This week, many of our past academic partners alongside our colleagues at What Works Centre for Wellbeing published new research into the role of place and community conditions for wellbeing. Whilst only a preliminary report, it already points the way to vitally important lessons for anyone interested in supporting people and places to thrive.
For those of us who have worked for many years to improve understanding of the central role of local conditions for wellbeing, this report is a huge validation of those efforts. Local community levels of deprivation – across all aspects of Happy City’s Thriving Places Index – impact personal wellbeing – over and above our own personal social and economic circumstances. Places matter for wellbeing, and levels of deprivation and inequality in places really matter for wellbeing.
Across all the Local Conditions domains of the Thriving Places Index – from work and the economy, to education, health, environment, housing, community and safety – the corresponding Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) score is shown to influence people’s wellbeing. It’s critical that we keep on working to measure things that have such a crucial impact on people’s everyday lives and push to have these measures set the standard for what we consider to be societal progress.
Over and above this key message, this new research has used Professor Peter Congdon’s work on social fragmentation. The Social Fragmentation Index was developed in 1996 as a predictor of suicide rates, but Happy City (with Professor Congdon’s permission) used his methodology from 2015 onwards as one of many indicators of local conditions for wellbeing at a place-based level across England and Wales in the Thriving Places Index. We are delighted that this work to introduce this important measure of social cohesion in communities is now being used more widely in wellbeing economics.
This excellent What Works Centre for Wellbeing report gives a clear message – levels of deprivation in our community and local connection and cohesion strongly influence our individual wellbeing, whatever our own circumstances are. It concludes with a list of actions we can take to use this research for the wider good, and it ends with the advice that if you want to measure what matters – and deprivation and division really do matter – then you should check out the Thriving Places Index from Happy City – and work with us to build an economy in service to people, place and planet.
Liz Zeidler ,CEO Happy City
Why not check the Thriving Places Index 2019 scores for your area? Visit www.thrivingplacesindex.org