I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


You know what, a big public fundraising drive can be a bloody scary ride. Think about it. You have to open up your doors, reveal all your problems to the public and basically beg for help. It isn't a very good look when you think about it. The only option available is to tell it like it is. This is how much cash we have right now. And this is how much we need over the coming months. And if we don't get it? Well, I guess we'll go the way of Woolworths.

Once upon a time a charity like ours would hold out the begging bowl and hope to fill it up with cash and cheques. Nobody would actually see the begging bowl, so even if it remained tragically empty the charity could put on a brave face for the world. Now things have changed with the advent of crowd funding sites. Now we charities bare our souls and all the world can see whether anyone cares or not.

I don't mind admitting there was a sick feeling in my stomach when I put together our Just Giving page. Which is here by the by. Right here. Right underneath these words. Hint, hint!

There was no way of sugar coating the basic message. We are running out of cash. Fast. We are £20,000 short of making it through to 31 March 2017. And we think we are worth supporting. And we hope you also think we are worth supporting. So please support us.



A bared soul is revealed to the world. And something else is revealed to the world.

Oh yeah. The dreaded 'amount raised' column. The 'percentage raised against the target' column. And here is where the real sick feeling settles in the gut. What if we only get £50? What if nobody gives a damn if we survive or not? Where the hell do we go next if this idea bombs out?

Of course First Base is in a better position than most when it comes to knowing we enjoy the support of our local community. £45,000's worth of donated food every year offers pretty compelling proof. But there is always doubt. Always doubt.

Well it has been a week now and there is no doubt. Yet again our local community has proved itself to be bloody fantastic. As I write this, the total raised funds on our JustGiving page are just shy of £11,000 when the Gift Aid is lumped in. Over the course of seven days First Base's immediate future has been secured. Yet another crisis has been averted. 

It is impossible to overstate what a morale boost this has been for everyone. Because of course this is yet another of the downsides to going public with a funding crisis – you have to find a way to persuade your staff and volunteers not to worry too much. As if!

I won't bore you to death with a long list of thank you's to all of the people who need thanking, though I really should. However thanks are due. Big time.

Let me start with the guys who have spent half a week living off one of our food parcels and raising funds with JustGiving pages of their own. First there is Neil who is a Minister from one of the churches in the town who is very much a fellow veteran of the emergency food game. Here he is.

Then there is Gary who has been a food parcel client of ours in the past. If you click your way to his site, I hope you can spare a couple of minutes to read what he has to say. You can maybe guess how his words make us all feel about what we do. He also helped out by going in front of the TV cameras to talk about the time when his life was down the tubes and he needed to come to us for his daily bread. Not many are willing to do this. So thanks Gary. Big time.

Our local media have been great. You can see from my woefully amateurish scan at the top of the page how our local paper, the Standard, gave the campaign a boost. West Sound Radio gave us a slot on the news. Border TV gave us a full five minutes, BBC Radio Scotland nearer ten. I was particularly pleased with the BBC interview. If you like, you can hear it by following the link below.

As I write this, over a hundred people have supported the three JustGiving pages.

So thank you. All of you.

One donation stands out of course. £5000 from Mark Jardine. Unbelievable generosity. I am pretty sure Mark won't want me to write much about this. He's not that kind of guy. Well, tough.

Mark is a funeral director and all too often over the last thirteen years he has buried clients of ours. Young clients of ours. Painfully young. In my mobile phone I have the numbers for almost fifty dead people. Fifty dead clients. I should delete them, but I don't. Average age? Maybe thirty. How? The usual. Drug overdoses. Or the gradual physical disintegration Class A's bring to the party. Or the slow inexorable drip, drip poisoning that is alcoholism. Or suicide when life has just gotten way too dark. Or the sharp end of the violence that stalks to streets of addiction.

How many in all? In thirteen years? In a small town in the South West corner of Scotland? Maybe 80? Maybe 100? Maybe 200? Too many. Way, way too many.

When young people die from drink, drugs, violence or despair it is an unimaginably terrible time for their families. These are very worst of funerals. And sadly over the years Mark has had far too much practice when it comes to finding the right words. The right tone. A way to help families to say goodbye to a loved one to fell on the wrong side of the tracks.

Well he does it and he does it superbly. We have shared this desperate place for 13 years. At First Base, we try to stop the worst thing in the world from happening. If it happens, then Mark tries to find a way to make the unbearable a little more bearable for the families who are left behind.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we share the sharp end of things with Mark. The darkest of the dark places where things get so broken they will never, ever be fixed. So to receive such an unbelievable vote of confidence from Mark means one hell of a lot, believe me.

Thanks Mark.

I guess that is about it for now. What was a mountain to climb has become a relatively small hill over the course of a week. We still need another £9000 so please continue to help us out if you can. I am pretty sure there are a few more folk in the pipeline who are going to spend half a week eating one of our food parcels and raising some cash. Fancy having a go? If you do, give me a bell on 01387 279680 or 07770 443483. Or you can e mail me at

And once again. Thanks guys. 

1 comment:

  1. Well said as usual Mark, glad to be of some small help, least I could do