David Lammy 3.JPGIs David Lammy personally responsible for the drop in donations to this year’s Comic Relief?

A surprising number of people seem to think so – the problem is that the more online comments you read, the less likely it seems. Firstly, as nobody seems to like the Hon. Member for Tottenham that much, it’s not obvious who has been dissuaded from supporting this particular money-raising jamboree by Lammy’s recent “white saviour complex” remarks. In fact, as the fall in giving is part of a steady downward trend that began in 2012, it’s more likely to be due to austerity and changing viewing habits.

Interestingly, there was a similar story in the Oxford Mail this week. For a number of years, the Oxford Sleepout was a major event.  It involved large numbers of people, including the Lord Mayor being sponsored to sleep out in a local churchyard – if you didn’t sponsor someone, you could still pay £5 for the privilege of sleeping in your own bed. Like I said, it was a major event – everybody knew about it, it raised the profile of homelessness charities and raised serious amounts of money to support their work.

Then, one year, it raised a lot less money. They had a break and restarted it on a smaller scale, taking it to a scouting campsite just outside Oxford. This year there was going to be a sleepout in one of the colleges, complete with food and entertainment, but it’s been cancelled due to lack of interest.

My personal take on the Sleepout is that, once it moved out of the churchyard, it lost its bite. Rough sleepers do, after all, sleep in churchyards and some of the people taking part had recent experience of sleeping rough. It took place in November, when it was cold and wet. And there was no entertainment.

It’s not that people don’t care – they care as much as ever they did. It’s just that people raise money in different ways. Comic Relief and the Oxford Sleepout have gone the way of sponsored walks – they have had their day.