Tag Archives: charity

What Does £32,000,000 Buy? (Part 2)

I’ve been doing more thinking since yesterday, specifically about President Trump’s comments on the “cowardly” security guard at the school shooting.

I thought about two things at that point. One was that if I’d been there I’d have been hiding behind him, so it’s not for me to talk about courage. The other is that a man who avoided service in Vietnam should perhaps follow my lead and not lecture others about lack of courage.

Mainly, however, I’ve been thinking about how to spend £32,000,000.

I could buy 100,000 good used handguns for that money, but I’m English and I wouldn’t know what to do with them.

When Derby built a velodrome recently (which can also host other events) it cost £22 million. Allow a bit for inflation, buying land and some running costs and I don’t suppose there will be much change out of the £32 million.

That’s a shame, as I was hoping the budget would stretch to some fact-finding tours in exotic locations and a couple of years as a “consultant”.  (I have been learning from things I have seen over the last few years).

From what I’ve seen over the years you could set up a nice rugby club with £10 million.

Perhaps an ice rink – from looking at the internet it looks like you might be able to build one for the price of a rugby club. You could even build a rink for long track speed skating, as we don’t have any in the UK. I imagine there’s a good reason for that, such as a lack of long track speed skaters but it’s probably a Field of Dreams situation – if you build it they will come. If not, you’re going to be stuck with a lot of empty ice.

In my mind’s eye I’m seeing a cross between a velodrome and a long track rink. It features quite a long, banked track and features bicycles with studded tyres. It probably won’t catch on. Anyway, you’d probably find it hard to freeze water on a slope.

However, even as that idea fades a picture of men on skis going down a bobsleigh track replaces it…

How about a nice tropical island instead?

At least we now  have a definite answer to the question of money and the Winter Olympics. For £32,000,000 you can buy one Gold and four Bronze medals, plus a lot of heartbreak, character building and learning experiences. And cliches.

Is it worth it? In truth, probably not. We don’t really have the facilities or the snow for most winter sports so it will always be a bit of frippery.  In most cases we aren’t going to derive any lasting benefit from the Games as people generally don’t have access to the facilities needed to train, apart from curling and short track skating.

At this point I really should show the depth of my character and sensitivity and tell you how many starving children I could support if I had £32 million..

I’ve spoken about Mary’s Meals before, a charity that provides breakfast at school for kids in the developing world. They could provide a year of breakfasts for over 2,300,000 kids. That sounds like good value to me.

I’m sure there are many other projects that would benefit too.

Unfortunately for my reputation as a deep and sensitive soul I am having trouble getting past the idea of a tropical island. It’s getting colder at the moment and I’m beginning to think of warmth and sunshine.

 

 

 

Paper Flags

I first became interested in paper charity flags when I saw some in an antique shop in the early 1990s. They were stuck to a card and had obviously been in a scrap book. This rendered them useless to a collector in many ways but it had allowed the previous owner to write dates and information next to them, so they were more interesting in another way.

As you can see – ambulances were a popular subject. The stories of privately raised medical units, and the people who staffed them could be a book in itself. This list  gives you some idea. Add Lawrence Binyon to it. He often gets overlooked.

Over the years I added a few more, even buying a few off a lady who had kept one of each that she had sold for the Red Cross in 1918. She was sitting with her grand-daughter at an antiques fair in a Suffolk village hall. She was happy that the flags had found a good home, and I was happy to have spent a few minutes chatting with a lady who had eighty years of history behind her. That was in the days when it used to be worth stopping when you saw a sign by the roadside.

Horses were popular too. Eight million horses died in the Great War, plus countless mules and donkeys. They had, as far as I know, no strong views on Belgian neutrality, and didn’t get the right to vote in 1918 after their contribution to the war effort. All in all I think they got a raw deal.

There’s a good Word Press site on military horses but I can’t find it at the moment – I’ll have another look tonight.

As with almost everything, I have various parts of the collection scattered in a variety of boxes around the house, and have a patchy knowledge of the subject. If only I’d applied myself to learning more about the subject I might be an expert with a PhD on litter and a TV series on The Things We Threw Away. Stranger things have happened.

I took a few photographs recently, so here are a few examples for you to look at.

Belgians were also popular in the Great War (see Hercule Poirot for example) and ended up here in great numbers. This link told me a lot I didn’t know about them. I’ve seen the odd plaque about, including one in the Nottingham Guildhall but I never really looked into the subject. I believe that Belgians did have strong views on Belgian neutrality – look here and here for two who certainly did.

