Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Rebecca gave £1,000 to...

Dorothy House Hospice, Frome

My lovely friend Alastair Banks was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in July last year. At 39 years old it was a tremendous blow to him, his wife and their two young children. Already Dorothy House has given much needed advice, support, counselling and equipment. Their help will be vital in the years ahead.

And, as a side note, Al – who’s not one to sit and feel sorry for himself – is raising funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association by driving a milk float from him home near Bath to the south coast. Follow his Float to the Coast tour and donate to his £20k target if you’re able:


Last year I supported a six-year-old girl called Emma through KIN’s guardianship programme. KIN works in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, which is home to 60% of Nairobi’s population on just 6% of its land. I’ve been really impressed by the feedback and communication I’ve received – including a hand-drawn picture from Emma – so I wanted to continue my support.

My Action for Children, New Beginnings Project

Nicki and Mark (Open folk) brought my attention to this project. It offers therapy and support to children who have suffered sexual abuse – often at the hands of people within their family. The project is from Action for Children’s new website that we created, And, by collaborating together, we’re doing exactly what the site sets out to do: linking people together through shared values and available funds!

Friday, 15 April 2011

James Gave £1,000 to Sightsavers

About this time last year I had laser surgery to fix my short-sightedness. A week later, I couldn’t see out of my right eye.

I then had some rather unpleasant emergency surgery at Moorfields to remove the infection that Vision Express had helpfully left behind my cornea – operated on by the reassuringly calm Mr Julian Stevens.

Today, thankfully, I still have two fully functioning eyes.

They say there are no atheists in a foxhole and I think the same goes for waiting rooms in eye hospitals. My £1,000 gift to Sightsavers was the long overdue settlement of a deal I made with God.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tom gave his £1,000 to...

I decided to give to a charity close to my family's heart, and one that I have been campaigning for since an unfortunate accident.

A few years ago someone close to me was seriously injured in a car accident and needed to be rushed to a specialist hospital in London. The location of the accident and icy conditions of the roads meant that he would have died long before a conventional road ambulance could reach him. The Air Ambulance almost certainly saved his life.

Accidents can, and do happen anywhere and can often occur in hard-to-reach places, where Paramedics can't arrive on the scene speedily enough.

The ability of the Air Ambulance to travel at great speeds and reach difficult places make it an invaluable service – despite the fact that many people aren't even aware of its existence outside the west country and that it receives no government funding.


Sinéad gave £1,000 to…

Sponsor a Child With Plan UK (£180)

Thanks to Tim and James’ generosity, I’ll be road-testing how it feels to sponsor a two-year-old girl in Africa very soon.

We’ve been working with Plan recently to help them recruit new child sponsors through a variety of media. We’ve talked a lot about the benefits and the kind of person who does it. And I found myself feeling increasingly self-conscious, sitting in those meetings. It’s true, I’ve always thought I’d do it one day but just hadn’t got around to it. And yes, it would be quite a nice thing to share with my increasingly chatty and aware 2-year-old daughter, Aoife. Suddenly, as a new parent it feels like the right time. And to think that all these years, I thought I’d become immune to these obvious fundraising buttons. Good to find out I’m still human after all.

C.A.N Northampton £820

This project is a little closer to home and heart. Someone very dear to me has done a remarkable thing recently – they have tackled the gruesome force of addiction head on, and with the support of this project, are 16 months 22 days sober, and counting…

C.A.N help people with drug and alcohol problems and offer a range of services to help people in the local area, when they often have nowhere else to turn. They’re facing cuts thanks to our new government and I have 100% confidence that a) they desperately need this money, b) they’ll spend it wisely and c) it’ll help people just like my friend (and his friends actually). I couldn’t ask for more.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Hannah and Richard gave £500 to...

The Ministry of Stories

In the interests of helping out local charities, coupled with a desire to encourage creativity amongst the children of East London, Open's original creative team (not including James) made a joint gift to the amazing Ministry of Stories on Hoxton Street.

I shan't tell you of all the brilliant things the Ministry does (you're more than capable of clicking the link at the top), but needless to say they make a real difference to the lives of young people. Young people who want to create, experiment, inspire and change. An ambition shared by everyone here at Open.

Fast forward to few days later, and we received a very prompt and lovely email from co-director Ben Payne. As well as being very grateful, and inviting us down for a look around (an offer we must take up very soon!), we were also offered Ministerial Appointments to the Stationery Department. Of course we were – it's the Ministry of Stories!

They already have a Master of the Monsters' Staples, a Minister for Pink Post-it Notes and a Nibmaster General, so we need to invent a joint-title for ourselves. Perhaps Lord and Lady Layout Pad, or King and Queen of the Cupboard (you can tell I'm not the writer...).

Anyway, if anyone is reading, leave some suggestions for titles in the comments. That sounds like a fun thing to do, doesn't it?! And be sure to check out the Ministry of Stories website!

(The picture at the top is stolen from We Made This, who designed the Ministries very first anthology.)


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Paul Gave £1,000 to...

Mama FM £500

Having worked in development, I understand the importance of building sustainable projects and of women in communities. This Ugandan project mobilises and informs women in rural communities – helping to make a real difference to families and the wider community with advice on health and education.

Starlight £250

Childhood ought to be about adventure, learning, love and intrigue. For some unfortunate children their life is more about the pain of living with a terminal illness. Offering these children the opportunity to fulfill a dream is very motivating.

Stroke Association £250

My father died as a consequence of having a stroke and then several smaller stokes during a six month period. At the time, I was not aware of the signs that a person suffering from a stroke exhibits. If I had known then what I do now, he would have received treatment sooner.

Early detection may not have saved my Dad, but lives will be saved if there was greater stroke awareness.


Friday, 8 April 2011

Giving it Away

As longtime readers (hello dad) will know, we like to celebrate the end of the financial year by giving away some money.

As per last year, everyone got £1,000 to give to the charity (or charities) of their choice. As per last year (apart from the fact that there are now seventeen of us) we sat down over lunch and presented our decisions. And, as per last year, there were lots of tears.

Headlines this year are:
  • Very few people gave again to the causes they supported last year. Because, on the whole, they'd been a bit lame at saying thanks and feeding back.
  • People generally gave to stuff that had affected them or that is near to them.
  • Four people gave a total of £1,200 to an amazing project for abused kids on – only the second time anyone's given their money to a client and far & away the biggest cheque we wrote.
We'll be posting individually over the coming weeks about our choices.