Argyll & Bute Refute

UPDATE – Since writing this post Martha has been allowed to take photos and write her blog properly again. Hooray!

Yesterday Argyll & Bute Council put a stop to a blog as we know it called NeverSeconds. The blog was set up and run by a 9 year old girl, Martha Payne and was ‘One primary school pupil’s daily dose of school dinners’, a site where Martha posted photos of her school dinners and rated them. The blog started in April and within only a few weeks she had a million viewers! She’s had support from all manner of publications including The Times, Telegraph and the Daily Mail and unsurprisingly and very appropriately Jamie Oliver was also a fan.

Some of the children helped by Mary’s Meals

I could rant and rant about the stupidity of this decision but instead I’m first going to focus on the brilliance of this little girl. At 9 years old she has started an intelligent blog, got over 2 million page views, sparked a global debate about health and what we feed young people and set her popularity to work by engaging visitors to donate to Mary’s Meals, a charity that provides school dinners for children in some of the world’s poorest communities! Even the most brilliant adult would struggle to do what this girl has done! And how has she been repaid? By being told to stop taking her photographs! Has the world gone mad!? Certainly Argyll & Bute Council have and I am frankly appalled.

You only have to Google it to see a number of stories about this but in case you don’t know already then here’s what you can do:

  1. Make a donation on JustGiving – let’s start by doing something great!
  2. Make a complaint to Argyll & Bute Council – this link will take you straight to the complaints page as it’s the only page they deserve to have looked at.
  3. Facebook it, tweet it, tell the world!

I realise that this may not seem the most important thing happening in the world but it’s these little things that make such a difference. If a schoolgirl isn’t allowed to be smart and show her aptitude for being plain brilliant then what next!? I’ve donated and written to the council, my letter is shown below. I’m an emotional type when it comes to people and their stupidity so perhaps mine is harsh, but not as harsh as what they have done, or rather undone. Shame on you Argyll & Bute.

Please show your support to the youth of tomorrow and make a difference.

Dear Argyll and Bute Council,

What on earth is wrong with you!? Are you mad? You have stopped a 9 year old girl with a clear entrepreneurial spirit from writing an extra curricular blog featuring photographs and for what? Are you scared that you are not feeding your local children with the right food?

Regardless of the reasons behind this absolutely dreadful decision, what you have ultimately done is quash a brilliant example of intelligence and enterprise. There simply aren’t enough kids out there doing what this girl has done, which is set up a site that shows she is well educated, intelligent enough to strike debate from all around the world and spend her free time doing something that is worth while.

This is the sort of behaviour that makes some young people question why they bother to make any effort in the first place and ultimately sends the entirely wrong message out. We ask a lot of our young people in a time when there isn’t necessarily the number of opportunities out there that there once was and when one has responded with such great things you have stopped it from happening. Martha is likely destined to be a huge success in life as she is showing such amazing creativity at a young age and your unintelligence means that you have put a stop to that very thing. So I refer to my original opening question:

What on earth is wrong with you? Are you mad? Or just plain stupid?

Yours with zero regard for your intelligence.
Clare Dobson

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