Risk, trust and relationships

Risk, trust and relationships

Investigating risk and trust in everyday relationships where support happens.


Policy and Research Programme Manager
Research Administrator
01904 615967

What would help people to feel confident when making decisions about supporting each other? How can we encourage communities to be kinder?


Most support and care happens in informal (e.g. family, friends) and semi-formal (e.g. volunteering) relationships, and is likely to increasingly happen as society ages. These are some of the most complex and least well-understood areas, with a clear connection to wider societal concerns about trust, kindness, generosity, solidarity and the common good.

The programme aims to:

  • build understanding of the little explored territory of risk, trust and relationships in our ageing society;
  • find ways to help people become more confident in making decisions that contribute to achieving a good life for all, and kinder communities.

To read more about this programme, read our Investigations (160KB, PDF).

Read a summary of the main programme outputs and ongoing work (230KB, PDF). 


The programme will run for 3.5 years (January 2012-June 2015) and will:

  • use a range of methodologies - from psychological to ethnographic approaches - to develop the evidence base through examining key questions around risk and trust in 'webs' of relationships, and from multiple perspectives;
  • capture practical examples of issues, approaches and strategies that are grounded in, and speak to, people’s lived experience; and
  • identify ways in which the new insights can influence policy as well as everyday decisions.

This programme builds on a scoping programme exploring the connected themes of rights, responsibilities, risk and regulation in the lives of (younger and older) adults who use care and support. To read papers from the scoping programme see Key publications (right).

Resources for community groups

The Risk, Trust and Relationships programme links closely to JRF’s Neighbourhood Approaches to Loneliness programme.

JRF has funded a research project to explore how four community groups participating in the Loneliness programme navigated the ‘risk landscape’ when they engaged in community action. 

Two of the key challenges from the research are:

  • myths and the reality of ‘red tape’,
  • personal risks of involvement in locally visible and time-consuming action. 

The full research report by red Consultancy will be published in early 2014.

A Can Do Guide brings together the learning from the four community groups’ experience  and highlights ways to access help. 

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