The Solidarity Files3 minute read

It’s December, which means that many people are thinking about making charitable donations. As you’ll know if you’ve been following closely, I really don’t like to call my financial donations ‘charity’. I much prefer the word ‘solidarity’.

This shift in vocabulary leads to an interesting shift in mindset that opens up potentially more impactful uses for my money. Many groups doing great work can’t afford (in money, time, privilege or expertise) to become official charities, but they have as great if not greater need for donations.

1. Cooking On Gas

Wednesday was Khora’s birthday. To celebrate, I bought them a month’s worth of gas.

What the hell am I talking about? Re-e-wind.

This week, Khora Community Kitchen celebrated one whole year of its latest incarnation. The kitchen couldn’t have re-opened at a more critical time and has continued to serve a thousand meals a day to refugees, migrants and people in need living through lockdown in Athens, Greece.

A thousand meals a day doesn’t come for free, of course. Funded by solidarity donations from across the world, Khora gives everyone the chance to contribute by chipping in for cooking oil, vegetables or even a month’s worth of gas—‘You buy the food, we serve the meals.’

You can help Khora by buying them washing up liquid (€4), tea for a day (€10) or bread for a week (€100) in their online ‘store’.

It’s a remarkable project that you can now see for yourself in this epic video of Kareem and the crew preparing Palestinian maqluba (mmm!) for about 950 people. You can also follow them on Instagram or Facebook.

2. Happy Anachistmas!

You might have seen the wonderful Dope magazine being sold by street vendors around the UK. If you haven’t, then it’s basically a better version of The Big Issue (better for readers, better for the vendors), but it’s not a charity—and deliberately so.

Dope is completely free for vendors and the vendors keep all of the £3 cover price. The writing, design, printing and distribution of Dope is funded by solidarity contributions on Patreon and people buying copies of the magazine directly from publisher Dog Section Press.

In contrast, The Big Issue costs vendors £1.25 and they make only £1.25 profit per issue sold. The Big Issue makes a big noise about how their 1500 vendors made £5.5m in profits last year, but that’s only £3,700 for each vendor on average—nowhere near enough money to even begin to think about a life off the streets. And, with a 50/50 profit share, it means that The Big Issue itself made £5.5m in profits.

This is not to say that The Big Issue are necessarily doing bad things with that money—I honestly have no idea—only that they could be helping people much more directly. If Dope had similar distribution and sales, vendors would be making an average of £8,800 each. Now, this is not a fortune for anyone, but it is just enough money for vendors to support themselves, on the streets or off.

Vive la solidarité!

What about you? I’d love to hear of any other non-charity contributions that this little newsletter community makes or would recommend.

One more thing…

If you liked this post, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy my newsletter. You can check out the most recent issue on Substack. See ya there - dc:

David Charles Newsletter

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David

David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at davidcharles.info.

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