______________________________________________




The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


______________________________________________

Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com

______________________________________________



Monday, 24 March 2014

Winter visit to Iceland ...

I love snow and ice and usually manage to get to a beautiful winter location for photography once a year ... sadly this hasn't happened for the last three years or so owing to preparation work and then the launch of the current exhibitions - 'Living with PTSD' and 'Intimacy with Plants'.


This year I had to escape.  One of the reasons was that I'd been following reports about the Aurora Borealis this year - it was supposed to be one of the best viewing seasons for a while.  I wanted some different shots of the phenomenon  - different settings and backdrops etc, so I picked Iceland.

It's an expensive place to visit, so I opted for a group tour to get myself to the areas that I wanted to photograph.  Ten days of clean air, some snow and ice, night skies filled with more stars than I have ever seen before (even more than sleeping out in West Cork!), viewing glaciers, ice sculptures created by nature ... and the Aurora Borealis.


I'm still editing the shots as I've been busy since returning.  The main exhibition had to be hung the day after my return ... but I thought I'd better post a couple of preview shots up.  I'll add posts as and when the final sets are posted onto the website.

If you haven't gone to Iceland - try it in the winter.  You won't be sorry.  Just dress properly for the climate and be sensible about what you do.  Think carefully about the different sorts of equipment you may need.



Imagine what it would be like to walk in an Ice Cave at the mouth of Europe's largest glacier, knowing that the ice above your head is over a thousand years old.  It's awe inspiring to say the least and the colours are beautiful.  I would have liked to have gone further up the little river of melt water to have explored further ... perhaps that's a visit for another time now that I know the lay of the land - so to speak.

Enjoy the change of season ... wishing you a happy spring Season.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu



Friday, 21 February 2014

Update from Nottinghamshire Veterans and Families Partnership (NVFP) meeting 19 Feb 2014

Before I write my report I need to make a point about my involvement in this group.

I see my role as taking issues forward and contributing towards the involvement of care programmes for Veterans and civilians.  It's important to understand that this group also looks at the issues of partners and dependents of Veterans - which includes loved ones acting as carers.

I will share information here to keep you aware of developments and issues that arise.  I am not a politician ... and have absolutely no interest in becoming one.  The point of sharing the information here is to give YOU a voice.  If you feel that you're not happy about something or if you can come up with ideas and initiatives to help us to achieve the key objectives ... or if you feel there is a better way to do something ... then please comment on the blog.  If you have any concerns about being identified, please contact me via Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer and I can keep your identity confidential and still pass on your contribution towards the work of the group.  This initiative cannot succeed without your involvement.  Your contribution will help us to get the issues right ... but most importantly it may go a long way towards lessening your suffering as well as those people coming down the line after us that are carrying invisible wounds.

Thank you.


Introduction
There was clear frustration expressed by most of the Voluntary Veteran led groups in attendance.  There was a general feeling that we were taking one step forwards and two steps back.  We felt it was inexcusable that the group has been meeting for three years or so now and that there was still not any branding, leaflets, posters or a website that is publicly viewable.

We also felt that this was now an NHS led group facilitating NHS funding objectives rather than seeing to the holistic issues surrounding the care and well being of Veterans.

The Chair's response was as follows:
He felt our frustration and understood our concerns.  The group is not NHS specific in any way.  If we want items discussed, we should contact the group secretary and have them placed on the agenda.  He recognised that some of us wanted this group to be able to lobby the NHS and the Government for change but that this wasn't the remit of this group. 


Funding
The Chair made it clear that all of the partner organisations in the NVFP will be eligible for some funding for their own projects.

Re-diagnosis of Patients transferring from other counties
I've asked for this item to be placed on the agenda.  I and some of my colleagues will be making it clear that it's not necessary where a patient transfers with up-to-date medical reports, as it's a very distressing thing to go through when you've already had all your scars opened up for the original diagnosis.  It's one thing to build up a relationship between patient and practitioner ... it takes time and effort on both sides.  To force someone to go through it all again with a stranger is emotional rape.

