A Canary in the Coal MinePosted: March 4, 2011
Appeals to our emergency welfare fund have quadrupled over the last few months.
We call it the Lesley Fund, named in memory of Lesley Sorrie who joined us from KPMG in the nineties and helped lay the solid financial foundation that has allowed the charity to grow and bring help to thousands more, and who died unfairly young.
Coming from KPMG, and a qualified accountant, Lesley taught us to question the value of every expenditure and ask what it did to progress our cause. It was a great lesson, not so much in being parsimonious but in always keeping our eye on our purpose.
Lesley was also one of the most personally generous and caring people I’ve met. She could deliver an icy blast to a manager who’d been lax with their training budget but always found a ‘creative’ approach if clients needed extra help with clothes for an interview or an alarm clock to get them up for their new training course: often rustling up some help in kind from home if Cyrenians didn’t have the money.
Today’s Cyrenian front-line workers apply to our Lesley Fund when they’re working with people who desperately need a bit of help and there’s nowhere else to turn. The things it does may not seem important to others or life changing but at the time the help can be fundamental to the person’s recovery or progress.
- Jill had done incredibly well to lose weight and get fit but this left her with none of her clothes fitting and while she got most of what she needed from charity shops the Lesley Fund helped out with getting a bra fitting and new underwear. Result; dignity and confidence
- Lea had got away from an abusive relationship and worked with us to get a new flat but needed to hire a man-with-a-van to move her personal belongings
- Having recovered from homelessness, John needed help buying a bed for his flat so that he could have his son to stay over as they rebuilt their relationship
Dean needed help with course books for college, Chris for the installation of the cooker in his new home, Marco to pay for counselling and Stevie for replacement glasses. And so on. Small things but imagine it in your own life?
Whatever is said, the State does not always provide, or provide enough. Not now, and less so in the imminent future as
the value of personal and housing benefits go down and living costs go up and local services disappear.
Little things like the Lesley Fund are like our canary in the coal mine, giving us early warning of bad things happening, which we should all heed.