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Cares Family

The Multiplier


The Multiplier is a brand new programme helping people to develop their own bridge-building initiatives in their own communities in their own ways. Over the next five years, the partnership between The Cares Family and UnLtd will support 50 leaders who are building connections across divides in their neighbourhoods to adapt and grow, building capacity and changing lives. In this first year, the eight-month programme will include leadership workshops, coaching, storytelling and networking. We're looking for 10 inclusive, thoughtful, ambitious Multipliers to join that first cohort.

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 nine years that idea has grown from a tiny community project into an organisation working in five locations across the UK and with national and international influence.

Over those same nine years, space for interaction in the UK has been squeezed. The infrastructure of community has been diminished and loneliness and broader disconnection have surged. Technology has trumped conversation, we’ve prioritised what’s efficient over what’s important in our daily lives, and austerity and economic challenge have closed spaces where relationships were traditionally built and maintained. Meanwhile, elections and referendums have laid bare our divisions. And now a pandemic has forced us to further isolate from one another.

Loneliness is often seen as a personal crisis. But it is also a public health crisis: it brings on strokes, heart attacks, anxiety and depression – not just amongst older people, but predominantly now amongst younger people. And with clear links between loneliness, addiction, abuse, violence, polarisation and extremism, our withdrawal and disconnection from one another is a political crisis too. We have to tackle that disconnection in our connected age.

At The Cares Family, we know from experience that people build agency through local, mutually beneficial relationships that help people feel valued and visible. And we know that it’s people being with people that will ultimately avert the triple loneliness crisis.

That’s why we’ve partnered with UnLtd and other friends to create ‘The Multiplier’.

This new programme will share The Cares Family’s learning with 50 leaders driving connection and togetherness in their own communities in their own ways, over the next five years. It will build on the experience of our Founder and CEO Alex Smith as one of 20 inaugural Obama Fellows, to 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. 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. And they’ll be people like Hadeel, Sade, Nick and Ruth and the many others whose work to build community featured in our Finding Connection pamphlet last year.

Multipliers will be people responding to the huge challenges of our time. You may have set up a Mutual Aid group during the pandemic and now want to harness the energy in your community to create solidarity and support that endures. Maybe you’re leading a movement that brings people together to tackle racism in your hometown. Or maybe you have a nascent organisation which is bringing older and younger people together in your own way – and you need support to take your idea to the next level as The Cares Family has done over the past nine years.

Mike Niles

‘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 making the most of the meaning in relationships to improve their world and to avert the personal, public health and political crises that come with disconnection. So this programme won’t focus on technical solutions; we’ll focus on cultural and relational solutions to the biggest issues in society.

In this first year, we’re looking for 10 people who share our values, have distinct ideas and who are:

  • Bridgers – bringing people from different backgrounds together to build new power;
  • Inclusive – passionate about diversity, equity and access as routes to togetherness;
  • Experienced – facing systemic or cultural barriers, but conscious of the power of community in overcoming those challenges;
  • Iterative – open to learning and willing to risk making mistakes;
  • Brave – ambitious, authentic and action-oriented;
  • Generative – driving wider change that ripples out and distributes learning.

Eligible applicants will also have:

  • A locally run, agile, community-led initiative working in the UK that is at least six months old, and ideally less than five years old;
  • Identified a social issue and developed a model that works to solve it;
  • Already demonstrated impact;
  • The ambition and a plan to expand that impact;
  • A model that has the potential to make systemic or cultural change.

Ideally Multipliers will be people who can work on their projects full time, but we appreciate that community work requires flexibility, especially during the pandemic, so we’re happy to consider applicants who are working flexibly.

We are also looking for 50% of Multipliers to be working on intergenerational issues or with intergenerational solutions, or to be over 60 themselves. And we’re seeking a group with diverse lived experience, from backgrounds that are often marginalised in discussions about power and social change.

A note on joint applications: we're looking for people leading their own projects but we understand that in some cases applicants may have set up initiatives with co-founders and may wish to apply together. In these instances we ask that you submit one person's details through the application form – and state in the text box of question 15 that you are applying with someone else. Please share their name, that they are a co-founder, and that they would like to be part of the Multiplier too.


What the programme offers:

To support this special first cohort, over the eight-month programme we will:

  • Give all Multipliers £10,000 grants (provided by UnLtd) towards project or living costs;
  • Run eight half-day workshops over eight months (starting in January 2021), on community-building, storytelling, adaptive leadership, evaluation in the age of new power, systems change, inclusion, fundraising and coalition building;
  • Connect you to further optional training from UnLtd, for example on governance and finance;
  • Set you up with a coach for monthly calls to help you meet your potential;
  • Make and distribute a film about the local relationships you have built or sustained through your work;
  • Profile your work online;
  • Invite you to events and speaking opportunities;
  • Connect you to a community of nine other local leaders (and later to another 40) to share ideas and learning with.

As this is the first year of The Multiplier, this is also an opportunity for you to shape the programme for future years.


Please note that if you are shortlisted:

  • We will arrange an informal chat with you in the first two weeks of November;
  • You will need to enter your answers from the application form into UnLtd’s portal in November – so please save them somewhere.
  • The programme will begin in January 2021.

For more information on The Multiplier, stay in touch with The Cares Family on Twitter and Facebook, or email

Donate today

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).

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