Friday, 15 March 2013

Red Nose Day - Sweet Charity

It's that night again - the one when the BBC is taken over by Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry and their comedy pals all doing stuff to raise awareness and money for various charities in the UK and overseas. For weeks we have seen red noses in the shops and heard about various fundraising efforts by friends and celebrities. Miranda Hart has been doing various crazy things this past week and in previous years Eddie Izzard has run multiple marathons and David Walliams has been swimming. 

posing before the moonwalk a few years ago
Now, I know a bit about fundraising having been a professional fundraiser for over ten years so I have a special appreciation of how people do so much to support good causes. I've even baked cakes for Bliss, run for Cancer research and walked through London in my bra at night for Breast Cancer. In my working life I've written direct mail and radio appeals to persuade the public to part with their cash. It's heartening how kind people really are and how little they ask in return for their generosity. 

I visited refugee camps in Sierra Leone, met children who had been child soldiers and was moved to tears by the scars one young man had suffered from machete wounds to his back. He had been left for dead having witnessed the vicious murder of his entire family. It's these stories that move us to give money to good causes and that provide the personal touch that bridges the gap between us here and them over there. 

At the time I worked in the charity sector I wasn't a parent and when addressing a Rotary conference I mentioned how heartwarming it was that they were so committed to supporting children all over the world with their charitable efforts. The president of that region told me that the 'Rotary family' considered all children to be their responsibility and that giving to others was a key element of being a Rotarian. 

When I spent time in Romania with children in state institutions who had been neglected and mistreated I felt a pain and anger at their treatment that I could not adequately express. I understood the deep pain that a parent feels when they cannot help their own child as I wanted to scoop up every child and take them away from their imprisonment. 
red nose day symbol

It isn't practical to try and do it all yourself which is why Comic Relief give grants to organisations working in the UK and abroad to support people in need. I have seen first-hand some of the projects they support and can vouch for them being worthwhile. 

I know things are not easy for many of us right now and that giving to others many not be possible. It is still, however, very reassuring that so many of us are still donating to causes that vaccinate children overseas, or combat cyberbullying in this country or help women start small businesses to support themselves and their families. 

It shows that even in the toughest of times we still remember that our humanity is in what we do for others. I didn't need to become a parent to learn that lesson. Having my beloved son just reminds me every day why it's something I should never forget. 

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