Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Imogen gave £1,000 to...

On a freezing night in February I came across a boy of 19 in Angel, sitting on the pavement crying with an empty cap in front of him. He had only a thin coat on. In an effort to help, I gave him food, a hot drink and then called a homeless street team who were dispatched to find him and give him a bed for the night. It had taken two months for a stranger like me to notice him. This struck a chord with me – especially when he said how lonely and scared he was. He was ignored and did not know how he would manage to eat or find shelter.

The charity Thames Reach is a London based charity that helps homeless and vulnerable people off London’s streets. They not only have street teams providing help, but also aid rehabilitation, through teaching and re-housing schemes. Since 2008, they have brought 2,000 rough sleeper off the streets and have helped 20,725 vulnerable people. My money will only go so far, but I hope it helps towards their vision of ending street homelessness.

This charity was set up in memory of a colleague of mine, Stephen Johns, who died of bowel cancer when he was just 26 years old. This was obviously a huge shock to family and friends as he was such a vibrant, active, happy and lovely man.

The Mr Brightside project aims to increase awareness of bowel cancer in those under the age of 50, encourage cancer research and provide support facilities to sufferers and families through difficult times. Stephen is very much missed, but not forgotten. His family continue to strive to make the charity’s goals a success.

As you can see, I have receive a personal note from Stephen’s family, which has made the gift even more special to me. I plan to partake in their sponsored events in the future and will continue my support.

Following a similar theme, I felt I needed to help overseas. I am sure many of you will have seen the documentaries about street children and orphaned children affected by AIDS, displacement and so on. SOS children’s villages help these children by taking them in – giving small groups of children the chance of companionship and a foster mother, who stays with them. They are given shelter, education and a good foundation for adult life.

I now sponsor a little girl in Malawi, Africa. Her name is Lucy Chimwenwe and I am told both her parents died in October 2010. She is only two years old and has survived this, and malnutrition. I am happy to say that now she is being cared for and has developed a healthy appetite for peanut butter. I am planning to write to her and send her some stickers to play with. I look forward to learning about her progress as she grows up and gains confidence.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Crack Dealer Model of Fundraising

When you're a kid, people tell you that drug dealers hang around playgrounds giving out free samples on the basis that their product is so good that you'll be hooked for life.

Now, child sponsorship is about as good as charity products get. So...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Hannah gave £1,000 to…

Along with Richard, I gave a big chunk of my money to the Ministry of Stories – an amazing, inspiring place that makes me wish I was six years old again.

But since I’m only getting older and uglier, I also gave £260 to Dementia UK, who do a sterling job of caring for those with 'the cruellest diseases 0f all'. I’d hate to watch someone I love struggle with dementia and slowly lose their grip on reality. But it might just happen – and I hope there's plenty of advice and support available if so.

The rest of my money I gave to The Red Cross, who seemed to respond swiftly and effectively to the recent earthquake in Japan. Thankfully, I don't have friends or family affected, but these shocking photos blew my mind – and ultimately decided my charity choice...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I didn't do this but I wish I had

Hats off to whoever did this at RAPP. Making things look simple isn't easy. So when people look at stuff like this and say 'I could do that' then the only sensible response is 'maybe, but you didn't'.

I wish I'd been the planner too – so that I could tell people what their text would achieve aside from venting their anger.


Friday, 6 May 2011

Louise gave £1,000 to...

Great Ormond Street Hospital

GOSH is an amazing place. In the little time I spent in the hospital a couple of years ago the staff were fantastic and the care was spot on. This I wasn't surprised by, but I didn't expect it to find it such an emotional place. You pass children in the corridors and you know that they are very sick. And it breaks your heart.

I wanted to give my full amount to help them get the best care available.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Nicki gave £1,000 to...

I’m very new to the whole business of asking people for money. (In fact I don’t, I just sit near people who do.) But I’m a seasoned professional when it comes to being asked, and for me the things that work always involve some beautifully written copy and lots of tears.

Last summer I got an email from my friend Brigid, whose husband comes from very rural Punjab, Pakistan. His family is still living there, and two of his brothers run a school – the Daaman school for girls – funded entirely on charity donations, which I’ve supported. Anyway, the email explained simply that the village and most of the surrounding farmland had been devastated by the floods.

It was an extraordinary email, frank, direct and personal. It was letting me know, as a friend, that if I wanted to help it would be gratefully received.

But then, a few months after I’d handed over my small donation, I received an even more extraordinary email. Brigid wrote to tell me how my donation, and mine alone, had literally changed the lives of two whole families – renting one of them a room in a new house, and buying the other enough materials to set up a small scrap metal recycling business.

So, when I was given the chance to donate in the great Open Giveaway, I sent it to Brigid. The school, homes and lives are slowly being rebuilt. And I really look forward to hearing again how I’ve played a small but intimate part in that.

Thank you letters. What a great idea.


To support the Daaman School or Taunsa Area Relief Fund email azharbrigid@hotmail.com

Mark gave his £1,000 to...

Year 2 of the big Open money giveaway. I thought I'd be really clever this year and write to a selection of charities, ask what they would do with £1,000 and give the money to the charity that gave the best answer (yes I know... a smart arse approach).

However, a couple of things happened which suddenly made my charitable decisions feel so much more important.

First I learned that someone very close to me was going have still born twins at 28 weeks. Barnaby and Ellis were born on my birthday and we attended their funeral last week. One of the saddest moments of my life.

Then I was told about a group of girls and boys who were waiting for therapy from Action for Children specialists after being raped or molested by members of their own family. The centre that wanted to help them had put a request on My Action for Children.

I finally thought about my son's childminder. She has a son who has Crohn's disease. He's only twelve and I know he's having a rubbish time because of it.

So, my donations went to the following lovely organisations:

Sands (Stillbirth & neonatal death charity)

My Action for Children

Crohn's and Colitis UK


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Richard gave his other £780 to...

As well as giving £220 to Ministry of Stories, along with Hannah, I also gave...

£280 to Magic Breakfast
Magic Breakfast provides breakfasts (no surprises there), to children at school, who otherwise haven't been fed/have been fed something not very conducive to a long hard day of learning. They work in 15 Hackney schools (as well as 'round the country), so it's nice to keep my giving local. Why £280? Well, 28p buys one kid breakfast, so here's 1,000 breakfasts. The card in the picture was my thank you. Cute.

My final £500 went to the Albert Kennedy Trust
Set up in 1989, they work with young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people who have become homeless or are living in hostile environments. With offices in London and Manchester, and a bed for the night costing just £20, hopefully this money will go to good use.


Emma gave her £1,000 to...

My mum runs this amazing centre in Felixstowe, Suffolk. It provides transport, activities and on-site catering for elderly individuals in the local community who otherwise would have little or no outside contact.

These are people with active social needs but their activity is limited by reduced mobility or fear of our fast-changing environment and whose life-long friends or relationships have passed on and they feel alone, forgotten and frightened. The centre is run entirely by volunteers with wonderful compassion, sensitivity and patience.

I reckon that we all need a bit of human warmth and companionship sometimes. I hope that an organisation like this is around when my legs give out but I still need to hold someone’s hand and chat about my day.

As it turns out their fridge-freezer blew a gasket at the weekend and the cheque arrived just as they were pondering how to fund a replacement….weirdly prescient giving.