Empathy Building

Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives and to use that understanding to guide their actions. That makes it different from kindness or pity. Research has proven that making empathy a part of our daily lives can improve the lives of everyone around us; it can be used as a radical force for social transformation.

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Regrettably, today’s consumer-driven, globalised Europe could be described to be somewhat lacking in empathy, particularly when it comes to understanding the situations of so many people facing discrimination, stigmatisation or social exclusion; people who are forced to live in precarious conditions due to unemployment, low-income or debt; as well as those who are homeless or face homelessness. These numbers have only increased since the economic crisis, with the promotion of austerity and cuts to social welfare.

Nonetheless, the old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, mutual aid and shared responsibilities. This much is evident by the variety of projects, training programmes and groups of individuals that seek to build empathy and overcome issues relating to stigmatisation, poverty, and the numerous crises of our times.

Empathybuilding.PNG (394.91 Kb) Pictures by A Varos Mindenkie, TEJE and Louise Hain

Please find below several examples of ACTIONS (in orange) and POLICIES (in green) that elaborate the ways in which empathy can be created, developed and learned.

Sharing resources (material/non-material)

The pooling and sharing of resources such as time, knowledge, space or food has become extremely important in a society where people lack the means for a quality standard of living or are subject to social isolation or deprivation. Actions like the ones below, that integrate the sharing of resources, lead to shared experiences and responsibilities, thus bringing people of a community together who might not otherwise have met or been aware of the others' situation.

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Learning/training programmes

We all have assumptions about others and often use collective labels—e.g., “Muslim fundamentalist,” “welfare mothers”, “the ‘lazy’ poor”—that prevent us from appreciating or understanding the true individuality or the reality of certain people. The following examples demonstrate how empathy building classes, particularly among young persons, can be incorporated into education and daily life.

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Raising awareness

Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. To raise awareness is to attempt to focus the attention of a wider group of people on some cause or condition like homelessness, prejudicial attacks or environmental issues. Since informing the populace of a public concern is often regarded as the first step to changing how the institutions (or citizens themselves) handle it, raising awareness is often the first activity in which advocacy groups, activists, or others engage.

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ALL examples of Actions and Policies

Click HERE for the Examples


Auteur : Louise Hain - Publié le : 2013-06-05 09:32 -

Le PIVOT is a long term holistic project in a deprived Brussels’ neighbourhood that aims at enabling families living in extreme poverty the strenghth to get together, co-create actions and through this proccess regain dignity and control over their lives.

Rushey Green Time Bank

Auteur : Lorna Muddiman - Publié le : 2013-05-21 08:15 -
Picture courtesy of Rushey Green Time Bank

Time Banking is a community development tool and works by facilitating the exchange of skills and experience within a community. The Rushey Green Time Bank's vision is to achieve a cohesive community in the Rushey Green area, where neighbours know neighbours and can rely on each other for help and support. Where people of different ages, cultures, backgrounds and abilities interact with each other on an equal footing and with mutual respect and understanding.

Infirmiers de rue (Street nurses)

Auteur : Louise Hain - Publié le : 2013-05-13 08:58 -
Infirmiers de rue

Infirmiers de rue bridges the gap between the streets and health actors to bring care and hygiene to homeless people through an empowering method around people’s dignity, self-esteem and responsibility. Using hygiene as an entry point for self-recovery, the Association ensures long-term support until housing re-insertion.

Shared Condominium

Auteur : alessandra sciurba - Publié le : 2013-04-26 12:58 -

Confabitare, an association of residents of condominiums, owners or tenants, organised within a single project of two actions: 1 - Organisation within the condominium of a shared food expenditure through a condominium purchasing group. 2 - Sharing of caring needs for the elderly through a shared "care worker" of the condominium.

Peace Classes

Auteur : Louise Hain - Publié le : 2013-04-22 08:44 -
Peace classes

The Peace Classes are an active methodology developed in different schools within multicultural cities in Belgium to help kids, parents and teachers to better understand one another, build empathy, acquire and develop collaborative behaviours through value sharing, emotions and personal development.

Comunità La Zattera (The Raft Community)

Auteur : alessandra sciurba  - Publié le : 2013-04-21 09:22 -

A community of lay Combonian missionaries obtains a space whereby it starts a process of co-habitation by the pooling together of resources. The new space is also aimed at being a place of welcome and hospitality for people in need.

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Dernière modification de la page : Mercredi 29 mai 2013 13:06:00 UTC
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