A time to give

iStock_000024423987SmallWere you one of the millions who watched the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last night? What did you think of the mass Children First campaign that invited all of us – athletes, coaches, Rod Stewart and everyone watching all over the world – to donate a fiver by text in unison for Unicef? I did it – or rather Katy did it for me – and yes, it did feel, good in a fuzzy, no-skin-off-my-nose way. It was cheesy and it’s not and never will be enough to cure the misery of children who don’t have access to clean water and proper health care, but it is a start. It’s also – without getting too precious about it – another example of how we are beginning, finally, to blur the harsh lines between those of us lucky enough to have been born in a part of the world where you can turn a tap on and those who aren’t. I think greater international travel and migration has undoubtedly helped us to identify with children and parents growing up on the other side of the world in a much more equal, respectful way. When Bob Geldof was banging the desk on Live Aid asking us to just “Give us the bloody money,” he had to use sentimental music and photographs of emaciated fly-blown children to get us to dig deep. Today, I hope, we have moved on because we have African children in our families, in our schools going up on prize day to snap up the English prize or sharing our office at work. We don’t need to be shocked into empathy any more, because that toddler crying under the hot African sun because she can’t get enough to drink could just as easily be the toddler next to us on the bus crying because she’s stuck on a bus and wants an ice cream.

So that’s why I found the Unicef Children First campaign (http://cwg.unicef.org.uk/) so positive – not because it was shocking, but because it was so normal. So many of those lovely set pieces, like the London Olympics opening ceremony or the Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace make us feel international in a proud to be British way, but this made me, at least, feel very Common-weathly.

If, as the lovely Ewan McGregor said, we could save a baby’s life for the cost of a fiver, who on earth would rather spend it on half a pizza or a pint of lager? Which one is going to make you feel better in the morning?

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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