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Last month, the WEAll Scotland team met with around 50 of our friends and colleagues at the (strictly virtual) pub for an evening of discussion, reflection, and games. It was a chance to chat about what WEAll Scotland accomplished last year, how the wellbeing economy movement is progressing, and also for our guests to tell us about what they’ve been working on.

Before we moved on to the festivities (the WEAll Scotland team runs a top-quality scavenger hunt, after all), we sent a survey round for people to fill out as and when they wished throughout the evening.

One of the more fun questions?

“What was your least favourite buzzword of 2020?”

We want to share some of the responses with you.

Happy reading, and please drop us a message if you’d like to share your own least favourite buzzwords with us, too.

What were your least favourite buzzwords of 2020?

2020. It was an unprecedented year—although maybe we shouldn’t use that particular word, since it was officially the least popular buzzword from last year . . . at least according to our guests at last month’s WEAll Scotland social.

After unprecedented, other unpopular buzzwords included new normal, world beating, and the last name of a certain former US president.

Not everyone suggested buzzwords they thought were bad, of course. Take social distancing, for example, which was one of the responses that didn’t crack the top 10, so it’s not featured in the list below. Social distancing is a vital practice just now. But it’s also understandable that some of these terms become part of the background noise after one hears them 57 times in a single day.

That’s what we work to avoid with wellbeing economy. Yes, it’s a phrase that we use a lot, but its meaning is both tangible and highly relevant to Scotland and the world: an economy that enables social justice on a healthy planet. Sounds like a pretty good idea after all the uncertainty of 2020, eh?

But back to the buzzwords.

In order of un-popularity, here are our guests’ top 10 least popular buzzwords of 2020:

  1. Unprecedented
  2. New normal
  3. World beating
  4. Trump
  5. Pivot
  6. Moonshot
  7. Cummings
  8. Brexit
  9. Woke
  10. Maga

There you have it! And remember, this was just an ice breaker game–all in good fun. But we do hope it got you thinking about communication and how we can go about it in 2021.

So with that, in an unprecedented year of new normals, we hope you enjoyed our world-beating list of buzzwords. And if not, maybe you’ll pivot after giving it another read.

NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: Please note that the application window for this position has now closed. Thank you for your interest.

CLOSED: Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) Scotland is recruiting a Director!

This is a unique opportunity to take WEAll Scotland to the next level – moving it from a high impact but volunteer led organisation to a high performing, professional and sustainable organisation. Your main focus in terms of delivering external impact will be through our flagship Allies programme, which aims to create a network of allies who help collectively deliver and promote the feasibility and desirability of transition to a wellbeing economy. They will collaborate in various activities to support both practice and policy changes. 

WEAll Scotland has a strong external profile, and you will represent the network externally with key stakeholders from business, government and civil society. You will also support key voices from within the core team and network to be heard at external events and in the media.

You will lead WEAll Scotland’s development as an organisation, developing its strategy, team, fundraising and ensuring its culture and operational practices create an inclusive environment for a diverse team. One of your first priorities will be hiring the next two roles for the team: a Collaboration and Research Officer and a Communications Officer. 

PLEASE NOTE: We are no longer accepting applications for this role; the application window has now closed. Thank you for your interest.

The closing date for applications is 09.00am 18th January 2021.

First interviews will take place on w/c 25th January 2021 with second interviews on w/c 8th February 2021.

To find out more and apply for this role, please download the application pack and application form. If you have any queries, or if you feel you could succeed in this role but don’t have all the characteristics we’re looking for, please get in touch with Charlotte Millar, WEAll Scotland Trustee on charlotte@scotland.weall.org 

We are committed to providing equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background. We believe this is crucial to ensuring the legitimacy and effectiveness of our work. We acknowledge that people from a number of communities are underrepresented in our team and in the wider movement of those seeking systemic economic change and the charity sector in general, and we’re committed to addressing this. If you believe you would bring greater diversity to our team, we’re keen to hear from you. We are open to assisting with childcare or other duties that may prevent candidates from attending an interview. 

WEAll Scotland is delighted to welcome three new trustees to our board: Gillian Harkness, Charlotte Millar, and Siri Pantzar.

Our board oversee the work that our dedicated team carry out, and they’re also active in representing the organisation and contributing to our activities, both in public and behind the scenes.

Read on to learn a bit about each of our new trustees!

Gillian Harkness

Gillian is a commercial, corporate and charities lawyer working with public and third sector clients, and with those private sector organisations interested in engaging with the public and third sectors (including as part of the wellbeing economy).  Gillian is passionate about the part that social enterprise and the wider third sector can play in shaping the economy and in “building back better”.

