Mental Health Awareness Week was 18-24 May, and the theme this year was kindness, with the appropriate hashtag, #KindnessMatters. According to Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, kindness was chosen as this year’s theme because “of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.”
Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.
We have already expressed in a previous post our deep sense of awe and gratitude at the number of people who came forward to help older people during the crisis. Over 100 phone calls were made on Kindness Week alone, and are being made each week, by our amazing volunteers to vulnerable people. How much these phone calls mean to people perhaps can be summarized in this story:
A befriendee was really upset about going into hospital, because she was worried that her befriender will not be able to call her there. However, when she was assured that he befriender will keep calling her on her mobile phone, she was relieved. When her volunteer befriender, Rachel told this to her Coordinator, she said she was moved beyond belief that her phone calls mean that much to her befriendee.
Apart from celebrating the kindness of our befriendees, we have asked the members of the team to share any acts of kindness that they have done during the week, and these were the results:
When a neighbour was feeling unwell, Audrey made a home-made meal and left it on the front doorstep to be collected. It was only when we were talking about Kindness Week that the full scale of implications this small act could have had was discussed. It is similar to stories we hear around our communities, at work and in private, of people offering to take on extra loads to alleviate the pressure on their neighbours. No one is doing it to be thanked or congratulated, but just from the simple desire to help.
However, it is equally as important to remember that we do not need to wait for the support of others before taking the first steps towards de-stressing and regaining our mental health. That was what Leah realised at the weekend after suffering several days of general fatigue. Initially, she saw this as a challenge, opting to push herself a wee bit harder and work a little bit longer. A few days later, her body was not making any progress in recovery and the ‘fatigue’ had developed - she was sick. On a positive note, she realised this herself, and took a step back so that she could take the time to get well - with hot drinks and her favourite movie! After a few days of recovery, she is now finding that her energy is returning.
The world is full of kindness, which we can always try to harness for positive outcomes in the future. Our new Volunteer Coordinator, Shonagh, took this to heart when she spontaneously bought her neighbours tulips for no other reason than to brighten their day. She also makes soup for an older friend showing that, from small acts, kindness can impact all walks of life in many different ways.
If there is anything we have learnt so far doing what we do, it can be summarised as #KindnessMatters. It makes a big difference to the people we help, and to ourselves, our own mental health and wellbeing. However, we also have to remember to be kind to ourselves, because we deserve it!
Would you like to contribute?
If you would like to support The No.1 Befriending Agency to reach more vulnerable people across Scotland, we have set the target of raising 30k by December 2020 and donations can be made at the ‘Get Involved’ page of our website: https://www.befriend.org.uk/get-involved