Local heroes: Camden group gives away hundreds of tonnes of toiletries from Dalston Warehouse during Covid-19 pandemic
PUBLISHED: 17:39 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:48 11 May 2020
A Camden group is giving away hundreds of tonnes of toiletries and “other free stuff” to people who need it during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Camden’s Kindness Offensive moved to Hackney after being gifted a warehouse in Dalston, and since then has been asking companies to donate products which can’t be sold due to the lockdown.
The group hopes locals can help them distribute the goods to residents in need throughout Hackney and beyond.
It has thousands of members “practicing random kindness and senseless acts of beauty”, but has recently downsized the project to just four to ensure social distancing.
One of the offensive’s founders David Goodfellow told the Gazette: “We call up big companies and try our best to be as charming as possible. We use a technique we laughingly call phone whispering - cold calling to do good.”
The team of four have given most of the stock, which includes toiletries from homemade cosmetics brand Lush, to charities and local groups and the rest is taken and distributed to local communities by members.
“It seems to have really come together in the spirit of the time. I think people are desperate to do their part. People want to do something positive to make this whole thing a bit brighter and a bit nicer – and that’s certainly why we’re doing it.
“That spirit has kind of met us halfway in every direction we’ve been moving in,” David said.
The group is keen to hear from locals and businesses who’d like to get involved.
David and his friends set up the Kindness Offensive in 2008 after deciding they wanted to do some good in the world. They were inspired by artist Anne Herbert who started the Random Acts of Kindness movement in the 1970s.
The friends walked out into the local area of Camden and started stopping people in the street asking how they could help.
Various requests from people they spoke to that day resulted in them doing things like helping put together a birthday party and buying a box of chocolates.
“So we started calling up companies and telling them we want to do some good and do they have a box of chocolates they could send us.
For the birthday party we spoke to the Moscow state circus. This guy Chris had just been made redundant and was panicking about his daughter turning 12.
The circus gave tickets for his daughters and all their friends but also a clowning, juggling and high wire lesson before the performance.
Something happened at that moment – we had a great deal of fun.” he said.
“People heard about it and one thing led to another – and we were four guys and then we ended up being 40 guys very quickly.
Our numbers grew and we started asking companies for more. Initially we were asking for one box of chocolates, then a van-full and eventually we were asking for lorry loads.”
David hopes to get more people involved in random acts of kindness because he says: “Doing good is fun and it’s fun to be kind.”
To find out more about the Kindness Offensive visit http://thekindnessoffensive.com/
Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box below for details.