How to help Ukraine, Part 3 – harness the children

I am proud to report that the Scout Group of which I am the Akela – First Wandsworth – raised £1,500 for the International Red Cross in just two hours.

A group of 8 to10-year-olds baked cookies, biscuits and cakes. Decorated them with the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine. Set up a table on Wandsworth Common. Raised the Ukrainian flag and produced homemade collecting tins and mobile phones for credit card payments.

They were mobbed. They were also enthused and motivated to do more. And they will.

The young people of this country are one of its most under-utilised charity resources. They may not have the cash but they have the energy and the smiling cherubic faces that pull the heart-strings of the Scroogest of Scrooges.

Our children want to help. They do not want to be talked down to or patronise. They want to do more than play computer games. They want to understand and be part of the world. Point them in the right direction. They will take off like willing rockets and grow to better persons because of it.

Of course, use discretion. They very young should continue be encouraged to continue to be protected from the real world by parents, grandparents and teachers. But when they start to read and listen to the news and talk among themselves they demand to be told more. And when there is a war they want to do more. Let them.

There are an estimated 54 million scouts in 172 countries. Almost all of those countries support Ukraine. The average size of a scout group is 20 which means that if all of these scout groups were as successful as First Wandsworth then £59.15 billion would be raised over night for Ukraine. And I am not included Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.

Scouts are only one youth organisation. There are the schools. In the UK there are 20,086 primary schools, 87,096 in the US. There are 4,190 Secondary schools in the UK and 26,417 high schools in America. Oh, and don’t forget the college and university students – millions of them.

Each of these educational establishments have clubs. And then there are clubs and sporting activities separate from schools: Sunday School, baseball, football, rugby, dance, computers, chess, poetry, cricket, tennis, film clubs, woodworking…. Almost every child belongs to a club, attends church, plays a sport or is a scout. Only a handful of home schooled children do not attend a school.

Teachers, parents, coaches, club leaders can arm them with collection tins and mobile phones that take credit card payments. Put them in the town centres with their faces painted blue and yellow. Let them do what they do best—make noise and a nuisance. It is for a great cause.

Place them at the entrance stiles of football grounds or let them stalk the queues outside theatres and concerts. Put them at the railway stations to grab the heart strings of commuters. It is difficult to refuse a young sincere person thrusting out a collection tin and pronouncing in Oliverian tones: “More, please sir.”

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain". To subscribe to his email alerts on world affairs click here.

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  • BREAKING NEWS: One of the Scout parents who worked for Committed Capital has with the help of Aviva matched the money raised by First Wandsworth. I understand that Aviva is doing with other money-raising groups as well.

  • Helen Dudden 16th Mar '22 - 12:16pm

    I agree that our youth is often not encouraged to do useful things in society. As a wheelchair user my grandchildren are often there to support me when they can.
    I also, have a grandchild that has autism and her sister is loving and caring towards her. My grandchildren, have at times had a blind grandmother and have continued the understanding of having a grandmother who needs help at times.
    This also applies to others, those that have suffered and will continue suffering. Teaching right from wrong, that too is important. The child that wrote to a Minister upset by things, our children and grandchildren, are allowed to begin to have values and understanding of how the world and other’s fail us.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Mar '22 - 12:23pm

    Well now, Tom! As someone brought up in Wandsworth, who in my twenties in that area, there, met my American born wife, love this! And as a previous interpreter of the part of Fagin, on stage at the Wimbledon Theatre, for Lionel Bart in person , in the town I was born in,I love the reference to Oliver!

    I too am developing a project for Ukraine, and for kids, and a family audience , included too. Your as always helpful and sensible piece, reveals what I have always said. Overnight success is rarely as a result of success that is overnight, it is actually effort that is significant! At times it happens that is a fast achievement, otherwise slow. But marketing , promoting, needs more people. Find them and you can reach more than ever.

    The key is connection. Liberalism, when social, not classical, is about that, or it is irrelevant. I often say, the failing of this party, is its failure to connect members, and them, with the fellow citizens, residents of this country.

  • Helen Dudden 16th Mar '22 - 12:39pm

    Lorenzo Cherin. Politics seems at times cold and distant. The Parties, inflation of energy bills, lack of medical treatment.
    Personally, as we comment at present on Housing Associations and the terrible conditions tenants some are living in.
    As the talks continue, it’s showing the human side of lack of care in cladding and the struggling.
    That’s how I see thing’s, after so many years, someone cares.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 16th Mar '22 - 12:51pm

    I as ever like your attitude, considerate, and caring . People would better enrich society if society would be richer in values, and the poorest, richer in wealth. It is this balance that is skewed!

  • When I read the “Harness the Children” headline I thought “OMG, Patel is now insisting that the refugee children will have to plough fields”

  • @expats, Well, I suppose that is always a possibility. Especially if we are talking about Ms Patel

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