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Wellbeing Video with Professor Emmy van Deurzen and Councillor Jane Brophy from GreenLibDem 2020 Vision Conference

March 3, 2021 9:14 PM

WellBeing Video from GreenLibDems Vision2020 Conference (greenlibdems.org.uk)Wellbeing Video with Professor Emmy van Deurzen and Councillor Jane Brophy
from GreenLibDem 2020 Vision Conference Thu 25th June 2020

shortcode to this page: http://grn.lib.dm/a41dz6

Transcription subedited by Jackie Charlton

Keith Melton: We're going to have two speakers this evening. The first of those to the stage will be Professor Emmy van Deurzen who's a counselling psychologist, a psychotherapist, and philosopher, and a world authority on existential psychotherapy: and I'm hoping she will be able to explain all of those words to us, as well as the definition of well-being.

And then also we have somebody who probably needs no introduction to a Green Liberal Democrat audience and that's councillor Jane Brophy, who's never lost a council seat in 20 years of sitting on Timperley ward on the Trafford Greater Manchester Council, and of course she has been for a sadly short amount of time one of our MEPs, and was beginning to get into the throw of deciding what well-being meant in the European context, which is what I'm hoping will be the sort of thing she's talking about this evening.

So Emmy would you like to start us off and tell us about well-being and what we need to do about it

Emmy: Absolutely. You have disabled my screen sharing but I need to get my slides up so can can you re-enable my screen sharing

Keith: Caron will

Caron: All done for yourself

Emmy: can you now see my screen, yes , splendid shall I just start

Keith: just start Emmy the floor is yours

okay we will sit back and be entertained and informed I hope so okay

Emmy: So I'm a professor of psychology and psychotherapy, and that's where I normally work at the existential academy but I haven't been there for three months and that's my core team at the bottom.

These are the 17 books I have published to date. and this is the book I'm currently writing which is called Rising from Existential Crisis. I started writing that well before the pandemic crisis, so that's quite useful.

So where I'm coming from is that I have been listening and working with people who grapple with loss, pain, trauma, doubt, and adversity since 1972. I've done that in several different countrie,s including France.

So, often it is really about creating a space for people, in which they can find safety again, and in that safety they can then discover themselves how they can rise from crisis.

So what I want to look at briefly is how people actually do make sense of human existence in a world that's constantly changing and as we know is very often under threat.

So first a few facts from a psychological perspective: which is that depression is increasingly widely spread as a problem all around the world.

33 and a half million Europeans suffer from it each year which is an enormous amount. It is the state of mind that leads most often to suicide. Between 30 and 88 % of suicides are related to depression, and we see 60,000 deaths by suicide at least in the EU, which is twice as many deaths as by road accident.

So as you can see this is quite an important problem, you can see what the cost is too, speaking about GDP, and that's going up all the time.

So many governments have said they would do something about it, but really they haven't come to grips with it at all, because they don't really understand what it is about I think a lot of the time so that's important

The other thing that's important is anxiety, which is often related to stress. So that is again 12% of the European population has anxiety at any one time and it links with all sorts of other problems like phobias, panic, disorder, etc etc

and I'd just like to put a little plug in which that it is a scientific fact that people who use benzodiazepines, things like Xanax and Librium and Valium, get more anxiety in the longer term, and they get also addicted to the medication.

So the important topical fact at the moment is that of course the government has been checking on the state of the mental health of the nation so they do measures on several things life satisfaction, the feeling that things done in life are worthwhile, and happiness. Well all of these have been going seriously down over the last few years and they dipped considerably just before we Brexited in January - so that is quite important

More interestingly anxiety ratings have been elevated since the second quarter of 2019 and that is with Brexit coming nearer almost certainly, and 10 million people saying they feel high anxiety.

Now look at that by May 2020 in the pandemic this had risen to 25 million British adults experiencing anxiety, and people said they were worried about their lives and the impact of this on their lives, and I would strongly recommend for people who are interested in this that they look at the covert social study which is run by University College, and where they're working with 60 000 participants and will get an enormous number of data that should guide us in the future

right the use of antidepressants has been going up dramatically twofold in the last four years again, and it's been going up every year

so the numbers doubled in a decade and we are a nation that is becoming dependent on drugs.

this is very worrying indeed

So we're clearly going through an existential crisis not just because of the pandemic, but because of other things as well

Let me define this for you: an existential crisis is a sudden upheaval, a bit like that strike of lightning, that affects potentially your entire life. So the connections and meanings that you rely on are destroyed at many levels at the same time, and this leaves you high and dry in a very difficult position

