Happy List 2015: Turning goodwill into good deeds through the kindness of strangers

Cathy Teesdale's 'humanity-celebrating' Facebook page brings together people, their photos and their stories – sometimes with extraordinary consequences

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The Independent Online

Following this year’s Happy List, The IoS continues to celebrate those who make Britain a better – and happier – place.

Cathy Teesdale started her “humanity-celebrating” Facebook page, Humans of Greater London (HoGL), in December 2013. The page aims to bring together people, their photos and their stories – sometimes with extraordinary and unexpected consequences.

Cathy is a photographer and writer. She was inspired to start her project after discovering Brandon Stanton’s blog Humans of New York.

“I’ve done quite a lot of solo travelling over the years, and the biggest thing it’s taught me is that the huge majority of people are basically decent, kind and reasonable,” said Cathy. “If you don’t make yourself vulnerable and open up to others, or ask for their help, then you don’t get to experience the kindness of strangers. In the 19 months I’ve been doing HoGL, I’ve met so many wonderful, inspiring people who just restore my faith in humanity, over and over and over again.”


Cathy first met and “HoGLed” a young homeless woman called Naomi in May. When her second post inspired 2,000 likes, hundreds of comments and shares, many people asked how they could help her.

“I set up a crowdfunding page in her name to raise enough money to help get her off the streets. We raised £1,140, and she’s moved into a flat and is doing well,” said Cathy, who stays in contact with Naomi.

HoGL is Cathy’s way of inspiring more empathy. “The growing popularity of this page, and more than 500 other Humans of… pages around the world, several of which have mounted successful crowdfunding campaigns, convinces me that millions of people are thirsty for inspiration, encouraging stories, and a more empathetic human connection and, given the chance, are keen to help others too.”

To suggest someone for next week, visit independent.co.uk/happylist, email happy@ independent.co.uk or write  to Lisa Markwell, Editor, The Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF