I'm all for Children in Need but shouldn't the welfare state be helping?
PUBLISHED: 18:08 14 November 2018
Rachel Moore says support Children In Need by all means - but shouldn't the welfare state be putting their cash forward instead?
On Friday evening, a yellow bear in an eye patch, with a coterie of light entertainment and sports stars, will tug on the nation’s heartstrings to try to top last year’s £60.7m raised for charity.
Children in Need is a British institution, embraced by businesses and families gathered on sofas in the last 38 years to help its mission to ensure that every child should be safe, happy and secure and reach his or her potential.
Its success has been phenomenal, achieving wonderful enhancements to children’s lives over the decades, providing the support, projects and chances children and their families might have only dreamed about.
We feel compelled to help because, by the grace of God, our families don’t need that help but empathise with those who do.
But, as the years have passed, the fund-raising focus of Children in Need has shifted. As the last eight years of austerity has bitten, alleviating poverty and deprivation, and providing essential support for parents caring for disabled children has become part of the fund-raising mission, support we’ve always expected to be state-given.
No rich society should allow children to know suffering, hardship or fear. Any society proud of its humanity would work together to do what it could to make life better for these children.
We give because we care and every year we raise more. And, tomorrow, with about 30% of children in the UK living in poverty, and predictions that further government cuts will result in 1.5m more children living below the breadline by 2021, we should give even more.
But, as vital as the Children in Need funds are, and as proud as we are as a nation to raise this kind of money by daft challenges and stunts, is it right that an appeal set up to provide the extras to make difficult lives easier is now providing the basic essentials that should be provided by the welfare state?
Children in Need wasn’t set up to prop up an eroded benefits system and replace the responsibility of the government.
It’s a dilemma we all face. We want to help but should our donations be replacing what should be provided by the government?
When Pudsey Bear collected his first cash, we’d never heard of food banks. Homeless people were the odd ‘tramp’ as we called them living in night shelters. There were one or two in every town; people who had opted out, not fallen out of the system with nowhere to go.
Families were hard-up, but not poor. Today, poverty trips off our tongue like it’s expected in the eighth richest nation in the world, as we pass teenagers living in tents on the street.
Tomorrow, contactless technology will be used to donate to Children in Need for the first time at some London tube stations, while, nearby, families will be queuing for basics at food banks and living in almost Dickensian conditions in hostel.
Commuters on six-figure salaries will send fivers by the tap of a card, maximizing the latest technology, for families a stone’s throw away who can barely afford a can of beans.
A government police of austerity has thrown children into need – disabled children by changes to disability benefit, the closure of Sure Start and children’s centres and the farce that has been the imposition of Universal Credit.
It feels deeply uncomfortable that tomorrow children will be donating their pocket money encouraged by to help other children labeled disadvantaged because their families are not getting the state help they should have, or what they would have had two decades ago, and children who have been abused and neglected, slipping through a woefully inadequately-funded social services system.
We must still give generously and take part in this year’s theme to ‘Do Your Thing’ because of the good that it pays for.
However distasteful it might feel to be part of replacing state responsiblity with charity, it’s never been more important to give during these dark and tough times
WHY THE GOLDEN HANDSHAKE?
Richard Scudamore’s departure from the top role in football gives a whole new meaning to ‘sending a box round’ for a departing work colleague.
All 20 Premier League clubs have been asked for a £250,000 contribution so that he can take a £5m farewell gift with him when he leaves after 19 years.
The man who turned English football’s top flight Premier League into a global entertainment brand has reportedly been paid £2.5m per season.
He’s achieved what he was paid as CEO to do. The league’s UK television rights were valued at around £670m when he joined, and the last deal was worth £5.14bn. Well done him. A great fulfilment of a £2.5m per season salary.
A £5m token of appreciation feels like another indecent excess in an industry of extravagance and inflated payments.
The days of golden handshakes for doing a job well should be numbered and feel vulgar and unnecessary.
If fair was fair, Scudamore might think about asking the clubs to donate his windfall to a good cause. Children in Need perhaps?