So what we need to figure out is how we can help people to transcend that kind of state of mind

and the first thing to do, as always, is to rise above the troubles, and remind ourselves how things actually work, and how they are put together.

and I like to go to the largest possible scale, as you know we're here somewhere in the milky way, this is our galaxy, and we are tiny of course

when we look at an image of our brain we see very much the same sort of thing as when we go to the macro level

so at the micro level our neurons are very much about creating frameworks, structures, connectivity, and this is crucial, remember it with everything we're going to say this evening

what people need in order to have well-being, is a sense of meaning

so meaning comes from our connections.

human beings are hardwired to want to create meaning and to be connected up, we love putting the last piece of a puzzle in, it gives us that feeling of completion, and you know, well-being

our brains naturally find and create helpful patterns in chaos, everything we see we relate to it like that

when we see things fitting together we have a little burst of happiness which says aha, I got it, because there's this connectivity that happens

what we love most is to weave things together, to see how we can bring several things that we're connected with and that matter to us together, and create even bigger patterns

we feel confused when we're not connected, and we feel much better when we know how we are affiliated to other people and what our roles and functions are

so life is much more meaningful the more a person is connected, and there are huge amount of data on this

loneliness kills the more a person is connected, the older they will get, and the more healthy they will be.

in loss when our disconnection happens, and everything that's meaningful is severed, we fall ill

sudden disconnection leads to problems as sure as anything

so we need to learn how to deal with that

This is a little overview of some of the sudden existential crises that can happen to a society, we have no time to go into that, but there's lots of risks all the time

and we would do well to think ahead of time on how we might deal with any of those

in the last four years this country has had an existential crisis in relation to Brexit, and particularly I have been preoccupied with the EU 27 citizens in this country, many of whom went completely into crisis, with a sense of losing the northern star, the connectivity that made sense of you know living across different nations, people feel European rather than nationals of a particular country, so their whole identity is ripped away

Brexit of course is going to after January create upheavals that we cannot oversee, but we know that will happen, and so we can predict another existential crisis for many people, alongside an increasing awareness of climate change, and of course the disability of not being able to deal with that, together with other countries any more

and then we had this amazing pandemic out of the blue, where we had to learn to live in a different way, to self-isolate, listen to the word, that's disconnection, practice social distancing, more disconnection,

we lost a lot of our identity and values immediately

it was very interesting that this crisis happened with the "I can't breathe" Black Life Matters movement, because of course they spoke to us all as we were all feeling identified, being a victim who might end up dying, not being able to breathe

now politics are about maintaining a safe space for people, for everybody in a nation, and that is in relation to nature, in relation to the wider world, in relation to other people, and in relation to ourselves

unfortunately when you speak to the public, the confidence in politicians is lower than it's ever been because people are aware that politics is very often no longer about that

Simone de Beauvoir in her book 'The Mandarin' said you can't lead a proper life in a society which isn't proper, and this is what people feel that society isn't proper, in which everywhere you turn you are always caught, you can't draw a straight line in a curved space

so we have to find a way to get out of this predicament, create a better and fairer world, but it is far more complex than dealing with the economy, or with the power play of international and internal relations

it is much more than just thinking about the environment and the climate

it is about creating resilient communities that can be creative and that have shared values and projects

so we need to think about all these different circles that we're all related to, and figure out how at all these levels we can provide people with opportunities to create human networks

this is my framework with which I work in psychotherapy, and it applies every bit as much to when I work with groups or organizations, remember that we all function at four levels, but these levels interact and overlap, so sometimes you know we're in one place, and sometimes we're in another, but very often we're right in the middle there where all levels apply at the same time

we're always in a physical space a body in nature, we're always in a social space, which is our ego that we have created in relation to other people to maintain ourselves, We're also in a personal space where we relate to our own identity, and we're in a spiritual space which I think of as a philosophical space, where we create values and ideas to live by

so politicians ought to take all of this into account, and you can you know play with this and see how existing departments fit into these four dimensions

but what you will find very quickly, is that politics is mostly just about the physical space and the social space, the personal space is almost completely neglected, and the spiritual space is left to churches, which is very weird, because spirituality in terms of meanings and values is something that underpins absolutely everything we do

so back to this idea that we seek out meaningful patterns, and that we feel good when we find a harmonious pattern that we know how to fit into

