A wealth of tools and resources is available to help newly elected councillors step into their roles with hope and confidence, says Liz Zeidler.
Recently over 8000 councillors across England were elected to represent the hopes and needs of local citizens. These are ‘ordinary’ people from diverse backgrounds with varying skills, who are stepping into public office and now face the enormous task of guiding local places through the multiple crises hitting communities everywhere. How do you balance dealing with escalating costs of living, simultaneous housing and energy crises, spiralling inequality, public services on the brink of collapse and the health of the very planet that we live on under threat?
Thankfully help is at hand.
There is a growing movement across the UK and around the world, working to rewire our economy so that it can deliver equitable and sustainable wellbeing for all, now and for generations to come. This ‘wellbeing economy’ movement includes some of the greatest thinkers and leaders of our time, from economists to environmentalists, politicians to protesters, all pushing for this urgent shift. Without it we will continue to face crisis after linked crisis.
This approach calls for a focus on:
- Delivering the conditions for people to thrive and flourish (ie, to prosper)
- Delivering this fairly so everyone benefits
- Delivering this sustainably so the planet and future generations can also thrive.
This work needs to happen at every level. But the world cannot wait for every national government leader to get on board. We need this shift to happen now, at a local level but on a mass scale around the world. This is a big ask, particularly trying to do this at local and regional level, within the context of the wider system.
But an increasing number of pioneering local leaders are making this happen. To do this, they need access to tools and support to rewire their local systems. Here in the UK, there is a wealth of such support available from those who have been working on this for over a decade to develop the frameworks, metrics, policy and knowhow to make it happen.
Centre for Thriving Places (CTP) has been at the vanguard of this movement for over a decade and is now working flat out to support local leaders right across the UK. From Essex in the East to Somerset in the West, from Birmingham to Tyneside and places in between.
‘This framework shapes how we create policy, design programmes, spend public money and use our democratic powers. It means we rightly focus on building a better life for people.’ – Jamie Driscoll, NTCA Metro Mayor.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is part of this important vanguard. In 2021-22 CTP joined forces with Carnegie UK to work with NTCA to develop a bespoke measurement framework to put the wellbeing approach into action. Using the Thriving Places Index (TPI) as a basis, with its wealth of data (readily available for all local authority areas in England and Wales), we have enhanced the TPI data set to reflect the particular priorities and needs of the area. Jamie Driscoll, the elected Metro Mayor for the North of Tyne Combined Authority, says: “We have worked with these experts to come up with a guide – based on evidence – to balance the social, economic, environmental and democratic needs of our residents and region. This framework shapes what we do – how we create policy, design programmes, spend public money, and use our democratic powers. It means we rightly focus on building a better life for people.”
In Essex the initial impetus driving this change came through the creation of the new Integrated Care System. This new approach to understanding the many social, environmental and economic drivers of health across a whole place is a perfect example of where a wellbeing economy approach can be transformative. Elsewhere, in places such as rural Somerset an inclusive growth agenda has led local leaders to explore new ways to support the economy that drives more equitable and sustainable outcomes.
What is clear is that it doesn’t matter where you start, or what stage in this process your local area is at. If you are one of those 8000 men and women who have stepped forward to support local communities at this crucial time in history, now is the time to get the help and support you need yourself to make that work really count. Get in touch with Centre for Thriving Places today and we can help you to drive a local economy that delivers equitable and sustainable wellbeing outcomes across your town, city, region and beyond.
Liz Zeidler, CEO, Centre for Thriving Places