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August 9, 2017

Could we be more kind?

The human quality of kindness is hard to pin down and virtually impossible to measure but most folk know when they encounter it. We also know that it is important, vital even, to our wellbeing. Carnegie and JRF have been exploring what, if anything, could be done to encourage ‘kinder communities’. Their investigation looked closely at what a number of organisations have been doing to foster kindness and also at those factors which have a tendency to inhibit it. An interesting report and a lovely film to go with it.

Carnegie Trust

To see full report The Place of Kindness : Combatting loneliness and building stronger communities click here

To watch the short film click here

Kindness is important. It is at the very heart of our ability to generate wellbeing and the power for change. Drawing attention to our experience of kindness has  the potential to disrupt the way we think about society, to change both what we  do and how we do it, and challenge existing relationships both as professionals and as individuals.

Kindness makes sense to people. It is language that is easily used, however uncomfortable it may make policy makers. From Barack Obama, who notes that his daughters are smart and beautiful but more importantly, kind; to our conversations with Maureen and Isabella in Maryhill, who struggle to get people to accept the kindness they have to give, we can all talk about kindness. And surely that universality of understanding makes sense if we are to affect social change for the good rather than merely provide service solutions.

Kindness is also difficult. Whilst it might be tempting, and indeed true, to think that the world would be a better place if we could all be kinder to each other, we recognise there are very real reasons why that is easier said than done.

This work on kindness is a joint project bringing together the Carnegie UK Trust’s work on the Enabling State, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s programme of research on risk, trust and relationships which has investigated how everyday help and support happens in informal relationships between individuals and in neighbourhoods. The project aimed to test what, if anything, could be done to encourage kinder communities. We worked with seven different organisations to explore and, in some cases, test new ideas around the importance of places and opportunities to connect, and the intrinsic values underpinning our interactions and relationships. This report documents the learning from that project and in doing so, highlights questions and issues to be addressed in the Carnegie UK Trust’s forward agenda exploring the potential for kindness in wider contexts.