Reports on wellbeing in Northern Ireland
by Rethinking Poverty
Carnegie UK and the CO3 have published their report Rethinking Northern Ireland: Reports from a seminar series on wellbeing in Northern Ireland, based on seven workshops that took place in Autumn 2021. The events aimed ‘to provide a space for civil society, statutory sector, and industry representatives to come together and reflect on challenges that Northern Ireland is facing, and which were only exacerbated during the pandemic’.
The report compiles all the event summaries, arguing that ‘they provide a wealth of expertise on what kind of Northern Ireland we could aspire to have, if we were brave enough to make fundamental change’.
The seminar series explored the key issues facing public policy in Northern Ireland, topics that are also crucial to ‘both individual and collective wellbeing’. These included a workshop on childcare infrastructure and early years education, with calls for ‘ambitious, long-term early years strategy’, and disability inclusion in the workplace, where the group advocated for further ‘training and support for employers and employees’. A workshop discussed what could be learned from the ‘cross-sectoral collaboration during the early days of the pandemic’, while another sought to answer the question: ‘How can government do wellbeing better?’ The discussion around Net Zero advocated for a citizen’s assembly and more legislation on the climate emergency. The participants in the economy workshop called for a ‘new vision for the economy’, and there was agreement that a priority for Northern Ireland must be to continue investing in mental health services and ‘building a peaceful place for people to live’.
When exploring the shared themes of the workshops, the authors of the report were ‘struck by the similarity between the conclusions of the workshops and the Carnegie UK wellbeing test’. These included the need to ‘give people voice and choice’ and ‘understanding the importance of human relationships and social connectedness’. People advocated for ‘local decision-making which reflects the needs and priorities of people living in that place’, as well as encouraging open, transparent conversations across diverse communities and sectors.
On the subject of wellbeing, there were calls for breaking down both entrenched poverty and the inequalities between people and communities, with the knowledge that wellbeing cannot flourish while either of these exist. Finally, there was a focus on long-termism and ‘safeguarding the collective wellbeing of future generations’.
The authors conclude with a rallying cry:
‘We already know the solutions to the challenges we face, our job now is to have the courage to implement the change we know is required. While some may have more power than others to make change happen, we all have a collective responsibility to strive to improving people’s lives now and for the future.’
Read the full report here.