Survey reveals kindness is more important than money
The kindness of strangers is one of the greatest gifts you can receive, according to new research from UK for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s national charity partner.
The research was commissioned to mark the launch of UK for UNHCR’s Wrapped in Kindness appeal, encouraging people to help support displaced Syrian and Afghan families across the Middle East and in Afghanistan, who will struggle to keep warm and well this winter.
The survey reveals that 42% of Brits feel that kindness is more meaningful than money and material gifts given by friends and family this season. Meanwhile, half of us (55%) believe we live in a ‘kinder’ society now, than we did before the pandemic.
Across the UK, millions of Brits (68%) say they have received acts of kindness from people they don’t know, with the most welcome being carrying something heavy up the stairs for someone (35%), being checked on if you seemed upset (26%), someone paying for your shopping when you were slightly short at the till (17%), being made a cup of tea or another drink when you’re cold or in shock (18%) and being lent a mobile phone when yours has run out (14%).
Highlighting the phrase ‘the kindness of strangers’, two thirds of the nation (67%) believes that kindness from someone we don’t know means more than if they receive it from someone they do know.
This winter, UK for UNHCR is asking the British public to show their own kindness towards strangers by donating to help wrap refugees in warmth and kindness. To encourage this, UK for UNHCR has worked with refugees and artists to create a spectacular ‘Wrapped in Kindness’ collection of wrapping paper, which is available to download for free at unrefugees.org.uk/kindness.
Designers AAH YES STUDIO, Ruby Taylor, Alexandra Francis and Kate Gibb, alongside the award-winning author Max Porter and refugee artisan group MADE51 have created bespoke designs, inspired by refugees’ stories about what warmth and kindness mean to them, to celebrate the importance of kindness and encourage Brits to support the charity this winter.
Winter is a particularly difficult time of year for displaced people, who have to cope with plummeting temperatures, strong winds, rain and snowstorms. More than 680,000 Afghans fled their homes this year due to the upsurge in insecurity and violence. Now, millions of internally displaced people in the country are facing food scarcity, a health system at breaking point and a harsh winter with temperatures regularly as low as minus 12 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are experiencing another bitterly cold winter in makeshift shelters and unfinished buildings. Families are struggling to buy heating fuel, warm clothing for their children and basic essentials, and need urgent support. UNHCR is working across the region and in Afghanistan to deliver life-saving relief like blankets, tent insulation kits and emergency winter payments, giving families dignity and independence to buy the essentials they need.
Actor David Morrissey, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, says: “Kindness is the greatest gift because it restores our hope and becomes something we can pass onto others. When someone recognises our need and shows kindness – a smile, an encouraging word or practical support – we know that we’re not alone. This winter, as you wrap up presents for those you love, please help wrap others in warmth and kindness against the winter cold by donating to UK for UNHCR’s Wrapped In Kindness appeal.”
Mevan Babakar, Trustee, UK for UNHCR, was a refugee as a child and said “I found that even in the darkest of times, there will always be shining acts of kindness. As people forced to flee war and persecution approach another harsh winter, they need you to help them survive. This winter, please extend your kindness and warmth to people you’ve never met, for whom it would mean so much.”
Emma Cherniavsky, CEO of UK for UNHCR said: “On average the UK uses a staggering 227,000 miles of wrapping paper over the winter. As you wrap gifts – whether Christmas, end of year or birthday – for the people you love, please also donate to help wrap someone fleeing war or persecution in kindness and warmth against the winter cold. The £5 that you might spend buying a couple of rolls of wrapping paper this Christmas could help a refugee family in Jordan buy a blanket.”