Re-Connecting Our Communities
4 May 2018
Purpose. That is what I felt when I first heard about the Get Connected project.
In an afternoon workshop, Volunteer Scotland was talking about a project that, in my view, wanted to get to the root of the question of how to help communities thrive…or to at least help them to get started on that journey.
Volunteer Scotland wanted to help bring communities together and encourage them to create a dialogue around what matters to them and how they could come together to help improve their local area and re-invigorate the feeling of community spirit. The plan was to personally engage with residents from certain areas where a lack of community connectedness had been identified, and see if they would be willing to give up a small amount of their time to come together (often for the first time in their neighbourhoods history) and have a conversation about who they were and what their problems and aspirations were for the community. I thought this idea of having a “conversation salon” was a simple yet unique concept and was keen to be involved.
I asked Volunteer Scotland if it was possible to become involved in the actual running of this project as a volunteer, possibly providing my skills in behavioural science to support the success of the project. It was easy to imagine how behavioural outcomes – such as getting people to actually attend the conversation salons – could have been an issue even amongst those residents’ with the best intentions of participating. Interest in behavioural science is growing fast in organisations and governments all over the world thanks to its capability to provide research and concrete, evidence-based solutions to issues related to volunteering and charitable giving, etc. It seemed a great fit and I was really pleased when Volunteer Scotland invited me to join the project team as a volunteer…and so my adventure began!
This was my first time volunteering in Scotland and now after several months of being involved in the project, I can say that I was really lucky to find this opportunity. Putting my knowledge and passion for behavioral science to use for an honorable cause has really given me a sense of purpose – something that can be much more valuable than other “economic metrics” for people’s wellbeing and happiness. Furthermore, being a new resident to Scotland (and the UK for that matter as I’m from Italy) this project has also provided me with the opportunity to learn more about Scotland’s people….well, at least from what I can understand (I’m still getting used to the accent!).
I’ve found great solidarity and respect for other cultures here in Scotland, attitudes that are really valuable nowadays. I hope this project continues its great work to enable more people like me to feel a sense of purpose by becoming more involved in their local communities.
Click here to find out more about the Get Connected project.