Carnegie UK Trust in call to 'remove barriers to kindness'
Carnegie UK Trust calls on individuals, charities, and local businesses across Scotland to take action to remove barriers to kindness to help strengthen sense of community
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The Carnegie Trust has called on individuals, charities, and local businesses across Scotland to take action to remove barriers to kindness to help strengthen sense of community.
Releasing a new report on isolation and loneliness, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust urged a range of organisations to create ‘welcoming places’ to provide opportunities for people to come together, remove barriers to kindness and to question the values which underpin what kind of society they want to live in.
The Carnegie Trust also warned that talking about kindness in a public policy context “doesn’t sit comfortably with most of us”.
The report, The Place of Kindness: Combating loneliness and building stronger communities, identified barriers to people being kind to each other, 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 report found that positive relationships and kindness are essential to wellbeing, while feelings of isolation or loneliness do not just pose a problem for the individuals concerned, but can have damaging effects on society as a whole.
Meanwhile concerns over risk push people to seek more formal routes to be helpful in communities. The report says that as relationships become formalised through organisations and charities attempts at kindness can be “stifled” by bureaucracy.
It says: “Regulation or, perhaps more accurately, the interpretation of regulation, is getting in the way of countless opportunities for people to come together and express care for each other.”
Carnegie Associate and report author Zoe Ferguson said: “In offering kindness or asking for help, we feel the risk of getting involved in a difficult situation, of being asked to give too much, of being seen as needy or even of being rebuffed.
“In general, we tend to perceive greater risk in engaging with people than we did in previous generations. People manage that sense of risk by formalising the way they make relationships, like becoming a befriender through a charity, for example, rather than visiting elderly neighbours.
“However, we found that people miss informal relationships and a sense of community. With isolation and loneliness as growing problems in society we believe we need to find ways to overcome the sense of risk in building relationships.
“The solution to isolation and loneliness does not lie solely in providing services, though they might be required for those in crisis. We need to move away from the idea that providing ‘community’ is someone else’s job. The answer lies in the humanity of individuals.”
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