Watching TV, or going online, opens us up to heart-rending appeals presented extremely professionally on behalf of highly committed charities, disaster-relief funds, animal welfare organisation and thousands of ordinary innocent people caught up in unacceptable states of distress. Right now, what is the role of local charities?
Supporting these desperate causes is extremely important. However, distance sometimes creates a detachment which, though never ‘romantic, can make contributing more attractive because it is so external to the humdrum of our daily lives.
Sadly, we don’t have to look far to see the same on our own doorsteps … if we want to. Similar crises occur every day, every hour in fact, within and very close to our own local communities.
Unfortunately, proximity and familiarity often take the sheen off altruism giving. When it is up close and personal, for some reason it can be easy to be less empathy to people, communities and victims just down the road. There is no buzz.
Getting joined up locally
Yet the needs in our own neighbourhoods are often every bit as pressing, even if less telegenic than earthquakes and mudslides, wars and destruction, migration and malnutrition seen on the small screen.
This is a great shame. We can often make a much bigger difference locally when we share our skills, organisational abilities, work experience, material resources and hands-on enthusiasm.
The result is a strange situation. It is relatively easy for high-profile NGOs to build momentum behind distant causes. We need the same level of buy-in on our own doorsteps.
How might that work? One example is local coordination. Newspapers, radio and regional TV often succeed in whipping up support for international campaigns. Why don’t we do the same for excellent causes not many miles from our own homes?
An example is the Castlemilk community where iTouches is committed to making a major social, economic and employment difference, primarily through encouraging sport for families and kids whose main focus is often the streets.
If local charities – and there are many first-class dedicated ones in the Glasgow area – plus local media, local businesses and local community members, clubbed together, we could almost certainly launch appeals no less and probably more engaging and emotionally charged than anything national and international bodies can create.
And it doesn’t have to be one or the other. There is scope for giving to both the traditional charity sector and local missions.
It is well within the reach of concerned people in our home patch to get together and light a few fires of our own. There is ample 19th and 20th century historic evidence of civic and personal initiatives that made our city great and its communities better and richer for everyone.
The reality is that we are always stronger together. If five or six local charities got together to share resources, pull in tandem and pack a greater punch, we can achieve great things.
For example, we could share our skills and experience on legal matters, communication, advertising, networking and joint contacts to create more powerful lobbying and all-round greater influence.
All it takes is willpower. iTouches can already provide the structure.
I-Touches Ambassador, Michael Sinclair, explains why the approach works well. “I am a great believer in acting locally,” he says. “Like many young people of my generation, sport was key in the way I grew up.
“And that meant having the opportunity to play, hone skills and have all the successes and failures of learning about life with other kids of my age.
“If you look on the streets today, many young people are either socially lost, or lack the opportunity to play as a group. Sport is great common denominator for change.”
Let’s get together
Sinclair adds, “We have a lot of clout and influence at iTouches, as well as extensive connections and contacts
“Rather than every charity having to make its own independent but expensive way in a complex world, I would rather we all came together and worked as one for a common cause.
“We try to reach out to kindred organisations. I would love to see more similarly thinking people feeling free to contact us. We really can do marvellous thing in Glasgow if we join forces.”
Note for Editors
I-Touches is backed by the Scottish Government, European Union and the Europe & Scotland Europe Social Fund. It is an evolving community initiative with a very strong sports theme designed to bring together individual, family, business and community members.
The I-Touches Skills Academy non-profit making and provides mentoring and recreational facilities – plus the organisation of recreational activities – to improve life conditions for the local Castlemilk community. It has a strong focus on the young, disable, unemployed, elderly and under privileged.
While sport is a central unifying theme, the I-Touches’ philosophy is to encourage a much wider range of community activity in four main areas – Innovation: Sports: Social: Enterprise.