Real Life Options

thAnother day, another chance to meet people and talk kindness, this time over tea, coffee and a lot of cake!

I think that some of the stories about kindness and compassion that people tell me, in discussions or via my survey, will end up in the show transformed into instructions for how to behave. So if we take the rather lovely stories told to me yesterday by members of Real Life Options in Hartlepool, possible answers to the question ‘what shall I do with my compassion?’ might be:

When your neighbour falls over, help him up and take his shopping home for him.

Lend your housemate your pens when she needs them.

Look after your brother when he’s ill or feeling bad, be sensitive to his moods.

Volunteer as a cleaner at a kitchen showroom every Thursday.

Help out with the tea and bingo at the old people’s residential home next door.

The most interesting thing for me about these examples is not that they are unusually kind, but that they are all actions done by adults with learning disabilities. I was expecting to ask them about kindness and to hear about people being kind to them – and I did, they spoke about their friends and helpers. But I wasn’t expecting them to be agents of compassion themselves, which just goes to show how narrow my mind is. Super-glad to be put right on that score, and to have a great conversation with the care workers present about how doing things for their client may look kind, but standing back and allowing them agency, autonomy and challenge is almost always the most compassionate thing to do.

Give up your power, empower someone else. Yes.

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