You may remember that, at the beginning of July, Team LLG (including Lettice and Lazy Maisie) took part in the Clinique 5K Run or Dye at Penshurst Place in Kent. The run was part of the Clinique Difference Initiative which helps women build the courage to be their best selves.
(You can read more about the Difference Initiative, and its goals in health and education within communities here.)
Being a Difference Maker is also about making a difference in our communities everyday, by both action and example. Some of you may know that my sister Holly has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and battles against the disease every day of her life. I nominated her as my Difference Maker, as her indomitable courage, motivation, optimism, and grace under fire as her body fails her daily show us what we all have the potential to be. She is the example that makes a Difference.
But Difference making on every level is an important thing: We know first hand the difference we can all make in our communities by supporting each other, and one of the questions that Clinique posed –
Can one change make a difference?
is easily answerable. Yes, yes it can.
I have always tried to make those changes that make an incremental difference: the action part of Difference Making. On their own each small gesture or piece of work isn’t a big thing, but put together I believe they all help to effect the change that we want to see in our world.
These are some of the small ways in which I try to make a difference:
Making a child feel loved by the wider community when their home life may sometimes fail them. There are plenty of children out there whose family situation is such that no one is able to make them a birthday cake. Free Cakes for Kids: http://www.freecakesforkids.org.uk/ is a community service to families, who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child. There are nearly 60 groups throughout the country, sending emails when a cake is needed. All you need to do is put up your digital hand in response to make a cake. You don’t need to be a cake boss with ninja piping skills either – homemade cakes are a lovely thing, full stop. Google online for your local group.
Bring a bit of feelgood loveliness into someone’s daily life. I save all the ridiculously indulgent unused five star hotel toiletries from my travels. It’s then the work of a few hours to bag them up into gift sets. I also collect my unused inflight amenity kits, as they contain disposable toothbrushes, razors, eye masks and earplugs. I then send around 20kg of products to women’s refuges once a year, along with all the beauty samples I get sent from work and don’t use (especially shampoos, body washes & face creams). Give and Make Up is a great start, and Womens Aid has a very useful directory here. I also keep an eye out on Twitter for donation drives around Christmas to which I can contribute. I also make a point of gathering together stuff throughout the year that children and teenagers might like at Christmas– refuges don’t tend to get so many donations for teen girls or for young boys (up to age 10).
Volunteering. I travel too much for a regular commitment, but I try to make time to volunteer occasionally at my local Sue Ryder charity shop – I’ve done their windows for them several times, donate a lot of my press gifts, and Tweet out excellent finds when I see them in store to encourage footfall in-store.
Make a point of saying hello with a big smile to every elderly person I come across walking alone in the park, and sometimes sit down for a chat if it’s clear they’d like to talk. (Having a Tiny Dog is a great icebreaker for this!) Equally I think it’s important that little children aren’t scared of dogs, (and vice versa), so I always make time to stop and chat with kids in the park if I can see that Lettice has caught their interest, let them stroke her ears and just chat about dogs in general.
Of course I shop at supermarkets: they’re convenient, have free parking and stock all sorts of random things but I really do try to also shop local – making an especial point of using my butcher and greengrocer, rather than just throwing multipacks into my basket at the supermarket. It’s sometimes more expensive, but on balance I’ve realised that the quality, freshness and, above all, lack of waste (both in terms of thrown out food and packaging) that comes from buying from an independent greengrocer far outweighs the unthinking basket lob in the supermarket.