Children in Need – a true vision of charity?

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As we approach Christmas and begin to plan what can only be described as one of the biggest and most expensive events of the year, we often worry about how we are going to be able to afford another lavish spending spree without breaking the bank. Whilst we worry over our purse strings, there is little thought for others, who have little chance of eating a cooked meal, let alone throwing a party to match something that the Beckhams’ would host. There are children who do not even know what Christmas is; simply because they do not have the opportunity, support or family to have one.

This is where Children in Need step in. They have the aim of supporting disadvantaged children and young adults so ‘that every child in the UK has a childhood which is: Safe, happy and secure, and allows them to achieve their potential’, in accordance to the vision of Children in Need. They do this by holding a one hour television appeal; usually enlisting the help of celebrities, most notably Sir Terry Wogan, who has hosted the seven hour television event since 1980 and is a trustee of the charity.

As celebrities from all walks of television and radio strut their stuff across our television screens in order to raise money, the charity also appeals to the public to hold fundraising events too. In 2009, a record breaking thirty nine million pounds was raised for the charity with the money going towards various projects across the UK all to help those who need it most. However, as with many charities and fundraisers such as Comic Relief, it is understandable that the public want to see their money being spent well.

And how do we know the money is being spent well? We don’t, and despite the success stories projected to us, taking 2009 for example, thirty nine million pounds is a lot of money and obviously is not solely spent on a couple of charity cases. So where exactly is the rest of that thirty nine million going? We have to trust that our generosity is not being taken advantage of, and is simply not lining the pockets of the trustees of the charity. Is the money actually going to be making a difference to the lives of children, or is it simply a publicity stunt for ‘B list’ celebrities with a thirst for a short-lived burst of fame. We are all feeling the bite of the recession, and one could be forgiven for holding back from donating when it is ambiguous as to the destinations of the funds.

Despite this, whilst some say that charity is not true humility and that it is just an act of trying to make ourselves feel better; we should help those who need it, how hard is it to donate a small amount of money just to keep a child warm at night? Surely if we can make a difference, even if we are not sure of the validity of the charity, we should anyway? What if the scepticism about the honesty of these charities is completely wrong, and as a result the money that could be benefitting hundreds of children is not being donated simply due to illogical viewpoints? If every person in the UK donated a pound, then we would raise millions without it making a real financial impact on people. We can give a lot with little effort, and we should when most of us can afford to do so.

Perhaps we need to take a step back and stop being so overly paranoid about where exactly our money is being spent, after all, the government does not shout from the roof tops where our taxes are spent. We probably would be better off not knowing and not wanting to know, so maybe we should apply this to charity? We should give where we can and put faith in our fellow humans that they are putting our money to good use. After all, surely a child’s happiness is worth it? 

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