Last week marked the official launch of BBC Children in Need's Appeal and the Charity is getting geared up for another fantastic year. The launch featured Sir Terry Wogan, Matt Baker, Gary Barlow, Nick Grimshaw, Alex Jones, JLS and Union J who have given their time and talent to kick-start our campaign and inspire thousands of people to get involved. Being part of Appeal every autumn is an amazing experience as people come together to have fun with the simple aim of giving children across the UK a better childhood. The need for our funding is real and urgent, importantly our ability to make a difference is all down to the incredible generosity, imagination and commitment of our supporters.
In recent weeks many have set out clearly and convincingly why the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, which is receiving its second reading today, is nothing short of a direct threat to the voice of civil society, freedom of speech, and the fundamentals of democracy.
Coming off the back of a campaign victory - securing Citizenship in the secondary National Curriculum - I am reflecting on how success was achieved, the milestones reached and what ultimately lead to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, safeguarding the subject as a programme of study at key stages 3 and 4.
In the days leading up to G8 there have been a series of focused campaigns, initiatives and events designed to raise awareness of specific policy issues which will be up for discussion at the summit. World hunger is one such issue, around which an impressively broad and powerful campaign called Enough Food For Everyone IF has mobilised, calling hunger "the great scandal of our age."
The Jamaican Mary Seacole became an heroine when she travelled over 4,000 miles to nurse and attend sick British soldiers in the Crimea during the Crimean War. During her life her exploits were revered, by royalty, the military elite and thousands of ordinary citizens. More than 100 years later, tens of thousands of school children view Seacole as a wonderful role model.
One year ago, Change.org launched in the UK. It's grown more than we could ever have predicted. Using the incredible power of storytelling and the shareability that social media offers, individuals who have never considered themselves campaigners or identified as 'political' are challenging the institutions that govern their communities, cities regions and countries.
All of this hype and the dynamic nature of the media industry means that it attracts thousands of creative minds each year. In fact, the UK's creative industries are a real success story; they employ around 1.5million people and according to the official stats, generate £70,000 every minute for the UK economy.
With the ever-present network of social media sites used widely by students, along with nominees who know to capitalise on the purchasing power of offering free anything as part of their manifesto, many students are becoming disillusioned with union elections as being nothing more than a popularity contest for better known students.
The charities hope that the awareness campaign will get people talking and help to reduce the stigma attached to self-harming which prevents many young people from seeking help. You can follow the campaign on Twitter via #selfharm and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.
I learnt this at a town meeting in Godalming, Surrey where residents are trying to fight the supermarket chain in the hope of replicating the success of Totnes v. Costa Coffee this week. Does the success of Totnes inspire other towns to believe that they, too, can win over large corporations or was it a 'once in a blue moon' retreat? I hope that Godalming will boost this statistic because communities need some more blue moons or else all towns will become faceless replicas of branded Britain.