so physically that is about feeling a sense of safety, and a sense of our body being in harmony and peace in relation to nature

socially it is about feeling accepted in one's group and appreciated by people around one

personally it is about having a sense of inner strength and trust in oneself, although one is also aware of one's vulnerability, and integrity,

and spiritually or philosophically if you like it is about connecting to truth what is actually the case, and what actually is true in the longer term, if you like, even after your death, and having a sense of purpose in relation to that

so these are the things we should use as our guidelines for thinking about this different way we're going to create society using the skills in the physical world, science, facts, that's the place where we take action

in the social world it's all about relationships, so it is about figuring out how we can show affection, how we can be affiliated, how we can be generous, because that's the key to good work together, and how we can cooperate, and that's why existential crises are always caused by people who are selfish and who give a role model of not being able to be team players at a personal level

it's about integrity, it's about inner peace, and it's about trusting that we can transform and change for the better in times of crisis, and be creative

and at that philosophical spiritual level it's about transcendence, seeing what's truth, seeing what's right, in the long term,

this study I strongly recommend it's pretty crucial to know about it, it's a Harvard study on adult development which has been run for 80 years with the same people

so they have done this longitudinal study where they have figured out what happens to people who act in certain ways, and what happens to people that act in other ways, and the evidence is absolutely amazing and astonishing

so the people who have a safe space in which they can create meaning in their life and do things that matter to them, have generally speaking also good relationships, and they feel healthier and happier, they can live up to 20 years longer than people who don't have those things, and the people who are lonely will always die well before the others

this is all about quality not about quantity

so four ways of making meaning, I think I've said it before, because you need to have a sense of being efficacious, of being good at something physically, of creating social value in the world, having a sense of self-worth, and having a sense of purpose

if you can create a society in which most people can be engaged in those ways you will be astonished how your society will change, and how people will love it

but of course what happens in most societies including very much in the uk is that people do not feel safe to feel deeply, and therefore they hold on to their feelings, they suppress them because they feel oppressed or dysfunctional, so they have a sense of loss of freedom, loss of meaning, and they call that depression

and they deal with that by taking medication or thinking they are ill, when actually they're just living in the wrong way

and when they try to get up from that, they typically will feel anxious because anxiety is what you feel when you try to deal with the things that you cannot avoid, with the challenges

what we're aiming for is to make people more resilient, and that is all of these things which I probably don't have time to go into, but you know I can talk about more if you want me to

the point is that all this happiness stuff is very superficial, there's a lot of interesting research like practice smiling, practice gratitude, it all works, but it doesn't dig deep enough

so we need to dig below this happiness stuff and seek for meaning, because there are greater values in life than happiness, there's love, there's truth, there's beauty, there's loyalty, honour, courage, freedom and many other things besides

if politicians dared to start talking about these things people would recognize that this is about them

that is what they need

you can look at your diagrams and see what practically is needed

and what we need to remember is that selves, couples, societies, organizations, they are not things, they are like breathing organisms, they are like a matrix in which meanings and values become manifested, and these things unfold slowly, and have to be nurtured very carefully, exactly like your garden, or nature

and a good politics, a politics of well-being, should be about creating the right matrix

thank you very much

Keith: thank you very much professor Emmy, um, certainly I'm hoping that we can nurture the connections within the Green Liberal Democrats to give us a social function that transcends our current ability to be politicians

I'm going to let Jane come in now and try and relate all of that to what Jacinda Ardern is doing in New Zealand, but perhaps more to the point, what we are all hoping to do, trying to do, as we come out of the pandemic lockdown and face another existential crisis, the climate change crisis

not a small task Jane, over to you and you're muted by the way just at the moment

Jane: so wow thank you Emmy so I first met Emmy in London on a talk about Brexit and mental health, and it was so good you've just seen it for yourselves, that I invited her over to Brussels, and she came and we did a all-party event on Brexit and mental health, with the not just the Liberal Democrat MEPs, but with labour and greens, it was very important that we made it all party

and the reason why I wanted to invite Emmy back again to speak to the Green Liberal Democrats is because to me this is everything, this is everything in life that Emmy has just summed up

I've been in politics now for 30 years plus, and I came into politics for three policy reasons really, it was health, it was education, and it was the environment: those three things have driven me and my politics ever since

and this is the language that I speak about well-being.

because what's the point of having all the things we're having gross domestic product it doesn't work

and we're seeing climate change, we're seeing lots of biodiversity, we heard on the zoom chat the other day with Jane Goodall talking about the Covid crisis,

she was arguing from the biological perspective

actually human green beans ????

