Putting the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in Place

The event and its background described below took place in February 2019. A brief write-up was published here by the Landscape, Gardens and Health Network.

The 5 Ways to Wellbeing are widely recognised as a powerful guide to feeling good and functioning well in our everyday lives. They are social as well as individual. But what if we look at them through the lens of place and our sense of belonging to a city, a town, or a neighbourhood?

With Shared Assets and London National Park City, I’m co-hosting an interactive event to explore whether and how the 5 Ways to Wellbeing could provide a useful way to think about or communicate the role of place in improving health and reducing health inequalities. We’re particularly interested in what they might mean for providing spaces for tranquillity and rest to complement the excitement and activity that characterises urban life.

Why now?

Healthy urban place-making is high on the research and policy agenda. At a national level, NHS England has produced Putting health into place, which draws on the experience of the Healthy New Towns initiative, and the King’s Fund has recently published international research on the role of cities in improving population health.  In London, the Mayor has endorsed the London National Park City which will be launched with a major campaign in Spring 2019. His Health Inequalities Strategy sets out ambitious plans to create healthier streets, achieve the best air quality of any major global city, and engender ‘a feeling of belonging’.  The 5 Ways to Wellbeing in Place approach could bring all this together simply and memorably.

The event

We are inviting people to join us on 28th February 2019 to share ideas for action and collaboration across sectors and areas of interest. The event will include some short presentations designed to inspire and provoke.  Among others, we’ll be hearing from Streetspace founder Phillippa Banister and Andy Ryan of Cityread London.  Phillippa will be talking about Her Barking, a women-led grassroots project to design low cost interventions which will bring a sense of joy to the places and spaces where women currently feel unsafe in the town centre and challenge the culture of fear that constrains local women’s lives.  Cityread is an annual month-long, London-wide book group on a massive scale – about 30,000 people take part each year.  Every May, Cityread chooses a book set in London and asks the whole city to read it together, and to meet other readers at events across the capital.

Andy Ryan says: “We already deliver on two of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, around connecting and learning.  We believe that our London-focused programmes promote a sense of connectedness to the city we live in, and empathy with other Londoners.  We’re now seeking partners to explore how we can take Cityread beyond libraries and bookshops and weave London’s literature into the fabric of the city, focusing on playful connections in outdoor spaces.  Reading Hammocks, anyone?”

Who is it for?

A healthy place supports thriving community, public and private sectors. We are keen to hear from multiple perspectives, as presenters and participants.  For example:

Local authority culture and leisure departments have a distinctive role to play through the provision of libraries, parks and other green spaces where people can find calm and respite together or on their own.  As I have written elsewhere, these are highly valued assets which have shared origins in a 19th century municipal commitment to public good.  Is there more they could be doing together now?

Civil society organisations in arts, culture, environmental causes and working with and across different age or cultural groups all bring insight into how the 5 Ways can ensure a place is healthy for everyone.  The diversity of the London National Park City Network is living proof of this.

Developers and housing associations design and manage public and social spaces with features which promote and provide physical activity, safety and connectivity.  Barking Riverside’s Healthy New Town Principles are just one example of how forward-thinking developers can and do embed wellbeing into the built environment.

Want to take part?

For details of the full programme and to register, go to eventbrite.

And please share your ideas with us via twitter @shared_assets @ London NPC @catherine_max #5WaysPlace