This month people all over the world will be celebrating one of the most commercially lucrative holidays: Valentine’s Day. It is estimated that in the UK alone more than 25 million Valentine’s cards will be sent and more than £1.4 billion will be spent on chocolates, flowers and other gifts. This tradition goes back some six hundred years. In fact, the oldest surviving Valentine’s card was sent in 1415 from a prisoner in the infamous Tower of London.
It may surprise you to learn that in Japan only women send Valentine’s cards and gifts. There is something lovely about the idea of giving without expecting to receive, but I admit that I prefer reciprocity. It seems fairer, more balanced and better in the long term. I think I would struggle to give a gift every February 14 without asking some uncomfortable questions about the power dynamics of my relationship! If it went on too long, I may be tempted to send what is sometimes called a ‘Vinegar Valentine’ – a card with a message that tells the unlucky recipient some hard to hear home truths!
The Brick is unlike many charities insofar as it seeks a fairer, more just and sustainable way of sharing resources in our communities. We do this out of love – not a soppy, sentimental feeling but a powerful energy that can generate real and lasting change for all people. In the Bible, there are many different words for love but all of them convey ‘doing.’ In other words, love is not simply a noun; it is a verb.
And so it is that some of what The Brick does is redistributing the resources that we all need including food, electrical goods, furniture and clothes. But we also try not to be one sided in our work with people who are experiencing challenges. Nobody I know wants to feel like a ‘charity case’. Everyone wants to be listened to, really heard, valued and respected. The Brick absolutely believes that every person has something to offer whether it is time, experience, skills, outlook, presence or donations. Therefore, we want to continue to remove the barriers that prevent people from giving the best of themselves and making their own unique contribution to the places where they live and love. We do this in many different ways, but the golden thread that runs throughout the charity is LOVE BUILDS.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people we work with, our volunteers, staff, partners and supporters!
By Brick Chaplain Caroline