If patients are not transferring with up-to-date reports as a matter of course then this is something that the NHS needs to pick up as a National issue ASAP.  Transfer of care for long term ill patients depends on clear communication between the different services caring for the patient.

Guidelines for Interviewing Veterans
Two group members from the Criminal Justice System and myself were meeting and working on a document.  The purpose of the meeting was to identify ways to facilitate a mental health review appointment for patients who are ex-service personnel with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This included pre-meeting preparation, the review and subsequent follow up appointments.  The issue has had no further work done on it for the last two months or so.  I've asked for this to be an agenda item for the next meeting.


Organisational Updates
Organisational Updates are back on the agenda in a formal way and will be minuted but will take place after the main meeting.  The Chair said that he didn't have the time to sit in that part of the meeting because of other commitments.

What came out of this part of the meeting was that we need a lobbying group that is independent of the NVFP, so that we can push certain issues forward.

I felt that we could use Nottingham City Council to produce our own leaflets and have them fund our printing costs.  To that end I've asked all the groups that would like a presence on the poster to email me a logo, email address, weblink and telephone number together with a brief sentence about what they offer.  I'll design it and take it to the next meeting as an agenda item if I have their requested data.

There was some discussion around why Veteran's don't access services for themselves as soon as they get a hint of something being wrong within themselves.

The reasons we came up with were as follows:
Some are in denial of their own problems
Veteran's are used to being the dependable ones at the sharp end and coping
People don't always understand a Veteran's language (service slang)
Veterans can swear a lot when talking about issues that they find painful, this can be a barrier for some GPs
They're programmed to keep going until they drop
They have little trust of a society that sent them to war and then discarded them when they came 'home'
They don't fit into 'civvy street', people don't understand their their ways
Service life is black and white - civvy street is shades of grey
Being made to feel vulnerable and then mistreated
Many GPs are ignorant of mental health issues
Some GP's attitudes are appalling towards people with PTSD or other mental health issues
There is a lot of stigma attached to people with mental health problems and it ruins their difficult lives

We discussed how we could make GPs  aware.  A couple of the groups have been trying to make contact with GP's Surgery Managers over the years and have never received replies to their communications.  I feel that we should mail shot them carefully in a recorded way and build up an image of their attitudes based on their responses or lack of them.  I would go so far as having a recommendation list based on their responses as to whether they are capable of looking after the needs of people with mental health problems.


The NVFP have a link in already and can start the ball rolling on raising more awareness with GPs.  I also feel that we should be targeting Patient Liaison Groups as well as GPs and practice managers.  we may achieve better results.

Future posts
As well as continuing to report on the progress of the group, I'll be writing specific blog posts on the other organisations that form the NVFP, as well as any key documents, in the hope that you or a Veteran may find the information useful ... or that you have a template for beginning your own group in your area.

Regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Nottinghamshire Veterans and Families Partnership ...

Liaising with Statutory and Voluntary Agencies
One of the objectives of the 'Living with PTSD' project is to get involved with the NHS and other organisations/companies to help make changes in some areas of policy and to raise awareness of what PTSD feels like for Veterans from the perspective of the Veteran seeking help.

To further the objectives laid out above, I was invited onto the Nottinghamshire Veterans and Families Partnership (NVFP) last October (2013) but I haven't had a chance to report on its activities yet because I've had my hands full taking care of the exhibitions.

So, for those of you interested in Veterans affairs, I'll be sharing progress reports from the group.

Background of the NVFP
The group's been meeting for three years or so and has representatives from Combat Stress, The Royal British Legion, SSAFA, local regiments and Cadet groups, the Prison Service, Probation Service, Nottinghamshire Constabulary, The Courts, The Service and Veterans Personnel Agency, The NHS and other local organisations.  I'll post the groups terms of reference later.

Updates re issues raised
In October 2013 I gave a brief presentation about my experiences, the work of Wolf Photography and made some recommendations for change in the way some of the NHS staff conduct themselves when delivering mental health care/support.  I also raised my concerns about the fact that people transferring into this County's care shouldn't have to go through the hoop of being re-diagnosed when they have documentary evidence to support their transfer of care.  Forcing people to go through a further diagnosis is like being emotionally raped.  It's unhealthy, causes further scarring and destroys coping mechanisms.

