The Happy List 2015: Three cheers for those who change lives for the better


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The Independent Online

When reading newspapers or watching the news, it can often feel as if the world is a very sad place, with the headlines delivering a conveyor belt of bad news, tragedy and drama. Yet for every bad news story there are countless good news stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

People helping strangers in need; volunteers who give their time to support those less fortunate than themselves; fundraisers and charity workers raising money for good causes; brave individuals who risk their own safety to help people in the wake of natural disasters.

I find such selfless acts incredibly uplifting, and I know I’m not alone. Social media has proven just how insatiable our appetite is for positive stories. Mark Bustos, for example, is a hairdresser who spends every Sunday cutting homeless people’s hair. He has amassed 230,000 followers on his Instagram account, and his photos are liked by thousands of people around the world. Happiness, it appears, is infectious.


Many inspiring people are doing amazing things for the benefit of others and their stories deserve to be told, which is why JustGiving is pleased to be able to support The Independent on Sunday’s Happy List 2015 to shine a light on these extraordinary individuals.

At JustGiving we know all about inspiring stories, as our global community has raised more than £2.2bn for good causes since we started in 2001. Following the recent launch of JustGiving Crowdfunding, thousands more people have launched pages to help people in need directly.

The common factor is a motivation to help others. Tracey Ford, whose own son was murdered, crowdfunded to send flowers to bereaved mothers on Mother’s Day. Freya Wenham and friends launched a crowdfunding page raising money for a weekly dinner night for families trapped in food poverty so they could eat and socialise together.

Both cases show people who want to make a difference to the lives of people experiencing difficult times. They demonstrate the impact people can have on their communities at a grassroots level and the strength of people power.

It is stories such as Mark’s, Tracey’s and Freya’s that embody the kindness of strangers and set such a good example to us all. They deserve to be told and celebrated. Through this year’s Happy List, we are delighted that they will.

Zarine Kharas, a former lawyer  and City banker, is co-founder, with Anne-Marie Huby, of JustGiving – the UK’s first online fundraising platform