Tackling attitudes towards risk is key to encouraging kindness

June 25, 2019

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• Organisations must tackle barriers in order to enable kindness in frontline services
• New report also highlights practical interventions to encourage kindness in communities

Organisations and public services must tackle the “barriers to kindness” according to a new report by the Carnegie UK Trust. The Practice of Kindness explores what needs to be done to make kindness more commonly a part of everyday experiences in communities and interactions with organisations.

It is based on conversations and activities as part of the Kindness Innovation Network, which brought together over hundred people and professionals from across Scotland to develop ideas to encourage kindness in communities and organisations.

The report finds that there are certain things that can be done to encourage kindness in communities, including using food as a catalyst for social connection and ‘unlocking’ public space. However, there is also a need to challenge attitudes towards risk and professionalism in order to enable kindness in interactions with organisations and services.

These findings come on the same day that the Trust releases a new factsheet on the experiences of people in in Scotland, which presents data from an Ipsos MORI survey that shows that experiences of kindness vary across communities and public services.

– 52% people strongly agree that people in their local area are “generally kind”, but this increased to 66% in rural areas and 61% among older age groups.- 56% people feel they are treated with kindness by public library services; but only 34% feel that they experience kindness when using public transport.

The report also includes insight from an ongoing partnership with North Ayrshire Council, which aims to embed kindness as an organisational value across the local authority services.

Audrey Sutton, Head of Service (Connected Communities), North Ayrshire Council, said: “We have been on an exciting journey over the last year, which has allowed us to explore the importance of kindness to individuals, communities and organisations. That has taken us into some really interesting territory and allowed us to think more about the importance of how we do things, as opposed to what we do.”

Jennifer Wallace, Joint Interim CEO at the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “We know that relationships are fundamental to our wellbeing, and so we wanted to explore what we could do to apply concepts of kindness into policy and practice.

“What we have found is that there are a huge number of people in Scotland, as well as further afield, who are interested in having a conversation about kindness, from people thinking about creating connections in communities to those designing public policy.

“These discussions and activities have shown that kindness is a radical concept that challenges established ways of working. And so it has been important to create the time and space to think about how we can doing things differently and develop a more relational approach to our policy and practice.”

You can read the full report, The Practice of Kindness, here

The data factsheet, Quantifying kindness, public engagement and place, is available here

About the report
In March 2018, the CUKT brought together a Kindness Innovation Network (KIN) of 100 people and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds across Scotland. KIN aimed to develop ideas and practical action to encourage kindness across a range of themes and settings.

At the same time, CUKT has been working in partnership with North Ayrshire Council to embed kindness as an organisational value throughout the local authority, as part of a broader strategy to tackle poverty and inequality.