Editor’s Com­ment

Cotswold Life - - EDITOR’S COMMENT - MIKE LOWE, mike.lowe@archant.co.uk Fol­low Mike on Twit­ter: @cot­slifeed­i­tor

IHAVE writ­ten be­fore about the man­ner in which some of our big char­i­ties have lost their way: the RSPCA turn­ing it­self into some kind of un­of­fi­cial po­lice force; the Na­tional Trust try­ing to force vol­un­teers to wear ‘Glad to be Gay’ badges; but noth­ing on the scale of re­cent reve­la­tions of wide­spread, com­mon­place sex­ual abuse, both at home and abroad.

Of course in the cur­rent cli­mate, with Augean sta­bles be­ing mucked out all over the place, it’s not just the char­i­ta­ble sec­tor which has come un­der the spot­light. But when the God Syn­drome comes into play – “We’re here to save you” – and First World largesse lands on Third World shores, you can see how food might be ex­changed for favours.

The root cause of much of this ex­cess is that our ma­jor char­i­ties have sim­ply grown too big, too rich, too cor­po­rate and too po­lit­i­cal. Ox­fam, for in­stance, has ex­panded from be­ing a wor­thy or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to bring­ing clean wa­ter and sus­tain­able food to poor ar­eas into a global en­tity with flashy of­fices and six-fig­ure salaries. Last year the char­ity re­ceived do­na­tions of £408 mil­lion, then im­me­di­ately spent £26 mil­lion of that wind­fall on fund-rais­ing to bring even more money. It rather puts your pound coins in one of those lit­tle en­velopes into per­spec­tive. In fact, many big char­i­ties have so much money that they strug­gle to spend it be­fore year-end, at which point the next bar­rowload of dosh is due.

And take this re­sponse from one po­ten­tial donor: “It says here in this let­ter you sent me that £4 from me could help save a life. So how about your CEO takes £40,000 less salary next year and saves 10,000 lives?” It’s a valid point that shows grow­ing pub­lic disen­chant­ment.

But what is vi­tally im­por­tant is that we don’t al­low our dis­plea­sure at the an­tics of the big boys to de­ter us from sup­port­ing the lo­cal char­i­ties which do so much good work. The vol­un­teers be­hind the counter at your lo­cal char­ity shop have noth­ing to do with mis­be­haviour and mis­man­age­ment at the top and would in­deed be dis­mayed to learn about it. That’s why idiot re­porters from a lo­cal news­pa­per were met with be­wil­der­ment when they went into their neigh­bour­hood Ox­fam shop in Bolton in search of quotes about sex­ual shenani­gans in Haiti.

I can’t list all the lo­cal char­i­ties here that we should go out of our way to sup­port. I’m bound to miss one out and then be in line for a se­vere telling off from sup­port­ers. But as I’m try­ing to tidy up my home of­fice at the mo­ment I can tell you that there are lots of ex­cel­lent books now on sale at the Cotswold Dogs & Cats Home shop in Tet­bury, the Long­field shop in Nailsworth and the Sue Ry­der shop in Stroud. Enough said.

Of course you may ques­tion why, in 2018, we need char­i­ties and the im­mense ef­forts of vol­un­teers to pro­vide the care and services that should come from cen­tral gov­ern­ment, but that’s a dif­fer­ent ar­gu­ment...

THE Beast from the East cer­tainly bit hard in parts of the Cotswolds, with vil­lages snowed in and travel al­most im­pos­si­ble. Per­haps the most dis­turb­ing fac­tor about this “weather event” (as the TV fore­cast­ers an­noy­ingly re­fer to “weather) was the speed with which our food sup­ply chain was in­ter­rupted. Even when it was pos­si­ble to ven­ture out onto the roads, su­per­mar­ket shelves were fright­en­ingly bare, with no bread, milk, fresh meat or fresh vegeta­bles.

It does make you won­der just how vul­ner­a­ble we are and how quickly we miss the in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion of be­ing able to buy what we want at vir­tu­ally any time of the day or week.

Or­der was only re­stored in many places by the ef­forts of lo­cal farm­ers who, as well as hav­ing to bat­tle dread­ful con­di­tions to feed and care for their live­stock, also found time to clear the snow­bound lanes. I’m sure Cotswold Life read­ers would like me to pass on our heart­felt thanks.

This month’s cover im­age: Tyn­dale Mon­u­ment, by Nick Turner / Alamy Stock Photo

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