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Clear Fear 'superheroes' get a smile from a Tipton shopkeeper

Mondays. Rainy Mondays. Not much to smile about, you might think.

And yet broad grins were breaking out in Tipton town centre last Monday as intrepid members of the ‘Secret Smiling Society’ made it their mission to run around during an afternoon downpour, pulling faces at strangers, telling jokes to shopkeepers, and challenging schoolchildren to race to the bus stop.

This was all part of the ‘Clear Fear’ game, designed by Dr. Martin Webber at York University as a project to combat social anxiety. Participants are encouraged to think about what their ‘superpowers’ would be if they were superheroes, and then to use these powers for good in order to make strangers smile.

Tipton, as one of the Connected Communities team’s seven action and research sites for the Big Lottery funded Social Inclusion and Wellbeing programme, was chosen to help road-test the intervention, with RSA staff joining students and staff from the RSA Academy to play the game as a way of making connections with other local residents. The Connected Communities team will be following up on the feel-good momentum by launching a small community grants fund available for local residents and Fellows to bid for up to £1,000 to spark new projects that bring people together and support mental wellbeing. If you live in the area, contact for instructions in how to apply.

In the meantime, the Clear Fear game is looking to go from strength to strength. Martin and his team are currently using the RSA’s Kickstarter crowd-funding page to raise money to create a gamers’ toolkit, allowing individuals and groups to play the game across the country – and beyond.

Martin needs your help to reach this goal. So to find out more about his project, or to donate a few pounds towards the cause, head to

With your help, the Secret Smiling Society can spread smiles around the world!


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