How to become a connector
Marmalade founder, Amy Perrin, talks about the power of being a ‘connector’ and how we can all play our part in creating a sense of belonging in our relationships, workplaces, communities and the wider world.
Feeling supported, valued and part of something, can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and help us feel more connected. Bringing people together makes us feel good and we all reap the benefits.
Ultimately being a connector is about being kind. It’s about having empathy for others and identifying opportunities for new connections.
You can help people feel more connected and ‘a part of something’ in many ways. For instance, by organising social events at work or including people in group events like street parties or volunteering.
Amy's tips for becoming a connector
Create a safe and inclusive space
Everyone is different and it’s not about forcing our values or opinions onto others. If a person has been experiencing loneliness or social isolation it’s important to understand how difficult that can be for them, and let people take things at their own pace. Create an environment where people feel they can be themselves rather than imposing an agenda or a certain way of doing things. Some people may want to talk about how their loneliness has impacted them, others may not, be respectful to the individual.
Mind the language you use
We can unintentionally stigmatise loneliness even more when we talk about it. Marmalade’s aim is to help people understand that loneliness is a natural part of being human and neutralise the language around it. Instead of saying someone is ‘suffering’ from loneliness, try saying they’re experiencing it and rather than people ‘admitting’ to having loneliness, describe it as someone saying or telling you they’re lonely instead. It’s great that loneliness is becoming more part of the conversation but we need to be mindful about building kind and considered conversations rather than barriers.
Get people involved
When someone is lonely you may feel you want to help them or do things for them. The intention is good but it can put the recipient in a passive state. Most people love feeling useful and needed, whatever their age or ability. Ask people for their advice and ideas. If you know someone has a hobby or talent, think of ways you can put it to good use. It could be something as simple as asking someone to make something for a cake sale. If you put on an event or a party, ask everyone to contribute or play their part. Sharing tasks or being part of a common goal is a much more natural and sustainable way to build lasting connections.
Let's get together
Inspired by the late MP Jo Cox, the sixth Great Get Together is a great opportunity to bring communities together. “The Great Get Together is all about bringing people together to make meaningful connections and to show what we have in common,” says James Austin from the Great Get Together. “Whether it's through a walk, a party or just a chat, a Great Get Together is a vital point where a community can come together to better understand each other and develop relationships. Community connectors are a vital part of both organising Great Get Togethers and helping those connections to deepen and become more meaningful.” Find out more about The Great Get Together at: https://www.jocoxfoundation.org/ggt