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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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35 Responses to 826

  1. Forrest says:

    Maybe there’s something other than money . . .

  2. Charly says:

    Oh, a lot of Christians spend there Money to their Churches – so that they can’t help People in Need, or think it’s now the Church’s business.
    Church: often a moneyeating thing

  3. Thomas says:

    Reading a church financial report where I was once the organist I was seriously shocked to learn that about 60% of the church’s income went on paying me and the minister. I resigned shortly after.

    I tend to think of giving money to churches in order to help the needy as inefficient, now.

  4. soniamain says:

    It is interesting how many choose to give their money to animal charities and won’t give to people. I was speaking to a big issue seller just before Christmas, he was telling me how difficult January is, he said people before Christmas are quite generous and then in January hardly anyone buys a big issue.

  5. Forrest says:

    Hey, soniamain, what’s a “big issue seller”?

    Likely something to do with publications, can’t imagine people purchasing huge personal problems.
    (but then again, there might be some who . . . ) ;)

  6. Tiggy says:

    I think the woman’s comment is fair enough. I encounter people asking me for money several times a day and I feel a bit guilty giving them money that I actually owe to the bank or the gas and electric companies. You have to choose where you’re going to give money sometimes, especially if you don’t know if you’re being scammed. What I really hate are those paid charity fundraisers who jump out at you in the high street and try to make you stop by standing in your way. They did that a lot where I lived before and annoyed everyone.

  7. chris says:

    interesting – been watching that David Attenborough Life series on the telly and was struck by how when animals go around killing eachother – creatures in the sea wiping out swarms of smaller creatures till there only appears to be a few left… somehow creation survives. Until we get involved. We are the part of creation that screws up all the rest of creation, so maybe it’s good that there are those who want to give their money to help out animal shelters and the like -of course, there’ll always be someone going without. I feel that guilt of never being able to do enough. It doesn’t matter how much I give there are always other worthy causes, and I wonder if that old lady went home feeling very very crap.

  8. soniamain says:

    sorry Forrest, forgot it is a ‘British’ thing! the big issue is a magazine sold by homeless people. It was set up abut 10 yrs ago to try and deal with the problem of the huge number of people begging on the streets. The idea is to get homeless people to earn some money rather than begging. I think it covers most of the UK now

  9. Claire says:

    We have “The Big Issue” in Australia too.

  10. rebecca says:

    The Big Issue originated in London but is now international – and it is actually 18 years old! I know this because in November they had an 18-mile sponsored walk to mark the 18th birthday. It was great fun. :-)

    Re: donating money to churches – I used to be the treasurer of one of my churches, so I know that the lion’s share of the costs consist of staff and premises. (Having worked in finance for many other organisations, I know this is also the case for almost any organisation which has staff and premises). The church runs a support centre for homeless people. At one stage, I used to tell every beggar who actively approached me to go to the support centre, but, since they invariably gave me an earful, I now run away if anyone actively approaches me. Not very positive, really. I make two separate standing order donations to the church – one for the church itself (because the staff and premises still need to be paid for) and one for the support centre.

    I have a cynical view of people who ask you in the street to sign up to give standing orders, because I know how their charging structure works. If you see someone from a charity you actually want to support, don’t sign up with them – go straight to the charity’s website and sign up there. The charity ends up with far more money that way.

  11. youthworkerpete says:

    #3 – was that really a cause for your resignation? Does that mean you are still doing the same amount of work for the church, but unpaid?

    I wish I had that level of faith!

    We can’t forget that many people entering into ministry in the church are people who, if in a secular career position, would be in management level positions earning far far more!

    However – to the cartoon – it reminds me of the bit at the and of the first Alien movie. She could have got away without a hiding alien in her shuttle – but oh no, she has to go back for her cat… because cats are THAT important… Now I’m all for looking after all of God’s creation, but if there’s a genuine choice between helping a person – created in God’s image – and helping an animal, surely the person should win out every time?

    In short, give the money to the man, and let the cats be eaten by aliens.

  12. Hayles says:

    The irony is, I bet this woman also spends money on factory farmed meat…

    I think God puts different things on our hearts, (in that we each have a passion for different things in God’s creation), but I never think it’s an ‘either/or’ thing. As a vegan, I choose to try and care for both people AND animals. I don’t have to choose which is more important, because they both entail trying to live compassionately and peacefully as a general ‘attitude’. It’s much too easy to say ‘I care about this, so I don’t have the time to care about that…’

    If we work together, all aiming to be more loving, forgiving, and compassionate, then lots of issues should be on our radar, and we can achieve much more. We can’t do everything as individuals, that’s for sure, but together we can cover more terrain!

