Reykjavík city council has voted to take a leading role in the Icelandic Red Cross’s Be Nice campaign.
The Be Nice (Vertu næs) campaign encourages more and better communication with people of foreign origin, emphasizing the importance of treating other people with compassion and respect.
The campaign is not specifically about foreigners, but it does push the idea that background, race and religion should make no difference to people’s daily interactions. A concerted effort on all sides can have a tangible positive impact, campaign organizers believe.
By getting involved in Be Nice, the City of Reykjavík is especially thinking about its staff, as over 400 of its employees are not Icelandic—and that figure does not include those who have gained Icelandic citizenship since moving to the country.
City of Reykjavík employees come from over 50 countries, including China, Lithuania, Peru, Rwanda, Switzerland, Uganda and Germany, and there are also employees who do not have a nationality.
It is believed that city employees can between them speak over a hundred languages.
The City of Reykjavík therefore “encourages its staff to celebrate diversity in their workplaces and be nice,” a statement reads.
At the same time as entering its employees into the scheme, the City also calls upon citizens and other municipalities to follow suit and take part in the Red Cross initiative.
Part of the campaign involves taking pictures with hands formed into a heart shape and then spreading the word by posting them to social media with the hashtags #vertunæs and #reykjavikernæs