Little acts of kindness

13 February 2019 | North West England

The Alice Charity's HR director Kayla Poole (in green) and Emily Petts, Family Support Director

Charity reaches out to those most in need.

The Alice Charity run a number of brilliant projects in and around Stoke and Newcastle, transforming the lives of families needing that extra bit of help.

One project called Little Kindnesses is particularly close to the heart of founder Emily Petts. The mum knows first hand how little acts of kindness can make all the difference. Sometimes they can even save lives.

Emily, 33, runs the Alice Charity with her mum Stephanie, plus eight dedicated staff and 19 volunteers. The name of her charity comes from her great grandmother, Alice.

“I come from a very loving and supportive family but after I had my children, I realised that not everyone was as lucky as I had been. They helped when my son was diagnosed with autism and my daughter was poorly for the first three years of her life. I realised there were people out there not getting unconditional support like I was and did not have a support network to lean on during tough times.

“At Alice we aim to change that. We have worked out that 90% of the families we work with are struggling with issues like not being able to afford food to put on the table, or find money to pay for heating, or don’t even have a bed to sleep in. 

“So even the little things can make a difference to their lives. We try to give unconditional support and steer people in the right direction. Everyone is on a journey and at times we will all need support.

“We recently bought winter coats for a family, whose five children were taking turns to wear the one coat they owned. We also purchased hats, gloves and school shoes for them.”

The charity also provided 635 presents and 64 food hampers at Christmas to Alice Charity families and also supported 76 local agencies with 2,514 presents.

“Local businesses were amazing with all their donations. It was quite moving.”

Among those also helped by the charity are a young mum who had fled domestic violence only to be diagnosed with breast cancer. She had initially refused chemotherapy because she could not afford to put her daughter into nursery while she underwent treatment. The charity stepped in to pay for the little girl to go into nursery whilst mum had treatment. She went on to make a complete recovery. 

The acts of kindness extend to the working environment too, as Emily ensures staff work school-friendly hours and insists they don’t miss any school concerts, sports days or harvest festivals. “I see us as one big extended family here, my dad will come and fix anything that needs doing and my brother is our IT person.”

The welcoming atmosphere of the centre is what attracted Kayla Poole, 30, to come and work for the Alice Charity. The mum of three left a paid job to become a volunteer at the charity but has since moved on to become their HR director.

“When someone is kind to you, you want to be kind back. That is what makes the Alice Charity so brilliant. I have not had an easy road, I am a single mum of three and my eldest two children have epilepsy. But the Alice Charity was there for me during my darkest times. They are flexible and non-judgemental and I get a real buzz from working here. They are so supportive of me too, to the extent that they are now helping put me through a degree.”

Emily added: “We are the Alice family. We should all help each other. I am really proud of what we do here and knowing what a difference we can make to the community."

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