Saturday, 21 January 2017

Charity Chat

I know, I know, it's not the done thing to talk about 'charidee', is it?

But I'm going to!

Last year left me - and the vast majority of people, I expect - feeling somewhat unsettled, to say the least. I'm not a political person, but the EU Referendum result and then the news about the successor to President Obama were undoubtedly two huge events which are going to have serious repurcussions for years to come. Then there were all the celebrity deaths, and regardless of how you felt about those people, it just seemed to be an endless barrage of bad news. Not to mention all the war and conflict going on around the world, and the horrifying terrorist attacks.

On a personal level, a family member was diagnosed with lymphoma; he's having treatment, but it isn't going as well as we would like it to and it's a constant source of worry for us all. He's very young, and doesn't deserve this (nobody does - I hate cancer!)

The New Year is always a time for reflection, and thinking about everything that had happened in 2016, I started this year with a feeling of wanting to 'do something'. It wasn't much more specific than that - I just wanted to help others, in some small way (because I can't really do it in a big way).

So I started thinking about charities, and how I could help. Obviously, I could donate money, but I'm not exactly rolling in cash - does a couple of quid really help? It just seems like such a drop in the ocean. I know that's not the right attitude - if we all thought like that then no-one would donate anything, I suppose.

I know of a couple of charities who have set up Amazon Wish Lists for items they need. I think this is a fantastic idea, and I wish more would do it, as it's such a simple way to donate, and you feel like your money is going exactly where it's needed.

I've thought about buying extra items with my grocery shopping and saving them up to deliver to certain charities at Christmas, for example, but the problem I have with that is just where to keep everything? I could take things once a month, but if I'm honest, I just probably wouldn't do that, I wouldn't be able to find the time.

I'm not an 'activist', I'm not the kind of person who gets really fired up and says "Right, let's do this!!" and then goes out and changes the world. I do want to help, but I have to be practical and find ways that suit me, because there's more of a chance that I'll do something then.

So, the first thing I've done, is to start using Ebay's Charity selling function. I'm in permanent 'declutter' mode, so whenever I list anything on Ebay, I'm going to choose a charity and make a 10% donation from my sales. I haven't actually sold anything yet since I started doing it, but I'm going to keep it up all through the year, and hopefully by December I might've made a small contribution to a few charities.

I've been thinking about what kind of charities to support, and obviously this is a very personal thing, so I won't list all the ones I've chosen. However, last year I became aware of an issue which I'm ashamed to say had never really crossed my mind before - the difficulties that homeless women face when having to deal with their periods. The Homeless Period presented a petition to parliament asking for homeless shelters to provide free sanitary products to women, as they already do with razors and condoms for men. They now have a new petition running asking Proctor and Gamble (makers of Always and Tampax) to donate a significant proportion of their products to homeless shelters. I've signed this petition. They don't have any other way of donating, but they ask you to buy sanitary products and take them to your local foodbank, which is still something I'm thinking about.

Similarly, Bloody Good Period aims to provide sanitary products and toiletries to women visiting the North London Asylum Seeker Drop In Centre. This initiative does have an Amazon Wish List, where you can purchase one or more items and have them sent directly to the centre. I've just bought some baby wipes for them.

Another website I discovered was Helping Handbags Worldwide. I like the idea of this, but I'm not sure if it's an official charity yet, and the site and Facebook group are not always up to date (for example, I don't think there is a coordinator local to me at the moment, or if there is I can't seem to contact them). I briefly thought about volunteering to become a coordinator, but again, I have to be practical and think whether I have the time and the space to give to something like this, and unfortunately the answer is that I don't.

I know some supermarkets have collection bins for foodbanks, or sometimes pet rescue centres, where you can buy things with your shopping and then put them directly into the collection bin on your way out. At the moment, we get our groceries delivered so I don't go to the supermarket all that often, but if I find out that they do a regular collection, I might start going in person again so that I can make a contribution.

Anyway, this has turned out to be quite a long post, so I'll call it a day for now. I hope you don't think I'm being 'preachy' or patronising - you may already be aware of the above charities, and you probably have ones that you donate to regularly that mean something to you, so I'm not trying to tell you what to do or anything like that. I'm writing about it for my own benefit as much as anything else, in the hope that it will keep it in my mind throughout the year, and that it won't just turn out to be a New Year resolution that I forget about in a couple of months.

Bye for now!!

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