    Speaking more precisely about this cartoon (and I know this isn’t the point you were making, Jon, but as an aside): Don’t all homeless charities tell you not to give money to people in the street, anyway? That it’s better to buy them some food and a cuppa, and to have a chat with them? And that’s what’s tough about it – making that connection, speaking to them, taking the time to stand in the queue and buy something and risk the awkwardness of the whole thing.

    It’s much easier to drop a quid in front of them and get a ‘cheers mate’ in return. Much too easy. No risk involved. None of that pesky ‘stepping out of the boat’ business…

  13. what a subject!!

    my guess is we are at the root selfish humans and we give to what we love or like which sort of contradicts that we indeed not selfish because we give.

    I get annoyed with the fact that we support overseas needs before the poor in our country which in turn makes me feel selfish again. whats the answer?

    just give to what you love.

  14. chris says:

    God has put us in charge of creation – the man on the street, the kids who make your socks, the people who grow your coffee, the animals that provide your meat, (and wear your make-up) the farmers who grow your potatoes, the pets that we breed for our own entertainment… they are in our care – it is not either/or

    we gots bloody hands…

  15. chris says:

    point is, we’re all guilty – but let’s be smug and point at the old lady : )

  16. youthworkerpete says:

    We are in charge of creation, but not all of creation is the same! Human being are made in God’s image and, as such, have a distinct place in His kingdom.

    Not that it is either/or, I agree with the several posts that said that, I also agree with Hayles – yes God definitely puts different things on our hearts – if no one had a passion for animal welfare then we wouldn’t have the RSPCA!

    But I can’t help but think there are some people out there who would run into their burning house to save their guinea pig, but watch their neighbour’s house burn.

  17. Thomas says:

    @youthworkerpete: It wasn’t the cause of my resignation but it was another nail in the coffin. I am very much of the opinion that musicians and other staff who are professional people ought to be salaried, however. I guess I was shocked that me (earning <£2k per annum) and the minister should take SO much of a church of maybe 300 people on average each Sunday.

    I wish I also had /that/ level of faith.

  18. jonbirch says:

    i kind of agree with dennis that we should give to what we love. but it does sadden me that the biggest recipient of money left in wills in the uk is the rspca (animals). now, i’m all for the rspca, don’t get me wrong, i even have a rescued dog, but they recieve more than the nspcc (children).
    is this something in the british psyche do you think? is it lack of knowing what else to do? or being grateful for the cat or dog which saw your years out with you? hmmmm… do i live in a country where cats are more reliable than people? maybe i do.

  19. chris says:

    what is it than the nspcc do ? they show adverts of kids being abused but never tell you how it is that they actually help. I think their ad campaigns are crap personally because they never have stories of lives changed they only have stories of misery… whereas i do get letters through my door from the rspca saying how they have made a difference, they show success stories… maybe they get more money simply because they have better advertising??
    I have 3 cats (including one shelter cat) and 2 rats… instead of supporting them with my money i could be giving it to a man on the streets… or is that different? Am I guilty of the same as the old lady? Should we have pets at all??

  20. rebecca says:

    I’ve just been clearing out stuff in the room that was once my bedroom (I do a bit of clearing every time I visit for Christmas) and I found a file of materials from when I was a junior member of the RSPCA, including responses to my first ever campaign letters.

    I was also a junior member of the RSPB. And it was from their magazine, in October 1986, that I first heard about climate change. My point is, simply, not to knock animal charities as being purely about animal welfare – they have scope to open the door to wider issues.

    BTW, in response to Hayles (#12) please tell me that you wouldn’t actually say to the woman that she probably spends money on factory farmed meat! I know how much I would be hurt if somebody said that to me, even though, or possibly even because, the assumption would be invalid. [It’s comparable with a time, more than eleven years ago, that I had got up early on a campsite to watch the sunrise, and a fellow camper gave me a huge tirade of abuse for getting drunk and disturbing the campsite the previous night – in fact she’d got the wrong person, as she should have realised from the fact that I had got up early to watch the sunrise! I still find the memory a bit painful, even though I should really find it funny.]

  21. Hayles says:

    Rebecca, I think you have misinterpreted my comment.

