Tackling loneliness one favour at a time Case Study

Every year we receive hundreds of entries into the Creative Conscience Awards, and whilst not all of them go on to win an award, we often showcase entries to relevant organisations and charities in an effort to try and create impact, by partnering and giving these projects the chance to grow and make real tangible change.

We’d like to feature FavourSwap, entered into the awards by Sarah Hanson from Nottingham Trent University. Whilst it unfortunately didn’t receive an award, we’ve seen it’s potential to create change. Below Sarah tells us about the research and process behind her project. If it leaves you inspired to help, get in touch.

“The root of the FavourSwap concept started when I took part in the Design Council’s Design Academy. Within a group we were presented the challenge of exploring how design could encourage acts of kindness. We narrowed this down to one question: ‘How can acts of kindness between neighbours help the increasing issue of loneliness in the elderly?’ Working on this project started the ball rolling for my idea of FavourSwap.

FavourSwap aims to help tackle the problem of loneliness in the elderly by bringing neighbours together. Working with the Post Office and Age UK neighbours are encouraged to swap favours. For example, an elderly person might struggle to take their bins out or mow their lawn, whilst their neighbour is always at work and constantly has to retrieve their post from the Post Office Depot. FavourSwap is a platform that encourages them to swap favours, with the ultimate aim being that communities will be brought closer together and the elderly will be valued and given a new purpose.

Throughout the research process, I spoke to a number of people and drew from my own experience of interacting with neighbours. In these conversations there was a general feeling that a sense of community has been lost and often people are open to helping their neighbours but may lack the opportunity or courage to do so. Equally, we might be reluctant to accept help, due to a lack of trust or our own pride and independence. This led me to think about the idea of a service that service that brings people together – like a mutual friend – that would act as an introduction.

In a handmade ‘friendly’ style, the FavourSwap animation tells the story of Beryl and Steve. Steve leads a busy life and is sick of his parcels not being delivered when he is out. Beryl on the other hand, is in all day but struggles to put her bins out due to her failing strength. FavourSwap brings these two together.

This is just one story, but FavourSwap has the potential to expand, using different characters to represent a multitude of people and ways they could help each other. Steve and Beryl’s story is supported by the Post Office and Age UK but again the opportunity for other services to back the idea is there.

FavourSwap is a kick starter, it raises the problems individuals may face and presents ways one person can help another. Starting small, it is hoped that FavourSwap will expand and bring communities and individuals closer together.”

– Sarah Hanson

Inspired to create impact in your community? Get in touch to help make FavourSwap a reality, or enter this years awards with your own project.