Since the last general election, wellbeing has attracted increased attention among policymakers and social commentators, largely due to the creation of the National Wellbeing Programme shortly after the coalition government was formed in 2010. One of the aims of government policy at present, according to David Cameron, is to ‘start measuring our progress as a country, not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving’. The intention is to base decisions not just on the creation of wealth but also on issues such as social relationships, stress and anxiety, mental health, and happiness.
With wellbeing attracting greater policy interest, this series examines the myriad ways in which religion and wellbeing intersect – whether that is in faith groups’ efforts to address isolation and loneliness, or in the provision of faith sensitive health and care services. It covers a variety of topics, from the increasing popularity of Ayurvedic medicine in the West, to foodbanks, social integration and the provision of dementia and other mental health services.
- In Ayurveda in the UK, Maya Warrier (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David) explains the incorporation of Ayurveda into Western New Age spirituality and the ongoing efforts to regulate the tradition in the UK.
- In The Trussell Trust: What kind of society do you want to live in?, Ewan Gurr (The Trussell Trust) discusses why he became involved in food banks and what the implications of the emergence of food poverty in the UK are for wider political life.
- In Understanding the ‘complete’ patient: faith and mental health, Sarah Hobbs (Maslaha) highlights the distinctive mental health needs of British Muslim communities.
- In Creating dementia friendly churches, Trevor Adams (Livability) sets out the Dementia Friendly Churches Initiative.
- Finally, Chris Shannahan (University of Manchester) reflects on the emphasis on wellbeing in UK social policy and its implications for faith-based organisations in ‘A spoke in the wheel of injustice’: faith and well-being in the superdiverse city.