A wave of kindness is sweeping Oxfordshire thanks to a collective of creatives who are working together to deliver care packages to children and young people.

These will be delivered to young people to provide them with a sense of positivity with the aim of ‘keeping our children in mind’. As well as the packages there will be fun activities and challenges created by artists and practitioners to connect with our children at his difficult time.

“We have found that Oxford is really coming together as a community at the moment. Our city has something truly magical about it”

In each package there will be items to represent Love, Comfort, Kindness and Hope.

The unique creative care parcels are tailored to the needs of each child and young person. Packages of pens, pencils, sketch books, paints, brushes, postcards, chocolate and soap are being created and delivered and the project is appealing for more people to come forward and help to fund more work.

The Oxfordshire Kindness Wave project launched as lockdown started and is a partnership between Cowley’s community hub The Ark T Centre and Populate Co-op, working in association with the Oxfordshire Virtual School for Looked After Children. The group is also being supported by local companies who have donated products to be included in the care packages.

George O’Shaunessy is from Populate Co-Op, a community owned organisation that creates and facilitates events and projects.  He helped to launch The Kindness Wave and works with a talented team of Oxford-based freelance designers, writers, artists, actors, musicians and creative people to provide creative projects for communities.

George works closely with local educational authorities. He told us that the aim of The Kindness Wave project is to support young people and provide comfort and positivity.

Yatir Linden from the Linden Chocolate Lab

“We started this as soon as we went into lockdown and we were inspired by the Scottish Young People’s Rights campaigner Laura Beveridge and the work she was doing in her area.

“We have put together creative care packs to be delivered to residential care homes where vulnerable children and young people are being cared for. In each pack we have things that follow the theme of kind, love, comfort and hope which are all so important – especially now and specifically for children who are not with their families.”

Currently 60 packages have been sent to children and young people in Oxfordshire, containing products to inspire and encourage creativity, which is one way that many people have been coping during lockdown and is a proven way to manage mental health challenges.

Engaging in creativity sessions can help children to concentrate better, avoid screen time and help them to stay calm. Even simple projects using basic, ordinary objects that we all have at home can provide a welcome distraction, a change of pace and encourage creative learning as well as a huge sense of achievement.

George added: “The packages we are sending out contain sketch books, cards, pens and pencils, chocolates and soap. The chocolates are handmade by Linden Chocolate Lab in Oxford and the soap has been donated by The Oxford Soap company.”

Emily Tomkys Valteri from The Oxford Soap Company said: “We provided some handmade moisturising soap bars for the care packs so that young people had something kind for their hands at a time when they are washing them lots. Our soap recipe is particularly good for hard water areas like Oxford, so helps keep hands soft and moisturised. We were keen to be involved to support the local community at a challenging time.”

Oxford-based design studio Graphic Bomb have created a children’s book and other materials for the creative package. 

Lucinda Whiteley, the Creative Director of Novel Entertainment, the company behind the hugely popular Horrid Henry TV programmes, based on the books by Francesca Simon, is part of The Kindness Wave collective.

She said: “We’re really keen to work with as many good hearted people as possible to reach as many children and their grown-ups as we can during this time – we’re doing a lot nationally but also focussing locally on Oxfordshire as well and we love the founders of the Kindness Wave so that seemed like an excellent place to start.”

George added that everyone who receives a package will also have a letter from Horrid Henry, encouraging participants to enjoy eating their chocolate and washing their hands while they get creative.

“It’s really powerful right now for many of our young people to know that they being held in our minds by Oxford’s independent creatives and businesses. We have sent 60 parcels so far and really want to send more but need to raise funds to do that.

“We want to reach as many young people as we can and have included a postcard in the pack with our address and a stamp so that they can draw on it and send it back to us.

“As well as the creative care packages we have also sent 50 teddy bears to asylum seekers to help comfort them. We have found that Oxford is really coming together as a community at the moment. Our city has something truly magical about it.”

More information https://oxfordshirekindnesswave.org.uk

Sarah Edwards

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