we've created the Covid crisis for from our own mismanagement of the planet

now my background as some of you might know it I am a health worker, I've worked for the NHS nearly all my political career, and professional career as well

and this is key to me and I'm just going to share a few things with you in terms of where the Liberal Democrats come from this

so something I've grown up with as a health worker is the World Health Organization, we're all seeing and hearing a lot more about the World Health Organization and I quite honestly have more time for Dr Ted Ross who comes on to talk to us than I have for the Boris Johnson announcements

so the world health organization decades ago came up with their what is health health is a state of complete physical mental and social well-being, and not just merely the absence of disease or infirmity

now this holds so much today more than ever before, and if you look up the WHO website which I did today there's all sorts of things, and this is from their constitution I think it goes back to something like 1947, and as Keith was saying at the beginning why do we have to keep reinventing, this why don't we know this stuff

now as a Liberal Democrat I was very proud to be part of the general election campaign in December 2019, and we did try

I've looked up our Liberal Democrat manifesto and it's very clear we have tried to do this

so in our Liberal Democrat manifesto we talk about there's no more purpose for government than supporting people to expand their quality of life

a successful economy is important because it supports jobs, income, and well-funded public services, all of which matters to people's well-being

but we measure this by GDP the gross domestic product

it doesn't actually fit the bill it's not fit for purpose and the GDP that we use to measure the success of our economies

the other thing I did today that Keith has just mentioned is, there's a really good video that you can find on the green little Democrat website on on the link to this particular topic

I did wonder whether Keith might indeed be showing this today, but you you hear the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern who has transformed the New Zealand economy because what she's done with her team in New Zealand, is they actually have introduced a well-being budget

so when New Zealand decides what are the important things, well-being has to be part of every single government decision, it's not something you can tag on to the end, so the health department talks to the housing department, talks to the economic department, and everything links together

and this is actually much more my experience of the way politics works in the European Union, just as a by the by

so that means you cannot create any policies at all without considering the impact of well-being

what's the point of having a thriving economy if you've got homeless people, if you've got people who can't feed their children, if you've got people who are suffering for some of the mental unwellness that Emmy's just described

none of these things are important in terms of the things that we currently measure

it doesn't measure those things, it doesn't measure how well we're doing in tackling our well-being of our population

now coming from a public health background, one of the things about public health is it's never been taken particularly seriously by this government

but it's actually it's everything because Jacinda doing an interview that is on the website talks about how you would measure a child's life

so if you track a child's life from birth actually a lot of the things that happen in the first five years are still present in the last 30 years of a child's life

but government policies are also short-term, we never look back far ahead to think what is it about this policy that's going to impact long-term on this individual's well-being, that group of people's well-being

if we turned everything around, and we actually started to measure these things we might end up with a situation like in New Zealand, and the proof of the pudding if you like, it is actually what's happening right now in response to the Covid crisis

where in the world are they doing better in responding to the Covid crisis

where have they had hardly any deaths and they've got it completely under control? New Zealand

where have we done worst in the world in terms of getting the Covid crisis under under control? places with the most macho nationalistic leaders, with Trump with Bolsonaro in Brazil, with dare I say, it with Boris Johnson in Britain, these nationalistic people who become our leaders, do nothing for the well-being of our countries, they do nothing, and actually we can see that suffering going on on a global scale with the lockdown, and with the number of people who are being impacted by the Covid virus

so just to summarize where we're up to I think I might have to have my times up Keith I'll have a look to see whether there's any sign I've been talking too long with Keith, let's have a quick tune in to Keith thumbs up from Keith

so actually if we do like in New Zealand, we turned around the way we measure it we started working more the way the world health organization measures our well-being measures our economy, maybe we would start to tackle things like climate change, maybe we would start to tackle things like biodiversity, maybe having a healthier population we might need to spend less money on the things that cause harm, we might even get to a state where our hospital services rather than being national illness services, which is what they are basically, they become genuine a national health service, where what we're doing I,s what people's well-being is crucial

so what I'd like to see through every strand of government policy, through every strand of Liberal Democrat policy, is not just the environmental aspects of our policies being considered in every decision we make, actually the human well-being aspect of every decision we make

because if we did that we could turn the planet around, we could turn the world around, and that would be my hope for the Green Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrats and across the world too

