3 easy actions when “self care isn’t enough”

Have you ever heard of “community care?”  

Earlier this year, an article on Mashable.com made waves among progressive do-gooders and community builders. In it, author Heather Dockray makes the provocative case that when trying to overcome burnout, relying on self-care may not be as helpful as it seems.  

She advocates for community care instead. 

Image: Bob Al-Greene / Mashable.

What is community care?

“Community care is basically any care provided by a single individual to benefit other people in their life,” writes Dockray 

This can take the form of protests, for which community care is best known, but also simple, interpersonal acts of compassion. 

What’s more, “Community care involves more than one person. It can include two, three, or possibly hundreds of people. You can practice community care in your personal offline life or even in digital spaces.” 

Hmm… sounds familiar!  

At United Way we call that local love.  

You might say the philosophy of community care is what drives our new ways of working. We’re deploying teams of community builders into neighbourhoods near you, listening to what residents have to say, and providing tips and tools to mobilize for change.

Take a look at how we’re helping residents foster connections, in communities like Clayton Heights. 

Ready to take action? Here’s how:

mike mcknight uwlm kitchen

UWLM President & CEO Mike McKnight (L) helps prepare pancakes at a Clayton Heights neighbourhood event, Family Day 2019.


1. Plan a potluck

Neighbourhoods are the original social safety net.  But you can’t call on your neighbours, if you don’t know their names!

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. So the next time the sun is shining, organize a potluck picnic! Keep it simple, invite your neighbours, and let this natural community get to know each other. 

Then, community care can take root. When the new parents down the street seem overwhelmed, you can more comfortably ask a neighbour to join you in preparing and delivering a few wholesome meals.

And if you ever find yourself in need of support too, you’ll know just whom to call. 

2. Join a local group

MeetUp is great for more than rec sports or niche hobbies The popular website also helps you meet others with similar challenges. These could be a mental health issue, a chronic illness or just a difficult phase of life.  

Nubia (above) found support and connection at a postpartum mothers’ group, while dads like Nat build their confidence in a “Daddy and Me” program. Both were made possible by United Way donors.

When you join a supportive group, you generate community care in a virtuous cycle. You never know how you’ll be supporting someone else, or when the group will be there for you when you need it most.  

Don’t see the kind of group you need? Why not start one yourself!  

United Way’s Local Love Funds can help you kick-start a project or initiative you think will bring people together. If you live in an area like Lower Lonsdale, apply today.

Young people in East Vancouver express the issues that matter most to them. When advocacy is tiring you out, engage an ally!

3. Engage an ally

Taking action on issues you care about is one of the simplest ways to make your community better.

At the same time, social change can be a long journey, full of set-backs. Burnout is common and self-care alone isn’t enough to re-charge. 

When you need a break from an important cause, message a friend who’s informed, but less directly engaged on topic. Let them know you need a break from your passion project, but they can keep the momentum going. Ask them to carry out one small action to contribute to the cause.  

If they are a strong ally, they won’t even ask what or how. They’ll step in, so you can step back.  


Read the original Mashable article, Self-care isn’t enough. We need community care to thrive. 

What does community care look like, in your neighbourhood? Let us know using #actsoflocallove