Comment: Small acts of kindness make a difference

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What a touching story we carry today on the Central Taxis birthday treat for Christine Gibson.

She was set to have her 100th birthday on her own.

Every Saturday morning for 30 years Christine has ordered a cab from Central Taxis to take her for a hair appointment, always tipping the driver with a pound – and a sweet. But now it was the turn of the taxi firm to do the tipping – with a surprise birthday party, champagne, flowers, a cake – and a tour of the headquarters for their favourite customer.

What a wonderful and uplifting example the business has set on how to treat our older people.

Many live alone. Their family may be far away. Important milestones in their lives can pass without recognition and the opportunity to share with others.

So often it is small acts of kindness that can make an enormous difference to the happiness of older people and their quality of life. And they are especially merited when the people in question have themselves shown unstinting kindnesses to others.

Such small tokens of consideration are all the more important in a culture where we shrug our shoulders and think that it’s up to the welfare services, or someone else to do it.

We think official support always reaches out to people and solves the problem of loneliness.

Not so. An official survey shows that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe. It ranks 26th out of the 28 European Union countries by the proportion of the population who say they have someone on whom they feel they could rely if they have a serious problem. We are less likely overall to know our neighbours or have strong friendships than people anywhere else in the EU.

So here is something all of us can do today to help make the world a better and kinder place.

How much trouble is it to ask an elderly relative or neighbour how they are, to offer to help with their shopping, or even pop a birthday card through the door?

Our thanks to Central Taxis for showing how a small deed can go such a long way – and the thoughtfulness in reaching out to others.