I often think that many charities become a little bit complacent, believing that because they have charitable status, people should automatically feel inclined to donate to their cause. The hand of the charitable giver is usually forced, guilt tripped in to handing over cash or setting up a direct debit with a sob story, often with considerable pressure applied by the charity or person doing the asking. Having spent a year working as a charity fundraiser, this is an approach I am familiar with.
There are some charities however who obviously see that this approach might plug the occasional hole, but have set themselves up to be more sustainable, as a business, with the money generated filtered back in to their charitable work. I've been lucky enough to be involved with the Hackney Pirates, a kids after school club trying to make learning fun; an adventure. In the process of creating and learning, the children produce products that can be bought by the general public, thus helping to keep the Hackney Pirates afloat. Another charity that was brought to my attention, by someone who came on one of my walks, that takes the same approach, is DePaul UK, a charity that helps young people who are homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable. Last year, they set up the DePaul Box Company, effectively a cardboard box business for the kind of boxes you need when you move house. As the money they make goes back to the charity, their boxes change lives.
DePaul's latest campaign is called 'Don't Let Their Stories End On The Street' for which they have teamed up with a number of east London's street artists. The likes of Ben Slow, David Shillinglaw, Best Ever, Josh Jeavons and Jim McElvaney have all produced work that tells the stories of the young people the charity supports; people who have either become homeless or are at risk of homelessness.
All the artists involved have given their time and talents for free, and as you can see from Ben Slow's piece above, certainly grabs the attention. The important part of the whole campaign however, is that each piece of street art directs people to DePaul's 'Street Stories' website. Here you will find a kind of virtual wall, filled with work by the different artists. Each piece of the wall represents a limited edition, signed, screen-print of the original and by purchasing one, you will be helping to 'clean' part of the digital wall, symbolising that gradually, through the art and the work of DePaul UK, an element of homelessness has been removed from the street.
So, as you're wandering around east London, you might come across David Shillinglaw's piece (above) which tells Shelly's story, and if you go to the 'Street Stories' website, can purchase the screenprint below, seen here, alongside another by Jim McElvaney.
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.