Menstrual Hygiene Day 2016

Saturday, 28th May 2016 is Menstrual Hygiene Day! 

Did you know that 10% of all girls in India think menstruation is a disease? 
Here, Jon, FRANK Water's India Programme Manager explains why for girls and women in India, safe water and proper toilets are more important than you'd think...

FRANK Water Programmes Manager, Jon Shepherd explains the link between sanitation and education and why girls so often miss out 

Health, happiness and a big heart: A letter of gratitude to Bala Vikasa

Martyn Jones is one of FRANK Water's valued ambassadors. His wife, Gemma, volunteers at FRANK on a regular basis. When Martyn & Gemma got married, they asked guests to donate to FRANK Water in place of wedding gifts. Here, Martyn recounts his recent trip to India to visit Bala Vikasa and FRANK Water's Telangana Programme.    

Growing up, India was always a mysterious place to me.  I led a sheltered childhood in a quiet village in Wiltshire, where time moved slowly and the biggest talking point was the great tractor incident of 1991 (a farmer tipped over his tractor and a crane was brought in to rescue it, causing great excitement).  My childhood was brightened by visiting friends and family, including my uncle who travelled widely and would bring stories of his adventures in faraway lands.  I remember his stories of Indian beaches, animals and spices.  He would bring back presents wrapped in newspaper, and I would try to decipher the lines of unusual script, never quite sure which way was up. 

But one day we had a phone call.  I remember the hushed tones in the hallway when my dad found out it was the British High Commission in New Delhi, with news of my uncle’s death.  To this day, I’m still not sure of the exact situation aside that my uncle died from dysentery caused by contaminated food or water.  Years later, I was touched when I found out about an amazing charity called FRANK Water, and I've since been really impacted by FRANK's work to provide water, sanitation and hygiene to communities in need in India.  The more I found out about FRANK Water's projects - often in remote, tribal areas of India - the more my curiosity grew about life in India.

And so it came for my first trip to India, with my wife Gemma. FRANK Water (and one of their Indian partners, an NGO called Bala Vikasa) offered the opportunity to visit some of their projects in Telangana state, near the city of Warangal.  As a first time visitor, looking at a map of Telangana provided my first lesson about India: it is huge!  Warangal city hardly appears on a map of India, yet it is actually a conurbation of three cities with a combined population of over one million - bigger than Birmingham! 

We arrived at Hyderabad airport refreshed after holidaying in Mumbai, Goa and Kerala.  We knew our time in India was coming to an end but, instead of the usual end-of-holiday-blues, we were excited to be visiting the people we’d heard so much about. Arriving at Hyderabad airport, we were greeted by Madhu Reddy, an engagement worker from Bala Vikasa.  Madhu was to be our guide for the next few days as we joined him on his travels from village to village whilst he monitored the progress of FRANK’s projects and spoke with community members to ensure the long term sustainability of these projects. Madhu had arranged for a driver to take us to the remote villages – we were to spend many hours in his car over the next four days!

Our first destination was the Bala Vikasa training centre in Warangal.  This residential centre was to be our base for the next four days.  Usually it hosts delegations from across Asia, who come to learn best practise tools and techniques in international development.  Here we spent time with Madhu and his boss, Pratap.  They told us about the communities we would be visiting, and gave us some background about the local area and the causes of water contamination.

Early the next morning, we set out to visit Gonepalli and Irukode villages in the Medak district, about 2.5 hours from Warangal.  In both these villages, the ground water supply is contaminated by fluoride.  FRANK Water and Bala Vikasa have provided water purification equipment, which provides clean water on-demand. The villagers sign up to an Oyster card scheme, which allows them to visit the purification plant and withdraw water 24/7, tagging in with their card and paying approx. 20p for a jerry can of 20 litres of water.  The water is perfectly safe to drink straight from the tap, and we enjoyed sipping the refreshing, cool water in Irukode.

Also in Irukode, we met a man named Rohan who had previously suffered painful joints which affected his work as a rickshaw driver. Since switching to purified water 12 months ago, he is free from pain and is able to enjoy his work and earn a living once again.

On Sunday, we visited two tribal communities in Warangal district (again about 2.5 hours from Warangal city). In Thirmalagandi and Doravari Vempally villages, the groundwater supply is safe but there had not previously been convenient access to the water from within the villages.  In Doravari Vempally, we met a really happy group of about 30 women whose lives have been transformed by the village water tower!  They told stories of how they used to fear the long walk to the open well on the outskirts of the village, where snakes and uneven ground made fetching water an everyday danger.

We were told we were the first British people to visit Doravari Vempally since the 1980s.  Back then, a well was constructed but nobody asked the villagers where they wanted the well to be built, so it was placed in an inconvenient location far from the village centre. This highlighted the importance of community involvement to the success of Bala Vikasa's projects.  FRANK and Bala Vikasa have funded the construction of water towers in the centre of each village, along with pumping equipment to draw water from boreholes to the water towers.  The villagers here subscribe to a ‘club’ which for a small annual fee allows them to draw as much water.

Throughout our trip we were so impressed by the level of positive community engagement at each of FRANK’s projects.  This was really reinforced by Madhu’s commitment to the communities he serves and the huge heart he has for helping others.  We're incredibly grateful to Madhu, Pratap, Shoury and Sunita for making us feel so welcome at Bala Vikasa.

 

The accidental ambassador

I am an accidental ambassador at FRANK Water.

Ironically I found them during the DART 10K swim in 2014 and haven't looked back since.  The ten year anniversary in 2015 gave me a unique opportunity to see our work first hand in India. It's stirred something deep inside me.

I've been to Agra many times with my family since the early 70's. I've driven past the Nagars (slums) we visited without a second look. When I was there this time I was surprised to see that they exist clearly, provided your eyes are open. The visit to each of them was fascinating, frustrating and compelling in plentiful measures. The overall strategy took me some time to clarify for my own head. It's not the live aid version where we give everything to the needy, make it better, cut and run, revisit with a big crew and realise nothing has changed, then start the same cycle again.

FRANK Water and their partner, Cure, are deeply rooted in a long term strategy that serves the lowest caste and most marginalised people of Agra. I witnessed the evidence of ongoing changes, improvements in people's lives and a real sense of ownership. This is in an environment of abject poverty, raw sewage and the surrounding still time frame of India. And yet I met strong eloquent women who were profoundly proud of their achievements and youth groups that spent their free time improving the community. FRANK, CURE and Farhad Bhai (a FRANK Water consultant, based in India) were there to listen, understand, direct or nudge but the main improvement seemed delivered by the residents.  They pulled me by the arm to demonstrate their water filtering system and spotless roof.

