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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Saturday 15 November 2014


Autumn is the season between. Things fall away, turn in colour, reveal otherness in them. Summer is waiting to be wintered out.

Walking through leaves in London’s St James Park, I read the news on my phone: Beat Bullying is in administration. A man stooped on a bench looks up from his vain interest in empty larger cans, to register my surprise with a grim gummy smile.

Today, I’m reading stories of how staff at Beatbullying were themselves bullied inside a ‘business’ careering out of control. Like the Roman Empire facing barbarians, this seemed a leadership imperious to the idea of loss.  It kept on killing because it had the power to make others submit. Until, flagless in the field, a golden eagle gone, bodies begin to speak from the carnage.

We look to the hollow centre, choking on disgust.  How could a charity responsible to fight bullying, appear to bully others? But lynching crowds miss the real story. Beatbullying is all of us. Whatever gets proven, those wielding its power had reached a point of truth: for in the darkness of our modern Charity is a brutal void. All Beatbullying did, perhaps, was occupy its empty heart.

Once upon a time, the word Charity equated to love. Then, it was alms for poor people -  the deserving, the undeserving. We became an industry; companies; the business of doing good with contracts.  Now, there are more innovators employed to develop fundraising campaigns than those creating ideas to eradicate the issues we are meant to address. Charity has moved from the ‘giving’ of love and solutions, to the ‘getting’ of funds and the delivery of project plans within structures of work, pay, and governance that are devoid of love. Where the most precious resource, the staff who work with direct relationships on the ground, are paid and supported the least. 

The adverts, the impact stories, the speeches and tweets; we are the science that has learnt to sell disadvantage for itself. We are the graffiti makers of trickledown compassion.

Charity is a muddied, constrained word that loses value each time it is spoken. I don’t believe it anymore. I want to beat its hurt. Beatcharity for something else - a feeling, a being that can make intelligent love breathe among us again, from lost city estate to lonely field. I imagine a revolution led from the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, taking back its assets from the hands of those who have vacated the responsibility to believe in a different shape.

I’m walking in St James’ Park. There are less leaves now. Couples seek comfort in clutched hands. I wonder, how many of them know this place is named after a leper colony, dedicated to a man beheaded for his beliefs?  That’s what it means to love.  Prepared to lose everything, prepared to live everything; in pure integrity. Not the compromise of another bullied year to survive. 
The martyrs die in silence among us, beaten by our life.

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