Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Charity Stays At Home.

Last weekend saw the culmination of the annual BBC charity bash better known as Children in Need. For me listening to BBC radio 2, particularly the breakfast show, all last week was an absolute nightmare. Don't get me wrong, I don't object to charitable giving and taking, there is nothing wrong with it at all, I just object to the fact that it has to be done.

In the 21st century we can spend impossible amounts of money sending young men and women to their deaths in foreign wars which a brief look in a history book should tell us cannot be won by anyone, yet we have to act like fools, sit in baths of beans, walk, run, skip or jump impossible distances to raise money for for what should be provided as a right.

I'm just getting this off of my chest, I don't expect anyone to agree and I do not mean any offense, this is just a personal view borne of experience and upbringing. As a child charity was putting money in a tin for Poppy Day, and getting a poppy pinned to your coat. There was another one my Mum always gave to which resulted in a little pink wild rose, I seem to remember it being called a Princess Alexandra Rose and had something to do with nurses but I could have that completely wrong.

Then there were the international appeals for famine relief that pre dated Oxfam. I think it must have been in China because I recall my Mum again, telling me how grateful I should be that I was eating more in one meal than a whole family had to eat in a day in China. I was a fussy eater up till then! As communication improved and the world got smaller we heard about disasters and famines and and got used to the little envelopes coming through the door to be filled for later collection, and soon it was 1985.

Band Aid, Bob Geldof's act of genius. Give people a spectacle and while you are at it remind them how lucky they are, how grateful they should be and how affluent they are compared to the poor people of Ethiopia. Exactly what my Mum did to me 15 years earlier about the poor Chinese. And our acts of benevolence have been 'feeding the world' ever since. I have absolutely no problem with this, helping those who can't help themselves because they are caught up in catastrophes so out of the ordinary in countries unable to cope with disasters, wars and the like is a truly humanitarian action. But what happens with Children in Need is another story.

Terry Wogan's auction for the things that money can't buy, Chris Evan's dine and disco auction on the radio during the week leading up to Friday nights television extravaganza make me cringe. I'll say again, this is personal, their intentions are admirable, the amount of money they raise is phenomenal, but the amounts of money being given by individuals from my point of view is almost obscene, how do so many people have such quantities of cash to give away? Rhetorical question, it's really none of my business, I'm happy that so many people have got so much money to give away, I wish I did! I can't bring myself to watch the television on the night, it is too painful and I can't can't take the emotional roller coaster, I find myself careering between sorrow and anger just thinking about it.

Sorrow and anger because all this broadcast time is raising money for children in need here in the UK, one of the more affluent counties on this planet, where individuals can afford to shell out tens of thousands of pounds to ride in a racing car or have a round of golf with someone famous. Most of the children in need in the UK are in need because of a medical condition, either of their own or of their parents or siblings. They are seriously disadvantaged by an unbalanced society. How does this happen in the 21st century? Another rhetorical question.

We've had a National Health Service for 60 odd years, we've had Social Services of one sort or another for almost as long I think, if you know better tell me, and now of course we have the wonderful Department of Work and Pensions. All three of those institutions are in a position to help, in fact are legally obliged to help and in most cases manage to do so as far as they can. But we are coming out of an enormous global banking cock up which apparently we will all be paying for for years to come so there are financial cuts in all areas. And yet there are still individuals with money to throw away, and we can still afford to wage war in counties we have no business being in.

Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I am a socialist at heart, I probably always will be, it was the way I was brought up. So I have no difficulty in saying that most of the money raised for children in need last week, and will continue to be raised for weeks to come, should really have been raised in taxes to go straight to the National Health Service and Social Services, because it seems to me that the charities and organisations which benefit from Children in Need are doing work that the health and social services should be undertaking themselves. That a charity has to pay for a break for a young carer in a country where a bankers bonus would probably buy that young carer a house is wrong. I am very sad to say we seem to be living in Thatchers dream of no society.

That's it, sorry if I offended anyone, it's just my opinion. I realise that most of the money will have come from ordinary people who are feeling the pinch but feel the need to give and are glad to do so, that is the best part of our nation. I just wish that there was no need for charity to care for children, and adults come to that, who should really be served by a well funded National Health Service, and a Social Services that can deliver a real social service.

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