BARBARA Gentle is a woman on a mission. Since becoming involved with The Leprosy Mission (TLM), a Christian charity helping people affected by leprosy in 1988, she has risen to become an International Board Member for the organisation.
Barbara is helping to organise a major fund raising event for the charity, taking place at Knowle Parish Church.
Birmingham’s Citadel Salvation Army band will be giving a concert next month and Dr Sunil Anand, Deputy Director of TLM India will be giving a presentation of TLM’s work.
“It’s changed my life,” admits Barbara, who has found many willing helpers in Knowle, eager to do their bit for the charity. The concert is also being supported by a number of local businesses: Simon Paul, Knowle Tesco and Hollywood Signs.
Leprosy, being a disease that is curable, is an illness where a real difference can be made, with the appropriate resources.
“We provide free treatment to people, and we treat the whole person, continuing to care for them for as long as need it,” Barbara says. “We provide housing, education, vocational training - such as mechanics, computing and tailoring - and set up self-help groups.”
“It’s about giving people dignity in their lives.”
A current difficulty for many charities is that economic difficulties lead many people to reconsider donations. However Barbara is keen to remind people that no matter how bad things are, there are always people for whom that little bit of giving makes such a big difference.
“The people who we help, the people who we care for, the people who I’ve met; they don’t know anything about ‘recession’. They’re just people who need help,” she says.
Such is Barbara’s dedication that she’s off to an international conference prior to the concert. If you’d like to buy a ticket (priced at £7) for the concert on June 13 you can contact her husband David on 01564 773568.