The Care Act (2014) highlights a general responsibility of each local authority to promote individual well-being, which it states to include the following:

  • physical and mental health and emotional well-being
  • participation in work, education, training or recreation
  • domestic, family and personal relationship
  • control by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support provided)

Meeting the individual needs of all people within a local authority is a struggle, tied to increased demand and a lack of resources. Recent information from the National Children’s Bureau suggests that 40% of local authorities were unable to meet their statutory duties to children due to a lack of resources. This is in addition to evidence released by The Family and Childcare Trust in late 2017, which revealed that 1 in 4 local areas in the UK report having enough older people’s care, a situation most predict will worsen.

Local authorities are currently unable to satisfy their responsibility to promote individual well-being as per the Care Act (2014). Some strides are being made however, particularly in the NHS, which shows a clear commitment to improving the support given to its Health and Well-being Boards in its Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

Despite this, there is a clear problem in the UK with individual well-being. We believe a lack of social pedagogic practice and influence in health and care settings is having a negative impact on well-being, reflected in the recent UN Happiness Report, in which the UK placed 19th, in constrast to high ranking Scandinavian countries which regularly utilise social pedagogical principles. A number of charities and organisations are calling for well-being to be pushed up the agenda. In April 2018, Julian Stanley, Chief Executive of the Education Support Partnership told The Guardian about the staggering 35% rise in mental health support sought by teachers over the past year.

Social pedagogy is concerned with each of the above expressions of well-being from the Care Act (2014). By seeing each individual as an active agent of change, social pedagogy and those that practice it – social pedagogues – develop relationships that allow individuals to take more control over their own physical and mental well-being. These relationships are built through a process of shared learning and development, often through mutual participation in a recreational activity. The use of creative activities as a tool for supporting well-being is well evidenced within social pedagogy, and a growing idea within mainstream health and social care. Developing a reciprocal relationship changes the hierarchies experienced in traditional health and social care settings.

Find out more about social pedagogy and the case for it as an approach to well-being in the UK on the next page.