Tonight is Children in Need. It’s a yearly event that has run for over 30 years here in the UK with the aim of raising money for organisations which help support disabled and otherwise disadvantaged children here in the UK.
Now, I’ll be one of the first to admit that services for disabled children and adults here in the UK aren’t what they could be. There are some fantastic charities picking up some of that slack and they deserve support. I suspect the same is true for services and charities supporting people who are otherwise disadvantaged but I don’t have personal experience of those to know for sure.
But I really hate Children in Need.
I wrote about that last year in a post on my own blog called Inspiration Porn. This is the idea that as disabled people we are objects of pity who are limited and need to be looked after but isn’t it just so great what we manage to do (my blog from last year explains it much better than that).
And I’m still mad about it this year. Perhaps even more so. Because not only do they continue to use inspiration porn to try and get you to part with your money they are also using the tag line “be a hero” (along with a reworked version of “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler).
Kids want to be be important. Loads of them grow up idolising superheroes like Spider-Man or Superman. Tell them that donating to Children in Need will make them a hero and they are going to want to do it. They aren’t going to understand that maybe their family can’t afford to do so.
This might be a long shot but it is potentially damaging to those kids to have that idea out there. Almost as damaging as the idea that there are other kids out there leading terrible lives who have no worth other than there disability and you need to feel sorry for them .
My disability and what worth I have can be something I struggle with particularly as happened yesterday I see a stranger failing to see Emma and just seeing the wheelchair user. I’ve had a hell of a lot of experiences throughout my life that have led to that. It’s not something anybody disabled or otherwise should have to deal with – feeling worthless – and yet Children in Need and other pity based charity fundraising go along way to perpetuating that even stereotype.
I’d encourage everyone to try and be a hero. But do it in their own way.
Give money to charities directly (local food banks are in desperate need of help for one example and even one bag of pasta makes a difference). Ones who support their users and treat them with dignity and respect.
If you can’t afford to give to charity be your own hero by not making things financially harder on yourselves and your family by feeling pressured to give what you can’t afford.
Teach your kids or grand kids that yes there are people who are different because they have disabilities or other differences but that’s just a part of life and it’s not bad and it’s not scary and they shouldn’t feel sorry for us.
Or be my hero and see me and people like me for who we are rather than what we are. See Emma who wears glasses and has long hair and has a mouth on her rather than a wheelchair and a poor girl who is forced to come with it (although you can notice my chair as well as me, it’s pretty cool)