Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Importance of Charities - Jan 2010

I am sure no one has escaped the dreadful images on our TV screens, and in the newspapers, of the terrible death and destruction that the earthquake has brought upon the people of Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Potentially, there are hundreds of thousands of people dead and the CapitalCity appears devastated.  There is now an unfolding tragic humanitarian crisis.  I know I won’t be the only person who has found the images of bewildered and terrified children, often orphaned and injured, to be absolutely haunting. 

The majority of Haitian Government offices and public services are no longer functioning.  Immediate humanitarian aid is urgently needed, but the Haitian Government also needs long-term support to rebuild the capital, Port-au-Prince, and to re-establish its public services and its authority.

Our Government has already committed emergency personnel, equipment and over £20 million pounds in humanitarian support to Haiti.  I have no doubt that we, as a country, as a Government and as individual citizens, will step up to the plate and contribute to the re-building of this devastated country.

The earthquake is a stark reminder of the importance of international development aid and the vital role that our charity workers play abroad, in times of emergency.

But its not just abroad where charities, who provide vital services to families and children, are in need of our continuing support.  Richard House Children’s Hospice, in Beckton, is one of these vital charities. 

As a patron, I know just how important is the wonderful care and support it provides for terminally-ill children and their families.  The positive experiences it helps create for these children and their families become cherished memories for ever.  The staff at Richard House work tirelessly to provide first class care for the children and their mums and dads 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Since 2006, the Government has been providing grant aid to the 39 Children’s Hospices in England and Wales.  This totals about £10 million this year and the same amount in 2011. 

But, despite this new Government support, Richard House remains reliant upon donations, to be able to offer their services to children who desperately need them and to ensure that all of its services remain completely free.

The majority of its funding comes from the private sector and so our hospice is finding life particularly difficult at the moment, as companies cut back on spending.

Richard House needs to raise £3.1million every year to continue providing care for these incurably sick children and their families:  all the more challenging in the current economic climate.  So, I am grateful that my Recorder column provides me with the opportunity to draw readers’ attention to Richard House’s Go Red! Campaign to help raise vital cash.  

The campaign wants us, as the name suggests, to “Go Red” in whatever way we choose and receive sponsorship. 

‘Go Red’ days could be held in schools or workplaces.  Sponsorship could be raised to dye our hair red or to eat red food for a whole day.  But if this type of activity is not for you, why not consider donating your time to Richard House or organise a fundraising event or activity?  Richard House has got plenty of ideas to get you started at www.richardhouse.org/go-red

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