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When you help an elderly lady to carry her heavy shopping bags up the stairs; when you take a day off work to help a friend move house; when you spend your weekends volunteering for a charity, what do you do it for?

In the words of Joey from Friends, “Look, there’s no unselfish good deeds, sorry”, but is that necessarily the case? I mean sure, doing good generally makes us feel good, but does that mean we’re only doing it out of purely selfish reasons? Just to get high on that self-endorsing good feeling? Personally, I don’t think so…

When I see someone who needs a “pick me up”, my first thought is ‘How can I help?’ It’s not ‘Seeing you in that situation makes me feel bad, so what can I do to make me feel better about myself’?

In all honesty, as someone who is in receipt of benefits, I feel guilty all the time. Especially when I see people on the streets who don’t even have a home to go back to. I don’t have much money myself, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to help people who are worse off than me. Support is something that I feel everyone should offer to someone in need.

I once met a homeless man who exchanged his artwork for clothing or food, sometimes money. I sat with him for a while and when he said he was hungry I got him a pack of water bottles, a sandwich, and some soft fruit because he said he’d lost his teeth and couldn’t chew hard things. I think what made his day more wasn’t the food or the water, but having someone to talk to, someone to listen to his story and appreciate him as a member of our society.

People usually walk past homeless people, they toss money in their direction or give them things they don’t really need. This is how people become more and more isolated and lonely. I’m not saying you have to buy things or hang out with someone homeless in order for your good deed to count, but talking to someone for five minutes can really make a difference, both to them and to yourself.

I feel that London has become a really cold place, not just temperature-wise, but also in the way we treat one another. Believe it or not, it is important for us as human beings to reach out and make people smile. I used the Uber app a few weeks ago and my driver had only been working for about 3 weeks. He felt that most of his passengers were rude and inconsiderate. They didn’t help him out with directions when his satnav crashed and made unpleasant comments. I spent the best part of our journey chatting to him about his life and giving him directions. When we arrived he was beaming, and you could just tell that someone being kind to him really made his day. Well that, and the fact that he would finally get a good nights’ sleep and stop thinking about all the rude customers he had encountered.

It’s the little things, random acts of kindness, that can make a real difference to other peoples’ lives, or at least their day. So whenever you have the opportunity to do something kind for someone, take it!

About the author
This article was originally published by the Drive Forward Foundation, who support care leavers to achieve their full potential through securing sustainable employment.
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