Many people you meet will be suspicious of you. But most of them have needs they may not be able to fulfill without your help. Helping them will earn you Trust, which will in turn unlock useful Knowledge, Locations, Items, and more. Check the character's Trust entry in your Journal to learn more about them, their needs, and how they can help you.
In-game description

Trust is a gameplay mechanic in The Long Dark's story mode.

Certain non-playable characters (Grey Mother in Episode 1 and Jeremiah in Episode 2) have a Trust level. This starts at zero, and can be raised by completing missions or by giving them specific items that they want.

Unlocking higher levels of Trust will cause the character to reveal 'worldbuilding information', teach crafting recipes, give the locations of supply caches or give items.

Trust level, character requirements and level rewards can be viewed through the Journal. While you can still give items after you have achieved the top trust tier, the amount of trust will not increase.

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