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25/10/2021

The lasting impact of random acts of kindness to a young Derry boy who had a tough time in school

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: A helping hand at Arthurs Quay

Last week, the following article was posted on the Twitter account of 'Derry Sketcher', a Derry-based artist. It tells the story of how much of an impact small acts of kindness can have on someone's life. While the author wants to remain anonymous, they have given the Derry News permission to share the article.

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I’ve wanted to write this thread for a long time to highlight to you how small things can make a huge difference to others.

Back when I was a teenager, my mother and I were desperately poor.

I’m talking about no money for food, no money for heating, sleeping in a sleeping bag under the covers with multiple jumpers on poor.

A combination of my mother’s pride and my father’s selfishness created a situation where I lived in a wealthy part of town but went hungry every day for many years. I was also badly bullied but my school did nothing about it, despite it being clear what was happening.

Anyway, during this time, three things saved me.

One was a teacher involved in the library and other library staff who allowed me to be in there when I really shouldn’t have been. They let me be myself and kept me safe.

Years later I had the chance to express my thanks to the wife of this lovely teacher with tears in my eyes.

She told me many people felt that way about his kindness and she was glad I found a safe space thanks to him and the other staff.

Second was the VP, a formidable woman whom few dared to cross. She spotted how thin I was, how my uniform wasn’t the cleanest and was shabby and threadbare in places.

She brought me into her office, asked some questions about my mother’s income and gave me forms to complete so I could get free school meals.

She knew by my face that I didn’t feel safe divulging the information to her so she told me if I had to, steal the information I needed, bring her the forms and she’d post them for me.

She showed me unbelievable kindness that day and thanks to her, I had one decent meal a day from then on. It was often the only time I ate in any given day.

Thirdly, a wonderful, funny, joyous and kind woman who worked in the canteen would pile my plate up each day and sneak me extra desserts. On Fridays she’d stuff my pockets with whatever sealed food she could, risking the ire of the (stingy) canteen manager and quite possibly her job but thanks to her, I had food I could eat at the weekends.

She lived nearby and every time I passed her house, even to this day, I think of her and give thanks for her fierceness and kindness to me.

So thank you to JT, MT and PB for helping me through some of the toughest and difficult years of my life. You won’t remember me but I give thanks to you all more often than you’d realise.

Our actions can seem small but you never know how much it can mean to someone else.

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