ActionAid is one of Britain's largest charities, helping 19 overseas developing countries through long-term projects carefully planned and closely implemented with the communities themselves; it aims to tackle the causes of chronic poverty and discover the best use of a community's limited resources. It works on the basis that poverty has many interrelated causes and provides programmes to combat it such as adult literacy, mother and child health, sanitation and water supply, agricultural techniques and practices, income generation and credit schemes.
Working in Asia, Africa and Latin America, ActionAid has been running a project in Potosi, in Bolivia, to build greenhouses - out of mud bricks and plastic sheeting - to grow vegetables intensively.
The area, on the high plains of Bolivia, is at an altitude of 4,000 metres and suffers from extremes of temperature, with hot days and bitterly cold nights, as well as drought; the soil is poor and the basic diet is limited. The greenhouses have increased the variety of vegetables grown and, in turn, have added extra nutrition to the community's diet. Working through a local partner organisation, the programme gave training in building techniques, horticulture and even the preparation of the new vegetables.
For further information about ActionAid, contact: ActionAid, Hamlyn House, MacDonald Road, Archway, London N19 5PG, telephone 071-281 4101. For further information about the exhibition, contact: Cristofori, 29 Marylebone Lane, London W1M 5FH, telephone 071-486 0025.
The Mental Health Foundation is holding a carol concert, 'A Celebration of Christmas', on Monday 21 December, at 7.15pm, at Guildhall, London EC2. Music will be by the London Choral Society and Exhibition Brass. The foundation funds pioneering research to prevent mental disorder, and educates people about the causes and effects of stress; it supports community self-help groups which care for those with or recovering from mental disorders; it educates healthcare professionals in the treatment of mental disorder and increases public awareness of the needs of those who are mentally ill or who have learning disabilities. For further information and tickets, prices from pounds 10, telephone: 071-436 1750.
The Mental Health Foundation, 8 Hallam Street, London W1N 6DH, telephone 071-580 0145.
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and its vicars have, since 1927, organised an annual Christmas Appeal Fund to help people who are poor and needy, living throughout the British Isles. The fund specifically helps those struggling on very small incomes and who are unlikely to ask for help themselves. Last year the appeal made pounds 230,772, which was distributed through three channels: the Vicar's Relief Fund, which gives money via social workers, clergy and lay workers; St Martin-in-the- Fields' Social Care Unit, which gives to those who are homeless, alone and in distress in London; and, through block grants, hospitals and local authorities. The grants are usually small, not more than pounds 100, but can be given promptly and often avert a crisis such as an unpaid electricity bill. A committee meets to decide how the fund should be distributed.
St Martin-in-the Fields Christmas Appeal Fund, 6 St Martin's Place, London WC2N 4JJ, telephone 071- 930 0089.
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