Studies in neuroscience have shown that cooperative behaviour activates reward areas of the brain, suggesting we are hard wired to enjoy helping one another. Individuals actively engaged in their communities report higher well-being and their help and gestures have knock-on effects for others. But it is not simply about a one-way transaction of giving. Research by nef shows that building reciprocity and mutual exchange through giving and receiving is the simplest and most fundamental way of building trust between people and creating positive social relationships and resilient communities. Governments can choose to invest more in the core economy: the family, neighbourhood and community which, together, act as the operating system of society. Policies that provide accessible, enjoyable and rewarding ways of participation and exchange will enable more individuals to take part in social and political life.