Last Saturday saw me once again leave the children with Mr C and head into London on the train for another blogging event. This time I was headed to the Save the Children bloggers conference at their offices near Farringdon station. Save the Children have held these conferences for a few years now, and are a worldwide charity that I'm sure pretty much everyone has heard of, but if I'm totally honest I only really became aware of the work that they were doing with bloggers when I got to know DorkyMum during her time living in Harpenden.
Chats with Ruth really opened my eyes to the work that Save the Children do around the world, yet last week's conference also made me realise that I've only scratched the surface of understanding what they're up to and just how broad their work is – both geographically and in terms of scope.
A warm welcome from Save the Children's Chris Mosler (L) and Rosie Childs (R)
Save the Children appear to be a charity who really "get" bloggers. They completely understand the online world and social media in particular, and also understand how they can work with bloggers successfully. The programme for the day was put together so that we had the opportunity to learn more about the work that Save the Children are doing, but also the time to develop some of our online skills, which in turn we can hopefully use to help Save the Children.
The day kicked off with a talk about the humanitarian work that Save the Children are carrying out around the world and I was blown away by the scale of what they're involved in. In 2013 Save the Children worked in 48 different countries and helped 6 million children. Just read those numbers outloud for a moment – 48 countries and six million children. I honestly had no idea that they were doing so much.
Learning more about Syria and Save the Children's work to Save Syria's Children
Hearing more detail about the work they are doing in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Philippines and Syria was hard to listen to. It's amazing, but at the same time the fact that all these children need Save the Children's help is heartbreaking. There is just so much that some of these children require – not only medical support, but things that can help them become children again after witnessing horrors (both man-made and natural disasters) that no child should see.
There's been a lot of debate in the press and between politicians about whether or not the Government should be stopping some, or all, of the UK's international aid budget until help has been given for those affected by the recent flooding, especially in the south west of the country. Whist I agree that the Government has been slow in sending support, and I obviously have huge sympathy for people who have lost their home or livelihoods, I just don't feel that you can compare what is going on here to some of the atrocities happening in other countries. Yes, financial and physical support needs to be provided here in the UK, but not at the cost of those needing our help overseas.
Save the Children are there on the ground helping some of the world's most vulnerable children, both in the UK and overseas. Children that don't ask or deserve to be born into poverty, or into a war zone, or into the middle of a natural disaster. This latest media debate makes me realise that many people don't seem to realise just what international aid goes to support and where charities are working overseas or who they are providing vital assistance to. This is where bloggers can be so important to Save the Children.
We can help to get their message across to our readers and social media followers. To explain the stories behind the headlines that we seen on the news or in the papers (assuming the media actually picks up on some of these stories in the first place…) We can help to turn some of those statistics into personal stories. We can show where the money that people donate is actually going and who is benefiting from it. We can help to explain the difference that those donations make to real lives. And we can also spread the word about what the public can do to help – whether it be through financial assistance or campaigning.
I came away from the day excited, inspired and full of energy. I felt like the work that bloggers had already done to help Save the Children was so appreciated, yet I could also see that there is so much more that can be done. Save the Children have a fantastic team working with bloggers – their digital media lead Rosie Childs and the amazing Chris Mosler from Thinly Spread – and I'm very much looking forward to working with them going forwards.