I have written on a couple of occasions about the power of champagne and chocolates to raise funds for charity, notably for http://www.thejohnburytrust.co.uk. Well last night saw a very different event, a fund raiser not in the lavish surroundings of a banqueting suite, no gourmet menu, though there are those who would argue pie and peas trumps a bit of artfully arranged pea shoot and celariac foam anyday. There was no champagne reception but plenty of outfits which would not have been out of place in such a setting.
We were in a local cricket club, where beer, cider (with ice) and vodka was the order of the day… or rather night. The entertainment ran non stop, with an array of games including heads and tails, where we employed tactics worthy of Team Sky to bring home the prize of a quarter bottle of wine..
and the sense of triumph was just as great as if England had finally won the World Cup.. and in true football style we did go out on penalties in the ‘rolling a pound coin to win a bottle of vodka’ tournament!
The tension in the bingo game was intense – running 2 cards nearly made my head explode – how do the ‘professionals’ manage 5 or 6 at once (and slight note of complaint… no dibber dobber things to mark off the numbers) whilst the disappointment at seeing the prize go to the next table was palpable.
It may, as I commented at one point, have been ‘Phoenix Nights on Acid’ but the room was full of people with a passion. They had turned out on a cold and rainy night to make sure children and young people with disabilities, physical and emotional, are able to access respite care.
An organisation which previously provided this critical service giving families a much needed break was a victim of the savage government cuts last year…. don’t tell me people have not suffered and that ‘we’re all in this together’. However, the manager has taken the initiative, put her own money on the line and formed a Community Interest Company In Di Go, to fill this gap, it is now on the launch pad and ready for take off.
But it still needs funds , the service delivers one to one care, needing expertise, commitment and training. The core employees will be supported by volunteers, now the ‘Big Society’ mantra leads you to think volunteers just rock up out of nowhere and can pitch straight in… but they don’t.. they need support, training, CRB clearance, insurance and it all costs.
So last night as we played silly games and enjoyed a splendid pie and pea supper we were Big Society in action – and this time it wasn’t champagne and chocolates … though by a strange co incidence look what I won in the raffle…
Pie and peas, champagne and chocolates.. it doesn’t really matter – what does, is that however you choose to do it, having fun with friends, can make the difference to children and young people who really need our help and we should do more of it.