Teaching kids to be kind

21 November 2018 | Scotland

Compassionate Inverclyde - Alison Bunce

Selfless Scot Alison Bunce is working with local schools to demonstrate compassion.

As a nurse, Alison Bunce has spent her career showing people kindness and compassion. Now the inspirational Scot is spreading the love - literally - and helping her whole community embrace their passion for kindness.

Alison has been inspired by an international movement to spread kindness and her new focus is teaching children to be kind.

She founded Compassionate Inverclyde last year, and it has been chosen as a TSB Local Charity Partner for the bank’s Greenock, Port Glasgow and Rothesay branches.

Compassionate Inverclyde’s new programme is called ‘High 5’ working with 30 local schools and thousands of primary age children to demonstrate the simple act of kindness.

Alison developed lesson plans for the schools to implement that is now seeing them create things like ‘kindness quilts’ and handmade friendship bands.

“Children are like sponges - if you show them the way they will quickly follow,” she said.

“One school - St Michael’s Primary in Port Glasgow are doing some beautiful kindness quilts that are being given out to the local community. They also present a balloon to a child in assembly who has been particularly kind. Other children can nominate a child to be awarded. We as an ordinary community have the responsibility to give back. It is up to us to foster and empower young people to show kindness.”

Alison, who is trained as a palliative nurse, first set up the social movement to help people at the end of their lives. The ‘No One Dies Alone’ campaign frees up clinical resources in hospital wards and works with a hospice and in care homes, and was inspired by the concept of Compassionate Cities developed by Professor Allan Kellehear, an Australian public health academic.

She has done sterling work in this area - but children are a new focus. She is working with teenagers in the local area including 13-year-olds at Notre Dame High School in Greenock.

“I have about 20 girls who have nicknamed themselves ‘The Kindness Girls’. They work with people in care homes, the homeless and with premature babies. At this moment in time they are fundraising to put together ‘starter packs’ for parents. Things like baby-grows and wipes.

“I am also working with some 16-year-olds at St Columba's High School, Gourock, who we are teaching to implement the High 5 programme and lesson plans to younger pupils. Some of them want to be teachers and this gives them confidence and an idea of planning and communication skills. It also connects them with younger pupils. I want to promote resilience.”

Local children are also involved in a project called ‘Back Home Boxes’, where anyone who lives alone and is being discharged from Inverclyde Royal Hospital is gifted a pack of household essentials, with every item donated by the public as well as children and their parents. The box even includes a homemade blanket and card made by the children.

More than 1,400 boxes have been distributed since the scheme started last year, with 41 helpers packing and delivering them to patients in Inverclyde Hospital twice a day.

One recipient wrote to volunteers and said: “In all of my 92 years I have never experienced such kindness. This box has touched my heart so deeply.”

Alison said: “The difference it has made is amazing. These are people who are going home and there is not even a pint of milk in their fridge. It’s all about kindness. The generosity of the children - and wider community - is overwhelming and of course I could not do it without my team of volunteers. They keep everything running.”

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