Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday, 18 October 2012

As nicely chilled as charity

You know that nice warm fuzzy feeling you get from knowing you've done something worthwhile to help people worse off than yourself?

Well, according to the BBC, one bunch of charitable souls seem to think it's enhanced by lashings of free champagne.
An Essex food bank that helps needy people has defended its decision to host a Champagne buffet at its launch.
The Trussell Trust runs 270 food banks in the UK, inviting churches, schools and the public to donate food and money to help people in need.

Appropriately enough, its 'mission verse' is from Matthew 25; the one that begins: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...”

Well, if the words of the trust's food bank network director are anything to go by, it is the VIP guests at the official opening ceremony of the Chelmsford branch who have been working up a thirst:
"When a project launches, people put in quite a bit of work and this is a nice way to consolidate that and reward them."
And in case they might be a bit peckish too, a finger buffet is to be offered 'out of courtesy to guests':
"People will be coming to the launch from quite a few organisations. The event is straight after work and many people will not have eaten."
Since the charity asks members of the public to 'help stop UK hunger' by giving up 'something small for a day or a week' and donating the money saved to their funds, it seems odd to think their supporters would not be willing to forego a choice of canapes to accompany their champagne.

The champagne itself, you will be relieved to hear, was not purchased at the expense of Britain's needy families:
A spokesman for the project's parent organisation said the Champagne had been paid for by a local church, not from charity donations.
So that's alright then - though it does sound a bit like there's another mission verse in operation - Mark 14:3-6:

Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.

I fervently hope that this is all some kind of imaginative publicity stunt to generate media attention and the guests will subsequently be seen sharing rather more down-to-earth refreshments with the people they are trying to help.

Otherwise, the situation will have gone so far beyond irony that the word for it doesn't yet exist.


  1. "Otherwise, the situation will have gone so far beyond irony that the word for it doesn't yet exist."

    It almost seems to be a tactic. Take things beyond irony, beyond parody and you are safe from both. Tim Yeo does it all the time.

  2. AKH, either that or they consider themselves so divinely favoured as to be above reproach - after all, their 'mission verse', if I remember rightly, immediately follows the assertion that the Chosen will be singled out for reward as a result of their benevolence to the poor.

  3. it seems odd to think their supporters would not be willing to forego a choice of canapes to accompany their champagne

    Not to them it's not. Standard practice.

  4. It shows just how isolated some of these third sector people are that having a champagne reception for a food bank launch held at the food bank seemed appropriate.

    It would be morally more acceptable to me if it was a charity fundraising dinner held in a hotel or restaurant or something, but quaffing champagne in a food bank smacks of a considerable amount of disconnect as to how such an action would be perceived.

  5. f211, welcome to the Tavern!

    I'd hate to think you and JH are right about all the people there - if it is genuine, I hope at least some guests would feel more than a little uncomfortable under the circumstances.

    At least at a charity dinner, one assumes that the guests are paying enough to cover the cost of their food and drink - even if these occasions actually make very little once the luxurious overheads are paid for (I understand that, these days, it's more about column inches than funds).

    In this case, the champagne was apparently paid for by 'a local church'. If I were a member of their congregation, I'd be thinking very carefully about whether to put anything in the collection plate this Sunday.

  6. "...but quaffing champagne in a food bank smacks of a considerable amount of disconnect as to how such an action would be perceived."

    And yet, these people are all about the 'perception', more so than the reality.

    Usually, anyway.

  7. Well, Friday has been and gone and, once more, the faint glimmer of hope in the honour and generosity of my fellow-man has been dashed.

    How nice it would have been to read that reporters, expecting to catch the local great and good guzzling champagne, were, instead, treated to a demonstration of exactly what a foodbank does.

    Julia, perhaps they really do see themselves as entitled in this case - either that or they didn't expect the media to get hold of the story.

  8. If the short passages you have quoted are typical of the DHSS edition of the New Testament (or whatever they call this week's version), is it any wonder that nobody goes to church any more?

    Ghastly, just ghastly.

    Where, oh where, is the numinous, glorious language of the King James bible?

    O tempora, o mores!

  9. WY, the first is as it appears on their site (it continues - if you can bear it - "I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me...”

    A quick Google establishes that it is from the New International Version, from which I took the second passage.

    I wonder how much it had to do with the preference of those running the show and how much with it being the first full text version that comes up on Google.

    Since no one seems to have updated the site since May, I'm inclined to think they are all far too sensitive and high-minded to worry about things like that and turned it over to a hired gun or somebody's nephew, who couldn't care less which version of the Bible the quote came from.