Books Magazine


Posted on the 14 January 2023 by Angela Young @AngelaYoung4

In Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book – reflections on hope, survival and the messy business of being alive – he writes:

Life is short. Be kind.

The Comfort BookA beautiful thing to be. (The Comfort Book is also beautiful, full of ‘consolatons and suggestions for making bad days better’. I was given mine for Chrstimas … why don’t you give it to someone?) And here, to begin this new 2023, are some suggestions for ways of being kind, taken from this Guardian article, where there’s one suggestion for each week of the year. All the text below is from the Guardian article by Emma Beddington, reproduced under their Open Licence Terms.

Give Blood
We urgently need more blood donors of black heritage, says Rob Knowles of NHS Blood and Transplant (they are more likely to be able to help the increasing number of patients with sickle cell disease). Sign up at, call 0300 1232323 or use the NHS Blood app. To donate quickly, the best appointment availability is at the 25 permanent donor centres across the UK.

Help Prisoners with Reading
About 50% of people in UK prisons struggle with reading.The Shannon Trust helps them to help one another throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “Our prison volunteers train and support prisoner mentors to work one-to-one with learners,” says Karen Ryan, director of prison delivery.

Empty your bins, and bring them back in
It’s scientifically impossible to be anything other than thrilled when someone else deals with the bins.

Learn CPR
The British Heart Foundation estimates there are approximately 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year; knowing what to do if you encounter one can mean the difference between life and death. Take 15 minutes and do the BHF’s free online training course.

Feed pickets
Strikers need solidarity to keep feeling positive: show solidarity with a box of biscuits or a round of hot drinks.

Answer phones at ChildLine
Children have had an especially tough few years, and four hours a week answering calls can make a huge difference. The recruitment process is quite lengthy and careful: there is training and assessment, followed by two observed shifts and one mentored one before potential volunteers find out if they are a good fit. It’s worth it. A recent recruit said, “There can be difficult and upsetting contacts, but volunteers are supported by experienced supervisors … and when a young person says: ‘Thanks for listening and not judging,’ or ‘I hadn’t thought of it like that’, I feel such a high.”

Use your languages
Refugee charities often need volunteer interpreters. Medical Justice, which works to ensure detainees’ health rights are respected, needs people with a range of languages from Albanian to Vietnamese at immigration removal centres across the UK.

Buy coffee for a stranger
Many cafes offer a “pay it forward” system, where you can buy an extra coffee for someone (an especially good way to support homeless people). Alternatively, just pay for the person behind you without them knowing, then disappear, fairy godmother style.

May 2023 be kind to you.


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