Whilst this post does associate with that title, (all will be revealed as the story unfolds) that was mainly just to get your attention. I click-baited you. Sorry (not sorry).
No this isn’t a post about anything rude, or suggestive song lyrics for that matter (phew). It’s actually quite the opposite, or let’s just say different.
Now that I’ve got your attention, I’d like to share a short story with you..
I noticed something a couple of weeks ago.
As I stood in King’s Cross station I saw something pretty remarkable.
It’s National Ovarian Cancer Day and the wonderful volunteers geared up in their bright blue t-shirts were handing out single white roses accompanied with an awareness tag and supporting #WOCD (World Ovarian Cancer Day) hashtags. The volunteers were scattered through every corner and the centre of the train station delighting and brightening up people’s days by handing them a single white rose.
What happened next was fascinating…
Nearly every passer-by who encountered the cheery and wide-smiled volunteers (I also feel I should add, nearly all of these passers-by were commuters wrapped around their accompanying iPhones or doing their best to generally avoid people), met the white rose gesture with not only a smile – but without being asked nearly all reached into their pockets to offer money for their unexpected gift. (Nearly all?).
How did I come to notice such a thing? Because prior – I had done exactly the same thing. Upon realising I had no tangible cash or coins (typical millennial enslaved by the convenience of contactless payments), I reached embarrassingly into my pockets clutching at the idea of an old pound coin that might have got stuck in my coat pocket somewhere (to no avail). My unsuccessful coin mission forced me to gesture how sorry I was that I couldn’t accept the beautiful rose due to my lack of (tangible) money.
“Please keep it, it’s free” she uttered, smiling back at me.
“We are simply trying to raise awareness” shortly followed.
What happened next? I smiled, and I carried my white rose with pride as if it were given to me by some sort of romantic gesture. And then I stood and watched as the same story unfolded for all of those around me.
I carried it firmly in my hand, as did many others in the train station, and I was quite taken aback by the small gesture that not only built awareness but put a smile on thousands of Londoners faces that drizzly spring day.
I also carried it proudly on show during my bus journey home, taking photos of both sides of the awareness tag (without being asked) and shared the symptoms for early diagnosis on all my social media accounts. I had several responses from females on my social media, thanking me for sharing. And so – it inspired me.
What should be the take-home from this? Well – I’ve always been passionate about various charitable causes – I raise money for events like sponsored runs/team-events, but I find myself regularly not knowing which charities I want to support – sometimes due to lack of awareness, and possibly due to my lack of understanding on what the money is actually going to? However, I’m determined for that to change, and I want to be a part of it.
The message for Charities, Fundraisers and Marketers out there:
The amount of people I saw reaching into their pockets for money after accepting their white rose was truly remarkable (they weren’t all contactless wankers like me). I’d say 80% or more did so. Now compare that figure of 80% or more to the average percentage you’d usually say give money to non-profits, fund-raisers or even beggars when approaching people in the train station? (I can’t say I know the exact figure but I’m pretty sure it’s not as high as 80% – I spend my life in train stations, unfortunately).
I’m sure if we were to cost up the difference between the price for a few thousand roses and awareness tags, against the amount of money and more importantly, awareness, raised by such a simple but carefully thought-out campaign – those results would be pretty staggering.
Is there a message in here for both the non-profits and marketers alike out there? I hope so.
Whether we like it or not – in today’s society, someone asking for money isn’t always met with the kindest of responses – especially in train stations. People are busy, commuting, on the phone, listening to their favourite playlists, planning out their daily tasks or re-capping their day, but most importantly – usually do not want to be disturbed or approached by a stranger. And then came the white rose (the ‘purest’ of all roses in fact – and an ancient symbol for hope and love).
To watch so many people respond so graciously to the simple, kind gesture of being handed a single white rose – and without prompt desperately scrambling to find coins at the volunteers’ earliest convenience, sharing on social media and raising awareness for such a great cause – well that was pretty awe-inspiring.
Maybe random acts of kindness, and a little more give and take (not just the rose – but also the awareness) is the key to success in this modern world of ours?
I know for sure I’m more likely to give money to a cause I truly know and understand than I am a random stranger that approaches me for money.
Now for my own message:
All this said, I’d like to start a new movement, in the motion of random acts of kindness accompanied with awareness – I’ve updated and dedicated my new blog Instagram page to a new cause. I want to give a voice to those who can’t afford to market their own hardship, the people on our streets that might not have had as lucky a break in life as us.
Please follow my new and improved Instagram page @believe_in_kind where I will post every week on a homeless person I’ve taken for a coffee or lunch to get to know – firstly them, their story and how they came to be homeless, alongside their usual location. The goal? to incentivise others to understand more about homeless people’s stories in the hope you will also reach out to find them and give back. Knowledge is power right?
Find out about Skippy’s story (60 years old) on my first new post now: @believe_in_kind
Please use this blog as your motivation to spread awareness and share the love today – if anyone else is passionate about a certain homeless person they’ve got to know, please send me an email with a blurb about them, their story, where they usually hang out, and a relevant photo if you have one. Motivate someone else to give money today! If you don’t know any – get to know! Sometimes I don’t think it would hurt for a few of us to be a little more humble and have a greater appreciation for the things we take for granted in life.
P.s side note – I now make sure I carry at least £20 in cash with me for all charitable or non-charitable emergencies (probably should have been doing that anyway) – yes, in notes and small change.
Soph in the City.