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The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers

The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers



Reedham Chairman offers perspective on compassion and the charitable impulse

Our Chair, Deborah Welham was invited to speak at the The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers' Livery dinner at Skinners' Hall in the City of London on 5th April, 2017. Peter Allen, their Prime Warden and a Trustee at Reedham, nominated Deborah Welham as the Company's Guest of Honour.


Please see below selected excerpts from Deborah's moving speech, which asks the question.

What makes people want to give ….?

I'm really interested in what people call 'the charitable impulse' or, more simply: what makes people want to give. Charity is big business. In the UK over 9 billion pounds is donated each year. It is essential to understand how and why people respond to that 'charitable impulse'.

On my way to Skinners' Hall, I passed a homeless man huddled in a doorway. Did you see him? I wonder how we all reacted? Probably with a mixture of thoughts and emotions. We all know homelessness is a complex problem. But what I'll bet unites us all is that one of the emotions we felt was compassion. Compassion underpins the charitable impulse.

Being able to feel compassion and empathy for a stranger is one of the traits that sets humans apart from other creatures on this earth. For many animals there are clear evolutionary reasons for protecting their own family or tribe, but only humans can perceive a reality that is outside the immediate – we can imagine. We can even imagine being someone else, a complete stranger. And this is the root of compassion: being able to empathise with another human's pain.


Please read the full version here.


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