Jaime Thurston on helping a stranger every week with 52 Lives
PUBLISHED: 10:23 22 January 2019
Jaime Thurston started 52 Lives, which helps one stranger every week of the year. She is hoping 2019 brings a lot more kindness...
Tell me a little about you…
I live in Arborfield with my husband, Greig. I have three children, Abbey, 10, Max, eight, and Joseph, one.
What’s the story of 52 Lives?
It all began when I came across a ‘Wanted’ ad on a website. A young mum was looking for a rug to cover her broken floor so her children wouldn’t cut their feet. She sounded desperate, so I contacted her to see if I could help.
She had escaped a bad domestic situation and was starting over again with her three children. They had been homeless − and even lived in a garden shed for a little while. They had just moved into a home, but had very little.
I put an email out to my friends asking for help, and gathered all sorts of things for the family. I delivered them all to her one day, and she was so overwhelmed that complete strangers would be so kind to someone they’ve never even met. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to do that and it made me realise that using my networks, I could do more.
I started a Facebook page called 52 Lives with the aim to help one stranger every week of the year. I then launched the 52 Lives website. We now have almost 100,000 people who follow us and help us change lives every single week.
Who have you helped?
We raised funds to help a homeless mother and son back into accommodation, after her hours were cut and she was evicted from her home of 14 years. We also paid for a life-saving operation for a 14-year-old girl from Romania.
We sent a girl and her grandma on holiday after her mother passed away. We built a sensory garden for a boy with severe disabilities who had been unable to leave the house or use his garden. We helped a 12-year-old boy who had been bullied. Our supporters sent him messages of support as well as almost £2,000 worth of gifts. We fulfilled an ill elderly lady’s dream to chat to Michael Ball. We also bought a wheelchair for a child who had spent the first four years of their life lying on the ground.
Our supporters have helped to change people’s lives in so many ways – and it is kindness in its purest form, helping someone you don’t know, who will never be able to repay you.
The people we help all say the same thing: that it was the kindness that changed their lives; knowing there are people out there who care about them.
Any celebrity supporters?
I was on Surprise Surprise with Holly Willougby. She surprised me on national TV with some of the people 52 Lives had helped. As well as getting to meet some of those people, they had also arranged for 52 celebrities to tweet their support during the year, reaching millions of people. Overnight we went from 4,000 followers to over 70,000.
What is most important to you in life and why?
Being grateful. Too often people are striving for more… more money, a better house, a different job, thinking that it will make them happy. Gratitude is the key to being happy and content.
What advice would you most like to pass on to your children?
That being kind is the most important thing they can be. And that their actions matter, because the way we treat one another determines what kind of people we are and what kind of world we live in.
What does the future hold?
We expanded 52 Lives by launching the School of Kindness, where we run Kindness Workshops in schools. We are looking to build on that.