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Image by Poppy Baines

Connect Through: A toolkit

Image by Poppy Baines

Some of the world’s most serious health and social issues are ignored or hidden from public view. As a result, many people who need help are afraid to seek it. At Talking Taboos, we use design and behavioural science to understand the beliefs and attitudes that fuel these stigmas, and work with communities to develop design solutions to challenge taboos.

Connection in times of Covid

Before covid disrupted all our lives, the Talking Taboos and Common teams had been exploring the taboo of loneliness and what could help tackle it. In the last year we have experienced increased loneliness and isolation as we stayed home, were physically distanced and lost loved ones, but also enhanced closeness as communities came together and supported each other through acts of kindness, compassion and organised groups like mutual aid.

We believe that we need to tackle loneliness by creating more moments for local connections - spaces where we can meet and connect with people we live near, rebuilding a sense of community and potentially making new friends.

Design Solution: Enter… Connect Through: Cooking

We needed a solution that will nurture our communities, so we are arranged a cooking classes with neighbours that fostered connections with people who live close to each other.

CTC created a space to connect. We make it explicit that cooking is an excuse for getting to know people and trialled nudges for connection. It worked! We overheard an exchange at a session; "I had seen you before, but I don't know much about you, could you tell me about yourself". CTC ‘nudged’ them to engage more deeply. The class is a mix of people who express feelings of loneliness & those that don’t. Retention grew with each new class, and was taken outside of the classes into a whatsapp group and multiple meet ups from picnics to coffees.

CTC built links between people & their communities, creating space for those experiencing loneliness to make connections. CTC has created relationships between people that stretch outside of the organised space, where casual run-ins have turned into coffees, bread starters have been shared and numbers swapped. The core group are so appreciative of the initiative they have offered to help in any way they can, from donating money, to equipment & even their own gardens so that we can hold a more classes.

If the sound of this wets your appetite, do get in touch to find out how we can support you to run your own Connect Through: Cooking session.

From Living Lab to Toolkit

Using CTC as a living lab, we trailled and tested ideas for connection to create a toolkit for other event organisers. We launched the toolkit during Jo Cox Foundation's innagural "Common Room" event with event organisers and attendee's alike. So far the toolkit has been used by charities, volunteers, local councils and a variety of event oragnisers from yoga teachers to gardening clubs. The toolkit can be found on instagram at @connect.through and a downloadable [here] (

If you’d like to read more about connecting with strangers here are a couple of the articles and resources we’ve found really helpful:

Gillian Sandstrom’s amazing resources on talking to strangers

Irrational Lab’s piece reframing the loneliness epidemic

Our Loneliness Toolkit