The Crisis Christmas Appeal
I don’t know if you feel the same but recent global events have left me with an overwhelming sense of helplessness and foreboding that we are heading relentlessly towards some kind of impending global and societal disaster. It’s not any one thing in particular but 2016 seems to have been a pretty bad year all round. Well, that is if you listen to the media.
I started thinking about what was wrong. What weighed so heavy on my heart? The TV tells me about war, death, disease and famine which has a psychological effect on me making me miserable, but this doesn’t meaningfully reflect the problems of the small part of the world I live in. It’s more than that. When I look out into my community there is a great amount of a different kind of suffering happening all around me. A lack of jobs, too much debt, homelessness, mental illness, addiction and a general sense of detachment present in so many people. Society seems to be suffering and this unease I felt was a perfectly normal response to this negative environment. I’m sure things used to be better? Have things got worse? Have I got more cynical? What is wrong and how do we solve it?
In our digital age where our window to the world is provided either though the mainstream media or social media it can be easy to think that there is no hope and there is nothing you can do about it. You vote once every four years and then complain about how terrible things are in between and how someone should do something about it. What could one person do? Surely it’s impossible to change the world for the better? You might as well just buy the fair trade coffee and share the occasional meme about stopping the war …. and then get back to being miserable. You may think that you are such a small cog in a huge and mind boggling complex system that anything you do goes unnoticed or doesn’t make a difference – well you can make a difference and it doesn’t go unnoticed by those that truely need it.
I figured the best place to start was in my local community giving my time – it’s easier to know I am making an actual change for good and that my kindness isn’t being misused by some faceless far away organisation.
I always hear it said that there is simply not enough money to help the vulnerable, the poor, the old, the sick….. and that someone should do something about it. I think therein lies the problem. Belief if only there was more money that the issues of disconnection, addiction, loneliness, poverty and despair would just disappear is ludicrous. This is a society where we can’t even keep the roads free of potholes or run trains on time, yet we have infinite money for banks and wars that we never seem to win. Money is not the issue. The someone who needs to do something is me (and you).
The solution, I figure to many of the problems of modern society is merely making its citizens feel that they are a part of it. Connection is the solution to disconnection, addiction, loneliness and despair. The way that we as a society heal ourselves is by re-discovering each other, reaching out and connecting with the unconnected until there are no disconnected people. This doesn’t take a whole lot of money, not even a whole lot of time really – it is just a mindset. Making a difference with someone who has found themselves in the most unfortunate of situations makes not only yourself feel better but can help someone turn their life around this sends out positive ripples throughout society. Kindness breeds kindness and that really does seem to be what is lacking.
So fully armed with my new mindset I set out on the internet trying to find where I could help and where help was needed. Opportunities in my local community were not hard to find. It is nearing Christmas and Crisis – a charity supporting London’s homeless at Christmas needed IT volunteers. It wasn’t my first choice, but arts and craft volunteers were over subscribed and I do have a special skill set having worked with computers my entire life.
I’ve signed up and and I’m doing 40 hours over 6 shifts during the festive period. Im even working through the night on Christmas eve and finishing shortly after sunrise on Christmas morning. So this year is going to be a slightly different Christmas for me. I think it will be first Christmas I’ve managed to give without having to buy a present at a shop – and you know what. It feels good. Really good.
If you would like to get involved you can click on the link below.
The average age of death for a homeless person is 47 – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GarryWalker – I’ve registered for 6 shifts commissioning and decommissioning the IT equipment before and after the Crisis Christmas Appeal – there are still volunteer places available for all sorts of roles – or you can reserve a place for a homeless person at Christmas for just £22.32. As well as food, warmth and companionship the centres offer access to vital services that help people take their first steps out of homelessness. #UKCharityWeek