The word ‘charity’ invokes familiar imagery: an advert asking to give money to a dying child; a sponsored walk or cycle; awkward conversations with charity representatives on the streets…. We so often associate ‘charity’ with ‘money’. Consequently, the financial aspect of charity support often has negative connotations. We feel compelled to give; not because we want to, but because of the forceful sentiments demonstrated by charity campaigns, driving us to donate.
As students, we feel this pressure intensely and can be opposed to charitable causes due to this often too assertive attitude. Even if we feel personally inclined to give, there is an excess of choice as to where our money should go. Charitable groups vary and it can be difficult to distinguish who is most deserving. Even despite this, the little money we have seems inadequate; giving seems fruitless as we realise that our small donation will not solve the problem of world hunger.
However, behind charitable groups is a cause; the element which drives the group forward and the part which generates interest and support. It is this powerful element of charity which drives its success. Causes appeal to our human nature of compassion; we feel empathy towards situations and this is why charities work. When the Haiti earthquake happened in January 2010, a 200,000 emergency aid grant was immediately given and relief teams from the Red Cross were dispatched to help. During desperate need, humanity feels compelled to action.
In addition, the nature of helping causes is something seen as positive and beneficial. Supporting a cause invokes positive emotions in us, as well as assisting others. There are no shortage of causes to support in Durham; DUCK (Durham University Charities Kommitee) is one of the most successful University charity groups and there are many additional Durham societies which support various charities and causes. Each of these groups is established because it feels compelled to fight for what they believe in and wants to make a difference to the world. Causes, then, are not simplistically about money, but about petitions, protests and articles which can cause awareness to bring change.
The world is a large place; just as we cannot donate to every charitable group, we cannot feel compassion for all equally. Nonetheless, as a body of individuals we have unique interests and each of us cares about different things. We support Cancer Research after a loved one fights the disease; we petition for Unicef after a life-changing trip to Africa; we wear a Poppy when we see the realities of war on the BBC News. As a population we have passions which urge us to give something back and do something – rather than nothing – about the situations in our world, in our country, in our towns.
Financial aid is a primary step towards supporting a cause. However, to generate lasting change, a voice is necessary too. This section is designed to provide a voice for the causes we care about. It strives to create an awareness of causes that doesn’t just ask for money, but creates human support for things which need caring for. Publicity is a key way in which support for a cause can be gathered and therefore a means by which further action can be taken.
The Causes section aims to generate a place that looks within and outside of the Durham Bubble to show the importance of support. It aims to demonstrate both the human emotion behind charity and the specific causes that are being supported in Durham, in the United Kingdom and across the world. Primarily, it aims to provide an individualistic perspective; the voices of the writers that will portray exactly why they are passionate about supporting what they do. Charity groups, individual stories and world issues will be addressed to demonstrate that there is so much we can do, even as students. Informative and unique, Causes will show that the world outside of our academic career is one which is interesting, is alive and needs our support. No experience is necessary, just a voice.