When The Cares Family opened in 2011, we had no money, no clear plans, and no direct experience of bringing people together. We just had a good idea, a clear set of values, and a sense that people sharing time, laughter and new experiences with neighbours from different life experiences is powerful.
Over the past eight years we have bootstrapped that idea and grown from a tiny community project into a national organisation working in five locations across the UK. We’ve learned so much from that experience, including that:
- Loneliness is a personal crisis, a public health crisis and a political crisis driving wider polarisation;
- Our model works because of the agency people feel through local, mutually beneficial relationships that centre on story-sharing;
- As the world continues to change at speed, more and more people are craving that same sense of togetherness.
We’ve also learned that systems and culture can be barriers to the type of informal interaction that are fundamental to our collective health and wellbeing – but that people, working creatively in their own communities, can overcome those barriers and lead action that’s relevant in their own neighbourhoods.
That’s why, starting in 2020, we will partner with UnLtd and other friends to create ‘The Multiplier’.
This new programme will aim to share The Cares Family’s learning with 50 leaders driving connection and togetherness in their own ways in their own communities, over five years.
It will help people at various stages of developing local initiatives to adapt and grow. And it will invest in, support and connect social entrepreneurs, community organisers and people working in systems to deepen and broaden their impact – so that more people across the UK can feel part of our changing world rather than left behind by it.
Those 50 leaders will be people like Mike, a former Cares Family volunteer who in creating b:friend in his hometown of Doncaster has brought hundreds of older people together with their neighbours to share friendship and new experiences. And they’ll be people like Alexandra, whose Chatty Cafe Scheme has created spaces for people from all walks of life to find connection and community in shops and cafes up and down the country.
‘The Multiplier’ will be a different type of cohort.
Its purpose is not only to build on the agency of people in their own neighbourhoods, but also to connect those leaders to people working in systems – to help established power to better understand communities, and to help communities to better leverage their collective power. It will be a proudly bottom-up cohort, of people leveraging the meaning in relationships to improve their world.
So, later in 2020, we’ll be looking for people with clear values and distinct ideas who are:
- Bridgers – bringing people from different backgrounds together to build new power;
- Inclusive – passionate about diversity, equity and access;
- Iterative – open to learning and willing to risk making mistakes;
- Brave – ambitious, authentic and action-oriented;
- Generative – driving wider change that ripples out from their local work and distributes their learning.