A working party was set up consisting of three people to look at providing a document of guidance to all mental health professionals in the local NHS Trust.  The draft document has been compiled and we're waiting for the group to adopt it and make it available to trust staff.

Nothing has been mentioned about re-diagnosis of transferring patients yet and the issue seems to have been swept under the rug. The NHS always seem to be crying about a lack of resources.  It would therefore seem sensible to not waste time and resources by re-diagnosing patients that have been under the care of similarly qualified professionals in other areas of the country.  The implications of pushing Veterans with PTSD into opening up about their feelings and symptoms, when they're not ready to do so, is that you risk arming a ticking time bomb that can explode in the worst possible way ... the results of which could be physical violence or suicide.

On a positive note, Nottinghamshire Police have flicked the switch on their system to identify Veterans that come to their attention as a result of incidents.  The aim is to provide avenues of support for Veterans should they need it.

Networking
One of the most beneficial aspects of this group are the 'Organisational Updates'.  It's where we get to find out what initiatives the other groups are working on and share that news on our own networks, thus helping the news to go further.  There were a couple of interesting items at the last meeting but Organisational Updates have been changed and shifted so that they're no longer part of the main meeting.  I tried to find out why but was ignored by the group Chair (a reaction that would have dire consequences with some Veterans).  I'll be bringing the issue up at the next meeting later this month. To see if we can have it placed back on the main agenda.  If we can't, there's no point in being there, as it will just be an unbalanced token group to satisfy NHS bosses rather than a balanced group that is supposed to be forming a pathway to benefit Veterans and their dependents.

Allied to the last paragraph is the issue of networking information about related and relevant issues through social media networking.  It's a fantastic, cost effective way to share information and needs to be done on a local level by all the agencies/groups involved.  From what I've seen so far, it seems to be smaller projects that are sharing local advice and information.

Funding the NHS Mental Health Services and Identifying Veterans' Needs
At the last meeting the group was steered in the direction of funding.  It was suggested that if what the groups seeks to achieve is successful, we'll need more funding to provide the service.

However, awareness was raised of some issues:

Most Veterans access appropriate mental health support as a result of their coming to notice for some other problem.  In my case it was a serious Road Traffic Accident, for others it might be a relationship breakdown or perhaps an issue of bullying or harassment at work (there are many more reasons).  If my GP wasn't switched on and hadn't recognised my symptoms and then made the appropriate referral ... I would probably still be living in ignorance of the fact that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Group discussion
The following information was shared and corroborated by other members of the group:

Veterans, generally speaking, will not go to a GP and say 'Help, I have PTSD', or 'Help, I think I have problems after serving in the armed forces'.  They're conditioned to survive and carry on until they drop.

The majority of GPs are ignorant of mental health issues and this needs to change as GPs are the people that can make referrals to other services through existing funding streams.


Some serious effort needs to be put into identifying why Veterans aren't accessing appropriate services, rather than seeking funding for a purpose that can't be realised, only to have that money moved to a different budget when it isn't being used for the target group.

The group have had a website authorised for their use.  I'm hoping that some content will be agreed upon at the next meeting, as there's no reason why it can't go live to provide some basic information to Veterans and their families.  It can be updated and adapted as other needs are identified.

Stigma
Stigma is another serious consideration and one that the NHS mental health teams in Cornwall took very seriously; to the end that mental and physical health records were kept separate.  When I asked practitioners there about the issue I was told that some staff, including senior managers, were judgemental about employees with mental health problems, so the records were kept separate to protect people, employees and the public from those that may seek to stigmatise or discriminate against them on the grounds of mental health disabilities.

That's about it for this update.  I hope that you have found it useful and informative. Next time I hope to provide some actual ways to access support, apart from the general route of GPs.  You can find some basic information and assistance on my website under 'Help' and 'PTSD'.

If you'd like to know more about how PTSD can feel, please pop along to one of my rolling exhibitions.  You can see the activity schedule on www.living-with-ptsd.org.uk.

