Blog – Making Kind Places – Anne-Marie O’Hara, Norton Park

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Town Centre Living: We are developing and inviting a conversation on a Caring Place through our social media channels and on this website. This blog comes from Anne-Marie O’Hara, CEO at Norton Park in Edinburgh.  Following on from Zoe Ferguson’s blog on ‘A Caring Place – Designing in Kindness’, Anne-Marie discusses her involvement with the Carnegie Trust work on kindness, and on a group looking at kindness in procurement. 

In July 2017 the Carnegie UK Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation published a project report “The Place of Kindness, Combating loneliness and building stronger communities”. The report explored the relationship between kindness and wellbeing and asked a number of important questions, including “Why does kindness matter?”

Kindness at the heart of Government 

In June 2018 the Scottish Government revised their National Performance Framework setting out the outcomes that all public bodies (including the Scottish Government itself) will seek to achieve. The revision of the Framework brings with it a number of innovations. The purpose now includes the role of government in securing wellbeing for the people of Scotland. In the centre of the new visual is a semi-circle that sets out Scotland’s values.  It reads:  We are a society which treats all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion respects the rule of law and acts in an open and transparent way.

As Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy, Carnegie UK Trust states ‘ By putting kindness in the National Performance Framework, the Scottish Government is recognising a value that most in Scotland would know is part of our culture’.


Exploring Kindness in Procurement and Commissioning

Following on from the 2017 publication, the Carnegie UK Trust convened the Kindness Innovation Network (KIN), an action learning programme that brings together people with an interest in kindness to share ideas and learning, test new ideas, and collaborate around kindness.

In addition to the main group, a number of smaller groups have emerged from the KIN, each focussing on a different thematic areas. One such group is looking at the theme of Kindness in Procurement and Commissioning and has been set up to “Develop the understanding of kindness in the procurement/commissioning process to achieve better outcomes for people and communities.

One of the group’s initial activities is to collect examples of good practice in commissioning and procurement where community is at the heart of the process and where the services remain there throughout. In addition, the group have been looking at how organisations embed their values, particularly people, social and environmental values within their procurement policies and procedures. Do people come first or does it often come down to time or money?

In the group we have already identified some interesting illustrations, but would like to hear of others across the UK and beyond. If you know of any good examples of kinder and caring procurement methods that have worked, or perhaps you are aware of some procurement exercise that attempted to adopt a more people-centred approach but was less successful, the group would very much like to hear from you.


The Kindness in Procurement and Commissioning group will be hosting a small workshop on kinder procurement at Procurex the national conference on procurement Please come and join the debate – alternatively contact Anne-Marie O’Hara

(Updated September 2018)

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