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The Bigger Picture: Community

How do we make neighbourhoods a better shared living experience?

Are we becoming better neighbours? 73% of people around the world say they have spent more time in their neighbourhoods in the last 12 months. 62% say their mental wellbeing has benefitted from having a sense of belonging in their local area.

IKEA Life at Home Report 2021

Art Nurtures Wellbeing In The Neighbourhood

Marine Tanguy
Founder and CEO of MTArt Agency for artists

Marine grew up on Île de Ré, a small island in France, where she was used to walking in the village or by the seaside. Now living in London, she cycles and walks everywhere. “I find it soothing, and it informs my knowledge of the place I live in. This is the only way to pick up on changes within a neighbourhood.”

It was her everyday walks that inspired more ideas for new public art projects, a way to revive different areas and engage with local communities. Some were designed as a response to lockdown, for example, reusing shop windows to display art. “The year-long exhibition by our artist Delphine Diallo, which discussed the role of women within the urban space, was particularly meaningful in writing a new story for Regent Street, one of inclusion and local life.”

When MTArt collected data on two of its earlier public art initiatives, the results were especially encouraging, with 84% of the sample audience saying that seeing art regularly in public spaces would increase their wellbeing. “As people, we love a good story. We want to take part in multiple stories in places where we live, work, or travel – and we want those stories to represent us and our values. Public art in neighbourhoods helps to remind people of the stories we are creating all together.”

“I find it soothing, and it informs my knowledge of the place I live in. This is the only way to pick up on changes within a neighbourhood.”

Communities Can Be Prosperous

Mercedes Gutiérrez Álvarez
Head of Social Impact and Community Engagement, IKEA Retail (Ingka Group)

“Better homes create better lives, but too many people are experiencing poverty and social exclusion in our communities,” Mercedes says. She has been leading the IKEA Retail agenda for how the company supports and connects with the communities around its stores. “Today we are present in 392 local neighbourhoods in 32 countries. By 2030 we are committed to creating a positive impact for everyone across the value chain and beyond. This includes our co-workers, workers of our suppliers and business partners and the local neighbourhoods where we are present. We can create circles of prosperity with communities. When those neighbourhoods thrive, we thrive too.”

After years of, in Mercedes’ words, “doing many great things, but with a short-term impact”, IKEA, through its new IKEA x Neighbourhoods initiative, is prioritising three movements through to the year 2030 to support the most vulnerable communities: increasing access to better homes, opening pathways to decent work, and enabling as many people as possible to participate.

Engaging in decent job creation in at-risk communities is an objective that has the ability to rewrite the future scenario for many individuals. As Mercedes says, “We have supported 802 refugees and asylum seekers to improve their employability and language skills; 60% of them got a job at IKEA after the training phase. We have also developed a ‘micro-hub’ concept as part of our last-mile value chain in cooperation with social entrepreneurs. Our first pilot project in Paris is with a local enterprise, Carton Plein, that helps people experiencing homelessness and social exclusion to integrate back into society with coaching, training, and employment, while offering a great service to our customers who can collect their IKEA products closer to their homes.”

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“We can create circles of prosperity with communities. When those neighbourhoods thrive, we thrive too.”

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The Life at Home Magazine

A Balanced Place

Learn more about the ups and downs of mental wellbeing at home through the stories and experiences of people around the world.