All the best

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Urgent! Time to act to help the Earth ... 24 hours to go until Europe decides pollution levels!

We are facing the biggest planetary crisis of our time. Unless we act now coral reefs will be gone forever, polar bears will only be in zoos, and our kids will live in a flooded and scorched mess of a planet. It is a terrible, real, and dangerous possibility.
But we created climate change, and if we act now, there is another future, where people flourish and our cherished animals, lands and oceans are safe. In 24 hours, Europe will be the first region to announce its cuts to the pollution causing this crisis. If they set weak goals, we are in trouble, but if they are bold, then mega polluters, like China and the US, will be pressured to follow.

Shockingly, with just days to go, European officials are caving to the oil and coal industry's demands to keep contaminating. It's up to us to change the stakes before it is too late -- let's all send a message now to the EU President Barroso and demand he puts our planet before the profits of a few. Click below to send an urgent message:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_eu_climate_legacy_d/?bdTywfb&v=34512

The EU is setting its climate policy until 2030. Experts and scientists are clear that if Europe decides on a strong set of goals that reduce pollution by half, improve energy efficiency, and trigger a clean energy revolution this would be enough to get other countries to sign up to a global climate deal in Paris next year. They say that is our last chance to save the planet.   

The stakes are so high that it feels insane that officials would not do everything in their power to act, but the dirty energy industry has a strong hold on our politicians and their lobbying is threatening to push Europe into a dangerously low ambition

Insiders tell us that the European Commission President Barroso will have the last word. He does not want big political fights as he’s reaching the end of his term in office, but he does want to leave behind a legacy that will propel him into another big global appointment. Let's tell him that what he does now will make or break his and the rest of the world's future! Send him a message now:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_eu_climate_legacy_d/?bdTywfb&v=34512

Last year was another bumper year for extreme weather -- new highs, new lows, everything was off the charts. And already in 2014 we’ve had record floods, a polar vortex, and extreme heat. We’re running out of time. Our voices have been a wake up call to climate officials for years, now its up to us to urgently remind the Europeans of their responsibility to act to save the world.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Meredith, Iain, Julien, Ricken, Lisa, Christoph and the entire Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION:

EU Commission split over 2030 climate targets (Responding to climate change)
http://www.rtcc.org/2014/01/11/eu-commission-split-over-2030-climate-targets/

Barrroso climate heroes (European Union Press Release)
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-86_en.htm

EU commissioners clash over 2030 climate goals (The Guardian)
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/10/eu-commissioners-2030-climate-goals 

Parliament, Commission set for clash over 2030 clean energy goals (Euractiv)
http://www.euractiv.com/energy/parliament-commission-set-clash-news-532682

Regards

The Avaaz Community

Saturday, 28 December 2013

http://www.cheapoair.co.uk/ - Scam air fare operator?


http://www.cheapoair.co.uk/

Please be aware of a potential problematic air fare operator.  They're called http://www.cheapoair.co.uk/.  I was trying to book a flight yesterday through their system using 'Wow Air'.  Here's what happened:

I found a cheap return flight using their system - went to the booking stage and it was declined.  I found another one - it was declined.  The reason given for both was that the ticket offer had now expired and there were no more seats left.  This made me suspicious as it had never happened before in over 10 years of booking airfares online.  The moment you click on to buy a fare - it's held for you - pending your payment details.  If there's a problem - their system doesn't take you to the payment section.

In the mean time, someone from a phone number that only registered on my mobile as +81248 called tried to sell me a different fare that was a lot more expensive and that would get me there later than my appointment.  This would have meant giving an operative my credit card details over the phone without knowing who or which company the person was from - as he didn't state his company - just the fact that he could see I was attempting to book an air fare.  In the end I went directly to the 'Wow Air' website and booked the same ticket that I had originally seen for a higher price.

The worrying thing for me were the security implications of a web company now having my credit card details, contact details and my passport number.

I phoned up the credit card company and explained my suspicions to them and asked them to put out a warning about it on their website or through some other means but I didn't feel the need to cancel my credit card.  Until this morning.

