In the middle of a busy shopping centre in White City, West London, it was once possible to step into a cosy pop up stall, enclosed by elegant furniture and chests of drawers and sit and chat with a lady for a few minutes or so about…well…children. Sounds slightly odd, and for a number of reasons too, but let me clear this up. WorldVision came up with a creative, innovative and, dare I say, immersive idea with the aim of taking away passing members of the public from their intense shopping endeavours and talk to them, albeit for a few minutes, about how they can donate to WorldVision and make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children around the world, all within a domesticated setting. This creative, innovative and immersive idea became known as The Story Shop.
According to their website, WorldVision is the world’s largest international children’s charity, which aims to bring hope to this vulnerable demographic in disaster-stricken areas for immediate relief, or long-term, ongoing issues. You can donate, which contributes towards providing commodities, including food, water, and access to medical care, or even sponsor a child. And The Story Shop is a so-called campaign of WorldVision to help with these aims. Their byline is: CONNECTING TWO WORLDS – indeed, implying that of the first and the third, I presume? Watch this video for a more visual representation of what The Story Shop is:
Indeed, when traipsing around Westfield with my mum, we took a few moments to stop and appreciate the work that had gone into creating such as immersive, technological form of fundraising.
“CONNECTING TWO WORLDS”
The pop up included frames of children’s stories, a chest of drawers which opens up to find out more information about them and the immersive mirror-like screen, which seemed quite a hit for passers-by. A child stands at the foreground of the screen, with their hand outstretched to touch yours. How can this be ignored? When my mum approached, the child’s story read: ‘We have no healthcare and my brothers and sisters are sick from diseases that can be easily treated.’
“We have no healthcare and my brothers and sisters are sick from diseases that can be easily treated.”
Despite the fact that this was approximately two months ago, and the stall is no longer there, it is a concept that had embedded itself in my mind up until now, due to its unique quality, hence why I felt compelled to talk about it here.
I believe that the way forward in fundraising is through immersive and interactive forms of communication and technology, which can help generate interest in the general public, and to truly ‘connect two worlds’. It starts with sharing compelling, real-life and factual stories, and taking a step back from previous techniques of enforcing guilt upon publics, which has often resulted in compassion/media fatigue, which Chouliaraki (2012) and other academic thinkers have noticed within the area of fundraising and media and development. Instead, a FUN and guilt-free approach should be advocated.
As I have probably mentioned a fair amount of times within my blog, Communication for Development (C4D) is what I want to do (as a career, as a life goal). I believe that this particular branch of fundraising is interesting, and should be talked about more widely as a form of communications and fundraising technique, which have the potential of raising awareness of the issues facing children in some of the most vulnerable and deprived areas of the world.
We can all make a change, and it starts by not looking on and walking away, but stepping up the challenge, listening to the stories of some people perhaps less fortunate than ourselves, and remembering that we are all human, and no amount of borders should separate that fact.
On a side note, if any of you have ever done any street fundraising with charities, please do share with me your experiences as I am interested in doing this over the Summer.
Click on the link below also to check out some of the interesting blog posts I have been reading over on the BBC Media Action page: http://view.e.bbcmail.co.uk/?qs=20f64e5646817f3a62dea5474aacc1cf8312ac90407f5d82f63b7e0d89aefbe48b1ea27bf0189b02b5c54b9806c4eef3318e893a2c27cacbd55e5dbc1d4fa244