To celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day (Thursday, February 17), we revisit a wonderful article by Bill Gibb. He talked to founder of the Cirencester Kindness Project, Jenny Webster.
It’s the little things that make a big difference. A smile, someone holding open a door, a cheery greeting to lighten your mood.
And for residents of the Gloucestershire town of Cirencester, something else has been brightening their lives. They’ve been finding bouquets of flowers and other nice gifts lying around the town for them to take and enjoy.
It’s all thanks to the Cirencester Kindness Project, which has the simple aim of lifting people’s spirits. The project was the brainchild of Jenny Webster, who is used to putting smiles on faces through her job as a performer with circus company Circo Rum Ba Ba.
‘Finding The Flowers Gave Her A Real Boost’
It came to her after a phone call with her sister, Claire, who is a vascular surgeon in a busy London hospital.
“She told me she’d been out for a walk and had found a bunch of flowers with a note saying to help herself to them,” Jenny says. “And with coronavirus restrictions at the time, we weren’t able to see her. However, she was working long hours and couldn’t really socialise. Finding the flowers gave her a real boost.
“She found they’d come from a girl who’d been dropping them off on a weekly basis for something she’d started called the London Kindness Project.
“And when I heard about what had been done there, I knew that I could do it in my home town.”
‘Cheered Her Up’
Jenny started by leaving flowers with a message saying to help yourself on a bench by the river on the outskirts of town.
“They were found by a lady called Laura who was passing with her toddler,” Jenny says. “She saw it as a bit of a sign and it really cheered her up.”
Also word soon spread on social media. From that first gesture, it snowballed until different people were leaving flowers every day.
“It quickly became the case that if someone found a bunch, they’d pay it forward,” Jenny adds. “And we were inundated with people wanting to get involved.”
Random Acts Of Kindness Day
Although it started with floral gifts, the scope of the surprises expanded. Some anonymous donors left envelopes of money with notes suggesting it help to pay the finder’s supermarket shopping. Someone left a voucher for a massage, another kind soul left a gift card for a local store. Coffee shops and other businesses left free vouchers. Those with creative skills got to work and left handmade presents.
“It was anything people felt they could give and in most cases it was anonymous. We just asked that the person left a clear note saying that it was a gift and to please take it.
“The reactions have been amazing. So many people have said it made their day.
“A lady got in touch to say that she had agoraphobia, which made it difficult for her to leave the house. The first time she ventured out, she found flowers and it gave her such a boost.
“I’m so pleased that it took off and that it was something we could keep going. My profession is making people smile, and when I couldn’t do so in lockdown, it made me feel this was helping. I’d encourage other people to think about doing it in their area.”
To find out more about Random Acts of Kindness Day, please click here
Read about more acts of kindness here