The credit card company asked me to contact them regarding the previous day's card activity.  A member of their security team said that I'd tried to make three payments to 'Wow Air' and that they had been declined.  So the two cheaper flights (£184 and £162) were lost. I found it strange that the credit card payments were ALL going to Wow Air and not to the company trying to make the sale. 

I'd like to thank the security team operative of my credit card company that didn't seem to understand exactly what was going on.  Well done.  The only reason your company aren't being mentioned here is because that would compromise my security.

It's also easy to make a company appear at the top of a 'Google' search to make it look more credible -  if your advertisement is in a yellow box - it means that you paid for it to get there.

In order to safeguard my security I felt it necessary to cancel the card and I now have to wait for another one with the added hassle of setting it back up with the various companies I make payments to.

So, if you're using Cheapoair.co.uk - please be careful.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Intimacy with my Garden ...

The rolling exhibition 'Living with PTSD' has begun and 'Intimacy with Plants' is a smaller exhibition that's a part of the show.  It's a set of 15 macro images that were created in my own garden during a period of time when leaving my home was particularly difficult.

'Intimacy with Plants' is available to smaller venues and will accompany a set of poetry expressing the harder moments of living with PTSD.  The aim being the same:  to show how photography can temporarily take you away from the chains of living with PTSD.

There's a book accompanying the exhibition that will be on Kindle only (but readable on any personal computer) and it will be priced at one unit of your particular currency (eg £1, $1 etc plus Amazon's tax).


Here's an extract from the book:

 Background
As a result of military service, I live with a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The untrained eye won't see anything amiss if watching me walking down the street.  It's an invisible wound that makes life very difficult at times.

Poetry helps me to vent the caged up emotions and feelings that the general populace aren't aware of ... but photography helps me to escape the chains of the condition for a while.

Part of the application process for the main exhibition, Living with PTSD, was to do some developmental work in terms of my photography.  I was going through a particularly bad time and found it more difficult that usual to leave my home.  I turned to 'plan B' for some solace.

Plan B is simple ... develop an ecological environment in my own garden with beautiful flora and fauna that will entice wildlife into the garden ... thus allowing me to continue with my photographic work in the safety of my own home in those times when I find going out very difficult.

I don't want to repeat the information that I published in 'Living with PTSD - Journey of a Veteran' - where I elaborated on some issues.  This book is about setting up the garden and looking at how you can help restore some balance to the different areas of wildlife that suffer a negative impact from an ever increasing  human population.

I sometimes sit with my 91 year old neighbour and listen to her describe this area that I live in, Aspley - Nottingham, and the changes that she has seen are tremendous in terms of scale.   When she was younger, this area was mainly woods and fields.  The current area bears no resemblance to the area that she grew up in.  I haven't named her because she made me promise not to write about her ... I hope this little piece won't be viewed as a breach of her trust.  If it is - it'll be removed.

We should spend more time with our elders as they have no 'party political' slant on what they tell us, just their own take on things.  So much information, lore and history is being lost.  Information that we still need to learn from.  Life moves in cycles ... the days may come when we will need to rely upon such information again.

My neighbour is also my friend.  Despite her age she is a very open, inquisitive, humourous and intelligent lady that doesn't harbour any discrimination that I've seen.  Everything that you see in this book began in her front room over cups of tea as I'd talk with her about the plans and then draw rough sketches on her notepad.  We even went to some garden centres together and picked plants for our own gardens.  One of her rose bushes is over fifty years old!

The best part was watching her expression when she'd see the results of the plan come to life in the garden that now exists.  I get a telling off from her now and then because it's not as tidy as it can be!  I enjoy sitting in my garden with her ... and sharing the beautiful moments that I've witnessed there. The garden is a living project and just an important part of 'Living with PTSD'.

I hope that you'll enjoy the book and try to set up your own eco-space ... and get some great images from it!

Villayat 'SnowMoon Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Exhibition: Living with PTSD - Now OPEN until end of business 30th November 2013

It's been a trying few days as we worked on the installation of the exhibition, contractually, aesthetically and practically ... but the team overcame the hurdles and the exhibition opened on time .


