Little at Large

'Community Burial' is the Government's new branding buzzword for large numbers of fatalities

As the thing itself recedes into historical memory, the word 'community' has acquired a bizarre multiplicity of uses. But perhaps the weirdest yet comes by way of a government plan to rebrand death.

Word reaches this column of a meeting between the Cabinet Office and the Home Office to discuss contingency plans in case the UK should suffer large numbers of fatalities after, for example, an outbreak of human-to-human bird flu. The traditional term for swiftly dealing with heaps of rapidly putrefying corpses - mass graves - is thought to be too unfeeling. Officials have therefore hit upon 'community burial' as the preferred alternative.

Their one concern is that some communities will have access to JCBs to do their burying, whereas others will have to make do with spades. But who can help equalise this grim postcode lottery? At last, a really meaty role for the sector in the delivery of public services.

- The NCVO's annual Hinton Lecture has seen a succession of academics, politicians and archbishops pay homage to charities. So well done to the NCVO for breaking with tradition and inviting a genuine 'dissident' to speak. Newspaper columnist Simon Jenkins may have ruffled a few feathers with his argument that charities are not a surrogate for democracy, but he has a point. A multitude of lobbying organisations, no matter how free they are to campaign, is not same thing as genuine political participation.

- Have we discovered the highest charity shop in the world (pictured)? A member of the Third Sector editorial team snapped this far-flung descendant of the 1947 Oxfam shop in the Katmandu valley, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Quite where it gets its donations from remains a mystery.

- Mathew Little is a freelance writer


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