The first thing to say is well done to the annual BBC Children In Need appeal.
Over £30m has been raised so far to benefit the lives of the less privileged children in our society. That’s obviously a good thing.
I dipped in and out of the show for the simple reason that you can definitely have enough of EastEnders stars dancing, pop stars I don’t like miming to tunes that I don’t like and being urged by fabulously rich TV personalities to donate cash.
I don’t knock these fabulously rich stars for giving their time and talents to good use but I would be a liar if I was to say that some aspects of Children In Need didn’t make me move uncomfortably in my chair.
During the preceding weeks, I listened to Chris Evans excellent Radio 2 Breakfast Show. The host, by way of the doors that being Chris Evans can open, had obtained some stellar freebies for listeners to bid for. And in the auctions, many thousands of pounds were raised for the charity through holidays in Monaco and golf days. But here’s the rub: there was nothing for me.
People were bidding in their £20k/£30ks and much more. This is not the territory of working people for whom £20 or £30 represents a sizeable outlay.
To summarise, Evans raised millions for a great children’s charity but the luxurious spoils were handed to the haves who could afford them.
So, what were the motives of the very rich? Were they bidding for hedonism at a price they could afford, but few of us ever could, because they wanted the prize or because they wanted to help children in need?
I know the children in local schools and the adults in baths full of baked beans were looking to help. There would be no return, just the satisfaction, if that’s the right word, that their donation would help people.
So does the 50p given by small child from her/his pocket money matter as much as the enormous sums paid by the elite?
In terms of making a difference, probably not. That 50p will only be of use when it’s part of a collective effort. The larger sums, traded in to play games with the rich, famous and privileged, probably by the rich and privileged well, work it out for yourself.
Do I condemn and others for getting the very rich to cough up vast sums of money for things that are way beyond the dreams of you and I, chances we will never have?
No. Good for him. His friends are from a different social strata to mine. He can call in favours and benefit children.
But am I uneasy with it, and possibly jealous?
Yes and maybe.
Are we all in in together?
It will be argued, I’m sure, that more children will benefit by having the luxury auctions and that’s how charity works in America and where, in some cases, charity replaces state provision of vital services.
I don’t want to stop rich people paying vast sums of money to benefit children but I hope the BBC comes up with a way of ensuring that all monies collected are equally valued and that Children in Need doesn’t become the preserve of the rich.
The main argument is, of course, that most people don’t want anything in return for their efforts and generosity and that’s right and long may it continue that way.
Maybe a few less auctions and a few more raffles, maybe tacked onto the auctions?