Giving back to society isn’t just about money – but it’s a good place to start

When it comes to giving back to society, charity isn’t all about money, says Ollie’s dad Ron – but it’s a good place to start. That’s because it can help others to create experiences that warm their own hearts, and give them courage and the chance to help themselves. He explains the idea to his son…

Ollie stood in the workshop his father Ron had been using for years. It had a smell all of its own; redolent of wood; of hot oil; of used spanners; of overalls. It was the smell of Ollie’s childhood.

His eyes closed, he breathed in deeply, and the smell took him back to when he was much younger, when he’d been allowed to sit on the floor beneath the cascade of wood shavings raining down from the lathe as Ron made something wonderful from a lump of timber. Of when he’d been shown how to oil his bike, and later, as a young teenager, how to rebuild a carburettor.

“What are you doing in there?” said his father, pushing back the greasy flat cap he always wore when doing odd jobs. Why, Ollie had no idea. It wasn’t as if it were cold; it was July. It was just one of his father’s many traits. “Re-living my childhood,” said Ollie. “Remembering.”

Building on memeories
“Yes, you’ve come a long way. We all have,” said Ron. “But you can’t measure how far until you see where you started.” Ollie watched his father lean on the doorframe, hand in the pocket of his overalls. “One of your grandfathers built steam engines; the other built ships and ran a smallholding. Both are a far cry from the way you earn your living, tapping away at a keyboard in a big office building with glass walls.”

Ollie agreed. Running his fingers along a row of spanners hanging in a neat row on the wall he said: “It is. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I know my background, and knowing that helps me to move forward. I have my own memories to build on. Not everyone does.”

His father agreed. “Everyone has a right to those. And for those who don’t have good memories of their own, it’s up to the rest of us to create some for them. That’s why I like what Solo Expenses does with its fundraising; picking out good causes to support on a regular basis. Helping blind people in India; orphans in Africa; and rescuing women from the sex industry and giving them a chance to make a proper, safe living.

Regular giving transforms lives
“Giving them a little bit of money from the Solo Expenses revenue on a regular basis offers them the opportunity to start to build their own store of good memories. Sometimes, that’s as important as money when it comes to giving back to society. After all, what’s that saying? Man cannot live by bread alone…”

“You’re a bit of a back-street philosopher in your own way, aren’t you, Dad?” said Ollie, at once proud, reassured, and a tiny bit in awe of his parent.

“I could be mainstream, if I could get a slot on TV.  Five minutes of exposure with Graham Norton or David Letterman. I could be an overnight sensation. I can see it now: ‘Ron’s Homespun Philosophy’ – but who wants to listen to a sentimental old fool like me? The trouble is, I’m not a celebrity, and I’m not controversial, so no-one would want to listen to me. The mainstream media has moved on; it wants to put drama in our lives. Tension. Jeopardy. Murder and mayhem.

“I’m not interested in any of those things. I think we all have a duty to give others a leg up in life. Doesn’t have to be huge, if lots of people donate. Just a lot of people giving a little can make a huge difference, as Solo Expenses has proved with its Giving Back initiative. And that’s what we’re missing these days – lots of little acts of kindness in a world that has a lot of ugliness in it just now.  You could start by putting the kettle on, and scouting through the cupboards to see if you can find a biscuit or two. A chocolate one would be nice…”

Picture: Borusikk | Dreamstime