My View, Mel Hewitt - The modern way of giving

Melanie Hewitt, community fundraiser for St John's Hospice.
Melanie Hewitt, community fundraiser for St John's Hospice.
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Last weekend the story of Franciscan monks using the internet to raise funds was featured across the world.

The monks need £75,000 to restore a cell in a church where the Saint is reported to have stayed several times.

This is a classic example of a modern invention supporting a very ancient concept – philanthropy. From Plato supporting future students in his will in the 4th century to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, philanthropy, or giving, has become a global phenomenon.

St Francis came from a world of privilege and luxury and by all accounts, was a teenage tearaway before the term had even been invented. A period of imprisonment whilst he was ransomed and a religious conversion turn his world upside down and he walked away from the wine, women and song and the comfort of riches and family support.

Although the monks are now raising money to protect part of Francis’ heritage and message through a building that has a direct connection to him, it seems they were keen to raise the money themselves and not go directly to the government in Italy already dealing with an economic crisis.

In Victorian England Charles Dickens’ work highlighted the plight of the poor and put upon and he was very hands on when it came to giving, despite not being a very wealthy man.

He supported the Great Ormond Street hospital in its early years, donating the proceeds of a series of readings, bringing in thousands of pounds for the charity at a time of real need.

Today the wonder of the worldwide web and the immediacy of news and information – good and bad – have brought the world’s woes closer than ever before. Happily, it has also given us more opportunities to address them.

The use of social and news media to raise awareness and provoke thought and reflection can be very powerful.

As community fundraiser for St John’s Hospice I know how often the technology that we can occasionally find intrusive, annoying or inappropriate, can also help us do marvellous things to help others.

This year there are a number of opportunities to support the Hospice Development Appeal by taking part in events that are both physically and mentally challenging.

These include the three (Yorkshire) Peaks Challenge on May 17 and The St Johns Cycle Sportive on July 13.

For those of us who are not rushing to a bike or walking boots, sponsorship is a great way of showing the more intrepid among us that we are with them as they march, climb or cycle – or in some cases – parachute out of a plane for a great cause.

I have a feeling that if Plato, St Francis or Dickens were alive today they’d either be getting on their bike or cheering from the sidelines.

To find out more visit St Johns Hospice fundraising