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Book Review: Survivor – Recovering from Alcoholism, Heartbreak and Trauma by Kieran Youens-Byrne

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments

Survivor: Recovering from Alcoholism, Heartbreak and Trauma is an exceptional and heart touching memoir by Kieran Youens-Bryne.

In Survivor, Kieran shares his journey through addiction to alcohol, his heartbreak at ending his marriage to a narcissist and his emotional traumas from his earlier years.

It is a wonderfully inspiring read and includes literature in its various forms including poems, essays, quotes and even a playlist. The title of his book sums him up completely: Kieran is a survivor.

Kieran covers every aspect of where his addiction to alcohol took him, from his very first taste of an alcoholic drink, through the dark depths of active addiction and withdrawal and out the other end and into active recovery. Along the way he shared what worked for him, what didn’t and all the things he learned along the way.

Survivor is an brilliantly honest account of where addiction/dependency, a narcissistic partner and past traumas can lead to a person. But it is uplifting at the same time.

The book is written in an easy to read and engaging style. It demonstrates Kieran’s unique writers voice and is a piece of creative work that he should be very proud of.

I am pleased to report that Kieran’ story also has a satisfying happy ending. Kieran gets sober, at the time of writing this review he has been sober for more than a year. In the year sober, Kieran has completely transformed his life.

Kieran has rebuilt his confidence and self-esteem destroyed by his narcissistic ex-partner. Kieran has rediscovered his formally oppressed identity and learned to love himself once again. Kieran has faced past traumas and began working on healing and letting go of these traumas.

Kieran has gone on to write, edit and publish a further book titled Recovered, that I can’t wait to read. He is healthy and happy. I can’t wait to see what this amazing man does next.

Review soon,


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The People that are Ignored or Forgotten – Homelessness in the UK

By Life, ThinkingNo Comments
homelessness-in-the-UK Whenever the temperature really drops, like it has today, I think of people that are homeless. No scratch that, I think of people who I see as homeless – those that sleep on the streets.

I usually donate to my local homelessness project The Brick and hope that those sleeping on the street keep themselves warm enough to survive the bitter and bleak night.

If I’m totally honest: I find it utterly shocking that the UK, as one of the richest countries in the world, has homelessness and rough/street sleeping. At first glance homelessness could be easily resolved by ensuring suitable accommodation for everyone.

But the truth is that homelessness is a complex issue. Why? Because people are complex. There are also a range of complex issues that lead to people becoming and remaining homelessness.

The causes of homelessness or contributing factors include:

  • Poverty, being unemployed, being underemployed or losing source of income.
  • Unmanageable debt.
  • Addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling.
  • Mental illness – including depression, anxiety, bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorder.
  • Domestic Abuse – including violence.
  • Breakdown of relationships – both romantic and with family, friends or others.
  • Chronic physical illnesses or diseases.
  • Physical, emotional, sexual, financial abuse or neglect.
  • Having a family history of homelessness (according to Shelter).
  • Transformation or regeneration of areas – leading to unaffordable house prices, mortgages or rents.
  • Criminal and/or antisocial behaviour including being in prison.
  • Being in the care of Social Care or being in the Armed Forces.
  • Changes to benefits and social security administration and/or payments.
  • Poor social support networks or isolation.
  • Death of carers for dependents.
  • Having no right to work or claim benefits/social security.
  • A combination of the above.

There are two different types of homelessness: 1. People that are sleeping rough on the streets, park benches or doorways. 2. People that are living in temporary accommodation. People in temporary accommodation maybe housed by their local authority in a bed and breakfast or cheap hotel, or maybe sofa surfing staying with relatives or friends.

We don’t have a handle on homelessness in the UK. We don’t have accurate figures of people that are sleeping on the street. Local Authorities are once a year required to go out and survey the population of people who are sleeping rough in their communities.

However in 2010 the Government changed the rules for local authorities (see Evaluating the Extend of Rough Sleeping by the Department for Communities and Local Government). These changes have impacted the annual reporting of homelessness, significantly reducing the numbers of people counted as rough sleeping or people that are sleeping in the street.

It is too easy to ignore or forget about people that are homeless. I’ve ignored people sat on the street when I’ve walked through the High Street of various town centres. The cold weather triggers me to think about people who are sleeping on the streets. But most of the time, if I don’t go into town centres, I forget about people who are homeless.