Frightened by brassieres

Sorry to mention female underwear, but it seems to have been a feature of this week.

First my sister raised the subject.

She also raised the subject of my comments on Mum’s soup. Just to clarify matters – she was a good cook, and cooked a wide variety of what were seen as adventurous food in the 1970s. Her soup also tasted good. It was just that it didn’t look good.

Anyway, back to brassieres. It seems that they can be quite important to women in Africa, because women with underwear are not only more comfortable but are seen as more likely to have male family members, which frees them from the threat of attack.

You’d think they had enough problems with war, famine and bad water.

There are several charities shipping underwear to Africa, which can include “gently worn” bras. This is one of them.

I have all this on the authority of my sister – please don’t think I sit here thinking about underwear.

It became more of a feature when Julia asked me if I could pick up some bras while I was shopping. Being a well-trained husband I said I would. After all, how difficult can it be?

When is was in my early 20s I once went into Marks & Spencers to buy an underslip as a present. I’m still scarred by the memory. I mean, first you feel like you’re being regarded as a pervert.  Then you go snow blind at the amount of nylon. There is only so much underwear you can see before you start staring around in panic. I was helped out by one of the assistants. It was probably not the first time she’d had to help out.

However, I’m older and wiser now, and more a man of the world. I had the size written on a piece of paper, I have done lots of laundry, there was nothing that could go wrong.

Well, apart from some women staring at me like I shouldn’t be there. I confess I panicked.

Next week I will give Julia a lift to the shop and she will buy her own.

Yes, I know many of you will thinking of this clip.

Greengages and Government

I really ought to be writing my next Desert Island Blogs  but if I do I won’t get round to writing about today.

It’s not been an outstandingly interesting day, but then again, it’s been good enough to record – starting with greengages and ending in conflict with the government.

The greengages in the garden are sparse but pleasant. The tree is in need of a good prune to open it up into the approved goblet shape and I suspect a good feed will do some good too. It’s at the top of my list because I like greengages, but we’ll have to see what actually happens. When your wife is in charge, and has a group of enthusiastic volunteers to help her, nothing is certain. So far they’ve ripped out armfuls of mint, laid waste to the toadflax and clipped random branches off most of the fruit trees because they watch Monty Don on TV.

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Elusive greengages, Wilford, Notts

She couldn’t run the garden without them, but it would be nice to have some order in the place. Whenever I think of work going on in the garden I tend to think of a maelstrom of ativity directed towards tidiness rather than pollinators.

From there I went to Newark. The weather was lovely and I heard an interesting story about shoes.

In the aftermath of the Great War the storyteller’s grandfather died as a result of gas he had inhaled on the Western Front. It was a common story, with some veterans still coughing their ways through the 1960s and 70s due to gas injuries. This death, with an eighteen-month-old girl in the family(thev storyteller’s mother) , cast them all into poverty. They were able to get shoes from a charity – shoes for boys had Peter Pan on the front and the shoes for girls had Cinderella. She was so ashamed of her charity shoes that she tried to cover the Cinderella up using blacklead grate polish.

Does anyone know anything about these shoes?  Ideally I need input from a Londoner in his 70s – now where would I find one of them?

I’ve tried Google but it’s mostly about pantomimes. There was a Bradford Cinderella Club but there’s no mention of pictures on shoes.

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Newark from the car park, again

After that it was time to get back to Nottingham for a blood test. I walked in, registered and didn’t even have time to open my book before being buzzed through.  Unfortunately they sent me through to the wrong room. Then they redirected me and I went to another wrong room, though I think that was my fault. Finally they stuck a needle in me. Then another. And another. Then they called another nurse in, and she failed. Finally, as my false grin was stating to fade, they hit the red stuff. To be fair, they had hit the veins with previous attempts (and I was leaking blood all over the place) but they just couldn’t fill a tube.

Last time I gave that much blood the Blood Transfusion Service gave me a cup of tea and a biscuit.

It’s getting time for my car’s MOT test, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a reminder from the DVLA. I checked on the website and they have no record. This is government cost cutting in action. Seemingly it’s quite common these days. I nipped down to the garage to check, and confirmed I do need  a test. I’ve booked it in for tomorrow.

After picking Julia up from work I went shopping, only to find that the road was closed. It took a while getting round that, after which I had to use a different branch of TESCO than the one I had intended. This entailed parking next to a squashed pigeon and dodging round a number of large women with tattoos, who were shopping, slowly, with their equally large, slow daughters.