    I was trying to point out that giving money to charities like the RSPCA and then eating factory farmed meat is absolutely ridiculous, and yet a lot of people do just that. I was just throwing it in there as another thing to discuss (that is, the fact that we often follow our own agendas and form our own ideas about what is a worthy cause, without actually putting it into the context of our life in general and taking into consideration the beliefs/values that structure our worldview).

    I wasn’t in any way making a link between giving to animal charities and eating factory farmed meat (I gather from your response that this is how you read it?!) In fact, I’m sure that there are a higher population of vegetarians/vegans that support animal welfare charities than there are in the general population.

    I was trying to highlight how warped our attitude is sometimes. How we can well up at the image of a cute puppy left by the roadside, and ring up to donate money, and then put the grill on to make a bacon sandwich. It is such irrational behaviour, and yet we don’t often stop to evaluate these value systems.

    I hope you understand where I’m coming from now (sorry that you found my original post a bit confusing).

    In response to Jon:
    ‘is this something in the british psyche do you think?’

    I think so, yes. People perceive animals as ‘innocent’, and as separate from the economic/political/social systems and problems that are so messy for human beings, and also know that when it comes to animals, things are simple. The solution is simple. These animals need medical treatment, food and a home. When it comes to mending people, however, it’s so much more complicated than that (although I know that for many people, even these basic needs aren’t being met).

    Perhaps the public feel like they can make more of a difference when giving money to a charity like the RSPCA, than when giving money to a charity dealing with something so much bigger, so much more complicated? I really don’t know, but I think that has something to do with it.

    Interesting topic, Jon, thanks for bringing it up.

  22. jonbirch says:

    yes, it is an interesting topic hayles. i think you’re on to something with the simplicity of the needy animal situation as compared to the needy human situation… you’re right that it seems easier to create instant positive change for the life of an animal than it does for the life of a human being. also i think chris makes a good point re. the positive nature of animal welfare ad campaigns compared to the rather depressing nspcc ads. there is more of an incentive to give when you know your giving creates positive change.

  23. Forrest says:


    Robin Hood of Las Vegas takes from the rich casinos to give to the poor

    “So who is this gambling Good Samaritan? He calls himself “Robin Hood 702″ and runs a website on which he promises to milk the casinos and give the proceeds to the poor. The number 702 refers to the Las Vegas postal code area. Anyone down on their luck is invited to send in their story and, every so often, “Robin” selects someone to help.

    The only criterion is that the amount they need must not exceed $50,000 – he isn’t that wealthy.”

    jon said “there is more of an incentive to give when you know your giving creates positive change.” :D and that’s why I haven’t given money to political parties!

    Hayles said, “Perhaps the public feel like they can make more of a difference when giving money to a charity like the RSPCA, than when giving money to a charity dealing with something so much bigger, so much more complicated? I really don’t know, but I think that has something to do with it.”

    I think you’re on to something there. The size of “the human problem” can quickly become overwhelming with awareness of its global scale.

    The amount of distress and suffering spread across this little ball of rock and water is such that I wonder how the planet doesn’t simply fall apart under it.

    And the heaviness grows to a point where I have to set it aside and
    look only at my own life – that is something on a scale which I can handle.

  24. rebecca says:

    Hayles, I didn’t misinterpret you. I know precisely what point you are making – that our ethical worldview (for want of a better expression) should be integrated into the whole of our life. My point was purely about the way some people communicate to others that they may be doing something wrong – but I’m probably just going to create more confusion so I will leave it there.

    In all this discussion, we haven’t answered the underlying question – what should you say to a beggar, if you are not prepared to give them money (whether that’s because you can’t afford to, because you don’t think it will help them, or even because you think they could be scamming)? Saying nothing at all isn’t really ideal.

  25. Hayles says:

    Well if you re-read it, you’ll notice that my original post had absolutely nothing to do with the issue of communication, so I have no idea why you directed your response to me.

  26. AnneDroid says:

    I once heard that mental health charities are the least well supported and that animal ones are the best. This disturbs me and is similar to the unease you express in the cartoon and at #18, Jon.

    I wonder if it’s just because we find animals so lovable but people in the street who may be addicted, may be criminal, may be mentally ill, may be all three, scare us somewhat.

    Or maybe it’s more subtle than that. Maybe it’s that we all know ourselves to be somewhere on the scale ourselves – we know our mental health is fragile, we know we might be vulnerable to temptation towards addictions, we know we could lose our jobs, our relationships, our homes, we could end up on skid row too, so basically we’d just rather not think about it at all, and animal welfare is a much simpler issue to think about.

