This year has seen unprecedented changes to many aspects of our individual lives, our health, our home lives, communities, our ways of working, and thinking. Policies and spending decisions at the local and national level have also moved further and faster to affect our lives in ways that we could never have imagined just a year ago.
Covid-19 may be the defining challenge of our era. Our focus in this context has been to understand how the pandemic, and its social and economic consequences, have affected the wellbeing of different people in different ways and how a wellbeing approach can support the UK’s response and recovery.
A wellbeing-centred recovery means responding to all the drivers of our wellbeing that are being affected– not just examining the health and fatality risk or the economic consequences of lockdowns.
And it seems this idea is resonating: we have had an almost 20% increase in website visits in 2020 from last year: over 127,000 people sought out evidence of what works. Our resources have been viewed by over 75,000 visitors, and downloaded 18,000 times.
Here is a round-up of the most useful pieces of guidance, evidence, and activities from the Centre in 2020.
- We published the Wellbeing Evidence at the Heart of Policy wayfinder report, which updates the Commission on Wellbeing and Policy, five years on.
- Our new strategy focuses on where we need to build evidence and implementation to improve wellbeing in the UK.
- We launched podcasts on virtual choirs, and children and young people.
- The Centre joined the Evidence Quarter partnership, as well as being part of the What Works Network.
- Our implementation and evidence teams supported policy officials, practitioners, and researchers in local and central government; civil society; community groups; businesses; and academia. Our health and local authority lead, Joanna Smithson, also advised on the inclusion of wellbeing data in the indicators used for monitoring at Public Health England.
We are supporting the response to Covid-19
- Looking at, and advising on, the impacts of the pandemic, and lockdown, on overall wellbeing – and the drivers of wellbeing – including impacts across sectors and policy areas.
- We launched a Crowdsourcing data project in the immediate aftermath of the UK lockdown to collate a wide range of evidence on Covid-19 wellbeing impacts.
- We convened the All Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics to look at the impacts of Covid-19 on wellbeing.
- We worked with the UCL Covid-19 Social Study to analyse the impact of Covid-19 on loneliness, and mental health and wellbeing.
Improving methods and measures
- The number of ONS4 evaluations is increasing. Our review showed that a broad range of actions can support and improve wellbeing.
- We worked with ProBono Economics to develop a seven-step guide for charities to estimate wellbeing cost effectiveness with less-than-perfect information.
- We published Wellbeing in policy: exploring issues of measurement and methodology. This working paper looks at the validity and practical application of subjective wellbeing measures; and how to structure a cost-effectiveness analysis for wellbeing.
- Our online guidance for better workplace wellbeing, including a review into what works when seeking to implement a wellbeing programme in the workplace.
- A 12-week email series looking at approaches to improving employee wellbeing
- Developing our workplace index into:
- a snapshot survey, with benchmarks that are aligned with national reporting standards for employers.
- A more in-depth workplace wellbeing question bank
- A cost-effectiveness calculator for workplace wellbeing interventions
- Two popular Business Leaders’ Council webinars on returning to work from furlough, and why wellbeing matters for employees.
- Our team advised on the development of Every Mind Matters and Student Space from Student Minds.
- We published the Student Mental Health review of reviews, and informed research funding through the Student Mental Health Network. We also informed project funding through the Office for Students Challenge Fund and the refresh of the Universities UK Step Change Framework as part of the Mental Health in Higher Education Advisory Group.
Community and connection
- An eight-week email series helping to ensure Covid-19 responses are protecting those most affected within communities. This also sets out how a wellbeing approach to policy means looking beyond averages at how we’re all doing and across the range of drivers of overall wellbeing.
- A rapid evidence review of the wellbeing impacts of volunteering, and a systematic review on volunteering within the arts, culture and heritage sectors. These look at potential ways we can make the most of the huge heartening helping response.
- Community businesses played a big role at the heart of our communities – our evidence review looked at their wellbeing impact, and what matters for making them effective.
- We published reviews on reducing loneliness and improving wellbeing in the arts, sport, and cultural sectors – they focus on (intangible) cultural assets, and places and spaces.
- We funded a wellbeing evaluation of the popular Action for Happiness courses run all over the UK.
Our work internationally
We advised on Norway’s first National Survey on Quality of Life and also collaborated to improve international learning with Canada, Australia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the World Economic Forum, and the World Health Organisation, among others.
Thank you and see you in 2021
We will be back in 2021 with new analysis, projects, collaborations, and practical support for protecting and improving wellbeing across all sectors. Thank you to our Board, Advisory Panel, partners, and you, for being part of the wellbeing movement.