Mencap

All posts tagged Mencap

The Big Society: Are We Really All In It Together?

Published 28/01/2012 by damselwithadulcimer

At least Stephen Hester and his huge bonus are not on the front pages again today.  My other half tried to convince me that the RBS boss is worth all those shares and explained how much money Mr Hester has saved his bank.  Sorry, I’m still not entirely convince and need somebody to explain to me, very slowly, why bankers are so highly valued.  In my opinion there are many people working in far less high profile jobs and professions and who contribute to society in much more beneficial ways.  From where I’m standing it appears that our cabinet of millionaires, and multi-millionaires are far more closely allied to the ‘fat cats’ of industry and big business, than they are connected to the majority of people in Britain.

Although I’m jobless, I’m lucky that I don’t need to apply for benefits, although I would love to work. However I use some of my spare time to volunteer and help out others and I believe I have I much more balanced and sympathetic view of those who are far less well off than I am.  Today I put money in a collection box for Alzheimers and Dementia, simply because I’ve often stood in the same spot and collected for my local branch of Mencap.  Life is not fair these days, and can even be extremely cruel, but I usually feel pretty good in myself after a couple of hours holding out a collecting tin and feeling it getting heavier and heavier.  I know what I take in an hour or two would be a mere drop in the ocean compared to the earnings and bonuses of the big bank bosses.   I often feel incensed when people smile at me and walk away without putting a penny in my tin, but I feel more of a connection to those less fortunate than I would do if I carried on living my own self-centred life.

I think those of us further down the heap have more of a connection than those who preach to us.  Would they really want to donate spare time to help people learn the internet for nothing at their local library (assuming that they have one that is still open)?  I will expand this to teaching computing and internet to elderly carers in my area next month.  These are the unsung heroes of our society.  Those people who have no option but to care for friends and family with disabilities.  The people they care for are not scroungers, but people who are afflicted with problems, difficulties and illnesses that prevent them from working.  In spite of these handicaps, I know of men and women with learning disabilities who work to a certain extent and do the best they can.  And I haven’t heard one of them moan or grumble about their situation.  They just get on with it and carry on as best they can.

We are definitely not all in it together.  In Animal Farm George Orwell famously stated that ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.’  It was ever thus and will never change, unless those who are more equal roll up their sleeves to help those who are less equal.

Advertisements

Collecting for Charity

Published 25/10/2011 by damselwithadulcimer

As part of my ongoing involvement with my local branch of Mencap, I sometimes shake a collecting box outside a local supermarket.   Last week it was the turn of the nearest Tesco (in fact they only allow one collection day a year).  Unfortunately it’s not one of the more lucrative spots either, but a couple of hours spent coercing the public here and there is never wasted.  Even when passersby remark on how cold I appear, I remind them that I choose to be cold for a couple of hours, but the people I’m supporting have no choice and are disabled for life.

The two hours that I give up of my time seem to pass really quickly.  Although the collecting tin might feel rather empty to start with, it’s made worthwhile by those who drop money through the slot.  Many people will just give a pound or a fifty pence piece and others will empty all their small change into my tin.  I’ve also had the extremes: one lady folded a five pound note and poked it through the opening, whilst somebody donated one penny last week.  I kept quiet and reminded myself that I had no idea of his particular circumstances.

There are those who push past me with their shopping trolleys as if I’m obstructing them, some look me in the eye and walk past, and others mutter something about no change, or having spent it all on their shopping.  Whenever somebody stops before reaching me and fumbles in their bag, wallet or purse I’m always hopeful, but sometimes they’re only hunting for their car keys.  On the other hand, it’s a pleasant surprise when somebody pats me on the back, having passed me, and offers me money.  Of course young children always love to feed money into a collecting box, and love to have a sticker in return.  Very often I find that elderly or disabled people are the most empathetic and will donate to Mencap.

A couple of events stick out from my last collection.  The first was a very heavily pregnant young woman who staggered to the bench outside the entrance, holding her bump from underneath.  Whilst she was sitting down she kept massaging her pregnant stomach and I wondered if I was going to have to be a midwife as well as a charity collector.  However she assured me that the baby was very active and she just couldn’t manage without a rest.

I was also kept company by a gorgeous King Charles spaniel.  The owner left him outside whilst she shopped, and he kept seducing me with his big brown eyes.  He was such a sweetheart, with long, silky ears and I was sorry to see him leave.

Collecting gives me a chance to chat to strangers.  Many will stop to talk, will ask about the cause, or will just pass the time in a good natured way.  We exchange jokes, such as threatening to catch them on their way out, and one lady even remarked how I’d managed to change sex as the previous collector (when she entered) had been a man, and I was now the one rattling the tin.  It all goes some way to restoring your faith in human nature and making you feel that you are helping to contribute something for others who are less fortunate.  There are many demanding causes.  We can’t all contribute financially to everything, but we can donate some of our time.