Charity begins at home….

Charity begins at Home ………. Does it?

In this age of plenty we are perhaps more aware of when there is need, through news reports, hearing about individuals doing phenomenal feats for their chosen charity, whole day events such as Red Nose Day and Children in Need, Coffee mornings and TV advertisements that make us cry to name but a few. We can barely go a day without a call upon our hard-earned cash. And every cause appears to be so worthy. How do we decide who to support, and why is this relevant to Cumnor Girls?

Recently we held our school charity elections. This has been a long, thought provoking process of democracy. The girls worked together in their houses, putting forward charities that they wanted to support. They had a few limits placed upon them – I had requested that they consider local charities as any support we give them would be more impactful; and that the charity was to be for people rather than animals. Votes took place in houses to choose the one that they wished to put forward for the whole school presentation and election.

Year Six prefects prepared presentations on their house’s chosen charity and posters were made and put around school. On election day, assembly was given over to the presentations. Year Six on the stage presenting with every girl from Reception upwards listening intently to what each charity was about and how our fundraising would help. The charities represented were The Salvation Army, The Children’s Trust, The Rainbow Trust and the South East Cancer Help Centre. Every presentation was thought provoking and the final decision was tricky for many children. In classes, girls came up to collect their ballot paper and anonymously put their “X” in the box for their chosen charity. We reassured the girls that they could vote however they wanted, it was their decision and that if they wanted to vote for something that wasn’t their own house’s charity then that was perfectly fine. Students were encouraged to have their own opinions. Each girl and every member of staff (not just teaching staff) voted. Votes cast, the papers were placed in the ballot box ready for Year Six Charity prefects to count. The elected Charity was “The Rainbow Trust” and over the next twelve months each house will organise a fundraising event of their choosing, all monies will go to the Rainbow Trust.

I was so impressed with the girls, for their reasoned and sensible approach to the whole procedure, their considered responses and ensuing conversations. They now have a greater understanding of the democratic process, which is an integral part of our British culture and they all knew that they had an equal voice within it.

Why do we give? Unsurprisingly there has been some research into this and here are some top reasons why people feel compelled to give.

1. Giving to charity makes you feel good. The knowledge that you’re helping others is empowering and, in turn, can make you feel happier and more fulfilled. Research has identified a link between making a donation to charity and increased activity in the area of the brain that registers pleasure.

2. Giving to charity strengthens personal values. It develops our social values with many people believing that be able to improve the lives of others is a privilege and therefore a duty. Giving helps people to reinforce their own values.

3. Giving to charity teaches children the importance of looking beyond their own lives. They realise that there are people, and animals, that need support sometimes in the form of cash but more often in the form of something that the cash will provide; often a service.

Amanda McShane


020 8660 3445