It’s tempting to mutter ‘bah humbug’ when kindness is mentioned, but this December Southbank Centre along with People United are aiming to inspire new acts of kindness during the first 10 days of December. Here, Tom Andrews, founder of People United, reflects on the importance of kindness.
One human helping another, even something minor, is, I think, a little miracle. Last month I had a conversation with a man in his 80’s who told me about caring for his wife with dementia. He said it was hard, with little reward and at times unpleasant. But he carried on – when I was talking to him he was affectionately holding her hands – and what kept him going, sustaining his kindness, was the kindness of volunteers, of care workers, of people being there for him. And that is the reason that kindness is powerful – kindness begets kindness.
Kindness does not come in one size. It can be instinctive but also can be well-planned, it can be loud and gregarious but also quiet and thoughtful. It can be slow-burning and a flash of inspiration. It can be gentle and steady, and it can also be radical.
When I witness it, I am struck by a simplicity – and because I can’t think of a better word – a purity to it. So individual acts of kindness on their own won’t solve global issues of inequality, prejudice or poverty, but they do signal and highlight a belief in the human capacity to contribute to something bigger than self. They are a demonstration that we are all connected, and that your welfare matters to me.
So in the first 10 days of December we are challenging you to get involved: knit a scarf, visit someone who is lonely, volunteer at a charity or say thank you to someone you take for granted. Be bold, try something different, take a challenge, and join in with our 10 days of Kindness and let us know about it via the Kindness Calendar.
As Wordsworth said ‘The best portion of a good life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.’