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Be your own Valentine: How we show kindness to ourselves at Citizens UK

Be your own Valentine: How we show kindness to ourselves at Citizens UK

As we celebrated Valentine's Day this week, Citizens UK colleagues have been reflecting on our value of kindness. It’s one of the key ways we live out our commitment to social justice, and ensure we enjoy our time at work. When we talk about kindness we of course mean being kind to others, as we strive to make changes in our communities.

But we also recognise the importance of being kind to ourselves.

Afsana is one of our Community Organisers who stresses the importance of being mindful and proactive with nourishing your mental health. As she finds energy from developing community leaders, who win change on many social justice issues, she also talks about finding her calm.

"Being an Organiser can be like being a busy bee, buzzing around from one task to another—1.1s, meeting leaders, planning actions, or organising assemblies. Balancing all those responsibilities while also taking care of your well-being is crucial.

My energy comes from winning, seeing leaders thrive, and making systematic changes. There are times when things don't go according to plan, and we experience loss and failure. Kindness and compassion toward ourselves during challenging times is essential.

As an Organiser, I instinctively go into 'doing mode' when I hear unexpected news that has a direct effect on me, leaders, or the community. It is natural to want to tackle things beyond our capacity. However, accepting reality and our limitations helps me set and manage expectations and boundaries. I proactively seek help and keep others informed about the situation I am experiencing.

It's about persevering through setbacks with patience and understanding, not just accepting failure but learning from it and continuing the journey towards success.

Extending that kindness and compassion to others fosters a positive work environment and strengthens relationships with colleagues and leaders. It's the fuel that keeps the engine of change running smoothly."

Afsana Salik, Senior Organiser - Tower Hamlets Citizens

Our mindful practices at work

Whilst rewarding, working in social justice or reading a constant stream of difficult news can be overwhelming for anyone, whichever role you’re in. Hear from our Operations and Events Manager, Marta, about activities we put on to help colleagues show love to themselves ❤️

At Citizens UK, we always prioritise mindfulness when finalising our annual schedule of activities. We have undertaken research around mindfulness workshops and reached out to different providers. The pandemic showed how important life is. Not only in physical terms but also in our mental health. Our recent well-being survey also proved that staff are very keen to take part in mindfulness workshops. They would like to do more tai chi sessions, more step challenges, and more yoga sessions with Marina. I am proud to say, that we are building a beautiful culture at Citizens UK where we prioritise mental health and wellbeing. We are so grateful for having Marina on the team, who is a fantastic instructor and a mindfulness mentor. Marta Toba, Operations and Events Manager

Yoga and breathing workshops

Our colleagues have many talents – including yoga! This year, staff co-designed sessions together, from dynamic vinyasa, chair yoga and yin yoga. Anyone can take part in live classes from home. We also run specialist workshops for breathing awareness to support mind-body connection, improve focus, build confidence and help us stay physically and mentally healthy.

Over the last year, mental health workshops have helped our staff implement wellbeing practices in their daily lives. This includes the 5 ways to well-being, connecting with others, being active, taking notice of our thoughts, keeping up with learning, self-kindness tips, and giving to others.

Check out the report by the New Economics Foundation on the evidence showing the benefits of these practices.

By taking care of ourselves, we are better at bringing communities together to win change. Here’s to showing ourselves some love – not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year.


Why we like working at Citizens UK

Find out more about the benefits of working here.

Posted by Sylvie Pope on 15 Feb, 2024