I met youth groups traditionally out of sorts between child and adult hood. But these young people had a shared sense of community and did things for the benefit of all not themselves (two talks from youth groups boys and girls) 

I felt that with the direction and technical advice from FRANK Water and CURE, these worthy peoples could achieve something for themselves that society has failed to deliver. The residents said that goals of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) had helped them to reduce infection and increase their health (their words not mine). 

I did challenge misperceptions in the CURE staff about the varied success of each project.  I saw motivated, engaged and talented residents in each area who were willing to learn from each other and their neighbours.  I did not agree that the differences in progress between the different areas could not be laid at a religious door.  To their credit CURE are seeking out a team that has representation from key religious stakeholders. 

I found Farhad Bhai a true champion of this kind of charity work.  Annabelle, Sarika and Jon from FRANK Water have become good friends. Neil, Sarah, Tim and Jackie from Tarka Springs had some fascinating perspective on implementation. Sienna, Jim, Sam and Jon from Thali Cafe were great. I have shared something deep and personal with each of this group. In my view I have a much better understanding and basis to speak about the work we do and encourage people from everywhere to contribute. 

What's all the noise about?

Google analytics…SEO….Adwords...Site Extensions…Tag Manager…

Still with me?

Good. Because if this jumbled series of words resonates with you then you’ll want to hear what’s coming next. 

Imagine if you could speak to every single person who visited your website each day, find out the journey they’d taken to arrive there in the first place, what they were looking for, whether they found it and why they left.

It’s valuable stuff that kind of information – it helps you understand how you can give your web visitors the kind of experience that will make them do what you want them to do.  But with more than 10,000 visitors to the FRANK website every day, it’s safe to say our one-man comms team would have her work cut out.

Which is why Google Analytics is so important. It does all that for you. It tells you how people got there, when they left, what they did. It’s critical if like us, you want people to do stuff (donate, buy, sign up) when they reach your website, rather than bouncing straight off again.  

We’ve spent countless hours trying to work out exactly what does and doesn’t work. Does anyone read our blog? Who? How do we make sure people find what they’re looking for? Is there something that stops visitors buying a bottle/making a donation/signing up to the newsletter? Why do they fall at the last click?  

Enter Noisy Little Monkey…yep, that really is their name – the answer to your digital prayers.  This gang of creative, likeable and jaw-droppingly knowledgeable experts deal in all things SEO, analytics, design and more. 

We spent just a single afternoon with Nic, resident analytics expert at Noisy Little Monkey and came away brimming with knowledge, confidence and yes, enthusiasm for the one part of my job that has always felt just beyond my grasp.

Nic covered everything – with patience, clarity and insight. We ironed out wrinkles, answered questions, understood terms, created fabulously useful reports and practiced key actions.

No, we won’t be generating daily custom reports. But yes, we'll check in weekly to find out what’s gone down in the world of our website, let the team know which blogs have been most popular, find out how our social campaigns have performed and tweak our adword campaigns to ensure traffic is going where it should be.  Thanks to Noisy Little Monkey, Google Analytics is no longer a big, scary monster that lives under the bed but a digital marketing dream. 

www.noisylittlemonkey.com/training  

 

 

Pete the Piper

Today is World Poetry Day! Celebrate by seeing how quickly you can say this ‘water-twister’ without getting tongue tied? Can you write a tongue twister on the theme of water?

 

Pete the piper piped a pipe to pipe the water flow, 

A pipe to pipe the water flow Pete the piper piped.   

The type of hype about the pipe that Pete the piper piped,

Was hype that Pete the piper piped out on a type of pipe! 

 

c. Martin Kiszko 

Martin is FRANK Water's Poet in Residence for 2016 

Toilet Trip

On International Women's Day, FRANK Water's Poet in Residence, Martin Kiszko, highlights what life can be like for women in India who live without a safe drinking water and sanitation.   

Sometimes in the house

All I’ve got

To use as a toilet

Is a tin or a pot.

So out I must go

And knock at a door

Where I’m sent back

Like the times before.

Even the village bar has said

‘You can’t go here. Go back to bed’

So I step out again into the night

All the time burning and churning inside

 

There’s always a chance

I could be attacked,

I glance over shoulders,

Watch by back.

Who knows if I’ll find

Somewhere that’s safe,

Where I won’t be taunted

With jeers of disgrace,

I feel I’ll burst if I don’t find a place.

 

With each nervous step

The search goes on…

There’s no knowing what lurks

In the bush or trees

Wherever I stop

There could be disease.

What else can I do

But risk life and limb

As I continue this trek,

Haunted by words

That my mind unfurls:

There are billions of hours

Lost by women and girls...

On these dangerous trips

With the painful wait

To find a place

To urinate or defecate.

 

c.2016 Martin Kiszko

Who is FRANK?

Don’t look at me blank when I mention Frank,

Or think that I may be a bit of a crank,

You can fire your questions at me point-blank

And ask me about just who is Frank?

Is he a clerk who works in a bank,

Or is he a jokester who pulls a prank?

Perhaps he’s a soldier who drives a tank,

Or a pirate walking a galleon’s plank.

Was he Frankenstein first then shortened to Frank -

A monster from the dark and dank?

Some say he’s a bird – a spotted redshank,

Or the supporting actor to Tom Hanks,

A magic elf that shrank and shrank,

Or a constable of considerable rank.

He could be a convict in chains that clank,

Or a computer’s ID in a databank,

The name of a ship that sailed and sank,

Or a refillable bottle from which you drank.

 

c.2016 Martin Kiszko

Fresh from his role as Poet in Residence for Bristol Green Capital 2015 and dubbed the UK’s Green Poet, Martin Kiszko will put his literary talents to the test as FRANK Water's Poet In Residence for 2016!  

I’m looking forward to a wowfabsuperical and specstupentacular time writing poetry to round off FRANK Water’s amazing 10th anniversary year and kickstart the next! As FRANK continues the flow of safe clean water to vulnerable communities, I’ll be going with the flow too – but in a poetical way – watering the real and digital world with words and waxing lyrical about water through the power of poetry. Brilltastagorical!
— Martin Kiszko, Feb 2016


Mountains & forests

Just off the plane, Jon, FRANK Water's Programmes Manager updates us on his recent visit to meet some of the communities & partners that we work with. 

"I’ve just returned from visiting our India programme and, whilst there’s too much to tell you about everything, here’s a few of my overarching impressions. 

Impact – we have helped people change their lives.

Since 2005, FRANK Water has worked with over 300,000 people to get clean, safe water into their communities. It never fails to hit me what a massive difference clean water, at your door, can do.

