Next week I’m going to be selling The Big Issue on the streets of Glasgow. When I was asked to do it, I accepted without a thought. After all, I’m a big fan of what the Big Issue Foundation does, and I buy the magazine regularly as I really enjoy the articles.
Of course, like everyone else, I do walk past a lot of vendors, usually uttering a polite ‘no thanks, I’ve already got one.’ I didn’t think I would find it hard to stand in the street and sell them myself though. After all, I was in sales myself for 10 years and so I know how to do it.
One thing I don’t like doing, however, is asking for sponsorship. I have done a few 10k runs for the personal challenge, but I do nominate a medical charity and I post up the details on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I’m always touched by people’s generosity.
This time seems to be different. This time I am asking for sponsorship to help charities that help the homeless, to give them a chance to get back into society. This time people, with very few exceptions, seem unwilling to give.
Why is that? Why will people help others affected by a disease, or by floods, droughts, wars in far off lands, but they don’t want to help people on the streets in their own towns? Doesn’t charity begin at home? People are on the streets through no fault of their own. They are struggling from addiction, from mental disorders, from chaotic homes and violence. You can be pretty sure that if they ‘choose’ to be homeless then any alternative options they had to choose from must be pretty bad.
I am very lucky – I have no direct experience of the desperate situations so many in our society face, and neither do my friends and colleagues. Homelessness is not like cancer; although it can affect people from different social backgrounds, it’s really rather rare that it affects those from educated, middle class backgrounds. Maybe that’s why people are less willing to give. We don’t have a personal connection, and we assume that there’s a safety net for those that want to be helped. But it’s not that simple. This blog from a council housing officer might give you some idea of the circumstances in which people can find themselves.
I know my network is full of thoughtful, caring people. I know they are generous. Its impossible to support every good cause, and you have to make choices. I know I do.
However, if you do have a bit of money to spare after the Christmas bills are paid, please consider sponsoring me via this link: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FionaGodsman1
If you want to help the homeless, but you don’t want to give them money, take a look at this great local charity The Invisibles. They collected nearly 1,000 sleeping bags from T in the Park festival goers and recycled them to the homeless. Awesome!
And/or buy a Big Issue the next time you see a vendor. It costs £2.50, the vendor will give you change if you don’t have the right amount, and its a much better read than Hello magazine.
Wow, its been a while since I’ve blogged, really need to do it more often! Thanks for reading my wee rant.