Tag Archives: charity

What would YOU do for a fiver?

Morning morning…

An excellent weekend for Small Change at this end. A trip to Alton Towers last Tuesday marked a very early start, and since then the body clock has woken me between 4 and half 4 every day, aided by the hot nights. Helpful. So, being awake, I find it hard on a weekend morning to refuse the call of duty.

Finding a penny within yards of my front door at 4:30 Saturday morning was a good omen. Walking past the taxi rank along Bancroft I spied a crumpled five pound note. My first note! Hurrah! Admittedly I know of a couple of people who’ve chanced upon £20 notes before, to add to the cause, but this was my first note. I fair skipped through the rest of town. Manly-like. And found a further 76p. And a hole punch and ruler and notebook all wrapped in cellophane. Ok then…

Sunday morning started at a similar time, for no good reason. And I was rewarded with £2.78. A good result all round. During the day on Sunday my girlfriend and I found the odd copper scattered around, and later took a small picnic up to the top of Windmill Hill in Hitchin to catch a bit of sun, read and relax. And at the precise spot we decided to stop, there’s a 2p piece trampled into the grass. Obviously not a big find, especially not considering the weekend’s other goodies (I mean a hole punch – could anything be any more exciting?), but one of those what-are-the-odds moments.

And talking then of fivers, the concept behind the US website Fiverr.com is one of donating some kind of service for just five bucks. So even more generous than five pounds sterling. Nice. Offers on there range from designing a website or teaching a programming language to writing and recording a love song or ‘making sure your ex doesn’t bother you again’! Diverse stuff, but mostly of the professional kind. Worth a visit, maybe worth donating your time?

And, just because, I’d like to share with you the fact that the word ‘fiver’, without exception, always reminds me of the scene in the first Bottom Live when Ade Edmondson mugs himself for a fiver. Twice: ‘made another fiver out of it!’ It was, of course, the same fiver…

Hitchin developments

Morning morning. June’s given way to early October, the sly bastard. For those of us not fleeing Britain for warmer climes until mid-September, this is frankly beyond the pale. Every year my thoughts turn to emigration on a pretty permanent scale. Sadly the reality hasn’t come any closer.

I was up obscenely early yesterday so ambled into town and was rewarded with £1.98 for the Small Change charity collection. While pleased about this, I was not so pleased with the state of the town’s shops. Anyone who knows Hitchin (a largely rather pretty market town with a beautiful church and a fair amount of character in its streetscape; ranging from Tudor to Victorian before a number of vile 20th century blips remind you that yes, nowhere was safe from town developers during the 60s, 70s and 80s) will be aware of the eyesore that is the closed Woolworths store. It’s a large retail unit on the main high street that’s sat dormant since Woolworths’ sudden demise. The final day of trading at Hitchin Woolies was 30 December 2008. That’s a scarily long time the unit has now been empty. The rumour mill churns over the usual fears about it becoming a Poundland or something equally awful.

Hitchin’s well known for having a good percentage of individually owned shops; non-chain retail as well as the usual suspects line our streets. As I walked the streets I counted 14 retail units which lie empty. That’s not including the godawful Churchgate centre that spoils an otherwise impeccable market square, and which is scheduled for demolition and replacement (if the locals are ignored) by a largely unnecessary and overblown development which will kill Hitchin as the historic town it is. The Churchgate development plans can be seen here. They’re not set in stone by any means, but how much do developers really listen to local people? Elements are lovely, but the view down the hill to St Mary’s Church will be gone, and more national chain stores will appear. But that brings me back to my disappointment at all those empty units. One, I notice, will soon be open as a ‘cheap wine’ store. It’s the site of two previously closed off-licences. So it’ll last a year perhaps? For crying out loud. If we can’t fill the units in the prime areas of town (thanks Clement Joscelyne for closing down your admittedly vastly-overpriced shop and leaving a lovely building empty), then what makes anyone think we can fill some massive new development? Grr, to be quite honest with you.

Hmm. I’ve ranted. Most unlike me. Anyway, development or not, there’s still rubbish and money on the streets every morning, so when sleep is not my friend, out I’ll traipse…

Logo design competition


A couple of days ago I alluded to a logo design competition and here it is.

Small Change needs a logo. Something visually arresting, something associated with its concept and purpose, something memorable. Its detail and resolution should be equally compatible with being printed upon a business card or emblazoned across the header of this website.

Anyone who’s embraced the Small Change charity concept will have encountered the moment of spotting a coin of minimal value in the middle of a busy street. You want to pick it up, because the whole premise relies upon the contribution of every single coin, but you fear the strange, pitying or even disgusted look of strangers. Pride’s a terrible thing isn’t it? But it’d be great to stop that glare with a quick flash or handover of a Small Change business card. Vistaprint, among others, often dishes out deals on business cards that contain their details on the back. Usually several hundred cost just the price of P&P. Not bad at all seeing as I’ll be paying for them out of my own pocket – I see no reason why my Small Change pot should foot the bill.

Cards would be great for alleviating embarrassment and for passing on at business networking events, leaving in coffee shops and, well, anywhere else actually.

That’s really the point of the competition. Am I promising you riches, a contract and international acclaim? Nope.

