It was one of my proudest moments – walking down the aisle with one of my beautiful daughters on my arm to ‘give her away’, as the old words have it. Yes, last Saturday in a London 29th floor venue overlooking the Thames, we had a lovely family wedding and thankfully, I negotiated my speech without major pitfalls only going off-piste to quote from Kahlil Gibran on Children…
Not surprisingly given the conjunction of my scarred face and all the beauty around me, I found myself discussing Channel 4’s The Undateables quite a few times. Although it has undoubtedly opened some people’s eyes and minds, my view remains that, to date, by failing completely to include people with disfigurements and disabilities in loving relationships, the series leaves the viewer with a very false impression – that this just never happens. I know lots of such people and whilst none of us – and I mean no-one – finds long-term relationships are a doddle, many thrive as I have done – coming up to 34 years married!!
I have found myself recently defending the Third Sector’s campaign to persuade the Chancellor to change his policy on tax relief for philanthropists. I was shocked on Tuesday to find that part of the argument being used is that ‘the rich abuse charitable giving’. ‘Some wealthy people are donating to charities which do not “do a great deal of charitable work” in order to cut their tax bills, Downing Street says.’ If that is the case, the Charity Commission should be asked to investigate each and every example – but it should not tar all philanthropists on which Changing Faces, like all charities, depend so much.
I see a figure just posted that the tax cap will cost the sector £1bn in donations with the HMRC gaining only £200m in tax receipts. There has to be a policy change.
And so to the launch of our new campaign calling for balanced portrayals of people with disfigurements in films and an end to the persistent stereotyping of those with scars and disfigurements as villains or as morally depraved.
The film that is the launch pad for the campaign is going to run for 2 weeks in every Odeon cinema up and down the country so I will report as this goes on. But there seems to be a good head of steam building already in the first hours of this campaign – and I doubt if, as I post, whether anyone has seen the short film in a cinema yet… So watch out for it in an Odeon near you! Join the conversation on our Facebook page.
My favourite comment so far has been “a long overdue challenge”. How right.