Now, I’m large myself, and I don’t move as fast as I did, but I do try to employ a degree of spatial awareness and I don’t take my kids shopping. They wouldn’t go anyway: they don’t like being seem with me.

Finally, to confirm my view of the place there were no decent books on the charity book table. At my normal branch there is a bookcase with five shelves of books. At the one I used tonight, just a table with a scattering of dog-eared rubbish.

As a final thought, the insides of my elbows hurt as if they’ve been stabbed multiple times. Oh, that’s right…

 

Funding – reality strikes back

When we set up the project the theory was that it was going to pay for itself because clients would pay from their personal budgets (which were just being introduced) and we would have a company that funded itself from fees and produce sales.

Things didn’t quite develop as we intended. The council still seems to control the budgets and they have cut many of our clients back until one of them is now paying only half the daily rate we started with.

We weren’t expecting to make a fortune but we were expecting to take a small wage out of it. We don’t, and that’s why we have several other part-time jobs to make ends meet.  However, this is about funding, not about me moaning about housekeeping.

When we started, other projects couldn’t believe what we were doing, or that we were viable. I suppose that’s what happens when you grow up in an era where people throw money at you. Soon, though, we noticed a change, as people were coming to talk to us about how we did it. Don’t get me wrong – there are other people out there who cover their costs without grants, but they are few and far between.

Unfortunately we can’t advise people how to do it because they can’t replicate what we have, such as a modest lifestyle, a small house with no mortgage and a willingness to work for less than minimum wage.

The only advice we could give, apart from lowering costs and expectations, and becoming a charity as you can access more funds that way. With so much competition for funding most people with money to give away will only give to registered charities. We are a Community Interest Company (Quercus Community CIC, according to our full title) and have never followed my advice.

Many local groups have gone this route over the years, though it’s still relying on grants rather than earning your own money. We have applied for grants now and then but are generally turned down. I know it’s nothing personal because it was much the same when I was involved in fund-raising for junior sports clubs. We once wanted new shirts for a junior rugby team – it eventually took over six months, including grants from three sources, four days of bag-packing in supermarkets and some nifty sponsorship deals. If you don’t have a good brand and a good sob story it’s a long, hard slog to raise funds.

I’ve just been reading a report from the NCVO on the current funding of charities – small charities have more erratic funding due to fewer income streams, the emphasis is shifting to income generation from grants and legacies are a neglected form of fund-raising – are three key points, though not unexpected.

In one way it’s good to be vindicated about income generation, but in others it’s a bit of a worry. As for the legacies, I’ve known about the benefits of legacies for years (from a sport-related training course believe it or not) but I don’t think we have a big enough pool of people to mention it to. It’s a delicate subject unless you can blanket a large membership with a reminder about it. With just a few elderly people about the place we’re more likely to be vilified as a modern Burke and Hare.

 

Second post of the day

Sorry if it seems like I’m running a bus company, no blogs for a while then two come along at the same time…

It was quite a good week last week and it mostly got steamrollered by Open Farm Sunday and the scarecrows.

We saw a red kite over Screveton for the first time in the four years we’ve been here. It was a great view too, with a really good silhouette against a beautiful blue sky (and who had left his camera in the back of the car? Yes, me.)

We had chocolate slab cake after one of the mothers made cakes for a volunteer event that was cancelled. Sadness at the cancellation was, I’m sorry to say, short-lived when I looked into the tin.

I know I lead a dull and boring life, but they are surely highlights even in the life of an exciting celebrity. Did Demi Moore see a red kite? Did anyone give Barack Obama a chocolate slab cake? Does my choice of celebrity mark me as being out of step with the modern world?

Anyway, far from the lifestyle of the rich and famous, we also had around 325 children in the activity tent over the course of Open Farm Sunday.

I was quite pleased with that – 325 kids who now know a bit more about food, farming and the environment., though I know it’s a drop in the ocean when you look at surveys like this that tell us 40% of people don’t know we grow oats in this country (I selected that one because of the next paragraph, but some of the other findings are equally worrying).

Then I started thinking about future events – it will be World  Porridge Day in  October and part of that is about Mary’s Meals – we’ve supported them in the past and they’ve just fed a million kids. A million! I’m now slightly less impressed with our 325.

However, we have another 30 coming in tomorrow (leaving me just 999, 645 of the million) and we’re doing insects and habitats with them. This calls for less blogging and more reading as I’m hopeless with insect ID.

Watch this space…