Tom Stockley reports on how you can help Peace Network Kernow and the issues they address.
Photography: Toby Abbs
The Syria refugee crisis, Nepal earthquake, West Africa Ebola outbreak, South Sudan conflict, Somalia drought – the list goes on. Sadly, it becomes all too easy to let these far-away places become stories, totally detached from our own lives. Then there are also the issues closer to us – homelessness, political corruption, mental health and welfare cuts. But it’s not my aim here to spread doom and gloom, far from it! I want to take this opportunity (and many others) to provide an optimist’s viewpoint and give some context and practical tips on how you can actually make a difference, and why it’s so important to do so.
I belong to the recently formed Peace Network Kernow (PNK), a group set up in the wake of the UK’s bombing of Syria to give a platform for social activism and charity work. Set up by students but inclusive of many local residents (young and old), PNK exists to: Organise political demonstrations (Falmouth in December and Truro in January), link groups (the university’s Islamic Society, the Salvation Army and Penzance CND to name a few), raise money for humanitarian causes and importantly to facilitate discussion.
We may be idealist, small in number and not exactly at the epicentre of media exposure, but as Alex Falconer mentioned previously we do ‘bring together likeminded people and catalyse a movement for change’. I truly believe in the (admittedly overused by Tesco) sentiment that every little helps. You or I may not be able to change the world overnight, but through creating caring communities, keeping informed and doing the little things, we can at least make a dent. But what are these little things? I’ve compiled a small list of no-nonsense actions that anyone can take, today, to make a positive change on the sad things going on around us:
- Mobilise! Cornish resident Michelle is currently filling up her van with supplies to take to the Calais refugee camp – she tells me that gloves, hats and blankets are much needed! She can be contacted on 07534616006 and is able to pick up items from Penryn and Truro.
- Attend! Get involved with events – check out the great work that the Raise and Donate (RAD) and Islamic Society guys do in the Uni (both can be found at fxu.org.uk/sport_soc/socs) as well as one off events like the Oxjam art and music night in February (search for Oxjam x Space 37 on Facebook). These things and more are a great way to enjoy a night out whilst contributing to charity. Those who feel even more strongly can attend (legal) political demos and even travel to Calais (find more information by searching for Peace Network Kernow on Facebook)
- Donate! There’s so many worthy charities out there, both local and global, that are happy with any amount – imagine that one more unnecessary pint you could have and instead give £3, £2 or even £1 to someone like Oxfam at the click of a button (oxfam.org.uk/donate)