World Cup thrills, Wimbledon shocks, Tour de France Welsh wizardry, a crazy heatwave – the summer of 2018 will be one to remember for all sorts of reasons. At Happy City we’ve had our own reasons to be cheerful as our summer interns came on board, bringing their own unique brand of wisdom and positivity.
In July we were delighted to welcome Lizzie Diplock and Annie Roberts, our annual University of Bristol Q Step interns, to work with the Measurement and Policy team.
Annie and Lizzie, both from South Wales, have brought many qualities to the team – fresh thinking and ideas, academic rigour and a uniquely youthful perspective that’s boosted Happy City’s culture of openness and curiosity and enriched our workplace. How was the experience for them?
With a first in Human Geography, Annie was keen to use skills she’d learned during her studies. ‘For one unit on mental health inequality in London we had to come up with questions for data analysis, produce a report and present findings. We used data from the Office for National Statistics and Public Health England to help us draw conclusions about economic deprivation and mental health. Very relevant to Happy City’s work.’
In her first week at Happy City Annie, from Penarth, worked on producing maps to provide a visual understanding of the Happiness Pulse (our tool for measuring personal wellbeing) results. ‘Since then I’ve been working with the M&P team to develop a Youth Pulse, to help capture the wellbeing of young people. Through this tool, organisations can target issues more specifically faced by young people, and hopefully input policies to help meet these needs. I’ve also started work on the next Thriving Places Index (TPI), updating the indicators to ensure Happy City continues to use the best data available.’
This autumn Lizzie enters her third year studying Social Policy, which explores how we meet society’s needs through health, work, wellbeing, security and education. She too has worked on the Youth Pulse which she believes is crucial for understanding young people’s emotional wellbeing. ‘In the current political uncertainty young people are very concerned for their futures. This isn’t being captured in mainstream media – young people’s voices are rarely heard. That’s why it’s exciting to work on this project. I’ve also been reviewing the current indicators for the TPI to improve it. My work with Happy City has given me insight into how we can measure this and the ways in which small and big things affect people’s lives.’
The work has not been without its challenges. ‘This data was new to me and quite daunting at first,’ says Lizzie. ‘Knowing what is needed to measure people’s wellbeing may sound easy but it’s very nuanced around the balance between objective and subjective data, sample size and clarity over what the data actually tells you.’
Annie agrees. ‘It’s frustrating that important data for measuring the conditions for wellbeing is limited. So much focus is on economic and labour force statistics. Data on equality/sustainability/wellbeing is few and far between – but just as important.’
Overwhelmingly the experience has been a positive one, with both interns having strong ideas how the experience of working with Happy City could positively influence their futures. ‘I will be the President of Social Policy next term and a third-year rep,’ says Lizzie, who enjoys volunteering at her local food bank in her home town of Glynneath in the Welsh valleys. ‘I’m looking forward to tackling mental health issues in my course this year and of course graduating! I’m thinking about what to write my dissertation on – so many options and Happy City has given me even more food for thought!
As a new graduate Annie is keeping an open mind on her next steps. ‘Happy City’s mission to prioritise wellbeing over consumption is something I hope to do on a personal level throughout my life. It’s taught me the value of working for a cause you believe in, and I hope I can find this in whatever I do next.’
Both interns also focus on their own wellbeing through various interests – Annie indulging her passion for Welsh rugby and Lizzie making time to read and watch musicals and Louis Theroux documentaries.
Director of Measurement and Policy Ruth Townsley says: ‘Our Q Step interns are hardworking, creative, versatile and always a pleasure to work with. We wish Lizzie and Annie well and hope they will stay in touch.’
Lizzie (left) and Annie pictured above