The Leeds Festival of Kindness is a week-long virtual event that offers a glimpse into what a city of kindness, compassion, and well-being could look like, particularly for those who are often excluded from society.

The event, which will take place from September 6 to September 13, will now be held online due to the pandemic. 

The event organisers at #KinderLeeds hope that this will broaden the reach of the festival, opening it up to a potentially global audience.

The festival, which will be hosted over Zoom, follows a daily agenda designed to showcase the incredible work that the people of Leeds have done to help shape a kinder future. 

Each day of the festival has been assigned a different theme contributing to overall well-being, including self-care, interpersonal relationships, workplace wellness, and sustainable living

Guest speakers from a variety of professional backgrounds have been invited to speak at the event, including environmental activist and speaker Satish Kumar.

Environmentalist and peace activist Satish Kumar will be speaking on compassionate activism. Photo: The Nest Collective.

Co-founder of #KinderLeeds, Joshua Malkin, hopes the festival will be a catalyst for creating a more inclusive society in which there are equal opportunities for everybody regardless of who they are and where they come from.

“The space that we’re in is a space of respect for everybody and trying to make sure nobody gets left behind,” Mr Malkin said. “We’re putting a flag in the ground for people who want to see the values of kindness, compassion, and well-being as the prosperity we should be investing in.”

The inspiration for the Festival of Kindness arises from the results of a 2015 study undertaken by the independent think tank Centre for Cities, which ranked Leeds as the city with the third highest level of inequality in the UK.

In Leeds, there is a marked disparity between the city’s financial and manufacturing hubs contrasted with deprived regions such as Holbeck, where over 15 per cent of residents are on Jobseekers Allowance. 

In 2019, Leeds City Council, one of the partners of the Festival of Kindness, launched the Leeds Compassionate City Awards to celebrate the unsung heroes who make a positive difference to their communities. 

Leeds City Council has also developed an Inclusive Growth Strategy which sets out how best to deliver sustainable growth that benefits and draws on the talents of all citizens and communities in the city. The ambition is for Leeds to build a strong economy within a compassionate city.

As World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on September 10, #KinderLeeds have reserved the fifth day of the festival for a programme of webinars and panel discussions delivered by support group leaders, including representatives from the West Leeds Men’s Network and Cruse Bereavement Care.

The aim is to open up a dialogue about suicide and create a safe space for difficult conversations that foster understanding, empathy, and contribute to breaking down the stigma around mental health.

“We want the kindness revolution in Leeds to spread to all cities in the UK and beyond,” Mr Malkin said. “We would encourage anyone who is involved in areas that relate to kindness, compassion, and wellness to join and make this a national festival of kindness.”

Keen to get involved? Click here to find out more about the Leeds Festival of Kindness and register your interest. 

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About Author

Zayna is an events content producer at Salesforce Ben, a freelance writer at LeadGeneratorsDigital, and a journalist at Good News Shared. She hopes to cast light on the ripple effect of small acts of kindness that lead to great waves of change.

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