Mobilising a movement of community power

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14th June 2021

By Rosalind Bluestone

The last couple of months have been extraordinary, not least because it's the first time, since setting up my charity Goods For Good 7 years ago, that I've had to take a step back, re-prioritise hand over the wheel to my team.

 

After feeling unwell, suffering discomfort in my chest and finding myself out of breath in Zoom meetings I sought expert help and discovered I needed a triple bypass. 

 

This event and my subsequent recovery has given me a lot of time to think about life and what's important to me. My family of course but also my work. When I set up the charity 7 years ago, I did it driven by the need to address the imbalance I saw in the world. I knew I had to do something, so I started the charity from my dining room table. And for much for the last year, due to the Pandemic, I have been back at that very same dining room table, running the charity from there. Since my surgery I have been reflecting on this time and what we've managed to achieve despite the circumstances. We have increased our reach and output locally, whilst continuing to support our charity partners overseas. Which has been no mean feat! The volume of work has been huge upon our small team, and the dedication to go above and beyond is what's driven our success.

 

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From the Middle East and Eastern Europe to the Philippines and Africa, we've delivered essential goods to 24 countries across 4 continents. Supporting those that are homeless, isolated, elderly, single-parent families, refugees, asylum seekers and people with mental health conditions. We work with 135 corporate partners and 43 Charity partners to deliver essential every-day basics to the people who need it the most.

 

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I wrote recently about the Kindness Economy and how our focus, now more than ever, must be about making people and the planet as important as profit. Throughout the pandemic we have seen countless selfless acts of human kindness shown by community heroes, charities, individuals and volunteers rallying together to help those in need. But I want to do even more, and reach more people. I want to be able to harness that capacity to care and mobilise a movement of community power. Because when communities come together, they have the power to do extraordinary things. And it's the community response to a crisis that has been central to us being able to do what we do. It's what's enabled us to deliver essentials, hope and dignity to 3 million people around the world, so far.


DIGNITY, DETERMINATION AND RESILIENCE
They're the fuel that drives the wonderful, loving and powerful community spirit that is core to our success charity and enable us to help those less fortunate than ourselves. I want to leave you with a story of one of the people we've recently been able to support. It's powerful and its truth touches the heart. It's why I do what I do and why I'm so passionate that we strive to help more people like Ramzi.

 

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It took four years for Ramzi to reach safety in the UK. After fleeing Sudan with his brother he was imprisoned and tortured before being traded and enslaved in Libya. When Ramzi first made it to the UK he was sleeping rough, sometimes in dangerously low temperatures. We came to know of Ramzi through our Sport For Good initiative and our partners Care4Calais, who shared his story with us.


RAMZI'S STORY

We first Ramzi sleeping rough in Maximilian Square in Brussels. The temperature was minus 2 degrees. Ramzi helped us unload, organise, and distribute warm clothing and sleeping bags to the 400 Asylum seekers in the park, helping translate peoples needs.

 

We met him again a year later when he was sleeping in the makeshift jungle in Calais where again, he helped us distribute essentials. One night it was so cold that we feared for people sleeping and not waking up (this happens). We lit a fire to keep warm and sat up all night talking as a group. That night, Ramzi told us that he and his brother had fled Sudan after being imprisoned and tortured. They were traded and enslaved in Libya, and mistreated in Italy. It took Ramzi four years to reach safety in the UK and sadly his brother had died crossing the Channel.

 

Last week I had to deliver Ramzi his brother's Death Certificate. Goods for Good had given me two footballs donated by Nike. I brought them with me. We pumped them up together and Ramzi told me that twice a week he plays football with some of the refugee children in the hostel to get them outside and active. When we had finished I asked if I could take a picture of him with the footballs. Here he is. Ramzi, three years on from when we first met him, his brother's death certificate in his left pocket, two footballs at his feet, and a positive plan for the afternoon. Dignity, determination and resilience personified.


FINAL THOUGHT
Some say that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. And I certainly agree. In these times of uncertainty, I am constantly reminded just how strong and resilient the human spirit is. Over the last year, with the help and support from our volunteers, donors and partners, we have met adversity head-on, finding new ways to connect and help each other. As restrictions lift and we navigate our way through a new normal I'm keen to build up what we have achieved so far. I want to connect and work with like-minded people and organisations who want to drive sustainable change, and who recognise that they can help those less fortunate than themselves. To date we have helped over 3 million vulnerable people receive essentials. Our model of recycling and redistributing overstocked and preloved essentials also means we've saved over 500 tonnes of goods being sent to landfill or being incinerated. Reducing our collective carbon footprint by 657 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This is something I am very proud of what we've achieved, but success doesn't stand still. I want to do more and help more people. There is however a limit to what we can achieve on our own. To make our operation viable and help those in desperate need, we require both corporate and community help. 

 

WAYS YOU CAN HELP

1. For Common Good Wishlist

40% of the goods we deliver we have to purchase ourselves, which means there has been a limit to. what we ca achieve. Until now. We have teamed up with For Common Good, it's. like. a gift registry for charitable causes. We list the items we needs most,  you select the items you wish to donate and they deliver them to us.

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2. eBay

You can now support us by donating fashion and sports goods, designer handbags, jewellery,  watches, shoes, accessories and unwanted gifts for us to sell via our eBay store. The items which generate the most interest are designer labels and popular high street names. So, if you like to donate your new or pre-loved items, knowing 100% of the sale of your donated goods go to supporting vulnerable individuals, children and families in need, then we'd love to hear from you. Just get in touch by email info@goodsforgood.org.uk

 

3. Donations

Our key challenge is funding our operation,  whether that's core running costs, storage or logistics. From a one-off gift to a regular donation, your support will help us continue our work providing a lifeline of essentials to those that need it most. You can make a donation either by visiting www.goodsforgood.org.uk/donate  or by texting G4G to 70085. By texting you will be donating £10 to us.

 

If you’d like to know more, or want to get in touch about how we might work together then I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at: rosalind@goodsforgood.org.uk

 

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