I have always believed ‘charity begins at home’. Although I am no ‘leftie’, I am also no ‘rightee’ either, I would therefore surmise I would be an ‘average to midlee’, if such a concept exists.

I despair, when walking through the middle-class high streets of areas such as St Albans to see grown adults (as if there is any other type), with but a few possessions, attempting to find shelter in a doorway of the latest casualty of high street demise. St Albans is by no means unique: it is worse in Brighton, London and other metropolises and strickens me with sadness and guilt in equal measure, as I pop to the Tesco metro to buy a pot of guacamole with which to wash down my civilised evening snack. Despite my guilt, I ignore them as mine is a first world problem of the utmost importance and they are all there through choice or addiction, aren’t they?

My charity begins at home belief has been shattered somewhat recently. As regular readers of the column will be aware, I recently visited Bangalore in India. During the sojourn we took a trip to Commercial Street, the city’s shopping mecca. It’s a great place to visit should you require an unfashionable bespoke suit, a leather wallet or a belt. While wandering through a very busy square near the mosque, my brother and I stopped at a kerbside sweet stall. It was humungous, with a vast array of goodies, at knockdown Indian prices, and the perfect place to stock up on tooth decay laden gifts for my two offspring. As this price insensitive westerner filled his swag bag, I felt a tug on the bottom of my shorts. Thinking it was a pickpocket, I turned, ninja like, primed to unleash some tourist wrath on my would-be assailant. Looking down I saw a little girl, aged around four, with her older sister. I said ‘hello’. She smiled, then pointed at the sweets.

Matted in filth, but with wide eyes still clinging on to some semblance of innocence, we loaded both girls with a handful of sweets and a fistful of rupees, bade farewell and went off to enjoy the rest of a hagglesome afternoon where I purchased a fake Boss belt and an authentic Indian Mcflurry.

Back at the hotel, I discussed the girls over an ice-cold beer by the pool. My brother said he had taken a picture, which I studied, fascinated. We both agreed they were genuine as the area we were in was not touristy. I wondered: what were they doing now? How did they end up in such a state and where was the help they so desperately needed?

India is a harsh place. Fascinating, yes, but it is desperately dirty and undeniably poverty stricken. Having visited a convent orphanage a few days earlier as we traced my grandmother’s family tree, I had a rare brainwave and pinged off an email. To cut a long story short, one of the sisters, in receipt of the photo, spent four days trying to find the girls so I could try and help them. This is not a ‘white guilt’ thing, but a human thing. I have two daughters whose main concern is if the Sky box goes offline for a few minutes or why I bought crinkle chips instead of French fries. For me, all I wanted to do was to give a little semblance of normality to two innocent kids before they lose all fragments of childhood and are ultimately trafficked, never to return mentally, emotionally or physically.

Sadly, Sister Lavina did not manage to locate the girls. I have therefore asked her to find another child I can help from afar. For one child to have the full package for a year costs a paltry £331 (£6.38 per week). For the cost of one and a bit pints a child can be rescued, clothed, educated, fed and live in safety far from the madding crowds of good-for-nothings.

If it were me a few weeks ago, I would not click on the link I am about to thrust upon you. I am sick to the back teeth of being tapped up for causes that are close to other people’s hearts, but alien to mine. I’m bored of the resurgence of charity muggers on the high street yet, thanks to those two little girls, I believe I may just have got some compassion back and the opportunity to feel nice about being nice.

I spent enough, 10 minutes ago in Co-op, on a pack of bourbons and some teabags to have ‘saved’ one homeless Indian girl for a week. It’s a shameful situation, and I just hope your heartstrings have been pulled a little like mine as you feel guilt-tripped into giving a few quid to a problem that requires, but will not achieve, eradication.

If you choose not to give, I trust you will enjoy the bourbons and brew up: out of sight and out of mind and all that, and, to be fair, the PG Tips does taste exquisitely good at this time of year.

If you would like to donate and read the full story, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/brett-ellis