things on a day to day basis, even if it seems like a small thing. We try to only eat meat at the weekends. We don’t tend to buy wine or alcohol unless we have guests, and we stick to water the rest of the time. I don’t buy coffee on my way to work, and try to make a packed lunch. We rarely buy new clothes, and generally limit ourselves to second-hand or Fairtrade. We’re trying to holiday in the UK. If we need something (especially the baby-related kit) we try to find it from friends on Facebook, or on Streetbank from our neighbours, or Gumtree. The next big question is our rubbish. We’re so used to just throwing stuff ‘away’ without thinking about where it ends up. How do we limit the amount we send out of our flat in bin-bags?

It’s not that we never drink wine, or go out for coffee or dinner, or buy a new coat. But those things have become special again because of their rarity. Limits can be a beautiful thing that enrich life rather than withholding it.

I wonder if there are things in your life that used to feel special which have become normal? (Coffee to go, wine, a Twix with your morning cuppa). Why don’t you try an experiment? Could you think of a way to scale back, even for a week or two, and then at the end treat yourself to the thing you’ve been cutting out, and try to savour and celebrate it as something special. I recommend doing it in community! If, like us, you appreciate that rhythm and the way it helps you to live more simply, maybe you could think of ways to reintroduce that rhythm to other parts of life.

This guest post was written by Jenny Flannagan. She has an excellent blog called ‘Jenny from the Block‘ which we highly recommend as a regular read. This post was originally written for Tearfund’s Rhythms website.

Calling all writers and contributors

March 25, 2015


If you like what we’re all about, why don’t you write a post for Breathe?

Is there an event you’d like to tell others about? A book you’d like to review or an idea you think the whole world should knowabout? Is there a topic you’d like to explore further? Are you passionate about your fairphone, minimising waste, creating space to rest, building community locally,  or challenging global injustice? Wherever you sit within the context that Breathe is trying to engage with, we’d love to hear from you.

  • Your blog post (minimum 300, maximum 1000 words), including title
  • An image to accompany your post (with all the relevant permissions)
  • A short blurb about yourself, including links to your personal blog/website/twitter (where relevant)

If you want to get involved email us

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Journey

March 23, 2015


The Brilliant Rachel Dickinson is doing a great challenge inspired by Mark Powley’s book – Consumer Detox. Here is a great blog from her ‘Rubbish Free Lent’ about the journey… Check out

Originally posted on rubbishfreelent:

At the beginning of Lent I shared my challenge with zeal. I wanted to communicate what I was doing and why, and in seeking to demystify the whole experience I promised to answer anyone’s questions.

I was armed with responses to how I’m brushing my teeth (that’s for another blog post) or what I’ll do if I get ill, but some of the questions threw me. In fact, my boss had read my first couple of blog posts and responded with: “what’s with the no clothes buying?”

To be honest, I wasn’t too sure of the answer. I had just assumed that indulging in sartorial purchases whilst worrying about the amount of clignfilm in my fridge didn’t make sense. But she’s right, new clothes don’t mean items to landfill and I’m certainly not going to get hung up on the microscopic plastic tag attached to the labels.

So it got…

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Less is More: Eat Less and Care More – Meat Free week

March 12, 2015
mfw_logo_ukburger image

I love Meat. In fact the very thought of a good juicy Quarter Pounder or a Lamb Curry fills we with great delight. But for a week from Monday 23rd March I am going to change how I eat and take part in ‘Meat Free Week

A recent study reported by the BBC says that the way we are eating is not sustainable in the long term. It suggests that as well as eating less meat, particularly beef, we need to get better at wasting less food and eating more healthily. The combination of these factors will be good for all of us and for the planet. Just check out our infographic on how much food we waste now – imagine how different it could be.

Changing our habits, especially the ones we love, is not an easy thing, but the rewards and the significance of doing it in this case are huge.

It’s clear that we are a meat-loving nation, but, if we want to keep enjoying our way of life then we will have to rethink how we live. If we don’t, the report suggests that our carbon emissions will go through the roof, which, as well as damaging the environment in the UK, also has an impact on those living in poverty across the world.

I work for Tearfund and we have been, and remain committed to campaigning for policy change when it comes to matters of the planet and climate change. But we are also convinced that our lifestyles, values and behaviour are also important. We need change at both a local and international level, and we can be a part of the change we want to see in the world.

So if you want to start making some small changes that can have a big impact, why not follow some of these handy tips.

