All my life, I’ve tried to relieve poverty. Sometimes I couldn’t do much, a few coppers to a beggar in the street. But it was something. I used to switch channels to avoid harrowing images of starving Africans because I couldn't see how I could do anything that would make any real difference.
In 1993, I was thrust into the poverty of the Philippines while staying in a shack in a shanty town. It was there, among the slums of the poor, that I learned an amazing lesson.
The lesson was that relatively small amounts of cash can make a huge difference.
I grew up on the edge of poverty in 1960s Manchester. I say ‘on the edge’ because although our house was later demolished in the slum clearances, there were families that were a lot worse off than we were.
Poverty is not cute or rustic, it’s a pain in the bum. I remember one of the rich kids once saying to me, ‘You’re really poor, aren’t you?’ It cut me deep.
‘Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.’
I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life as a travelling preacher. My overseas work took me to several African nations and areas of high poverty.
That’s why I started all sorts of projects that relieve or destroy poverty. Over the last 25 years I’ve raised and distributed many hundreds of thousands of pounds in a bid to make poverty history. Thousands of lives have been transformed by enabling a link between the well off and those in poverty.
That season of my life, and that Charity, is now closing.
But a few years back, I started something wonderful called the 100 Club. With very small amounts of money it brings hope and relief in large amounts to some of the poorest in the world.
In this new season I find myself in, I haven’t forgotten the poor. I’m looking for a few good people to join me in the 100 Club.