The Southside Shopping Mall in Wandsworth has decked its halls with festive lights and shiny decorations during this Christmas period. Countless trolleys are piled high with basics, luxury goods and expensive presents which are decanted into car boots for distribution. Doubtless, some purchases bring fleeting happiness to the recipients and the giver, maybe, gets thanked and feels good. But, I suspect consumerism and commercial influences rule and the shops make fortunes. The true spirit of Christmas seems to be lacking.
However, a few yards away, at the Salvation Army Church in Ram Street, beneath a few simple decorations, there is also frantic activity, but this is driven by the true Christmas Spirit.
The Greg Secker Foundation has partnered ‘ Learn to Trade’ and the Salvation Army in an alternative Christmas Party called ‘ The Basket brigade’ to give basics and toys to many families who live in poverty in Wandsworth. The gifts are anonymous. The enthusiastic team work of people working together to help those in need is remarkable to behold. Their reward is the recipients’ true pleasure. Most people have no experience of poverty, let alone think about it. The time has come when we should all start to think.
The GSF was founded by Greg Secker in 2010. It is a Charity dedicated to positively improving the quality of life of children around the world. It focuses on education, life skills and youth leadership initiatives. The Foundation strives to equip young people with the essential emotional and mental tools for success.
GSF has joined other businesses in UK to support the ‘Basket Brigade’. They have commissioned a study by ‘YouGov’ which has found 41% of people think UK businesses should be doing more for Charity and 54 % reckoned they should be made to do so. If a consumer knew a UK business was giving 5 % of its annual profits to Charity, nearly one in five people ( 17 % ) would recommend the company to family and friends.
I was pleased to meet Lt. Katy Schubotham of the Salvation Army, who said:
“Every year there is a greater need for the Basket Brigade and every year I am absolutely blown away by the generosity we receive from the community and local businesses. Those living in poverty should not have to ‘ just get by’ at Christmas. They deserve to experience joy. With the help of GSF we have been able to make Christmas a little brighter for many families in Wandsworth. If we had the resources of a foundation every borough offering the same amount of generosity Christmas would be a happier and more celebrated occasion for millions of families in the UK.”It was such a pleasure to meet this caring and philanthropic lady.
I was delighted to meet Dean Russell, Independent Advisor to GSF, who said,
“We have been running the Basket Brigade Initiative since 2012 and have worked with the Salvation Army in Wandsworth for two years.
Seeing the difference every day items,that most of us take for granted, have for these families makes it all worthwhile. It really helps spread some joy over Christmas. If more businesses dedicated employee time, business profits and resources to giving back to their local communities, families up and down the country would benefit.”
It was inspirational to meet Dean, he is so dedicated to his work and enthusiastic that businesses should give back the heart of what they do.
I enjoyed meeting Bartu Bezer from whom I learned much about the work of GSF and the organisation of ‘ The Basket brigade’.
” They who bless the poor shall find themselves a blessing”