The A to Z of hope

Mar 08, 2016

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Caroline Mason CBE, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation on the awareness campaigns that have helped to transform society . . .

Campaigns have existed for a long, long time in representing those whose voices are not heard or highlighting issues that are inconvenient or that challenge the existing status quo.

We often forget how much we are beholden upon these campaigns run by people, communities, organisations, movements and charities that have fundamentally changed what we consider to be acceptable and have defined our behaviour, culture and society. In preparing this blog, I started to put together a list as a mental prompt. There were so many that I created the A to Z below; some of these we now take for granted, some seem to ebb and flow through history and others are just emerging.

  • Air quality
  • Ballot box
  • Child labour
  • Drink driving
  • Endangered species
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Gay rights
  • HIV awareness
  • Immunization and inoculation
  • Job security and the minimum wage
  • Knife crime
  • Lead in petrol
  • Maternity and paternity rights
  • Neonatal care
  • Ozone layer
  • Paralympics
  • Quality of drinking water
  • Racial equality
  • Secondary smoking
  • Trafficking
  • Use of torture
  • Votes for women
  • Waste
  • Xenophobia
  • Youth justice
  • Zero size models

And then there is also fair trade, access to the countryside, mental health awareness, hospice care, pension entitlements, disability rights……. These are hard fought and sometimes hard won by those not afraid to be ridiculed, scorned, imprisoned and sometimes even killed to make change happen.

In putting this list together, I consider my good fortune and that of my daughters who will not have to fight for the right to vote. Nowadays it seems absurd that this should ever have been in question.


So it makes me wonder; what are the equivalent struggles of today that our grandchildren will take for granted in the future? And are we all doing enough to support them, even if they challenge current vested interests and orthodox thinking? I hope so.

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