COMPASSION is simply a kind, friendly presence in the face of what’s difficult. Its power is connecting us with what’s difficult—it offers us an approach that differs from the turning away that we usually do.

Small acts of compassion are usually very easy and cost nothing. A smile to brighten someone’s day. Letting someone out of a junction. Saying a genuine please and thank you. Extend a compliment to someone, it will really brighten their day! These are all so easy to do but will mean a lot to the recipients.

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

This level of compassion has been shown by a dear friend of mine Julie O’Donnell recently to a lady and her family who are escaping the war in Ukraine – Julie says: “It sometimes takes a crisis to remind us of the strength of humanity. ‘Our’ Ukrainian family of four, the first refugees to arrive in the area, cannot believe the generosity of our community.

"Beautiful clothes, coats, shoes, toys, games, bikes - all posted to us or brought to our doorstep in a flash when we heard they were arriving imminently. (And sometimes by complete strangers.)

"Compass Wellbeing welcome gifts and a pantry hamper; a laptop and iPad - already proving to be a lifeline for Olga and her family. Offers of lifts into town and extra meals cooked. Work experience for the teenager. A job offer in our Kingston pub. A Ukrainian cookbook. Fresh vegetables and seeds for growing beetroot and cauli.

"I’m so proud of my friends and family far and wide, Rotary in France and locally who have supported, and of Tauntonians in particular for their kindness, thoughtfulness, and proactivity in setting up support Facebook pages and networks.

"Olga isn’t the only one who is feeling grateful. Rory and I recognise that, our lives having been turned upside down (but nothing like theirs), we, too, need support, and we thank you all. A community with a heart.”

I am so proud to call Julie my friend. We can all try and be more compassionate.

See you again in two weeks! Until then – Stay Safe and Be Kind.

Written by Trish Caller.