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A simple idea that could go a long way

A couple of years ago I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be good to start a new tradition that encouraged people to do nice things for each other?

We thought we’d do a screening of It’s A Wonderful Life (the best film ever) around Christmas time. But several friends suggested we save it for when people really needed cheering up.

So we went for the gloomy, post-Christmas, back-to-work-and-school month of January. And of course, it had to be a Monday.


Warming up a cold world

We decided to make this day a special day, for people to focus on doing good for each other. Not presents and cards this time, just little acts of kindness. (Or big ones, if you like.)

So that’s what’s happened. With no budget, but plenty of enthusiasm and volunteers (plus a drink or two), we put on a whole range of activities – from films and DJ sets to treasure hunts, games, free chocolate hunts, live projects and storytelling in Canterbury, Lancaster and Newcastle.

And it just keeps growing. In 2010 and 2011 all sorts of people, organisations, schools and statutory bodies did things to make life a bit better for others. From arts projects to cups of tea, baking a cake for work colleagues, and taking time to saying hello to neighbours.

We’re thrilled that this simple idea could spread ever wider, and we hope you’ll join in to make Blue Monday 2012 an unseasonably happy day.


Why?

Well, partly, why not? But more practically, there are four main reasons:

To spread a bit of happiness
By bringing someone a bit of niceness, like an unexpected complement, a piece of cake, or even just a smile.

To remind us all about the benefits of kindness
It feels as good to give a little kindness as it does to receive it.

To inspire even more kindness
For example, if you ask how someone’s feeling, or write a thank you letter, or volunteer, it’s often the catalyst for others to do something too.

To bring people together
Kindness creates connections. Doing something for someone, even just having a chat with someone new, adds to the network of humanity.


What sort of things can we do?

Blue Monday isn’t about raising money (not necessarily, anyway). It’s about doing good for others, whether it’s for one person or something global. The ideas come from you.

We’re not into rules, but Blue Monday ideas do need to:

Benefit others: a person, an organisation or even internationally.

And will probably be:

Something you wouldn’t normally do (but might do regularly from now on)

Voluntary (compulsory kindness doesn’t really count)

Thought up by those involved (there’s no formula or template)

Fun and creative (for everyone involved)

Obviously whatever you do should be safe. It shouldn’t put anyone at risk of physical danger or emotional upset. That rather misses the point, after all.

We expect most Blue Monday ideas will be small, personal things. If you’re planning something bigger, great – just make sure you do it properly, with all the necessary forms and so on (risk assessment, insurance, all that). We’ll be bringing you a few useful event links soon, so stay tuned.


Blue Monday is a voluntary intiative co-ordinated by Canterbury College.  It was inspired by the work of People United (a charity exploring how the arts can grow kindness and social change). See www.peopleunited.org.uk