Archive for October, 2011

I Want!

You know what I want, please donate to a childrens charity and write to me! More details on the About Lesley page….

I had an exchange on Twitter last week about my long-held longing for an Audi. I haven’t got one but one day perhaps. It got me thinking about our ‘I want’ culture. We all want, fact. Be it stuff, feelings, opportunities, change, we all want that ‘one’ thing or many things, if we get those things then perhaps life will be perfect? We assuage any guilt by telling ourselves we need to ‘want’ to be able to strive. That is true to some extent but I ask you, when do we reach ‘enough’?

When children are small they do not recognise anything beyond their own wants and feelings. When they cry they are lifted, fed, cuddled, changed and their crying stops. As they become toddlers they want to explore, touch, possess and see no barriers to having what they want. I do love this stage in children, they have total freedom and happiness in believing that everything is theirs. Of course we must teach them otherwise. We teach our children the word ‘No’, we teach them to share, a lesson hard-learned but a lesson that must be learned. It is all necessary to allow a child to develop but I do remember the sheer disappointment on my own children’s faces as this became painfully clear.

We are in a consumer culture and are continually bombarded with the next best thing. Adverts, product placement, even the news broadcasting the top twenty toys for children. Is it any wonder that our kids feel deprived if they don’t have those trainers, that game, this burger? When we combine this with the immediacy of a credit-driven economy it is too easy to say yes when we should be saying no. I have tried to raise my children to save before spending but it is tough. I know I am not immune to the charms of the advertisers either. If I am out ‘browsing’ I inevitably find myself drawn to admire handbags, a weakness I am very aware of. I contain and control it; I can admire and walk away but every now and then I succumb. My friends are very aware of this character flaw and steer me gently away from the pretty, pretty bags:)

However, there is more than one definition for want, I thought this summed it up for me –

1: to be needy or destitute
2: to have or feel need
3: to be necessary or needed
4: to desire to come, go, or be
The first definition is to me the most important. It is that which makes me keep my love of handbags and Audis in check. You know I hate to sound ‘goody-goody’, that is not my way but do I really need more when so many don’t have enough? I will continue to ask myself this when the handbag pangs get too strong. However, I won’t stop saying ‘Hello Baby’ to every beautiful Audi I see……
In the meantime, I can always look, can’t I?

Oh my, isn't it pretty!

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

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October 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm 4 comments

Support Needed….

If you don’t know why I do this please read the About Lesley page….

The basis for this post it is a feature story on the BBC News website this week – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15288865. I state up front that this is not a pop at the Americans but it is a follow-up to my last post on poverty. Please also read the Expert Analysis section of the story. Michael Petit has provided the information on the conditions and fiscal policies that have allowed this situation to come about, it is compelling reading.

For me, this is a difficult post. I struggle with cruelty and violence towards those who can’t defend themselves. There have been some cases over the years that remain with me and give me nightmares. I, perhaps selfishly, don’t often post on the topic but the facts need to be talked about. Poverty, poor education and a lack of support often leads to neglect and cruelty. There are many who raise their children well in difficult circumstances and make great sacrifices to do so. I applaud them.

This is the bald truth – in the last 10 years over 20,000 children in the US have been killed in their homes. Imagine a short, pain-filled life. No joy, no happiness. Imagine that just for one minute. The minute will tick by slowly. It is difficult to make yourself think of unpleasant things but sometimes you just should. This happens everywhere, in the UK, in the US and all other ‘developed’ countries. It isn’t right is it?

We need to provide support for struggling families. It is easy to give social workers, health visitors, charities, the caring professions a hard time. We see the cases in the news when they fail but we should remember all those cases where it works, there are no headlines when it works.

It is hard to be a parent but children should be a joy not a burden. Please think about donating to a charity that will help parents learn and children grow up. The alternative is too much to bear.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

October 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm 2 comments

What is Poverty?

If you don’t know why I do this please read the About Lesley page….

This is a post that may divide people. I am prepared for that and will be interested in any comments you may make. You may label me as a woolly liberal, a softie if you will. This is probably true but I do believe that those who can work should, I don’t think society should take care of the idle. However, in a time of rising unemployment those who wish to work may not get the chance and I think we should remember this.

What prompts this post was the report this week by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. They have published a paper entitled ‘Child and Working Age Poverty and Inequality in UK: 2010’. I have read through this paper, the conclusions are at best thought-provoking, at worst scary. I suggest that everyone take a read through the Extended Summary of this document. Some of the forecasts will make depressing reading. They are forecasts and I know there is no absolute science to economic forecasting. The Government disagrees with the conclusions and responded that the report doesn’t take into account the impacts the Universal Credit and Work Programme will bring. We should also note that the calculation for a household dropping into povery is where the household income which falls below 60% of the median income. Statistics eh?