Keith okay unmute myself carefully thank you jane for explaining that our philosophy in the Green Liberal Democrats is to turn the world around, I think we've got a pretty large challenge ahead of us

one of the things that Jane mentioned was the short video that we've made access to on the website, if you go to the if you go to the description of this evening's meeting, there's a link there to a five or six minute video where Jacinda is being interviewed for the world economic forum in 2019, and you'll get a very strong idea of the sort of things that she has done

I think probably I'll just warn Kevin I was going to come to you first Kevin to to ask a question, so if you're thinking whatever it is that you want to ask

as I just identify with one of the things Jacinda was saying, that she did notice that there was a link between poverty in childhood, and length of life, and well-being in life 20 or 30 years later, and the thing that impressed me about it was that she said if we do something about childhood education, and equality of life in childhood, then we politicians are not going to see anything of the benefits of that, because we'll be well out of the way, and it's that recognition that politicians should be thinking in the long term, that I think is incredibly important change to the way we do politics in this country

have you thought of something to say Kevin? a question

Kevin: well I i think the point you were making were absolutely right that I mean I watched the video with Jacinda earlier on and she was making that very important point about looking into the long term, and it's something let's be honest, as Liberal Democrats we've been saved for some time that he's not just planning for the next five years which seems to be what a lot of politics in this country is about, it's looking to 30 50 100 years, and having that much more progressive forward look as to how what we do now impacts in the future

I mean if I may say Keith, it brings me back to the statement you put in the constitution, about our responsibility to ensure that we protect the earth and the planet, and we hand it on to future generations, hopefully in a better condition, but certainly no worse condition than we found it, and that's what the long-term perspective to me is about, and that's what Jacinda was talking about in the video, and both Emmy and Jane have been speaking about today ,and I think it's that long-term vision that's important, but it's how do we sell that long-term mission as well, because look, a lot of people that we all associate with are very short-termist, because that's a society they live in. The challenges how do we turn that round

Keith: okay I'm going to go to the audience questions and I'm going to ask the first of the questions in here. Just to let the people in the audience know that you can put questions on the Q&A platform that is there, and if you vote for a question that looks like something you would like to see then that question will get to the top of the list to be asked, so to be interactive then our first question is from Sean Mccloud:

With a recovery post Covid going to probably be quite austerity driven, (maybe I would challenge that even as a starting point) as a mental health support worker it's vitally important well-being is focused on its common sense that a happy nation will be a nation driven to work, and will work more effectively. Mental health cost the workforce 2.4 billion excuse me I'm going to need to expect to read that 2.4 billion a year, and an amazing 70 million days are lost. But with areas becoming more and more deprived, how important is it that we look at how to engage communities not just individuals?

I'm going to ask that question to Emmy first how important is it that we look to how to engage communities

Emmy: I agree with Sean it's it's vital, I mean we can't engage with every individual, so we have to work at a community level, that is a a no-brainer really

and we need to, well we've lost a lot of the good structures that we did have at some point in the communities, there's very little left, but, on the bright side, both in relation to the Brexit crisis, and in relation to the pandemic, and again in the BLM thing as well, what we've seen is communities rising and organizing themselves, and showing incredible capacity to be creative, and get people behind them

and that is something that I had missed for many many decades before the Brexit vote four years ago. I remember thinking you know the whole world has become apolitical, people just don't care any more, they just go along with it all, but that has changed

so I am actually quite hopeful, because I think communities are fed up, and they know how to organize themselves

there's lots of skills and lots of ability everywhere, and it's just a matter of giving people the idea that this could be taken seriously, and that there is room for them to to step up to the plate really, and become part of that political world much more, and that's what's going to have to happen

Keith: and if I can add just a sentence from somebody else's question in here and throw that to Jane:

is it the intention to use both well-being and GDP simultaneously as a measure for comparison purposes

so how how are we going to work it Jane, how do you think it's going to work in practical terms

Jane: so firstly taking Sean's question it's a really good question about the being a mental health support worker and the cost of mental health just something to add to what Emmy was saying there I'm a local council and have been for 20 years

and I know from my community that absolutely the Covid response has been led and driven by local communities and local governments

now over the years I've been a councillor local government has been cut and cut and cut mostly by the conservatives while they've been in power, and it's left with the bare bones of a service

but even still our government underestimates the power of those local communities on local government to take action, and I think this is the key, it again it goes back to what we were saying in the introduction

if we can think about the cost of mental unwellness, and all those days lost for people being unwell

You've got to think what are the driving forces around what makes people well ?

