As a basic human requirement, the home plays a vital role in supporting personal, communal and national wellbeing. It offers a physical and psychological space for individuals to ground their lives, so is critical in improving our understanding individual and community needs and assets. Different sectors, public service providers, age groups and settled or transient communities, however, all conceive of home in quite different ways, indeed some individuals are home-less or lack refuge.
Conceiving of home in discrete and different ways potentially impedes joined-up thinking about how we support and strengthen wellbeing through properly considering notions of what constitutes home. Different disciplinary and professional perspectives and conceptions as to what home is and what it represents potentially hamper collective efforts, notably around public service planning outcomes.
Interventions may well act to serve competing issues. Increasing house-building, for example, can both support the construction sector and meet identified housing need - but finding ways to make better use of empty accommodation in town centres as an integral strategy for re-thinking the High Street may equally assist in providing suitable homes, whilst also enhancing the wellbeing of the urban core and thus the wider community. Similarly, the home may be seen as a place to deliver care to the elderly, raising questions as to what impact this may have on their personal feelings and understanding of what constitutes their home. A private personal space may become a public place where ‘strangers’ come and go. Services may be cheaper and better delivered, but there could well be other more personal consequences not fully understood or appreciated.
This Programme puts the concept of ‘home’ at the centre of a set of Ideas Workshops to develop a common vocabulary around home and wellbeing. It engages a range of sectorial policy interests such as housing, planning, social work, healthcare and design to fully debate understandings of home that can help better inform policy objectives with respect to issues such as house-building, home-working, home-care and general place liveability. Current sectorial distinctions potentially inhibit and limit cross-professional and cross-sectorial policy and practice working, since dissimilar perspectives of what home provides involve different values, cultures, behaviours and mind-sets. Such a disconnect around home hinders collective action for wellbeing. Together within the workshops participants will elaborate and synthesise diverse interpretations of home from an individual, environmental and community perspective, thereby providing theoretical and practical arguments to position home as central to articulating and securing wellbeing objectives.
Our approach to examining the varied understandings of home will be organised around elaborating meanings and relationships through multi-professional and inter-disciplinary Ideas Workshops focusing on:
(i) personal determinants of wellbeing; and (ii) environmental determinants of wellbeing.
These are then interwoven to tease out:
(a) a reconsideration of the relationships of both personal and environmental factors in constructions of home through better appreciating individual perceptions of belonging, identity and personal autonomy; (b) discussion of alternative housing solutions which could improve individual flourishing and associated socio-economic wellbeing; and (c) identifying priorities for action to promote and embed these improved wellbeing outcomes through public policy, private developer practice, third sector action and academic research. Core here is developing a co-production of knowledge in this area given each participant offers crucial understandings necessary to provide a considered and collective understanding of the place home plays in enhancing individual and community wellbeing.