For the younger members of the family, attending an event like the Mela isn’t just about the variety, the music or the atmosphere. It’s about the stuff. What ‘freebies’ can be gathered up to adorn arms or school bags, or to fill pencil cases?
The Equality Commission, NI Fire and Rescue, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Red Cross and many other public bodies and charities use these events as a way of reaching out, of connecting with individuals, families or communities who may not be aware of their services, or feel comfortable approaching them. Children hoover up branded items, presumably to discard them in the corner a few hours later- but who knows when that piece of bright plastic may be useful? A niccy bag, or an equality-ni bangle might just help someone make a difference. These aren’t just random, far away organisations, these are bodies designed to help and support everyone. Surely that’s what the abandoned blue band under the bed really means?
The amount of ‘stuff’ we gathered on Sunday was shameful. We have bands in every colour, because that was the fashion that day. Girls have t shirts, new cloth bags, and more writing implements than any of us will ever need. The worthy leaflets were briefly perused and then recycled (hence, the value of the bright bits). Huge amounts of marketing/ equality/ accessibility budgets are spent on children’s play things with logos, and pens.
Girl 2 and I didn’t want to be left out. We got ourselves branded- but that will fade in time.
My favourite branded item from the weekend had to be the slighty bonkers Department of Justice yoyo. Different, slightly ridiculous, but memorable.
You just never know what will work.