It’s a lesson we’re taught from an early age and one we’re now reminded of regularly – from people flooding our social media feeds with positivity during the #BeKind movement, to stories of the big and small acts of kindness of many that hit the headlines during the pandemic and gave us all some much needed joy.
While the cynics amongst us might say that words aren’t as meaningful as action, all it takes is a moment to reflect on the words of kindness that we’ve been the recipient of to realise the positive impact that they can have on the way that we feel.There is something to be said for the power of collective voices and why it’s so important that we share the message with others.
As we approach St Andrew’s Day it presents a poignant time to reflect, especially as we look to recover from the pandemic. In amongst the uncertainty of the past 18 months, it’s the uplifting stories of acts of kindness and people coming together that have helped to keep optimism and hope alive in our communities.
Here in Scotland, our national day is a powerful opportunity to demonstrate that kindness is part of what makes us who we are as a country; we are open, welcoming, friendly and inclusive with compassion for others and the communities we live in. And what is community without kindness?
At BEMIS, our mission is to promote the interests of minority ethnic voluntary organisations and support inclusion and integration of ethnic minority communities. We work hard to address inequalities by empowering our communities and ensuring they are fully recognised and supported as a valued part of our society. Kindness plays a leading role in our purpose and St Andrew’s Day offers a timely moment to reflect on our purpose, come together in our communities and spend time with each other enjoying local events, both in person and online.
The Scottish Government is providing BEMIS Scotland with funding to help Scotland’s diverse ethnic and cultural minority community deliver a fantastic programme of multicultural events this winter. These communities are key elements of Scotland’s past, present and future and we want to ensure that their backgrounds and narratives are central to our national day. In the last few years, funding has allowed them to stage their own bespoke celebrations for St Andrew’s Day.
This year, we will continue to integrate our events into the celebrations of arts, culture and togetherness that are happening across the country. Together, we believe that art and culture in Scotland has a pivotal role to play in helping to shape our cities, towns, villages, and communities into thriving, vibrant and representative places. What’s more, music and the arts make an invaluable contribution to our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The multi-cultural celebration of Scotland’s Winter Festivals has gone from strength to strength. Last year’s programme delivered a range of virtual events and reached an estimated 53,000 people across many different communities and I’m sure this year’s programme, a lot of which is in person, will build on this tremendous success. As we have done for the last few years, we will encourage our programme of events to act as a catalyst for more positive impact in our communities.
With that, I invite communities across Scotland to come together to share kindness and join the St Andrew’s Day celebrations that will showcase the vibrancy of an inclusive, welcoming and modern Scotland.
Every gesture of kindness, however big or small, makes a big impact on each other and our communities. After all, when kindness is shared it grows.
With themes of kindness, inclusivity and connection, this year’s St Andrew’s Day event celebrations will bring people together across the country. For more information visit - bemis.org.uk or www.onescotland.org/st-andrews-day
Tanveer Parnez, Director of National Development at BEMIS