It started in a room in Liverpool. A group of young people enduring some of life’s toughest challenges told us they didn’t want more fixing. They wanted to be understood.

We’d come with the usual approach. Assess risk. Assign an intervention. Tick the box and move on. But it was clear they’d had enough of that. And it wasn’t working.

So we listened. And what we heard was the desire to be seen, for a real connection. We asked whether this fundamental need for connection could hold the key to re-thinking practice and policy. So, despite all the important work we were doing as part of Dartington Social Research Unit, we decided to leave and co-found Ratio.

Since 2017, we’ve been trying to answer one question: how does social connection influence health and development? We’ve worked with innovators in England, Scotland, the Netherlands and the USA. And we’ve learnt from courageous innovators through our podcast, Ratio Talks.

Healthy social connections have the potential to change how people feel and think, and recover their agency. From there, they’re more likely to make decisions that are beneficial to their health, whether that means alleviating their suffering or living well.

Social contexts influence connection. Those that are rich in trust and belonging are more likely to encourage people to want to change their circumstances. And getting the context right can lead to people coming together to address social challenges and hold public systems to account.

What we do

Informed by these insights, we are now experimenting with creating contexts that enable people to connect, recover their agency and innovate. Our research and consultancy is in four areas:

  • Relational Worker – What does one-to-one help look like when the solution is connecting people, not fixing them?
  • Relational Communities – How do you create contexts that encourage people to come together to enhance their health, development and collective agency?
  • Relational Social Policy – How can policies be designed to create the social contexts for connection?
  • Relational Learning – And how can we measure relationships and encourage people to use that learning to change how we all see the world?

We work with organisations – public systems, funders, and civil society organisations – in two ways.

  1. We form strategic partnerships to translate insights into relationships into projects that can have a population-level impact. We provide training, measurement, and advice to advance relational practice and policy.
  2. We also support residents to connect with each other, recover their agency and come together to shape their communities in ways that matter to them.

Who we are

Michael Little

Michael Little

Michael is a founder of Ratio. His primary interest is in contributing to an emerging relational social policy, and to fashioning new ways of linking evidence to policy and practice. As an intervention scientist, Michael has led research teams in the UK at Dartington Social Research Unit and in US at the University of Chicago. He  has  worked  with international philanthropy -Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies- and governments in the UK, US, Ireland and Spain. He is author  of  a dozen books  and  over 200  other publications.

Michael Little

Rebeca Sandu

Rebeca is a founder of Ratio. She is a social researcher whose primary interest is understanding why one to one relationships could change health and development, particularly for the most disadvantaged members of our society.  Previously Rebeca co-led an Inquiry into Young People Facing Severe and Multiple Disadvantage with Michael Little while being at Dartington Social Research Unit. Rebeca is trained in psychology and family dynamics.

Michael Little

Pritpal S Tamber

Pritpal is an Associate to Ratio and a Non Executive Director. His work focuses on the link between agency and health, a field in which he is a leading researcher and public speaker. As a consultant, his clients have included Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, and the World Health Organisation. Pritpal is the former Medical Director of Map of Medicine.

Michael Little

Sarah Mortimer

Sarah Mortimer leads Street to Scale, a spin-off from Ratio’s collaboration with Charlie Howard and young people in London. Street to Scale builds trust in communities and gives citizens small amounts of funds to improve their communities. Previously, Sarah worked for the Association of Camerados, designing a teepee to change the pattern of contact between patients, visitors and health workers in U.K. hospitals.

Michael Little

Luiza Mihaela Udrea

Luiza Mihaela Udrea leads CoRelatii, Ratio’s sister organisation in Bucharest. Luiza is finding new ways of supporting children from three years of age to engage with the community, and designing games to help young people and adults learn about trust and management of scarce community resources. Luiza is a psychotherapist.

Michael Little

Tamanda Walker

Tamanda Walker is based with our partner BlackThrive Global. She is a practitioner-researcher and sociologist by training, and leads on the qualitative research component of our Thriving Futures programme. Tamanda is exploring research approaches that support Black African communities to hold mental health systems to account.