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Acts of kindness: less random, more meaningful

Sarah Latto
Written by Sarah Latto

On Random Acts of Kindness Day, our Volunteer Development Manager argues that we should stop undervaluing kindness by promoting ‘random’ acts, and suggests some ways for you to make a real difference.

Kindness and Communities

I believe that any celebration of kindness is a good thing, and Random Acts of Kindness Day on the 17th February is no exception. In 2017, the Carnegie Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published research looking at the importance of kindness for combating loneliness and building stronger communities. They found that the impact of kindness is at the heart of individual and community wellbeing, and that without kindness in our society we would all be a lot worse off.

This was highlighted again recently in the new Scottish Government strategy on Social Isolation and Loneliness. It acknowledges that social isolation and loneliness are a growing problem in Scotland, with 1 in 10 people often feeing lonely, and that small acts of kindness can ‘can go a long way to helping everyone feel part of their community’.

Informal but Meaningful

We can agree, therefore, that acts of kindness are hugely beneficial for individuals and communities. However, I would argue that the word ‘random’ undermines the meaningful impact that kindness can have. Instead of reacting ‘randomly’ to triggers for being kind, such as snowy weather, a neighbour with a broken hip or a homeless person on your route to work, imagine the impact we could have if we all PLANNED to be kind regularly? Less random, more meaningful.

Now to say something a bit controversial for a volunteer manager: planning to be kind doesn’t necessarily mean signing up as a regular volunteer! People have busy lives and sometimes regular volunteering is not a realistic option. In fact, in the latest Scottish Household Survey, lack of time was reported as the main reason why people stop volunteering. We recognise this at Shelter Scotland, and have provided a few ways for you demonstrate your kindness in a more informal way which is still meaningful.

Little Act, Big Impact

In recent years we have received numerous messages from people who are angry and frustrated by the plight of people affected by bad housing or homelessness, but who are unsure what they can do to help. In response to this, we launched ‘Little Act, Big Impact’ last year which provides a range of ‘little acts’, many taking no more than an hour, which can make a big difference.

These acts include reading up on housing rights on our website so that you can share this knowledge with your friends or family, taking an hour to clear out your wardrobe and donating to one of our charity shops, or downloading our ‘housing help’ card to share with people who are sleeping rough. We also have a range of things you can do at your school college or workplace, and you can also use #LittleActBigImpact on social media to encourage others to get involved too.

So, check out our ‘Little Act, Big Impact’ page and plan your next meaningful act of kindness today!