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The pandemic has put the whole world through the wringer - and it's still not done, according to the WHO, which this week predicted that new variants are still set to emerge.
We're all exhausted and fed up with working from home, schooling from home, and worrying about our loved ones. But while you'd think this level of stress might have made us more likely to look away from those in need, new research from Abel & Cole, the organic food delivery company, has revealed some positive pandemic news.
It seems a huge 80% of adult Brits and 65% of children think more about those around them since it began.
The report, commissioned to highlight the company's `One Box: One Portion’ charity initiative, found that almost half of adult men and child respondents and a third of women are keen to help their local communities.
A quarter of adults said that they would choose to help those in their own part of the country, whereas more than a third of children would prefer to offer help to whoever needs it, wherever they may be.
Two thirds of adults (66%) feel differently about the world since the pandemic, and more than half of children (58%) think the pandemic has changed their lives.
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With such an impact on the whole nation, this post-pandemic shift towards community caring and kindness towards others could make a long-term difference to the world.
"I think the reaction to the pandemic proves the lie that there is 'no such thing as society'" says Ali Caterall, author of Kindness: A User's Guide.
"As increasingly atomised as we are, people are dying, lonely and scared, and it's made many of us come together."
Co-writer Kitty Collins added, "maybe we're not more or less kind, we're just noticing it more, more attuned to it, more grateful for it - and, crucially, it's being reported more."
The kindness of high-profile people have inspired the nation, during lockdowns, too, with food poverty hero Marcus Rashford and Captain Sir Tom Moore fuelling the desire to help others more. Rashford was voted most influential (44%) by children, with Captain Sir Tom Moore, who walked miles in his garden for charity, at 31%.
Meanwhile, a quarter chose eco-warrior and inspirational speaker teenager Greta Thunberg.
But while the famously kind were the biggest influencers, a loyal 5% said family and friends inspired them most.
According to the economics observatory website, the pandemic saw an increase in charitable giving at the start in 2020, though donations dropped as charity shops and offices were forced to close and people worried for their jobs.
In March 2020, at the pandemic's start, 400,000 people signed up to volunteer for the NHS on just one day, while in the April of that year, Captain Sir Tom’s fundraising drive raised £38 million for NHS charities.
One study found that mentioning COVID-19 in a fundraising capacity resulted in a "significant increase in donations" by around 8%. There was correlation with areas that had been strongly affected by COVID-19, suggesting that people with direct experience of the disease were more likely to give.
More research last year discovered that 54% of adults gave themselves a high-scoring seven out of ten on the 'kindness barometer', while 48% of Britons had vowed to commit one random act of kindness every day.
Over a third (34%) believed random acts of kindness are 'contagious'.
The study by Travelodge found that during the pandemic, 56% of Brits have experienced an average three acts of unexpected kindness from a stranger.
Interestingly, the smallest things were often the most significant, with respondents mentioning 'a stranger saying "Hello" whilst out walking', a smile and chat from a delivery driver and a long lost pal getting in touch.
The report also revealed that 42% felt that that when a stranger does something nice unexpectedly, it makes their day special - and encourages them to do something positive in return.
The study also asked Britons to nominate their 'Kindness Hero' - someone who inspired them to be more thoughtful during the pandemic. Again, the late Captain Sir Tom Moore came top, followed by Marcus Rashford MBE for his campaigning to end child food poverty and make meals accessible for children during the lockdown and school holidays.
Frank Mills, 6, who has Spina Bifida raised over £280,000 for NHS charities by doing a sponsored walk every day and came next, while it seems we all love Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government Chris Whitty.
In fifth place was Joe Wicks - whose PE sessions during lockdown kept the nation fit, and helped out many despairing parents.
“It’s heartening to see that the pandemic has changed the way we look at life and has increased the desire to help others," said Hannah Shipton, Managing Director at Abel & Cole.
Last summer, Marcus Rashford wrote to a 9 year old fan, telling him, ""We are not kind to be noticed.
"We are kind because it's the right thing to do. It feels good to help others."
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