It’s that time of year which I love – the run up to the craziness of the festive period!!!! I’ve already sat happily snuggled up on the sofa with my family watching the Grinch! Home Alone and Elf will follow shortly (the best Christmas films ever!) and my fist microphone has already made an appearance alongside crazy mum dancing to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is YOU-UUUU!’. Our Christmas lanterns are made for the annual Stony Stratford lantern parade and the plans are in place for our Christmas tree purchase and no doubt, lots of mulled wine quaffing too…
However, despite my continued enthusiasm and love of all this, this year I have a different perspective. For the last two months, every Monday evening along with an amazing bunch of volunteers, I’ve been working on the Soup Run in Milton Keynes. Every Monday evening we go out on to the streets of Milton Keynes to give out hot drinks, soup and sandwiches kindly donated by the likes of Pret, Greggs and others. The Soup Run is there to support the homeless in MK but also those who find themselves in need for various reasons.
Over the last 4 years at OC Tanner, I have traversed the UK and other countries by plane, train and automobile and in that time, I have noticed a huge increase in the number of homeless people everywhere I go. Every train station I come out of, every coffee shop I visit and increasingly it has made me sadder and sadder to see people without hope. We all need hope.
This was my trigger to do something about it and this is just the start of my journey I know. Like with anything though, its interesting to see that in just a short period of time, what I see of the world has fundamentally changed. I notice more, I see things I didn’t see before, I have more compassion for people in general.
We all judge the world through our own experiences – I am no different and this is how my perspective has changed. Often, homeless people are tarnished with the same brush – ‘they’re all on drugs’, ‘if I give them money, they’ll just spend it on booze’. My husband was the one who challenged me to think differently. He has always been the most generous giver to anyone on the streets coming at the world from the angle that ‘if it can happen to them, it could happen to me’. This is the truth in all of this – we never know what’s around the corner, we never know what life is going to throw at us. Let’s throw those thoughts out of our heads and recognise that we are all human and we only have one life – let’s use it to put smiles on people’s faces and make a difference where we can.
At work, we hear a lot about ‘purpose’ and people finding their purpose at work. For me, it’s more than that. Giving something back outside of work has helped reinforce the purpose inside of me about my work and indeed who I am. It resets my moral compass and gives me a sense of wellbeing which has the knock-on effect of giving me a better perspective about work in general and how lucky I am to have found a job that pays me and where I can make a difference.
Our latest research at OC Tanner looks at the amazing effect on engagement when we give recognition at work, more than when we receive. Giving has this effect on all areas of life. It makes others feel good and it makes you feel good too. This is why things like #randomactsofkindness work. It makes you think about your day slightly differently.
My plea in all of this is to think about this when you’re out and about. Look up and look around you. Spend a few pounds on a coffee for someone who needs it or just talk to someone who looks lost and lonely. What I’ve discovered through doing the soup run are people who are so grateful, so polite and who just appreciate a kind word, a smile, a joke alongside a cup of warm soup or a cuppa.
Donate to your local food bank when you can, buy a pair of gloves in Primark and give it to someone who looks cold, rally the organisations you work for to make a difference and let’s all work together to make our world a better place!
I leave you with a Christmassy quote from the Grinch, not a video of me singing to Mariah Carey which the world is not yet ready for!!!!