Minard kindness sets UK example for mental health

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Minard found itself thrust into the glare of the UK media spotlight this week for one simple reason – the kindness of villagers.

The Loch Fyne-side community was highlighted as a prime example of people helping one another as part of a promotion for Mental Health Awareness Week, which has ‘kindness’ as its 2020 theme.

A press release from the Mental Health Foundation Scotland used Becs Barker and the 200 villagers of Minard as a case study for people ‘going out of their way to show kindness and help each other during the coronavirus pandemic’.

Minard folk are doing many things to support each other, from a local Facebook group, online quizzes and a village ‘swap shop’ where villagers can stock up on essentials. And there is a daily walk round the village which goes past the houses of everyone who is shielding to give them all a friendly wave.

Results of a Mental Health Foundation Scotland survey suggest almost three quarters of Scottish adults say it is important we learn from the coronavirus pandemic to be more kind as a society.

More than six in ten Scottish adults also say being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health.

Director of the Mental Health Foundation Scotland Lee Knifton said: ‘We need to challenge the idea kindness has no relevance to government and public policy.

‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-imagine a kinder society – one that protects all our mental health and especially that of the most vulnerable.’

But, as one of hundreds of communities in Scotland banding together during the coronavirus crisis, why was Minard selected?

Becs explained: ‘I am friends with Chris White who works for Mental Health Foundation Scotland and he asked if he could share our Minard story to illustrate kindness in action.

‘The story was picked up by the national media. We even made a Shropshire paper and the Belfast Telegraph.’

She added: ‘The activity in Minard, like in many other places, began before lockdown with a desire to look out for those shielding and others unable to leave home. We’ve helped each other with messages, prescriptions and other collections from town. We have volunteers linking in with Cindy and David at Furnace Stores who are doing an amazing job keeping everyone in supplies. A mention too for Quarry View Garden Centre which has helped drive a village passion for gardening with their deliveries and cheery service.

‘There isn’t a committee but a few nudges and suggestions have got everyone motivated.’