When we speak to Richard Curtis it is just days after he has helped organise the BBC ‘Big Night In’, raising more than £70 million for charity. The event brought Comic Relief together with Children in Need to support local charities and projects, providing vital emergency support through these extraordinary Covid-19 times.
“Comic Relief’s job, I have always thought, is to act as a facilitator. If you take someone like me, I was inspired by Live Aid and I’ve been on a journey ever since to think about how we can help people with very hard lives. It’s a long journey.”
Richard started Comic Relief after visiting Ethiopia during the 1985 famine. “I’ve gone from fundraising, particularly embodied by Red Nose Day and Comic Relief, to more political and structural campaigning embodied by the Live 8, Make Poverty History and Drop the Debt campaigns.”
More recently, in 2015, he helped found Project Everyone to promote the Global Goals – building up to become a UN Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He says: “The SDGs give the most comprehensive picture of how we can move forward. They’ve also made it clear to me that it is not only government action that is important - businesses can lead the way.”
Today what strikes Richard is that individual behaviour is hugely important. He sees this as a big cultural and generational shift. “If you were to say to me in 1985, ‘what can I do to help?’ then I would have said give money to charity, yet if you were to ask to my daughter today, she would say ‘change the way you behave’.
“I see people taking action and changing their choices in their day-to-day lives. Then suddenly we all see that the biggest thing we could do is check how our money is being invested, and make sure it is in all the things that will make the world better and more sustainable. It is one of the most powerful actions we can take, and completely in tune with the times. That is what led me to Make My Money Matter.”
Richard has been inspired by an upcoming activist younger generation, including his own daughter, and enormous numbers of people taking action. He sees their individual action changing the nature of business, and which organisations thrive. “If successful, we could see huge transfers of money away from the destructive, harmful investments of the past, and into those which help build a future we can all be proud of. That is why I think this is such an exciting area to be campaigning in – I’m convinced it is the next big thing,” says Richard.
Make My Money Matter is creating a movement calling for the trillions of pounds invested in our UK pensions to build a better world. Why the focus on pensions? Richards says: “It wasn’t easy, we wanted to do everything at once. But this is one specific thing we can all do, and it can have an enormous impact. Remember a lot of people’s pensions are offered by the business they work for, and if the pressure builds for a whole company to change then you get a domino effect. Ultimately, we believe we can help ensure all individuals and businesses are getting pensions they can be proud of.”
Richard believes that once everyone starts to grasp this, the next thing they’ll do is go to their bank and ask them what they are doing with their money. This is what led him to become a Triodos customer. “Triodos got there 25 years early with this idea. The existence of Triodos is one of the things that makes me feel safe when people say to me ‘this can’t happen’ as it is already there.”
Build back better
The Covid-19 pandemic arrived just as the campaign was about to kick off. Despite this the plan is still to launch it this year. “2020 was set to be a very big year for progress. Now there is a big fork in the road once the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic passes - are we going to build back better or build back the same?
“As a definitive example of our mutual vulnerability and responsibility, are we now going to say let’s just operate in the old way until we get over the recession? Or could we say, every step of the way, let’s try and steer towards a more sustainable way of living.”
About Richard Curtis
Film writer and director, Richard is responsible for films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Mr Bean, Love Actually, The Boat That Rocked, and most recently Trash, About Time and Yesterday. He has co-produced the 16 live Comic Relief nights for the BBC since 1988 and the charity has made over £1.3 billion for projects in the UK and internationally during that time.
Make My Money Matter
Visit the Make My Money Matter website to sign up and find out more about the campaign. Triodos Bank UK is proud to be a founding pledge partner in recognition of our own ethical pension scheme.