British singing sensation Ed Sheeran recently announced his intention to take a month-long hiatus from performing in order to volunteer at a local charity store in his hometown of Suffolk. The highly-publicised move has been trending across social media and the traditional UK press, but how effective will Mr. Sheeran be?
According to local charity groups, the PR move may bring unwanted attention to the organisation, as Mr. Sheeran’s popularity might overwhelm those who regularly work in the store. Speaking to 891 ABC Adelaide, Volunteering South Australia & Northern Territory CEO Evelyn O’Loughlin addressed the potential downside of the announcement. “The negative side of that is will it make a circus if the shop is just bombarded with teenagers wanting to get an autograph?”
For Ms. O’Loughlin the plan reeks of a more nefarious aim. “Why not do it and then tell people you’ve done it?” she asked. “[He could] be left open to criticism that it’s more about him than the opportunity to give of himself. It is a difficult situation because he will get criticised, but the act of giving of himself is just fantastic.”
In the experienced volunteer’s view, a subtler tactic could help one achieve a greater end result. “People might not know but two of America’s leading volunteers are President Obama and the First Lady,” she added. “They don’t necessarily promote the volunteering they do [but] they do it on a very regular basis. They certainly go to places like soup kitchens but they don’t put press around it until after the events.”
Generally, Ms. O’Loughlin remains optimistic about the potential positive impacts of Mr. Sheeran’s intended stretch of volunteering. “Maybe it’s just a chance for him to recharge batteries as well and to give back at the same time. I would think he might find it hard to stop after a month because I’m sure he’ll get a lot out of it. If you have the profile and you can highlight to the rest of the world why it’s really good to be volunteering, or to be connected to your community, I think it’s a great thing.”
Mr. Sheeran has yet to specify the exact start-date of his volunteering efforts, so stay tuned for more as the story develops.
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