Today is ‘World Kindness Day’, an international observance which began in 1998 and encourages us all to spread a little kindness, not just on this day, but every day.
It’s also used to highlight good deeds in the community and is built on the premise that kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which transcends race, religion, politics, gender and location.
World Kindness Day was introduced 32 years ago by the ‘World Kindness Movement’ – a coalition of non-government organisations from several different nations all dedicated to promoting kindness. The first participants included Canada, Japan, Australia, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, but the idea soon grew, with other nations becoming involved year on year.
Here in the UK, the international event is celebrated through ‘Kindness Day UK’, co-founded in 2010 by humanitarians David Jamilly and Louise Burfitt-Jones. It became part of the international annual event through its affiliation to the World Kindness Movement (WKM), which now encompasses 27 member nations.
In the 10 years it’s been running, Kindness Day UK has continued to grow and is now celebrated by various charities, associations, businesses, schools, organisations, institutions and individuals across the UK. It encourages everyone to carry out an act of kindness and take a small “pause for kindness” in which to value its importance.
The hope is that, having experienced the positivity that flows from kindness and the good it does, people will want to repeat their acts of kindness and it will soon become a year-round habit, improving all our lives.
There’s no big reason why November 13th was chosen as the date for World Kindness Day (and subsequently Kindness Day UK), except that it was the opening day of the first WKM conference. In fact, any date could have been chosen because those behind the initiative want people around the world to show kindness in word and deed on every day, not just one day each year.
That first WKM conference in 1998 was held in Tokyo because Japan was already celebrating the 35th anniversary of its own ‘Small Kindness Movement’. The tradition of performing small kindnesses for others, especially strangers, is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and there was a strong feeling it should be enhanced rather than eroded as Japan developed stronger links with the outside world.
Across the developed world, there’s concern that as people become wrapped up in their own busy and technology-dominated lives, they could lose sight of the joy of human kindness and the benefits its brings to giver and receiver alike. David Jamilly went on to found ‘Kindness UK’ – an independent not-for-profit organisation which aims to make kindness a greater part of everyone’s day-to-day lives. You can find out more by clicking here.
Since its debut in 2010, Kindness Day UK has received support from a growing number of celebrities and public figures, who use their own high profiles to promote its aims. They include Sir John Major, Gary Lineker, David Blunkett, Vanessa Feltz, Alan Titchmarsh, Peter Snow, Brian Blessed, Noel Edmonds, Jilly Cooper and Arlene Phillips. Many of its supporters also campaign on mental health issues, noting a strong link between routine acts of kindness and positive mental wellbeing.