Social networks key to helping unemployed - Business Works
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Social networks key to helping unemployed

U nemployment makes women four times as likely to become isolated within their communities, according to a new report published today by the RSA.

Power Lines, the second report from the RSA’s Connected Communities project, found that unemployment doubles the likelihood of men becoming isolated, but more than quadruples it with women.

RSA's Connected Communites project reflects its strapline 21st Century Enlightenment which makes a statement about the role that RSA plays today, as an organisation established over 250 years ago, that is committed to stimulating thinking, social innovation and – among its 27,000 Fellows – has a powerful ethos of collaboration

Power Lines argues that the Big Society is currently dominated by the so called ‘usual suspects’ – an existing civic core of well educated, middle aged professionals – and that more should be done to improve the social networks of isolated people such as the retired and unemployed.

"Our research shows that developing and encouraging neighbour to neighbour relationships remains key to breaking the link between social isolation and unemployment," says Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA. "Setting a goal of improving community’s social networks is one way in which the Big Society could take a big step forward towards not only becoming better defined but also delivering on the ground."

The report concludes that the government’s efforts to build the big society risk exacerbating existing inequalities unless more is done to support those who are isolated within their communities.

It says that the government is currently too focused on engaging members of the public with the delivery of public services and that its efforts would be better spent trying to promote the strength of neighbour-to-neighbour relationships and a community’s ability to self-organise.

It further argues that by fostering support and exchange through informal connections, the Government can in fact ‘achieve’ outcomes that many public services aim for - such as increasing employment and providing social care.

It is only through encouraging denser and more varied connections that people will have better access to information, opportunities and assets, and become more likely to get things done, the report says.

FOr more information about Connected Communities and the RSA, visit:

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