Growing a movement of Radical Caring with community and grassroots projects across London

blog | 08 Feb 2022

Thrive LDN is working in partnership with Mind in the City, Hackney & Waltham Forest (CHWF) and Innovation Unit, to grow a culture of Radical Caring in different places and communities across London.

Radical Self-Care (RadSec) is a training programme developed by dedicated workers and volunteers at Mind in Salford and Mind in the City, Hackney & Waltham Forest. The approach addresses people’s own anxiety and shame-based self-criticism, often internalised from the society and context in which we live.

In a Randomised Controlled Trial run by the City University of London, Centre for Psychological Wellbeing and Neuroscience between 2019-2020, the RadSec training model was proven effective in reducing anxiety, depression, harsh self-criticism and shame.

RadSec draws on our innate capacity for awareness and for care. The model supports people to ‘draw from our own strengths, just as we are’, so that  we are better resourced to look after ourselves and each other, allowing respect and care to affect the way we live our lives.  

RadSec stands for and works from the principles of intersectionality, lived experience leadership, and trauma-sensitivity. Mental health is understood in the social context of people’s lives.

The engagement event

In November 2021, we held a virtual session with 49 individuals and grassroot organisations across London. Together we reflected on where the principles of RadSec resonated in people’s lives, communities and organisations; and how those principles might grow in richness and value in our different contexts.

We heard five key insights about where RadSec might be needed or has potential to grow.

1. U-turning care towards ourselves when caring for others is our life’s work

People shared that they often care for others without ever extending care towards themselves. This is particularly true in the care sector. Many felt care-givers are last on the list, because their need for care is judged to be less important. One attendee reflected that “[I] never put my needs first because my clients’ needs are always greater”. In this context, U-turning care towards self feels particularly important: supporting people to fill their own cup, so that they have more to give from.

“I think the one thing that sticks with me is putting myself first. I always care for others before myself, and that needs to change. I realise I have to care for myself first to be better for others.”

2. Creating the conditions and permission for Radical Caring in our organisations

We each have different levels of tuning in and attending to our own needs. It was observed that in some organisational settings, caring for self is perceived as self-indulgent and can create resentment and rifts. People were excited to explore shifts in organisational culture: building self-care as a new norm and creating the organisational conditions for Radical Caring, for bringing and caring for all parts of ourselves- just as we are.

“Organisations don’t have the environment to support this – being yourself etc.”

3. Using Radical Caring to help London’s communities work through trauma compounded by the pandemic

Right to Thrive organisations and projects work with communities where there is a lot of trauma, which has only been exacerbated by the unequal impact of Covid-19. Could Radical Self-Care help Londoners work from the principles of lived-experience leadership and trauma-sensitivity to move through a just recovery?

“I love the idea of Radsec being a movement and I like the idea of system change through participation of lived experience.”

4. Non-hierarchical systems transformation

In the virtual room were practitioners and directors. People recognised this movement as an opportunity to work together to flatten those hierarchies. A personal journey of transformation applies as much to a CEO as it does to a frontline practitioner. There was real energy and excitement around using Radical Caring as the foundations for non-hierarchical systems transformation- inviting in boards and directors to learn from principles being lived and brought to life on the ground.

“It has helped me step back and reflect on my own self-care and the ‘ripple out’ ‘inside out’ non hierarchical change making. It made me feel really hopeful, this idea of ‘care’ being the constant shift, rather than specified time for care. This feels like the radical change that is exciting and full of potential.”

5. Building on where Radical Caring is already alive

Some people reflected that they were already practising radical self-care in their lives and work: resourcing themselves and others with a belief and investment in self-care. We want to learn how and where Radical Caring is already being embedded organically and informally, to inform the principles of Radical Caring as the movement grows and transforms.

We’ve been doing radical self-care without realising it. Staying calm is my superpower in supporting others.

These insights will shape and inform our workshop series beginning in February 2022. For more information and expression of interest in taking part, please contact /