Investing in wellbeing will bring happy, healthy families - Fiona Duncan
A relatively modern concept, we might struggle to define it, but everyone has an almost innate understanding of their own wellbeing. Whether it is a nourished body, mind and soul, being healthy and happy, feeling like your contribution is valued, or your ambitions are realised. We also understand that it’s relative; what I find essential for my wellbeing, you may not.
Lockdown and all that accompanied it was hard on children; the disruption to school, separation from friends and the ever-present fear weighed heavy on them. Because of this, families across the country - who have the resources to do so - are making extra effort to invest in their wellbeing. For some this might be pizza on Friday night, or a trip to the cinema to escape into a film, for others, perhaps taking a break, visiting friends, having a holiday. It’s different for every family but the value of it is the same.
Two weeks ago, Scottish Government announced the creation of a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund of at least £500 million over this parliamentary term. This is incredibly welcome; not just because of the investment but also the focus on wellbeing and not ‘support’. You might ‘support’ your child with their homework - but when you treat them, say, to movie night in their PJs at the end of a hard week, it’s about how that makes them feel. Support is external, extended for a particular purpose; wellbeing is internal and, when nurtured, will radiate to every area of your life. Support is given, it is assistance or aid; wellbeing is nurtured, and about feeling valued, loved and content. That’s a significant difference. And the recognition of its importance demonstrates an approach that values Scotland’s families for what they are, not what they need – although, let us be clear, needs must be met to allow wellbeing to flourish.
As welcome as the money and the sentiment is, the way the money is invested is also vital. The Independent Care Review listened carefully to thousands of children and families’ experiences of the ‘care system’ who made it clear that Scotland must take a different approach to how it invests in them. Aligned, cohesive and joined up working is required across Government to develop a common understanding across policy areas of what families need to thrive – and there are positive indications of a willingness and enthusiasm to work together and more effectively.
When the Care Review published its conclusions, Scotland made a commitment to become the parent and friend its children and families desperately need. It promised to nurture and care for its families, so all our children can grow up safe, loved and able to reach their full potential. Of course money is not the only answer – but spent wisely, in keeping with the promise report and driven always by what matters to children and families – investing in the wellbeing of families will transform Scotland into a happier, healthier and better country.
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