It is strange to think that with high living costs and increasing debts, students are such a huge target for charitable organisations. All year long we are bombarded by appeals, events, volunteering opportunities and more from people trying to gain what little remaining money we have for causes we often do not know much about. Charities use all kinds of different methods to convince us of their causes, from the guilt-edged, slow-motion television campaigns to high incentive trips across the world. Whichever way they try, each year the causes get more severe and the requests keep flooding in, which raises the question: are we actually helping at all?

Despite all our efforts, it seems that the world is in no better state than it has ever been, and there is no sign of that changing. It should be noted that these causes are all deserving of attention and aid, but the reality is that there are many, which are more so than others. There is no choosing between the Haiti earthquake and the current drought in the horn of Africa; both deserve whatever aid we can provide. But on a scale of world issues, saving bears from captivity doesn’t quite rank as highly. There are simply some causes, which seem less important. However, the real issue is still how to decide between all the hundreds of disasters and causes across the world. Are natural disasters worse than providing sustainable development for a country?

And when more students are expected to graduate into unemployment with higher debts than ever it doesn’t seem appropriate to target our particular demographic for charitable donations and campaigns. Yet, as the University of Nottingham showcases with aplomb, we are still a hugely charitable sector. From collections on campus for disaster relief, to the many societies, which cover a wide range of causes from ZambiAids to MARROW, we as a community go above and beyond ourselves to help to support the local and international community.

So it’s not all doom and gloom. Our own Rag committee, Karnival, is the largest in the UK and its annual total now tops £1.5 million — that’s more than Live Aid made before Bob Geldof went on a huge live rant midway through the performance. Our student population is representative of the giving nature of Britain, and with the charity and volunteering societies growing every year, more and more students are getting directly involved with relief efforts and going beyond simply donating money.  Seeing really is believing, and from visiting schools in Tanzania or Nepal on a Childreach International challenge event, to giving aid to the homeless in Nottingham, or simply volunteering at a local youth centre, you do really get a sense that we are helping the world — one step at a time.

We as a nation give a lot to charities, which goes to show that even in times of hardship we have a desire to help the wider world around us. In August alone, the UK donated more than £42 million for the Somalian relief fund. Whilst there is never an easy way to differentiate between causes or to decide how much to help, giving is a personal choice. If you have changed one person’s life for the better then you have made a difference and that makes it all worthwhile.

Adam Lees

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