Bumping Spaces

“Bumping Spaces are places in the community where we naturally bump into each other, they are our communal spaces, gathering places. A trusted environment where we spend time together, share space together, be in relationships together and walk beside each other…Bumping Spaces are places where we can make friends, share our thoughts and feelings together and be empowered to find the answers and solutions to solve our own problems within our communities acknowledging everyone’s gifts and that everyone is an asset within their community…At Bumping Spaces we are both the helper and the helped, we share our new skills and abilities together, our cultures, our histories looking for what’s strong, not focusing on what’s wrong through the power of peer support, celebrating difference and embracing change.”

“Community is built on relationships and people develop relationships through frequent contact with others. So, if you want to build community, you need places to bump into other people. The closer those places are to where you live, the more likely you are to bump into the same people over and over again…
If you want to develop an inclusive community, you need to have inclusive bumping spaces. While neighbors typically have all kinds of differences in terms of age, income, culture, religion, politics, interests, etc. they tend to gather with people who are like themselves. To be inclusive, a place should be accessible to those with differing abilities and incomes.
A key reason why places aren’t sufficiently inclusive is because so many are single purpose. They only attract gardeners, basketball players, seniors or whomever the space was specifically designed for…
An inclusive place will be multi-purpose.”

“…the way we plan and design our built environment needs to encourage different kinds of interaction – we need bumping spaces like benches where we might see neighbours or acquaintances – so called ‘weak ties’. Alongside this, we also need places for the creation of ‘strong ties’ where we develop and maintain real friendships, for example at community groups and activities.
A ‘less lonely’ neighbourhood needs to have the right collection of buildings and friendly shared places which are liked by residents and are, therefore, comfortable to use and will foster encounters with others’.”

“Built environment and places for widening connections: Neighbourhood research can also be used to distinguish places where residents go to encounter or interact with people from the same community, same age group or who are in other ways like themselves (sometimes described as acquiring ‘bonding social capital’).
And places where people from different groups can encounter one another (described as creating ‘bridging social capital’).
In one example, people tended to use informal infrastructure such as shops and cafes to meet people they already knew.
Formal infrastructure such as libraries, sports and exercise facilities, and community spaces were often places for encountering people from different backgrounds.
Mixed housing can also foster such ‘bridging’ as, for example, in housing association sites which include housing to meet the needs of people at different life stages.
And interventions, for example a community gardening project, can improve connections between different backgrounds and generations.
These shared places then offer the possibility of enabling a wider set of connections between local people including members of marginalised communities who may otherwise have little opportunity to meet a diverse group of people who live nearby.
On the other hand, there is also evidence that individuals may be reluctant to attend places heavily identified with a group of which they are not a part.
Whether thinking about ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ public places or shared spaces around housing, consideration needs to be given to whether they foster enough contact to address loneliness. Researchers have distinguished between places which support weak versus strong ties.
For example, there is the possibility of repeated low-key verbal or non-verbal encounters with staff or other local residents in locations such as shops and libraries and also in places we pass through on a regular basis including parks and greenspaces or walking routes around the area.”