“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”– Dalai Lama
1) Don’t bin your leftover food – give it to someone else!
Most of us have been in that situation: a large dish of lasagne has been cooked, 90% of it has been devoured… and no one can quite manage that last portion. Some might freeze it, some might snack on it later for supper, but there is also the easy option of throwing it in the bin. Don’t! Someone who is not able to cook might really benefit from it. Casserole Club is a project that aims to connect people who are happy to give away an extra portion, with neighbours who could benefit from a cooked meal. Like a ‘local, community-led takeaway’, this is a really flexible program: there’s no pressure to cook regularly, just whenever it suits you. All you have to do is pop the portion in a box and take it over to your neighbour. If you don’t live in London, perhaps you might know someone you can help out anyway! Or maybe you fancy getting really stuck into your community – FoodCycle is a UK project that collects and prepares surplus food for people who may be experiencing food poverty, social isolation or unemployment. Have a look at their website and look at the opportunities available.
2) Give animals a hand
‘“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
Maybe working with animals is your dream, but when you try to fit it in around your job, family and hobbies, it becomes difficult – it doesn’t have to be! The RSPCA have a vast range of opportunities that offer various levels of commitment, depending on your requirements. Perhaps you’re too busy to have your own animal, but you could spare a few months to foster a small pet. The RSPCA state that animals such as hamsters and rabbits that are being fostered only require a roof over their heads and a stable, loving environment. If you can foster, there’s no need to change your lifestyle or commit to years of care, just love them and enjoy the love you get back! If you’re more of a dog person, why not try out some dog walking? The Cinnamon Trust is a national charity that aims to help elderly or severely ill people care for their animals. Its website has a useful map of the UK that pinpoints areas that are in need of dog walkers, so why not have a look? You could end up having an hour of fun with a dog, and will also be helping out its owner.
3) Knit an item for someone on the other side of the world
Are you an enthusiastic knitter and wouldn’t mind doing something whilst you’re watching television in the evenings? There are plenty of organisations that can bridge the gap between you and someone in the world who would benefit from your knitting. Knit With Love are currently looking for knitted blankets and prayer shawls that they can send to hospitals in poor regions of Africa. There’s no pressure – knit at your leisure, then simply post your item and know your efforts won’t be wasted. Likewise, Quilts4Leukemia is an organisation based in the UK that is always looking for volunteers to make patchworks or quilts that then get sent to sick children. Even if you don’t know how to knit, there’s no time like the present to teach yourself a new skill!
4) Recycle, recycle, recycle!
Everyone knows that recycling is a simple thing that can be done to help the environment. Why not go a step further and start recycling your electronic goods too? The Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) have simple steps on their website that explain how you can donate items such as mobile phones, camera, game consoles and DVDs. They even recycle stamps! Just request a freepost envelope and send your item; it is estimated that a used printer cartridge puts £2 in the RNIB fund to help those coming to terms with sight loss. So next time you’re having a tidy out and find some used phones you no longer need, or buy a new camera and are able to get rid of your old one, why not recycle them for charity, instead of just leaving them in a cupboard?
5) And if nothing else… complete a random act of kindness
Sometimes, it really feels like there isn’t a spare minute in the day. It can be difficult to fit in volunteering, or setting a side some time to make, cook, or post something. Nevertheless, there will always be an opportunity to do a little something that will help another person – even if it’s just a friendly smile. Who knows, that person could be having a terrible day and a smile from a stranger may just brighten their mood. The Random Acts of Kindness website has some ideas of little things you can do. For example, you could bring in your neighbours bins if you see they’ve forgotten to do it, or if you’re up early one day you could open the door and personally thank your postman. Wherever or whenever, there is probably always an opportunity for kindness.
The Casserole Club – www.casseroleclub.com
FoodCycle – www.foodcycle.org.uk
RSPCA – www.rspca.org.uk
The Cinnamon Trust – www.cinnamon.org.uk
Knit With Love – www.knitwithlove.org
Quilts4Leukemia – http://quilts4leukaemia.blogspot.co.uk
The Royal National Institute for Blind People – www.rnib.org.uk
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation – www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas