What a great conference, described by participants as ‘both inspiring and informative’ with 91% rating the day as either excellent or very good.

The day started with the story of Agnes and Lucia. To read more about their story read here (link to stories page – ) Agnes was matched with Lucia after she became an amputee and was feeling isolated, their friendship has blossomed. Agnes had become housebund following her amputation, she became socially isolated with few visitors. She became suicidal. Having a compassionate neighbour has changed her life. ‘I can get to see the sunshine and come out for the fresh air but before I was inside like a prisoner.’ The benefits for Lucia ‘I’ve formed a great friendship…I’m now part of her family, we share experiences and stories’.

We heard how trends are showing a longer period of decline as we get older, so community support towards the end of life is needed more than ever. Research so far has shown the difference Compassionate Neighbours has made ‘like having a sister, you can talk about all sorts of things, good company’ (community member). Research has also shown it is reciprocity, power and agency that defines Compassionate Neighbours. It is these principles that must be preserved when upscaling the project for the impacts to be felt. Some of the lessons learned from upscale so far were shared and there was recognition that continuous individual and project wide reflection is needed for the project to continue to develop.

In considering ‘what next?’ for Compassionate Neighbours we heard the thoughts of Antonia Bunnin about where the project could sit in the future and about the experience of Shared Lives from Alex the CEO. He suggests scaling up is about de-medicalising & re-humanising systems e.g. seeing risk through human eyes, strategic investment in community capacity, sharing power through co-production and changing assessment and referral systems. This was followed by a panel discussion with Dan Farag, Ros Taylor, Elizabeth Bayliss, Tracey Beakley and Heather Richardson before participants considered the challenges of building a movement of compassionate communities. A fabulous day.


Our thanks to Nesta for hosting the event and to all the contributors:

  • Agnes Yeobah – Community member
  • Alex Fox – CEO, Shared Lives
  • Antonia Bunnin – Director, Abalone Consulting
  • Carly Attridge – Head of Volunteering, St Joseph’s Hospice
  • Carrie Deacon – Head of Social Action – Government Innovation, Nesta
  • Dan Farag – Director People Powered Results, Nesta
  • Elizabeth Bayliss – Community Activist, Peace Place Trust
  • Heather Richardson – Joint CEO, St Christopher’s
  • Julia Verne – Head of Clinical Epidemiology, Public Health England
  • Libby Sallnow – Clinician and Doctoral Researcher, UCL & St Christopher’s
  • Lucia Francois – Compassionate neighbour
  • Ros Taylor – Palliative Physician, Royal Marsden Hospital and Hospice of St Francis
  • Rose Thompson – Senior Researcher, McPin Foundation
  • Tracey Beakley – Chief Executive Officer, Hospice UK

If you are interested in finding out more contact Carly Attridge