Growing cultures of Radical Caring

blog | 03 Feb 2022

With growing evidence that the pandemic has widened pre-existing inequalities, there is a critical need to radically rethink the way in which support is offered, particularly for marginalised individuals and communities.

Most resources in the current system are invested in supporting people in crisis. People’s distress is sometimes left to spiral without support, and then treated as a problem to be ‘fixed’ by professionals. We very often undermine the role that people and communities can play in their own wellbeing.

What would it mean to highlight Radical Caring as central to the wellbeing of individuals, communities, systems and the planet? And what would it take to grow a new type of leadership, resourcing people who are often shut out from power?

We want to turn power on its head by growing the capacity of communities to care for their own and each other’s mental health and allowing them to invite in professional expertise on their terms.

Making the case for caring

In a society that profits from our self-doubt, liking yourself is a Radical Act.

Who we are and how we express ourselves can be met with hostility or rejection, which we often internalise as anxiety or shame. We might be at higher risk of unfair treatment based on our identity, beliefs, social class, and in some cases a combination of these.

Wholeheartedly endorsing all parts of ourselves just as we are, including strong and difficult emotions, helps us to hold difficult experiences and mental distress- for ourselves and for others.

What is Radical Caring?

Radical Self Care (RadSec) is an approach for improving wellbeing by supporting people to strengthen our inner capacities for present moment awareness, caring and self-compassion. The ‘Radical’ in this model refers to our human ‘birthright’, to exist as we are, with all aspects of our intersectional identities.

RadSec, developed by Mind in City, Hackney & Waltham Forest (CHWF) and Mind in Salford, draws on the evidence-based research and practice by Professor Paul Gilbert in the Compassion Focused Therapy approach. Specifically the model of three flows of compassion and care – from self to self, others to self, and self to others. These flows, and the first two in particular, are often underdeveloped and blocked especially for people with experience of trauma. We see an opportunity to create a societal shift towards caring as a foundation for transforming our relationship with ourselves, with each other and with the planet.

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

RadSec has been led by practitioners from diverse backgrounds and intersecting identities, including people who experience discrimination based on their race, sexuality and gender identity. The model is informed from their perspectives and serves people from across society. RadSec values and invests in lived experience leadership in the same way society often does for professional leadership.

What are we setting out to do, and what do we want to achieve?

The Thrive LDN, Mind in CHWF and Innovation Unit partnership sets out to test what it takes to grow cultures of Radical Caring in organisational and community settings, working with community and grassroots projects across London who are supporting people experiencing higher levels of inequality.

In 2022, over the course of 8 workshops exploring our relationship to self and to others, and a series of action learning sets, a group of 30 representatives from grassroots projects and organisations will work with Radical Self-Care (RadSec) practitioners and Innovation Unit to grow and embed the principles of Radical Caring within their organisations and wider context.

We aspire to be system thinkers in action. This work begins with resourcing communities and individuals, using personal transformations (to self and to others) as a basis for exploring what Radical Caring could mean in the context of organisations and systems.

We are interested in the ripple effects of Radical Self-Care and will be helping participants consider what it would mean to bring Radical Caring to their organisations and communities.

We hope this project is the first step in a wider and deeper exploration of the potential of Radical Caring to transform ourselves and our society. We hope to continue working together to encourage further conversation and action. We are also looking for other partners to join us to explore what a Radically Caring health care system, economy, politics, education and justice system would look like.

In this work we hope to build caring as a foundation for sharing power, and nurturing a new, more inclusive movement for better mental health.
We as a collective of caring folk plan to continue this work that we have embarked upon with the view of collaborating and discovering what might be.

How can I learn more and get involved?

The Radical Self Care workshops will start in February 2022. If you are interested in taking part, or want to explore opportunities to join us as a partner please contact /