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Iana Vidal

Moments that connect and inspire: what community means in 2022, and why I'm part of The Cares Family

Posted by Alex Smith on 28th March 2022

By Iana Vidal

My journey with The Cares Family started with someone very close to me – my gran. My grandma was an original older neighbour at North London Cares when it launched over ten years ago. Seeing how much she enjoyed joining social clubs with neighbours in her local area inspired me to sign up as a younger neighbour and join in the fun.

Since then, I have been involved in almost every area of Cares life. I have explored areas of South and now East London through the eyes of my older neighbours. I completed the Thames Path Challenge, walking 50km from London to Surrey to raise money for the charity. My feet suffered for the cause.

I joined the first Multiplier programme as a mentor to the founders of the incredible Home Girls Unite, a sisterhood for eldest daughters from immigrant families. And in March last year I was delighted to join the Board of Trustees and help to set the future direction of a charity that has played such a huge role in my life for many years.

When I am asked about The Cares Family and what we aim to do I draw on our core message – that we bring younger and older neighbours together to reduce loneliness and build meaningful connections. But for me it’s about so much more too. I can close my eyes and hear, see and smell how Brixton used to be when William and Jean first arrived many years ago to start a new life in the UK. As we walk through Victoria Park, Simone has an interesting and unusual fact for every corner of Hackney. I’m a born and bred Londoner but spending time with my older neighbours has expanded my understanding of my hometown in completely new ways. Hearing their stories has given me a sense of history that is hard to find in a city that changes day by day.

Iana Vidal 2

These magical moments are the experiences that drive me to do more for The Cares Family. I have recently stepped into the role of Interim Chair of the Board, temporarily taking the reins to support the team during a critical time in our journey.

The last few years have disrupted working lives and caused millions of people to enter forced isolation. As we emerge from the pandemic, all organisations are reflecting, renewing and evolving to meet the challenges of the new times in which we live. The Cares Family has a huge role to play in influencing how we build future communities that encourage and foster connection across ages, areas, backgrounds and outlooks.

The scale of the challenge should not be underestimated. But with that comes great opportunity and I firmly believe that The Cares Family is developing models to meet the moment as we try to understand what community really means in the 21st century. I’m excited to work with my fellow trustees, and the brilliant and dedicated team at The Cares Family in the coming months. And to hang out at more social clubs with neighbours like Miriam, Matt, Indrani and Ahmad.

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Thank you for considering a donation to The Cares Family. Your gift will help to tackle loneliness and build connection and community in a disconnected world. Our work is powered by people – so please chip in if you can.

The Cares Family is a UK registered company (10236615) and registered charity (no. 1180638). North London Cares is a UK registered company (07737818) and registered charity (1153137). South London Cares is a UK registered company (8757344) and registered charity (1157401). Manchester Cares is a UK registered company (10893107) and registered charity (1176902). Liverpool Cares is a UK registered company (11166325) and registered charity (no. 1177749). East London Cares is a UK registered company (11809555) and registered charity (no. 1186012).