Charity begins at home – and ends there

Beans and silly sausage

Beans and silly sausage?

No, it’s not a gripe about the Tories increasing the overseas aid budget to help regimes like Pakistan’s that buys weapons of mass destruction (real ones) and puts people on death row for talking about Christ.

Today is the BBC’s annual attempt to get the land’s couch potatoes to phone up and donate money to “good causes”. To the Children In Need viewer, charity begins at home – and ends there in most cases – in the sense that they are “entertained” in their living rooms during the 36 hours the show runs (it only feels that long!) and don’t even need to leave the chaise longe to telephone Pudsey’s special “give us yer effing money” number. Not that the loveable, perpetually injured bear would use Geldoffian profanities.

While soap opera “stars” make fools of themselves on the telethon, the real heroes of the hour are those brave men and women all across the land being sponsored for sitting in baths of cold baked beans – not thinking that they are wasting an awful lot of food which could feed the hungry.

I think the problem is that, with an increasingly dumbed down population, we need to be told when to give and to whom. I have lost count of the number of charities who write to me with literature whose text and pictures are aimed at making me feel guilty. I have news for them: I don’t! Many of them are big businesses with highly-paid staff in some cases – I don’t mean the many faithful volunteers, but the chief execs, directors and area managers.

I had written more about specific charities I have studied, but have decided to keep it for another post as it has ended up longer than expected.

Have we lost the real meaning of “charity”?

I have made the effort to talk to some of the alcoholics who stay at one of the town’s hostels (called bed and breakfasts) and invited a couple into my home for cups of tea and meals and given practical help with such things as dealing with the “authorities”.

Not that everyone could do that, but being a reformed drinker myself, it is easier for me to understand them and not be afraid. It would be easier if I gave £20 to an alcohol charity to employ someone to go to the B&B to make a cup of tea and offer advice!

Not nearly as rewarding though.

If we as a nation have to be either made to feel guilty or “entertained” in order to give money or help to people/charities then something has gone badly wrong with our attitude towards others less fortunate.

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7 Responses to Charity begins at home – and ends there

  1. My father-in-law is extremely dismissive of a certain relief charity (I won’t name it) and refuses to contribute. When he was working some years ago in a Latin American country that had experienced a major earthquake, he met paid staff from this charity, who had ostensibly flown over (first class), stayed in expensive hotels and actually did next to nothing to help. But at least they got their jolly and were able to get a suntan. Rightly, my father-in-law feels that the poor folk who contribute their mites to the charity are betrayed by the professional fat-cats at the top of the organisation.
    He raised funds himself while he was in the UK on furlough; the resulting money financed a new school in a devastated village.

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    Hi CC,

    I wonder if it’s one of the charities I have just written about for a (near) future post. Stay tooned. (Snippet – World Vision’s president, Richard E. Stearns, was paid $376,799 in 2008.)

    Raising funds yourself has to be far more rewarding and you know that the money has gone where it’s supposed to.

  3. English Viking says:

    Charity is the old-English word for love, (of the brotherly sort) and that is it in a nutshell; love others. In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, then you will have made a donation to ‘charity’.

    BTW, Slightly O/T, but I am a bit of an animal lover, and made regular donations to the RSPCA, in the hope that all those poorly kittens would have their paws bandaged. That stopped the minute I found out that the RSPCA regularly ‘donates’ other peoples’ donations to Labour party. 1 million quid in 1999 alone.

  4. Stewart Cowan says:

    That’s incredible, English – I suspect that was that to “encourage” them to ban foxhunting?

  5. English Viking says:


    It was actually after the fact, so more of a reward than an encouragement.

    Some might call it a bribe, even.

  6. Stewart Cowan says:

    I think the ban was 2004?

  7. English Viking says:


    Jack Straw launched the Burns Enquiry in 1999, which was in line with their 1997 manifesto promise to ban fox-hunting. The purpose of this ‘enquiry’ was to paste a veneer of scientific authority on the eventual ban, which was motivated by nothing more than class-spite. Another example of ‘rubbing the right’s noses in it’, I believe Labour hierarchy’s term for it is, just like immigration.

    The ban came into force in 2005.

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