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It's the little things...

Reflections from Iain Anderson, our Support Manager.

I’m a somewhat impatient gardener. I like the idea of gardening - or at least the idea of having a nice garden, but I’ll admit that I’m not always the best at putting the work in. I think it’s because it can take a long time to truly see the results. Planting seeds is all very well, but then there’s the waiting around with seemingly not much happening. I tend to want instant results! Life can be like that too sometimes - we’ve committed to a course of action - and it’s frustrating when we don’t see results straight away. However, I’ve perhaps come to realise over the years that maybe the seed planting is actually worthwhile in itself. The results, and crucially whether or not we’re around to see them, is perhaps less important than we like to think.

Years ago I was involved with some other volunteers from Hope to plant bulbs at the school across the road. We spent hours planting hundreds of bulbs and when we’d done, the results looked singularly unimpressive - just flower beds full of bare earth. I’ve never been back to see what it looks like in the summer - but actually that doesn’t matter. We planted the seeds (or bulbs). The flowers will still bloom and bring joy to others whether I’m there to see it or not. 

For me that is a little glimpse of what Hope is about. It’s easy to lose sight of those seeds amongst the busy-ness - when we’re in the midst of dealing with everything that happens day to day. But seeds are being planted here. Each food parcel, each free breakfast, each befriending conversation, each laugh over a cuppa, each smile  - is a seed of hope planted. Maybe they’ll grow into something incredible. Maybe they won’t. Maybe we’ll see the results. Maybe we won’t. But planting hope is worth it regardless - you can never really know what the impact of the seemingly little things might be. 

What’s the most generous gift you’ve been given? In some ways, mine was a 200g mint aero bar. It was given to me by a boy in a class I used to teach. The class were hard work to say the least and this particular pupil was one of the more “high profile” students in there - he was frequently excluded, often demonstrated challenging behaviour and as far as I could tell, hadn’t learned a single thing in a year of geography lessons! Nevertheless, one monday in the summer term, he waited behind at the end of a lesson, mumbled “I got you this sir” and presented me with an Aero bar which he’d bought on his weekend at the seaside, wrapped in sellotape and a crumpled postcard of Skegness.  It would have cost a couple of quid absolute tops but it showed thought, generosity and kindness in its sentiment, from a source that I would never have expected. I still remember it now, years later. It was only a chocolate bar, but the little things matter. The daily currency of Hope is very much measured in the little things: bags of tins, bacon cobs, cups of tea, smiles, checking how someone is doing, a kind word, a prayer. They aren’t grand gestures but rather small instances of care, generosity, love and hope.  Whether it is the widow giving her last pennies in the bible story or a year 8 boy giving a chocolate bar wrapped in a postcard, small acts done with a generosity of heart, with kindness and care can bring much more than the mere value of the item or act itself.

Bringing hope is not just about what we do, but also how we do it. We don’t need to fix all people’s problems. Often the little things, done with kindness and compassion, can make the most difference.

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