Kindness People: Charlene Turpin

The Human Kind series is fortunate to interview Charlene Turpin, Process Improvement Officer at Plan International and a passionate Humanitarian. Read abit more about Charlene’s other relatively recent achievements here

What has been one of your most unforgettable kindness memories?

“In 2009, I had just graduated from Durham University with my first degree. I had this overwhelming feeling that I should move to Paris but it was a pretty difficult time as it was not long after the financial crash and many people were struggling to find work.

“I booked a flight to Paris straight away and spent a month trying to find a job and accommodation but sadly nothing seemed to be working out for me. I came back to the UK a little deflated but reasoned that perhaps it wasn’t the right time to move even though my heart said that Paris was where I needed to be”

Before leaving Paris, I had visited a church and filled in the welcome card. Now back in the UK I was listening to my voicemail messages and heard one from a man called Grant who had said that if there was anything that he could do to help me get settled in the city, I should let him know. That same week,

“I received an email about a telephone interview for a job in Paris. After a successful telephone interview, they invited me to attend a face to face interview for the job. I was excited but then realised that I had nowhere to stay. I remembered the voicemail from Grant and called him”

After a successful telephone interview, they invited me to attend a face to face interview for the job. I was excited but then realised that I had nowhere to stay. I remembered the voicemail from Grant and called him to ask if he knew of anyone who had a sofa that I might be able to stay on for a night. He called me back 20 minutes later and told me that he’d spoken to his wife’s family and that they would allow me to stay with them for a month until I get myself settled in the city.

I was shocked, these people didn’t know me and they were willing to open up their home to me for a month! Grant and his wife picked me up from the train station that Sunday, I went for the job interview on Monday, started the job on Tuesday and met my husband at a dinner party at their house on Wednesday! 

“I will never forget the incredible kindness of Grant and his family who opened their home to me so graciously when I needed a place to stay. Thanks to their kindness I also got to meet my husband which made my time in Paris even more amazing than I had expected”

In your view, is kindness linked to a growth mindset?

Our mindset can have a profound impact on the way we live our lives and the way that we treat others. People with a growth mindset are resilient, tend to have a more positive outlook on life and understand that failing a task does not mean that you are a failure.

“I believe that having a growth mindset enables you to show kindness to others because you recognise that we are all on this journey of life together and we all need help along the way”

“Kindness can take many forms, it might mean taking a friend out for coffee and encouraging her to keep going after a business deal has gone south, it might mean choosing to mentor and develop a younger colleague at work so that they progress in their career or it might mean simply sending a friend a bouquet of flowers in the post because she’s overcome a difficult period and you know that it will cheer her up.  Life can sometimes be a struggle but when you can show kindness and empathy, it fosters hope, resilience and kindness in others. In a world of polarising views and conflict, let’s show one another kindness and be the world we want to see”

Is it possible to apply kindness in your work life vs your private life?

Absolutely! For me, there is no distinction between work life and private life when it comes to being kind. We can be kind anywhere and to anyone, it doesn’t cost us anything. My basic mantra is to treat others how I would like to be treated. When I was younger, I made a mistake at work and I was devastated and embarrassed. However, my boss at the time didn’t react in the way that I had expected. She was kind and reassured me that we all make mistakes and helped me to think about solutions to rectify it and strategies to avoid mistakes in the future. Her kindness and humanity really marked me and contrasted the behaviour of other managers who I had witnessed berate and embarrass their colleagues for making similar mistakes. As I have progressed in my career, I have also had the opportunity to reassure someone working for me who made a mistake and extend the kindness that was shown to me

You are currently on a health and fitness journey – why are you choosing to prioritise your health?

As I get older and particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am realising that health is everything.

“I lost my uncle in March and we learned that he had been feeling unwell but assumed that the pain would go away. Sadly, when he was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late.  It made me realise that we must listen to our bodies and try our best to be healthy and active”

I struggle with emotional eating so when things are hard or life is stressful, I would always reach for sweet foods as a comfort. However, with the encouragement of friends and a newfound desire to be healthy, I’ve started making different choices and am trying to replace unhealthy choices with healthier ones. I’ve started exercising more regularly, drinking more water and I feel so much better. I’m learning that showing kindness to myself by eating well, getting enough sleep, having quality time for rest, etc. is really important and I am trying to prioritise this. There are times where I don’t always get the balance right, but I am on a journey and when I fall, I know I can get back up again and keep going!

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