Posts Tagged charities

Clowning around

I saw this ‘tweet’ from Peter Moore pointing out that Grimaldi Park has been turned into ‘something resembling a bowl of porridge’. That doesn’t sound good! So I looked into it. The current digging up – made messier by the rain – is in fact the first stage of transforming the park for the better.

The plan, designed in consultation with local residents, includes new entrances and paths, new play equipment, and a refurbished ball court, but, according to the Council, still ‘preserves the historic and garden-like quality of the park’. More about the Grimaldi Park project here.

The park takes its name from Joey Grimaldi, the famous clown, who is buried there (the park was originally the churchyard of St James Church, now converted to offices). Other Islington sites with a Grimaldi connection are Sadler’s Wells where he performed, and 56 Exmouth Market, where a blue plaque commemorates his former home.

The last clown I saw was not in Islington but at Covent Garden. This week I was in Covent Garden again (no clowns this time), in support of the Mayor of Islington’s charity evening. Mayor Anna Berent has chosen two locally-based charities specialising in helping victims of torture: The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and Room2Heal.

Among other activities, they use drama and story-telling to help victims. Grimaldi, himself the child of migrants, should approve.

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Environmental Investigation Agency

We’re used to having Greenpeace in Islington, but it seems they are not alone.

I didn’t know, but among the bars, gift shops and estate agents of Upper Street, is a radical charity working undercover around the world: the Environmental Investigation Agency.

They track issues like illegal logging and wildlife slaughter as well as environmental abuse closer to home: for example, the wasteful use of old refrigeration kit in our supermarkets.

And as Ed Davey (formerly of the Islington Gazette) reports, the EIA are now offering the chance for three supporters to join them in their investigative work: the competition is running until the end of September.

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Use house cost savings to help homeless?

An email arrives from Crisis.

Has anyone benefited from low interest rates on their mortgage repayments? If so – fancy donating the difference to help homeless people at

It’s an idea…

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Buy once, give twice

I’ve come across another good gift website.

Buy Once Give Twice ‘recycles’ donations to charity auctions. If the auction doesn’t go ahead, or the buyer gives back their prize, then this website sells them on to benefit the original charity. There’s all kinds of lots – from days out to celebrity-signed items – for a wide range of charities, often the less well-known ones.

The twist is that the selling is by an online ‘silent’ auction; at the deadline for each item, the highest bid above the reserve gets the goodies. While some of the items are expensive, there’s some bargains to be had. And all for good causes.

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Thanksgiving and the Woolnoth Society

Richard went to an unusual church service today; the 40th Annual Thanksgiving Day service at St Mary Woolnoth.

The service was organised by the Woolnoth Society Charitable Trust (Rich’s boss Dennis is a member of its Council), and featured a sermon from Marilyn McCord Adams.

The Woolnoth Society was set up in 1968, after that year’s Thanksgiving Service, to involve US and other overseas banks in the City of London’s many charities. Its Charitable Trust supports projects in boroughs close to the City serving homeless people, disability groups and similar causes. These include Clerkenwell-based FACT (Federation of Artistic and Creative Therapy) who provide multi-sensory therapy for profoundly disabled children.

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Charity jobs in Islington

Islington has an above average number of voluntary organisations based in the borough, including the National Council of Voluntary Organisations itself.

Now Islington’s going to host a specialist careers fair aimed at the charity jobs sector, forum3 (as in third sector). It’s taking place at the Business Design Centre, from 10-11 October.

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Give me Shelter

Has Ken Loach lost the plot? I heard him on the Today programme this morning. Loach, famous for his radical left-wing views, is calling on people to stop giving money to Shelter, because of an industrial dispute among its employees.

Shelter is a national charity but one in which I have a strong local interest. Shelter is based in my constituency, in Old Street. And Loach’s docu-drama, ‘Cathy Come Home’, which led to the creation of Shelter, was filmed partly in Popham Street, Islington; just across the road from my home.

The film’s tenements have been cleared long since, and the modern Popham Estate is in their place. The nature of homelessness has changed; instead of families on the streets, we have the hidden homeless, three or four generations of families squashed into one flat, because there is nothing like enough affordable housing to go round. So Shelter’s work is still desperately needed.

Shelter staff are as entitled to fair pay and to take industrial action as anyone else. But the idea that donors should cut off funding to the charity in response is just barmy.

Ken Loach is one of those left-wingers who seems to think any industrial dispute is worth supporting, no matter who suffers. It’s the kind of view that led me to leave the Labour party for the Liberals nearly 25 years ago.

But it gets worse. Loach argues that by taking contracts for Government work, something Shelter has done since the 1970s, they are somehow compromised in their independence. In fact, as Shelter’s Chief Exec Adam Sampson made clear, they are as outspoken as ever; his last appearance on Today was attacking Housing Minister Caroline ‘heart of’ Flint’s policy of evicting the unemployed. She’s demonstrated that new Labour is no more attractive or reasonable than the old hard left.

Loach then went on to say that Shelter should not take work from the Government, because the Government was ‘part of the market economy that causes homelessness in the first place’. What is he proposing? I thought state funding was the left’s holy grail to avoid dependence on the market? And what about corporate charity donations? Does he want Shelter to reject those? Many donors will be pleased to know that Shelter’s admin costs are kept under control, so the money goes to those most in need.

I should declare an interest: I’ve been a Shelter donor, through payroll giving, for many years. So Loach’s piece was aimed at me. I’ll certainly review my giving to Shelter as a result; it’s about time they got an increase.

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