Charlotte Millar

Charlotte is a leader and strategist for systems change, with expertise in collaborative leadership, organisational development and coaching. She developed this expertise through co-founding the Finance Innovation Lab and the New Economy Organisers Network and growing them to scale. In both organisations, she led on strategy, culture, leadership development, diversity and inclusion and coaching. She was twice winner of NESTA’s New Radicals award and was recognised in 2019 as one of the UK’s 100 most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise.

Siri Pantzar

Siri is passionate about imagining a future that is not only adequate, safe and sustainable, but also fulfilling and exciting—for all of us—and then working towards that future. She is currently working with Climate Outreach, a climate change communications charity, as an Executive Assistant. Her background is in community charity work in Edinburgh, and she has supported several young charities in fundraising, systems development and governance, helping them acquire the necessary tools to work effectively towards their mission. Siri has a master’s degree in Global Environment, Politics and Society from the University of Edinburgh.

Want to learn more about the team and what we do? Check out the WEAll Scotland team page to find out more.

WEAll Scotland response to the Programme for Government in Scotland
Lukas Hardt and Katherine Trebeck; 28 September 2020

Earlier this month, the Scottish government published its Programme for Government, setting out its plans until the election for the Scottish parliament next year and explicitly committing to building a wellbeing economy in Scotland; an economy that is “fairer, greener, more prosperous”.

We welcome that commitment. And lot of the measures go in a promising direction.

For example, the government recognises that rebuilding the economy after COVID needs to simultaneously contribute to climate change mitigation and other environmental goals. The promised investment in energy efficient buildings, green sectors, tree planting and peatland restoration is important and to be welcomed, even if it still falls short of the scale necessary.

There are nods to the importance of social enterprises, community wealth building and the 20-minute neighbourhood. Some money is provided for cycling infrastructure. The emerging Scottish National Investment Bank could be used to provide the long-term investment we need for a just and green transition. The Youth Guarantee could be a great way to provide meaningful, well-paid job opportunities (although it could also become another way to subsidise poverty wages). Adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law gives society real power to hold the government to account.

But, despite the promising direction, the Programme for Government doesn’t live up to the ambition of a wellbeing economy. Building a wellbeing economy is about transforming our economic system so that it delivers social justice on a healthy planet, the first time round. That last phrase is important, because the Programme for Government, and much of our social policy debate in Scotland, is still too much about cleaning up and redistributing after the fact.

What do we mean by that? Our current socio-economic model is failing because it tries to deliver good lives, but does so by taking the long way round. The approach can be described in three steps1:

  1. Get the economy to grow bigger, but don’t fret too much about the damage to people or the environment that this does.
  2. Second, sequester a chunk out of this economy via taxes.
  3. Third, channel some of this money into helping people and the planet to cope with step number 1.

The limits of this approach are clear – it implicitly concedes to damage and harm being done to people and planet by stage 1; such damage is now so great that actions in Step 3 cannot keep up, so people and planet are inadequately repaired; and in a world of finite resources and ever-more apparent limits to growth, the risks of step 1 are mounting.

Unfortunately, the main thrust of the Programme for Government seems largely confined to such a model. Step 1 policies include the £100 million “Green Jobs Fund” or the “Inward Investment Plan” aimed to boost GDP. Yes, the government is now putting a strong green slant on such policies, which is good, but fundamentally such policies are still about stimulating more growth within the current system. That won’t work.

On the other end, the government needs to spend heavily on Step 3 policies to patch up social inequalities and environmental damage.

Consider the high-profile announcement of a Scottish Child Payment and Child Winter Heating Assistance; or the Tenant’s Hardship Loan facility, which will help tenants, but is only shifting their debt from landlords to the government; or the £150 million of additional funding quietly earmarked for additional flood protection measures (and, while you’re at it, compare the latter amount to the Green Jobs Fund – telling isn’t it?). Such policies are good and important if we are to take care of people in the face of an economic system that generates inequality, financial insecurity and poverty and climate chaos.

But the real tragedy is that they are necessary in the first place.

Heralding redistribution as progress and patting ourselves on the back for helping people survive and cope with the current system is a sad reflection of how low our ambitions are.