well it's the things the five ways to mental well-being, it's all about community, it's all about connection, it's all about having access to green spaces, and it's all about having meaningful work: all those things that Emmy was talking about in her brilliant introduction

that these the political drivers to make these things happen are actually our local government, and our local communities

so we do need that decentralization that the Liberal Democrats have talked about as one of our founding policies over many decades

so moving on to the second question which was about: is it the intention to use both well-being and GDP similarly simultaneously

Well going to the Liberal Democrat manifesto which I've got here, I think it's going to have to be a phased approach, isn't it? we're going to have to have a plan to move us from A to B

so I think initially, this is what the Liberal Democrats have got in their manifesto from the last general election, we would introduce a well-being budget following the example of New Zealand, facing decisions on what will improve well-being as well as economic and fiscal indicators, it would include appointing a minister for well-being, and it would mean having well-being impact assessed across all areas of policy,

and it would mean exactly the things

in the first question from from Sean it would be things like prioritizing government spending on things that matter to people, and that will be high quality mental health and other health services, schools that build emotional resilience, again that resilience question that Emmy referred to, it would be about jobs, relationships, community, that tackled loneliness and prevented isolation, and support for people who are vulnerable, support for people who are homeless, or who are victims of social deprivation for whatever reason, and reducing adverse childhood experience

so all those things will be part of this new way of running policy

so I would see as a kind of phased approach, so we start off with GDP as our current measure, we start introducing the things in our current manifesto Liberal Democrat manifesto, hopefully work cross cross-party as well, because things always work better when you work across party, and then we have a new way of running the world running the uk, maybe if we did a fact-finding mission to New Zealand to see how they've done it, and then we bring that over here, that might might be a way forward

Kevin: I mean Keith I think it's quite interesting that, I mean I think Emmy touched on it as well with the Covid crisis, we've seen a number of things that have come out this, the rebirth of the strength of community that I think to some extent we felt had gone, but I think also the fact that people have had to work from home, and spend more time at home, they've actually rediscovered the pleasures, not just of going out for a nice walk and enjoying the environment, but also spending time with their family that that due to work pressures they've been neglecting, and they're actually finding it a bit less stressful than going to work and and, so I think a lot of people have started thinking I actually quite like this way of working, I'm not sure I want to go back to the way I was doing before and I think there's a lot of things that can flow from that, and I think it's fantastic that local authorities are talking about making more provision for cyclists and pedestrians

but we've got them make sure that they can make use of those facilities, not not just put them there, but make make use of them

Keith: perhaps we can pass we just ask Emmy if if there are studies coming through about community as it's been affected by the pandemic lockdown are the studies being done

Emmy: absolutely yes, if you look at the British psychological society website, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of studies, and quite a lot of those about are about community, and what has worked, and what hasn't worked

psychologists have gone mad about this, there's more research on it than you can shake a stick at, absolutely, and these things are all being borne out you know, that that people are creative, and you know what what Kevin was saying is very true, we have rediscovered our home lives in some ways, and we've also rediscovered the how we miss the affection when we can't be with the wider family face to face, and a lot of people have also rediscovered their gardens

you know this is one of the things that has been most popular, people gardening, and discovering how that changes their their experience of their environment

so all these things go together

but at the same time people have also been deprived, so it's been a strange experience, when I

Keith i was going to say is there a is there a balance of positivity coming out of thi,s or a balance of negativity or is it

Emmy it depends very much on how you were locked down, so people who were locked down on their own you know as we know isolation kills, have had very hard times several of them, and the other people who've had very hard times are mothers with small children, who have almost always inherited the task of doing the teaching suddenly, so these women have found themselves not only losing cleaning ladies, having to do more housework, losing teachers, having to teach the children, but still still are expected by their employers to work from home online as well

so I've seen this very close by in my own staff group in in my college you know we we've had these daily meetings on zoom and things

of course children have become very much part of that, and I think what we've had to do is to, and pets too by the way, dogs and cats, and what we've learned to do is to integrate the home life much more with the business life, and to stop worrying whether people were working from nine to five ,knowing full well that they weren't ,so thinking much more about tasks, rather than whether you know we stand over them like slave drivers checking that they are there all the time

so our mindset has changed about all of that, and I think employers who can go with that are finding that the staff are saying "we don't really want to go back this is worked out quite well would it be enough to come in to work one day a week and do the rest of the time from home"

now if we start doing that implementing that in a serious way, think about how you could build vista communities, and how how, well you know the the effect on the environment has been fantastic too

so there's a lot we can do from what we are learning from the pandemic, as with all crises, we can actually thrive on it, we can change in a good way after it, and avoid the pitfalls that we've fallen into because of it, but you know use the improvements that we've noticed

