We were really pleased to welcome the newly established What Works Centre for Wellbeing to Wales recently. This was the starting point of an ongoing dialogue between ourselves and the Centre to ensure their work is relevant to and used by policy makers and practitioners across Wales.
In this blog are their reflections on the day and outline of how they intend to contribute to wellbeing policy in Wales and beyond.
The What Works centre for Wellbeing was recently invited by the Public Policy Institute for Wales to come over to share what we’ve been up to and what we want to achieve. We are at early stages in setting up this new What Works Centre and we want to make sure that what the Centre does will be useful. So last week we travelled to a very wet Cardiff – we didn’t let the weather dampen our spirits, we’re resilient here at the What Works centre for Wellbeing!
There are some amazing things happening in Wales – we heard about the Social Services and Wellbeing act, the Wellbeing of Future Generations bill currently in development and the exciting consultation through the National Conversation about the Wales We Want . We also heard from Public Health Wales , the Wellbeing planner, the People and Work unit, Bevan Commission and the Gellideg Foundation
Our purpose is to understand what governments, communities, businesses and individuals can do to increase wellbeing. We met with colleagues from the across the different sectors in Wales to introduce ourselves, hear what’s happening here and think about how we can help each other. We are also working in partnership with Evidence Exchange for these sessions because we know that sharing of learning from all types of evidence, including grey literature, tacit knowledge and experience is crucial to successful implementation of policy and practice
But what do we mean by wellbeing?
If you google it you’re greeted with images of yoga, families, healthy food and the Dalai Llama.
Wellbeing is about what matters to you. Positive physical and mental health. Prosperity, thriving, sustainable communities and businesses. Put simply, we think it’s about people and quality of life.
And how do we measure our progress as a nation? Well, we think it can be measured by more than our GDP figures. GDP doesn’t count things that are important: volunteering, civic participation, leisure time, democracy, control, freedom….
However, GDP does count things that are associated with decreases in wellbeing: Costs of commuting, divorce, crime…..
We’re building on the work of ONS with their Measuring National Wellbeing work and Personal Wellbeing domain which asks 4 simple questions (on a scale of 0-10).
- “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?”
- “Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?”
- “Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?”
- “Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?”
And now you can see how you compare
After some initial wider scepticism there is an enormous amount of interest around wellbeing and how to embed it into public policy and professional practice. That’s where we come in.
We will Collate → Synthesise → Translate high quality evidence of what works to improve wellbeing. We will make this evidence easy and accessible for decision makers to use.
Taking a wellbeing perspective has many benefits for social policy – focussing on early intervention and prevention, taking a community and asset based approach, being more joined up and looking at what really matters to people. Subjective wellbeing measures tend to have cross-cutting relevance in policy, supporting better outcomes – longevity, productivity, employment. Seemingly soft measures can present in hard ways.
→look after your own wellbeing
help us :
→ use wellbeing evidence in practice by evaluating the wellbeing impact of interventions and help grow the evidence base.
We want to put the needs and wants of our audience at the heart of what we do – tell us:
- What do you want from the centre?
- How can we turn research findings into action that will be most useful for you in policy and practice?
- What should be the priorities?
We are looking forward to hearing about the Wales We Want, we will be following the progress of the Future Generations Bill and its implementation alongside the Social Care and Wellbeing Act as they continue to build our shared evidence base about what works to improve wellbeing.