Centre for Thriving Places has been helping places build a better economy for over ten years. Now that governments and communities around the world are talking about ‘Building Back Better’ what role can Centre for Thriving Places play in supporting that momentum to result in real, lasting and equitable change for people and planet?
In essence we help places define together what ‘better’ means, build a clear portrait of where they are and where they want to be, then co-design practical ways to measure progress towards building it together. The magic we can offer is that we bring 10 years of know-how on what’s needed for a better local economy and a comprehensive and reliable data set to back that up. We can help you start building back better not from the bare soil but with strong foundations already in place on which a place-specific version of better can be built more quickly, reliably, collectively and affordably.
But what does that look like in practice?
The first question we can and do ask wherever we work – from local government to local community halls, from schools to social enterprises – is what does ‘better’ mean to you? Our experience is that the things people fundamentally value are remarkably consistent across social, economic, political and geographic boundaries.
We’ve found that at a place based level ‘better’ means a more equitable, connected, healthy, educated and just community. It means houses people can afford to live in and heat. It means green spaces and community facilities where people can meet, be cared for and care for each other. It means jobs that neither over or under-work those that can work, pay them a fair and living wage and services to support those unable to work. It means clean air we can breath and healthy food we can eat. It means safety, trust and belonging for all regardless of gender, ethnicity or wealth.
The Thriving Places Index is a translation of this co-produced set of ‘what matters’, alongside leading research about what conditions really support people and places to thrive. This framework and the data behind it builds a detailed picture of ‘better’ available now for every Local Authority area in England and Wales.
In our work with local places, we start with this outline picture, already packed with rigorous data that measures the quality, equity and sustainability of local conditions today. We then work hand in hand with communities, with leaders, with different sectors and silos, to turn it into a detailed self portrait of place – one that everyone there recognises as their own and can get behind building together. This co-production process, incorporating deliberative democracy principles, builds on the foundation of the Thriving Places Index, and results in a detailed context specific picture, backed by local and national data, of a local wellbeing economy now and in the future.
The final step is equally important. Simply knowing where we are and where we want to go, are not enough. We need to understand the pathways to getting there and each organisation, partner and community’s role along the way. So the Centre for Thriving Places offers the support and input of a wide range of content experts and facilitators, brought together according to the unique needs of each place to help adapt policies and practices to deliver more of what matters. Pulling on best practice examples from around the world, our team can help uncover what’s working, measure and understand social value and impact across a place, and find leverage points where small changes can have lasting effects. Our facilitative approach helps break down silos, guide, support and hold to account those with power, and give those without power a voice.
We have held a torch for ten years to the role of local places – from cities, to towns, from rural areas to metropolitan regions – pioneering a better way to deliver a new economy that delivers for people and planet. We are excited that, through the darkness of the Covid crisis, the light of opportunity is peeping through. If local leaders are listening to their citizens they will hear the collective cry for change. The pioneers will seize that mandate and build a very different economy where they are. Together we can and must build momentum for wider national and global change.
The Centre for Thriving Places is here to help.
We look forward to Building Back Better together.