Kindness is at the very heart of our wellbeing. In 2016 and 2017, with the support of JRF, we worked with seven organisations to test what, if anything, could be done to encourage kinder communities. We heard powerful examples of where everyday relationships support the wellbeing of individuals and communities – some of which you can hear about in the first of our short films, ‘The Place of Kindness’. But we also learnt that there are major factors that inhibit kindness and relationships, both in individuals and organisations.
We then worked with Carnegie Fellow, Julia Unwin CBE, to examine the role of kindness in public policy. Her report, Kindness, emotions and human relationships: The blind spot in public policy, argues that, while there have been very good reasons for keeping kindness separate from public policy, the major 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 public policy places equal weight on emotional intelligence.
In 2018, we published findings from the first ever quantitative survey on experiences of kindness in communities and public services. The data series, Quantifying kindness, public engagement and place, presents a reassuring and yet complex picture across the UK and Ireland, with generally high levels of kindness but at the same time variations in experiences between jurisdictions and different social groups.
Most recently, the Trust has been coordinating a Kindness Innovation Network and working in partnership with North Ayrshire Council to develop and test ideas to embed kindness in communities, organisations and services. Our new report, The Practice of Kindness, and accompanying short film bring together learning on the practical implementation of kindness, and also highlight challenges relating to our attitudes towards risk, professionalism and performance management. Throughout the rest of 2019 we will continue our partnership with North Ayrshire Council to further explore the challenges and complexities of kindness as an organisational value.