Top Tips

Less is more. Meat is a good thing, but we simply need to eat it less, savouring it when we can but saving money and helping to save the planet is a real win win. Could you be up for taking the ‘Meat Free week‘ challenge from 23rd March? 

Growing veg is fun. Just look at this great example of a movement called Incredible Edible. If we have more connection to something, we value it more. If you don’t have access to an allotment, then what about growing in your garden? The Eat Seasonably website is a great resource for wannabe growers. You could also do the Tearfund Rhythms Grow your own action.

Vegetarian food is a lot more delicious and nutritious than we might think. Rice and dahl is simple and delicious and does not need meat. There are loads of great recipes out there.

Read someone’s experience of changing the way they eat by checking out Ruth Valerio’s blog. She writes brilliantly and also has lots of great recipes.

Love Food Hate Waste offer lots of great ideas and recipes as well. You could also plan your meals and eat your leftovers for a month. This will help you to reduce your food waste by a third!

Milk and Honey

March 12, 2015

Originally posted on Ruth Valerio:

CVopmjtAZXU3y_4D6Sudy7tT-WbQEhmJ6kmMYxcOgroAn ancient Chinese proverb says, ‘having a laugh with a good friend is one of the best things for your soul’. That is certainly my experience when I get together with Rosemary Moon.

Rosemary is a wonderfully ebullient character (forgive me, Rosemary, for calling you a character). A member of the Guild of Food Writers; an advisor to Waitrose; a judge for the ‘Free From…’ awards; author of nineteen books, and a regular food presenter, Rosemary is a passionate advocate of local, ethical, good quality food. She also happens to live just a few miles away from me, in a charming little old thatched cottage. It was my good fortune to meet her in a pub a few years ago; we hit it off (everyone knew we would) and have been good friends ever since.

So I’m delighted that I’m going to be working with her over the…

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My phone contract is due for renewal – What do I do?

March 3, 2015


When I needed a new phone at the start of the year I was torn between going with my old provider and plunging into the dark with a Fairphone. This post first appeared on Tearfund Rhythms

As the new year began I was pondering a bunch of questions. I had choices to make. Do I start my long overdue diet plan? How can I get more exercise and get fit in 2015? How can I better balance my work, family and community life? Can I try and get to more gigs to see the musicians I love?

These are all good questions; ones that I would like to spend more time working out and putting into action this year. While these questions were on my mind, it was actually this one that I was able to act on first. My phone contract is due for renewal – What do I do? Do I play it safe and go back to my usual provider? Do I look for the best deal? Or, is this for me a question of how I might be able to explore how I can live my values through the phone I purchase and use?

It got me looking at the Fairphone (something that I had been aware of for months and admired but in all honesty I had chosen to ignore) and its potential to take a small but significant step in re-imagining how products are made in ways that are ethical and sustainable for both people and the planet. This emerging idea is called Circular Economy and Fairphone are working on this themselves.

If I am honest, when I first looked at it, I wondered if the phone might be a bit clunky and chunky, and just not as appealing at a new iphone or top of the range android. But I kept exploring and came to the conclusion that it looked like a great purchase in terms of usage as well as ethics. So I went for it. I’ve had my phone a month now and I am loving it. It’s great to use and they have made a really great product.

Just over 20 years ago the  Fairtrade movement took a big step forward with the launch of the Fairtrade mark and the Fairtrade Foundation. The movement has grown so significantly that we now take for granted that we can buy quality Fairtrade produce in a wide range of retail outlets. I wonder if the technology we use and consume will also embrace that revolution? Could the Fairphone be one of the pioneers that sees a movement in how we make and consume products?

It may not be your phone that has got you thinking, but are there other things you could do to explore ways to live out the values that you hold? What could you do? We may think that we don’t have much in terms of wealth or power, but as consumers we do have the power to make decisions that have a direct impact on our global neighbours. How we consume matters and is a part of our expression of our worship to the God we love. We need to embrace the gift of grace but we also need to embrace the power that has been given to us to make consumption decisions that are good for God’s planet and his creation.

The food that we eat, The clothes that we wear and the electronic products that we use each day are all examples of ways in which we can consume well. These are things that we should be liberated to enjoy and cherish, perhaps all the more so if we know they have been good purchases.

I do intend to address some of those other questions that I started with. I’m going to start by getting back into cycling to work in the spring and I am also going to see Ben Howard live, both of which will be life giving and good for my soul, and the first is also much better for the planet.

We have the power to make good choices. It is our collective actions that can bring about the change that we want to see. Let do it!


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