This latest visit was no exception. Dosai Korra made a lasting impression when she talked about spending her first 75 years collecting water from a river bed that was contaminated by cattle and washing. The tap you can see is 10 yards from her house. The change is unbelievable and the warm handshake unforgettable. 

 

Working with marginalised and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) is the right strategy.

There are huge numbers of people living in poverty in the world and within that, great numbers of people with no access to water or sanitation. So where does FRANK Water fit in? Well, the UN itself gave us a good lead in suggesting two things:

1. There are as many people living in poverty in India as in sub-Saharan Africa and more of them have no access to sanitation and poor access to water.

2. The world has been helping the ‘low hanging fruit’ and now needs to concentrate on the hardest to reach, most marginalised people.

So, since 2013, FRANK Water has worked almost exclusively with Scheduled Tribe (ST) and PVTGs in remote or marginalised parts of India. We work with PVTGs from the forests of Chhattisgarh to the mountains of Andhra Pradesh and, having recently returned from these areas, it's clear that they need our help the most.

 

Advocacy to the government – making the money work harder

FRANK Water is the ‘small charity with a big impact’. But what does that actually mean at a community level in India? Well, in one way we make a huge impact on the lives of those we work with. But for me, it means making our relatively small amount of funding work as hard as it can – and that means advocacy. 

Advocacy to local, state and national governments can change policies and therefore people’s access to rights, funding and decision makers. It makes our money work by giving examples of what can be done and then asking the government to scale up our work.

On my latest visit, I asked our local partner Samerth about this ‘leveraging’ and they gave me an amazing answer. With the £50,000 we have funded them over the last three years, communities have accessed over £600,000 of government-funded work! In this way, FRANK Water can make a much bigger impact that its size would suggest. 

 

Communities doing it for themselves – the leap of faith

Lastly, the message I always give when asked to talk to community groups as a whole is “You made this happen. You made the decision to work with us and you have done the hardest yards.”

These aren't just words, they're the truth. For us to work with a community, the majority of the work on planning, infrastructure and ongoing maintenance is up to them. But more than that, it's the change in mindset at a community level that's the key – the leap of faith to say “we can do this for ourselves”.

You don’t believe in climate change do you?

Our Programme Manager tries not to offend you whilst urging action on climate change (and smoking).

How is it possible that almost all smokers understand that smoking increases their chance of dying of cancer but they continue to smoke?

Stupid aren’t they?

Maybe, but most of them just don’t believe it will happen to them. They don’t really believe that they will get cancer. Someone else will.

In this sense, I don’t really believe in climate change and I doubt whether you do too.

Shocking? Untrue? Possibly. Apologies if you’re offended.

But if you and I really believed that the things we are doing are causing the climate to change, why would you continue doing them?

Long haul flights for work and holidays, the latest iPhone, three TV’s in the house and two cars outside. I could go on.

We don’t really believe that all this consumption is causing damage to the environment and we certainly don’t understand that already it is causing huge disruption to people in the poorest countries in the world.

Today, the UN will meet in Paris to agree a new climate deal and, hopefully, to limit the impact of a growing world population (and with it growing consumption) on the global ecosystem.

There is hope at the UN level but we need to do something too.

First, and easiest, we should make our voices heard to our governments. We should demand that they prioritise the climate change in their policies and budgets. 

There are ‘Global Climate Marches’ all over the world on 29th November and probably one near you – check out your nearest one here: 

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/event/globalclimatemarch

In Bristol, we already have over 775 people signed up to join the march – why don’t you become number 776?

The second action is more difficult. It’s the action of us, personally, holding back on our exponentially increasing ‘standard of living’ in order to benefit the rest of the planet.

As Ghandi once said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” But, with respect, words are cheap and action more painful. 

But which holds the greater pain, not having a new iPhone 6, or the uncertain future of humanity and the planet?

"I forgot to ask - do you smoke?" 

Where would you go?

On World Toilet Day, programme coordinator Sarika Seshadri reflects on what it means to not have a toilet, and why #wecantwait 

If you didn’t have a toilet, where would you go?

No really, if you didn’t have a toilet at home or in your place of work right now, what would you do?

We get so used to hearing the statistics about how many people don’t have access to water and/or a toilet that we forget what it actually means. Our India Coordinator Praveena said this the other day and it really made me think.

If we didn’t have a toilet here at work, what would I do?

I could go to one of the neighbours, but what if they didn’t have a toilet either?

I could go to the local café, but there’s a big sign on the door saying ‘patrons only’.

Then I would need to walk to the centre of town to the public toilets, but they’re often locked.

If I was a man, I would probably have found a quiet corner by now.

As a woman, it’s harder. That’s why so many of women wait until dawn or dusk and go together somewhere in a group for safety.

That’s a long time to wait.

For some women, it’s even more difficult than others. Young women miss school when there are no toilets.  As we get older, we can’t walk so far anymore. Women from oppressed caste groups might be hassled or prevented from going to particular areas.

It’s not an easy problem to solve because it’s not just a question of building toilets. They have to be built properly, people need to know how to and why they should use them and perhaps most importantly, they need to be maintained.

Otherwise you end up with this ‘graveyard’ of toilets that we came across in Odisha - half finished slabs built into the ground then abandoned. In this case, a local official perhaps felt the pressure to hit a target, build a certain number of toilets, regardless of whether the toilets were workable or used in the end.

Odisha 'toilet graveyard', unfinished govt toilets April 2013.  Credit: Praveena Sridhar

Odisha 'toilet graveyard', unfinished govt toilets April 2013.  Credit: Praveena Sridhar

Still, it’s possible. Last year, we worked with our partner Gram Vikas in Odisha to help five communities ensure that every household in the village has a safe water supply, toilet and bathing room.

Toilet and bathing room at Rubudisingh

Toilet and bathing room at Rubudisingh

It means working together, working together as a community, working together with the government and working with joint purpose. And for the people in these villages, it has meant not only less waterborne disease but also relief from other worries.

One man told me that the main reason that he was now happy to have a toilet was because of the mosquitoes. No one wants to go to the toilet in the dark outside when there are mosquitoes around, and you definitely don’t want to in areas where those mosquitoes also carry malaria.  

Thursday 19th November is World Toilet Day. This year’s theme is “We Can’t Wait” because we can't sit by and wait while 2.5 billion people still have no access to a proper toilet.  

Want to join in? 

·      Raise some money for World Toilet Day - donate a pound for every pee?!  Click here to donate your sponsorship!  

