On the first working Monday of every month (Monday is one of my busiest days) I will donate the daily income of Chocolate Tortoise to a selected charity, and post to this blog detailing the charity chosen.
This blog is not intended to tell the world how generous I am. I am less generous than many people. The blog is intended to firstly log who I have donated to, and secondly to hopefully inspire others to do the same, or similar.
For more information, see my first post.
This charity was recommended to me by good friends of ours.
This charity rescues dogs from countries on the continent who have, let's say, a less caring attitude towards animals, and where there are many strays and abused animals. They then rehome them in the UK, focusing on London and the South East.
I spotted an advert for this charity in my vets. As a vegetarian of over 30 years, one of the reasons I gave up meat was the intensive battery farming for eggs that was prevalent in the 70s and 80s. Luckily those methods have been banned in the UK for a while now, but still happen elsewhere in the world, and even though intensive battery farming methods are no longer legal in the UK, many methods are still, in my view, cruel. Even Free Range eggs can be produced using only slightly better conditions (but any step in the right direction is a bonus!). For those that may be interested, Organic have far better welfare standards.
The British Hen Welfare Trust promote better conditions in the egg industry, and rehome hens that are retired, or rescued, from the industry, saving them from slaughter.
The Men in Sheds project was started in Australia, and is a means for elderly men to be able to get together and socialise, and maybe to turn their hand to a new skill in woodworking, or to teach others what they already know.
The idea has spread around the world, and there are a number of groups that have been set up in the UK, including a successful group that has been running a few years in Caterham.
A new group is just being set up in Oxted, co-ordinated by the Woodhouse Centre.
It's an excellent idea, giving a focus to many people later in life and providing a much needed place to socialise and be around others with similar interests.
This month's donation has been given towards the setting up of the group, in the hope that enough volunteers and members can come forward to make the idea a reality.
The chosen donate a day charity for August 2016 is Missing People.
This charity was chosen back in April 2015 when a client of mine, Ross, who has a lovely cat called Tinx, was being sponsored for their "Miles for Missing People 2015" run in May. Once again this year Ross has run for the charity, this time in aid of their "Find Every Child" campaign.
Missing People is an independent charity, funded by donations, who search for missing people on behalf of the people they leave behind - offering help and support for all parties.
From their website https://www.missingpeople.org.uk: Missing People is the only charity in the UK which specialises in, and is dedicated to, bringing missing children and adults back together with their families. Some missing people you will have heard of, but many more you won’t. For their families, life without them can be a desperate and unbearable struggle. We are there for them 24 hours a day, every day of the year, at the end of a phone, text or email, ready to use every means possible to search for and find their missing loved ones and to provide vital on-going support to families where the agonising wait turns into years, not just days.
The chosen charity for July is Disability Challengers
I'm quite picky about the charities I choose to donate to. There are so many to choose from, and whilst they all support good causes, I like to know that my donation will be well spent (not spent on door-to-door charity collectors, for example) and I have other, ethical and moral, reasons for not donating to certain charities (non testing on animals, for example). It can be quite difficult finding suitable charities to donate to, especially when I am more keen to support smaller, local charities, than large, multi-national charities (with their highly paid executive salaries to support!). So I read with interest any local reports on nearby charities.
This month I spotted a write up in my local magazine, the Oxted Local, about a playscheme in nearby Godstone, for disabled children. I liked the ethos of the charity - enabling parents and carers who have a tough time of things 24/7 to take a break, while allowing their disabled children to play and learn in a protected environment. The fact that the playschemes also allow non-disabled children to come along too is great - the more exposure children have to children of other abilities, races, backgrounds etc, the more tolerant our society will (hopefully!) become.
So all in all, a good charity, and well deserved of my July donation.
Challengers is an independent children's charity that, for more than 30 years, has developed and delivered inclusive play and leisure for disabled children and young people across Surrey, Hampshire and increasingly the surrounding areas. The charity is based in Guildford (at 'Challengers Guildford Playcentre', our headquarters and one of our full time playcentres). In 2014 we delivered more than 138,000 hours for 1,300 disabled children. These services were delivered at Challengers Guildford and Farnham Centres as well as schemes based at schools and community youth centres all through the year.
Challengers has developed an approach that has established the confidence and respect of families and partners (including local authorities and private donors). Our approach is guided by a commitment never to exclude any child or young person and works towards providing fun normal play and leisure experiences for disabled children and young people. All this is done in a positive, intelligent, non-institutional environment.
Challengers play and youth schemes are where disabled children and young people feel that they belong, are safe, have fun and make friends. At every Challengers play and youth scheme there are lots of enthusiastic staff so that children and young people will always have someone to play and be with. The wide range of activities that we provide means that we can offer disabled young people something to do and somewhere to go from the age of 2 to 25.
