Sophie Bridger says little acts of kindness can make a big difference
The winter of 2020 already feels very different from the spring. Early lockdown was uncertain and frightening, but the upswell of community spirit, knowing that our communities would look out for each other, carried us through it. Eight months later I know I feel less resilient, and I’m not the only one. Our energy is depleted by the constant ups and downs. We’re having to rethink our strategies for long term use, as well as the fact that what is available to us changes constantly. And we’re now doing it in the darkest, shortest days of the year. We are worried, frustrated and tired.
We’ve all had enough and the end still is nowhere in sight. So what do we do in the face of such a challenging winter? How do we all get through this together?
The need so many of us have felt for social connection has not gone away. For me, daily kindnesses and connections are a real boost. Small acts of kindness from friends and neighbours can bring real joy and be the best way to replenish our own supplies of energy and motivation. A smile through the window. A card through the post. An invitation for a winter walk. These small joys still pick us up, remind us of the good in the world, and give us the strength to spread a little joy as well. Often a small but considerate check in from a friend has given me the energy to reach out to someone else.
As well as giving support, we all need to be able to ask for it too. Our mental health is precious, and as so many people have seen this year, everyone can struggle at times. There will be times when we are the ones bringing joy to other people, and there will be times when we need other people to look out for us. For me, this mutual reliance is at the heart of community. It’s not about being a hero – though so many people are – it’s about sharing what you can and asking for what you need. And no one should be afraid to ask for help – practical or emotional.
So as we go into this winter, the Community Action Response led by Eden Project Communities Scotland is launching our campaign Be Kind, Reach Out, Coorie In. We’re encouraging people to be kind to their neighbours, their communities and themselves this winter. As well as sharing ideas for keeping kindness alive this winter and signposting to sources of mental health support we’re sharing tips for ‘coorie-ing in’ – staying cosy and positive in these short grey days.
We are all going to need each other this winter. So let’s keep kind, look out for each other and not be afraid to ask for help. We’ll all get through this together.
Sophie Bridger is the Scotland country manager for Eden Project Communities