REV JOHN SMITH: We have to trust that aid goes to right places

Iraqi men crush to try to get food packages handed out by British soldiers from the Tactical Supply Wing from the back of a lorry in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan, Monday March 31, 2003. The British forces are helping the local people with humanitarian aid. PA Photo/ Russell Boyce/ Reuters/ MOD POOL. SAF105D
Iraqi men crush to try to get food packages handed out by British soldiers from the Tactical Supply Wing from the back of a lorry in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan, Monday March 31, 2003. The British forces are helping the local people with humanitarian aid. PA Photo/ Russell Boyce/ Reuters/ MOD POOL. SAF105D
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When I was a young family doctor, long before I became a consultant in palliative medicine, and at a time when practices took their own night calls, I was woken by the telephone at about two in the morning.

It was, let me call him Mr J, as I have long since forgotten his name.

A patient who had chronic pain in his legs and who had become dependent (addicted) on his prescribed painkillers.

He had just had an accident, he told me, and tipped his pills down the toilet, would I tell his doctor in the morning so he wouldn’t be angry with him.

Little did he know how common an excuse it was, nor did he realise that I was just a little bit angry too, to be woken by such a call.

Move on a few weeks, I was having a clear out of the wardrobe and gave some of my clothing to the local “vicar”, in particular a rather nice suit.

This was long before the existence of charity shops and, yes, I did feel noble giving away some of my clothing, in particular the suit.

Move on a few more weeks.

I was sitting in my car waiting for the traffic lights to turn green when Mr J drew up alongside me on his bicycle.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, Mr J was wearing my suit!

Except it wasn’t mine, I had given it away to a priest that I trusted, with no preconditions, only to give it to someone who would
benefit.

And Mr J clearly did, life was a struggle for him and my “anger” had long since faded.

It is a bit like that when our Government gives foreign aid or when we give money to charities.

We may not necessarily like the people who it goes to – liking should not be a precondition.

We may fear that corrupt officials will misappropriate some of the money but if we stop giving then the poor will suffer even more.

In the end we have to trust because if we don’t we will just stop giving and live in an even more self-centred world.

When you donate to Cransley Hospice you trust us to spend it wisely and I hope we do.

Our board of trustees, all volunteers, are all very experienced, spend hours making sure that we do. That will apply to many of the charities that you support...thank you for that trust.

Mr J needed a jacket when the vicar gave him the suit, the trousers came as a bonus and I thank God for that.