El Pais

Prizes for Everyday Kindness in the City of London

A non-government initiative recognizes spontaneous good deeds carried out by the public.

 

A man unfolds a giant map and pulls a face which shows he is not from the area. He looks nervously from side to side until somebody comes to his aid. In this very instant, the group of youngsters that set up this scene jump up and make their way over singing in honour of the, now astonished, benefactor.

The initiative is called the Kindness Offensive, and is the brainchild of three Londoners who want friendliness and solidarity to replace the indifference so obvious in the streets of London that is epitomized by all the bumps and knocks of the bustling people and the ever present murmur of “oh sorry”, “excuse me”.

The continuous hubbub of city dwellers, the metro trains that are more packed than a can of sardines and the general sense of hurriedness converts most megalopolises into impersonal cities where disregard for others reaches unimaginable levels.

“One day I saw in the newspaper that a man had fallen down some stairs and cracked his head open. Lots of people walked over him until, finally, after loads of feet had stepped over him, somebody stopped and helped him”, explained David Goodfellow, one of the founders of this group.

This story made him think “about the good deeds carried out by people from day to day and how the world needs more of that kind of thing”, and in order to give credit to these acts (of kindness) he decided to set up the Everyday Kindness Awards, part of the massive hand-outs that TKO organize sporadically throughout the whole city.

The group is made up of 150 volunteers and is supported by the bank, ING Direct.From today until Sunday this curious brigade will be handing out champagne, flowers and gold medals to any benevolent Londoners that happen to do a good deed.

THE TACTICS:

The group uses a member of the team as bait and he pretends to need help, whether it be that he is trying to get up some stairs with a heavy suitcase or simply that he’s lost and doesn’t know where he is. Meanwhile the rest of the group keep hidden away, lying in wait, without calling attention to themselves (despite the fact that they are dressed up in sunglasses, wigs, reflective jackets, hard hats and other paraphernalia) until somebody comes over to lend a hand. Then, the bait thanks him or her and a couple of moments later, totally by surprise, the rest of the team jump up and head over singing and congratulating the stranger for his/her good deed.

The chosen site for this Friday was the pedestrian zone near the Royal Festival Hall, a building on the Southbank, the southern shore of the River Thames, and 25 very enthusiastic volunteers participated in the event.

The Kindness Offensive has been carrying out random acts of kindness over the last year in a bid to encourage good vibes in the capital. One of the most successful events took place on Shrove Tuesday, last February, when they gave out thousands of free pancakes from a diner in central London and they donated half a million more to charitable organizations.

EFE – London 14/08/2009 (trans B.Dawlatly)

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/gente/Premio/buenas/acciones/diarias/ciudad/Londres/elpepugen/20090814elpepuage_5/Tes

Kindness Offensive Online

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