Bob Lentle.

red lentles, originally uploaded by bluebite000.

Charity Not having been in a school for the best part of eighteen years, I don't know how benevolent they are now. Each Tuesday our old school would be visited by a representative from a charity who would give a talk on their works and then a box or bag would be passed around when the register was taken on a Wednesday with the final amount totted up and read out on a Friday. Most often it would amount to forty or fifty pounds.

The school charities committee would meet at the end of each term to select the causes who appear in the schedule after the holidays with each school form sending a representative chosen by their classmates. This was supposed to change, but with me being a bit Rushmore when it came to clubs and societies (unless it had the word team in the title and involved running), I ended up being on the committee right through my school career.

The process was simple. After lunch on a given day, we'd gather in one of the classrooms with a desks pushed together and a teacher would enter and empty a box full of bumph on the table which we'd then sift through. There was no rhyme or reason to this. Sometimes the charity chose themselves -- one of the biggest collections ever was for Live Aid and I think Children In Need was another default selection (I think in a week when they couldn't have a charity speaker for some reason).

But some of the choices were, perhaps, morally dubious. We always chose Friends of the Earth, not to buff up the school's environmental credentials but because the representative they sent was called Bob Lentle and wasn't that amusing in a "name fits their ideology" kind of way. We'd sometimes select a cause based on how glossy their leaflet was (which is inverse to how in need they probably were) though quite often it would be entirely at random, just pick the first six or seven off the top because it meant the meeting would be adjourned quickly.

Some of this I'm less proud of now than I could be, but nonetheless all of the charities we selected were good causes of one sort or another and it taught us kids the value of giving. Which continues now. Amnesty International are still debiting my month contribution (after a chugger ambush) (she had a nice smile) and seem to spend half my income in charity shops on dvds and books which isn’t entirely philanthropic (since I receive goods in return) but it is what they’re there for.

All of which is a preamble to me noticing that the BBC is advertising for people to join a committee to look over requests for funds from charities for money raised by Children in Need which seems to follow the same methodology as us school kids. I had thought about applying based on my years of work in the sector, but they’re looking for people with “a sound understanding of the current issues facing children and young people experiencing disadvantage, a good understanding of the voluntary and statutory sectors”.

Which isn’t me. Luckily for them.

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