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NHS Blood Donation has a Facebook page where people share photos of loved ones, who are only here today thanks to those who gave blood. I think it’s lovely.

 

And as it’s Christmas and we’re all in the giving mood, it’s also made me think – why not give a gift that’s actually needed?

 

At this time of year, when everyone’s partying, not as many people give blood – and the NHS need 200,000 donations if they’re to have enough for life-saving and life-changing transfusions.

 

So next week, as well as Christmas shopping*, I’m going to take an hour to do something nice.

 

You can find your nearest place to give blood here.

 

 

Isobel

 

*crying on the floor of Westfield

 

 

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Last Thursday, everyone at Open left work on time for once to celebrate the year at our Christmas party, held nearby at the London Fields Brewery.

 

Given the location, a group of us decided to save on the cab fare and enjoyed a somewhat bracing 30-minute walk along the canal.

 

Sure, it was pitch black at times and yes, some speedy cyclists might well have deserved to end up in the less than fresh water – but two-by-two and not quite hand-in-hand, we all made it.

 

Of course, the amount of bravery required to dodge a few two-wheeled plonkers after dark is nothing compared to the courage shown every day by our wonderful servicemen and women – which is why many of us donated our cab fares to Walking with the Wounded.

 

They work to support wounded military personnel, helping them retrain, re-skill and find new careers. You can learn more about them and what they do here.

 

So not only did our pre-party jaunt prove to be a great start to a great night – it was made all the better by doing a little bit of good.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Becky

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I spend more time than I’d like to admit looking at embarrassingly awful things online (21 Cats Who Haven’t Heard about Gravity, anyone?). But one page I feel no guilt revisiting time and again is the brilliant Humans of New York.

 

The blog sees photographer, Brandon Stanton, walk the streets of NYC – and beyond – photographing the people he meets and collecting their stories. Teachers, grandparents, children, artists, road sweepers and veterans share their anecdotes, their tragedies and their triumphs. It’s sad, funny and thought provoking.

 

I‘m not the only one who thinks so – what started as a small project has become huge, amassing millions of followers. It’s forged a partnership with the UN, sharing people’s stories in countries like Iraq and Kenya to raise awareness about the Millennium Development Goals. And thanks to its followers, it’s raised thousands of pounds for various charities, showing how social media can inspire social good.

 

As fundraisers, the popularity of this blog is exciting. This is, after all, our territory – telling stories that move people. And the blog’s readers genuinely seem to care – so much so that the comments section has none of the negativity or trolling you might see elsewhere.

 

Instead, what it does is connect people. People share their own stories or give the people featured a cheer on.

 

The blog shows that simple ideas can turn into something wonderful – and most importantly, that great stories and photos are key if we want people to care. We might need to dig deep to find them but it’s worth it – as one look at HONY’s 10.7million followers and $433,697 raised will tell you.

 

Isobel