Wellbeing: what does it mean, how can it be measured and what would the impact of embedding it in policy and practice be? A What Works Centre for Wellbeing could help answer these questions by supporting the use of wellbeing evidence in policy and practice as well as linking organisations, previously unaware of each other’s work, argues Lauren Pennycook.
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Policy makers and commissioners alike want to identify best evidence. The argument goes that the application of empirical evidence should promote better policies, improved services and the more efficient use of resources, but it has often been difficult to harness the ‘right’ evidence. This is true of social work as of other policy areas, writes Dr Mary Baginsky.
At a recent Alliance conference, ‘Evidence and well-being’, attendees explored how well-being initiatives would benefit from a dedicated What Works Centre and how the centre might work in practice, videos of the presentations can be found here. This blog series from potential ‘users’ of the centre highlights how it might help them.
Adrian Bethune argues that the happiness and well-being of our children should be the main aim and purpose of our education system and a What Works Centre for well-being will lead the way - gathering the evidence that boosting a child's well-being often boosts their academic performance too. He asks: will you get on board too or risk being left behind?
Evaluating a complex community initiative like Well London is always going to be a challenge. A What Works Centre for well-being would, Alison Pearce argues, help organisations to network and share information – getting evidence out of the literature and on to the front line.
What drives well-being? Sam Smethers argues that relationships are the key to our well-being and interventions must focus on this if they are to help their clients cope with the challenges they face. Current research focuses on couple relationships, a What Works Centre for Well-being could help collect data on other types of relationships and help to deepen our understanding of their impact on people's well-being.
Children with higher levels of well-being do better academically, according to evidence discussed by Joe Hayman (hyperlink to his person web address), Chief Executive of the PSHE Association. But the balance of accountability in schools is biased towards academic outcomes. We need to change this and have a concerted push to bring schools to account for how they promote the well-being of their students.
Our clients have complex lives and well-being can be both a driver for, and a consequence of the problems clients come to see us about. Understanding how far our services can measure and potentially improve well-being is vital. Evidence, argues Tamsin Shuker, will allow us to understand the needs of our clients, to determine what interventions are most effective in affecting well-being, and demonstrate the value of those interventions to funders (to ensure we can continue to provide them).
The usual Whitehall default towards centralisation should be avoided so that we include more local voices – including politicians - in any What Works Centre for well-being because local relationships are deeper and more long term, there is an opportunity to develop more radical solutions to improving well-being that the sound bite world of Westminster struggles to achieve, argues Professor Mark Gamsu