Make a Difference Day: Small Actions that Can Make a Big Difference

It was news to me (as it probably is to you) that ‘Make a Difference Day’ is an annual event on October 28th which has taken place every year since 1992.  The day that does precisely what it says on the tin - encouraging others to do something minor, in order to make a major impact.  I love the premise, but we all lead incredibly busy lives and it can be hard to think of something to do, not to mention actually putting it into practice.  So to save you lovely people some time, I’ve thought up a few suggestions…

1. Buy a stranger a coffee. Do you have a favourite coffee house? Next time you swing by to collect your much-loved Chai Latte, why not leave an extra few pound coins with your server, and ask them to subtract it from the next order. It has the potential to upgrade someone’s hot chocolate, to a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Life doesn’t get much better for that lucky individual.

2. Schedule a FaceTime. It doesn’t have to be with anyone in particular - it could be a family member, a friend, or even the family pet. Deactivate your social media notifications, and find out what they’ve been up to. Talking is the ultimate therapy, allowing you to offload and listen to others too.

3. Smile. It sounds daft I know. But this one is completely free, and requires very little effort or time. Seen someone who looks a little tired/down/is walking alone? A quick smile costs nothing, and has the potential to make someone’s very dark day feel slightly more summery.

4. Someone’s got a problem? Offer to help. Seen a fresher standing perplexed in front of the library printers? Watching a group trying to co-ordinate a selfie? Walking behind someone struggling with shopping? It’s simple; offer advice, take the photo, or help carry the bags! Very simple tasks which would certainly make someone’s day.

5. Fill in a customer feedback form. We all get them. We all put them in our bags. We all bin them with our receipts. From my experience working in M&S, when a customer fills out a ‘CSAT’ (Customer Satisfaction Survey) and includes your name, it’s so exciting and makes the constant attention to a positive customer experience seem totally worthwhile.

6. Find a way to give back. As students in Durham, we often take this city slightly for granted. Why not help those who already live here? Support local business, become a freshers rep (thus supporting the police, and ensuring that freshers safely find their feet)…Or do something through the SCA (Student Community Action Durham), like tutoring local Sixth Form students, or creating a sports club. I think we sometimes forget that we are so privileged to live in such a stunning city with friendly locals (massive shout out to the bus drivers!).

So on October 28th (as well as the 29th, 30th, 31st…you get the picture), do something for someone else. You never know, that coffee you bought, that smile, that chat, all have the potential to boost someone’s mental wellbeing. We’ve got a very long and tough term ahead of us, so let’s all work together to create positive change.