·      Thought about where you would go? Let us know where you'd go if you didn’t have a toilet at home or in your office. Tell us on Twitter @frankwater or Facebook (FRANK Water) or Instagram #wecantwait #worldtoiletday 

·      Help us prevent more people from having to wait. Click here to join our growing team of regular givers. 

 

 

 

A Real Iron Man

On Monday 26th October at 10am, Fundraiser, FRANK Friend, businessman, sleep deprivation expert and all round hero, Gareth Sanders will switch on his iron. He won't switch it off again until Friday, 30th October at 2pm. That's 100 hours later.   

Gareth practises his technique 

Gareth practises his technique 

The Guinness Book of Records recognises Australian Janette Hastings of Tumbarumba, New South Wales, as the current record holder for the longest ironing marathon. Janette lasted 80 hours between April 1 and 4, 2012, ironing a whopping 1,157 items during her attempt, including jeans, shirts and shorts. 

Gareth is aiming to smash the record by ironing continuously for 100 hours.

To ensure he completes the record Gareth thinks he will need around 1,500 items to iron. Guinness Book of Records rules dictate if he runs out of items to iron, or the iron breaks the attempt is void. 

Here, he lets us in on the secrets of his (surefire) success as he prepares for his attempt to break the world record for...ironing:

'So sleep - as from Tuesday (today - I  can't wait) I start 'banking' sleep. This means I'll be in bed by 9pm most nights sleeping through as late as possible and over the weekend I will have a relaxing few days with a couple of long bike rides to burn off any anxiety to help me sleep in the evening.

That said, I'm getting better at coping with sleep deprivation. Two days ago I felt shattered so napped for no longer than 90 seconds and felt really refreshed which proves the method is working. 

Food wise - I'm aiming to stick to fatty foods as these release energy more slowly -  I'm always aware of the inevitable crash after coffee, sugar or energy drinks to keep me going during the event so I'll try and stick to more savoury than sweet food. 

I'll be creating my meals for the week which will be sandwiches and fruit bars made and stored for my parents to bring me down once a day, but once again staying away from sugary drinks so mainly naturally flavoured water (straight from my FRANK Water bottle of course...!)  

I know myself well - and I know I'll get very nervous that I've missed something important so I will check everything every night even though I know I've got everything covered.

It's really hard for me to describe accurately how I start to feel, the nerves are definitely starting to show - as I know that in under 168 hours, I'll have already made a dent into the event. The times i'm most looking forward to are 10 hours in (I'll have completed 10%!) 50 hours (half way) 80 hours (new world record) and 90 hours (so very very close!)'

Gareth needs your help to break the world record for ironing and raise money for FRANK Water.  

Be a Witness!  

(To break a world record, Gareth must have at least two witnesses with him at all time even through the night!) 

Bring him your ironing!

If Gareth runs out of things to iron, the challenge is over. He estimates he'll need around 1500 items to iron. He'll do everything - sheets, duvet covers, pants, socks, shirts, you name it. Save up your ironing and take it to Asda, Patchway, Bristol. He'll be there from Monday 26th October at 10am until 2pm on 30th October. NON-STOP. 

Now, wash your hands...

Will you change?

If you are used to sleeping on a particular side of your mattress,

I ask you to change sides forever,

Will you change?

If you are a coffee person in the morning,

I ask you to change to milk forever,

Will you change?

If you are a person that like greys for the colour of clothes,

I ask you to change to reds, yellows and blues forever,

Will you change?

If you are a spicy food person,

I ask you to eat bland forever,

Will you change?

Thursday 15th October 2015 is Global Handwashing Day.  It's a simple yet critical stage of the water, sanitation and hygiene cycle. WIthout handwashing, the risk of waterborne disease remains even when there is safe water and sanitation. But how do you get people to wash their hands when they've never done it before?  

We at FRANK Water, commissioned a study on a Behaviour Change programme implemented by one of our partners, Samerth. The report, Deekha-Seekhi, brought out some very significant points with respect to change in people’s behaviour with respect to their water, sanitation and hygiene habits.  If your answer to even one of the “Will you change” questions above was NO, then you know why it is difficult. 

Giving access to drinking water, sanitation facilities have their bit of difficulty to it. But to have them be used properly is the most difficult part. And this part decides the impact of such facilities on people’s lives. This study is an effort on FRANK's part to understand and better a programme, which works on the trickiest bit of any WASH programme.

Here is the story behind the name of the report:

There were two phrases that were being used by several respondents in their conversations during the interview. These are – “dekha-seekhi” (dekha – to see; seekhi – to learn) and “aaj-kal” (aaj-today; kal – can mean “yesterday” or “tomorrow” depending on the use context. Together the phrase is synonymous to saying “these days” implying the present times.) The use of these phrases was common in responses and from knowledge of the language spoken in the region (Hindi, mostly) it is known that these phrases encapsulate a dense meaning in themselves when used in specific contexts.

Dekha-seekhi

This is a common Hindi phrase which means learning by “seeing”. Though simple in it’s meaning, it is a fairly strong vernacular expression, which packs within itself a key process through which information, practices and knowledge flows through a community. The respondents meant that their use and awareness about hygiene products like soap and detergent is influenced by seeing their friends or neighbours and then adopting the same.

This phrase is a part of common lexicon in the region. It implies that the process (of adopting new products or practices) happens as a matter of fact and tends to take its own time.

Aaj-kal

This phrase when used implies that the person is remarking about the “present times” or partly attributing what she intends to speak next (following the phrase) to the “phenomenon of present times”. For instance, a respondent was heard saying – “You (to the interviewer) know how in the present times everyone wants to use soaps with fragrance and not the local soaps.”[1] This quote in effect implies that the woman is attributing the use of fragrant soaps (of some well-known brands) to the present times in which women want to feel good, smell good after a wash or bath. The “present times” here is a force, which is shaping the behaviour of the family members. They might not use these soaps out of hygiene consciousness primarily, but for the other benefits of it like fragrance post use.

Some broad lessons from the report:

Use the social factors of coercion

We think every community will have some societal factors that can be used to coerce and change the behaviour of any community. In the case of the tribal communities of Chhattisgarh, the communities themselves mentioned in the passing of deekha-seekhi and aaj-kal. It will be useful to keep a look out for such factors, as it makes the tricky job of behaviour change a little bit easier. This has driven the emergence of new preferences in terms of hygiene products in the community.

Working on priority issues of community first helps

Any organisation will not be able to work on matters like that of BC which do not feature in the priority list of community, until they support the community with their own pressing issues, identified by the community. In most cases livelihood issues feature much above in priority compared to BC or even WASH. By helping the community on their priority matters, the organization also gathers trust that will only aid in the BC program.

