Month: July 2017

Do scenic spots benefit our health?

Does living in a beauty spot make us healthier? And what do we consider a scenic view? These were the questions faced by researchers at the Turing Institute when they began their study using large-scale data capture to look at the role our environment plays in our health. Here, Chanuki Illushka Seresinhe of Warwick University shares some tantalising initial findings from the innovative research carried out at the Turing Institute, where she is spending an enrichment year. For centuries, philosophers, policy-makers and urban planners have debated whether living in more picturesque surroundings can improve our wellbeing. However, finding evidence to...

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What wellbeing data do local authorities need to make better decisions?

  Download Understanding local needs for wellbeing data (Updated November 2017)       Local Wellbeing Indicators use existing data and the best research to show true picture of local residents’ lives and community wellbeing. Indicators look at personal relationships, economics, education, childhood, equality, health, place and social relationships- currently no local authority uses all of this data in one place to meet local needs. For the first time, local authorities can use data on things like job quality, anxiety levels, social isolation, green space and how physically active people are to get better insights into what really matters to their communities. Currently, local authorities have to rely solely on traditional metrics, such as unemployment and material deprivation, to build an idea of where people are struggling and thriving. The new indicators now offer, in addition to these, a real-world set of measures for data that follows people’s quality of life from cradle to grave. This gives a more sophisticated picture of where communities may be at risk of health, financial and social problems. Their origins and next steps To develop the indicators, What Works Centre for Wellbeing partnered with Happy City and consulted with individuals in 26 different organisations, including nine city councils, seven county or district councils, the three devolved governments (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), and nine other organisations including the Local Government Association, Defra, The Health Foundation...

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Call for evidence: Community infrastructure (places and spaces) impact on social relations & community wellbeing evaluations

What’s happening? We are carrying out a systematic review to find out whether interventions designed to improve community places and spaces are effective in improving social relationships and community wellbeing. We are particularly interested in any effects (positive or negative) on inequalities, and any differences in effects across different settings and population groups. The review team will be doing a careful search for published material, but would also like to include ‘grey’ literature – such as evaluations that have yet to be published, or reports and evaluations produced by charities, government departments, or community groups. How can you get involved? If you are aware of an evaluation of an intervention designed to improve community places and spaces, with the aim of improving social relations or wellbeing, you can submit it to our systematic review and help us build an evidence base for community infrastructure interventions. We are particularly seeking evidence that meets the following criteria: Evaluation studies with assessments of social relations or wellbeing taken before and after the intervention – this is to allow us to determine whether the intervention was associated with any changes in wellbeing. Evidence that includes comparison groups that were not exposed to the intervention is particularly welcome. Evaluations of interventions designed for populations at risk of inequalities Qualitative (e.g. interviews) and quantitative (i.e. figures-based) evidence is welcome. All examples must be written in English...

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What can we learn about wellbeing and social capital from South Australia?

We partnered with Wellbeing and Resilience Centre  at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaide in the state of South Australia to look at their population level wellbeing data. It includes the same personal wellbeing questions as the UK data. The research, published last month, is based on the South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System, a monthly chronic disease and risk factor surveillance system of randomly selected people. It’s a very large survey that is representative of the population and looks at a large range of possible related factors. It shows only links – correlations – not causation, but is still useful as an indicator of where policy and community action could focus. We found similar patterns to the UK, with higher wellbeing more likely for: women those living in rural areas married those able to save. Lower levels of wellbeing were found in: younger respondents those living in the metropolitan area the never married those unable to save. Control over decisions that affect our lives The interesting thing about this dataset is that it also allows us to look at social capital. This was measured by how: safe people feel much people trust each other in their neighbourhood how much control they have over decisions that affect their lives.   We found that worse measures of social capital indicated lower levels of...

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