MapGap.org is a campaign by Global MapAid (GMA) to raise £38,880 to launch a greater fundraising campaign that will raise money to work in the UK and Ethiopia, to make maps that shall show more clearly how sustainable jobs can be encouraged, particularly for youth, the seed corn of tomorrow.
Two GMA volunteers, Rupert and Colin, have been moving around London over Christmas 2013, delivering small notes, Christmas cards, tins of beans and pieces of bread to a select group of London and City of London dwellers to urge them to pitch in and help.
At times these two have felt like Hobbits, well out of their depth, drenched in rain, occasionally invisible, and far from home. But ah well, life goes on.
The day got off to a good start we prepped all the Christmas cards, presents and letters and baked beans at my sisters Sophie’s house in Clapham and then cracked on to Computacentre House on Blackfriars Road, to see Philip Hulme the founder. He wasn’t in but the man on the desk Eamon was very kind to us, and we even got a photo in front of the Computacentre Christmas Tree. In the past Peter has donated generously to youth programmes.
It began to rain and gust as we walked down Blackfriars towards Waterloo and the Shell Building to take our gift to Ed Daniels, who runs Shell UK. It took a bit of effort to find the Shell entrance, and it was raining hard, but eventually we found Scilla on the desk who was very kind and John the security guard, also most kind.
They gave us direction to walk around the building to the mail room. On the way, under the railway bridge, we passed a huddled figure, who could have been no more than perhaps 30 years old. We spoke to him. Silence. He did not look up. It felt like something out of a Dickensian novel. There and then, there was not a lot we could do.
This, we agreed, was the reason we are doing this.
In the Shell mail room, Colin had to wear a bright pink vest with writing on it and take the present through what seemed like ‘air locks’, it felt like we were inside a space station. Hobbits in a space station ? We said goodbye and sped off through the rain…
Moving on to Lord Rothschild at Spencer House, the same family as Lady Diana Spencer. We reflected that she would encourage our humanitarian activity.
It was still raining, here we are looking like drowned rats.
The size of the UK and world unemployment situation and our campaign to illustrate it feels sometimes like a pea-shooter taking on a tank. Guess Diana sometimes felt the same during her land-mine campaign.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2010 there were 357 million youth across the planet who are: ‘Not in Education Employment or Training’ here is the link to a paper the WEF wrote.
Lucius Aurelius Verus – The Philosophers Half-Brother
Reaching Spencer House was a neo-classical experience since the marble bust of Lucius Aurelius Verus the half-brother of Marcus Aurelius is in the hall. Do you remember was the wise old philosopher in “Gladiator” ? That was Marcus Aurelius, he was a philosopher.
Laurence, the man on duty graciously consented to take a photo of two drowned rats in front of the Christmas tree with the Philosophers half-brother in stone.
From one classical world to another, we pitched up next at the Ethiopian Embassy – Ethiopia being one of the world’s oldest civilisations. Sitting inside, on Ethiopian land, the lady on reception Hanna Solomon volunteered to have us talk with the Ambassador.
Colin then noticed a cool Mandela quote in a news paper, on the coffee table:-
“If I had my life time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.”
As Hobbits, we agreed. As Hobbits, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
After a bit of phoning Hanna realised the Ambassador was back in the New Year. So we explained our mission to her and she promised to communicate it to him, then wished her and the other receptionist Adana, Happy New year and left. Everybody smiled.
We walked past Hyde Park, down Kensington Road up to High Street Kensington to drop a tin of beans at the Evening Standard for the Editor, Sarah Sands. Tina and Israhim on reception kindly pointed us around to the loading bay where Sid took the package for Sarah. Rupert got in a bit of muddle at that stage as Israhim said his name rather softly and Rupert thought he heard him say his name was “Israel.” With full clarity was restored, the team left the Evening Standard.
Next to the tube and off to Bond Street, where walked to the office of Damien Hirst, who has donated a great deal to charitable causes in the past, to his credit. Believe us, there was quite a bit of surprising art at his office in his adjoining gallery.
Damien, do you want to make some art with our maps ? How about a collaborative art project to raise some cash for MapGap.org ?
We tried then to leave presents with Rosamund Pike’s agent and then Bloomsbury Publishing both in Soho and Bloomsbury. Sadly both agents were closed for the Christmas break. Colin and I rather like Rosamund’s acting. Hobbits drooped a little a that stage.
However, by then, the sun had come out and so we decided to call it a day and head back to sisters home in Clapham.
And once at home, we sat down like good Hobbits might, and made a simple plan for the ‘morrow. Colin shall visit all around London again. Rupert has to go home this evening to his Hobbit house in West Berkshire and so tomorrow shall hopefully – and purposefully – visit a British newscaster, at his country seat.