This week I've got something a little different for you and a bit of food for thought. How many of you go through your everyday only interacting with people you know or have been introduced to? How many of you feel nervous to strike up new conversations or even smile at others in your community? I for one can say I am guilty of both of these. Social media has made it so much easier for us to be less social with those around us but instead focus our efforts on dialogue online. Permission to Smile is an initiative that has started in Birmingham encouraging people to come together as a community and simply interact more with one another.
When I was contacted by Martin Graham, one of the founders of the initiative, and made aware of the campaign, something struck a chord with me. What's better than society and communities working together to benefit everyone? Whether it be by having a conversation with some one who is feeling isolated, or going shopping for someone who might be struggling to get outdoors. Working together works out for everyone, but it starts by communicating, and a smile is just that. It is the initial communication to say I am warm, open and welcoming.
Only a month ago I had been battling and supporting to save my local children's centre for this exact reason. It was the one thing that had given me support when I had had my first child. Meeting other like minded people from my area gave me a sense of belonging and togetherness. It gave me so much happiness to know other people from my area with kids my age and to know we could be there for each other if we needed. I then began to think about what life would be like if I didn't have service like this. It made me realise we can't rely on the council of such services anymore as cuts are being made everyday and we need to take action ourselves.
This is where we come in. How can we take part? Well, firstly by doing exactly what it says, in every day life there is no harm in smiling! We tend to walk around avoiding eye contact with people just in case the worst happens.... a conversation starts! So simply just smile, or say hello. It could make someones day. Permission to Smile have also set up a crowd funding page in order to get the word out there and hopefully launch an app where people who live local to one another can meet up and start engaging with one another, it is also hopefully going to become a school programme and introduced into school lessons. You can donate here. The website is due to launch on the 12th May with a event in the city centre to celebrate.
So if you are in Birmingham why not show some support, but no matter where you are you have permission to smile! Being nice doesn't cost a thing, so if there is one thing you can take from this post it should be that!