Landscapes of helping: kindliness in neighbourhoods and communities
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have launched a new report looking at how informal helping, or the giving and receiving of acts of kindness, works in the semi-rural West Yorkshire Community of Hebden Bridge. It also explores how this can be fostered in other communities.
The report, which is available here, focusses on an aspect of social life that is taken for granted, yet it is little researched or understood. It found that:
- As well as the social and physical environment, we also need to understand conflicting emotions and messages about help and support, and the complex ways in which people negotiate these.
- Individualism, self-reliance and ideals of independence can impact on people’s ability to ask for or accept help from others.
- Public spaces, the development of community facilities as ‘hubs of helping’, and creating more ‘palatable’ ways of presenting help all impacted on people’s willingness to accept help.
- In Hebden Bridge the energy of incomers, drawing on new ideas and technologies, worked alongside older forms of neighbourhood-based community solidarity, and this provided a fertile ground for the development of new networks.