November always spells a time of frenzied activity for ideas, sponsored walks, cake sales and of course the school non uniform day to raise much needed funds for Children in Need. The day culminates with the traditional BBC fundraising show and repeated calls to give what you can. I know the much needed monies raised go to a variety of UK projects including women's refuges and play centres for children. The money raised does indeed go to children in dire need.
However, this year I am a little unsettled by the schools annual call for fundraising for CIN. My sons school bizarrely have decided on a "No Tie and blazer day" rather than a non uniform day, so the boys have to wear school shirts, jumpers and trousers and shoes. Ok maybe, but there is a £2 per child "donation". If they do not make the donation they cannot take part. For me the "donation" imposed is £4 as I have 2 sons in High School. On Twitter other parents have expressed concern over these compulsory donations and the fact some primary schools are having a pyjamas day. A fact not lost on parents in the middle of November.
It's nothing more than a psychological bribe on parents. If your child does not pay the "donation" they are the odd ones out in the class and are not taking part. But perhaps the reason there will be many children "not taking part" is that the parent (s) cannot afford the £1 or £2 donation, especially where multiple children are involved. Paradoxically the very children who the school are asking to donate, are indeed Children in Need themselves.
The TV pressure for Christmas is bearing down on parents also. As austerity is biting harder than ever before with a toxic mix of energy bill rises, food prices and rent rises, perhaps more parents will think charity begins at home this year. I know myself as I packed my sons off to school with donations of £4, and a GCSE Home Economics recipe costing £7 plus Year 11 have organised a "Secret Santa" week of yet another £3 contribution, I am feeling the bite and pressure to constantly "cough up" amounts that basically I need to spend elsewhere.
Schools should be more sensitive to these Dickensian times and appreciate many parents are struggling to feed their families and heat their homes. Far more preferable for Children in need would be to ask for voluntary contributions and include all children in non - uniform day whatever their circumstances.
And this evening while TV presenters on BBC1 frantically shake tins and buckets of money at the general public and ask everyone to spare more cash, remember it is this Government removing and cutting funding for Women's refuges, cutting children's play centres, cutting Sure Start Centres and cutting and sanctioning benefits that are leaving organisations like CIN to pick up the tab and fill the gap of providing essential services from charity. As much as I admire the enthusiastic people who walk miles, do wacky stunts like skydiving and give up their time and money I cannot help feeling we are the ones being scammed by a Government who RELIES on us doing these events for charity to bridge the gap for the poor and needy.
And while the day goes ahead teachers should take a look around them, perhaps schedule an hour in the day to talk about Children in Need and the UK projects it supports and ask the children for their views on where the money goes to and how it should be spent. For perhaps some of the children in that classroom need help themselves...