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The power of funny – turning laughs into lasting change

A smile is a powerful thing; a tool to spread joy, share delight and join others in amusement. It may seem a little tactless however, to start this blog with Spike Milligan’s poem about smiling, given the current COVID-19 pandemic. But the premise stands, and I hope you will forgive me for still including the lines below and encourage you to read it in the context of today’s Comic Relief activities:

“Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too

I walked around the corner, and someone saw me grin

When he smiled I realised I had passed it on to him

I thought about the smile, and then realised its worth

A single smile like mine, could travel round the earth

So if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected

Start an epidemic, and get the world infected.”

You will have seen some of the jokes from ECS pupils on our social media channels today. We have been having a lot of fun in School but there has been a serious message behind it. That mix of emotions is often a hard balance and one that charities face every day.

Making the ‘ask’ entertaining whilst ensuring their core messages are still clear is difficult at the best of times and some issues lend themselves better to advertising than others (think of cute puppies vs difficult illnesses). With much of the world in lockdown, and many of the biggest charity events and fundraisers cancelled or postponed, it is even more important this year to come together (even if virtually or physically distanced!) and have some fun at the same time as raising money to support people living incredibly tough lives.

The Comic Relief charity is one of the many fantastic charities out there. It partners with amazing projects and organisations that are working to tackle four of the biggest challenges society faces today: homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse and mental health stigma – all of which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am sure we all agree that improving mental health, ensuring a safe place for everyone, creating a world where children can survive and thrive and securing freedom from fear, violence and discrimination are valid, if ambitious, aims. Those causes, along with many others, deserve our support.

If we are being really honest, giving to charity – it doesn’t have to be financial, you can donate clothes, books or by volunteering – makes us feel good! The knowledge that we are helping others is hugely empowering and has been scientifically proven to make us feel happier. Scientists have found that the act of making a donation to charity shows an increase in activity in the area of the brain that registers pleasure – proving that, as the old adage goes, it really is better to give than to receive.

It strengthens our personal values and introduces children to the importance of generosity, showing them that we can all make positive changes in the world. Nurturing the innate generosity of children is likely to mean that they grow up with a greater appreciation of what they have.

So, if I can take a moment to encourage you to think about picking a charity that means something to you, an issue you relate to, a cause you believe in and give whatever you can: your time, books you no longer read that have been on your shelves for too long without being opened, clothes from the back of your cupboard. You can make a difference, however big or small.

And for today, have a fun evening and help turn laughs into lasting change.

Red Nose Day | Comic Relief

19 March 2021
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