Social action and its potential to transform health and wellbeing
Mark Swift, founder and CEO of Wellbeing Enterprises CIC on the potential to change health and wellbeing services through social action. We also have a new case study drawing from Mark’s experiences → Unleash your inner social entrepreneur case study
The publication of the NHS Five Year Forward view and its focus on prevention and wellbeing has generated debate about the ways in which health commissioners may go about engaging and involving citizens as agents of change to bring about health improvements.
These approaches are being described under the banner of ‘social action’ and are essentially about mobilising ‘people power’ and the latent potential of the community to bring about positive outcomes. These approaches include traditional volunteering and activism alongside relatively new concepts like social entrepreneurship.
What they all share in common is a focus on the individual and the community as the driver of change; they’re about redistributing power and control to everyday people to affect the change they want to see. It’s about mobilising an entrepreneurial mind-set to tackle the issues that are impacting on people’s quality of life and mobilising assets in the community to bring this about.
This growing interest in ‘bottom up’ community led approaches has been facilitated in part by organisations like UnLtd – the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs who provide awards to help kick-start people’s ideas. However there has also been a sizable shift in policy thinking too; one which has seen policy makers consider the ways in which the pulleys and levers of the state can be used to bring about social change.
The publication of the Social Value Act in 2012 is a good example of this as it places a legal duty on statutory bodies to give due consideration to the social, economic, and environmental impact of their procurement decisions. It’s not enough to deliver a quality service one should also think about what else can be done to maximise this investment and generate a better deal for the community.
I put it to you that efforts to resource everyday people to take action alongside a shift in policy thinking to nurture these approaches have the potential to positively disrupt the health and social care landscape and deliver the health and wellbeing outcomes that many of us strive to achieve.
I also believe that we all have the potential to tap into our inner entrepreneur and bring about extraordinary changes and by doing so we have the potential to become extraordinary people.