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Creating a Revolution of Belonging

Many of us believe we are at the forefront of an important social transformation in Canada – a revolution of Belonging. Like all revolutions there is widespread agreement that the conditions exist for change - far too many of us are disconnected and lack meaning in our lives. Far too many of us are dying with broken hearts. The emotional and financial costs of loneliness are becoming more apparent not only at the grass roots but also among civil servants, CEO’s and administrators.

Somewhere out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to colour.
John O’Donohue

The key is to take action – to move from deep understanding, from expressions of concern, to implementing solutions. This section of our website is designed to profile activities we are directly engaged with or have direct links to. We know these are not enough.

Our grand challenge is to join with others; to ensure their widespread acceptance; to disseminate and scale them up. We would like this web-site to serve as a catalyst to create this gentle revolution or as John O’Donohue imagines, to ‘give birth to colour’.

The profound change we imagine is complex. We must act with intentionality to influence funding, legislation, policy, and attitude. Creating a world where everyone belongs will require our full creativity. Jacques Dufresne suggests, with John Steinbeck, that creativity is in fact the ''glory'' of life. He proposes a natural model of social action which includes actions which are: inspiring, liberating, inhibiting, catalytic, and nurturing. (For further reading)

The following represents a partial list of initiatives we are engaged with to move Belonging/Appartenance/Belonging from the margins to the mainstream of discussion and action.
Taking action on belonging is something we can all do. We invite you to send us links to belonging activities you are engaged in or ones you would recommend.


Actions Underway

The Belonging Initiative – a national collaboration to End Isolation and Loneliness

For several years a group of colleagues and friends have been gathering to share our expertise at nurturing belonging and ending isolation and loneliness for persons with disabilities. We recognized each of our efforts while important would remain marginal unless we developed momentum to address this important challenge. Appartenance/Belonging emerged from these discussions as a source of knowledge, inspiration and nourishment.
Active partners in the collaboration include:

Better Together

A broad based coalition has emerged in British Columbia to address the effects of isolation and loneliness on people who are homeless, mentally ill, elderly, chronically ill, disabled, refugees and immigrants. To quote from the Better Together report:
"The evidence is irrefutable. Research demonstrates that the effects of isolation and loneliness are devastating and the cumulative impact of this unhealthy state on our citizens takes an increasing toll on all social services in addition to adversely impacting our economy.
It is clear that personal networks and non-medical interventions and supports that focus on connecting people in mutually supportive relationships are not only cost effective, but result in improved health outcomes as well as general well-being."

For further information or to obtain a copy of the Better Together report contact: Robin Syme.

Tyze (www.tyze.com)

Tyze is an on-line personal network service. Tyze Personal Networks capture the personality and feel of PLAN’s 20 year experience in developing and maintaining face to face, hospitable personal networks. Tyze networks are networks with a purpose. They are created around a specific person and a specific situation. They celebrate and honour the individual’s gifts and contributions. Tyze is designed to strengthen an individuals relationships– not to count them. Unlike other social network sites Tyze is not a popularity contest. Each Tyze network is closed, secure and private.

Tyze networks:
  • Meet the day to day, non-medical and non-emergency needs of the person at the centre of the network;
  • Coordinate support among friends, families and neighbours
  • Build connections and create a balanced relationship between formal systems of care and natural, ‘informal’ supports.
  • Provide a variety of opportunities for others to pitch in
  • Encourage more meaningful face to face contact.

Tyze’s primary beneficiaries are people with disabilities, seniors and people with chronic illness or the agencies, businesses and government departments who care for them.
For more information contact Vickie Cammack.

Neighbourly Love – the Philia Dialogue on Caring Citizenship www.philia.ca
The Philia dialogue is a conversation on caring citizenship – a concept of citizenship based on the contribution and participation of everyone, particularly those who have been marginalized and isolated. We believe that everyone makes an important contribution to civic life and that the vitality of our society, our communities, and our neighbourhoods depends on the active participation of all citizens.
Philia, a Greek concept referring to neighbourly love seeks to rescues citizenship from the the confines of government and the law and reconceiving it in terms of participation, contribution and belonging.


Actions we are Exploring

Belonging Bond

The concept of a Social Impact Bond is emerging in the UK led by the Young Foundation www.youngfoundation.org.uk . Social Impact Bonds link three elements:

  • Investments by private or commercial investors or foundations
  • Commitment by government to make payments based on successful achievement of social outcomes Ex: reduced rate of young people re-offending; lower social assistance payments
  • Incentives for successful innovations which improve the well being of a particular group of people EX: young people experiencing high levels of unemployment.

Essentially a community organization would secure a commitment from government for future payments if particular milestones were achieved. The incentive they provide to the organization is based on a proportion of the lifetime savings to government.
Based on this incentive the group would then seek social and foundation ‘investors’ to finance the program. This provides the organization with the working capital to do the work. If the organization is successful and meets its goals government provides its incentive funds. This allows the organization to pay back their investors i.e. they return their investment capital plus a modest rate of return on investment. In this scenario everyone wins. The organization shares in the benefits of their success. And government’s ongoing costs are reduced.
The Better Together working group has adapted the concept and is exploring the creation of a Belonging Bond in British Columbia. Here’s our basic thinking.
We know there are cost savings to social and health care systems when people have caring, trusting relationships. People tend to use less services and if they do use services they use them for shorter periods and more efficiently. For example, people discharged from hospital are not readmitted as often as those who leave hospital without a supportive social network.
We propose quantifying these cost savings to a service system and reaching an agreement on appropriate measurements, baselines, timelines and financial incentives. Based on this ‘promise’ we would approach social investors willing to invest in the project and purchase a Belonging Bond. This would raise the working capital or funds required by the agencies to develop social networks. Should these agencies be successful in developing social networks they would receive their agreed upon financial incentives which in turn enables them to repay their social investors.

No One Alone Fund

While money isn’t ever the only solution to the challenges we face we would like to see financial resources dedicated to creating caring relationships and social networks for people who are isolated. We have proposed the creation of a No One Alone Fund dedicated to:

  • Developing and maintaining social networks for individuals and families who cannot afford to pay the full costs
  • To expand our knowledge and expertise on the means and methods of reducing social isolation

For more information on the Belonging Bond and No One Alone Fund please contact Al Etmanski.


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