"Hearing about the actual impact and real-life examples of the work. It is always good to see pictures and hear stories to understand better," – words from one of the many sponsors who attended our Supporter Event on Tuesday 20th November.
Through a variety of talks and activities, sponsors were taken on a Plan journey from the past, through the present and into the future – all vividly illustrating the impact of sponsorship donations on the lives of children around the world. Held at Plan UK’s London offices, this year's event was also a chance for sponsors to say thank you and goodbye to our retiring Chief Executive, Marie Staunton, and for staff to meet sponsors and thank them for their vital and valuable support.
A welcome and introduction from Plan UK Chair, Dame Janet Paraskeva, was followed by a talk by the daughter of Plan’s founding father. Debbie Langdon-Davies (pictured above right) - told the fascinating story of how Plan started back in 1937 at the time of the Spanish Civil War. She explained how her father writer and journalist, broadcaster and lecturer John Langdon-Davies was, above all, a communicator.
John had lived in Spain in the 1920s, and after the Civil War began, started to take aid into Spain and went on speaking tours to drum up funds for medical aid to Spain. "There were thousands of children in the streets of Spanish cities: orphaned, separated, hungry, cold – frightened. He could not stand seeing their suffering.
"In 1936/1937, John Langdon-Davies came up with the Foster Parents Scheme for Children in Spain. His idea was to set up colonies for the children to be not only looked after in safety – but these children would have a personal relationship with a 'foster parent', would know that someone somewhere was thinking of them as an individual".
After this, Marie talked about some personal reflections of her 12 years as Chief Executive, using slides and video to highlight the key improvements she has seen, ending with her hopes for her own sponsored child, a 9-year old girl in India.
Then, the curtains pulled back to reveal three members of Plan UK’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) and the audience were asked to think of the barriers that may stop children in the developing world going to school. As more ideas were put forward, YAP built a cardboard wall - which was then knocked down as sponsors discussed Plan programme initiatives that were helping children overcome barriers and attend school.
Finally, Unni Krishnan (pictured above left), from Plan’s International Headquarters gave a powerful demonstration of how Plan works in a food crisis situation, using a special tape on a sponsor’s fingers to illustrate the levels of malnutrition children suffer in famine. He explained how Plan funds can lead to vital, life-saving improvements.
Finally a former sponsored child from Nepal shared her own experiences with sponsors. It was a memorable and rewarding evening.
Do you support Plan UK and would you like to attend next year's event? Please drop us a comment below and let us know.