A Year of KindnessDate Posted: 06/05/2021 | Posted In: Latest news
The Interact Club have been shortlisted for the Contribution to the Local Community category in the 2021 TES (formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement) FE Awards for their outstanding work over the past year. They have also won the Community Project of the Year award from Rotary International. Here is their story.
The world continues to be devastated by conflict, disease and natural disasters and this year has been like no other with coronavirus changing everyday life as we know it. During this time, we as human beings have shown resilience and kindness to fight back and help each other get through our problems together. Kindness is an essential quality based on the selflessness and compassion of people, people like the students of QE’s Interact Club.
As a group, the Interact Club wanted to ensure that those who were isolating knew somebody was thinking about them and cared. Through this, ‘Snailmail Sunshine’ was born. The concept is that a letter or card is delivered each week to those in isolation. Starting in March 2020 with just 15 letters per week being sent, the Club have now sent 15,228 letters and cards to provide a form of interaction and to ease the feeling of loneliness that people may feel. Now, over 150 letters are delivered every week to people living alone and to those living in 15 local care homes to promote conversation between residents. In the near future and to put names to faces, the group hope to organise an afternoon tea to bring as many people together as possible.
Kindess is helping to tackle loneliness.
The NHS were the heroes of 2020, but sometimes even heroes need a little help. The Interact Club sourced discarded fabrics and produced 100 ‘scrub bags’ for frontline staff in local hospitals. The staff who had to wear PPE for long periods of time were given hand and face creams whilst gooey, homemade chocolate brownies were helped to give the teams a boost.
Kindness is saying thank you.
COVID-19 continues to have a devastating impact on people’s lives and families around the country are finding themselves in financial hardship with food banks being an essential lifeline for many. The Interact Club have donated 700 meals to their local food bank to help with increased demand. They have also managed to raise £585 by taking part in a ration challenge with the funds going towards helping to feed those living in refugee camps in Jordan.
Kindness is helping to feed the hungry.
COVID-19 put a stop to many celebrations in 2020, however the Interact Club were determined to mark VE Day and Remembrance Day. As a group, students put together a VE Day ‘party in a box’ for veterans in a local care home in order that they could commemorate the occasion and remember their friends and comrades. For Remembrance Day, the Interact Club baked, decorated and sold poppy cupcakes raising £200 for the Royal British Legion.
Kindness is remembering those who gave their lives for us.
COVID-19 has made life difficult for us in the UK, but in Africa, every day is a challenge. The Interact Club sent 50 bras to women in Uganda and Namibia. They funded and put together 40 reusable sanitary packs along with 300 pairs of underwear for girls in order that they were able to continue attending school without worry. Mothers and babies were provided with hand knitted clothing kits which meant that babies left hospital in something other than newspapers. Older people within the local community also helped with the knitting providing a huge sense of worth. Last year, the group funded 200 polio vaccinations in Africa and they repeated this success this year, giving children a better chance in life. Lack of sanitation accelerates the spread of diseases, therefore students raised money for a latrine in Malawi to reduce this risk. They also arranged for toy animals to be knitted and wrote story books which were sent to children in areas of natural disasters and conflict.
Kindess is providing the basic healthcare and items that we take for granted and creating a world of imagination, away from daily worries.
Unfortunately, homelessness and domestic violence do not stop for a pandemic, however the Interact Club have managed to support the homeless in a number of different ways. A shoe donation scheme was established and over 150 pairs along with winter coats were sent to local homeless shelters. The local women’s refuge was also supposed with every woman and child being supplied with a gift bag for Christmas.
Kindness is keeping people warm in the cold and putting a smile on a child’s face.
Dementia often makes people feel isolated despite being surrounded by others. The Interact Club raised funds to buy and deliver 60 Christmas presents to care home residents. They collected items from the past and created reminiscence boxes for local care homes to prompt memories and conversations amongst those living with dementia.
Kindness is helping to bring back happy memories.
Post Pals & Elf Box/Elf Letters
Sadly, some children are born with or develop life limiting illnesses. To spread some festive cheer, the Interact Club took on the role of Santa Claus and his elves and sent 1500 Christmas cards to children with life limiting illnesses through the charity, Post Pals.
Kindness is a card which brings a smile by post.
British Heart Foundation
It has been a difficult year for charities, therefore the Interact Club have organised collections for the British Heart Foundation. Donations to date equate to over £600.
Kindness is turning unwanted items into vital research.
Not everywhere is as lucky as the United Kingdom to have a free education system. Supporting Darlington Rotary, the Interact Club collected 300 children’s books and 30 boxes of educational books to send to a library and college in Kenya.
Kindness is sharing what you have.
800 items of baby clothing were collected, packed and issued to local baby banks to allow parents who were struggling financially to give their little loved ones the best possible start in life, whilst reducing the amount of clothing sent to landfills.
Kindness is making those first weeks ones to remember.
Helping to protect the environment is a key focus of the Interact Club who have completed litter picks throughout the pandemic. They have also built and delivered bird boxes and hedgehog houses to a local care home to provide a point of interest for residents.
Kindness is caring for our environment today, tomorrow and forever.
Christmas is a time for families, but last year many people had to spend it alone. To help combat feelings of loneliness, the Interact Club sent 500 Christmas cards to those in residential care and 150 homemade gifts to people isolating or living alone. One local care home which the group normally visits received a Christmas party in a box allowing residents to enjoy a day of festivities.
Kindness is remembering everybody at Christmas.
They say money makes the world go round, but what type of world? The Interact Club launched a small social enterprise entitled ‘Education is a Piece of Cake’ where people were invited to subscribe to a monthly cake delivery service with all profits going towards the funding of a child’s education, uniform and meals in Uganda.
Kindness is using profits to build a better world.
Nancy Wall, Student Services Co-ordinator at QE, comments: Each year, the students come together and identify the areas that they want to focus on. Year on year I think the students have achieved a peak and can do no more and I am proved wrong every time. Ideas come from the heart and are therefore followed through with commitment and determination. We hear so much negativity in the world, however it is young people like those in the Interact Club who are providing a light for the future. They are an absolute pleasure to work with; they are good fun, hardworking and a credit to themselves. I am proud to be associated with them’.
No matter how small, an act of kindness never goes unnoticed.