Does kindness REALLY make us happy?
In brief. Yes. Experts have been studying the science of kindness for decades and much has been written about the benefits of being kind. Kindness makes us feel good, mentally and physically. Read on...
Communities are groups of people that have come together for one reason or another. Whether they share the same profession, geographic location, interests or are trying to bring about change, belonging to a community has all sorts of benefits.
Although they help to bridge gaps between people who wouldn’t usually socialise, communities are about the group as a whole, not about the individual. This is part of their beauty - they’re about how people unify to make positive changes, celebrate the good and cry together over the bad.
Ten years ago in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, two local ladies decided they were sick of paying the high supermarket prices of fresh produce… so they decided to do something about it. Between their first public meeting of 60 locals and today, ‘Incredible Edible Todmorden’ have transformed their local area so that every square inch of available ground is graced with a fruit tree or vegetable plot.
As a result, not only have the people of Todmorden become happier and more eco-conscious, but their common responsibility has given them a shared sense of pride and purpose. Working together on something creates a bond and commitment between people.
But creating change in your community doesn’t have to involve acts as grand as turning your whole village into a vegetable patch. Here are some examples of small ideas with big impact:
The Missing People Choir
Founded in 2014, the Missing People Choir is made up of people with missing loved ones alongside supporters of the charity Missing People. Their aim is to use music to express emotions, reach out with their messages of hope and loss, and bring families with missing loved ones together. A boy whose image was shown during the Missing People Choir's performance on Britain's Got Talent final was found alive and well. Without that choir coming together, would he have been found?
Saving local treasures
Sometimes, we don’t realise how much our local hangouts mean to us until they’re under threat. This was certainly true for Friends of Freckleton Library, who rallied the community to come up with clubs and events to encourage people to use the library more often, with the aim of saving it from closure. It worked.
The White Horse Pub in Upton has a similar story, after local residents banded around to save it. Now, it is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who help manage the pub, look after the gardens, carry out general maintenance, organise fundraising events and much more. They’ve even been recognised by a 2018 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service!
Championing the local area
After deciding that something needed to be done about the number of vacant shops in Hoylake, Wirral, some locals got together and created a website to help tackle the problem. Now, Hoylake Village Life has expanded to promote local businesses, champion the work of residents and bring the community together through interest groups.
These are just a few examples of the community coming together to maintain something they value or creative change. The impact of community on wider society goes way beyond the project or event. The happiness it creates has a ripple effect and inspires change.
Has your community been involved in creating positive change? We’d love to hear about it! Talk to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.