‘KINDNESS Craft Packs’ delivered to NHS staff at a city hospital are part of a Kindness Week organised by Sunderland Culture.

Fifteen packs will be delivered to Sunderland Royal Hospital next week to help ‘de-stress’ staff who have been working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindness Week is part of Sunderland Culture’s month of health and wellbeing activity developed to keep Wearsiders active in mind and body during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Sunderland Culture Producer Vicki Kennedy has co-ordinated the month’s activities: “It has been a busy few weeks and we thought a Kindness Week, a reminder we all need to be ‘kind to the mind,’ would be an ideal way to conclude our month-long focus on health and well-being.

“As with the previous weeks, we’ve programmed activity for Monday to Friday.”

Monday’s spotlight will be on a project organised through Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens aimed at capturing snapshots of feelings and experiences during lockdown on Wearside.

“We chose images which portray kindness and we’ll be promoting them through our social media channels. The project will form an archive and resource for future generations and we’ve chosen a small selection of the wonderful pictures submitted to show kindness – in many different forms – which has been a major part of lockdown,” explained Vicki.

Tuesday’s activities will be based on another recent Sunderland Culture project, Who Do You Want to Meet, which brought together community groups to work on a celebration of creativity and imagination.

As part of the project, Sunderland Culture’s Corinne Kilvington curated a book of artwork, poems and writing to help people overcome anxiety and isolation. The Little Book of Wisdom was created just before lockdown began and Sunderland Culture will be sharing its content on Tuesday.

Corinne is also involved with the focus for Wednesday – the Kindness Craft Packs for Sunderland Royal.

She explained: “A friend of mine, Jo Nelson, works as a nurse at the Royal and she told me she’d been taking her painting materials into the staff room as it was a great way for her to relax amid the stress of working in a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Jo said she found other members of staff were starting to use her equipment to similarly relieve stress. A doctor had taken a guitar in for the same reason. I thought there was a role here for Sunderland Culture so we’ve developed and will deliver 15 craft packs that will go to staff rooms around the hospital.

“The packs contain pens, pencils, paints, brushes, paper sketch pads and other material, including basic ‘how to guides.’ We hope the packs will help to take their minds off things even if only for a few moments.”

Jo, a Schedule Co-Ordinator at the hospital and a regular at Sunderland Culture events and activities, said she believed the packs will make a difference: “I’ve found painting reduces my stress levels and I hope the packs will do likewise for others across the hospital.”

Thursday’s focus will be on a film themed around kindness that won a Short Drama Award at the recent Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. The film will be available on Sunderland Culture’s website, www.sunderlandculture.org.uk.

On Friday a children’s creative workbook will be made available on the Sunderland Culture website. The resource will include activities and ideas on the theme of mental health and wellbeing. Included will be mindful colouring sheets, links to mindful podcasts, creative writing activities and opportunities to be involved in kindness projects.

“We’d encourage people to get involved in Sunderland Music Hub’s massive Big Sing 2020 event that will be broadcast live via Facebook and YouTube on Monday, June 22 at 1pm,” said Vicki.

“This year’s Big Sing is themed around health and wellbeing – and singing is definitely good for your soul. We hope as many folk as possible will join us for an almighty sing-along on the 22nd,” Vicki added.

Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, Councillor John Kelly, said: “Sunderland Culture’s Kindness Week is a lovely way to complete four weeks of activity aimed at improving our health and wellbeing.

“Acts of kindness have helped lift people’s spirits throughout this crisis, from small examples like people doing their neighbour’s shopping, or a smile to a stranger, to the amazing generosity of Captain Sir Tom Moore and those who supported him. And it’s not just the recipients who feel better about themselves – it’s the bearers too!”

Funding for the month-long programme has come from the Unleash strand of Sunderland Culture’s Great Place programme. Unleash celebrates health and community in the Coalfields area of Sunderland, and the Great Place programme is funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.

For more information, or to download the activities, go to www.sunderlandculture.org.uk or follow Sunderland Culture on Twitter (@SundCulture), on Instagram (@sunderlandculture) or Facebook.