A wellbeing economy is about attending to root causes – looking upstream. Designing the nature and configuration of the economy so it enables people to live good lives first time around rather than allowing so much damage to be done – often in some outdated and misguided pursuit of growth – and then thinking we’ve done well when we patch up that damage. A wellbeing economy agenda asks more of the economy. It starts from the premise we can no longer be content to patch and heal and repair – we need to construct the economic system in a way that delivers social justice on a healthy planet. From the outset.

Building a wellbeing economy requires changing the rules of the game and redesigning our institutions, our infrastructure and our laws. It means embracing the potential of pre-distribution rather than re-distribution and measuring our progress in a way that is better aligned with what is really needed. We already have lots of ideas on how to do this.

Some of what is needed is already being done in Scotland – just too tentatively. Take support for alternative business models that put people and planet before profits, such as worker-owned cooperatives or social enterprises. There are good steps towards community wealth building to keep wealth in the place where it is created and reform of land ownership rules (and that of other assets). The National Performance Framework is starting to broaden goals away from simply GDP growth – but hasn’t yet knocked GDP off its ill-deserved pedestal.

While the Scottish government’s powers are limited, it could use planning and procurement and business support much more proactively to cultivate the sort of business activities required for a wellbeing economy. Radical transformative action can be done in small steps. It is time that it takes its own rhetoric on the wellbeing economy seriously and initiates transformative change.


[1]Trebeck, K., and Williams, J., 2019. The economics of arrival: Ideas for a grown up economy. Policy Press, Bristol, p. 86

Blog by Isabel Nuesse

Busy as ever, Katherine Trebeck, WEAll’s Influencing and Advocacy Lead, has been speaking on panels, podcasts, webinars and academic lectures to encourage stakeholders to take a hard look at the feasibility of building back better to a wellbeing economy.

In Scotland, she continues to work alongside the WEAll Scotland Hub to influence the Scottish Government to move beyond GDP, to adopt wellbeing economic policies and serve as an example for the rest of the world.

Diminishing Marginal Returns

On August 28th, Katherine Trebeck spoke at the SURF Festival, opening with a few major issues in the current system, which are underpinned by our dependence on growth and GDP.

Those countries that have ‘arrived’ (i.e. have the capacity to provide decent living for their residents) experience diminishing marginal returns of growth i.e. where growth is no longer improving our quality of life. Instead, growth is driving failure demand: public spending on patching up the damage created in the pursuit of more growth.

An example of this reactive and avoidable spending is in the ‘guard labour’ industry, which is thriving because widening inequalities has made people afraid of one another. Meanwhile, individually, we are spending on pseudo satisfiers to fulfill our need of belonging – something that our economic and social system should be enabling.

Watch her entire presentation here.

Demographics and COVID

Most recently, Katherine spoke to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee in Scottish Parliament. She begins by speaking about what demographics in our economy are most affected by the COVID pandemic.

She cites research which concludes that Black and Minority communities have shouldered more risk during the pandemic, as have women. Women were already more likely to feature in front-line sectors or service-based sectors of the economy. In addition to this increased exposure, as a result of the pandemic, women have also had to take on additional burdens of childcare and domestic work.

Hope for the future

However, Katherine also sheds light on positive developments, like the now mainstream questions around the necessity of business travel. She also mentioned the enormous increase of the gift economy. That has kept communities and families going, even though this is not accounted for in the GDP measurement.

Watch the full video of Katherine and the other prominent speakers discuss Building Back Better in Scotland post COVID-19.  

The use of the term, ‘Wellbeing Economy’ has been increasing with Scotland being an official member and organiser of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership, WEGo.

On Thursday 27th August, 75+ economic development practitioners gathered at a Consultation hosted by the Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) and WEAll, to exchange ideas about how Scotland can further develop wellbeing economy policies and discuss the practical implementation of a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland.

Dr Robert Pollock, Managing Director, Regional Development Solutions and EDAS Board Member and Amanda Janoo, WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead, introduced WEAll’s Policy Design Guidebook. The Guidebook aims to support policymakers looking to introduce wellbeing economy policies in their respective spheres, with a focus on the ‘how to’: presenting specific policymaking principles and processes to turn ideas into actions.

WEAll Scotland’s Gemma Bone Dodds, set the stage for the discussion of actualising a wellbeing economy in Scotland, by presenting the wellbeing economy policies that already exist in Scotland and where there are potential gaps. Breakout groups then explored possible next steps to move Scotland beyond a Wellbeing Economy framework and vision, and toward policy implementation.

Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser from the Scottish Government, closed by discussing the WEGo partnership and Scotland’s development of their national performance framework.

