Have you ever felt inspired to make a difference?

My husband and I had a rare night away from the children last week.  We were anticipating illness or other problems that would mean it had to be cancelled, but, against all the odds, it happened.  We hadn’t made plans in our child-free 28 hours in case we jinxed it, so we decided see if there were any good films on.

I was looking at cinema listings as he was driving, and we settled on the British film “I, Daniel Blake”.  Our time off was spent in Newcastle, and we went to the lovely Art Deco cinema in the centre.  If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t spoil it for you.

Time to relax into a nice film

I don’t think the brief synopsis of “A carpenter battles with the Work and Pensions Department” did it justice.  It was one of the most moving films I have seen in a long time, not least because it was set in the city in which we saw it.  I have never been in an audienceCould you have helped I, Daniel Blake? that applauded a film at the end, and people got up to make impromptu speeches about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

I was approached by a homeless person on leaving the cinema.  Rather than just thrusting some money at him, I stopped to listen to what he wanted to say.  He spoke very intensely, and was right in my personal space.  My husband was edging closer and closer to me to make sure I was okay as it was a little intimidating.  However, I am glad I gave him the time of day.

Out of my comfort zone

While this might not be the sort of film to see when one is supposed to be enjoying some special time with one’s spouse, it certainly got us thinking.  What could we do?  How could we help?  We certainly gave beggars our loose change on the way back to our hotel.  Could there be anything else?

We worked out some ways of how we could make little changes.  We felt totally inspired and motivated to see if we could help those whose circumstances have mean that they are drowning financially.

The best of intentionsCould you have helped I, Daniel Blake?

So, a week on, what have we done?  Have we set up a monthly direct debit to the local food bank?  No.  Have we written to our MP about the situation?  No.  Have we been through our old clothes and taken what we no longer need to the homeless shelter? … No.

How does this happen?  We get passionate about a cause, and want to make a difference.  We make plans, and have the very best of intentions to carry them through.  Then – life gets in the way.  We become wrapped up in our everyday activities, and our grand plans are lost.

What next?

I did buy The Big Issue at the weekend.  It’s only a small gesture, but I decided on this occasion to chat to the seller that I often see to try and show her that she is not totally alone.  Will it have helped?  I don’t know.  It might not have helped her, but it has helped my thought processes remember that I wanted to do something good.  I think we all need reminders of our good intentions at times to make them into something concrete.

How can we find ways of keeping our motivation going?

Update: just after writing this post, we set up a direct debit to a homeless charity.  We also donated more at Christmas.  We have been making donations to food banks.  We have also been giving homemade food to homeless people on the streets.  It’s only a little, but it’s better than nothing.

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  1. I think it is common for people to avoid making eye contact with begged etc. and although may, for various read ons, not want to give money a smile or saying hello can sometimes be of far more value to someone. Although we may forget about the gesture very quickly it is probable that they will remember it and think about it and perhaps even be changed by it…as my mum often said to me as a child “the best things in life are free”. I know what you meant now mum

  2. I think it’s wonderful that the movie moved you so much that you are trying to be more aware of this issue and that you are discussing it openly here. It’s not always the grand gestures that make a difference, small things add up.

  3. I think it’s that thing that happens, life gets in the way and if we don’t do things straight away they just don’t get done, but it sounds like you have been taking some steps in the right direction to making a difference to people.

  4. When I was working I remember every year I’d add a new charity to a direct debit list. A charity that meant something to me. But of course when I sopped working to look after the children I had to cancel the contributions because I could no longer make them. I do try in other ways though to make sure we give something back. Every month I go to a local care home with my son where we chat and keep the residents entertained.

  5. Cambridge has a big homeless community, and it’s just so sad to see. Before Christmas I got involved with a charity called Foodcycling who make it their mission to use food that would have been chucked away by supermarkets and the like to cook huge feasts for whoever needs it. It’s a great way to bring the community together, to feed both the hungry and the lonely, and it was also really great for the volunteers too! The film sounds interesting!

  6. I used to be homeless and while I wasn’t at the point of begging in the streets, I am always aware of people sleeping rough. I talk to them wherever possible and find that a large majority are nice, intelligent people who have wound up in a pickle. I think it’s quite cold when people ignore beggars, they would appreciate just a nod of acknowledgement in their direction. The continuing cruelty and stigma against people in the streets infuriates me and I think it’s something all of us lucky enough to be able to help should consider

  7. Its so wonderful that you stopped and listen to what he had to say, it probably made his day knowing that someone cares. Every little helps so glad you are doing what you can.

  8. I think we always have the best intentions but sometimes it can be hard to follow through because as you say, life gets in the way. Any gesture makes a difference I think!

  9. I think it’s great that you stopped and made the time to listen.
    I am glad you had a nice child free evening too.

  10. Well done you for being inspired and for doing something with that inspiration. My husband and I get very upset seeing homeless people, especially in this weather and we are looking at how we can work with local charities to help them.

  11. It’s so hard to think about homeless people on the street, especially at this time of year in the freezing temperatures. I set up a direct debit to Crisis last year and I always pay for a couple of Christmas dinners for the homeless. It’s not going to save everyone but every little help makes a difference

  12. I have to admit that I have managed to do some great things for local charities thanks to my blog. At the moment I am concentrating on raising funds for our school as there are many underpriviledged children there who struggle

  13. I often feel compelled to help those on the street that I know are less fortunate than myself – even if it’s to offer them a cup of coffee or a sandwich. However I once had a very bad experience with a man who was begging on the street, and since the, I’ve always been a little cautious 🙁 x

    1. Oh no! It’s such a shame, isn’t it, when the actions of one person spoil things for others 🙁

  14. This film sounds wonderful. I think I will need to watch it when I find some time. It is wonderful that you are supporting a homeless charity.

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