Share a smile

In her regular column on life at The Mill community centre, Helen Bigham finds reason to be cheerful in 2018

An after-school session at The Mill

An after-school art session at The Mill

What’s​ ​struck​ ​me​ ​most​ ​working​ ​at​ ​The​ ​Mill​ ​has​ ​been​ ​the​ ​many​ ​random​ ​acts​ ​of​ ​kindness​ ​that​ ​I​ ​witness every​ ​day.

​A​ ​friendly​ ​smile​ ​and​ ​‘good​ ​morning’​ ​to​ ​anyone​ ​that​ ​walks​ ​through​ ​the​ ​door.​ ​​ ​Betty in​ ​her​ ​mobility​ ​scooter,​ ​dropping​ ​off​ ​a​ ​box​ ​of​ ​teabags​ ​for​ ​our​ ​refreshment​ ​table.​ ​​ ​Donations​ ​for​ ​the ‘honesty​ ​library’​. Pumpkins​ ​left​ ​in​ ​our​ ​reception with​ ​a​ ​note​ ​that​ ​reads​ ​‘help​ ​yourself’.​ ​​All​ ​small​ ​drops of​ ​generosity​ ​that​ ​oil​ ​The​ ​Mill​ ​wheel​ ​and​ ​keep​ ​it​ ​turning.

The​ ​list​ ​is​ ​endless.​ ​​The​ ​Mill​ ​is​ ​more​ ​than​ ​bricks​ ​and​ ​mortar;​ ​it’s​ ​the​ ​volunteers​ ​and​ ​visitors​ ​that​ ​make​ ​it their​ ​home​ ​from​ ​home.​ ​Volunteering​ ​is​ ​one​ ​way​ ​of ​being​ ​kind.​​​ ​In​ ​2018​, why not ​think​ ​of​ ​a​ ​cause​ ​you​ ​care about​ ​or​ ​a​ ​group​ ​in​ ​your​ ​community​ ​that​ ​could​ ​use​ ​some​ ​help? ​Schedule​ ​a​ ​day​ ​to​ ​support​ ​them,​ ​you’ll​ ​be appreciated​ ​and​ ​you’ll​ ​feel​ ​better​ ​for​ ​doing​ ​it.

One​ ​small​ ​act​ ​of​ ​kindness​ ​could​ ​be​ ​to​ ​support​ ​Eat​ ​or​ ​Heat,​ an​ ​organisation​ ​that​ ​endeavour​s ​to​ ​help​ ​local​ ​people​ struggling​ ​financially​​ ​to​ ​enjoy​ ​a​ ​decent​ ​meal.​ ​The​ ​Mill​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​their collection​ ​points and they​ ​welcome​ ​donation​ ​such​ ​as​ ​cans,​ ​packets,​ ​cartons,​ ​and other​ ​long​-​life​ ​food.

The​ ​world​ ​needs​ ​more​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​step​ ​out​ ​and​ ​have​ ​the​ ​courage​ ​to​ ​be kind.​ ​​ ​I​ ​intend​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more​ of ​that​ ​type​ ​of​ ​person​ ​in​ ​2018.​ ​​Each​ ​day,​ ​I​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​compliment​ ​the​ ​first​ ​three people​ ​I​ ​talk​ ​to.​ ​I’m​ going​ ​to​ ​beautify​ ​my​ ​surroundings; rather​ ​than​ ​tutting​ ​and​ ​complaining​ ​about people​ ​dropping​ ​rubbish​ while ​walking​ ​my​ ​dog​ ​I​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​ten​ ​minutes​ ​each​ ​day​ ​picking​ ​up​ ​litter.​ I’m​ ​also going​ ​to​ ​smile​ ​more.​ ​​ ​According​ ​to​ ​an​ ​article​ ​from​ ​Psychology​ ​Today: ​”Each​ ​time you​ ​smile,​ ​you​ ​throw​ ​a​ ​little​ ​feel-good​ ​party​ ​in​ ​your​ ​brain.​ ​The​ ​act​ ​of​ ​smiling​ ​activates​ ​neural​ ​messaging that​ ​benefits​ ​your​ ​health​ ​and​ ​happiness.”

Finally,​ each​ ​week​ ​I​ ​intend​ ​to​ ​carry​ ​out​ ​​some​ ​self-kindness​ ​by​ ​doing​ ​something​ ​I​ ​love​ ​and​ ​rarely​ ​make time​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​​ ​Maybe​ ​go​ ​the​ ​cinema​ ​or​ ​finish​ ​​a​ ​book.​ And ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​joining​ ​a​ ​dance​ ​class​ ​-​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​told​ ​I​ ​‘dance​ ​to​ ​a​ ​different​ ​drum’​ ​but​ ​I​ ​do​ ​love​ it.

If​ ​art​ ​is​ ​your​ ​passion​ ​this​ ​could​ ​be​ ​the​ ​year​ ​you​ ​exhibit​ ​at​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​art​ ​shows​ ​or​ ​come​ ​along​ ​to​ ​an​ ​art class.​ ​​​Starting​ ​in​ ​January​ ​on​ ​alternate​ ​Sunday​ ​mornings​ ​there’s​ ​a​​ ​new​ ​drop​-​in​ ​drawing​ ​group​ ​for​ ​adults. Working​ ​with​ ​pencils​ ​on​ ​still-life,​ ​all​ ​abilities​ ​are​ ​welcome.​ ​​Basic​ ​materials​ ​are​ ​provided​ ​along​ ​with​​​ ​tea and​ ​biscuits.​ ​​​Teaching​ ​will​ ​be​ ​available​ ​from​ ​​​David,​ ​or​ ​work​ ​on​ ​your​ ​own.​ ​​David​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our volunteers​ ​that​ ​runs​ ​after​-school​ ​Thursday​ ​art​ ​classes​ ​for​ ​children​ ​and​ ​I’m​ ​always​ ​impressed​ ​by​ ​the creativity​ ​and​ ​encouragement​ ​shown​ ​in​ ​the​ ​sessions.

Whatever​ ​you​ ​decide​ ​to​ ​do,​ ​don’t​ ​forget​ ​if​ ​you​ ​see​ ​someone​ ​without​ ​a​ ​smile,​ ​give​ ​them​ ​one​ ​of​ ​yours!