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Wellbeing public dialogues delivery plan demonstrates immediate impact

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Lord O’Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary and the patron of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, spoke in support of the recent public dialogues on wellbeing, supported by Sciencewise and also involving the Cabinet Office and Public Health England. This project builds on a previous dialogue project on Wellbeing run by the Cabinet Office with the New Economics Foundation and also supported by Sciencewise. Lord O’Donnell said,

“the public dialogues brought together more than 100 members of the public across six regions, investigating the factors that improve our quality of life, and what prevents people from accessing them. In addition to our basic wellbeing needs ‐ feeling safe, having sufficient money, good health, good quality affordable food, and feeling loved ‐ it emerged that having the opportunity to advance at work, or participate in community, sport and cultural activities is important to us, whether we choose to do so or not. Feeling appreciated, having a sense of purpose and belonging are also central to our overall wellbeing.” WWCW Press Release February 2016.

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing (WWCW) published, in February 2016, a series of reports on three different topics covered in the public dialogue workshops:  Work, adult learning and wellbeing; Community wellbeing; and Participation in cultural and sports activities and wellbeing.

At the same time, the WWCW has published ‘Wellbeing Public Dialogues. What you have told us and what we’re going to do’ – an overall summary of the results of the dialogues and a delivery plan to take forward the key priorities. The publication of a response to the results of the dialogues is a clear and immediate impact of that work. The WWCW delivery plan draws on the three separate dialogue reports (one on each topic), and a further report that identifies the cross-cutting themes.

The dialogue projects involved participants meeting in workshops in Bristol, Belfast, London, South Tyneside, Falkirk and Cardiff (groups met twice in each location during 2015). The delivery plan also draws on other consultation activities with over 4,000 others; the messages from this wider consultation are described separately from the dialogue results.

The immediate response to dialogue results with a delivery plan is unusual, and reflects the priority given to this strand of development as the Centre starts work on its evidence programme, begun in June 2015. Dr Paul Litchfield, the Centre’s Chair said,

“The public dialogues are a critical part of setting the wellbeing agenda. They help to keep us grounded and focused on what really matters to people across the United Kingdom.”

The delivery plan focuses on a summary of ‘You want’ and ‘You want to prioritise’ followed by ‘We can … ‘. The plan focuses on the role of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing year by year over the next two and a half years, particularly in relation to helping with evidence, acting as an advocate for wellbeing, and leading the field collaboratively, including being ‘citizen-focused’. WWCW has chosen areas not covered by other What Works Centres, and plans work with existing primary evidence and data as well as growing the primary evidence base. The work of the Centre will continue to be developed “in an open and collaborative way”.

The announcement of the work programme is picked up by the February 2016 Social Research Association (SRA) newsletter, which also picks up the role of the public dialogue that “The initial scoping work included on-line consultations, interviews, workshops, meetings and six ‘public dialogues’ - the results of the latter have been published alongside the forward work programme.” SRA Newsletter 26 February 2016.

Wellbeing Public Dialogues. What you have told us and what we’re going to do, What Works Wellbeing, February 2016. https://whatworkswellbeing.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/public-dialogue-and-workplan-summary.pdf

WWCW Press release, February 2016. https://whatworkswellbeing.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/public-dialogues-press-release.pdf

See related project page: Public ‘well-being’ dialogues to engage WWCW users around three policy themes