Random Acts of Kindness Week

5 strangers who deserve a smile this Random Acts of Kindness Week
This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, organised by The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) which aims to encourage more kindness across the world – in schools, communities and homes. For many of us, it can be all too easy to forget the support we can give those around us, and the power of a small and simple kind deed.

Even scientific studies have proven that being kind is good for us, which is all the more reason to take part in Random Acts of Kindness Week and make someone's day with a thoughtful gesture. From a charity volunteer to the sales assistant in your favourite shop, we asked around to find out what we can do to really make someone smile this week:

1. The unpaid carer

Unpaid carers are usually caring for a family member or loved-one and so often work around the clock, seven days a week. Carers are incredibly strong people; however, it is an exhausting role and help would be much appreciated, even if it's never asked for.

Londoner Joss cares for her husband who had a spinal cord stroke in 2013. She says: "the difficulty is that I don't have much of a social life any more, or much of a cultural life. I don't go on holiday. I have friends all over the country – in fact all over the world – but I don't travel away from home overnight any more. It's really hard."

What you can do:

If you know of someone in a similar position to Joss, a small gesture could make a big difference. You can nominate an unpaid carer for The British Caregiver Award, a new award launched by National Accident Helpline and respite charity Revitalise, to give them the chance to win an all-expenses-paid respite break at one of Revitalise's holiday centres.

2. The retail worker
We are probably all occasionally guilty of being a bit snappy with a shop assistant, or rushing away from the till without saying thanks.
Florence, who works in a high-end high street store, says "it sometimes feels like some customers don't register we are human."

What you can do:
When we asked her what little gesture would make her day, she said: "just looking me in the eye or engaging in a bit of conversation makes all the difference."

If you're shopping this week, think about pausing to say hello. If you're really pleased with the service you've received, mention it to the manager or customer services team – it won't go unnoticed.


3. The community volunteer

We all know a person who is always involved in a local charity or community project, selflessly giving up their own time to help others. Whether they are volunteering at a tea party for isolated older people, or helping to clean up a local park, these people always deserve recognition for their amazing work.

Nyree volunteers for charity Contact The Elderly in Peterborough, helping to run tea parties once a month for lonely older people. She says: "sometimes it's tough, especially when you've got a million other things to do and are exhausted from work and general life stuff like housework and paperwork. But on balance, it's well worth it."

What you can do:
This week, show a volunteer that you appreciate the extra work they do for the community with a random act of kindness. Nyree says: "it is the tiny things that make me smile". Offer to make a cup of tea, drop round a homemade treat, or just say a big thank you for the work they do.

4. The teacher
Teachers can get a bit of a hard time; hours of preparation goes in to making lessons fun, engaging and accessible, but sometimes it can feel like the students just don't care very much.
Jane, a secondary school teacher in Norwich, says: "I love my job but teaching is exhausting! The kids probably assume that my school day is the same as theirs, what they don't realise is that I'm up until 11pm most nights, marking homework and writing lesson plans."

What you can do:
If you have children, encourage them to make a thank you card or a small gift for their teacher. Alternatively, you could try to get in touch with someone who taught you in the past, letting them know how you are and thanking them for helping you get there. A small gesture will be enough to remind teachers what a great job they are doing, even on the bad days.

5. Your neighbour
How many of us actually know our neighbours? Especially in big cities it is easy to live for years on a street and never have a proper conversation with the people who live next door.

What you can do:
Random Acts of Kindness Week is the perfect opportunity to knock on your neighbour's door with a bunch of flowers, offer to help someone with their shopping or pick up any litter on your street. It's worth it – think how good you'll feel after your random act of kindness.