Here are some ways, that wont cost you a penny, to prevent people that are homeless from being ignored or forgotten:

  • Educate yourself and others around homelessness.
  • Use your skills, talents or hobbies to promote awareness of homelessness. A good example is this blog post, I’ve written it to raise awareness.
  • Email your local politician and ask them to campaign for people that are homeless and raise the issue in parliament. Politicians have the power to make positive changes to reduce and prevent homelessness.
  • Donate old items to charity shops that specifically support homelessness projects.
  • Volunteer your time in homeless projects.

I once heard someone say: You are only ever two paydays away from being homeless. I can’t remember who told me this, or the find the first person to say this on the internet. But I believe it to be true.

Like I believe that anyone could end up becoming homeless, it would just require the right causes or circumstances to become present in your life.

So take action for people that are homeless, because one day it could happen to you. Or to someone that you love. You wouldn’t want yourself or someone that you love to be ignored or forgotten.

Take care,



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Book Review: How To Be Human – The Manual by Ruby Wax

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
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Ruby Wax’s latest book is called How To Be Human – The Manual. It’s insightful, funny, warm and engaging. A pleasure to read. It’s like somebody is pouring wisdom into your head while you’re having a chat with them.

Each chapter covers a topic and is wittily written by Wax. For each chapter Wax has consulted with Ash Ranpura, a Neuroscientist and Gelong Thubten, a Buddhist Monk.

At the end of each chapter are fascinating transcripts of these discussions. Interspersed throughout How To Be Human Wax shares some of her own mental illness story.

So what exactly does Wax cover in How To Be Human? Pretty much everything. Here is each chapter title:

  • Evolution
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • The Body
  • Compassion
  • Relationships
  • Sex
  • Kids
  • Addiction
  • The Future
  • Mindfulness Exercises
  • Forgiveness

How To Be Human builds on the strong foundations of Wax’s two previously published books: Sane New World – Taming the Mind, which I have reviewed here and A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, which I have reviewed here.

You can also learn more about Wax by reading her autobiography How Do You Want Me?, which I have reviewed here.

How To Be Human is available to buy on Amazon and at all good book shops.

Review soon,



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Book Review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

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A Street Cat Named Bob is the uplifting and inspirational story about James, a man who is vulnerably housed and a recovering drug addict who discovers a rather remarkable cat.

The ginger tom, which James names Bob, is in a sorry state when he finds him. Bob has bald patches, is thin and has an infected abscess on his back leg.

As James nurses Bob back to health (with a little help) they develop a close relationship, becoming dependent upon one another. Readers will fall in love with Bob and James in equal measure.

James assumes that once Bob is well, he will leave. But Bob doesn’t. In fact he does quite the opposite.

James is working the streets of London. First busking and later selling The Big Issue magazines. Bob starts following him to work in the mornings, crossing busy roads and jumping on buses. So James ends up buying him a lead. But Bob often prefers to travel on James’ shoulder.

Bob is smart, inquisitive and a good judge of people. Many people take a liking to Bob and that helps to humanise James to them. James also learns to trust other people because of Bob. But the streets of London can be tough at times and not everyone acts out of kindness or compassion. In A Street Cat Named Bob Bowen tells the story of the tribulations and triumphs Bob and he face on the streets.

Astute readers will be left with some concern for Bowen when they finish reading A Street Cat Named Bob. Bowen values his friendship with Bob greatly. It comes across as the only significant relationship Bowen has. But the average indoor cat only lives for around 15 years (human years). So how is Bowen going to respond to the eventual death of his close friend? And will he be at risk of relapsing on to drugs or alcohol to manage his feelings of grief? I sincerely hope not.

A Street Cat Named Bob is a easy and enjoyable read, made so by Bowen’s warm and friendly tone. It’s a relatively short book at just 279 pages. It will leave readers feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside. It is a must read for any animal lovers or anyone into sociology.

A Street Cat Named Bob is available to buy on Amazon and at all good bookshops. A Street Cat Named Bob has also been made into a film and is out on DVD now, available to buy on Amazon and at other good retailers.

Review soon,



I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:

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