During the last few weeks members of the Wellbeing Key Line of Enquiry (KLOE) group have taken part in a number of visits to organisations and projects across the city to see how their work is helping to impact on people’s sense of wellbeing.
The visits have included trips to see projects focusing on therapeutic work settings; social enterprise for horticulture; urban growing environments; inner city allotment sites; and supported accommodation to the homeless and vulnerable.
A lot was learnt from the visits, and the group were overwhelmed with the work going on in our city already.
There were several common themes that cropped up time and again whilst visiting the organisations, namely things such as:
- A deliberate and purposeful creation of a sense of belonging
- Meaningful time management – people’s (volunteers and service users) time viewed as a very valuable resource/asset to the project
- A commitment to a shared approach to both planning and delivery
- ‘Making things better’ is the key shared vision for all projects
- People are encouraged to engage with the projects at a level that suits their needs/ability
- Collective action is designed in to the projects very much on purpose
- Effective stewardship of projects is critical to their ongoing success
- Specific/niche groups need ‘space’, as well as those communities more naturally aligned to geographical locations
- Tangible achievement might often be found in the food grown, bird tables made, etc. but it is also very importantly evident in the process of bringing people together to share experiences
- There is significant social capital that can be developed by unlocking the assets of all our communities – employment is not the only contribution that is made.
As you can see, these themes have really given us some food for thought. It was encouraging to see such great work going on, and it was also good to see such high levels of engagement and commitment from the people using and volunteering in the projects.
Overall, the group are now starting to question some of their earlier assumptions about wellbeing, namely whether wellbeing is an end in itself or whether it is an outcome of other ends (such as social cohesion, a sense of place, belonging, and so on).
It is also evident that stewardship of wellbeing projects is as critical as purposeful design – making sure that the expected outcomes are written into the plans and delivered by the people who seek to benefit from them.
We were also delighted to see the creation and transfer of social capital happening at many levels, something that is increasingly important to the success of many of these projects. The greatest degree of which is found in the act of ‘giving’, which is critical – whether that be through time, leadership, money, and so on.
Understanding the importance of the readiness of communities to unlock their community ‘asset base’ has been an integral take home from this exercise. Different communities have strengths and weaknesses which need to be understood and leveraged in many different ways. Identifying a robust asset base within a community will not only help to build in resilience, but it will also build stronger communities and a greater sense of wellbeing for the people of the city.
We would like to thank everybody who welcomed us along to their organisations and projects, as well as those who attended interviews and gave us such valuable insight into what is going on in the city.
If you represent an organisation and you feel that you contribute to the wellbeing of people within the city, then you can still contribute to this process. We have a special survey with a few short questions that you can fill in here:
…or leave us some feedback in the comment box below.