Sunday, 25 December 2016

Angels around you at all times

Day 25 (Sunday 25th December 2016)

25% increase in UK trained doctors is planned by the UK Government to
enable the UK to become "self-sufficient". This plan was 
announced in October 2016 and will take effect as from 2018.
Doctors' Training places are set to expand from 6,000 to 7,500 pa.

For those of you who are celebrating today, I wish you a very Happy Christmas. Regardless of your religious beliefs, I hope that the next few days are good and that they provide you with some time to recharge and connect with loved ones and friends. I am spending the day with my family in London.

Our Christmas Day post comes from the wonderful Michael Carty. He is seen by many as the connective glue that holds many in the HR social media community together. Always interested, always mindful of others and respectful - a true gentleman. Michael is a thoughtful and talented blogger - you can read his words on Tumblr.

Michael has for many years followed and commented on HR for XpertHR and is known as a benchmarking guru who can make sense of complex analytical data and communicate it in an easily understood manner to others less capable than himself. He is active and supportive on social media (often encouraging people to attend tweet-ups and events), indeed he and I first met at a tweet-up and over the years we have established a close friendship. You can follow him on Twitter (his handle is @MJCarty)


Angels around you at all times

For much of 2016, the world has seemed an appallingly cruel place. There has been much to make a heart feel heavy and hollow. Comfort and joy - those traditional fixtures of the festive season - might seem in short supply. But even in these times they are still there, as abundant as they have ever been. Angels are not on high. They are around you at all times. You just have to ask for their help.
"I can't believe people care about me like that, and they don't even know me." 
Hearing these words brought tears to my eyes in public at the start of this month. 

These words come from a story that seems - the more I think about it - like a modern-day, real-life It's a Wonderful Life. Angels play a key role in this story. So does Twitter.

The tears came as I was walking to the train station through the bustle and tacky Christmas lights of a noisy and busy part of South London on my commute home. I was listening to an episode of RuPaul's consistently delightful What's The Tee podcast. He was talking to his podcast co-host - and fellow RuPaul's Drag Race judge - Michelle Visage about Jake.

The media recently picked up on Michelle Visage using Twitter to crowdsource help for Jake, a gay and trans teen from Elizabethtown, Kentucky (you can read one brief account here). Jake's mother had banished him from the family home on grounds of his sexuality, telling him by text message (as Visage recounts it): 
"We didn’t raise you to be like this. That’s not the way God wanted it. No, you can’t come home."
Jake set up a Twitter account to reach out to Michelle Visage, who shared a screengrab of the text message, and asking for reassurance that life might get better for Jake from the wider community.

She responded to Jake with words of support and reassurance, and shared Jake's situation with her own Twitter followers. "Floods of tweets" came through, with people offering moral support, help, jobs, food and shelter for Jake. 

Both Jake and Visage were overwhelmed and humbled by the love and kindness out there. Through the advice and support offered by Visage and legions of perfect strangers, Jake has made tentative progress with his mother and been able to move back into the family home. He is by no means out of the woods ("I fear for him" when Jake raises the trans issue with his mother, says Visage). But Visage is there for him. As is a new support network of thousands of friends. 

Michelle Visage is humble about her role in Jake's story:
"I knew that I don't have that many followers - 290,000 or whatever. All I did was tweet it and it got picked up. But it wasn't meant to be about that. It was meant to be about - anybody would do this. And thank you so much for this help. And because of this help, this kid saw that he was loved. It just goes to show you how strong and how resilient and how amazing our community is when we pull together."
RuPaul takes up this theme:
"I wonder how many people have this story to tell? So many people go through this. And so many people survive. I've said this before. There are angels around you at all times. But because you have free will, they will not intervene unless you say: 'I. Need. Help.' Boom. It's done. And that's what happened with this kid."

Angels. Friends rallying to offer support. This could be a modern It’s a Wonderful LifeNo man is a failure who has friends.

Back in 2014, I wrote the following about our hostess in this advent blogs series, Mrs Kate Griffiths-Lambeth: 
There are angels around you at all times. Kate is one. I want to thank Kate for all she has done and does for me, for our community, for perfect strangers about whom none of us but Kate will ever know. 

Kate when a little girl

Please join me in raising a toast to our wonderful advent blogs hostess, Mrs Kate Griffiths-Lambeth. And if you are on Twitter, please, please tweet her a Christmas message of gratitude and love.

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