With New Year comes the usual wealth of resolutions – most of which inevitably end up broken when you realise the leftover chocolate from Christmas just won’t eat itself. Sometimes the best way to stick to those tricky promises is to break the process down into more manageable chunks: try tackling one of these tasks per month, and you’ll have a productive 2020!

Go Vegan

Ditch the meat and dairy for a more eco- and animal-friendly diet by trying veganism, which not only introduces you to a new way of understanding and enjoying food, but has multiple health benefits. A vegan diet can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and halve your greenhouse gas emissions.

Village Vegan Fairs host regular events at Rainford Village Hall – to find out more, visit them on Facebook. You can also check out the Wigan Vegan Community, which provides a social space for vegans to share food, ideas and resources. They meet at Beech Hill Bookcycle for regular vegan-friendly social events, campaign against animal cruelty and encourage people to grow their own produce. For more information, visit www.wiganvegancommunity.org.uk

Vegan North is a cookbook that compiles delicious vegan recipes with profiles of some of the tastiest vegan restaurants in the north of England. We have a copy to give away free on our Facebook page – don’t forget to give our page a like to stay updated on future competitions.

Learn a New Skill

Life has a way of becoming dreary when we’re confined to the same 9-5 routine. Why not spice things up a bit by picking up a new hobby or learning a skill? Pick up a camera for the first time and get out snapping photos of the local landscape or wildlife, try a craft class, or learn to code – whatever you choose, you’ll likely meet new friends in the process and spark some creativity outside of the drudgery of daily life.

Joining a club or society is a great way to get started and meet likeminded people; alternatively, why not enrol in an adult learning course? There are some great free courses online too –
www.futurelearn.com is a great place to start.

Update Your CV

New job, new you! Feel like you’re stuck in a rut? It could be time for a career change. It’s important to keep your CV updated as your current role responsibilities shift or increase, so you don’t miss anything out.

Need some advice? Clickworks on Hardshaw Street offers free digital training and IT workshops, as well as interview advice and CV writing assistance. For more info, call 01744 698800.

Join the National Trust

After a winter break for some of its properties, the National Trust looks forward to reopening its historic buildings for the spring. With over 300 castles, mansions and houses scattered across the UK to discover, becoming a member helps to preserve and restore these properties for the future. Enjoy a day out to the nearby Rufford Old Hall, Quarry Bank, Speke Hall or Gawthorpe Hall to get engaged in history this year.

Membership costs £72 a year for adults, £36 per year for 18-25 year olds, or £10 a year for under-17s. Family and joint memberships are also available, with lifetime memberships costing £1,730 per person or £1,295 per senior.

Create a Garden Getaway

According to Local Life columnist Angie Barker:

‘Your garden is an opportunity to bring you joy. Whatever challenges it poses, whether it is small, an awkward shape, north facing, shaded by trees or over looked, there is always a design solution which can turn your outdoor space into a relaxing haven. Life is hectic and we all need a space where we can sit and relax, and whether your dream garden is a pretty cottage garden or a sleek contemporary outdoor room, with the right plants and the right approach in terms of design, you can achieve your dream garden.

‘Think of your garden as another room in your house and suddenly you open up the possibilities. Even if you do not consider yourself a gardener, or you have limited time for maintenance, solutions are there for you to create an outdoor space in which you will want to spend time in and which brings you joy.’

Get Walking

There’s so much to see around the Lancashire countryside and further afield – why not get out there and experience it? Our regular Jack’s Tracks features are a great place to get started: you’ll find over 60 free walks on our website at www.locallife247.co.uk/free-stuff/download-jacks-tracks/

Guided walks with the St. Helens Rangers take place around the most picturesque areas in the borough – for more information, call 01744 676789 or visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/environmental-services. The Rangers have also compiled free trail guides around Billinge, Bold, Garswood and Rainford, which can be found online.

Alternatively, why not join the Ramblers? Head to www.ramblers.org.uk to find your local group.

Join the U3A

The University of the Third Age offers retirees and semi-retirees the opportunity to share and learn new skills through various groups, meetings and interesting talks. Whether you’re getting involved in book groups, sampling a new sport or making new friends dining out, there’s something for everyone in the U3A. Examples of U3A groups on offer include Beginners Languages, Walks, Yoga and Card Making.

In St. Helens, there are two U3A groups to choose from: the central St. Helens group and the Ashton-in-Makerfield & District group. For more information, visit
www.u3asites.org.uk/st-helens/welcome or www.ashtoninmakerfieldanddistrictu3a.co.uk

Make a Will

No-one likes to think about death, but making a will is a great way to get some peace of mind about the future, and getting it sorted early leaves you free to concentrate on happier things!

There are a few ways of writing your will: you can use a solicitor, a will writing service or write your will yourself. Get started at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

Start Upcycling

Fed up of the same old tired furniture lying around your home? Why not try upcycling? The art of upcycling refers to the process of transforming used products or furniture into something of value – people have even turned old oil drums into stylish chairs, or basketballs into hanging baskets.

Upcycling reduces the need to send items to landfill and helps reduce your eco-footprint along the way. Have some old cassette tape boxes? Why not add a layer of felt or sponge to the bottom and use it to hold earrings? Old windows can be transformed into rustic display cabinets, while old mascara brushes are great at cleaning in nooks and crannies.

For ideas and upcycling help, visit the ReStore Project on Peckers Hill Road (WA9 3JQ) – they take pre-loved furniture and upcycle it to sell on, as well as teaching people DIY skills.

Fundraise for a Charity

Whether you’re hosting a bake sale or making a vow of sponsored silence, there are plenty of fundraising opportunities out there to help fund vital causes. Uniting for a common goal is a great way to get friends and family together too.

National causes like Cancer Research, The Alzheimer’s Society and the RSPCA always benefit from your support, but your efforts will really help local causes like Willowbrook Hospice or Teardrops Supporting the Homeless which are supported entirely through donations.

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