For Loneliness Awareness Week, The Cares Family has published a report that sets out ten techniques to build meaningful connection between people from different generations and backgrounds.
Building Connection: Exploring What Works explains the ten techniques that have helped The Cares Family bring together 26,000 older and younger people in London, Liverpool and Manchester over the past 12 years.
The ten techniques in the report
The report zeroes in on ‘Authenticity’ and ‘Reciprocity’ as key principles that underpin meaningful social connection.
By authenticity, the report argues that ‘bringing one’s true self’ to an interaction allows people to feel seen and is more likely to build genuine connection. Some of the techniques that encourage authenticity are going out and finding disconnection, inspiring self-expression and creating spaces intended for connection.
By reciprocity, the report states that everyone must benefit from an interaction and engaging with each other. Some of the techniques that encourage reciprocity are supporting people to engage as equals, leaning on the power of place and nurturing agency in people.
The report also draws in the expertise from the much bigger ecosystem of organisations that are working to build connection in a variety of innovative ways. It features some of UK’s leading civic innovators such as Ivo Gormley, founder and CEO of Good Gym, and Ruth Ibegbuna founder of the RECLAIM Project and The Roots Programme.
Why this report matters now
The publication of the report comes at an important moment. Last month, the US Surgeon General released an Advisory highlighting how improved social connection can decrease the risk of developing and worsening heart disease, anxiety, dementia and diabetes. In the UK, 31% of people feel lonelier than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic and only 45% of younger people feel as though they belong within their neighbourhood.
The Building Connection series
Exploring What Works is the second report in the Building Connection series that The Cares Family will be publishing over 2023. The first, Building Connection: The Promise of a Strategy for Community Spaces and Relationships, explored the role government could play in supporting the development of social infrastructure by working with successful civic innovators.
Later this year, The Cares Family will publish Building Connection: A Manifesto. This willset out a number of compelling policy ideas and approaches through which policymakers might support people of all backgrounds and generations to feel both a greater sense of connection and a part of the rapidly changing communities around them.