Though they have different histories and cultures, Mexico and the UK are facing a surprising number of similar problems when it comes to social isolation and older people. Dionisio Garcia lays out the case for a Circle Movement in Mexico.
As our society evolves so to should the services that we use. As we become connected in different ways, what will these changes mean for public service 2.0?
It might seem like an iron-clad rule, but here are three places where it’s okay to go ahead and chat with a stranger.
Have you ever heard the term ‘we live in a global village’? Or talked about how different life is now that we can skype, facebook, email people around the world – building friendships with as little effort as it used to take to nip next door and have a cup of tea with your neighbour? Geography just doesn’t pose the same obstruction to relationships as it used to and yet when you think about the richness of relationships – the support that they provide – the importance of strong networks, you realise that geography alone isn’t the only barrier to creating them and that lots of people who could and should benefit from better connectivity still don’t. Continue reading Circles of Support – resilience in our communities
Hi, we are make:good; an Architecture and design studio that puts people at the heart of positive change in their neighbourhood. At make:good we aren’t solely interested in designing buildings but instead are fascinated by tapping into the emotional relationships people have with the spaces between buildings – public space. Very often this means that we are looking at a combination of co-designing built changes, or helping rework the services that run in a space and how people might use them. Being outside is brilliant for many reasons but not least because it gives us an opportunity to meet other people, to people-watch, to feel connected to others and have a relationship with our neighbourhood. A big theme for us is working in areas with really poor quality public spaces and breaking down barriers that people feel around suggesting activities and reasons to be outside. There is a certainly a big disparity between places with plenty of resources and a motivated community and those areas where people don’t have strong relationships with their local authority and where making things happen seems a struggle. Those are the places in which we are most interested in working, so that good things can happen. We recently completed a project about sustainable journeying with four schools in Southampton which all sit within 500m of each other. All the surrounding roads were struggling with high volumes of car use, school drop off and pick up time was turning into a daily nightmare for all concerned. It was stressful for all parties and everybody wanted it to improve but nobody knew where to start talking about it. Right from the beginning we knew we needed to get people together but car use was a terrible conversation starter so the suggestion of a very savvy seven year old led us to convince the council to close the road for a day and have a big street party. It was just the opportunity that people needed to come together, to be outside, to talk and to have a lot of fun. Each school and local residents were given the opportunity to provide activities for the party so it built on local skills and knowledge. ‘One of the nicest things about the street party was that it was the first time that all the different schools were together in one place, parents, children, teachers and Council Officers and having fun. Marc – Sholing Junior School These relationships are now firmly cemented through a common experience. The massive confidence boost of seeing an idea turn into reality has provided an opportunity for other collective projects to happen. Seeing that making big change is much easier together rather than alone was clearly a big eye opener and provided an incentive to keep working on relationships, even if they get tricky. That particular community in Southampton now has a stronger sense of permission to utilise it’s public spaces for local enjoyment. Experiencing a shared sense of connection to the places they inhabit and those they neighbour was just the starting point but none the less a project legacy worth celebrating. For us building relationships between people and the spaces they spend time in is crucial for neighbourhoods to feel loved and to feel like a place people want to be. There’s something to be said for the fun interactions we have with anyone who happens to bump into us along the way. We value the simple conversations we have had standing on a freezing Winter’s day on a high road by our chestnut cart or popcorn machine. Sometimes for passers by, a small-smile raising chat can mean so much and unknowingly lead to a person’s greater sense of participation and contribution to their local public space. Swapping stories for popcorn in a disused shop in Barking proved that being a pop-up presence for people to engage with is often the first and most crucial step in breaking down barriers between people and the spaces they live, work or play in. Once you’ve built those relationships between neighbours, councils, local businesses and the rest of a complex and unique web in a community you can really begin to unlock the potential in making real change happen to services and spaces we consider public. In essence we aim that our projects facilitate people growing in confidence and motivation to get outside and start using public spaces in a truly public way as we relish this form of relational welfare.
Catherine Greig, Founder & Director make:good
The idea behind Casserole Club, is simple: we connect people who like to cook and are up for sharing an extra plate of hot, home-cooked food with a neighbour who could really benefit from one.
You may think that Casserole Club- the community that connects cooks with spare portions to those in their community who might not be able to cook for themselves, is only about sharing food.
With a tagline “Do something great with an extra plate”, Casserole also aims to build local relationships between neighbours. Of course as well as that, many old and housebound community members live in isolation – so this project is dealing with two fundamental issues in one go.
So, Casserole has the potential to help tackle the growing social problems of loneliness and malnutrition among older people, and at the same time help connect people with their neighbours. Here’s an example from Meal of the Month, a regular feature on the Casserole Club blog.
Lucy, a Cook from Tower Hamlets, cooked spicy mint lamb for elderly Diners John and Helen. The three have shared a couple of meal shares before, but due to a busy summer they have just got back in touch. When she went around with her dish on Saturday, Lucy tells us, it was absolutely lovely. She was invited inside by Helen for a cup of tea and a chat, where Helen enjoyed telling Lucy all about her previous nursing experiences. John, who is ill and usually stays in bed during the visits, was well enough to come sit with them and enjoy the conversation. He thanked Lucy for her visit and was happy to have company. Helen and John have lived in Tower Hamlets for a long time, and described to Lucy – a Tower Hamlets resident of 6 years – how the area has changed over the years and how the olden days compared to today. Lucy was pleased with the visit and, even though she is going away in a few weeks and has a hectic schedule, she is hoping to arrange another meal share before she leaves.
That’s just one example of how Casserole addresses an aspect of community life our communities used to do for itself – and there are many more.
As Casserole cook Katie told us: “Shared dining experiences have been the fabric of communities since forever, and if we want to “rebuild” communities, food seems like a good place to start.”