Christmas at Crisis

Christmas at Crisis: Short Term, High Impact Volunteering at its Finest

For me, this Christmas season was much the same as any other. I watched old films and played Monopoly. I stayed up late and talked into the early hours. I connected with others.

I did this with my family and loved ones as usual – the difference this year was that I also spent two nights doing these things with homeless rough sleepers.

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How to change the world in seconds

Got an hour? A minute? Just seconds? Good news: you can change the world in that time

In my last post, I talked about the Global Goals and why they are so important.

We have the power to end extreme poverty, in our own lifetimes, for good. No generation has ever been able to say that before, and it is vital we act now to make a world without extreme poverty a reality.

We need everyone to contribute if we want ending poverty to be high on the agenda of world leaders, but the good news is you can make a difference however much time you have to give.

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Confessions of a shy campaigner

angst-802639_1280My heart is beating faster than usual; other people are talking about things I want to hear, but I’m not listening to them. I’m totally focused on what I need to say, and saying it right. Just as I’ve got it perfectly worked out – what to say and how to say it – the moment is gone. ‘Okay, thanks for all your ideas and questions. Let’s move on….’

I have always been a shy person. Hiding behind something is often preferable to talking to a group of strangers, and public speaking is a nightmare. Over the years I’ve got much better thanks to job interviews, university presentations and going to quite a lot of weddings, but I still find being shy a challenge. Since I’ve been involved in campaigning on extreme poverty, it’s become more of an issue.

How do you network with like-minded people when you’d much rather just melt into the crowd?

How can you speak up about poverty, when you find it hard to speak up at all?

Here’s my advice to other potential campaigners who suffer from shyness or feel awkward talking in large groups.

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Global Goals – Could we be the generation that eliminates extreme poverty?

Could we become the generation that eliminates extreme poverty?

2015 is a key year in the fight to abolish extreme poverty.  

In September, the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or ‘Global Goals‘ will be finalised. These goals will underpin the plan for what we do to tackle extreme poverty.  Whilst the goals may have been mostly decided what will be crucial is how we measure success on them.  So the choices our leaders make and the choices we campaign for them to makeare absolutely crucial.



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Effective Altruism means Effective Inclusion

“Are you earning to give?”

This is invariably one of the first questions I get asked when meeting new people at Effective Altruism meetings, and it always makes me feel guilty.

“No,” I explain “I’m training as a speech and language therapist. I’ll be working in education or the NHS. I’m never going to be earning huge sums of money.”

The response I’ve had to this has been mixed. While often I get a warm response (and often a nice conversation about linguistics thrown in), I have had instances of people suggesting ways I could change career, or feel dismissed by a slightly patronising ‘how nice for you’.

Earning to give – choosing a very well paid career path in order to give vast sums away to effective charities – is often presented as the ultimate in Effective Altruism. You only have to look at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their astonishing work towards malaria eradication to see how following a very lucrative career path, carefully exploring the best options for giving, and then following through on this with great compassion and generosity, can yield astonishing results.

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Making a difference – could you up your game too?

I have always wanted to make a difference; I think most people do.

As a young teenager, I remember giving away all my Christmas money after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. I understood that I didn’t actually need that money, and there were other people who needed it desperately. As I grew older, I began to realise that this desperate need doesn’t go away just because the news cameras have moved on, or is only present in the wake of a disaster. Extreme poverty is an everyday fact of life for thousands of people, a fact not deemed newsworthy only because of its constant, ongoing nature.

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Cognitive Dissonance

I recently committed a crime. I know that isn’t a promising confession from someone who wants you to read their blog about living a more ethical life, but hear me out.

It was a crime against reason and a crime against my values. It was also an actual ‘breaking the law’ crime. And I got caught.

Here’s what happened. I caught a train. I didn’t buy a ticket. This was noticed, and I paid for it in the form of some mild social shaming and a £20 fine. Sleep safe in your beds tonight, everyone. The system works.

Why am I telling you this in a blog about leading an ethical life? Is it to absolve myself of guilt via public confession? Not really.

The fact is, I didn’t feel that bad at all about what I’d done, and this illustrates an interesting wider barrier we all have to living more ethically; trying to avoid cognitive dissonance.



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A climate of concern? Why we have to keep talking about climate change

What do you love?

This is the slightly surprising question the Climate Coalition has been asking. As the UK’s largest group dedicated to lobbying on climate change, and with everyone from Oxfam to the RSPB providing input, they should be a force to be reckoned with – but there’s a problem.

Climate change has fallen out of public consciousness – or rather, we’ve simply gotten used to the idea. It’s like a scratching noise coming from the walls of your house or a long, low buzzing; increasingly troubling, increasingly something you must try to fix, then – something you’re used to. Something you accept. You no longer worry about what the scratching in the walls might mean. You have long since stopped hearing the buzzing sound.


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Why financial education matters for smarter giving

This academic year, financial education was made part of the compulsory national curriculum in the UK for the first time.

This is fantastic news for young people, but also potentially for effective altruism. Most effective altruists that I have met have a good understanding of finance and economics, which is unsurprising in a movement which seeks to do the most good by giving. However, to spread effective altruism on a large scale, we need to be mindful that large numbers of people have a poor understanding of personal finance.

Learning time

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