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An Economy Aiming for Wellbeing, Not Just Growth: Isle of Man Wellbeing Week

NOW’s Larch Maxey was on the Isle of Man from 22nd-25th February, as part of the island’s first ever Wellbeing Week. The Week was a huge success, with almost 100 people attending wellbeing workshops co-facilitated by Larch, a very well-received presentation to the Manx parliament and lots of media interest, including press articles, an hour long radio phone-in, TV and radio interviews! This Wellbeing Week is part of a growing international movement placing wellbeing at the heart of our communities and economies.

EcoVannin, a partnership of almost twenty Manx based organisations, had invited NOW to help run a Wellbeing Week after seeing our work with Friends of the Earth. They wanted to move wellbeing up the Island’s agenda, both politically and with the general public. NOW was keen to help, as the Week provided a great opportunity to run some workshops that NOW has worked on collaboratively with Friends of the Earth. The workshops aim to bring together everyone interested in improving their community’s wellbeing.

NOW worked with Ecovannin to run workshops in all four corners of the Island: Ramsay to the North, Douglas, the Island’s capital, to the East, Port Erin (South) and Peel (West). Almost 100 participants attended, generating 520 ideas to improve community wellbeing. At each workshop, participants voted on the priority ideas for action and agreed to begin monthly meetings to take these ideas forward. Ideas ranged from more transparent and accountable government, to identifying local community meeting spaces, and teaching children in schools how to grow food. The participants also agreed to share the workshop results island-wide.

Feedback from the workshops was very positive. “This is just what we have been waiting for on the Island” said one participant. “I can’t wait to get stuck into this, fantastic!” said another. NOW and Ecovannin are now working together with workshop participants to transform the ideas into action! (If you would like to contribute to wellbeing work on the Isle of Man or find out more contact ecovannin@gmail.com.)

Wellbeing at the policy level

Another highlight of the Week was a presentation to the Tynwald - the Manx parliament. Hosted by House of Keys member, Kate Beecroft (pictured above centre, together with Larch on the right and Richard Dyer on the left) more than 30 people, including 20 of the 27 Members and several Cabinet Ministers, heard NOW’s Larch Maxey and Richard Dyer of Friends of the Earth explain the benefits that a focus on wellbeing could have for the Island.

The Manx government is proud of its record of thirty years’ continuous economic growth, so it was heartening to see from the discussion before and after the presentation that there is a growing recognition that a holistic focus on wellbeing can deliver far more benefits than focusing on growth alone. This was reflected in the workshops too, where ‘an economy geared towards wellbeing, not just growth’ was the single most popular suggestion for how community wellbeing could be improved.

Larch and Richard argued that Tynwald and the Isle of Man are ideally placed to become the world’s leading wellbeing island. They could take inspiration from fellow Celtic neighbours, Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act which is due to come into force on 1st April 2016. The Isle of Man has an outstanding track record of innovation, and autonomy to set its own budgets and priorities. With no comparable island having yet embraced the wellbeing agenda in this way, there is great potential to place wellbeing at the heart of the island.  

NOW would like to offer huge thanks to Kate Beecroft, the elected representative (Member of the House of Keys, or MHK) who sponsored the presentation to the Tynwald and EcoVannin who organised the Wellbeing week.

To find out more about the Isle of Man wellbeing week you can contact ecovannin@gmail.com. If you are interested in inviting NOW to help host a Wellbeing Workshop (or even a Wellbeing Week!) in your Community check out further details here on our website and contact Larch Maxey, via Larch@networkofwellbeing.org or 07726195412.

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