Improve social connections to help communities thrive in uncertain times
A new report will help public services and other organisations in Wales work to develop resilient individuals and communities that are better equipped to respond to challenging circumstances like economic crises, stress, trauma, and the challenges of everyday life.
The report, highlights how people’s sense of wellbeing, how well they cope emotionally, and how they engage socially are the key factors for resilience, which in turn contribute to wider community resilience. Resilient communities can draw on the assets within people, place and wider economic factors.
The report by Public Health Wales highlights that resilience is not fixed but changes at different points in our lives, and includes a range of actions which can help strengthen individual and community resilience at any age.
One of the most important areas highlighted is to encourage good relationships and connections with others, as a strong source of resilience from young to old age.
The report highlights programmes including those which support parenting to foster healthy attachment in parent-child relationships. These enable the building blocks needed for good health and resilience in childhood, and throughout an individual’s entire life.
Dr Alisha Davies, Head of Research and Development for Public Health Wales said:
“We live in a rapidly changing, globalised world where we face constant challenges to our wellbeing and stability both as individuals and as whole communities. But there are things we can do to improve people’s resilience, whatever their age.
“That is why it is important that public services and other organisations across Wales act to ensure that we are all able to draw on strengths and assets to improve our daily lives and to cope when change happens.
“This report will provide policy makers with crucial guidance to help them support people to be more resilient, by feeling socially connected, by enjoying good wellbeing, and by strengthening mental resilience.”
A resilient Wales is a key goal of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and Wales is not alone – importance of resilience recognised is UN sustainable development, WHO Health action plan.
Other activities highlighted by the report that improve community and individual resilience include:
- Establishing a healthy family environment, early positive parent-child relationships (or with trusted adult), setting the foundations of resilience in childhood through to later life
- Promoting good health and mental wellbeing in adulthood, including work place based activities to promote good health, enhancing positive relationships and social capital through engaging with the community
- Approaches to enhance older person’s resilience focus on building positive relationships, strengthening social connections and meaningful engagement, alongside enhancing autonomy and independence. The wider economic and environmental contexts have a critical role in determining the supportive conditions for resilience in any community
The report focuses on universal approaches to improve resilience and recognises that building resilience in vulnerable, marginalised or amongst those who have experienced trauma, requires more tailored and targeted support.
The report is the result of a literature review that considered resilience at an individual and community level. It draws on examples of programmes to strengthen resilience across the life course and in communities.