I recently read that Lee Stafford, owner of award winning Leigh hair salon Staffords, currently holds the record for the most expensive haircut.

His couture haircut at one of his salons in Soho, Brighton and Leigh costs between £1,000 and £2,000 at the venue of your choice. Source: (source -
http://u.tv/newsroom/indepth.asp?id=11169&pt=e )

I'm sure the quality of the stylists is first class but honestly - £2000 - FOR A HAIRCUT!!

Has the world gone mad or am I an old skinflint?

Call me old fashioned but how can anyone in all good conscience, feel OK about spending so much on themselves when so many people in the world have so little?

Mind you, it's all relative isn't it?

If you're a high earner then £2000 is probably the equivalent of about £25 to us minions and let's not
pretend that we've not wasted and frittered away smaller amounts like this.

It's easy to criticise those who we think have 'wasted' more than us but in truth, we all squander money which could be better spent on more worthwhile causes.

It's just easier for us to point the finger at those who 'waste' more than us.

But in this run up to Christmas I can't help feeling deeply saddened that we live in such a materialist part of the world.

Why do we appear to find it so easy to close our minds and hearts to those in need whilst consuming more
and more.

Doing our weekly shop last night, I noticed the supermarket shelves already groaning with festive goodies.

As a nation, most if us will probably buy
more than we can possibly eat and spend more than we can sensibly afford.

We expect to over indulge ourselves so much that indigestion and anti-nausea remedies will be bought alongside the tinsel and the turkey.

I'm not pointing the finger or sitting in judgement of anyone though, because I am as guilty as anyone of over indulging during the Christmas season.

I think the contrast between the 'haves' and 'have nots' hit me during last night's shop because I'd just started packing our annual shoebox for the
Operation Christmas Child appeal.

I'd recently watched a video about how much these small tokens of generosity mean to the young recipients and it
really broke my heart to see how the joy on a child's face when they opened their box to discover a toothbrush, some soap and a few small toys.

What a difference between them and the 'want want want' mentality of so many of kids in the UK.

The average Briton will spend £568 on gifts, food and drink, and parties and socialising.

This is an increase of around £8 compared to last year's
average spend of £560, according to consultancy Deloitte & Touche.

We are an extravagant and big-hearted nation at Christmas compared with other parts of Europe.

The average festive spend in France is £224, Germany - £175, Spain - £168, Denmark - £113, Netherlands -£101 but it'll come as no surprise to learn
that our cousins across the pond, out spend us Brits, with a whopping household average Christmas expense of £1200.

Each year our family packs a couple of shoeboxes for a needy child somewhere in the world and for me, it is THIS that's the real spirit of Christmas and not the sherry, mince pies, presents and tinsel.

For anyone who doesn't know, Operation Christmas Child is a Christian organisation which sends shoeboxes filled small gifts to deprived children all over the world who would normally never receive a Christmas present.

It began in 1990 in the aftermath of the Ceausescu regime in Romania when gift filled shoeboxes were included in the first aid convoy which left from
Wrexham in North Wales.

The campaign has gone from strength to strength ever
since, spreading to 14 countries in Eastern and Central Europe, thanks to the many people - of all faiths - who take the time and trouble to undertake the simple task of filling a shoebox.

Since then, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered more than 46 million shoe box gifts to needy children in
120 countries.

Last year Samaritan's Purse in the UK sent out over 1.18
million gifts to children across Eastern Europe and Africa.

This annual project enables caring individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses,
and other organisations to fill ordinary shoeboxes with small toys, school supplies, sweets, and other gifts for hurting children around the world.

For many of these children, the shoebox gift will be the first gift they have ever received.

Some of the children who have received shoe boxes, include young survivors of the horrific tsunami in Southeast Asia (2005) , School children attacked
by terrorists in Beslan, Russia (2004), Ugandan children devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic (2002), War orphans in Kosovo (1999), Bosnia and Croatia (1995-1996), and Rwanda (1994), Children in Honduras and Nicaragua left
homeless by Hurricane Mitch (1998)

If anyone reading this would like to pack a shoe box, Leigh Road Baptist Church in Marguerite Drive, Leigh, will be happy to advise you and give you a leaflet which explains what it's best to pack.

They can be contacted on 01702 478698 or via the website at http://www.lrbc.org.uk

If you'd like to visit Operation Christmas Child online and learn more about
the shoebox appeal, please go tohttp://www.samaritanspurse.uk.com/occ/index.asp#


Many of the residents of Leigh who I spoke to, are fed up with teenagers hanging around, looking menacing. The older members of the community especially feel vulnerable, particularly at night and most choose
not to venture out after dark.

But do the teens really cause that much trouble? And what are we doing to help solve the problem?

Just what is there for young people to do in Leigh?

I have two teenage sons so I asked them and a selection of their friends for ideas.

Here's what they came up with.

"There's not much to do round here. There should be more facilities like a decent youth club, a cinema or even an ice or roller skating.

"The youth club should have comfy chairs, a TV, café and a pool table.

"It should be open from around 7:30 to 10:30pm and give us somewhere to chill out."

"I don't skate anymore but I know lots of people are looking forward to the arrival of the skate park they've have been promised.

"But I hope it is properly supervised because the one on Leigh Tip just ended up as somewhere
people went to smoke dope."

"How about a music venue where young people can rehearse and perform with their bands?

"Loads of young people are into music and d it's really
expensive to rehearse plus there's nowhere round here so transport is a problem too.

"It would be good if things like drum kits and microphones and a PA system was available for hire as most young people can't afford these
things for themselves."

"A lot of teenagers hang round Library Gardens, Chalkwell Park and Leigh beach. In the summer it would be good to have properly organised nights for
young people with wardens or youth workers supervising the evening.

"There could be music or baseball and food."

"There's nowhere to encourage young people with interests like art, photography or sport. Not all of us want to hang round on street corners at

"I would definitely go to a centre that offered somewhere to do our hobbies."

"We need a young people's listening place too. Somewhere or someone we can talk to about our problems and worries."

"I'd like somewhere I could get help with school work - a youth club with a teacher there too once a week would be helpful."

"Some of the local schools like Belfairs and Eastwood have specialist equipment.

"Belfairs specialises in media and Eastwood School specialises in performing arts so why can't they organise something with the local youth
workers and council so they can open their facilities to kids interested in these subjects.

"Maybe Belfairs could offer film making or learning how to do radio DJ-ing or something?"

"I know most people have got the Internet now but there are still families who can't afford a computer.

"It would be helpful if there was somewhere we
could get online and maybe get some help learning computer skills if we can't get the practise at home."

Well, I don't know about you, but I was really surprised by some of the feedback these young people gave me.

I think there are some brilliant ideas
here and I have emailed these suggestions to Leigh Council.

When I get some feedback, I'll let you know what the response.

If the problem with facilitating these suggestions is financial, perhaps us resourceful residents can find a way of helping to raise the money needed?

I'd love to hear what other people think about the facilities (or lack of them) for young people in our area. Feel free to add your comments and
suggestions and you can also write to Leigh Council directly via

See you all next week!