Jane: going back to Keith's question if that's all right, that you asked us do you think it's been a positive or a negative thing around Covid, I was just having a few thoughts then different to emmys and adding to emmys as well

I mean firstly my gardens never had so much attention in decades, and I love my garden, and a day doesn't go by where I don't actually count my blessings, in actually the fact I've got a garden, because many people don't have a garden, and and also the other fortunate thing is it needed so much work but I've been kept very busy with it, but actually speaking to people who live in different situations, people who live in flats for example, I've got a number of friends in that situation, some of them who do live alone, they found different ways of coming together, so I've been communicating with the garden quite a lot as well as my three family members who I live, with but also they've the flats and the people all the singing that you have, and all those amazing things they do for the street

I think our government, one of the good decisions that was taken from a public health point of view in the uk, was the fact that we are allowed out, and have been allowed out during lockdown, for those hour a day of exercise

personally I think that was a the right thing to do, because you can easily go for a bike ride, as I've done three or four times a week, you can easily go for a jog around the park, you can do these things in a socially distanced way, and they absolutely got that right that the people's health and well-being, you do need to go out into the fresh air for a walk a cycle or a run if you if you feel that energetic

and I think as Kevin was saying as well that actually it's the local government, ,it's the local communities, that have proved their worth but will we be better or worse? I think we're just going to be very different

some things have got worse and we need to really pay attention to that especially people who who aren't living in poverty that for a lot of people who are experiencing social deprivation it's actually got worse

and what was seen is that the people who were already experiencing domestic violence thats got worse, people who are already lonely, that's got worse , people who are experiencing mental health challenges across the board, whatever you had to start with then the isolation and the lockdown has made that somewhat worse

so we're going to have as local government, I know my role as a local councillor, we're going to have a lot of things to fix that have been highlighted by this Covid crisis

I'm shortly returning back to work at the NHS. I also know my field is working with people with diabetes. There will have been a lot of people which will have suffered during lockdown in terms of their management of their long-term condition won't has been as good because of the situation they've been in

so I think we're going to have a mixed response we're going to be as Emmy said some things will get better

but I think there will be some problems uncovered that we we need to come up with creative solutions to

Keith: okay let me move on to the next question then

I'm just wondering whether the questioner might want to come and ask the question themselves so Alexander Stennings would if you would like to ask the question yourself if you would like to put your blue hand up in the chat area in the participants area, we can get Caron to bring you on to the stage as it were to ask your question, so that's Alexander, yes, that looks as though that's happening, and let me just check that that has happened ,Caron are you able to bring alexander, yes, he's here he's here thanks excellent excellent so good

Alexander hello yes and my question to the panel was a lot of people feel with the situation with Covid and climate change that these issues are are almost too big for them to handle, you know they they you know they they sort of think, oh you know what what can I possibly do, and I think this kind of crisis has really kind of sort of shown that I think, and how can we encourage people to maybe feel that actually there are things that they can do, and you know every every little thing has a has a has a way of helping that, and maybe make it not feel so so so kind of overwhelming, because I think people do get overwhelming they know they look at the science they look at the stats, and it can be quite depressing at times, so how can we kind of steer people to say this is gonna be a positive thing and it can actually improve your lives, that's that's my general question really

Keith: Emmy do you want to take that first

Emmy: yes I'm very happy to because that's really about practical politics isn't it, it's it's showing people how they can organize themselves, how they can create community groups, what resources are available to them

and very little of that was happening

people had to figure it out for themselves

but we could do much better at that, we could enable people much more to be part of it

the people who were isolated very often didn't have the gumption, didn't have the courage, didn't have the insight,s into what is available to them

but you know people who did, did amazing things, they organized their communities as we know to support vulnerable people in amazing ways, and this created a kind of atmosphere of human kindness that we hadn't seen for a very long time

and I've seen firsthand how when that happens in a community that doesn't just give to vulnerable people a sense of oh people care, isn't this wonderful, I never thought this would happen, but the people who do it themselves feel saved from their anxiety, and from... when you have a purpose and you can see that you can make yourself useful, and you are appreciated for what you do, then you overcome these obstacles, and it doesn't become such a big deal

but when you sit around with it on your own, and you become kind of disabled with it, then it starts spinning around in your mind, and you sink into that black hole of depression

that's basically what depression is, you know, the sinking down into your losses and your helplessness

so we need to enable people, we need to empower people, but you know what, very often politicians do the opposite, because they are afraid of empowering people

they think wrongly, that if you disempower people and you make them obedient or you shut them up, things will go better, but actually things will go worse

if I may make a little link with a question I have seen further down, this is how you get terrorism, when people become completely disempowered and disenfranchised, they start to think there's nothing left to lose

and if they feel there is no political system where their voice can be heard, then they will eventually turn to violence, and they will, ,you know, consider terrorism as an option.

