“We’re all just walking each other home.”

Andrea MHAW article image

Written by Andrea Woodside, Training Lead at retailTRUST

“We’re all just walking each other home.” Ram Daas

Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is here and the theme for 2020 is kindness. With the advent of COVID-19, kindness has never been more important.

In my own mind, kindness is an action, not simply a word. Kindness is a conscious decision to encourage others to feel at home in the world – heard, seen, and cared for. It was for this reason that I was struck at the start of lockdown to hear the term ‘social distancing’ used both in my social circle and in the media. Physical distancing is understandable and required of course, but the term social distancing, to me at least, conjures up an image of a tear in the fabric of humanity.

At this time, especially without a clear sense of what will happen over the next few months, social connectedness, empathy, and kindness is all that we have. The good news is that human beings are biologically hardwired for kindness so we’re more than halfway there. But like anything else in life, it needs to be practised to become habitual to the point where we don’t even notice we’re doing it. Kindness is a generosity of spirit, and ultimately an unselfish acceptance that our own needs will sometimes take a backseat to the needs of people who may be struggling with challenges we cannot begin to imagine.

I was 18 years old when I received some advice that has stood me in good stead for over 30 years. As my father was dying, I asked him for any words of wisdom he could share. He thought for a moment and said: “Every morning, ask yourself ‘how will I use today to leave this world a better place than I found it?’ Always be kind, and if you can’t, be kind anyway”. My dad’s words have especially echoed since the arrival of COVID-19, reminding me that each of us can choose kindness over all else even in the darkest of times.

It is my most fervent wish that kindness – both random acts and kindness consciously practiced – remains on our day to day radar long after COVID-19. “We’re all just walking each other home”, and the beacon of kindness will light the way.

CaRe20 – Caring for Retail during COVID-19

As a gesture of kindness, we would be grateful for any support you could provide to help retail colleagues who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information about our CaRe20 appeal.

If you are facing financial difficulties, you can apply for a non-repayable grant to help you during this time of need. You can also access a wide range of guidance and tips to support you through the current crisis.

About the author

Andrea Woodside
Training Lead at retailTRUST

Andrea began her career in wellbeing at work 27 years ago, and has worked with a wide range of industries to support employers to tackle mental health stigma in the workplace, create sustainable solutions for safeguarding their people’s wellbeing, and design programmes which encourage recovery from emotional distress.

Andrea has provided wellbeing consultancy to retailTRUST customers since 2012, and is well positioned to understand the unique needs and challenges of today’s retailers. She served as a Trustee of Mind England and Wales for seven years, and regularly appears in the media to discuss ways in which all employers can create workplaces which promote best practice.