Every entrant will receive my unbounded admiration, their design and a link to their website/design portfolio on this site, and a Tweet out about their entry. The winner will receive all the above, plus a page on the site, and the knowledge that they’ve gone some way to helping an excellent cause.

Thassit really. A winning entry might need to be tweaked for size for the site and a business card, but aside from being in a compatible graphic format, I ask nothing more of graphic designers who are entering.

So, if you’re a designer, whether a GCSE student, an amateur or a freelancer, please give it a crack. And the rest of you – please spread the word so that others might enter…

The email address for competition entries is: smallchange@ahcopy.co.uk.

Good luck everyone, and a big thank you in advance to all who enter and all who aid!

Back at the keyboard

Actually I’ve been at this damned keyboard every day for the past x months. But back and logged into the Small Change dashboard.

Anyway, here’s a quick breakdown of what small change I’ve found over the 13 months since I first came up with Small Change.

402 days have passed since then. Yesterday I sat down and emptied out my VW campervan moneybox, and did a spot of counting. I’m a terrible counter. I can do it, I understand the whole 1+1=2 business, and even double figures don’t faze me, but I’m a self-doubting counter. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Or was it 9? Did I already have 9? Hang on, I’ll start again. Ad infibloodynitum. Takes forever. I grit and grind my teeth in exasperation, and I’m sure all that makes things worse. Anyway, after what felt like several hours, I finally got my counting done. The sums afterwards were easy.

Thanks to my calculator.

Ok…I’ve found 166 pennies. A couple are barely recognisable as such, but definitely ARE.

I’ve found 71 two pence pieces.

I’ve found 110 5p pieces.

Sixteen ten pence pieces.

Thirty 20p coins.

Three 50p coins.

Nine pound coins.

So…over 402 days, I picked up 405 coins. The total value?


No, not life-changing on its own. And I know of two jammy buggers who’ve found £20 notes (and yes, kept them for their Small Change kitties despite the obvious temptations), so for all my effort it seems a trifle unfair.

But look at it this way. If ten of us had found that, we’d be looking at £266 for charity. I’ll let you do the other 10x table extrapolations, but the message is clear. One person’s collection mightn’t be so amazing, but the more we spread the word, the greater the combined impact will be…

We got rhythm…

What a stunning day, and indeed a stunning week. Gorgeous weather, blistering sunshine…

My Small Change pot as grown a wee bit too…since my last update I’ve collected 97p, including perhaps the dirtiest and least recognisable tuppenny bit (who still uses that phrase that isn’t also able to describe rationing or thought the Beatles were modern noise?) which was in my brother’s garden. He’s been tarting it up and I have to say it looks fantastic.

I’ve noticed, weirdly, that I have a habit of looking particularly at parts of the street where I’ve previously found money, as though it actually grows there, or spawns there from some alternate universe. Nope. Fool.

There have been a few extremely useful suggestions for worthy charitable recipients in response to the previous update, and of course I hope for many more. I shall shortly create a page on which to track the various options, and towards the end of the year that page will contain a poll on which we can all vote…so keep suggestions coming. Feel free to brag publicly about your Small Change collection or individual finds – I know of at least one person who’s come across a fluttering fiver to bolster their collection.

It’s Rhythms of the World (ROTW) in Hitchin this weekend, and as ever the atmosphere is terrific. Happy people creating a carnival feel. I myself should be heading tonight into the grounds where the once street-based ROTW festival is now held, and probably tomorrow daytime too. Let’s face it, it couldn’t be better weather for what I overheard one man describe over the phone to his friend as “the best plan: sink a few cool ones and chill out on the grass.”

Who to give to?

It’s a rather overcast Sunday morning, but warm. Yesterday’s sudden downpours and half-hearted thunderstorms brought a little respite from the humidity, but I hear Monday and Tuesday we could get temperatures of over 30 degrees…

The week got off to a good start cash-wise. I came across a pound coin in the supermarket car park. It sat centrally in a parking slot, so whoever dropped it clearly couldn’t be bothered to scrabble around under the car to pick it up again. Good…

Apart from that – a very quiet week – a couple of 5ps, and that’s about it…

So I thought I’d mention the possible charities themselves, and how we’ll go about choosing them. Yes – we. Because I’ll set up a poll later in the year that collectors can vote in. I think two or three charities, and split the money between them…

So suggestions really would be welcome. I would like to avoid charities with any religious affiliation, simply because that might alienate some people. Some people also seem reluctant to give money to charities that support the needy abroad – on the basis that they believe UK charities should come first. I don’t actually buy into that, in part because money goes a lot further in the developing world. If I bung two quid at a homelessness charity, for the sake of argument, in this country, that might buy a box of teabags, but in Africa it will buy text books for a village school. Big difference…in my opinion.

Animal charities divide opinion too. It’s rather a tricky topic, all in all.

The only other proviso I’d like to enter is that I don’t think we should necessarily go for the best known charities. Breast cancer charities, for instance, while obviously enormously deserving, raise millions every year and enjoy an extremely high profile. There again, Save The Earwigs in That Tiny Village The Name Of Which Nobody Can Spell But It’s Quite Near Andover And The Pub Does Great Chips would obviously be rather obscure. Probably doesn’t even exist actually. Just a big con. Someone should investigate.

Hmmm…just something to think about chaps…