    Sorry, I’ve just re-read this and it makes very depressing reading. On the positive side, most of us will NOT end up on skid row!

  27. Forrest says:

    #24 by rebecca “In all this discussion, we haven’t answered the underlying question – what should you say to a beggar, ”

    Up there in #1, “Maybe there’s something other than money . . .”
    the implication wasn’t so much about saying, which is a good question, as it was about doing.

    Don’t have money you have to give?
    Don’t know what words you have to say?

    Maybe there’s a place to “do”.

    Is there some kind of organization which needs someone to do some thing – large or small – maybe for a day, maybe for an hour?

    Got some older coats to give the shelter?
    (new ones tended to get “forcibly re-allocated” out on the streets)
    Bed linens?
    A couple boxes of hot chocolate or tea mix?
    Got some extra rolls of paper towels or toilet tissue? Housecleaning supplies? Toothpaste?
    Bath soap? Shampoo? Combs? Shoelaces?
    If you’ve got extra on hand, give, and get another for you next payday, if you currently have another payday coming.

    Go, do.
    Take those to the local shelter. To a local church to take to the homeless. Or, if there’s an established homeless “community” sometimes someone within it has set up a means to accept donations.

    It’s a pretty good bet there’s always a way to “do” when you don’t know what to “say” or “give”.

  28. rebecca says:

    Someone on Thought for the Day (for the benefit of those outside the UK, that’s a short section on the radio morning news, on a spiritual theme) once expressed the dilemma perfectly (I can’t remember who it was, but it might have been Richard Holloway). There are two types of response required to homelessness and other similar problems – firstly the long-term, systematic one, aimed at solving the problem – Forrest’s last comment addresses this. But there’s also the question of what your immediate response should be when someone is in front of you expressing a need, and you need to say and/or do something RIGHT NOW (and still get to work on time/catch the last train home). I still don’t have an answer to that. Perhaps there isn’t one.

    I’ll leave it there – I don’t want to dig myself into another hole. Two holes from the same cartoon looks like carelessness.

  29. Hayles says:

    I agree, Rebecca – there is a distinction there. When actually faced with someone in need, saying ‘I really do care, it’s just that I already volunteer on Saturdays, give by direct debit and have bought this month’s Big Issue – plus, I need to run before that bus leaves the station’ just doesn’t quite cut it, does it?

    To the person sitting out in the cold, we’re just yet another person walking on by. :(

  30. Forrest says:

    “I’ll leave it there – I don’t want to dig myself into another hole. Two holes from the same cartoon looks like carelessness.
    Comment by rebecca”

    Aww, go for the hat-trick ;)

  31. rebecca says:

    This is the last time I’m going to be able to check this site before next Monday. Happy new year.

  32. rebecca says:

    I hope I haven’t put anyone off making any further comments. Here are a few more thoughts that I’ve collected over the last few days:

    a) The New Year watchnight service at my church was preceded by a “bring and share” meal, at which several of the attendees were homeless (as you’ve probably realised by now, it’s that sort of church). I was delighted to see one of them taking a huge piece of the cake I had brought — and even more delighted when another one offered me a biscuit which he had brought. Sharing is a two-way process.

    b) The Winter issue of Third Way (that’s the one I’ve already mentioned, with Franny Armstrong on the cover) contains an article by the regular (and extremely thoughtful) columnist Paul Vallely on the subject of begging. He comes to a very similar conclusion as we have — his donations to charities discharge his economic responsibility, but that isn’t enough for somebody immediately in front of him.

    c) My aunt, whom I saw over Christmas, told me about her experience of travelling in Egypt. She said that it was not possible even so much as to look at the local people, because the slightest interaction with them resulted in them mobbing her with offers of unwanted services (she didn’t actually mention begging, but no doubt that happened as well). She thought, as I do also, what’s the point of travelling somewhere if you can’t interact with the locals? OK, you can still look at the scenery.

    We haven’t answered all the questions yet, but they need to be aired. Jon, if you’re still reading this, perhaps you could do a cartoon on the subject of euthanasia/assisted dying, or whatever you call it? That’s something else which badly needs to be discussed (and which I dreamed about on the night after Boxing Day, although I can’t think of any particular reason why that should be).

  33. jonbirch says:

    will do, rebecca… can’t believe i haven’t already, but i haven’t. good call.

  34. Pingback: What do you value? « Inspireleadership's Blog

  35. Abigail says:

    Wow, i take this literally lol in my country people spend more to feed a dog than to donate.

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