We are about to embark on the decision making process for our next themed call around the broad topic of interdependence and cooperation. Applications close on 23rd November and following our Programme Committee meeting in December the projects selected will run for the first nine months or so of 2019. With this in mind, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the projects that were part of our last themed programme carried out in 2018, which was in support of Scotland’s Futures Forum’s work on Scotland in 2030. In particular, it may be useful to see if there were any broad ideas which linked them.
The four projects in our 2030 programme covered a wide range of topics: the impact of climate change on heritage sites; palliative care for all age groups; ageing and housing; and a citizen’s basic income. At first glance, it doesn’t look like they have much in common, however, a number of cross cutting dimensions began to emerge as the projects unfolded across the year.
All of them were about realising potential in one way or another, including:
- the economic and cultural value of our heritage
- the opportunity for people to explore options for making the most of their talents and passions
- the chance for older people to make an on-going contribution to their communities
- the potential to improve the wellbeing of those with life limiting conditions alongside their family and friends and those who provide care
The importance of understanding and promoting wellbeing also cut across the projects; for example, the wider social value of accessible cultural heritage, the sense of belonging that growing old in the right place can provide, or the improved mental and physical health resulting from less stress that an assured, regular income can contribute to.
This impact on health also highlights the role that preventative planning and investment can play in all areas in terms of improving outcomes and reducing future costs to prevent problems, rather than responding to alleviate them once they have occurred. This isn’t about planning for possibilities that might occur; we know that the population is ageing, that we will continue to suffer from life limiting conditions, that climate change is raising sea levels and that work is becoming more precarious for many and inequality has risen.
One of the best ways of making the highest impact interventions is through the effective engagement and involvement in the design and coproduction of policy and practice by those that are going to be affected. For example, patients, family, friends and volunteers in palliative care; older people and developers in house design and planning (the housing and ageing project used an innovative game to model the interaction of different parties in different scenarios); and local communities in surveying heritage at risk and identifying priorities.
Unsurprisingly, realising potential, wellbeing, preventative planning and investment and effective engagement and involvement are cross cutting themes that come through time and again in projects that SUII supports. Yet that doesn’t make them any less important, quite the opposite. As demonstrated by the varied range of projects in this programme of work, these remain crucial themes as we look towards Scotland in 2030, and beyond.