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More Excuses?

Everyone has the ability to help

by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To show that we can all contribute towards making the world a better place.

Preparation and materials


  1. I’m sure you agree that there is a lot of need in the world. The devastating effects of poverty, war, disease and sickness, violence, abuse and addiction are found in newspapers, on TV and in every community. There are needs in every part of the world. There is need on our own doorstep.

  2. But what on earth can we do about it? What difference can we make? I wonder what your response is when you are challenged to do something to help others. Do any of these excuses sound familiar?

    - I don’t have time.
    - I haven’t any money to spare.
    - Nothing I do would make any difference anyway.
    - I’m not clever enough.
    - I’m not good at anything.
    - I’m not cut out for it.
    - Helping others is just not my thing.
    - The need is huge and what I can do is tiny.

  3. Let me introduce you to Vikki George. Many years ago, when she was 17 years old, Vikki developed severe myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly known as ME. This is a chronic debilitating illness that meant that Vikki could not even get out of bed. For five years, she was so weak that she could not walk or sit up. Due to her illness, she lost touch with all her friends and became very lonely. She could not do any of the normal things that girls of her age were doing. She could do very little at all.

    What could a girl in Vikki’s position do to help anyone else? She was barely able to help herself. How could she possibly meet the needs of others?

  4. Vikki loved receiving cards and letters, which gave her the idea of setting up an organization so that sick children could receive post on a regular basis. She called this organization Post Pals and set it up in 2002. Post Pals is still run by volunteers who are dedicated to making seriously ill children and their siblings smile by the sending of cards, letters, little gifts, support and friendship. In 2014, when Vikki was 30 years old, she received a Point of Light award from the then prime minister, David Cameron, for the work that she had carried out. Point of Light awards recognize ‘outstanding individual volunteers’.

  5. Vikki is a great inspiration. Even though she has spent every birthday since her diagnosis in bed, she still wants to help others and doesnt let her illness stop her. She did not make excuses. She has made a massive difference to thousands of lives. She has identified a need and has done what she can to meet it.

    Why dont you visit the Post Pals website and see what you could do to brighten a sick child’s day? All you have to do is select one of the children listed on the site, read about them and then send them a card, letter or small gift. Simple. What could be easier?

Time for reflection

As we finish today, let us think for a moment about our response to need in the world.

Let us be people who care about the needs of others.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let us be people who bring smiles to the faces of others.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let us be people who reject excuses and embrace action.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let us be people who say ‘Yes, I can.’

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let us be people like Vikki George.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let us always care for others.

Pause to allow time for thought.


‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: May 2017   (Vol.19 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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