I OFTEN read comments from readers who complain that there’s no good news in the papers these days.

As a reporter, I tend to speak to people at the best or the worst times of their lives.

More often than not, it’s at the worst time, presumably because if you’re happy with your lot, you’ve got better things to be doing than ringing me for a chat.

So I’ve done more than my fair share of sad stories in my time, heard many a tale of anger-inducing situations and fumed alongside readers as services are cut, animals mistreated or criminals let off the hook.

There are many, many great things to be said about my job, but rarely do they recruit for journalists by promising the opportunity to end the working day full of the joys of spring – some days our news list is more depressing than the end of Watership Down.

That said, there’s little chance of me ever losing faith in humanity as a result of being a reporter (as a result of Trump getting voted into office, perhaps, but that’s an entirely different matter).

Because another thing this job has taught me is that for every terribly sad story I write, there’s another in the pipeline about those people who will inevitably step up and try to make things better, to fix the problem or to fight for their community.

January’s traditionally a dark and miserable time for many of us and, global politics being as it is, there’s hardly a shortage of deeply worrying issues to be concerned about at home and further afield.

So, while I tend to use this column to share my not-often cheery view on the world, I thought I’d cheer people up by starting 2017 with an attempt to restore our faith in each other.

Since Christmas, I’ve met a host of people doing their best to bring some light to the lives of others, simply because they felt it was the right thing to do.

Inspired by slain MP Jo Cox, Peter and Carol Greenwood will hold the first meeting of Darlington’s White Rose movement this Saturday, dedicated to combating growing hate and intolerance with peaceful resistance.

Last Monday, Stockton woman Jolande Mace and a handful of volunteers organised a community meal for the homeless and destitute of Teesside. Supported with donations of clothes, food and money from kind-hearted strangers, Ms Mace brought people from all over the world together for a few hours to enjoy a hot meal and companionship. Young Syrian refugee Mohammad Albadei did much of the cooking, using his mother’s recipes to help others struggling as he once did.

I met John Dean and John Whitehouse, who are heading the community takeover of Darlington’s Cockerton Library. Together with the tireless Crown Street campaigners, the pair are dedicated to protecting the town’s library services, all of them spending their time, energy and resources to fight for a fitting library service for the next generation.

And just yesterday, I met a team of builders from Darlington who are bending over backwards to help an 83-year-old fleeced by a cowboy builder.

Hard times bring headlines, but it’s always good to remember that they also bring legions of ordinary people with extraordinary acts of kindness.