Transformational
thinking

Elaine Casap

The Relationships Project

13 March, 2020

How do we put relationships at the heart of London? 

That’s the question our friends at Shift are seeking to answer in their new report, The Relationship-Centred City – and we’re proud to have played a small part in creating it. 

The report starts by setting out the case for investing in relationships, and why London – where 32% of people feel isolated – is the perfect place to try out this approach. And with mayoral elections in May 2020, the time is ripe for action.  

The report makes two systemic recommendations: a ‘Relationships Commission’ (modelled on the London Finance Commission) to develop a city-wide relationship-building strategy, and a five-step approach to guide relationship-centred practice – including identifying which relationships will create the biggest positive change (whether warm encounters with strangers or strong intimate relationships). 

But our favourite parts of the report are the creative examples and ideas for embedding relationships into the fabric of cities. There’s Barcelona’s Superblocks: city blocks designed to promote walkability, shared facilities and accidental encounters with neighbours. Eggs & Bread café in Walthamstow allows anyone to get out of the house to make a cup of tea or boil an egg free of charge. And in the workplace, hiring ‘sticky people’ who form warm relationships in front-of-house roles can transform an entire business.  

Many of these ideas already exist – but they need care, strategic attention and systemic thinking to flourish. If you want to help, get in touch or check out the Relationship Makers toolkit here. 

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