A Night-Time Tour Of London: Thousands Turn Out To Support The Moonwalk Charity’s 20th Anniversary:

GALMW17_PR-008 Do you trust organisations who ask you to contribute some of your money to others who are “more in need”? If not, then you are among the many people around the UK who are certainly well disposed to help “good causes” but are sceptical about what will happen to their donation and how it will be spent. A recent survey conducted by the consumer research agency Populus for the Charity Commission (which regulates this sector in England & Wales) has revealed that “public confidence in charities has fallen to the lowest recorded since monitoring began in 2005”.

This can be partly attributed, say Populus to “critical media coverage of charity practices”, a prominent example of which has been a report for the Mail On Sunday by Daniel Craig, the author of “The Great Charity Scandal”. The figures, he contends, are “astonishing”. There are, he points out more than 195,289 registered charities in the UK that raise and spend close to £80 billion per year and employ over a million staff, “more than our car, aerospace and chemical sectors”. In his opinion, they have become “hungry monsters”, needing ever more of our money to feed their own ambitions and many “spend at least half their income on management, strategy development, campaigning and fund-raising – not what most of us would consider ‘good causes’”.

Craig is particularly critical of the proliferation of organizations that purport to have virtually identical objectives and are thus competing against each other for donations – citing as examples the “£368 million pa Oxfam, the £95 million Christian Aid, the £59 million Action Aid and the £39 million Care International UK who all state that their aim is to reduce and end poverty in the Third World”. So indeed, he adds, do War On Want, World Vision, Concern Worldwide and Comic Relief.

Furthermore, notes Craig, in England & Wales there are 1,939 active charities focused on children; 581 trying to find a cure for cancer; 354 for birds; 255 for animals and 81 for people with alcohol problems: “All have their own offices, executives, administrators, fundraisers and communication experts, but few will admit they are duplicating each other’s efforts”.

The charity sector, however, can’t simply blame the media for the poor image it has acquired. The Populus survey also indicates that 74% of the public are “uncomfortable with the high-pressure fund-raising techniques such as phone calls and street collections” employed by many charities, which in turn “makes them feel less inclined to give money”. Comic Relief, whose “Red Nose Day” this year raised more than £73 million for good causes, has also been exposed by the BBC TV “Panorama” programme as having invested some of the cash it had been given “in companies which manufacture cigarettes,alcohol and armaments” – something that the Independent journalist Paul Vallely has described as “ a real shocker”.

According to Populus, 67% of the public share Craig’s view that charities spend too much of their funds on wages and administration and thus disapprove of the “huge salaries” that Emma Woollacott, a columnist for AOL.UK, has stated are “ being pocketed by many charity bosses”. She has quoted statistics provided by the “Third Sector” magazine that show there “are now 12 charity bosses earning more than £300,000 pa and 32 getting more than £200,000, among them the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Cancer Research UK (£240,000 pa) and Amnesty International (£210,000 pa)”.

The number of charity advertisements “ flooding our TV screens” has also become a controversial issue: A contributor to a Yahoo debating site on precisely this topic asserted that he had counted “5 begging requests for donations in just one advertising break on Sky News, for tigers, leopards, donkeys, Oxfam and Save The Children ”. He also fulminated that “there is no such thing as giving £3 a month for as long as you can” – in effect, once you’ve committed yourself by phone, the “sales people” at the other end will obstruct any attempt to cancel the payment. Another contributor expressed indignation at “charities that seem more interested in building an empire than the “cause” and whose personnel were allegedly sitting in flash offices, driving executive cars and staying at exotic hotels”.

None of this opprobrium, however, has been attached to the “Walk The Walk” health charity, the organizers of the Moonwalk London 2017 which took place overnight on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th May. The main objective of this “flagship event”, as they emphasized in their press release, was to raise money for making significant research into breast cancer and to help those living with it; indeed that the annual Moonwalk has produced £116 million subsequently available for grants since the first one took place 20 years ago.

Starting on Clapham Common on the Saturday evening, the more than 15,000 participants (most of whom, including the men, wore decorated bras) followed a route that included Battersea Park, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye, Tate Modern, the Tower Of London, Big Ben and eventually finished again at Clapham Common the following morning. It consisted of a “Half-Moon Marathon” of 13.1 + 2 miles and a more challenging “Full-Moon Marathon” of 26 miles, the two groups separating at the 12-mile stage.

Musical entertainment was provided at selected points on the route, with the “Bahareque” Latin American Rhythms Band performing from 11 pm – 1 am for the participants as they passed through Battersea Park, then the Manouche Gypsy Band at the Wellington Arch (Hyde Park Corner) section, the Fleur de Paris trio in Sloane Square and finally the 1920’s Jazz Band Quartet at the finishing line.

The organizer and founder of “Walk The Walk Worldwide”, Nina Barough CBE hailed the night as “awe-inspiring for every Moonwalker”. The occasion, she declared, was an exciting and unique experience that had united thousands of like-minded people in a common bond – women and men who “not only want to achieve a personal goal but also to make a tangible difference for those with breast cancer”.

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Filed under: General, Healthcare | Posted on May 15th, 2017 by Colin D Gordon

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