An old teacher of mine used to tell us that ‘50 pence and a kind word won’t buy you a cup of tea’. He was right of course in a literal sense: he was trying to imbue his latest bunch of unpromising pupils with a sense of purpose – in life it was actions that counted.
But in a wider sense he was quite wrong. I work with a very small charity that supports men who are victims of domestic abuse – yes men! Their suffering comes in all shapes and sizes, physical and emotional, from family members, male and often female partners. All very different but always with one thing in common – isolation, the feeling of being marginalised, ignored, often mocked. And they are invisible – meeting these men you would never guess they are victims – never pick them out of a crowd and that makes their suffering more insidious.
As a small charity we lack the resources to deliver the range of services these men deserve – safe accommodation, legal and medical help – and often we can do little more than offer a kind word. But often even these small acts of kindness are vitally important: the knowledge that you are not alone, that someone is on your side, that you are believed. A kind word of support can give the confidence to carry on – seek more help, speak about your problems, get back your self-esteem.
Our service users prove that small acts of kindness can save lives.
My old teacher was right, a kind word and 50p wouldn’t buy you a cup of tea. Kind words are much more valuable than that. And they are in your gift.
Tom Wood QPM
Former Deputy Chief Constable and chair of AMIS (Abused Men In Scotland)