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St Andrew's Day reach out challenge to Highlanders to help spread 'a million words of kindness'


By Hector MacKenzie

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PEOPLE in the Highlands are being asked to recognise the value of connecting with and helping others by reaching out to friends, family, neighbours and communities near and far in a bid to generate One Million Words of Kindness to mark St Andrew’s Day.

The Scottish Government-backed campaign was launched with the reveal of a bespoke postcard designed by Edinburgh-based illustrator Emily Hogarth and a short film celebrating the community spirit and shared kindness displayed across the country in what has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years the Highlands has faced in decades.

The film portrays kind moments from 2020, from socially distant dance parties in a typical Scottish street to generous food deliveries for those most in need, reminding us of the power of a kind word and showcasing the values that make us who we are.

More than 100,000 free postcards which feature a matt laminate finish for Covid-19 safety will be available in all 104 Lidl stores across Scotland for shoppers to pick up and send messages of thanks, hope or a simple hello to mark Scotland’s national day.

The card is also available to download and share online from the Scottish Government’s website at www.onescotland.org/st-andrews-day

St Andrew’s Day is part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, a Scottish Government initiative, delivered in collaboration with VisitScotland, BEMIS Scotland, the Fair Saturday Foundation and the English Speaking Union Scotland and supported by a wide range of other partners.

The St Andrew’s Fair Saturday Festival will include over 30 virtual online events including the Sian and Trail West live from Eden Court, St Andrew’s Concert and Forum Theatre.

Fair Saturday is a global movement which celebrates the arts and builds support for social and cultural causes through the promotion of cultural events and performances.

Organised in partnership with the English Speaking Union of Scotland, a schools’ debate will also be held on Monday 30 November, where young people from across Scotland and beyond will debate the impact of kindness and the importance of culture for a better future. Sixty students from 20 schools across the country are signed up to participate, including pupils from Thurso High School, Lochaber High School and Portree High School.

BEMIS Scotland, the national body for the Ethnic Minorities voluntary sector, is working with minority community groups across Scotland to instigate and deliver a series of special multicultural Acts of Kindness activities and online events on November 30th that aim to reflect collective community resilience and inclusive community spirit.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary Culture, said: “Sharing kindness with others has never been more important. Our national day is a significant moment to recognise the resilience and shared kindness that runs through the fabric of the people of Scotland and has helped us all get through these difficult times.

“We may not be able to get together physically this year but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to look out for each other at a time when lots of people are facing loneliness and we hope that by 30th November we’ll have reached one million kind messages being passed around our country and perhaps even beyond, a true demonstration of what we can do when we all come together.

“With themes of kindness, fairness, inclusivity and empowerment, this year’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations offer a message of hope and positivity across the country and bring us together in uncertain times. We hope everyone in the Highlands will join the celebrations as music and the arts make an invaluable contribution to our physical and mental health and wellbeing.”

Jordi Albareda, Director & Founder of the Fair Saturday Foundation from Fair Saturday, said: "Despite not being able to meet socially this year, Fair Saturday will offer Scots up and down the country the perfect way to experience our country's great talent and rich cultural scene at home. From music, dance and exhibitions - mostly hosted online - we can celebrate St Andrew's Day through amazing shared experiences. We're delighted to be part of the Scottish Government's Kindness campaign, and would encourage everyone to connect with a friend or loved one and enjoy one of our virtual events together."

A range of public and private partners across the country have already pledged to support the One Million Words of Kindness campaign including Young Scot, Education Scotland, Age Scotland, Scottish Care, Scotland Loves Local, Diageo, CalMac, ScotRail and Loganair.

Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said: "A huge number of older people have already spent most of this year much more isolated than ever before. At Age Scotland, we know that even before the pandemic 100,000 older people in Scotland felt lonely all or most of the time and 200,000 went half a week without a visit or call from anyone.

“This St Andrew's Day we're asking everyone to contribute to the Scottish Government's aim of sharing One Million Words of Kindness and share a kind word with an older person. As the days grow shorter and the weather gets worse, the difference a small gesture can make to an older person who might be feeling lonely is incredible and we all have a part to play in ensuring no one feels they are going through this difficult time alone.

“Age Scotland's free Friendship line is also available Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Call us on 0800 12 44 222 if you’re in need of advice, support or just a friendly voice.”

For more information visit: www.onescotland.org/st-andrews-day



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