There is a sense that something is happening around kindness. Whether it is in response to a political and media discourse that feels anything but kind, or the sense that public services are struggling to meet rising demand and levels of need: more and more people are talking about relationships and considering how a values-led approach could improve outcomes in communities and organisations.
So when we met at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 8th October to celebrate the work of the Kindness Innovation Network, the opening address from both Claudia Beamish MSP and Sarah Davidson focused on it being time to move kindness “off the page” – to go “beyond warm words” and ensure that kindness is a value that improves societal wellbeing in practice.
These sentiments echoed the core themes of a new report, launched on the same day, Public policy and the infrastructure of kindness in Scotland. Written by Simon Anderson and Julie Brownlie, and based on a series of ‘Kindness Sessions’ hosted by the University of Edinburgh, it explores what we mean by kindness and how public policy might help to build and sustain an ‘infrastructure of kindness’.
The networking session that followed reinforced the sense that this is a growing movement, and that there is a real appetite for thinking about practical change to create the conditions for kindness. At various ‘conversation stations’ around the room, people discussed working environments in health and social care, values-based leadership, how to build human relationships into procurement and commissioning; and – in a symbol of “quiet radicalism” – a further group sat in a circle on the floor of the Committee Room to discuss food poverty through the lens of kindness.
The following day, in Dunfermline, we held the inaugural meeting of the Kindness Leadership Network. Over the next 12 months, we will be working with and supporting this cross-sectoral group of leaders from across England, Scotland and Wales to embed kindness as a value within their own organisations, and act as advocates across their professional networks.
At the same time, in Scotland, we hope to sustain and build on the momentum from KIN and the energy we felt at the Scottish Parliament, by coordinating and supporting a network of ‘Kindness Champions’. This is a fluid network, open to anyone who would like to join this coalition of people talking about the value of kindness in the places that they live and work, and who would like to be part of a movement towards a kinder Scotland.
There is a sense that something is happening around kindness – and we hope that you will be part of the next stage of this journey.