World first as Cornwall signs compassion charter

Cornwall has made a written declaration to restore compassionate action to the centre of its community

Cornwall has become the first county in the world and the first community in England to sign the international Charter for Compassion.

The launch of The Compassionate Cornwall Initiative, led by Penzance-based social enterprise Hope in the Heart CIC, took place at the Eden Project in November 2014.

Eighteen local community leaders and members signed the Charter for Compassion for Cornwall, a document that calls for the restoration of compassionate action to the centre of our communities.

The Charter for Compassion was founded in 2008 by British author Karen Armstrong, and has sparked a vast international movement of individuals, organisations and communities committed to creating positive change through compassionate action.

“Cornwall is a county rich in compassionate action – it is entirely appropriate that we should be the beacon that lights the way for other communities to follow.”

Tam Martin Fowles, Compassionate Cornwall’s founder and co-ordinator, became a Charter Partner in 2013 after founding Hope in the Heart, a Community Interest Company that offers creative personal development courses and workshops for people seeking positive change in their lives.

Fowles registered Cornwall as a compassionate community in August 2014.

She said: “I have been stunned – and delighted – by the positive response from all kinds of people in Cornwall, and overwhelmed with the task of co-ordinating an initiative that I expected would grow slowly and has, in fact, snowballed into something huge in just three months.”

With nearly 40 local organisations and businesses now signed up as Charter Partners committed to working compassionately in Cornwall, it is clear that there is a strong desire for positive change, and that the status of Compassionate Community is fitting and well-deserved, she said.

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Fowles is seeking wider support from institutions such as Cornwall Council, Churches Together and the Interfaith Forum, local education and health services, and major businesses.

She said: “Cornwall is a county that is already rich in compassionate action, and it is entirely appropriate that we should be the beacon that lights the way for other communities to follow.”

First published by West Briton