Get Involved

The input from the Consultation supports a participatory process that is vital to the Guidebook‘s creation. If you are a policy maker interested in reviewing or supporting with the guides development please contact Amanda Janoo, WEAll’s Knowledge and Policy Lead.

Submit a ‘Wellbeing Economy Case Study

As the Wellbeing Economy space is new, policies supporting the health of people and planet are often not recognised as “wellbeing economy policies”. In order to inspire policy makers on their journey to creating wellbeing economy policies, WEAll is looking for case studies from around the world — especially from the Global South –that are examples of wellbeing economy processes (e.g. participatory policy processes) and outcomes (e.g. bold wellbeing policies). Please share relevant case studies here by August 31st, 2020.

This week, WEAll joined Social Enterprise Scotland in a webinar: ‘Time for Change – New Economy’ on the role businesses can play in creating a Wellbeing Economy.

Three great speakers joined the session: Michael Roy (Glasgow Caledonian University), Michael Weatherhead( Wellbeing Economy Alliance) and Julie McLachlan (North Ayrshire Council).

If you missed it, you can watch the webinar recording here.

WEAll’s Michael Weatherhead covered takeaways from our Business of Wellbeing Guide, from the 19 minute to the 39 minute mark, including:

  • Analysis of the dimensions businesses need to deal with when trying to contribute to building a wellbeing economy, from leadership to accounting for impact;
  • Case studies of pioneering businesses to inspire what’s possible;
  • Expert views on how to navigate transformation;
  • A self-assessment tool to help decision makers plan their next steps.

Download the PDF guide here – or explore extracts in our dedicated Business of Wellbeing web portal.

REPOST FROM CHRISTIAN AID:

By: Úna Bartley

Back in the late eighties, Christmas for me, meant extra shifts at WH Smith’s record department. More shifts meant more cash, and more cash meant more purchases from Ms. Selfridge for my ever expanding wardrobe with its fifty shades of black. With my shaky grasp on economics, the festive period seemed a win-win for all concerned: more work equalled more goods purchased. More purchased goods equalled more work. And more work equalled more goods to be purchased. What wasn’t to like?

Fast forward thirty years and this is the world that so many are living in and on which our economies depend. A world dominated by work (be it low-paid, well-paid or unpaid) and consumption.

This relentless treadmill of working to consume is underpinned by an economic system that prioritises the pursuit of profit and economic growth over the wellbeing of our communities and planet. It is a system that has given rise to stark inequalities and is devastating our environment. It has also subtly shaped our thinking so that with all that work and shopping, we often lose sight of what really matters to us: our family, friends and health. As well as what is essential for our survival: a sustainable and viable planet.

Yet it’s hard not to feel that change is in the air. Witness the recent series of political shocks, the volatile atmosphere across the globe and the sudden rise in protests against climate change.

While some are simply venting their frustration at a system that they feel has left them behind or is trashing our planet, others are quietly channelling their energy into establishing positive alternatives to our current economic model, from community energy projects to innovative business initiatives to ethical finance projects.

While some are simply venting their frustration at a system that they feel has left them behind or is trashing our planet, others are quietly channelling their energy into establishing positive alternatives to our current economic model

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland was established as part of a global movement which works to build on this momentum and to promote a wellbeing economy. Building such a radically different economy – one that delivers social justice and environmental health – will require participation from both ‘insiders’ & ‘outsiders’ across all sectors. Our role is to support, connect and amplify those who are already pioneering alternative practices and demanding radical change of our institutions, as well as to create platforms for a different narrative, including safe spaces for business leaders and politicians to explore a different economic model.

From the outset, WEAll Scotland has been overwhelmed by individuals and organisations in Scotland wanting to be part of the movement to build a wellbeing economy. To capitalise on that energy and potential, we are setting up a series of sector-specific clusters, including a ‘Faith Cluster’. Each cluster will work with participants to identify the leverage points and opportunities for change within their own communities, led by the question, ‘what can we do together that we can’t do apart?’.

The ‘Faith Cluster’ will build on the strong engagement we have had to date with the Church of Scotland and others. It offers particular promise given the track record of churches and other faith groups in leading some of the most successful social movements of our time, through mobilising engaged communities and by asking people to reflect on their values and our social norms.

The festive period is a good time for reflection, and if like me, you now think there has to be more to life – and Christmas – than work and shopping, we’d love to hear from you. You can stay engaged with the work of WEAll Scotland through our website, our Twitter account or by signing up for our regular bulletin at Scotland@wellbeingeconomy.org