Practical Action

There are so many charities and so much need of charity in the world it is really difficult to know how to help and who to help. One of the charities I do support is called Practical Action, because that’s what it offers – affordable, practical, sustainable technical support to communities which can become self-sufficient. What the charity is fighting for is ‘technology justice’ – which it explains as ‘simple, locally-produced technology that removes the unjust barriers that prevent people from improving their own lives… giving people the appropriate tools, techniques, systems or approaches to meet their basic needs for food, water, health, education and a way of earning a living‘.

The sort of problems other families face which me and my family have never had to contend with, and probably never will, are for example, having safe clean drinking water and a proper sanitation system, being safe from preventable diseases, and having strategies when facing natural disasters.

The fields in which the charity work in Africa, Asia and South America are

  • Energy access
  • Food and agriculture
  • Urban water and waste
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Climate change
  • Markets
  • Policy and practice

I received a news booklet today, and there were some interesting projects highlighted –

  • fish cages made from bamboo, netting and plastic bottles
  • ploughs made from scrap metal
  • clean water powered by sunlight
  • a safe cooker which needs less fuel
  • early warning systems in flood areas
  • evacuation procedure training for earthquake zones
  • ventilated latrines – for privacy as well as improved sanitation
  • micro-hydro power
  • floating farms made from bamboo and water hyacinth

All these simple, practical ideas for self-sufficiency, not only save lives and keeps people healthy, but also allow people to be able to feed themselves and their families; they become able to sell extra produce, and improving efficiency allows children to go to school rather than having to work,

Here is a link so you can see all the really amazing and amazingly simple things Practical Action has achieved – and is planning to achieve:



A chugger is someone, usually a young someone, working for a charity out and about in towns, trying to raise funds for the charity. They do not collect money, but they try to get people to sign up to commit to donating a regular sum every month. My son worked for a while at doing this, although he was on a house to house scheme. He was so excited and optimistic when he started; he was working, and he was working ethically, and what he hoped he would achieve was support and funds to help people less fortunate than himself. So good-hearted. Disillusion soon set in; he was not actually working for the charity he was trying to raise awareness for, but for a company employed by the charity. He was set impossible targets which would have encouraged some people to put pressure on those they were trying to interest. He was almost bullied by the team leader, who in turn was under pressure from those above. Fortunately for my son it was only a temporary holiday job… but it certainly showed us the other side of charitable fund-raising.

Back to chuggers; most chuggers seem to be enthusiastic young people, friendly and bright, trying their hardest, as my son did, to help the charity and earn money themselves. However, there is a darker side; chuggers sometimes use emotional blackmail to try to get people to sign up to donate to the charity, and they are almost pestering people, and I see them trapping the unwary and engaging them in conversation about the particular charity, and I have actually seen them trying to bully people into signing up.

I regularly give to charity; I regularly donate good quality items including good as new books, CDs and DVDs to charity shops, I respond to specific appeals to meet the needs of people suffering disaster. When I was working I contributed to several charities of my choice, regularly, every month. I don’t want to walk down the High Street and be accosted by people, however lovely and nice and caring, trying to raise my awareness of issues. It’s one thing for charities to have ‘flag days’ where passers-by stick money in a tin, but I really don’t like this more interactive style of raising funds.

Tupper’s total!

As you may know my friend Dave Johnson, AKA Alf Tupper recently tan the London Marathon, despite a knee injury; he did it as most runners do, to try to beat his previous best time, to enjoy the spirit and camaraderie of the run, and the fun of the huge event, but also to try and raise money through sponsorship for two very deserving charities. He has run the London marathon before a couple of times and raised thousands of pounds for good causes. This year he chose to support MIND, which helps people with mental health issues, and Weston Hospicecare, a local hospice for people in the last stages of their lives.

Here is final report:

Hello there!
Tupper here, or perhaps I should change my name to Alf Banksy! Yes, as you can see from the attached photo, I’ve been out on the prowl late at night indulging in a bit of anti-social behaviour. Well, he deserves it doesn’t he? Call yerself an Olympian and a Tour winner Wiggo? A knee injury didn’t stop Tupper running 26.2 miles. Shame on you!
Anyway, enough of that! The real reason I am emailing you all yet again is to proudly announce that you raised between you a magnificent £820.00 for Weston Hospicecare and £806.17 for Mind. That’s a total of £1626.17 which is a fantastic achievement. Thank you to each and every one of you who were kind enough to donate. I probably drove you all mad with my emails but I hope you will agree that the outcome was worth it.
This will be my final update other than to email copies of any certificates or acknowledgements I may receive from the charities concerned.
Thank you once again for your wonderful generosity.
All the best
Alf/Dave’s target had been £500 for each charity, so to top that so splendidly is an amazing achievement. Well done Alf! Well done Dave!
PS: Bradley Wiggins is a British cycling star and Olympic gold medal winnerwho’s recently pulled out of the Tour de France because of a knee injury, his nick-name is Wiggo, and Banksy is a famous graffiti artist