Charity urges us all to help fight global poverty
By The Bristol Post | Monday, May 14, 2012, 05:00
IF you see a bright red envelope land on your doormat this week it may well have come from Tony Light or one of his colleagues.
Mr Light will be hoping that when he comes back to pick it up you might have read the information inside and decided to open your wallet to help Christian Aid in its battle against global poverty.
Between now and Saturday, Mr Light will be among a cohort of volunteers walking the streets of Bristol – whatever the weather – to raise money for the charity.
Thousands of people across the area will join forces for Christian Aid Week, the charity's biggest fundraising event of the year.
Cake and plant sales will be held in churches and staff will shake buckets during rush hours at Temple Meads train station.
But the biggest drive will be from volunteers knocking on doors across the city and beyond to see if people will be willing to donate.
Last year 100,000 people visited 10 million homes across the UK in just seven days, raising £12.5 million to help Christian Aid.
In the Bristol area alone people gave £202,000, and this year volunteers hope the kindness of Bristolians will shine through once again.
Mr Light, a former head teacher and university lecturer from Westbury-on-Trym, will be one of them.
The 85-year-old is organising collections by about 250 people from seven churches in Westbury and Stoke Bishop, which he hopes will raise about £12,000 to £14,000.
He said: "Our volunteers will post envelopes through letter boxes, knock on doors and tell people about Christian Aid.
"We get people who know all about it and have their envelopes ready, those whose dogs have chewed them up but give some money anyway, those who are not in and those who don't wish to contribute.
"But the responses are usually very encouraging."
Mr Light, a former head of Whitfield School, has been collecting during Christian Aid week for more than 40 years.
But he is still passionate about the charity's crusade to lift the poorest people in the world out of poverty.
He said: "In this country we can turn on a tap and water comes out, we can go to the supermarket and get enough food to eat.
"These are things that are basic necessities, but they are not always there for people in other parts of the world. We have to work at that. It is very satisfying when you hear or see reports of things that wouldn't have happened without Christian Aid."
Lydia Nash, Christian Aid's regional co-ordinator, is helping to organise the 65 fundraising groups across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Mrs Nash, 23, who works in the Thornbury office, is also taking part in the charity's "live below the poverty line" challenge, spending just £1 a day on food and drink for five days – like 1.4 billion people around the world, except their pound has to pay for everything, not just nourishment.
She said: "It's really to raise awareness about what it is like to live in poverty.
"I am expecting it to be hard. I will be hungry, and the lack of variety in food is the main thing."
Mrs Nash is well aware that raising money in such economically difficult times will be a challenge.
But to give £5 to Christian Aid would mean a sacrifice of just 16p a day for a month – about the cost of one bite of a chocolate bar.
That would pay for a bushel of rice or ground nut seeds for a community to plant and harvest in Sierra Leone, the sixth hungriest country on earth.
Mrs Nash said: "There is a lot of hardship in this country, but it is nothing compared to what is going on on the other side of the world.
"People's money really does make a difference, and we would like to inspire people that by working together they can make a difference.
"Their contribution really does transform lives."
For more information on Christian Aid, visit www.caweek.org.
â Reporter Dominic Harris visited Bangladesh earlier this year to see the work Christian Aid does there. His first report from the country starts on page 20.