Happy List

happylist_logoHappy Lists were born out of a need to provide an antidote to the rich/celebrity lists which worship at the shrine of the wealthy, the bonus-getters, and the tax avoiders.  In 2008 David Randall decided to create a national HappyList for the Independent on Sunday which would honour a different set of values.  As a direct riposte to The Times Rich List, he named  people who, without thought of personal gain or recognition, do so much to make their communities better adjusted places to live, making their cities and thus the country a better and happier place.


Inspired and supported by David and with the consent of the paper, Happy City adapted the idea to produce the first place-based Happy List in Bristol in 2013 with the help of the Bristol Post and BBC Radio Bristol. Since then, we’ve transformed the initiative from a feelgood celebratory listing into something deeper rooted and much more significant.  Here’s how the benefits of the original list stack up:

  • Nominators feel good about nominating and can take credit for the chain of events which follow
  • Nominees get a boost from the appreciation, becoming part of a fellowship where there’s mutual support
  • The ideas, activities, people and places which nominees work with get some free PR
  • From the unsolicited profile, there often comes an injection of energy as new people begin to engage
  • A ripple effect can emerge as people inspired by what they see decide make a difference where they are

Now, with a place-based focus and links to Happy City’s innovative measures of prosperity, we can look for insights into the effectiveness of the Happiness Champions who make up the HappyList, AND at the same time, the ideas, people and places who appear in out ‘Halls of Fame’, become a directory of local wellbeing resources around the country.  HappyLists have become a power tool, helping change-makers in their work.

Bristol and Brighton have been blazing the way for some time now – you can see Bristol’s 6th HappyList here, and here’s a picture of Brighton’s coverage of their fourth list from 7th November 2018.  All of the Happiness Champions are in ‘Halls of Fame’, one for Brighton here and one for Bristol here.

Brighton’s list is produced by the Action for Happiness group and we’re actively seeking people or groups in other towns and cities who would like to coordinate this fantastically uplifting initiative where they are. We’re anticipating Birmingham and West Wales to join in during 2019.  To find out more about how they work, and to start a Happy List where you are, why not download the ‘how-to-kit’ here and get in touch.  If you would like to join our group of coordinating teams, to offer sponsorship or some other kind of support, please write to mike@happycity.org.uk