The Challenge

In a political climate where young and old often cross swords, building relationships has never been more important. Our wellbeing and sense of human connection is at stake.

Sam Boyd, Switchback

As a society, we network and transact more than ever but meaningful connection has been increasingly designed out of the services we use and the places where we live and work. Growing evidence shows that when relationships are valued, people are happier and healthier, and businesses and services are more effective and efficient.

Our response

The work of the Relationship Project is critical for us all. Its focus on finding ways to sustain the people-led initiatives that have emerged during the pandemic has the potential to reset the way each of us collaborate and support each other in the future. From learning lessons to providing advice and support the Project is already making a difference.

Ray Shostak, National Audit Office Director

The Relationships Project‘s mission is to make it easier for every organisation, service or place to put relationships at the heart of what they do. To this end, the project is:

  • Building a shared body of research and evidence to understand the need for and value of relationship-centred practice
  • Developing a range of practical, actionable resources for putting relationships at the heart of what you do, drawing on what’s working elsewhere
  • Catalysing collective action to spread relationship-centred practice


[The Moment We Noticed is] one of the most insightful, thoughtful, inspiring analyses to come out of this terrible time. Humble in tone, profoundly important in content.

Dame Julia Unwin

Selected inspiration, toolkits and resources developed by the Relationships Project:

These tools are fab, and I really love the report [Turning to the Light]. Unlike almost every other report I see, I recognise this, I understand what is being said as important, it rings true with me, it chimes with my concerns, and it is actually useful to me in planning practice.

Jane Williams, Founder CEO of the Magpie Project

  • Relationships Heatmap – An interactive diagnostic tool for helping to build stronger, more effective relationships in organisations and communities.
  • Bridge Builder’s Handbook – A step-by-step guide to building connections across divides, created with Professor Neil Denton
  • Kit for Councils – Supporting local authorities to sustain and enhance community relationships
  • Case studies – A growing collection of inspiring, real-life examples of relationship-centred practice in action
  • Relationship Maker’s Guide – Five steps for creating the conditions for relationship to flourish
  • Story of Lockdown – A storybook for making sense of our experiences of the pandemic



Active Neighbours: Understanding the experiences of Covid volunteers

March 10, 2021

A field guide from the Relationships Project, presenting five ‘types’ of Covid volunteers and key considerations for supporting them to carry on caring.

Through Thick and Thin: How an infrastructure for relationships could unlock the collective action we need to accelerate progress towards a world designed for and around relationships

March 9, 2021

By Iona Lawrence. Drawing on conversations with over 100 people, we advocate for a more joined-up approach to building – and championing – relationships.

Turning to the Light: Looking back and looking forward after one year of Covid

March 8, 2021

Reflecting on what we’ve learnt from one year of Covid, this report makes the case for reflection and recuperation, and then for building energetically on the many positives from this period.

Relationship Makers Impact Report

December 18, 2020

Drawing together our learning from a twelve week peer learning programme with a cohort of community businesses committed to building better relationships.

The Moment We Noticed: The Relationships Observatory & Learning from 100 Days of Lockdown

July 7, 2020

Bringing together learning from 50+ contributors after 100 days of lockdown, this report explores how we can build back better post-Covid, with stronger connections and relationships.

The Relationship-Centred City: Building a better London by building better relationships

March 13, 2020

A report from the Relationships Project unearths learning for cities the world over.

Case studies: relationship-centred practice

February 2, 2020

A collection of inspiring examples of relationship-centred practice from across the UK.

VIDEO: The You and Me Principle

October 9, 2018

How relationships change the world and where to go with what we know. Film of lecture by David Robinson.


Connecting Well

David Robinson is Shift’s founder and a community worker in east London. He is currently exploring new work on social isolation at the Marshall Institute. This is the first in a series of blogs.

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