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New campaign encourages focus on community, kindness and mental health

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Community Action Response says we all need to make time to look after ourselves and each other this winter

A new campaign has been launched to encourage Scots to show kindness to each other as Covid-19 drags on.

Community Action Response, led by Eden Project Communities and supported by the National Lottery, is launching a new campaign, Be Kind, Reach Out, and Coorie in, to encourage communities to stay kind and stay well this winter.

As winter approaches our community groups and neighbours become even more of a lifeline for thousands of peoples who rely on help with food, fuel, shelter and loneliness. People will be struggling with mental health and if you’re feeling low, anxious or stressed just talking to your friends and family can help.  Simple things can make a big difference, so don’t be afraid to reach out. 

See Me director, Wendy Halliday, said: We have seen over this year that more people are experiencing mental health problems, and often those who were already struggling are finding their mental health getting worse.

However we know from speaking to our own volunteers that many people don’t want to tell anyone they are struggling because they feel guilty, as the pandemic has changed life for everyone.

“This just adds to the existing issues that mental health stigma and discrimination create, which stop people from reaching out and asking for help as they are worried they will be judged or dismissed.

That’s why we are supporting Community Action Response, because it’s so important that we all reach out and be kind to each other. You never know who might be struggling and too worried to tell anyone, or not know who they can chat to about how they’re feeling. You don’t have to be an expert in mental health to be kind.

Sophie Bridger, Scotland country manager, Eden Project Communities said: “This year has been hard on us all – but the best way we can get through this tough time is by looking out for each other. This campaign is about asking people to offer support and kindness, and not being afraid to ask for it in return. We all have our turn to give support and to receive it – that’s what community is all about.

"This year saw so many people get involved in volunteering. Unfortunately the need for social interaction, a friendly smile and someone to talk to hasn’t gone away. We hope that people will be inspired to look how they can brighten someone’s day again - whether that’s stopping to chat putting something cheery in the window or asking if their neighbours need a hand.

"We’re also signposting to suggestions for keeping your spirits up while we’re all cooried up indoors, and hope that people will use the vital mental health support that our partners are offering."

As part of the campaign, Community Action Response is suggesting practical ways to show kindness in your community. As the temperature drops and pavements and driveways get icy and you’re out salting your drive, why not help your neighbours stay steady of their feet and sprinkle some theirs too? If you know your neighbour is struggling keeping warm, perhaps you could deliver a flask of tea - or if time indoors has brought out your crafty side, draft snakes are a great way to help with cold spots at windows and under doors.

Stuart Fairweather, community officer, Stobswell Forum said: “As winter approaches groups including Stobswell Forum, Dundee International Women's Centre and the Boomerang Community Centre are continuing their work. This includes highlighting the need for people to stay safe, supplying food, and addressing isolation. Online classes, the Stobswell Food Larder, delivering food, social media and the community newsletter are all contributing to this as are the plans for the area's Christmas tree and planned winter light shows.” 

We're all going to have to spend a lot of time inside this winter – so the campaign is also sharing some tips to make it through.

  • Think about the things you find most comforting - a mug of tea, a cosy jumper, a wee treat -  and make them a regular part of your day
  • Food is so comforting - make something delicious and hot for yourself! How about some mince pies, or a hot chocolate?
  • Winter is a great time to start new hobbies - reading a new book, knitting or storytelling are all great choices when you're indoors!
  • Start a joint craft project with your friends or neighbours! Could everyone make a patch for a quilt, or add a piece to some bunting?