The Compassion Project: The Power of Hope and Human Kindness

April 9, 2021

My guest today is Julian Abel, MD, the Director of Compassionate Communities UK. Julian was on the show a couple of years ago to discuss his innovative model for combating social isolation in the town of Frome in Somerset, UK.  The goal of his project was to improve health outcomes and quality of life, and a measurable difference was made, in both healthcare cost savings and reduced ER admissions. The work of Compassionate Communities has since spurred further initiatives and is now transforming perspectives on matters of healthcare and social wellbeing around the world. 

On this podcast Julian and I talk about the power of compassion, and how reason, emotion, and inspiration can help build connection and reduce loneliness. Julian shares how Compassionate Communities is growing as a social movement and talks about what each of us can do to make the world a kinder place. He also reveals plans for Compassionate Communities USA, set to launch in the next few months with a free and inclusive conference.

Here’s the outline of this interview with Julian Abel:


[00:00:16] Previous podcasts with Julian: 1. Building Compassionate Communities to Improve Public Health, and 2. Maintaining Social Connection in the Era of COVID-19.

[00:03:21] Compassion.

[00:05:28] Oxytocin is present throughout the animal kingdom.

[00:06:00] Film: My Octopus Teacher (available on Netflix).

[00:06:55] Book: Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity, by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods. Podcast with Brian Hare: Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity.

[00:07:07] Book: Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman.

[00:09:03] Julian's study: Abel, Julian, et al. "Reducing emergency hospital admissions: a population health complex intervention of an enhanced model of primary care and compassionate communities." British Journal of General Practice 68.676 (2018): e803-e810.

[00:11:18] Julian’s Podcast: Survival of the Kindest

[00:11:25] Julian’s interview with Holly Prince: Dancing in the Field of End of Life Care.

[00:13:46] Compassionate Communities UK

[00:15:50] Review on social relationships and mortality: Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, Timothy B. Smith, and J. Bradley Layton. "Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review." PLoS medicine 7.7 (2010): e1000316.

[00:17:16] Book: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari.

[00:17:48] Book: Propaganda by Edward Bernays.

[00:21:01] Julian's interview with Waleed Nesyif: It's Never Too Late for Compassion

[00:22:28] Compassionate City Charter (and other tools).

[00:23:41] How to get people to be more compassionate - reason, emotion, and inspiration.

[00:23:52] James Maskell: podcast: The Community Cure: Transforming Health Outcomes Together, and book.

[00:26:46] Steps an individual can take.

[00:33:36] Podcasts: The Neurophysiology of Safety and How to Feel Safe. with Stephen Porges, PhD., and Oxytocin: More Than Just a “Love Hormone”, with Sue Carter, PhD.

[00:33:57] The people you spend time with affect your health outcomes; Book: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James Fowler.

[00:34:03] Article: Threats to causal inference in an increasingly connected world.

[00:35:51] People who are fiercely independent or resistant.

[00:39:57] Enhancing naturally-occurring networks.

[00:42:10] Town planning.

[00:44:23] Subsidiarity (skin in the game).

[00:45:25] Compassionate Communities USA / Elevate Compassion (Coming Soon).

[00:48:10] Julian's book: The Compassion Project: A case for hope and humankindness from the town that beat loneliness.

[00:49:11] Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine article: Compassion is the best medicine, by Julian Abel and Lindsay Clarke.

[00:49:15] Guardian Article: The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community, by George Monbiot.

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