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Victims of our own success

Posted in: Blog, by kayleighb2a, on 16th July 2014 | Comments Off on Victims of our own success

– Mark Topley, CEO

I’ve been so encouraged in the last couple of weeks by various fund-raising efforts that have come in:

  • People donating their speaking fees (including a certain participant in ‘The Island’) when they speak publicly.
  • Smile In Pink 2014 – Over 300 practices taking part and funds starting to roll in.
  • The same Island participant (Chris Barrow) using the platform of 7Connections to approach his elite clients with a fantastic opportunity to grow their practices in Unity Partnership, ably assisted by Colin Campbell – another great mate and triple-gold Unity Partner.
  • Artemis Challenge – James Hamill and Chris Barrowman putting themselves through a huge challenge of a Quadrathon, and making the fundraising part of their everyday in their practices to raise money for Bridge2Aid.
  • A coast2coast cycle from St. Bees to Robins Hood Bay by the fantastic team at  Goodman Grant.
  • A magnificent effort by volunteer Melanie Yates, and 200+ walkers who all braved heavy rain and wind as well as the challenge of the infamous sands as they waded thigh deep through the tepid waters of Morecombe Bay last month.

What is so encouraging for me is that there’s goodwill towards the ethical, sustainable and appropriate work we do*, that people are prepared to act and do something to help us make change happen together.

One of the comments we heard during the Urgent Appeal in January was that people had always assumed we had plenty of money. The difficult balance to strike in running a charity is between showing that people’s money is really needed and appearing so ‘needy’ that they lose confidence in you.

This isn’t helped when you have such a great team in the UK, part of whose role is to deliver excellent marketing, clear and professional presentation, and a well organised PR strategy that keeps our impact in the news. The truth is we do all that on a shoestring (even by charity standards) and have a fantastic group of people like Barker PR, Dental Design and Apex who give their time for free to help us present the message.

So the truth is – we really do need the money!

We’re approaching our ten year anniversary of our first Dental Volunteer Programme this October. Over the past 10 years, thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, supporters and fundraisers (and ONLY because of that) we have been able to develop a model of training that really works to tackle the problem of untreated dental pain – by training medical people ALREADY on the ground to provide a basic service, and teach people how to avoid pain in the future.

*If you’re new to all this Bridge2Aid stuff, essentially what we do is address a chronic lack of access to emergency dental treatment in developing countries sustainably, through the training of existing rural community Health Workers, so they can provide simple dental pain relief and oral health education. We also provide the equipment and resources to be able to carry out basic dental procedures. Each Health Worker serves a rural population of around 10,000 people, and training is provided by volunteer dentists from the UK who fund their own trips.

Despite dental pain being a huge issue, outside of the oral health community it isn’t understood or prioritised, and even within the oral health community, there isn’t a widespread, low technology strategy to help people in pain. Instead governments continue with impractical and unaffordable approaches that leave the vast majority suffering.

But we believe, along with the World Health Organisation, that making basic services available to many is better in the circumstances than banging our heads against the brick wall of ‘universal access to a dentist’ with insufficient resources to do the job.

We’re working hard to articulate this and get wider support on board so we can grow.

In the meantime – the fabulous UK Dental Profession and Industry are the ones who have made our work possible.  While we wait for the rest of the world to catch on, the people with a unique understanding and opportunity to make change happen (rather than just ‘do good’ – but that’s a future blog post) is people like you.

So, if you’ve considered fundraising or donating in the past but haven’t done so, please have a think again. We really do need the money, and we really will put it to good use.

Get personally involved – it really makes a difference to people currently living in pain.


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