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Little-known way to pay nothing for clothes, toys and furniture – and you can save hundreds

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Little-known way to pay nothing for clothes, toys and furniture - and you can save hundreds

DITCH shopping for swapping – it will help declutter and save cash.

As the cost of living bites, the age-old practice of bartering is back, but it now has social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp at the heart of it.

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The Sun’s Laura Purkess picked up new outfits from a free Hackney Clothes Swap in East London

Thousands of people around the country are exchanging everything from clothes to plant cuttings, instruments to tech, and replacing unwanted items with something much more useful to them.

Harriet Cooke tells how to get in on the action . . . 

Clothes

HAVE you got unworn outfits taking up wardrobe space?

Take a bundle to one of the clothes swapping events up and down the country – or even organise your own.

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Many events are free, but others charge from £6 to £10 for entry.

They are often so popular that tickets sell out in advance.

All have different rules, but typically you can bring between five and ten items, which must be clean and in good condition, and then take the same number home.

Find events by searching “clothes swap” on the Eventbrite website, or browse Facebook events near you.

Sun Money’s consumer champion Laura Purkess was delighted with her haul of new outfits, including a designer shirt that she picked up at the free Hackney Clothes Swap in East London this month.

She said: “I took an old skirt from New Look, which I bought for £5.99, a pair of Aerie leggings, £6 in the sale, and a Burton polo shirt worth about £11.

“I was given three raffle tickets – one for each item as they were worth under £50.

“For anything worth more than £50, swappers get two raffle tickets. I chose two pairs of trousers and a Ralph Lauren shirt, which would have cost around £100 new.

“I bagged at least £130 worth of clothes.”

Furniture and gadgets

YOU can swap almost anything, from antique furniture to modern tech, on sites such as Swapz.co.uk.

They work like dating sites, matching up users with various things to barter. One Swapz.co.uk member is currently looking to exchange a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet for an iPad Air, an iPhone 12, or an iPhone 13 Pro.

Another wants to swap a £1,000 acoustic guitar for an electric guitar of similar value. If you are interested, you will need to sign in and click on “make a proposal” so the other person knows what you are offering in return. If your proposal is accepted, you both enter your addresses and post the items to each other.

The site recommends that you check the other user’s rating first and only communicate via the platform to reduce the risk of scams.

Books

MANY towns and villages have spots where you can pick up and drop off old books. You’ll often find them in train stations.

Online, Bookswap.co.uk lists thousands of books, including newly published and rare ones. First, you just need to list the ones you are prepared to swap.

If another user requests your title, you post it off using a prepaid label.

You’ll be sent instructions on how to get this.

Then you’re rewarded with credits that you can spend on other books.

When “buying” books with your credits, you have to pay a delivery fee of £2.99, plus a swapping fee of £1 and ten per cent of the value of each book.

Kids stuff

Beccy Mitchell hosted a toy swap party at her home and it was so successful she plans to do it again

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Beccy Mitchell hosted a toy swap party at her home and it was so successful she plans to do it againCredit: © Jim Bennett

IT’S great for kids to try out hobbies, learn to play an instrument or have a go at a new sport, but it can be costly for parents to buy all the kit.

Claire Moffat, 50, from Southampton, founded swapping site Kidd3r.com after being asked to shell out £90 on new Irish dancing shoes for her ten-year-old daughter Naomi, so she could take part in a competition the following week.

She says: “Kids love to try out new activities, but the parents still have to get hold of the right kit, even if it turns out to be a short-lived interest.

“Swapping is the ideal solution to let them have a go without big expense.”

Try and organise a swap event with other parents you chat to at the school gates or in WhatsApp groups.

Mum-of-three Beccy Mitchell hosted a toy swap party at her home in Sevenoaks, Kent, and it was so successful she wants to run more.

The 44-year-old, who runs a business selling living green walls at Brandedbiophilia.co.uk, plans to host more gatherings to exchange items that her children Amelia, 15, Lucas, 11, and Riley, five, have outgrown.

She says: “I held a coffee morning at home and invited the parents of my children’s friends to bring some games, puzzles and toys to swap.

“It was fun and everyone went home with something new.”

Plants

Betsy Francis-Mearns and partner Will now have 60 house plants thanks to a Facebook swapping group

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Betsy Francis-Mearns and partner Will now have 60 house plants thanks to a Facebook swapping groupCredit: Supplied

FILL your home and garden with free greenery through plant swapping with like-minded locals.

Find a group near you on Facebook or start your own and encourage others to join by posting about it on the Nextdoor website and chatting to your neighbours.

As well as sharing seeds and cuttings, it’s a chance to meet other gardeners and pick up helpful tips.

Betsy Francis-Mearns, a 24-year-old publicity executive from Bath, and her partner Will, 25, a construction worker, now have 60 house plants thanks to a Facebook swapping group.

Betsy said: “Some neighbours have been incredibly generous. One lady gave us eight cuttings of different species in exchange for one small spider plant.

“I picked up two Chinese money plants through a swap and they multiply so quickly. We keep exchanging the baby plants.

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“It’s saved us so much money. Our collection would have cost at least £350.

“It’s so fulfilling because it feels like we’re building a mini ecosystem within our community and we’re all helping each other.”



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Facebook Faces Yet Another Outage: Platform Encounters Technical Issues Again

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Facebook Problem Again

Uppdated: It seems that today’s issues with Facebook haven’t affected as many users as the last time. A smaller group of people appears to be impacted this time around, which is a relief compared to the larger incident before. Nevertheless, it’s still frustrating for those affected, and hopefully, the issues will be resolved soon by the Facebook team.

Facebook had another problem today (March 20, 2024). According to Downdetector, a website that shows when other websites are not working, many people had trouble using Facebook.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has had issues. Just a little while ago, there was another problem that stopped people from using the site. Today, when people tried to use Facebook, it didn’t work like it should. People couldn’t see their friends’ posts, and sometimes the website wouldn’t even load.

Downdetector, which watches out for problems on websites, showed that lots of people were having trouble with Facebook. People from all over the world said they couldn’t use the site, and they were not happy about it.

When websites like Facebook have problems, it affects a lot of people. It’s not just about not being able to see posts or chat with friends. It can also impact businesses that use Facebook to reach customers.

Since Facebook owns Messenger and Instagram, the problems with Facebook also meant that people had trouble using these apps. It made the situation even more frustrating for many users, who rely on these apps to stay connected with others.

During this recent problem, one thing is obvious: the internet is always changing, and even big websites like Facebook can have problems. While people wait for Facebook to fix the issue, it shows us how easily things online can go wrong. It’s a good reminder that we should have backup plans for staying connected online, just in case something like this happens again.

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves

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CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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