In the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Towers, many questions have been asked about safety, fire escape procedure, fire-resistant cladding and the overall political response. Yet as we see the piles of carrier bags of donations, it’s tempting to ask: what good will such offerings do?
Within hours, people in the area were donating food, shoes or blankets – in such numbers that the refuge centres had to put out a message to say that they had too many donations to cope with; that the food might rot on the street. Monetary donations, however, are still welcome. What shines through as each hour of this tragedy passes, is the over-whelming display of kindness shown by people around the country.
Twitter was abuzz with people doing all they could, offering refuge. Laura-Jayne Cannel who works for a student housing provider, offered 21 studio flats for people made homeless by the fire. Iain Dale on his LBC Drive show read out a message from a family of listeners living in Italy who want to provide a holiday for people affected.
In the wake of such trauma, it’s tempting to think that such small gestures are useless, merely a drop in the ocean, something to do solely to feel good about ourselves. What good could a packet of biscuits, a pair of trainers do? They can’t possibly make up for the fact that a child might now have lost everything else in their life, perhaps even loved ones.
Yet people feel immensely supported when someone is kind to them, especially someone they don’t know. Out of feeling supported – held emotionally - we can begin to feel confident and positive, about ourselves, our future and about a world which can often seem cruel. It’s a lesson politicians would do well to heed. A hug in the raw hours after a tragedy can do as much as subsequent promises of an enquiry to start the healing process.
And when we witness something so horrific as the Grenfell Tower fire, something so senseless, we are reminded that we can tap into our humanity by doing something selfless for others.
Not everyone can get down to the Grenfell Tower area soon… not everyone can afford to donate money. But one random act of kindness has the potential to change the world. And you can do it today.
• Be alert for someone who might need your help – tourists asking for directions, or a mother with a pushchair struggling to get up steps or on a bus.
• Smile at a stranger.
• Pay for someone’s coffee behind you in the queue.
• Compliment a loved one.
Kindness matters. You will never regret being kind. [this blog post first appeared on the LBC Radio website]