Image for Small is beautiful: 10 pro-social acts that could make a big difference

Small is beautiful: 10 pro-social acts that could make a big difference

Can seemingly small acts of kindness create a 'ripple effect' toward wider change? Here are 10 ways to make an impact where you live

Can seemingly small acts of kindness create a 'ripple effect' toward wider change? Here are 10 ways to make an impact where you live

Buy from an independent shop

Research shows that the number of independent outlets has risen in every region in England over the past year, while chains have declined. Your custom could help boost beleaguered high streets. For every £1 you spent at an indie retailer, around 63p stays in the local economy compared to 40p with a large business.

Learn first aid

Swotting up on even the most basic first aid principles could help you act instead of panic in an emergency. If the moment eventually arrives when someone needs help, you’ll thank yourself for taking time to learn how to save a life.

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Take part in a community clean-up

Whether it’s a park, green space or a stretch of beach, most places have a shared area in need of a clean-up. Arrange a date and time, print out posters and create some buzz. Bring along some tea and biscuits for the cleaning ‘base camp’ and away you go.

Donate toys for prison visits

Do you have old toys scattered around the house? If so, why not donate them to a prison visitor centre? Not only could they keep children occupied, but they might help them to bond with the person they are visiting. The charity Women in Prison accepts donations of arts and craft materials too: the supplies are crucial to their workshops.

Share a journey

Sharing trips to and from work or school is a simple way to cut your carbon footprint compared to driving individually. Some workplaces run schemes but if not, put a sign-up form in a communal area. Good and Kind estimates that sharing car journeys with a colleague could save £188 each year on petrol. Liftshare runs a UK-wide network.

Donate flowers to someone in need

Just married? Don’t bin the bouquets! Floral Angels is a volunteer-run charity that repurposes flowers from weddings, events, florists and retailers. The team restyles them into beautiful bunches and arrangements that are delivered to people in need, including women’s refuges, care homes and hospices.

Have a vegetarian day

Meat Free Monday is just one of the campaigns that suggests we cut the amount of meat we eat. Pleasing alliteration is one thing, but the health benefits are attractive too: doing so reduces the chances of heart disease, cancer and strokes. Environmentally, it’s a no-brainer: 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions is caused by livestock production.

Pass on a book

Scan your shelves for any old tomes you no longer want. The next time you’re on a train or a bus, leave a book on a seat. To make it clear that you’re not being careless, put a note on the front with a message inviting anyone to take it for free. Book-sharing through free mini libraries is also on the rise. Is there room for one where you live?

Cook a hot meal for a neighbour

UK organisation Casserole Club encourages people to cook an extra portion of dinner and deliver it to a neighbour who needs it. Volunteers share extra portions of home-cooked food once a week, monthly, or whenever works best for them. Some 70 per cent of those receiving Casserole Club meals count their volunteer cooks as friends.

Create a beautiful community space

There is research to show that beauty helps people and communities to flourish. A report published in 2015 highlights the health, economic, social and civic benefits of living near beautiful surroundings. You could put a seat or bench outside your place of work, host an arts festival or organise a ‘street of art’, make over dull plots by planting flowers or plants or create a community garden.

Acts are adapted from Good and Kind which lists 100 ways to make the world a ‘kinder’ place

Read more: the power of small acts

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