The chosen charity for June 2016 is Big Brother Mouse. This has been a selected charity in the past, exactly one year ago in fact, but it is a charity I follow closely - they are very proactive about not only letting people know what they are doing, but also in trying out new ideas. I find them refreshingly down-to-earth in their approach, as well as obviously doing great work.
During our travels in 2010 we loved pretty much every country we visited. I especially liked Laos. Possibly partly due to the fact that we were able to spend a month looking after bears at a sanctuary there, but also because of the very friendly people and the laid back way of life. Luang Prabang was a lovely town that we got to know well, as it was there that we looked after the bears for a month. There was also a charity based there called Big Brother Mouse, which aims to get more kids in Laos able to read, and enthusiastic about reading. We spent an enjoyable morning helping some Lao kids read English and really liked the ethos of the charity.
Since our return I have kept in touch with what the charity is doing, and they have been great about keeping me informed, without pressure for continued donations. I really like what the charity is doing, and their approach. I try to give them some money each year when I can and thought it was about time they appeared on my Donate a Day radar, so they get this month's donation.
They spend their money visiting schools and holding "Book Parties" where kids get to look through some of the very basic, but fun books that they bring along, and as well as books left for the school, each kid gets to take a book home to own - which is a big thing for them. The charity is also very active in trying out new methods to encourage the kids, and more importantly the schools and teachers, to hold reading sessions where they can improve their reading. The project manager in me likes the fact that they try things out, then test to see if it has worked, and adapt accordingly.
They also publish their own books, since there are so few books in the Lao language aimed at getting kids to read. A previous donation of ours has helped to publish a couple of books which they kindly sent me and sit proudly on our bookshelf. I can't understand a word of them!
Oh, and I love their logo and their name! As the owner of "Chocolate Tortoise" I like companies (and charities) with original names :-)
The chosen charity for May 2016 is The Orpheus Centre, based in Godstone.
This charity has been suggested to me by a friend of mine. They provide support, accommodation and a learning programme for people with physical and/or learning difficulties. I also didn't realise, until I checked out their website, that I have walked past their centre regularly in the past when I walked dogs over the back fields in Godstone. More information, from their website (http://www.orpheus.org.uk/):
Orpheus is based in Surrey and was founded by Sir Richard Stilgoe in 1998. It is an independent specialist college offering a learning programme, supported housing and a domiciliary care service. Our students are between the ages of 18 and 25 and have learning and/or physical impairments. Our diverse curriculum covers the arts, independence, employment and functional skills.
Over the past sixteen years Orpheus has transformed the lives of hundreds of young people and their families. Our students have performed at venues all over the country including the Paralympics, Buckingham Palace and Glastonbury. Our goal is for young disabled people to have the skills and opportunities they need so that they can live fulfilling and independent lives.
The Donate a Day charity for March and April is Sands
I've been falling behind with my donations this year and hadn't donated anything in March or April, and it is already nearly May - unforgivable!
It was very timely that something popped up on my Facebook feed, indirectly, that a previous colleague of mine, Adam Leyton, is attempting to break a world record next month and in the process raise a bit of money for a very worthy cause.
He is raising money for Sands, a charity that offers support and counselling for people affected by stillbirth and neonatal death: https://www.uk-sands.org/
Good luck Adam, and whether you make it or not, you have raised money for, and awareness of, a worthy cause, so well done!
UPDATE: He did it! 12 countries visited in 23 hours 52 minutes. A fantastic achievement, and he has raised a large amount for a worthy cause. And judging by the exposure he has received in many different countries' media since he did it, Adam has given the charity great publicity too! Well done Adam!
The Donate a Day charity chosen for February 2016 is The Stroke Association.
This UK charity has an immediate relevance to me. My mother had a stroke in early February this year and is currently (as I write this) in hospital recovering from this. She seems to have been lucky and the long term effects seem to be limited. There will be some impact, but many people suffer much more from strokes.
The Stroke Association provides a lot of information that is very useful to sufferers and their carers and families. Many of the websites I have recently visited to find out more information about my mother's condition are either directly provided by this organisation, or reference The Stroke Association's guides and information leaflets.
The Donate a Day charity for January is Compassion in World Farming.
This is a charity that I have long supported. I became a vegetarian over 30 years ago not because I felt we should not be eating animals at all, but because I felt we did not treat them with the respect they deserve. I am not against animal farming, I am very much against the poor treatment that animals get under many modern farming methods. Human economics has completely destroyed morality and ethics when it comes to our treatment of animals for food.
Compassion in World Farming echoes my sentiments very well. Getting humanity to all give up eating meat is not an achievable aim. Getting humanity to give more respect towards animals is achievable. We have come a long way, not least because of charities like CIWF who highlight the practices behind much of our food industries. Raising awareness is the first step, and a very important one.