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1 December 2023    |    Blog

Profit and growth or wellbeing for all?

This wellbeing model offers policy-makers a way to prioritise policies that meet the fundamental human needs of dignity, participation, fairness, purpose and nature

In Scotland we Consultants for Good sometimes like to get together and think big. But at other times, we like to go to the pub and complain about the price of gin…

In October, a number of us met in Glasgow to go on an emotional rollercoaster with Frances Rayner, global communications lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. Frances took us through fear – how quickly we are crossing the thresholds of climate change, land use or freshwater systems!  Then she moved on to depression – one in four children are growing up in poverty. Anger followed – the 20 richest families in Scotland have as much wealth as the 1.6million people at the bottom of the poverty scale. She rounbded off the menu of despair with resentment – politicians still seem to think the economy can grow its way out of these challenges.

But then, just at the point where we were about to give up and head straight for the gin, Frances brought us towards hope. The notion of a wellbeing economy has been around for a while. It brings together a few different models – doughnut economics, community wealth building, regenerative economy… all with common principles. This model offers policy-makers a way to prioritise policies that meet the fundamental human needs of dignity, participation, fairness, purpose and nature. It’s already being backed by over 100 organisations in Scotland and it’s gaining traction politically.

What does all that mean for a third sector consultant, though? Well firstly, I found myself thinking about those fundamental human needs – for myself and my clients. I know I gain a sense of purpose from getting involved in networks that focus on the common good – whether it’s Consultants for Good or the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. I know that participation and fairness matter to me and I need to feel hope to get out of bed in the morning and juggle my clients’ needs.

And I know the clients I work with feel the same way. Third sector organisations are driven to meet those human needs. They want to be able to offer dignity and purpose to their staff and service users. And often they are working to create the shifts needed – prevention, pre-distribution, people-power. Many of my clients are already in the WEAll Scotland membership list, or they’ve signed up to the vision. Others certainly could.

To make it tangible for us, Frances shared a couple of examples of the approach in action. Funders like Foundation Scotland have been piloting different ways of funding – more participative approaches, working upstream to prevent inequality worsening, and collaborating with others. Perth and Kinross Council have collaborating with WEAll to pilot new ways to involve children and young people in local service design.

I think Consultants for Good can bring something interesting to the table. I wonder if we could join the Alliance, and see how their work could add to our toolbox? And while we think about that, we’re busy organising our next Scotland event – looking at challenges for the third sector in 2024. We’ll hear from SCVO, CIPD and Carnegie UK Trust and then get our brains together to see what it means for our own businesses and consultancy offers in the year ahead. 2 February 2-4.30pm in the Melting Pot, Edinburgh or online – and then afterwards I’ll definitely be in the pub!

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash