In February 2019, Mental Health Collective organised a random acts of kindness project, #GreatBritishValentine. Through the project, you could sign up to send a card with a message of goodwill (not romance!) to a stranger, and have someone send a card to you.
We had no budget whatsoever for this work. We organised it using free tools from the internet and pulling in favours from friends.
To our total astonishment, 1075 people signed up. There were participants in every single county in England, and nearly two-thirds of the counties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We even had a handful of participants from the US (no idea how that happened!).
#GreatBritishValentine was featured on Zoe Ball’s BBC 2 breakfast show; in the Metro, the I newspaper , Premier, Voice of Islam Radio, and on BBC Hereford and Worcester. The comedian and best selling author, Dave Chawner, even got involved.
We were blown away by how beautiful the messages were. #GreatBritishValentine cards were criss-crossing the UK with blessings, affirmations, suggestions for songs and favourite books, and just simple messages of good wishes and positivity. Tea bags and coffee sachets were sent through the post, so that the recipient could have a nice brew. Beautiful, poignant, heart-felt letters, with words crafted for someone to hold onto when life is at its bleakest. Funny, silly, cheesy cards, with puns and dancing pineapples. A handful of confetti, each piece inscribed with love and affirmations. A card with all the different meanings of love from ancient Greece. A card ordered from an online greetings card company by someone who is too unwell to get to the post-box.
It was incredibly moving and extraordinary to see. Some quotes here show the difference it made for some of the participants. A survey found a measurable increase in participants’ levels of optimism about strangers before and after the project.
Receiving a nice card from a stranger is a small thing, and it will probably only make you feel better for a little bit. But sometimes small things can make a big difference. We are so proud to know that, actually, there is kindness to be found right across the UK and beyond. There are many, many people out there who want good things to happen for someone they don’t know.
When people think they are falling apart they often feel alone. It’s easy to feel that nobody cares about you – and sometimes, in our personal lives, we do have times when there’s no one we can rely on. We can’t necessarily rely on strangers either.
But you aren’t on your own. You are in the UK. You are in the world. People do care about you; it’s just that you don’t know who those people are.
Thank you very much to everyone who took part and the many people who supported the project. See our list of acknowledgements and thanks.
Join our mailing list or follow @MHC_UK on Twitter or Instagram to find out about our forthcoming projects.
One Pulse, a real-time insight platform, ran a survey about #GreatBritishValentine in late January 2019. Results from UK sample (here) found that 29% of people surveyed were interested in signing up. Results from the US sample (here) said that 60% would sign up to a similar scheme in the US.