It is difficult to have a universal programme design for Behaviour Change

Behaviour change deals with human beings and their psychology. For any physical behaviour to change it is required that there is a change in the psyche of the individual. For the behaviour change adaptation to occur the organization has to work on the objective conditions while waiting for the subjective conditions to become favourable. It is therefore observed from Samerth’s experience that it is difficult to definite program design and timelines.

Winning the trust of the community helps change

The substantial amount of change observed with respect to WASH behaviour has to be attributed to field staff that conducted frequent meetings with respect to the behaviour with the villagers.  Over a period time the field staff were perceived by community as trustable members. Thus making the advice around behaviour change credible. Therefore making the members willing to change. This also helps in the speedy process of change.

Repetition - makes things stick!

At least 4 meetings regarding BC were conducted in each village every month. This was composite of village meetings; group meetings and house hold visits. These high levels of engagement and repetitive emphasis on the subject made the whole idea of change stick in people’s mind. This brings home the point that; changes of this sort can’t be made with a sweep of a magic wand. The persistent effort and repetition of whatever was perceived as change by the field staff could have definitely added to the process of behaviour change.

Behaviour change needs to focus on men also

A critical gap found in our partner’s program was that the interactions and meetings conducted by the program staff are mostly directed towards women of the community. This reflected in the interview responses of men. As much as all the development programs make women the centre of its focus, when it come to individual behaviour change, men have to be made direct participants of a program like this.

For the full report, click here.  

demonstrating handwashing to children 

demonstrating handwashing to children 


[1] Quote based on loose translation from an interview with an elderly woman of a household with young women

Refill Bristol - Beyond FreeFill!

Our FreeFill team, Annie & Hamish, talk about a project to take refills out of the world of festivals, and into the city!

Look out for THE #refillbristol window stickers in venues across the city!

Look out for THE #refillbristol window stickers in venues across the city!

Our FreeFill initiative has helped to transform the way people drink water at festivals and events. We have had brilliant feedback from festival goers saying they use their bottles all year round - taking them to work / school, the gym and cycling. FreeFill is helping generate a movement, a change in behaviour towards refilling! 

FreeFill was first developed in 2010, after our Founder and CEO Katie, launched the Turn Me On Campaign - which aimed to get Bristol's historic water fountains reinstated. We are extremely pleased that 5 years on, Bristol has a free drinking water fountain in Millennium Square. Here in the U.K, we're lucky to have access to delicious, safe drinking water available on tap wherever we go - so let's use it!

In Bristol's year as European Green Capital, we have teamed up with newly formed campaign group City to Sea, who are looking at what can be achieved at a city level - to reduce the amount of waste reaching our waterways and making it's way out to sea, as well as Go Green Business, who are supporting businesses in the city make positive changes for a more sustainable future. Together we have launched the Refill Bristol initiative, which will mean Bristolians (and our cities visitors) can fill their water bottles for free with tap water from venues across the city! 

We have been busy signing up cafés, bars, restaurants and other businesses - even Specsavers are on board! Visit the Refill Bristol page on City to Sea's website to see a full list of signed up venues here. We also have an app being developed - so you will easily be able to see which venues have signed up and where you can get your free refills from across the city! 

You can check us out, strutting our stuff, in one of the Refill Bristol "flask" mobs here - Just think flash mob but with more bottles! 

Finally - if you haven't yet got a refillable water bottle yet - please support our safe water programmes and buy one here.

Have a good weekend all (& don't forget your bottle)!

Over and out. 

Hamish & Annie 

 

 

 

FRANKing Around! A Summer of Festivals

Our FreeFill Coordinator, Hamish, shares some of his adventures on the festival circuit for FRANK Water!

Hamish Hay with FRANK Water's classic and stainless steel bottles! You can still get hold of one here. 

Hamish Hay with FRANK Water's classic and stainless steel bottles! You can still get hold of one here. 

FRANK Water is a small charity tucked away in a garage in Montpelier, next to the the proudly independent minded area of Stoke’s Croft in Bristol. FRANK, in common with many other organisations in the city, punches far above its weight and is known well beyond the city boundaries. The charity has already worked with over 300,000 people in India to help them gain access to safe water, and enthusiastically advocates the multitude of benefits that this can bring, such as access to work, improved health and gender equality.

The idea for FRANK was started back in the late 1990’s when our founder and CEO, Katie Alcott, contracted dysentery after drinking some less-than-safe water in India. After being ill and unable to work for several months, and realising that such illnesses were common amongst Indians in some regions, she vowed to do something about it. In 2005, she started raising money for a single NGO in India by selling artesian spring water to cafés and restaurants around Bristol and at small festivals – FRANK was born!

Simultaneously, Katie realised that by selling bottled spring water she was fuelling another problem – plastic bottle waste. We in the UK, use a staggering 15 million bottles every single day in the UK, and whilst much of it does end up being recycled, this in itself is a wasteful and energy intensive process. The solution was FRANK Water’s FreeFill initiative, which now sells durable, refillable bottles at festivals and then offers the buyer unlimited refills of chilled, filtered water for the remainder of their time there. It’s a model that since been replicated by other organisations and is beloved by many Bristolians and festival goers all over the country! Since 2010 the charity side of FRANK has also expanded dramatically, and now has a dedicated project team working with six different partners across India.

Cornbury Festival! Diving into deep water...

Our first festival was Cornbury in Oxfordshire! I was lucky to have some amazing weather for the first few days, backed up by some fantastic music (especially from the late 90’s, and with Blue and Seal adding their stamp of approval to our bottles, we couldn’t really go too far wrong…). This was certainly a baptism of fire for me, with two marquees and fifteen volunteers to manage. In practice, lots of the stock management systems were unworkable in the dark, noisy and chaotic world of festivals, and I realised that quick-thinking and an immense degree of flexibility was the key to keeping everything under my control. It was a great experience that was to help prepare me for what was to come!

This whole family got themselves kitted out with our new stainless steel bottles!

This whole family got themselves kitted out with our new stainless steel bottles!

Larmer Tree! The Peacock, the yogi and the mathematician...

After Cornbury (with about 12 hours in Bristol to recover) I was deemed fully experienced, and therefore packed off to Larmer Tree Festival to manage the team, with the support of some experienced core team FRANKers! Set a chalk plateau high on the Dorset/Wiltshire border this magical and mysterious festival is set in a beautiful estate, and is very much integrated with its surroundings. One of the highlights is surely the “lost wood”, a forest filled with small grottos, art installations and the odd crazy mathematician showing off his latest invention. Hip touches, like art deco lampshades hanging from trees, and regular workshops like mass outdoor yoga add to the quirkier and more relaxed vibe of this festival. Not to mention the peacocks that roam free around the site! For FreeFill, we had just one marquee as well as a great group of volunteers, which helped to make my first festival in charge a success.

