CEO’s Blog – 03/06/2016

The Relief of Poverty

“The relief of poverty….particularly for the single homeless”.  That’s what The Bridge Trust’s governing documents say that we are about.  But I was party to something recently that prompted me to question what poverty actually is.  I am sure it means different things to different people, but generally I think we view it as not having enough money to live on.  But then again, what amount is not enough to live on?  Let me tell you what got me thinking about these things.

I was recently on holiday in Eastern Europe, staying at a family home and one morning there was a knock at the door.  It was an elderly gentleman who has often done odd jobs and gardening for the lady of the house and he asked for her.  We had met this old man before on previous holidays and we know him to be a quiet and proud man of traditional values.

It was obvious that he was in some distress and as only myself and my wife were in at the time, my wife insisted on finding out whatever was the matter (she can be quite insistent, believe me!).   After some persuasion the man eventually said that his pension cheque had not arrived in the post and he had come to ask if he could borrow £4 for some bread and milk until his cheque arrived.  My wife insisted on not lending him £4 but giving him £8. At first the man refused to accept it but finally gave up.  He burst into tears at the act of kindness and generosity, apologising and insisting that he would do some more work around the garden as he could not accept the money as a gift.

It made me ask myself just how many of us struggle, I mean really struggle to provide some food to keep our family going for a few days?  How easy is it for us to spend £4 or even £8 – a couple of pizzas, a plant from the garden centre, a round of drinks? What is actually not a lot of money for us can make such a difference to those in such need.  For clients of The Bridge Trust it can help with travel expenses to work, buying some meals, or replacing some worn-out clothes.

Maybe I am trying to “tug your heart strings” here, but when I see people in need, I have to do something about it and so I need to ask for money.  I am not a natural at “shaking the donations bucket”, but I am not asking for me but for others who do not necessarily have a voice of their own, and would often be too proud to ask, even if they did. 
If you have not donated to us before then please do consider helping us.  If you are a regular supporter, perhaps you could give a little more.  The elderly gentleman I referred to above came back to the house a couple of days later with some goat’s cheese he had made, as a small token of his thanks. I can’t offer you that (!), but I can offer you the assurance that whatever you can give to The Bridge Trust, you will be helping people who genuinely need it.