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communityGovernment agencies augment their capabilities by tapping community assets including citizens, NGOs and community organizations. Community support becomes a powerful force, particularly in cases where heavy intervention is unnecessary. Problems such as loneliness and social isolation, for instance, can become mental health and substance abuse issues if left untreated; strong social networks can prevent this progression. Volunteers help strengthen the social safety net through the growth of innovative avenues — time banks such as CareBank, food sharing networks such as Casserole Club and programs that engage communities such as the Philadelphia Department of Human Services’ Improving Outcomes for Children. Such programs reinforce feelings of responsibility and empowerment within the community. Mobile technology helps mobilize support.

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Casserole Club in the UK helps people share extra portions of home-cooked food with others in the area who are not always able to cook themselves.

Source: “Food for thought: project sees neighbors sharing an extra plate,” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/local-government-network/2013/apr/16/food-casserole-project-neighbours-social-exclusion.