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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 01:19 GMT
Scheme hopes to make London nice
Liz Akers
Liz Akers was fed up with people being rude on her way to work
Londoners are not known for their senseless compassion or random acts of kindness, but a new scheme hopes to change all that.

The Niceties project aims to break down gruff exteriors by giving "Niceties Tokens" when they are polite.

Liz Akers, 28, came up with the idea after becoming sick of rudeness on her commute to work.

A person who is seen being "nice" will get one of 130 tokens as a reward, which they can then pass on to others.

Each token has an individual name and set of markings, and the recipient can log on to a website to record how, where, and why they got it, and read about who has had it before them.

Politeness gets passed around, as does nastiness
Liz Akers
The website will build a database of the happy journeys the tokens make across London.

"When you are polite to somebody, politeness gets passed around, as does nastiness," said Ms Akers, a marketing manager from Brockley, south-east London.

"I think the vast majority of us are very good people, and if we can just remind ourselves to keep our good manners then it lifts our spirits."

Ms Akers sees the scheme as a way to get at the true nature of Londoners, which she said is not naturally rude, just a bit grumpy and afraid of making contact.

Niceties tokens
Each token is a different colour and has its own markings
To prove her point, Ms Akers and her friends, who call themselves Team Nice, tested people's reactions by asking for directions.

"In over 100 people, nobody was horrible," she said.

"That kind of proves it in our minds really. All you need is a bit of interaction."

Launched last week, Team Nice has already had requests for 50 more tokens.

There are even plans to spread the niceness abroad.

Ms Akers will be taking Niceties Tokens with her when she goes to New Zealand in December, and two of her friends will take tokens with them to Canada and Australia.

Asked if she thought the scheme might change the face of London, Ms Akers said: "That's a bit ambitious isn't it? But yeah! Why not?"

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