One of our FreeFill mobile units at Larmer Tree Festival!

One of our FreeFill mobile units at Larmer Tree Festival!

WOMAD! Mud & multi-national mayhem...

However, as welcome as the the chilled vibes of Larmer Tree were, this didn’t last long, as our next festival was WOMAD! Here the number of marquees expanded to four, the number of volunteers to sixty, and the excitement by many orders of magnitude! WOMAD is one of the world’s biggest festivals for world music, with some of the most unusual stage line-ups and eclectic artists. However, it’s not just about the music. There’s food from all over the world and weird and wonderful workshops to enjoy at almost any time of day. 2015 was our biggest ever festival for FreeFill, so with support from other staff in the office, we dived in and survived four days of fun, with huge helpings of mud and rain thrown in. Sadly, the weather did take its toll on our bottle sales (the local press nicknamed it ‘WOMUD’...), but we came away with lots of ideas for making FreeFill even better next year!

Jon Snow makes a surprise guest appearence at WOMAD!

Jon Snow makes a surprise guest appearence at WOMAD!

Shambala! Serenity, Surreality & Sustainability...

After a short break, in late August it was time to dive into my most hectic but exciting festival yet – Shambala. The festival commission us to offer free refills for everyone and bottled water is banned across the festival site! Shambala takes sustainability very seriously, and applies circular thinking to almost all aspects of the business. There are many clearly visible interventions, as well as the elimination of single-use plastic waste, the web site is hosted on servers that exclusively use renewable energy, coach travel is subsidised and the fish meals sold on site are of species vetted by the Marine Conservation Society. Add on the actual festival itself, which features fantastic musicians that you’ve probably never heard of, workshops galore (I went on a wild food hunt), endless fancy dressing and hot tubs next to the woods, and you have the recipe for a magical experience!

The Weird, wonderful world of Shambala!

The Weird, wonderful world of Shambala!

End of the road - Literally...

Shambala was quickly followed by End of The Road festival back at Larmer Tree Gardens. It has a slightly more serious vibe than the other festivals where music is concerned, and a noticeable number of people certainly with pre-prepared lists for their weekend entertainment. And what a line-up it was! It’s also more chilled compared to previous festivals, with less dressing-up and more relaxed conversations with strangers in the fields. We were lucky to have incredible weather, and our plastic bottles and specially-branded End of The Road bottles went down a treat! It ended up being one of our best festivals of the summer, with very good sales (especially considering we only had a single marquee).

The FRANK Water band performs our song, "Saturated", at End of The Road. Download it on iTunes for just 99p!

The FRANK Water band performs our song, "Saturated", at End of The Road. Download it on iTunes for just 99p!

Now I’m back in the office, helping clear up all the equipment from the summer and thinking about the festivals for next year, where we’d like to make FreeFill bigger and better than ever before! If you’re involved with festival management, or know one that you think could benefit from having the FreeFill initiative, please do check out our website and get in touch.
 

Finally, a big FRANK you to all the volunteers, core team members, the food traders that literally kept us alive and kicking (big shout out to The Curry Shed, Pizza Tabun, Wrappers Delight, amongst many others) and amazing staff at FRANK (especially Annabelle!) for making my summer so fantastic!

Eight reasons to feel optimistic about the future & one reason to get involved.

Over the next two days, 193 world leaders will commit to the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), helping to shape development and change for the next 15 years, and work to make a better future. For everyone.

But this all began back in the year 2000, with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since then, a lot of progress has already been made. The world is becoming a better place to live for millions of people – here are eight reasons why[1]

  1. The world met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved drinking water in 2010 – five years ahead of schedule. However, although 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved water since 1990, there are still 663 million people without an improved source of water. 
  2. Between 1990 and 2015, 2.1 billion people gained access to an “improved sanitation facility” – a toilet that hygienically separates people from faeces.
  3. Between 2000 and 2015, more than 200 million people living in slums secured access to one or more of the following: improved water, sanitation, durable housing or less crowded housing conditions. The MDG target had been to “achieve a significant improvement” in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers by 2020.
  4. One in four people had to defecate in the open in 1990; the proportion in 2015 is one in eight. However, there are still 2.5 billion people who do not use an improved sanitation facility and 946 million who still have to defecate in the open.
  5. In 1990, 54% of the world’s population used improved sanitation facilities; in 2015, the figure is 68%.
  6. 15 years ago, more than 2000 children would die every day from diarrhoea caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. Today, that number has more than halved. It's a huge improvement but there's a long way to go.    
  7. In 2010, the UN general assembly recognised access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right.
  8. In 2015, FRANK Water celebrated its 10th birthday, having reached 300,000 people. That’s 300,00 people who have safe water and toilets thanks to you.    

And what about the one reason to get involved? Well, the one reason is because all of the things above only changed because people like you, and me, did something to change the way the world was being run in the year 2000. They campaigned, they marched, they donated to causes, they signed petitions and harangued their MPs.

Now it’s our turn again, 15 years later, to get involved and shape our world for the next 15 years.  

Wondering what you could do? Here are a couple of suggestions

Make a donation. FRANK Water has provided safe drinking water and sanitation for more than 300,000 people in 210 villages since it began work in 2005. Help us continue  our work. 

 

Give a small amount on a regular basis. Regular giving is the oxygen that allows charities to breathe. It’s a way of making a small amount of money go a long way. Whether you can afford to give £3, £10 or £50 each month, the overall impact of your donation will be far greater if you make the same affordable donation on a regular basis

Fundraise. Do something crazy (or not crazy). Our fundraisers are an imaginative crowd. They range from Andy who’s prepared to RUN from John o' Groats to Lands End (840miles) to Gareth who’s hoping to break the world record for number of hours spent ironing.  

Find out more – FRANK Water is an active member of Action 2015 – a network of organisations and individuals that aims to ensure that 2015 is truly a year of action and change.

Share our blog. Get the word out. Tell others what you know.  


[1] Ref: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/23/millennium-development-goal-7-15-achievements-on-environmental-sustainability

Are You Thirsty?

Are you thirsty?  Me too.

Imagine that instead of reaching for the tap or handing you a bottle of water I said to you…“ I understand your thirst and I will quench it – but I can’t tell you when. It could be in five minutes or five months, or five seconds, or in five years you can drink a whole swimming pool."

