Giving back has always been important to me. Unlike other aspects of life you may not be able to control, volunteering and donating allows you to choose where and how to make a difference.
As a Mum of a two-year-old son and two dogs, setting the right example is very important to me. There is a great deal of suffering in the world and, sadly, this is something that our children will grow up to be accustomed to. I strongly believe that it is of the utmost importance that we do not allow them to accept this as the norm. I want to empower my son with the mindset that ‘we can help, we can make a difference’. I do this by placing a great deal of emphasis on the values of caring, giving and kindness.
As long as I have more than I need, I'm going to help out those who are less fortunate today. In order to do so, though, I have to make certain sacrifices in my own life. I will never have the means to stop child slavery, end world hunger, cure mankind's illnesses, house the homeless, save the environment, and all the other things I'd like to help do. I have to choose.
I've always been in love with animals, which is why I base my art on them. I've experienced their unconditional love, I've seen the difference they make in people's lives, and I've watched them suffer untold indifference and cruelty. Animals have no safety net in society, no voices of their own, and very few rights under the law. Yet, despite this, animals love unconditionally. Those who say animals cannot experience a range of emotions are sadly mistaken.
Over the years I have given regularly to organisations from SSPCA, The Fox Project and The Wildlife Aid Foundation to various local animal charities and lovely people who require help with vet bills to care for poorly animals they've selflessly taken in. During the times where my budget has been super tight, I have volunteered my time and, also, my services as an artist by donating gift vouchers for custom pet portraits for auction. Time and a helping hand equals currency for most non-profit organisations that have to make every single penny stretch in the work that they do.
I want to do more though and, so, I have decided to donate 10% of my sales from my growing Art for Animal Lovers range to a small and local animal and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre called Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue, based in Beith, North Ayrshire. Through their Just Giving Page, I will post updates on all donations sent so you, the lovely public, can see how much you've helped me raise.
10% of my sales from the Dugz range will go to Islay Dog Rescue, another local charity based in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, who work specifically to save death row dogs. Money raised via these sales will be used to purchase items from Islay's Amazon Wishlist for much-needed items. View their Wishlist here.
And, not to forget the lovely cats in need, I am an official Cats Protection Sponsor, helping to give unwanted cats shelter, food and care. Currently living in my sponsored pen is Little-Voice, a lovely 9 year old boy who enjoys lots of attention and playing with his toys. When Little-Voice finds his forever home, I will update and announce the new little resident.
I feel it is important to mention that it is not, nor should it ever be, a competition between helping people or animals. I donate to various causes which are close to my heart, as well as animal charities. In his Nobel Peace Prize address, The Problem of Peace in the World Today, Albert Schweitzer said:
"The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret...It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind."