Rachel Laurence shares her hopes for the future as she joins CTP as Deputy Chief Executive
What does the economy mean to us?
For most of us, it’s about how well our place functions – what it’s like to live there, how easily we can reach places we like spending time in, whether there are good jobs and affordable places to live well. Also, now more than ever, we can see the environment, climate and health and wellbeing affecting our local economies in negative ways.
What it’s like to live in a place is often at odds with how economically successful that place appears to be. As a youth and community worker in Manchester and then London over a decade ago, I saw many communities experience ‘mainstream’ economic development approaches that at best passed them by, at worst made their lives, health, environment and living standards worse. Their insights set me on a journey of exploration for how we might better design the economy to meet the needs of people and planet.
Fifteen years on – after a career including frontline local community and economic development, developing programmes in the new economy movement, and leading economic development within local government, I’m excited to see a real and recent shift in paradigm.
With the impacts of the pandemic and climate change tearing through our shared experience, there is a huge appetite for change which I can almost touch and feel.
The idea that wellbeing, living standards and long-term sustainability are the most important outcomes of an economy has become suddenly – and startlingly – mainstream.
With the impacts of the pandemic and climate change viscerally tearing through our shared experience, there is a huge appetite for change which I can almost touch and feel. But I am also fearful. Fearful that our long-held economic structures and the habits and cultures we have built around them are huge ships that take a long time to turn. I’ve been up against this first hand as a senior local government officer trying to drive change, and have supported many others from local government, business and community organisations, health and care services, to find ways to unpick and rewire these structures.
It takes energy and perseverance to build the momentum and speed that are so urgently needed to make this shift as quickly as we need to, and this is hard to sustain in the face of current challenges.
So I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join Centre for Thriving Places, an organisation that’s played a critical role for the past decade in supporting local government and communities trying to get this ship turned more quickly.
I know first-hand that CTP’s timely and practical wellbeing economics approaches, tools and indices have never been more vital for places trying to practically redesign local economies, redirect investment and build new ways to properly link health, climate and economy interventions.
I’m excited to join this excellent team and lend my energy to turning that wheel.
Rachel Laurence Deputy Chief Executive
CTP is delighted to have someone of the calibre and skills of Rachel joining the team as Deputy Chief Executive from October 2022. With a pedigree spanning Save the Children, the New Economics Foundation and London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Rachel’s background and experience are highlighted on our team page here. If you’d like to find out more about how the CTP can support your place to move to a wellbeing economy please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org