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The Summer Kindness Exchange - First of its Kind!

It's been a few weeks since the very first Summer Kindness Exchange, and today I'm taking some time to reflect on the event, everything that was great about it, and the things that weren't (which is only fair really).

It was the biggest event I've been a part of organising so far in my life. So for that in itself, I'm really happy and proud of myself with how it all came together. For complete disclosure, there was a team of us bringing it all together, not just me. My honest advice though is that if you're not someone who'll thrive or work well under pressure, I wouldn't go jumping into events of a bigger scale. It was a challenge and the last few weeks leading up to it certainly felt tough. But, that all being said, it was amazing to see it all come together!

Volunteers and Organisers - The Team

The team I worked with were wonderful. They were all very supportive of the event and because of them, the event ran very smoothly. They all had great ideas and helped bring different perspectives to what the event was, who it was for, and why we were doing it!

If you're reading this and missed the day itself, here's a very brief run down of what we had:

- Mindful Market. Six local businesses selling ethical products that you could buy from.

- Talks. Several talks through the day on topics very reflective on the human experience.

- Activities. A mix of workshops and classes such as yoga and meditation.

- Tarot. You could have a tarot reading with Mother Serpentine.

- Massage. You could get a 'pay as you feel' massage from Be Well Leeds.

- Flowers. A beautiful flower truck you could buy from with Petals of Grace.

- Food and Drink. Our venue (Headingley Heart) had a lovely café with a variety of food and drink.

Empty Insides Art

So, here's some thoughts about what went well (having already mentioned the great team behind it):

- People and businesses who took part said we communicated the details of the event well. They knew where to be and when, and how it would work through the day.

- No one got lost! The signage we prepared and set out meant we didn't have people asking us where to go throughout the day.

- The venue were great! Headingley Heart were super supportive and helpful both in the lead up to, and on the day of the event! Highly recommend them!

- The right people came. People who were actively interested in the event came and took part. So we reached the right audience! And they all enjoyed it, every last one of them!

Fra Panella Talk - What Does Home Mean For You?

If you know me, you know I'm not scared to talk about the things that haven't gone well! So let's reflect on some of those shall we?

- The different spaces could have been used in a different way. The market could have been outdoors, with activities in a bigger room (see below for the room we used), and getting the talks closer to the rest of the spaces would have been nice (they were two floors up from everything else....).

- What do people do between different sessions?! I don't think there was enough for people to do when not attending a talk, or doing a workshop. Yes they could grab a coffee, but after that there wasn't much else!

- Marketing. I don't think we got the event in front of enough people. This is an incredibly difficult thing to do anyway and I think we all did a great job, but it did impact some parts of the event in terms of volume and flow of people.

- Content collection, which kinds of links with marketing. Getting input such as pics and videos from some of the speakers, businesses and so on was very difficult. This in turn made it harder to actually show people what we had for them!

Start of Yoga with Emma Leigh Yoga

With all that put out there into the world, I can honestly say we've started something spectacular! To bring a summer event to Leeds that supports wellness, community, local business, humanity, charity and so much more, feels so wonderful. (I'm kind of getting a bit emotional as I write this now to be honest, what a melt I know...)

Yes there were things that didn't go perfectly, it wasn't going to go perfect first time (and probably never will go perfect). But, when Heather (Kinder Leeds) and I caught up last weekend to touch base on it all, we both had learnt a lot from the experience to bring forward.

I'm so grateful to the venue, the team, the people/businesses who took part, and the people who came to experience the first Summer Kindness Exchange. Big love to all of you!

What's next? (I'm sure you're all asking yourselves this)

Well, I think we'll be hosting this event again next year! Heather and I felt pretty confident in that! Pulling everything we've learnt together to make the event bigger and better, whilst still giving you the right mix of wellness, community, and some fun times.

What I am excited for though, is jumping onto the main event! The Festival of Kindness, Compassion and Wellbeing. This event takes place in October and is a week long event (10th-17th this year) full of different activities across Leeds. It's hosted by Compassion Unlimited and I am fortunate enough to be on the planning team for the event. Keep your eyes peeled for this in the coming months, there's lots planned, but I'm not giving away many details just yet! But, if you want to see what it's like, then check out last years happenings right here.

That's about it from me, as I like to keep these posts to only a few minutes read time. I wanted to share some of my experience in this event, share what was great, and what I've learnt from. Mainly, I wanted to express gratitude, to everyone who was part of it, and a little to myself (because I don't do this enough!!!).

As always, thank you for reading, and being part of my journey to make the world around me a better place.

Jordan - Founder

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