A few months ago I was alerted through social media to a request from Manchester Dogs Home for food. They needed urgent help because the cupboards were almost bare. As the home does such great work and is just round the corner from the office we got moving and started to collect donations as well as highlight the plight on social media. It had a great response and led to one of my colleagues adopting one of the dogs.
When the news of the terrible events on Thursday night came through it hit us hard. Like many people our thoughts immediately went to what could we do to help, how could we try to improve the horrific situation?
As individuals we couldn’t make the situation improve on our own, but when we join together we can, we can achieve anything. This was proved when through the efforts of the public more than £1m was raised in just 24 hours. On top of that donations of food, bedding, leads and anything else to help with their work were flooding in.
I have said many times that social media can be a powerful tool for good. We saw it after the riots and disorder in Manchester and across the world, and we have seen it with many other charity and fundraising efforts. So, I am not surprised that social media played a key part in helping to bring people together to do whatever they could as part of a combined effort that will have a huge impact.
In a world where journalist and the media take a lot of criticism, their efforts to highlight what was happening and to share the message about what people could do to help was impressive. The Manchester Evening News quickly established a central fundraising site and we see today (Saturday 13 September) The Sun highlight the plight of the dogs needing homes on the front page. Amazing stuff.
But what was also amazing were the many individuals who wanted to do a little bit to help. The people who donated a few pounds saying it was all they could afford in such difficult financial times. The elderly lady who came to work with a trolley full of dog food. She got the bus from home after she said her granddaughter had told her about the appeals for help that she had seen on Facebook. And she said if needed she would do the same again next week.
This was such a horrific and tragic set of circumstances but the response restored my faith in humanity. It was also an opportunity for social media to show how it can really be a source of good that can help improve our lives. So when people criticise social media please remember the 24 hours when £1m was raised to make a difference.