Motivated Minds, which offers a range of mental health services to people of all ages in Basildon, has helped launch United in Kind, a social movement which aims to tackle social isolation and loneliness by spreading kindness.
Established by Carla Andrews in 2011, the not-for-profit social enterprise offers a range of well-established programmes for over 900 people from the Basildon area each month.
Speaking from the Happy Hub Wellness Centre in Basildon, where the group is based, Carla said: “As well as providing therapeutic services, such as one-to-one coaching and wellness workshops, we also encourage people to volunteer and give back to the local community.”
Carla continued: “Our foundation is built on the NHS ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’, which cites giving as a key way to improve mental health. We find that, for individuals who are struggling significantly, helping others is often the first positive and meaningful step in finding a sense of purpose and belonging.”
Regular voluntary activities carried out by Motivated Minds include blanket collections for the homeless, community gardening and pay-it-forward initiatives. A selection of the group’s 30 current volunteers will also be taking part in a fundraising skydive later in the year.
Essex County Council, which has announced its support for United in Kind, surveyed 500 people, including Basildon residents, to understand their views on loneliness, social isolation and community involvement, with the results showing that one in four people often or always feel lonely but being community spirited can help our sense of belonging.
73% of the 500 people who took part in the survey said they had done something kind like putting a neighbour’s bin out in the past 12 months, and these people were more likely to chat to their neighbours and feel a sense of belonging.
Essex County Council is supporting the United in Kind movement through a network of local delivery partners. The aim is to build the resilience of local charities and community groups and support them with existing initiatives that already challenge loneliness.
United in Kind coaches and befrienders are being recruited by the delivery partners in local communities to also provide more structured support to vulnerable people.
Essex County Councillor John Spence, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “Essex has a wonderful network of charities, groups and individuals, who provide volunteering and expertise. Sadly however, it doesn’t feel that way to those who are lonely, isolated and without family or friends.
“Our hope is that the ‘United in Kind’ initiative will not only unlock more volunteers but also help people to think about this particular aspect of social need.”