They say money can’t buy you love. They say money can’t buy you happiness. Both statements are true. However, money can bring you choices. One of the best Dicken’s quotes is by Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield – ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’

Living in poverty reduces or removes choice. When you spend every day trying to eke out your money for food, clothing, bills, all the time knowing you will never have quite enough, therein misery lies. Compounding this is the consumer-driven society we live in. Poverty in an affluent society means you will be surrounded by things you and your children cannot have.

Choice is easier for those of us who have some disposable income. It can be the choice to get chips instead of cooking or having that pair of shoes. We still have our budgets to stick to, we have our limits. But if we have major life choices to make we have the luxury to think about them. Be it taking time out, moving country, changing our lives completely, we can at least consider. You may not make the changes, you may postpone them, that will be your choice too.

What if your dream was simply to have a warm home with good meals for your children? It might be that you want your child to go on a day-trip with his or her schoolfriends. You only want your children to have the options that you don’t have. It is known from research that children who live in poverty can fall behind in school leaving them further disadvantaged. How do you see light at the end of the tunnel when you know this is the case?

What is my definition of poverty? Among all the facts and figures I think poverty is an absence of hope.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

October 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm 6 comments

Where Does the Money Go?

You know why I do this. If you don’t please read the About Lesley Page….

As the purpose of this blog is to (gently?) coerce any readers into donating to a childrens charity I thought I would do a little research on how your donations can be spent. I have focused on three of the big hitters, Unicef, Save the Children and Oxfam. I am, like everyone, conscious of the cost-cutting measures being introduced by global Governments. These make it harder for people to look beyond their own family. I understand this; those who rely on us still need our love and financial support. However, even if it is pennies and cents shouldn’t we be looking to help a few others?

I was also interested in the value-for-money element from the charities. They are all open about their accounts and how they try to use funding for best effect. We have all heard the stories of organisations (I will not call them charities) whose ‘overheads’ mean that only a small percentage of monies raised will go to a good cause. When we give away our hard-earned income we expect it to have the biggest impact possible. Therefore, a quick summary below how my big three for today will allocate your money. Please note that this is done as best I can from internet research on the charities and my apologies to them if any details aren’t completely accurate:-

Unicef – Does anyone assume Unicef get funds from the UN? They don’t you know. All their funds come from their own fundraising efforts, be they donations, working with corporations or the sales of their cards and gifts. They raised over £60 million in 2009, a significant amount. About 22% of this will go to raising more money, spending to accumulate for future years. In total about 76% of the income raised will go to their causes. This means 4% goes to keeping the organisation going, I think this shows tight financial management considering their size and the scope of the work they do.

Oxfam – From my research the total raised by Oxfam in the last year was over £300 million. A huge amount of money but there is a huge amount of good that needs to be done. This money comes from individual and organisational donations plus some Government funding. They will use 7% of the funds to generate more income, 10% on running costs and governance with 83% spent directly on emergency, development and campaigning efforts. A lot of money but a lot of projects, I do like their option to donate to specific projects with a targeted amount to be raised.

Save the Children – In 2010 Save the Children UK had fundraising totals of just over £290 million. This came from a variety of sources, individual and corporate donations, business partnerships, Government funding for example. Future fundraising and investments uses 7% of the monies raised, retail and governance/property uses 4 % and 89% is spent on charitable activities, including 41% on one area, hunger.

Looking at the figures above I see 3 major organisations trying to do good and trying to do that good in a financially responsible manner. They use revenue to generate more revenue and keep overheads to a percentage minimum. They are open with their financial reporting but use their websites to focus on their main aims. I add some extracts from their mission statements below. I think they are worth stating, worth the little time it will take you to read them:-

Unicef – UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish children’s rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behaviour towards children. UNICEF insists that the survival, protection and development of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress.

Oxfam– Oxfam International is an international group of independent non-governmental organizations dedicated to fighting poverty and related injustice around the world. The Oxfams work together internationally to achieve greater impact by their collective efforts. Oxfam believes that Poverty and powerlessness are avoidable and can be eliminated by human action and political will. Basic human needs and rights can be met. These include the rights to a sustainable livelihood, and the rights and capacities to participate in societies and make positive changes to people’s lives. Inequalities can be significantly reduced both between rich and poor nations and within nations.Peace and substantial arms reduction are essential conditions for development.

Save the Children – Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.

You may read the words above and think they are high-fallutin? Perhaps you think them over-worthy or too optimistic? Then please read some of the other facts I was able to pick up from the websites, here are facts to be aware of:-

  • 22,000 children under 5 die every day. Every day.
  • One child dies every 3 seconds largely from preventable diseases that could be combated by the availability of basic health care.
  • A billion people go to bed hungry every day
  • Worldwide in 2009, there were an estimated 16.6 million children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS
  • Thousands of the world’s poorest people are losing their homes and livelihoods as a result of a new wave of land deals, including 22,500 people in Uganda who lost their homes because of a timber company.

I could add many more words, many more horrible facts to this blog but I hope these will be enough to make you think and even act?

I close with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

October 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm 2 comments


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