The Brief

Kindness is at the very heart of our wellbeing. With the support of JRF, over 2016 and 2017 we worked with seven organisations to test what, if anything, could be done to encourage kinder communities, exploring ideas around the importance of places and opportunities to connect, and the intrinsic values underpinning our interactions and relationships.

We have seen powerful examples of where kindness and everyday relationships can affect change and support the wellbeing of individuals and communities. You can hear about some of these in our film. But there are major factors that get in the way of engaging and encouraging kindness both in individuals and organisations, including real and imagined rules relating to risk; funders and policy makers valuing the formal and organisational over the informal and individual; and modern definitions of professionalism and good leadership crowding out everyday kindness and intuitive human interactions.

The Place of Kindness

Zoë Ferguson is continuing to work with us through to April 2019. The current phase of work involves a partnership with North Ayrshire Council to undertake a further set of demonstration activities focused on kindness, to support the local authority’s work to tackle poverty. We are also convening the Kindness Innovation Network, which brings together 100 people from across Scotland to develop and test ideas to embed kindness in workplaces, services and communities.

The Power of Kindness

We have also been exploring the role of kindness in public policy, through a series of roundtables and events, led by Carnegie Fellow Julia Unwin CBE. Our new report, Kindness, emotions and human relationships: The blind spot in public policy, brings together our learning from these discussions. It argues that there have been very good reasons for keeping kindness separate from public policy; but that the great public policy challenges of our time demand an approach that is more centred on relationships; and, with technology and artificial intelligence transforming the way we do things, it is imperative that we focus equally on our emotional intelligence.

Quantifying kindness

Our new report, Quantifying kindness, public engagement and place, presents findings from the first ever quantitative survey on kindness in communities and public services. The data reveals a reassuring and yet complex picture of kindness in the UK and Ireland, with generally high levels of kindness reported, but at the same time variations in experiences between jurisdictions and across social groups.

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Jennifer Wallace

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