Time for Kindness

I am an Ambassador for Time for Kindness, an initiative which aims to amplify the kindness which exists in the world. As an Ambassador, I have committed to seeing an act of kindness every day, sharing that story with another person and encouraging them to share it further. The idea is to create a ripple effect to counter all the negative stories which dominate the news and often our conversations.

As a recent arrival as a resident or ‘Brother’ at the Charterhouse, I am happy to say that I never have any difficulty finding stories of kindness to share.

From the moment I arrived, when I found a welcome package of pastries, welcome cards and books in my room, I realised that kindness is an important part of the ethos of the place. As a community, (Brothers and staff included), it is the simple things like:

  • at the self-service breakfast and supper, checking that those who can’t get to the counter have everything they need,
  • sending text messages to cheer up a Brother who is having a hospital stay,
  • volunteering to support Brothers’ tours of the building, especially those visitors with access issues,
  • offering bits and bobs of unwanted furniture or household items to others who might need them,
  • checking in on a Brother who doesn’t turn up for a meal to make sure they are okay,
  • inviting new Brothers for coffee to help them settle in.

A key example is our Community Warm Space, every Friday 10am – 12noon, when we, the Brothers, open our home to people for a hot drink and a chat or just some quiet time amongst people. We have fascinating and wide-ranging conversations with those who drop in, making them feel welcome and giving them a place where they can feel they have been heard and included. The conversations can be light and casual, but there have also been people who have felt safe enough to unburden themselves because we were non-judgemental, empathetic and, counter-intuitively, strangers.

Why is kindness important, especially in an environment like this? The obvious reason is that both the giver and receiver feel better in the moment. But in addition, research from the University of California and San Diego reveals that acts of kindness boost mental health and improves relationships and social connections. Also, people who do regular small acts of kindness have lower levels of systemic inflammation, potentially reducing the risk of many major diseases. So kindness is not just a lovely ‘fluffy’ thing, but can boost our immune systems and help improve our health and wellbeing. Any kind act given or received can always make a difference to our day, but it is even more powerful when kindness is an attitude and way of thinking.

I don’t know if research has been done yet on the impact of noticing existing acts of kindness, but on a purely anecdotal level, I know that my outlook has improved considerably since I actively decided to look for and share kindness stories.

Deborah Henry-Pollard

Deborah Henry-Pollard © Nicolas Laborie

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