Wednesday, 12 January 2011


The theme for this week's blog is 'Giving' inspired by Josie's charitable work and Action Aid's  new campaign focusing on the amazing feeling their supporters get by helping developing communities work their way out of poverty. (Looking back now at what I have written I am a little surprised at the diatribe, but it is honest and straight from the heart - sorry if it is so serious).

I am tempted to get very cynical about giving. Over the past 24 hours there have been some really damning reports about foreign aid.  First off there was an article about how UK Government aid is more linked to commercial interests than needs, then there was a piece discussing how in Haiti the aid was not helped by the diverse agenda of the aid agencies involved.

Then lets think about other ways of giving. Our Government is encouraging us all to work for the Big Society and give our time to help our community. Funding for community initiatives are being slashed, but that is fine as having been shown the error of our ways we will all volunteer to pick up the pieces. I have worked for a charity setting up board level volunteering partnerships, and I am a trustee of a fab organisation that relies in part the amazing team who give their time so generously - but I know to build rewarding relationships it takes time and effort. Volunteers need recruiting, often training, they need to be given a brief and support - and without the cash, charities often can not harness the potential of volunteers.

Do I disagree with charitable giving? Absolutely not! I am a Mum and I can't see pictures of distressed children in Haiti, Pakistan or hear about the latest heroic fund-raising effort on Twitter without being moved to donate. I just wish that rather than donating a few pounds and hours I had a fully functioning magic wand that would really worked.

I refuse to be cynical - but I am sad. Sad that there seem to be  no ideal or quick fix solutions, sad that there is so much need and I can't do more, sad that the world is not fair. Just because there are no easy solutions I am not going to give my self the excuse not to care or not to contribute. I know that I could do more, I wish I had more money to give, but I am an optimist and believe in hope. I believe in the power of individuals, as together we do make a difference. I wish Action Aid ever success in their new campaign!


  1. Strong words but not in any way untrue. I think a lot of us feel the same way.

    My workshop post is here:

    I approached giving from a fictional perspective :)


  2. Giving shouldn't be a political thing, but you are totally right. It makes me not want to give to charity sometimes, but you just have to hope that out of what you give, at least something gets through to those who need it!

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for your great post.

    It’s great to hear your optimism that individuals can make a difference. We believe in the power of people – whether that’s people in the communities where we work standing up and fighting injustice or people here in the UK taking the time and effort to fundraise and campaign for change. People can make a difference and bring about change.

    I’ve seen it for myself when I was lucky enough to visit Malawi and see ActionAid’s work with poor communities. In one community, called Salima, girls dropped out of school at the age of 11 or 12 and there was a big problem with teenage pregnancy. The root of the problem was that girls were discouraged from attending school because there were no female teachers. There were no role models for the girls so they became disheartened about education and the many (often male) voices telling them to quit were able to win. The mothers of the community banded together and lobbied their local government hard. They even had to build a house for the teacher to live in to entice someone from a city to teach in a rural and remote area – but eventually they got there and they had a female teacher in the school. As a result, girls’ attendance has gone up and teenage pregnancy has gone down and now many more girls can have a proper education and choices for the future. This is all thanks to the women in Salima who got together and made change happen.

    What we’ve learnt at ActionAid over the past year is that people who support us are also changed themselves by the incredible feelings they get from their support. Some people I spoke to said the same as you – that they feel sad when they look at the state of the world.

    But these people also told me that through ActionAid they’re able to do something about it and take action. And when they see the results of how they’ve helped they feel moved and inspired in really profound ways.

    So we’re looking for new people to help transform lives with us. They’ll get to help people like the mothers of Salima to work their own way out of poverty. And they’ll get an incredible feeling in return. We want more and more people to get that feeling and celebrate it with us. You can start by finding out what your ActionAid feeling might be here:




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