I run 'Wolf Photography' and 'SnowMoon Wolf'. The first is the parent company, while the latter is the publishing wing of the project.

The aims of these Not For Profit companies are to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), educate on Intellectual Property issues and promote creative arts as a coping mechanism for disability. Click on PTSD to find out about coping resources and the benefits of creativity as a coping mechanism. The SEO section explains the basics about promoting yourself online. The RespectIP area guides you on protecting your art online.


A team of volunteers assisted the Leicester Peoples Photographic Gallery manager. Ian Davies, to help get the venue ready, having taken down the previous exhibition, and arranged the space to my specifications.  I'd like to thank them for their hard work; Cat Thompson, Tony Dunleavy, Charles Masters, Phil Tenwick, Tracy Carter and Kevin Oliver - thank you very much for your help.  There is a signed copy of 'Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran' on its way to each of you.  If I have left anyone out, please get in touch with me via Facebook.

The install team (Stella Couloutbanis, Jacqueline Arnold and myself) arrived on Monday 4th November and managed to get the exhibits looking just right. Stella, Jac - thanks very much for all of your help and support in setting this exhibition up and running the opening night.

video


The exhibition opened on time at 10:00am on 5th November 2013 and around thirty people attended the opening night.  we had a special offer of the first volume of poetry kick off to celebrate the event.  Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran is available for £1.50 (RRP is £6.99 at Waterstones) ... and will continue to be available at that price at the event venues for the duration of the rolling exhibition.  If you would like to order a copy - simply give the gallery staff your contact details (name and telephone number) and I'll be in touch and will arrange for the book to be left at the exhibition venue for you.




Another book was released to coincide with the exhibition launch - 'Living with PTSD - Journey of a Veteran' (ISBN 9780956488541); within the pages you will find all of the poetry from the 'Poetry of a Veteran' trilogy that has been used in this exhibition, together will all of the photographs that currently grace the walls of the event venue. I have ten copies of the book left if you would like a signed copy; alternatively you can buy the title in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon.  This book was compiled for people that can't get to the exhibition for a variety of reasons.



Around thirty people attended the opening night and left some good feedback which you can see by clicking here. Jac Arnold kindly took a quick video of the explanation of the layout as well as the aims of the project and both Jac and Stella looked after the visitors.  You can view the video by clicking here.

I'd like to thank Stella for her hard work in the formative stage of the project.  She put the funding bid together that made this project possible.

The exhibition runs until 4:00 pm on Saturday 30th November 2013.  There is no entry charge.  The full gallery address is:  

At Leicester People’s Photographic Gallery, 2 Wellington Street,
Leicester LE1 6H


Opening times:
Mon - Thu 10am - 5pm
Fri - Sat 10am - 4pm
Sun - Closed

There is some limited disabled parking on Wellington Street and the venue is disabled accessible.


Nearest Car Park:
Newarke Street
York Road
Leicestershire
Leicester LE2 7AD


The exhibition has also been booked at the following venues:

1 Feb - 10 Feb 2014     George Thornton Art Ltd, 12 Flying Horse Walk, City Centre, Nottingham NG1 2HN (Small exhibition - Intimacy with Plants only)


11 Feb - 28 Feb 2014     Wash Arts, Ilkeston,Nottingham (Small exhibition
- Intimacy with Plants only)    

10 March - 4 April 2014  Artcore, 3 Charnwood Street, Derby DE1 2GT (Full exhibition) 

We are looking for other galleries to host this exhibition as part of our bid to raise awareness of PTSD and to promote creativity as a coping mechanism, so please share this information as far and wide as possible. 

Another part of the project is to enable people to self publish their works without falling prey to those that would take advantage of vulnerable people.  SnowMoon Wolf's Guide to Self Publishing helps you through the minefield and will be available as a free Kindle download from about 2pm on 10th November - 11th November 3013.  I hope you'll find it useful.

Please feel free to like. follow, retweet, add this project to your google circles or any other form of social networking that we are a part of ... but most of all, please come and see the exhibition ... and I hope that you'll get something out of it.



Sincerely,

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu


Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
Wolf-Photography.com Stock Image Library