Please note that What Works Wellbeing will close operations on 30 April 2024.  Read more
Oct 28, 2021 | by Nancy Hey

What helps individuals and communities to thrive?

The purpose of public policy and community action is to improve people’s lives. Along with many civil society organisations who have been working on this for decades, we know that strong communities support resilience and are also protective factors when it comes to our wellbeing, as is having someone to rely on. 

While measures of societal wellbeing like GDP and life expectancy are important, alongside this we need an understanding of social welfare, social value or wellbeing

Which is why we are really pleased that the National Lottery Community Fund has given us a two year grant worth more than £600,000 to help us to continue towards our goal of improving the nations’ wellbeing through effective policy and community action.

Partnership with Civil Society 

Since the Centre was founded 7 years ago, we have been getting alongside local organisations and arming them with the evidence for what works for their projects to help people thrive. Our long standing partnership with Civil Society:

  • Builds knowledge, with researchers, of what works for individual and community wellbeing.
  • Helps individual projects and organisations understand this evidence and put it into practice.
  • Enables the learning from projects on the ground to contribute to the shared global knowledge base.

The new funding will cover our work on these specific projects:

  • The appointment of a Civil Society and Community Wellbeing implementation lead in partnership with Institute for Community Studies. They will work directly with organisations to help understand what works and how to evaluate the wellbeing impact of their projects. 
  • A new secondment partnership with the National Academy of Social Prescribing.
  • Measuring wellbeing:
    • A review of evaluations that use the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) and 
    • a review of evaluations using social capital/community and connection measures. These build on our review of evaluations using the ONS4 measures.
    • The creation of an evidence learning loop with live updates to these reviews.
    • Making it easier to benchmark your data on the evaluation microsite – moving towards a ‘data lab’.

Understanding Thriving Communities 

All of this builds on six years of community wellbeing, culture and sport research and evidence from our previously unpublished ‘Understanding Thriving Communities’ report, which was produced in partnership with the Centre for Thriving Places. 

The report looks at what the evidence tells us about factors and interventions that influence a community’s capacity to thrive, including insight into where there are gaps in the evidence. Alongside this we are also publishing the ‘Understanding Thriving Communities Measures Bank’, which can be used by grantees to test this evidence in practice.

We are also publishing three summaries to help organisations use the evidence for their own contexts. The whole package is useful:

  • To support grant applications.
  • When evaluating projects to work out what type of evaluation would be useful for your context. 
  • To help researchers fill gaps where project evaluations can become more limited because of their scale. 

Links to related projects 

Understanding Thriving Communities

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Understanding Thriving Communities

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