In partnership with Relate
Following the advances made over the last Parliament, with the advent of a new government, it was an opportune moment to highlight the importance of couple, family and social relationships for policy and to explore ways of embedding a relational focus at the heart of policy ahead of the next Comprehensive Spending Review. The existing momentum towards a focus on wellbeing, the increasing recognition of the importance of relationships in policy,
and the growing realisation that systemic relationships – with family, friends, at work and with wider communities – hold the keys to our wellbeing, provoke a series of big questions relating to how policy can unlock the power of relationships: How can we better support relationships to improve the nation’s wellbeing, taking into account the full spectrum of needs and of points for delivery across the life course? What does an approach to public health (including mental health) which recognises the importance of relationships look like? How can understanding and leadership be developed among different sectors to recognise relationships as powerful catalysts of change rather than optional extras? Similarly, a systemic approach raises the question of the potential roles for various different actors and agencies in realising a vision of strong relationships as the basis of a thriving society: individuals, communities and civil society, the charitable sector, practitioners in frontline public services, and businesses, as well as the roles of local and national government.
Additionally, the realities of the wider context – for example, continuing fiscal restraint – pose challenges for the practical realisation of a relational approach. The ongoing more restricted financial climate may also serve to focus the attention of policy makers: strengthening relationships need not be an expensive business, but may require a different way of working – less doing-to individuals, couples and families, and more working alongside them; building on their existing strengths and capabilities residing within their relationships and recognising their needs across a spectrum of available models of support. We look forward to discussing these important questions and challenges with you. The St George’s House consultation sought to generate ideas and practical solutions for unlocking the potential of relationships and providing more cost effective and impactful solutions to promote citizens’ wellbeing.
While the consultation as a whole explored how to promote good-quality systemic relationships as the key to wellbeing, the discussion channelled through four policy domains:
- Individuals and family life – with a particular focus on social justice issues.
- Preparing children and young people for safe, stable, nurturing relationships in future – building relational capability as part of promoting wellbeing.
- Business and the workplace – extending beyond issues of work-life balance and flexible working to explore the importance of healthy workplace relationships for wellbeing and productivity.
- Relational public services – embedding the importance of relationships in the design and delivery of public services of the future, drawing on citizen capability and building resilience.
It brought together experts from a range of fields, including policy-makers, academics, senior figures from the private and third sectors, and other thought leaders over a 24-hour period.