Now don’t get me wrong - I’m all for Children in Need.
It’s a fantastic way in which people can come together in true
heartwarming community spirit to make a real difference to so many
Each year it offers proof - if proof were needed - that this country
has a great and generous heart. Quite simply, it is an invigorating
source of national pride.
Just look at the efforts of the inspirational young people taking part
in the Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge this year.
Each faces huge hurdles in life - yet each is with superhuman effort
and resolve rising to the challenge of riding the rickshaw across the
country from Land’s End to Elstree (they will be pedalling along the A272 from Winchester to Petersfield and then on to Brighton on November 11 if you want to go and give them a cheer).
Almost £8m has been raised by the Rickshaw Challenge since it was added to the Children in Need schedule in 2011 and, like I say, I don’t knock it in any way, shape or form.
My only nagging concern is that, like so many other charity efforts, it gives governments of the day the chance to take their own foot off the pedal when it comes to provision.
I think that a primary function of whoever is running the country is to as far as is humanly possible look after those who need looking after.
No doubt those in power will point to huge sums spent from the public purse to improve the lives of young people.
I don’t argue with this, any more than I dispute that, while health charities raise millions for treatment and research, Whitehall is also providing a pretty penny for the NHS.
My issue is that charity cash can all too easily be seen as a convenient alternative to funds that the government would otherwise have to find.
And that makes me worry about waste.
How much of our money is frittered away each day on worthless matters (and I’m not just talking about some of the allowances MPs still get away with).
A proper root and branch attack on profligacy would release millions of pounds to enhance - not replace - the vast amounts of money being provided by people with big hearts. If that was done, those in need would benefit even more than they do at the moment - and that has to be good.
So here’s the challenge to our leaders: show the same determination as the rickshaw riders and root out spendthrift waste. And make a meaningful start on that crusade before the team reach Elstree.
Of course, it won’t happen. So, while the great machine of Government fails to crank itself into dynamic action, my tenner’s on its way. You too can donate by text. To donate £5text the word TEAM to 70705 or to donate £10 text TEAM to 70710 or go here for other ways to donate.
Together we can all make a difference as we continue to wait for those in power to radically improve their own ability to help as much as possible those in need.
*Mark Acheson is Head of Digital at The News
And Another Thing....! is a new feature on portsmouth.co.uk enabling the writer to sound off about an issue close to his or her heart. We’ve got quite a few people in the office who are all-too-ready to contribute to this regular slot! But we’d also like readers to join in. If you have something to get off your chest, e-mail your thoughts and a brief description of who you are to firstname.lastname@example.org If together we can’t always make the world a slightly better place, at least we can go down fighting!