Help Campbeltown’s tree of hope grow

West Argyll ACUMEN development worker Sarah McFadzean.

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As the latest lockdown restrictions are eased, two charities have teamed up to ask people to share their hopes for the future.

Kintyre charity Shopper-Aide has joined forces with Argyll and Bute-wide charity ACUMEN (Advancing Community Understanding of Mental and Emotional Needs) to encourage members of the community to help grow a ‘tree of hope’ which will be displayed in the window of Shopper-Aide’s Longrow office in Campbeltown.

West Argyll ACUMEN development worker Sarah McFadzean is asking people to use a cut-out template, or any piece of paper, to note down how they are feeling and what they are looking forward to.

These can then be deposited into a post box on the street outside Shopper-Aide’s office or emailed to sarah.mcfadzean@acumennetwork.org

A recent study by researchers at the University of Surrey has explored some strategies for maintaining emotional well-being during lockdown and suggests training one’s perspective forward.

The researchers investigated the value of three emotional strategies for dealing with lockdowns: sentimentally looking back toward previous, better times; gratitude, or thinking about the good things currently in one’s life; and picturing good things in the future.

The aim of the ‘tree of hope’ is to focus on positive aspects of the future and it is hoped that it will go some way towards maintaining emotional well-being as restrictions ease.

Throughout the pandemic and before, Shopper-Aide has been working with people aged over 60 from across Kintyre and Gigha on projects such as memory books and a playlist for life. Both initiatives involve conversations which look back at nostalgic memories that evoke happy feelings.

Part of ACUMEN’s work involves raising awareness of the importance of looking after mental and emotional health while challenging stigma to overcome misconceptions around mental health.

Sarah hopes that by encouraging people to note down their hopes for the future, it will create a sense of positive anticipation about the coming months and enable people to picture good things in the future.

She added that ACUMEN is also looking for people with their own experience of mental health across Argyll and Bute to help to increase levels of involvement in groups discussions, meetings and partnerships.

Anyone interested in joining a new mental health forum for Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Isles is asked to get in touch by emailing sarah.mcfadzean@acumennetwork.org

She said: ‘By becoming a member of the mental health forum, people can take part in a number of different activities, including focus groups, attending meetings, working alongside services and people who use services.

‘Involvement can also have a positive impact on people by boosting their skills and confidence, which can lead to other opportunities such as training and employment.’