Steph Stanhope is the founder of Creating Caring Connections, which aims to do exactly that! Since we last featured her, it has become a Community Interest Company and she has just launched Connection Cards in time for Valentine’s Day
Remind us who you are and what you do?
I’m Steph, the founder of Creating Caring Connections. My aim is to support people to feel more connected to themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. Feeling more connected to ourselves and the world around us increases our wellbeing and helps to reduce feelings of loneliness.
I write about connection and its links with wellbeing, sharing ways to encourage and support connection with people of any age because the need for connection does not diminish with age. It is there from the moment we’re born, until we take our final breath.
How has everything been for you since we last featured you? You’ve become a CIC?
This year has been quite exciting so far. Creating Caring Connections is now a registered Community Interest Company. It felt like the right direction to register the company as a CIC following a positive year. It reflects the value we place on community and bringing people together, especially through our Intergenerational Connections Projects.
Alongside writing about connection and wellbeing, I work with care homes and schools to bring older and younger people together, to create intergenerational connections. Research shows that this has many positive outcomes for all involved, including increasing wellbeing and feelings of purpose and pride.
Through the Intergenerational Connections Project, I was lucky enough to facilitate links between younger and older people in many ways: face to face in a care home garden, online via video calls and via post. Although the pandemic has challenged connections, I’ve been privileged to witness the spark and the energy that is created through intergenerational contact.
Coordinating and facilitating intergenerational connections has helped me to reconnect with my creative side. It’s also provided opportunities for me to connect with other creative people and small local businesses, something I hope to nourish and continue to build upon this year.
How vitally important are both companionship and intergenerational connections, when it comes to our wellbeing?
We are social creatures; therefore, connection is fundamental to our wellbeing. The absence of connection leads to feelings of loneliness which we know can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health. We also know that we are living in a society where people are living longer. Maintaining a sense of connection throughout our lives is vital to living a happier and healthier life.
Feeling connected to ourselves and others helps us to feel good about ourselves, it helps us to feel understood and valued. It can remind us that we all have something to give, that we all have purpose. Caring relationships within families, friendships and the workplace can help us to feel safe, satisfying another human need.
What one thing could we all do today to help us connect with ourselves; our loved ones; and our community?
Ourselves – Take some time for yourself, time to show yourself some love and kindness; think of three things you like about yourself, two things that make you feel good and something that you’re proud of.
Our loved ones – Set aside the tasks competing for your time and give someone in your life your full attention. Whether that’s sitting down to share a meal together or picking up the phone for a chat.
Our community – Go for a walk, it can be as long or short as you like, smile at people you see, be present and see what you notice around you.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2022?
My hopes for 2022 are to continue to support people to maintain their wellbeing through connection.
Connection Cards are on their way, a collection of prompts that encourage connection, allowing people to give themselves or loved ones the gift of connection. They will be launching in February in time for Valentine’s (or Palentine’s) Day. Money from their sale will go towards funding the Intergenerational Connections Projects. I’m hoping to find people who would like to support the project by buying some cards and places that would like to stock some.
I’m also hoping to continue to create connections with early years providers, schools and care providers to support sustainable intergenerational connections.
Featured image: Steph with her Grandad