No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted Aesop
The Kindness Club
Promoting random acts of kindness, to make you and others smile
Post-lockdown donations: December 2020
South London Book-swap donations: July 2020
I read about Millie Ginnett in The Guardian. Millie was inspired during lockdown to set up a book-swap scheme for people local to her in South London. This saw her collating and delivering – on foot, by bike – hundreds of books to eager readers.
One socially-distanced handover even took place when one excited reader leapt off the bus at a pre-arranged bus-stop, took possession of Millie’s book, and then leapt back on to the bus to continue her journey. Big love to the amused driver who made that happen.
After several months, Millie had many books that had outlived their swap-ful-ness. I happened to join her Facebook group at just this time, and mentioned I was in the market for donations. So one happy Friday evening, she and I met up outside her flat, and I took possession of these treasures in the photo with Millie here. THANK YOU MILLIE!!
Earlsfield Together: July 2020
Sophie Claire got in touch. She is part of the team running Earlsfield Together – a volunteer response to the COVID-19 crisis. They resource and support independent local Street Communities and network local groups and initiatives that can help or need help.
Over the course of the last few months they organised collections of donations from the streets around Earlsfield for various charities including Spire, WAND, Refuge and Little Village. They were storing these donations at St Andrews church but, as lockdown was eased, the church needed to return to its usual activities and all remaining donations had to be removed.
Sophie-Claire liked the sound of ‘Refuge for Books’ and one Saturday, very kindly she hopped into an Uber along with several boxes and bags of donated books to ‘pay it forward’ and donate to help me create even more libraries in shelters run by Refuge.
Kindness during Covid-19
Everything has changed. Life will not go back to the way it was. And right now, many of us, in countries across the world, are waiting to see how this new world will play out.
Facts we knew for certain, like where reliably to buy groceries, have flown out the window. And when we are uncertain, or even frightened, or lost, or stuck, we regress to more primitive, perhaps more selfish behaviour. We at the Kindness Club are acutely conscious that many of us are being affected by confusion, illness, loss, or anxiety.
But as Freud said, it isn’t what happens that’s important, it’s what we make of what happens.
This is our opportunity to surrender to the possibilities out there, and to be open to change. to reflect on ways in which our ‘old’ live was or wasn’t working for us. It’s our time to be kinder to ourselves, and kinder towards others. Initiatives in countries like ‘Clap for Carers’, and the numbers of people signing up in the UK as volunteers for the NHS, Age UK, or various community groups, shows how much we long to be kind to others and readily embrace an opportunity to do so.
We are being uprooted, ready for a re-planting. Together we can plant seeds of resilience and kindness, to cultivate the inner capacity to grow. Remember, kindness has the potential to be as contagious as this virus.
Do feel free to download the Kindness Cards on this page. If you are healthy, use these Cards perhaps to write notes to neighbours, offering to pick up prescriptions or shopping. Or you could offer to become a phone buddy, which doesn’t involve any face-to-face meeting, but can still boost a neighbour’s wellbeing – and yours too!
We would absolutely love to hear from you, to know ways in which you have had kindness shown to you, during this period of turbulence, or ways you have found to be kind to others. Do stay in touch, during this time of change.
14th October 2018: Cupcakes distributed to Londoners in a random act of kindness
For my birthday, I invited friends and family round to decorate over 100 cupcakes. We also wrote inspirational messages and pinned them to a board. The next day, a group of us went to Hyde Park and gave away the cakes to people who had that morning run the Royal Park Half Marathon and their supporters. We also invited people to choose a message from the board.
9th July 2018: More books delivered to 5 Refuge shelters across Sussex
11th May 2018: Winner of Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award
We are beyond excited and not to say a little humbled to have been awarded a Prime Minister’s Points of Light award for our Refuge for Books scheme.
13th November 2017: Refuge for Books is BACK!
In 2015 and 2016 I collected over 2000 books to donate to the shelters run by Refuge, the domestic violence charity. Your kindness was humbling and inspiring. So I’m back, asking for more. In the run up to Christmas, send me your book for a woman or a child, in new or as good-as-new condition, to REFUGE FOR BOOKS, 79 Cambridge Street, London SW1V 4PS
5th July 2016:
Working with DoubleTree by Hilton and the School of Life to explore the ripple effect of kindness – here’s my blog post.
20th June 2016… Refuge for Books is BACK!
In 2015 I collected over 1400 books to donate to the shelters run by Refuge, the domestic violence charity. Your kindness was humbling and inspiring. So I’m back, asking for more. Send me your book for a woman or a child, in new or as good-as-new condition, to PO Box 72287, London SW1P 9LA
Refuge for Books: the scheme
In 2014 I set up The Kindness Club, to prompt random acts of kindness in the UK. Since then I’ve worked with a prison, TFL, schools and MPs, formulating opportunities for kindness.
Under this umbrella, in June 2015 I set up Refuge for Books. This came about when I was de-cluttering the house. I planned to take any books to the nearest charity shop. A refuge for my books. And then it occurred to me. Refuge is the national domestic violence charity. Among many services, the charity provides shelter to women and children fleeing domestic abuse, supporting more than 3000 women and children on any given day. As a result, it saves and changes lives.
Tackling domestic violence is a cause dear to my heart. One of my novels Invisible Threads (see Books page) is my love letter to Delhi, and was informed partly by the work I do for a charity in Delhi rescuing women from brothels. What if I helped women in the UK, by donating books?
The women and kids sheltered by Refuge have had their lives ripped apart. They’re desperate for safety and compassion. They crave normality, the kind of normality that comes from dipping into a novel. They also crave escape, not just from their current predicament, but by escaping into their head.
Books are magical, wondrous things to many of us, but to the women and children sheltered by Refuge, such precious objects could mean the difference between despair and hope.
Plus, books look attractive on shelves. So far, donations have created libraries in 3 refuges in London.
So this is where you come in. Please donate a book in new, or as good-as-new condition to my Refuge for Books, to the PO Box at the end of this piece and I’ll make sure it becomes part of the library at the Refuge shelter. Please don’t send them to Refuge direct – they don’t have the space. And because the locations of the shelters remain confidential, Refuge will collect the donated books from my PO Box.
What type of books?
The kids need colourful, stimulating, non-violent books. The women are voracious readers of all genres, eager to try a whole range of books such as thrillers, romance or stories about women’s journeys and experiences.
So send me a book you adore, with love. The women being sheltered by Refuge have often arrived there with nothing. Donate a copy of your favourite book and, who knows, it just might become someone else’s favourite too.
Because here’s the thing. Sending me a book will take you no time at all – and then you can go back to your day, to the life you’ve created for yourself. But by donating a book you’ll be showing kindness to someone who, because of domestic abuse, can’t go back to the life they once had, the life they imagined would last, the life they might even still on some level crave.
Just as you’d wish for yourself, women in such situations long for not judgement but understanding. So please, will you be so kind as to send me a book.
Where to send your book
Please send books in new or as good-as-new condition to: PO Box 72287, London SW1P 9LA
The Kindness Club:
There are not enough random acts of kindness in the world.
Yet kindness is a virtue, an action which inspires and maintains healthy relationships. People feel supported when someone is kind to them, even if only for a moment. And out of feeling supported, we can feel confident and positive – about ourselves and about the world. Feeling confident gives us fresh energy to make more of our lives and of the world.
So, one random act of kindness has the potential to change the world. And you can do it. For free. NOW!
We’re talking to schools and other national institutions about creating opportunities for more random acts of kindness.
Want some Kindness cards, to get the conversation going amongst you and your friends?