Would you be happy with that?

It’s pretty nice to have the security of a regular supply of water – wouldn’t you agree?

Now imagine you run a business, you make a product and take it to market; customers hear about it and see it and some of them buy it every day.  Not all, but enough of them buy your marvellous product – and the money they pay is like water that quenches your thirst – in this case enough money to pay your bills and allow you to make more product.

Now imagine you are trying to run a charity. Funding live-saving and life-enhancing work, paying skilled staff to manage the process and spread the word.  

In your charity, would you rather have funds ad hoc, sometimes a glut, sometimes a drought? Or would you rather have a steady flow of little and often.

Regular giving and direct debits have recently been given bad press – and some for good reason - but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water…

Regular giving is the oxygen that enables charities to breathe; and remember, we don’t exist to breathe… we breathe – so that we can exist.

With regular giving we can plan further ahead to make sure we distribute funds as wisely and effectively as possible. 

It’s a good way of making a small amount of money go a long way. Whether you can afford to give £3, £10 or £50 each month, the overall impact of your donation will be far greater if you make the same affordable donation on a regular basis.

It connects you – our supporters - to our work. By helping us grow sustainably, you become part of the FRANK Water team and you can be certain that you’ve played a critical role in our journey. We’ll make sure you’re kept informed on progress with regular updates and stories.

Lastly, water changes everything. It’s the first step to living and in regular, reliable amounts, enables futures to thrive. With a safe water supply, you can quench your thirst whenever you need to, allowing you to go to school, earn a living, feel safe, stay healthy and build a future.  

Change Lives with Taps & Toilets. Just Add Water

Not a race, more the experience of a lifetime...

With the exciting Bridge to Bridge swim fast approaching, we spoke to Jeremy Laming, one of the event organisers to get the inside story on what swimmers can expect... 

Q. Tell us a bit more about the Bridge to Bridge? 
A. The Bridge to Bridge is an iconic swim down the River Thames at the height of the "great" British Summer. 
 
Q. 14km sounds like a long way - is it as hard as it sounds? 
A. It's important to remember that the Bridge to Bridge ISN'T a race.  It's an unforgettable experience that will you leave wanting more. With four feeding stations along the way, there is a chance to rest and re-fuel before heading onto the next stage.  If you feel confident about swimming five kilometres (approximate distance between stations) then the Bridge to Bridge is well within your reach. 
 
Q. What can a first-time Bridge to Bridger expect? 
A. The Bridge to Bridge is a friendly, non competitive swim amidst some of Southern England's most beautiful scenery. Yes, it's challenging, but you'll swim with the stream all the way so certainly not impossible for a keen swimmer.

Q. What's the support like? 
A. As with all these events, safety is paramount to the success of the event. There are three main "waves" - slow, medium and fast and each wave has a team of kayakers as support for swimmers.  

Q. Is there food and water along the way or should I bring my own? 
A. At each stop, you'll get out of the water and refresh with water, fruit and other high energy snacks to keep you legs kicking and your arms moving till the next stop. 

Q. How is it different from other outdoor swim events? 
A. Bridge to Bridge is a unique event - you'll swim from the gorgeous regatta town of Henley to the equally picturesque Marlow.  It's a one-way swim so the scenery changes with every stroke.   

The Bridge to Bridge Swim takes place on Sunday 9th August. If you'd like to give it a go, then why not swim for safe water and bag one of FRANK Water's charity places. Contact philippa@frankwater.com for more information. 

Phil tries for FRANK Water

Every year, as I encounter amazing FRANK Water fundraisers who swim, bike, run at the Bristol Triathlon I've said to myself that I would do it... NEXT year.

So now it is that year, and in my bedroom lies a wetsuit.  Labels on, and currently un-tried (see what I did there?!).  My first thought when I picked it up was "How the hell am I going to squeeze myself into that?".  But squeeze I will, and in two weeks me and my trusty wetsuit will be sampling the delights of Bristol Harbour as part of the annual Bristol Triathlon.

When I've mentioned the Tri to friends, they've looked slightly aghast when I've said I'm swimming in the harbour - its reputation for clean water isn't the best...but I'm reliably informed that this is rumour rather than fact.   

But for all the communities that FRANK Water work with, dirty water and its effects are something that the people we work with have to cope with on a daily basis.   


For me, on one day of the year, there is a slightly higher than average risk, so I am going to don that wetsuit (once I've worked out how to struggle in and out of it) and dive in. I'll be more worried about the imaginary sharks following me. 

You can show your support for me and my wetsuit here  

Why #MenstruationMatters to FRANK

Guest blog by Chloe Tingle, a past intern of FRANK Water and founder of the social enterprise no more taboo. working to break the silence around menstruation. 

Thursday 28th May is Global Menstrual Hygiene Day! A day where all around the world, the issues surrounding menstruation are brought to the attention of the public to raise awareness of this silenced issue. Menstruating women are often subjected to fear, shame and restrictions when on their period. Over 50% of the world’s population are female, yet menstruation is still a taboo subject which leads to missed school, missed work and poor health. 

Menstrual hygiene is still a fairly new topic for the water and sanitation industry, this is only the 2nd year the official Menstrual Hygiene Day has been celebrated and we are proud to be a part of that. Many of you may be thinking, what does menstruation have to do with providing clean water? 

Well, first of all in many communities it is the women who are responsible for collecting water, if they are unable to do so because of ineffective management of their menstruation, this can have a knock on effect for the whole community. In fact in some areas, including parts of India women are believed to pollute water courses if they are on their period and are banned from going near them. How are they meant to bathe, cook, clean or continue with their normal routine in such circumstances? 

Secondly, women and girls are often forced to use unsanitary materials such as leaves, ash, rags or toilet paper instead of a pad or other sanitary product. Even when they have access to these products, disposal can cause huge issues. If a woman throws it down the toilet it may block the toilet, or interfere with the decomposition of the pit latrine. If she burns it, it may release carcinogenic chemicals or if she buries it, these chemicals may leach straight into the water course. Access to water is essential to remain clean and healthy during your period, as is access to appropriate toilet and sanitation facilities. When girls do not have access to adequate materials and facilities, they regularly miss and drop out of school. One study in India found that inadequate menstrual products make girls drop out of school for approximately five days a month, or 50 days a year, with 23% leaving school altogether when they begin to menstruate (Rose George, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council).

There is also a need for clear effective education in why we menstruate, what materials are available and how to separate the facts from the myths. Through my voluntary work on this topic in both Bolivia and Uganda, I have seen a huge amount of confusion and misunderstanding. In Bolivia they believed if you eat onions whilst menstruating you will get cancer, in Uganda if a woman crosses a garden whilst menstruating all the plants will shrivel up and die. 

