The resulting discussion drew out several key insights that might be applied and adapted elsewhere.
- Investing in community engagement enhanced both the quality and legitimacy of NTCA’s Wellbeing Framework. It’s often said that people are uninterested in local decision-making, or tired of being asked for their views. But NTCA found that if you create opportunities to talk about what really matters to people and what sort of future they want for their children, people want to be part of that. This resonated across the group, whether participants were building a wellbeing framework, creating a dashboard to measure progress, or delivering a citizens’ assembly.
- A wellbeing framework can help you to look at complex problems in a different way. It is more than a way to hold decision makers to account; it’s a tool to unlock partnerships that deliver shared goals. In the North of Tyne context, that means that efforts to improve employment don’t sit in isolation; they focus on good work and green jobs, and join up with things like childcare and transport. All of this aims to improve people’s wellbeing in a holistic way, for current and future generations.
This won’t be a quick fix. But NTCA now has a tool to look at big challenges in the round and identify connections between different policy areas. In doing so, they and others in the Inclusive Growth Network are finding ways to improve lives, equitably and sustainably.
We urgently need an economy that allows people to thrive, and that shift is happening at a local level.