Keep on smiling: the small things with a big impact


Kathryn Welch on the small things that have made a big difference to her week

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19th May 2017 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

Two perspectives have shaped my view of the world this week.

The first was a global-scale, long-term view of social change, in the form of a day-and-a-half chewing over the challenges of foresight at the second 2017 Clore Social residential. In the company of 24 genuinely awe-inspiring people, we tackled the future of cross-sector collaboration, considered the end of charity and imagined the world in 2025. We reimagined our priorities in the face of a fast-changing world, and considered some of the big questions that our sector will have to tackle over the coming decades. It was challenging, perspective-altering, sometimes scary, and made me pause in recognition of the massive global forces that shape our world.

At the other end of the scale, two small moments have made a disproportionately large impact in my week.

Our everyday lives are shaped by global events, yes, but also by those in our communities and the most everyday moments

I arrived for a meeting on Wednesday at a large and imposing office block. Presenting myself at reception, I unexpectedly received what was possibly the warmest welcome of my life. The building receptionist was kind, enthusiastic and utterly lovely – she thoroughly admired my dress, my shoes and my general wonderfulness, personally escorted me to the lift, and sent me on my way with words of advice and encouragement about my forthcoming meeting. A week later, I’m still smiling.

And just this morning, a thank you card arrived in the post to our office. A student who interned with us last month had written a beautiful note to pass on her thanks for all she’d learned and experienced. She’d taken the time to share with us how her internship had influenced her career plans, and highlighted key moments that had really shaped her understanding of the creative sector. It was truly lovely.

Two small interactions with other human beings, both of which are probably forgotten already by the people who brightened my day. Their kindness and consideration is easy to think of as tiny in the grand scale of problems facing the world. It would be easy to assume their impact was inconsequential, especially in (another) week of political turmoil. But actually, it was quite the opposite. Their small actions have re-settled and re-balanced me, and have reminded me about the many ways in which our everyday lives are shaped – by global events, yes, but also by those in our communities and in the most everyday moments.

The shortlist of nominees for the Celebrating Communities award at the Scottish Charity Awards is a timely reminder of the impact that individuals and community groups can make. As full disclosure, my own project Stirling SOUP is one of those projects lucky enough to be nominated, but every one of those shortlisted projects offers a heart-warming and incredibly timely reminder of the positive impact we can all make in the world.

Which brings me back to that office receptionist. I wonder if she’s always that nice, and if she ever wonders whether it’s worth it. I’ll almost certainly never see her again, but I’ve just popped a thank you card in the post to her. If my thank you helps keep her smiling, the world will be a better place in no small way.

Kathryn Welch is the development manager at the MacRobert Arts Centre in Stirling and a Clore social fellow.

24th May 2017 by Christine Ball

My day started with 2 strops over very minor domestic issues.I read this and now my day is transformed. With tears in my eyes I must make full disclosure and state that I am the extremely lucky mother of the above, Kathryn Welch.