Grow a little kindness

Samantha Smith shares the Roots project’s successful campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week.SIG Penrose Roots is a garden-based community recovery project that provides a therapeutic growing space for service users, members, volunteers and the wider community. Through work in the garden, we equip people with new skills, help reduce social isolation, and promote positive mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

After weeks working from home in lockdown, while the Roots staff are busy supporting the community, my mind started to turn to what we would have been doing if life was still ‘normal’. For the past four years we have put on our annual Walk and Talk (adding cycling in 2019) to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. We would go for a leisurely walk around the Luton area, with service users and local partners, to discuss the important topic of mental health in a more relaxed and open way.

This year the pandemic meant this could not happen and we had to come up with another plan. The 2020 theme is kindness, which is very close to the heart of all who attend our various projects. So I thought about how we could make a campaign with the theme of kindness to tie in with what we currently do at our community garden – and the ‘Lettuce be kind’ campaign was born.

The team of staff and volunteers got to work planting 50 lettuce seeds to grow and nurture into something that we could give out to the community. By 18 May, the team had grown the lettuces, made care labels and were ready to start randomly placing the lettuces across Luton. They went to bus stops, parks and green spaces, doorsteps and various residential streets. All carried the message: #lettucebekind – perhaps the roots to kindness can start with yourself. Be kind to this lettuce and it will repay your kindness.

The campaign was a huge success and had many tweets and messages from excited community members who had found one of the lettuces. The campaign also got a mention on the BBC East Twitter live update and the team was invited to talk about the campaign on BBC Three Counties Radio.

We will be following up with other campaigns over the coming months. It was a huge effort by the whole team and helped to get the message of kindness out there as a gentle reminder that in these days of supposed disconnection we have never been more connected.

Follow the campaign on twitter