Strong response to Acts of Kindness

Cambridge mother Rebecca Broadbent and her three boys, Ollie (7), Archie (5) and Jack (2).

Cambridge mother Rebecca Broadbent has been “hugely encouraged” by the response to a new service she has launched to connect local people with family-friendly volunteer work.

Named Act of Kindness (AOK), the free service is open to Waipa families, who can fill out a form to be matched with activities that interest them.

Just a week after launching the initiative on Facebook on June 26, Rebecca already had 10 families signed up and said she had been “amazed” by the response from people wanting to volunteer.

She is now keen to find them suitable work, and is on the lookout for local groups and organisations needing a helping hand.

“It can be any family-friendly activity at all, like planting trees, making a care package or visiting a rest home – we’re really open to suggestions,” she said.

The 34-year-old mother of three young boys – Ollie (7), Archie (5) and Jack (2) – came up with AOK about four months ago, while driving home from Auckland.

“I don’t get a lot of time to listen to the radio but I was by myself in the car with the news on, and something really awful had happened, following a string of horrible things that had been reported in the media,” she recalled.

“I think there were two serious child neglect cases going through the courts at the time in New Zealand, and there was a lot of concern about Syria, as there still is.  I felt a bit overwhelmed by how many bad things had been reported and it got me thinking about what I could do to help.”

Her immediate reaction was to find something her family could do to make a positive difference in Cambridge.

“I’m aware taking action locally has no immediate impact on the events I heard about, but I felt if I could do one more thing to show my boys how we should be treating people, maybe that was enough for them to one day stand up and do what is right and be part of the solution, not the problem,” she said.

However, thinking of suitable volunteer activities for a “delightful, loud, crazy, boisterous, sweet young family” was challenging and she realised others might be in the same boat.

“I know there are plenty of acts of kindness happening all the time in Cambridge and everywhere, but I’m hoping to make it easier for people to get involved, especially young families who don’t have a lot of free time,” she said.

The full-time mother, who has bachelors degrees in health science and arts (sociology) a masters degree in public health specialising in youth health, admits launching AOK was “scary”.

“You always feel like you’re inadequate, you always feel like you’re not the right person for the job, but if everyone said that we’d never get anything done, so you might as well do it,” she said.

“It’s something that’s helping people and that’s basically all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

For more information check out Act of Kindness on Facebook, or visit the website, which is set to go live within the next few weeks.

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