Drink and Drugs News DDN June 2020 | Page 18

WELLBEING 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. Samantha Smith is Roots project co-ordinator They said what..? Spotlight on the national media BEFORE COVID-19, only one in five harmful and dependent drinkers got the help they need; the proportion will be even lower now. We cannot claim to be a nation recovering from COVID-19 if we do not adequately support the most vulnerable among us… Tackling alcohol harms is an integral part of the nation’s recovery. BMJ editorial, 20 May ATTEMPTS TO MODEL the pandemic in England’s homeless population have suggested that, without any intervention, up to three-quarters of them could become infected... As in so many other areas of life, the pandemic is prompting action on social problems where there was inertia before. It would be ‘We cannot claim to be a nation recovering from COVID-19 if we do not adequately support the most vulnerable among us...’ naive to assume any temporary solutions will be extended beyond the end of this crisis, but they may at least stimulate debate about what should be put in their place. Protecting these vulnerable populations only when doing so protects the rest of us can’t fit many people’s definition of a civilised society. Laura Spinney, Guardian, 3 May THERE IS NO WIDER SHORTAGE OF CASH in public health. The amount of money spent on tenuous, policy-driven research alone is staggering. Public health academics were recently given £400,000 to study the drinking habits of football fans. You can buy a lot of face masks with that kind of money. Christopher Snowdon, Spectator, 7 May OLDER RELATIVES AND FRIENDS may now be spending their weeks holding a glass of wine rather than the hand of a loved one… Cutting down may be a problem if there is already evidence of alcohol addiction, but for those who are able to cut down or stop drinking safely, there is a pressing need for public health education. Over the past two months, an increasing number of older people have been self-isolating. As health professionals, we should continue to advocate for psychosocial prescribing to keep their spirits up. But now, perhaps this should be with an extra pinch of brief advice about alcohol consumption. Their lives may very well depend on it. Tony Rao, BMJ, 20 May LIKE CORONAVIRUS, the drugs issue is a public health crisis. Since the pandemic is making us reconsider a lot of things, from our lifestyles to government spending, I’d like to propose we reconsider our drug policy… Across the world, times are changing: while Priti Patel, the home secretary, keenly reassured the public that despite the pandemic, she’s as committed as ever to fighting the drug war. Niko Vorobyov, Independent, 18 May 18 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • JUNE 2020 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM