Emmaus UK has launched a new year campaign calling on everyone to join a big Uprising of Kindness, marking 70 years since a key event in the global Emmaus movement.

Today, more people than ever are experiencing what it means to homeless and winter can be particularly difficult. But ordinary acts of kindness can make an extraordinary difference.

For Andy J, who slept rough in all weathers for over two years before finding a home and community with Emmaus, the kindness of strangers made an incredible impact.

He says: “There comes a point in your life when you’re down and at your lowest. I was sleeping in a park and I will always be grateful for the people who came along to bring me sandwiches in the morning. We’d chat and it would perk me up. It showed me there are people who care.

Andy talks about why he is joining the Uprising of Kindness

“One day I woke up with ice on my sleeping bag, freezing cold, and it gave me the confidence to say to myself ‘this has got to stop’. I’d heard of Emmaus and thought I’m going to have to go. I’m going to have to go up there and knock on the door and get my life back together. And they did. They put me back together. Now I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never been happier in my life.”

#BeMoreKind activities will take place UK-wide as part of an international Emmaus Uprising of Kindness campaign, to mark 70 years since Emmaus founder Abbé Pierre launched a powerful speech across the media on February 1, 1954. It sparked a historic outpouring of generosity that led to the international movement.

Andy is from Emmaus Leeds, one of 30 Emmaus communities across the UK, where formerly homeless people are getting involved, alongside staff, volunteers and supporters.

He says: “I’m volunteering to help people living on the streets. I’ve been there and kindness helped me when I needed it most, so I’m joining the Uprising of Kindness to help others, too.”

Join the #BeMoreKind campaign

The UK-wide campaign calls on the public to get involved in a range of ways, from being more kind to homeless people and others in need, and being more kind to the environment, to being more kind to yourself. The campaign leads to a Day of Action on the 70th anniversary of the Uprising of Kindness, on Thursday 1 February 2024, which includes a Big Sleep Out to raise funds.

Charlotte Talbott, Chief Executive of Emmaus UK, said:

“The Uprising of Kindness was a pivotal moment in the international Emmaus movement which proved how much public generosity can make a difference to those most in need of support around the world. As we mark 70 years since Emmaus founder Abbé Pierre’s public appeal, sadly many of his messages are still just as relevant in 2024.

“In the UK today, homelessness is a major issue and kindness for those most in need is more important than ever.

“Our campaign highlights that ordinary acts of kindness can make an extraordinary difference and we encourage everyone to join us in #BeMoreKind activities this new year and beyond.”

Click here to find out more about the #BeMoreKind campaign and sign up for supporter resources.