Kind Cardiff: ordinary people

A card reading

Kind Cardiff is a community action group made up of Cardiff residents who want to contribute to Cardiff becoming a compassionate city.

It all began after a showing of the ‘Resilience’ documentary in Chapter Arts Centre. The documentary explores the impact of adverse childhood experiences on someone throughout life and highlights some of the responses that have been tried the United States. The Cardiff audience felt moved by this and they responded to a Twitter call to action to do something.

Everyone in the group recognised the loss of connections in our lives. We shared stories from life and work about the apparent rise in distress; how overwhelming it feels to walk through the city populated so densely with tents and cardboard homes. So often, instead of recognising humans from our hometown, we see complex problems needing specialist solutions. The early days of Kind Cardiff were characterised by workers from public services coming with tales of a broken system. They came as warriors of compassion: restless, frustrated and angry that their passion to give, help, and show care were being thwarted.

Others spoke of the stress of the pace of life and the competition between us: services, job roles, waistlines, bank balances and Twitter followers. These drive us further apart and contribute to Cardiff feeling like a series of lonely planets, where individuals live lonely lives, observing each other, often with suspicion. Young people also came, suspicious of older people looking them in the eye as they spoke of the cruelty of their ‘virtual’ lives and FOMO of everything from self-harm scars to six packs.

Ways of reconnecting

These feelings brought the people of Cardiff out of their homes on wet Wednesday evenings and motivated us to find ways of reconnecting. The creative types in the group helped us nail our mission: “Whatever the problem, relationships are the answer. Smile, Notice, Take Time to Listen, Give Something of Yourself to Others”.

We landed on kindness as a powerful environmental tool. We were clear that a compassionate city is not one satisfied with random acts or soup runs. We questioned whose needs these approaches are meeting: who sleeps better once ‘the haves’ have given to ‘the have nots’? But yet the simplicity and accessibility of kindness is a powerful call to action. It can tie us deeply to collectives of friends, families and groups, and to causes bigger than ourselves. It can bring us together, in moments, in conversations, but crucially face to face, which today is radical. So we work to promote, enable and create moments, events, spaces where people can connect.

Kind Cardiff’s next event takes place on 22nd November at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay. Connect via Twitter: @kindcardiff.