In the UK, whilst condoms are provided free on the NHS, sanitary products continue to be taxed as a luxury product. For homeless women in particular, finding access to adequate sanitary materials is a monthly struggle, with many resorting to using whatever materials they can find

From my experience, the way to do this is to approach the issue from three different directions: providing education, providing appropriate sanitary materials and providing access to sanitation facilities including clean water. 

What can you do? 

  • If you're interested in finding out more about menstruation and its importance in the water  and sanitation industry read our briefing here. 
  • Support FRANK Water to help us provide comprehensive water and sanitation projects which include menstrual hygiene promotion by donating today.
  • Look for environmentally friendly and ethical feminine hygiene products. From 25-31 May, Natracare are offering to donate £1 to FRANK Water for every pack of Natracare sold on at BigGreenSmile - have a green period AND support safe water & sanitation in India 
  • Take action! Sign the petition to end the “tampon tax” here:  and the petition for the homeless shelters to be given an allowance to buy sanitary products here
  • Join Talk.Period for a full day’s activities surrounding the issues of menstruation on Thursday 28th May including a FREE Film Screening of ‘Menstrual Man’ and a panel debate on the issues of:

o Menstrual waste: a mountain in the making.

o Homelessness: poverty and periods.

o The period tax: why are we taxed 5% VAT?

With panel guests Laura Coryton from #stoptheperiodtax, Vicky Halliday from Go with the flow and #thehomelessperiod, Val Thompson from Women’s Night Shelter Bristol, Cezara Nanu from Bristol Women’s Voice and representatives from OxPolicy, Women’s Environment Network and Bristol Green Capital. 

So, the London Marathon happened...a FRANK Water runner tells it like it is.

So, the London Marathon happened - and I did a) not die, and b) avoid being a bum by going the distance. The atmosphere IS as good as people say, a mix between a very British village fete and a rock concert...

People do shout your name (if you have it printed clearly on your chest) and give you high fives (especially kids – kids love a high five), moreso if you have stupid blue wig and yellow sunglasses... ; ) This positivity comes from all races / colours / creeds – it's awesome. One quartet of approx 5-10 year old girls with their mum loved my attire - they shrieked with delight. A few guys said 'come on Oliver, YOU can do it' in a way that let me know that they thought I could do it because I was willing to look like an idiot ('he who dares, rodders, he who dares...'). I tried to make eye contact and give at least a thumbs up to anyone that called my name – and if they made a comment along the lines of 'nice hair', I'd give my wig a quick push at the back (like it was my real hair)...

People give out snacks along the course – just for fun - jelly babies, cut-up bananas, were especially popular. St John's ambulance peeps gave out vaseline, held out so you can grab it as you pass (don't high five those ones...). I needed some for between my left arm and my torso – who knew? They give out energy gels at a couple of points which makes the ground comically sticky afterwards... Also, Lucozade need to make their stuff in smaller bottles, thousands of runners would take a swig of lucozade sport then discard the bottle – it's bonkers...

The music along the course was awesome – we had live caribbean bands, jazz bands, funk bands, steel bands, marching bands, karaoke singers, pubs with speakers out the window, my favourite of all was five slightly pissed toffs in tuxedos on a garden wall singing a terrible acapella version of 'Gold' by Spandau Ballet: awesome... People who headphoned up for the whole race might as well have been on a treadmill. 

I did listen to 'Fake Plastic Trees' by Radiohead about 2 miles from the end as an experiment – the song has a bad rep for being miserable but I actually find it really uplifting in a strange sort of happy-sad way... anyway, when it dit get to the awesome bit ('I could blow through the ce-i-ling...') running got a lot easier – it was like an aphrodisiac for my legs – weird – but after that song I wanted to actually be on the route with the people there as opposed to my own little world so I unplugged...

I was especially glad to see my mum (Charlotte) and sister (Emily) for a quick hug near tower bridge – that helped a lot (love you guys!)...

So many t-shirt (that I saw overtaking me) were for charities – it was quite moving to realise that so many thousands of people were trying to raise money for good causes – gives me hope for humanity in general:– I've decided that of all the foolish and unneccessary things that people do, organising a big running race is one of the best.

Here are some of my favourite signs / placards from along the route:

  • RUN LIKE YOU STOLE SOMETHING
  • RUN LIKE KATIE HOPKINS IS CHASING YOU
  • PAIN IS TEMPORARY, 26.2 MILES IS FOREVER
  • (two and a half hours in) THE KENYANS ARE DRINKING YOUR BEER
  • PAIN IS JUST A FRENCH WORD FOR BREAD
  • KEEP CALM AND MARATH-ON
  • (near the end) SHUT UP LEGS!
  • (near the end) YOU HAVE STAMINA – LET'S DATE!

People say mile 20 is the worst, but that's nonsense, mile 15-16 is the worst, because you spend the first half looking forward to halfway, which is also crossing tower bridge then passing the tower of london, and then you have to head AWAY from the finish line through millwall etc until you pass canary wharf, so that's just depressing on every level, and by then you're pretty trashed anyway (well, I was).

Physically, my thigh muscles did the most work – managed to keep a good posture all the way – walked some bits (life is a marathon, not a sprint, no? I want my knees to last another fifty years at least... ; ), got a bit of a sore neck, and the insides of my elbow hurt – probably cos I'd never run such a distance before. Post-race: stairs were my enemy (especially going down), but two days later they're becoming okay again...

Although my legs are a bit trashed I actually felt like I have more energy now than before – maybe it's true that the more energy you use, the more you have? If you eat / sleep right etc etc. Plus, having done a marathon, all the other challenges in my life seem a little easier, perception wise (which is nice)

Also, I'm glad I had a few photos courtesy of Emily (she's a legend) - don't rely on the official photographers – marathon foto charge £20 to download the image file of ONE PHOTO! (or £60 for all of the ones with you in). I have one photo from the site which I'm toying with the idea of photoshopping pixel by pixel, but there has to be a better way...

My time was 5 hours 21 mins: I 'beat' 5,000 other people to the finish. (Let's not worry about the 30,000 people who 'beat' me...). Race time is a funny one, because going slow has the twofold effect of keeping you further from the finish line AND you're going slow (and will likely continue to do so) – slowness seems to accelerate the time you'll take to complete...

I don't feel the need to do a marathon again any time soon (love the knees, respect the knees), but Berlin would be fun I reckon...

To take part in an event and raise money for FRANK Water, check out our events page or contact us today