The new Civil Society Government Strategy launched on the 8th August 2018 says “From individuals acts of kindness to the work of charities and mass movements for change people taking action is the bedrock of a strong society”
Being kind to our neighbour and people who live close to us is a major factor in people’s feeling of well-being. It helps us live the best lives we can and demonstrates love and caring for an individual. It is a basic human need which can be absent in low functioning communities. Our approach aims to build understanding between people and develop kind communities.
Working at a street level we help local communities to develop sustainable community support solutions for individuals and families. This involves using facilitative community development techniques drawn from international development. We provide people with practical support skills, using online badges to recognise informal learning – e.g. helping your neighbour, spotting the signs, community circles, supporting someone with mental ill health etc., to develop sustainable community solutions that will improve the quality of life and individual well-being for all of the community.
Our approach underpinned by research in 2017 entitled “The Place of Kindness – Combating loneliness and building stronger communities” that was undertaken in Scotland by the Carnegie Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation looking at what promoted and inhibited communities. Our work focuses on the three key contributors to kinder communities:
- Welcoming Places
- Informal opportunities
- Values of kindness
We address a key aspect of inhibitors to kindness, PERSONAL RISK – Concerns about opening ourselves up to risk when we interact with each other appear to dominate our thinking when engaging with those outside our direct family and friendship groups, through our Active Bystander work.
Our approach involves training volunteer Community Organisers for a street who will be trained and supported beyond the life of the project to continue working with people on the street to maintain the solutions they create. These will be from the area in which the street is located and preferably from the street itself. Independent Advocacy will support these volunteers beyond the life of the project through training, peer network, whatsapp group etc. so that they can continue to learn and grow new ideas at the community level.
Across the country we are seeing increasing vulnerability, as people live longer, are more likely to live on their own, have less contact with family and increasing rates of mental ill health. State services are unable to provide the kind of community one to one support that people need and communities have become increasingly isolating for people that live in them.
This is seen most acutely in areas of high deprivation and poverty where need for support is greatest. Whilst we want to see proper state support for those in greatest need, we believe that communities can be empowered to help their neighbours and create supportive local environments.