Guest blog – Conference motion on Health and Wellbeing –
October 15, 2013 2 Comments
Lindy Gresswell, Chair of the WEA’s Yorkshire and Humber Region, has forwarded the text of a speech supporting one of the region’s motions to last weekend’s members’ Conference. She’s sharing this as a guest blog. Lindy is a WEA student and active volunteer. She says that fellow Regional Committee member Hugh Humphrey also helped to shape the text. It’s an example of how WEA members and volunteers contribute to the Association’s development and planning through our democratic processes.
“President, delegates; Lindy Gresswell Yorkshire and Humber Region
The WEA, by giving Health and Wellbeing its own separate theme obviously recognises the benefits of this type of education. We are now asking the trustees to initiate a dedicated marketing campaign that will inform students of these benefits.
Learning and education can have a positive effect on wellbeing. This has been reflected in numerous research studies. The Coalition Government’s new mental health strategy recognises the link between learning and mental health.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation says:
…..adult learning interventions could form part of the solution for people who have less severe symptoms of mild or moderate depression and anxiety as well as for those who are already on the road to recovery.
He suggests that: Primary Care Trusts and future GP consortia should, in cooperation with local authorities, consider commissioning such programmes.
The Foresight report also quotes, ‘Learning through life has direct impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of the UK population across all age groups.’
The benefits of adult education can also be seen in other areas. From the publication, ‘The Contribution of Adult Learning to Health and Social Capital’ Leo Feinstein et al say that,
‘Participation in adult learning is a significant factor in positive processes of psychological and social development, ’and appears to have all the ingredients of confidence building and rising social awareness.
At present local authorities and colleges don’t appear to offer a great deal in this area and although there are all sorts of initiatives in the community these tend to be very ad hoc, often short lived and not co-ordinated in any way. There is a real opportunity for us to ‘up our game’ and establish ourselves in this area.
There is also research that acknowledges the benefit of volunteering on health:
A report commissioned by Volunteering England suggests that the benefits of volunteering can include: A longer life, a healthier lifestyle, Improved family relationships, Meeting new people, Improved self-esteem and sense of purpose.
It should be possible to put together a comprehensive WEA personal development programme which would lead on to people joining other WEA courses, volunteering or other activities. One approach could be to establish three or four flagship courses and get these into every area of the country
Obviously, a group needs setting up to look at what we have got and develop a strategy. Once we are in position to deliver a number of key courses to all parts of the country, which includes having the right tutors available, then we can initiate the marketing campaign referred to in the motion.
There may well be initiatives afoot already but we do need to move on this quickly. It is an area we have been good at over a number of years but we have now created ourselves an opportunity to move up a gear. It is essential that we do so.”
Conference delegates voted in support of the motion so expect to see further action on this topic for the benefit of students and communities.