By Sophie Wozmirska, Enablement Manager 

In 2018 we partnered with The Young Foundation and Geolytix to understand what ‘community wellbeing’ means to people across the UK. 

We did this to support the creation of an online data tool that would provide hyper-local insight into the wellbeing of communities. The resulting Community Wellbeing Index (CWI) is the first measure of wellbeing at a local level covering England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales . 

Understanding community wellbeing 

We felt it was really important to speak directly to both our customers and our members to understand what they feel helps them to live well. 

This enabled us to get to the heart of what matters most in a local community – from strong relationships and active participation, to good local schools, affordable housing and public transport links. These findings shaped the structure of our Index, with nine key domains that sit within the pillars of People, Place and Relationships.

With data on over 28,000 communities, the Index covers more than 50 different wellbeing related indicators. This allows us and external users of the data to gain insight into the strengths of, and challenges facing communities across the UK, encouraging action on the issues that are most critical to help drive development.

Below are five amazing examples of how the CWI has helped us to support communities across the UK. 

Grangetown United

Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation, awarded £80,000 in grant and interest-free loan funding to help the Future Regeneration of Grangetown (FROG) turn a derelict former social club into a vibrant and sustainable hub. 

The CWI was an important tool in helping the Foundation to make their funding decision. It was clear that Grangetown was a neighbourhood with a number of challenges. However, the CWI showed that the community had the potential to pull together and make the project work. 

In addition to bringing a derelict building back into community use, the new centre helped to improve the health and wellbeing of local people by selling affordable healthy food, and running keep fit and dementia-friendly events. An income generating play area, bar and café have also recently been created.

Bentham Allotments Association

The CWI inspired the creation of the now up and running Bentham Allotments Association

Carolyne Lobb, Member Pioneer for Higher Bentham, Settle and Ingleton, could see from using the CWI that High Bentham had lower than average scores for indicators relating to relationships, opportunities and mental wellbeing. Carolyne mentioned this in a local newsletter, and asked residents to get in touch, to investigate how the needs of the community could be met.

Community allotments were suggested, which would help to bring people together through the creation of a shared growing space. 

There are now 20 allotments in place, which are well used by the local community. There are also a number of exciting initiatives in the pipeline, such as a vegetable swap scheme and the introduction of beehives to the allotments, as well as outreach events and volunteer opportunities. This is helping to forge new relationships within the community, whilst supporting people’s mental wellbeing.

Hubbub

Hubbub are a UK-wide charity that focus on promoting ways of living which are sustainable and have a positive impact on the environment. 

We recently partnered with Hubbub to fast-track the growth of their community fridges. The partnership will see their community fridge network grow over the next year, from 150 to 250 community fridges across the UK, saving an additional 6.8 million meals per year from going to waste.

Using the CWI allowed Hubbub to use a data-led approach to decision making, ensuring that funding, support and resources were prioritised where the biggest benefits would be felt. 

More importantly, the data provided a UK-wide, neighbourhood level source of insight to better connect – and understand – the communities served by their work.

Mind, SAMH and Inspire

As part of our work with partners Mind, SAMH and Inspire, we’re funding around 50 new community-based services across the UK, supporting more than 10,000 people to improve their resilience and mental wellbeing. 

The CWI helped to identify areas where new services were needed and enabled targeted promotion, encouraging local Minds in those communities to apply for funding. 

Once the applications were in, grants were assessed against pre-agreed criteria and CWI data ensured that the services were located in areas with high levels of mental health need.

The services will focus on the role of the community in supporting mental wellbeing and will build resilience by helping people to make new social connections and learn coping skills. 

Kickstart 

Kickstart is a Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) initiative which aims to connect unemployed 16-25 year olds with six month paid placements across a variety of sectors and locations. The programme is funded by the DWP and requires employers to provide meaningful work to help develop a young person’s employability skills. 

In support of the scheme, we committed to creating 150 placements across retail, logistics, funeralcare, legal and support functions, with a full wrap around employability skills programme and community volunteering experience too.

The CWI was used to make sure that the work placements would have the greatest possible impact by reaching into in-need communities – providing an opportunity that may not have been accessible previously.

To date, we have taken over 30 individuals onto the programme with the remaining opportunities to be filled by the end of March 2022.

You can read more on all of our CWI case studies here.

Try our Community Wellbeing Index

By entering a postcode, the Index reveals a community’s overall wellbeing score and indicates its performance across nine specific domains including: education, health and equality.

You can learn more here.