Monday, 8 November 2010

Why I run for charity

A columnist in yesterday's Observer newspaper explained far better than I, why I am running for this year's charity. He writes from Islington, the situation in East London is worse. Read the full article.

"I have become a small a part of David Cameron's "big society". Islington is my corner of London and, contrary to stereotype, latte-slurping, croissant-nibbling liberals do not fill its every street. Around the islands of prosperity laps a grey ocean of poverty. Islington is the eighth-poorest borough in England, with suicide rates that can match the worst in the country. About one-third of its residents are in social housing, although where they will be living after government commissars have cleared the poor from their homes is anyone's guess.

"Local charities had already done what Conservatives and Liberals want them to do and formed a campaign group, Islington Giving, to raise money and volunteers to fill the gaps left by the shrinking state. After writing a few press releases – as I said, my contribution was shamefully small – I have learned that there is little point in leftists denigrating volunteers, particularly if they are scoffing at those who are more willing than they are to give money and time to others.

"Public-school conservatives are in power, however, not the left, and their prejudices matter more. I accept David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith are not members of a conspiracy of plutocrats but well-meaning men, who look at the billions spent to keep millions in idleness and wish to reform the system. The trouble is that they do not understand how the system mistreats the poor and inarticulate. Inadvertently or not, they are ensuring that the law will not hear their appeals when they protest against injustice.

"I doubt many Observer readers understand either. To be educated and middle class is to know how to raise your voice without losing your temper; how to ask in an icy tone for a bureaucrat's name and the contact details of his superior, while leaving the question: "Do you know who I am and how much trouble I can cause you?" hanging in the air."

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