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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.

Infirmiers de rue (Street nurses)

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 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

Author: alessandra sciurba - Published At: 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.

Comunità La Zattera (The Raft Community)

Author: alessandra sciurba  - Published At: 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.

Time Bank of Athens

Author: Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-04-18 13:02 -

The Athens Time Bank was created in May 2011, at Sydagma Square, when thousands of people gathered there to participate in mass strikes and demonstrations.

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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.

Business centre for people with disabilities

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 15:14 -

By working with and for people with disabilities, the project aims to provide equal opportunities and better life chances for them. The activities simultaneously increase the level of public awareness on issues of people with disabilities and lobby for their rights.

Social Training - Professional Centre

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 09:37 -

Improving the livelihood and social status of vulnerable people by establishing a social enterprise: the project aims to establish and develop a municipally-supported social enterprise in order to provide secured employment of disadvantaged people in Dimitrovgrad, thus improving their quality of life.

Peace Classes

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 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.

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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.

Civil movement "Protect Yourself"

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-16 13:36 -

Citizen initiative against bank policies and privileges set out in legislation, which has been initiated by lawyers working in the public interest and is supported by different civil society structures.

Local Communities Protection Committee

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-14 15:35 -

The Committee aims to support local communities in their efforts to promote local development working into two basic directions.

Business centre for people with disabilities

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 15:14 -

By working with and for people with disabilities, the project aims to provide equal opportunities and better life chances for them. The activities simultaneously increase the level of public awareness on issues of people with disabilities and lobby for their rights.

Solidarity Bulgaria (SB)

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 14:20 -

Solidarity Bulgaria is a discussion network of citizens believing in the values of freedom, solidarity and justice. The initiative promotes discussions on important social issues, ranging from poverty to social security to housing. The Group is active in social & environmental issues as well as standards of living. The aim is to empower civil society and restore solidarity through active discussions, public initiatives, drafting of legal changes and elaboration of position papers.

NGO Diogenis and its street magazine Shedia

Author: Mariani Papanikolau - Published At: 2013-08-02 11:33 -

An NGO working to support the rights of homeless people; through a wide range of activities, it assists homeless and socially excluded people in their struggle to join or rejoin the social fabric. Two core operations include a street magazine “Shedia” and a homeless soccer team.

Homelessness & the Arts

Author: Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-05-17 13:30 -

An awareness-raising campaign that is trying to change the stereotypes surrounding homeless people in the UK through a combination of artwork, literature, film and media, and corporate presentations.

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ALL examples of Actions and Policies

Click HERE for the Examples

Local Communities Protection Committee

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-14 15:35 -

The Committee aims to support local communities in their efforts to promote local development working into two basic directions.

Business centre for people with disabilities

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 15:14 -

By working with and for people with disabilities, the project aims to provide equal opportunities and better life chances for them. The activities simultaneously increase the level of public awareness on issues of people with disabilities and lobby for their rights.

Solidarity Bulgaria (SB)

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 14:20 -

Solidarity Bulgaria is a discussion network of citizens believing in the values of freedom, solidarity and justice. The initiative promotes discussions on important social issues, ranging from poverty to social security to housing. The Group is active in social & environmental issues as well as standards of living. The aim is to empower civil society and restore solidarity through active discussions, public initiatives, drafting of legal changes and elaboration of position papers.

Social Training - Professional Centre

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 09:37 -

Improving the livelihood and social status of vulnerable people by establishing a social enterprise: the project aims to establish and develop a municipally-supported social enterprise in order to provide secured employment of disadvantaged people in Dimitrovgrad, thus improving their quality of life.

NGO Diogenis and its street magazine Shedia

Author: Mariani Papanikolau - Published At: 2013-08-02 11:33 -

An NGO working to support the rights of homeless people; through a wide range of activities, it assists homeless and socially excluded people in their struggle to join or rejoin the social fabric. Two core operations include a street magazine “Shedia” and a homeless soccer team.

Intergenerational job skills training

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-08-01 15:25 -

A 4 months job training opened to unemployed (young) persons where volunteered retired professionals can provide them with practical/concrete skills.

HacKIDemia

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-07-15 22:36 -

HacKIDemia is a mobile intervention Lab that enables children to learn by doing and playing during hands on workshops around new technologies, science and art.

Lutherie Urbaine

Author: Mélissa/Anne-Iris - Published At: 2013-06-14 08:30 -

Lutherie Urbaine is dedicated to musical creation and instruments made from recycled materials. The social, ecological and multi-cultural aspects are part of each project, from its roots to its creation.

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Liège neighborhood Mediation

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-08-12 15:09 -

Neighborhood Mediation is a proximity tool used to pacify conflicts and tensions in Liege’s targeted areas may they be of all kinds (intergenerational/intercultural) and develop mutual respect and self-empowerement of inhabitants.

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