The Sense of Connection
Relationships and strong communities, in crisis and beyond
This is a brittle Britain. Fragile, anxious and uncertain. Past the worst of the pandemic but not over it. Fearing the multiple costs of a hard winter.
If our country was a good friend we’d say stay still, hold close to those that matter, take time, recall the things that work for you, change the things that don’t.
There’s much we can learn from previous disasters about repairing and strengthening the social fabric. In this report, we draw on the expertise of the After Disasters Network in the crafts of disaster recovery and conflict transformation, and weave this together with all that we’ve learned from our own network about community development.
We take stock of the past two and a half years of Covid and look ahead to a long, hard winter. We share some steps that we might take together as we navigate the road ahead and we invite you to join us in understanding how to support strong and connected communities.
We look back at the pandemic so far and learn from previous disasters
We consider the government’s response and the impact it’s had
Connecting the circles
We explore the potential of weaving together three important approaches
We outline six ways in which we might journey ahead together
Moving forward, together
We won’t meet the challenges of the next year, let alone of the next generation, with a continued approach to our shared lives that is bureaucratic and codified, defensive, distrusting, fearful, transactional, centralised and impersonal. We must instead focus on nurturing our greatest natural resource: the relationships we have with one another. Here we set out some steps we might take in building strong communities, together. The road ahead will be challenging and the bumps best navigated together. We’d love for you to join us.
Give it time
The work of community development and bridge building requires patience as well as energy. Join us in thinking about ways of creating space for grief and time to heal
Hold the hope
For all the pain and grief of Covid we have also had our best days. As weariness takes hold and challenges mount, we must hold onto the hope. Join us in creating memorials of hope
Bottle the essence
We all know good relationships when we see them, when we feel them. Join us in sharing what it means to prioritise relationships in your place, and the change that it unlocks
Teach the craft
We can’t rely on our instincts alone to build relationships in a world teeming with difference. We must nurture the skills and practice of relationships. Join us in sharing existing models
Trust the people
Statutory agencies and governments, can’t make social capital but they can nurture it. We need to create the conditions for relationships to thrive. Join our Councils Practitioner Network
Dare to dream
What we’ve experienced will affect our tomorrows, but the direction we chose to take is in our hands. Join us in learning from other crafts in how to build strong communities
Other reports in the series
In March 2020, just before lockdown, we established The Relationships Observatory. Whilst none of us knew exactly what to expect at that time, it was already evident that our social behaviour was about to change. The Observatory is a simple mechanism for gathering insights and working to spot, support, embed and sustain the positives. We have been sharing the learning from The Observatory through a series of reports which now include: