The term ‘summer holiday’ does not apply to the many weeks students have stretched before them before University starts again. Instead, this period should be called ‘the summer where you save the world and enhance your CV’. In line with this sort of thinking I have allowed myself to dream that I am floating around council estates with a philanthropic smile feeding starving children and saving the local brute from a path of crime. But back to reality and sitting in front of my bank statement, I know that I have lots of rent to pay and will have to sacrifice life changing opportunities to fling dinner in someone’s face and hope they give me a tip.
The same problem can be applied to David Cameron’s ‘big society’ scheme. As Cameron announced his intention to re-release life into “soulless” communities through giving councils and charities more power; you could almost hear the cartoon bluebirds singing in the distance. But unfortunately, just as I was forced to relinquish my dreams to save the world in favour of financial survival, Cameron also risks loosing his ‘big society’ dream due to grant cuts for the charities he’s relying on.
I hate to say it but there is no point handing an opportunity to someone and then removing their money. As much as charities might be praised for their selfless commitment to society, they still need money to function properly. Even if charities were so heartfelt that they insisted on working with no money, they would soon be in the same situation as those they were trying to provide aid for in the first place; a homeless agency would be fairly useless if they were homeless themselves.
These problems lead to this question: can we be both charitable and financially successful? Can we save the world and save ourselves at the same time? Luckily, the answer is yes. I don’t have to drop everything and fly half way across the world to make a difference, as much as it might sound cheesy, I can help build this ‘big society’ through small things. That might be giving away some of the money I earn to charity, campaigning for injustice, or just by chatting to someone on the bus. Likewise, charities might have to officially close to allow people to earn money elsewhere, but their desire to help people would not be removed.
Although we would all agree everything would be more effective if we had more money, there doesn’t seem to be too much of that flying around at the moment – so let’s try and make do with what we have.