Now is the time to talk about Kindness

July 26, 2017

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The Carnegie UK Trust has today launched a new report, which explores how we can encourage kinder communities. The report finds that it can be hard to talk about kindness and that there are many things that get in the way of acting in a friendly, generous and considerate way. It identifies that, along with creating spaces and places to act in kindness, the simple fact of talking about it has a powerful effect on our behaviour.

Zoe Ferguson, the report’s author and a Carnegie Associate who has 20 years of experience in Scottish public policy, said: “In offering kindness or asking for help, we feel the risk of getting involved in a difficult situation, of being asked to give too much, of being seen as needy or even of being rebuffed.

“In general, we tend to perceive greater risk in engaging with people than we did in previous generations. People manage that sense of risk by formalising the way they make relationships, like becoming a befriender through a charity, for example, rather than visiting elderly neighbours.  However, we found that people miss informal relationships and a sense of community.  With isolation and loneliness as growing problems in society we believe we need to find ways to overcome the sense of risk in building relationships.

“The solution to isolation and loneliness does not lie solely in providing services, though they might be required for those in crisis. We need to move away from the idea that providing ‘community’ is someone else’s job. The answer lies in the humanity of individuals.”

To inform the report’s findings, the Carnegie UK Trust worked with seven organisations across Scotland over the last nine months. Individuals, charities, and local businesses are being asked to take action, to create welcoming places as settings for relationships, provide opportunities for people to come together, remove barriers to kindness and to question the values which underpin what kind of society we want to live in. Some of the incredible stories of kindness the Trust have heard from working with their partners are illustrated in a short film here

The report, The Place of Kindness: Combating loneliness and building stronger communities is available to download here