I have always wanted to be an artist ever since I was a small child. When I was at school art was the only thing that I was any good at. Because I was dyslexic and it not being recognised at that time art was my only friend. I have this one memory of when I was just 4 years old. I was playing with some Lego and all I had done was put some of the Lego bricks on to one of those green bases it did’t actually make anything in particular just a pile of Lego bricks but when the teacher saw what I had done she was very excited and praised me for what I had made. She made such a fuss about it I remember feeling very confused as no one had ever made such a fuss about anything I had done before. She was apparently so impressed with what I had done that she sent me to the headmistresses office and when I got there, the headmistress responded exactly the same way the teacher had done. The headmistress then took me down the corridor to where a chart was pinned to the wall on that chart was the names of all the kids in the school mine included. and beside each child’s name there were different colored stars.So as I stood there with the headmistress she got a gold star out of her pocket and put it next to my name. A gold star was the highest accolade that one could get. I think that day had a big impact on me because art as always been my companion throughout my life and has saved my life on more than one occasion. Here is something that I wrote just a few days ago about my experiences of volunteering at Crisis at Christmas. This has to be by far THE best Christmas that I have spent with others in my entire life. I have been volunteering at The Crisis at Christmas for the homeless from the 24th unto the 29th and I have loved every moment of it, it was incredible. Although I am by training an artist/painter let me try to convey to you as best I can in words what it was like. As we volunteers gathered in the especially designated volunteer’s area my fear and excitement grew with equal measure. Every now and again I would look around the room and catch someone’s eye and I would exchange a nervous smile with them. Then one of the volunteer co-ordinators came into the room and started to address us. They talked for what felt like a life-time and there seemed to be so much information to take on board. And then we were off! “FOR THOSE OF YOU, WHO HAVE NOT BEEN HERE BEFORE AND THIS IS YOUR FIRST EVER SHIFT HERE AT THE CENTRE, THEN PLEASE FOLLOW ME AND I WILL SHOW YOU AROUND” Has I followed my fellow volunteers though the door and down a staircase we passed lots of people and unless you really took the time to really look closely at them you could not tell who was a volunteer and who wasn’t. As our little tour wound its way around the building it was now a bit more obvious as to whom the vols were and were not. Then we got to the bed area and that was when I was overwhelmed by my emotions and past memories it was the smell that hit me first. It wasn’t so much that I found it repugnant no! No! That wasn’t it. It was because that smell, of unwashed bodies, of dried sweat and of clothes that been worn for so long that they had almost become a part of the skin of the person wearing them, was so very familiar to me. That smell had been a part of my life for so many years it was like an old friend that I hadn’t seen for a long time It was a smell that I will never ever forget and nor do I ever wish too. All of these thoughts and feelings happening as our tour continues on and now as we walk ever deeper into this dark cravenness room I can see the beds all laid out in rows in front of me. In the gloom I can just make out the odd human shape here and there, we were nearing the end of the bed area there were Not as many beds as there were when I was using Crisis myself but still there must have been at least 50 may 60 beds. It was at this point that I really had to fight back the tears. Even now I am not really sure just who I was crying for, me or them I think it was for both.