How Will You Practice Selflessness In Exeter Today?

How Will You Practice Selflessness In Exeter Today?

Written by Rebecca Broad

Photos supplied by Rockfish and Rebecca Broad

The chances are that, at some point in your life, someone has undertaken a small act of selflessness which vastly improved your day.  Perhaps it was buying a bus ticket when you’d run out of change, or helping gather your shopping when your bag split. Today, I’m challenging you to show some altruism – and to make it extra easy, I’ve gathered lots of ideas!

Genuine Friendliness

The first time I walked by the building site on Paris Street, I paused the podcast I was listening to and took my headphones off.  I’d seen the construction supervisor on the gate say something to me with genuine earnest, and I hadn’t heard a single syllable.

“I was just wishing you a good morning, Miss!” he exclaimed, with the brightest beam.  

Taken aback, I smiled, thanked him and walked on.  This wasn’t a one off: his bouncy enthusiasm refused to wane through the weeks. I kinda miss him; the site has progressed, and I rarely see anyone standing on the public footpath now.

You can brighten someone’s day just with a genuine smile or friendly remark.  Try it today – perhaps with your bus driver, or the barista who makes your coffee.

Practice selflessness by giving flowers

Think and Donate

It’s super easy to fill out an internet form out and immediately send funds to an organisation, but there are even smaller ways to give.  Drop some change into the hat of the person asking on the street. Look them in the eye, and wish them well. It’s not up to us to judge how they’ll spend it – that’s the point of selflessness: you’re giving without thinking of yourself.

Andrew McGarry, who used to embody my first point of genuine friendliness on St Martin’s Lane before The Big Issue took his licence away, tells me that if you only want to give food to someone on the street, purchase a Greggs voucher.  That gifts the choice of hot drink or food whenever suits them best.

Exeter Foodbank’s priority items can be checked on their website, but currently include fruit juice (1 litre long-life), rice (550g or 1kg), and noodle/pasta snacks.  Drop these into their collection bins at the front of stores including Sainsbury’s Guildhall, Waitrose, and Tesco Vale to brighten up a complete strangers week.

Volunteer Your Time

I’m almost unsure if volunteering should come under selflessness, because it is so often the happiest part of someone’s week.  I don’t know any volunteer who doesn’t themselves gain something from the experience. However, there are too many fabulous organisations around Exeter to omit from this article, so here’s a handy list of a few I’ve seen who are actively recruiting:

  • Rattle a collection bucket for The Royal Marines Charity at the Exeter Races on May 16th, or the Exeter Chiefs’ 18th May game (search “The Royal Marines Charity” on Eventbrite in the Exeter area).
  • Help organise events for Exeter Local Group, service collection tins across the city, or join practical conservation work parties – there are lots of way to help out Devon Wildlife Trust (email volunteering@devonwildlifetrust.org ).
  • Drive patients to their medical appointment, a memory clinic or day centre with the Friends of Mount Pleasant (contact Debbie O’Dell on 01392 499291)
  • Help out patients and staff in a variety of roles (even in A&E) for The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (call 01392 406058)
  • Become a fundraising volunteer for Cats Protection Exeter (email exeter.volunteering@cats.org.uk )

I’m sorry I can’t include all of the positions around Exeter – I promise if you tweet me at @RebeccaComms, I’ll share the opportunity!

Leverage Your Connections

How could your colleagues, employer or friends band together to get behind a cause which aligns with your shared values?  

Rockfish, the multi-award winning seafish restaurant group (Exmouth, Brixham and more) opening at the quay in Exeter on March 18th, actively supports causes related to the communities of which they are a part.  They recently raised £2000 for Till the Coast is Clear, a social enterprise tackling the issue of marine plastic pollution.

The founder Gary Joliffe said,

“Rockfish are a shining example of how business can be a force for good, striving as they are to minimise their impact on the environment and contributing as they do to many local charities, community interest companies and social enterprises”.

Rockfish CEO, Mitch Tonks, said,

“What Gary is doing locally is amazing, real grass roots stuff, trying to find local solutions to some of the huge environmental problems we’re all facing and really get things done. He’s an inspiration and it is fantastic to be able to offer some support from us and our restaurant customers to help him continue this great work”.

It doesn’t have to be fundraising – it could be offering your services at a reduced price, or linking your connections up.  For example, if you know of a venue with outdoor space, car parking for 60 people, with availability week beginning 10th June, Balloons Charity (who provide bereavement support for young people) are looking for somewhere to hold their summer social for staff and volunteers.

Love The Planet

As Till the Coast is Clear shows, it’s not only people that benefit from altruism.  How about making little selfless tweaks to your everyday life? No, I’m not gonna give you a gold star for choosing reusable coffee cups and bags over disposable – we should all have been doing those for years. It’s 2019: time to level up.

Consider switching utility providers and banks to those with green credentials.  Choose local seasonal produce from The Grocer on the Green (36b Magdalen Road) over heavily packaged, film wrapped pre-prepared items from chain supermarkets.  Purchase your cupboard essentials – rice, pasta, dried pulses and beans – and much more from The Real Food Store (3 The Crescent, Queen Street), dispensing the exact weight you want.  Nothing they sell is air-freighted. For soaps, make-up, home fragrance and more, try Aromatika (86 Queen Street). Their products are handmade in Dartmoor, in packaging which can be returned to the shop to be either reused or processed by a local zero to landfill recycling company.

The fact that I have run out of space for this article shows just how easy it is to practice selflessness in Exeter!  There is so much more to say – how about participating in world-changing research at the university? I’d love to hear which acts of selflessness you’re going to undertake: tweet to @RebeccaComms and @GrowExeter!


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