that's just crazy, but it happens because you know totalitarian regimes, I'm not saying we got one but you know we're not far off, totalitarian regimes discourage people from taking initiatives, and being empowered: they don't give them community resources, they isolate them from each other instead of encouraging them to come together, because they think there'll be less trouble - the opposite is true

Keith: Jane do you empower your constitution

Jane: I'm loving doing this with Emmy because, being actively involved in politics gives me, and Emmy doing your academic work, and all the other things you do I know as well, that

I'm a local politician and one of the things I find I knock on doors and talk to people, and it's there you get the actual real experience to people when you knock on, and a lot of people don't like politicians they don't that you're akin to being a salesperson, you've got your nose in the trough, and how many times did I hear that as an mep, but what they do say to me because I've I've been the councillor my award in Timperly for 20 over 20 years now, oh we don't mean you

and you think, well you know I'm in politics, oh no oh no you're different, and there's nothing different about me, I'm an ordinary normal person, I have a family life, I have all the problems that loads of other people have, but actually as politicians we are role models aren't we, and one of the things that came across to me in the video that Keith shared today from Jacinda, the prime minister of New Zealand, is she isn't afraid to be her human self, and I think that's where we need to reach out to people people are overwhelmed with Covid, they are overwhelmed with climate change, but actually joining a political group whether it's a political party, whether it's a political movement the young people are joining Greta Thunberg, and the black lives matters, whatever it is when people join something they're actually taking that first step to be in control and doing something about it

and then it's when you realize, well you know I'm just one person, one individual, I can't do a lot about this on my own, but together we can make a difference, and I think that was what I learned from being an mep for that short amount of time, there were only 16 of us from the Liberal Democrats, but boy did we make an impression, did we make a difference, just the 16 of us together, and it's the same locally as well when you knock on people's doors, and you're not afraid to be human, you can be in politics, people see me in the supermarket they see me with my children, they see me doing all sorts of things, and people do recognize you, but that that's why if you've got that integrity, and you think well actually what I do in the supermarket is the same as what I would do as a politician, that you, it's like you have to be role models, and just be normal as well, and not just be kind of somehow set up to be special or perfect, we're all just people, and if people here watching like alexander who asks the question, reaching out to our communities, and taking that first step, and joining something I think is key

Keith okay thank you very much indeed the next question is from mick skull so mick if you want to come up and ask your question can you put your blue hand up and Caron will make you magically appear on stage

while that's happening perhaps I can ask Kevin if he has found it calming and empowering to go and take photographs during the

Kevin: well there's a couple of things I was going to say Keith, one I'd like to say a thank you to Steven Hesketh ,because Steven in the chat box reminded us that one of the things we're doing at the conference is a photography competition, and the one that closes tonight 30 days ,well is very much linked to health and well-being, it's linked to what the wildlife trusts are doing

but the second point about empowerment is that I'm sure you'll correct me if I mistake this, but my my view of liberalism has always been that we believe that power belongs with the person, it belongs with the individual, and so sovereignty lies there, and what politicians are doing through current political structures is saying no, we have the power, not you, you don't matter ,and if people actually reasserted their right to control their lives, we may start getting some movement on this type of agenda, maybe that's too strong a philosophical point, but I think there's a, where I've worked with communities

Emmy: can I just say something I think very important I think it's a very important point, and if you remember the Brexit vote was won by vote leave because they used that phrase: take back control

because people know this, they feel out of control, and because they were carefully manipulated into believing that they would actually get some control if they left the eu, that's why that won almost certainly, that was a crucial thing, so that's really distasteful isn't it, people using the very thing that matters most deeply to people and lie about it, pretend that doing a particular thing is going to bring them this thing that they so fervently wish, I think that is really quite scary when that happens, truth is very important

thank you


that that is an important thing to identify


if you would like to unmute yourself sir and ask you a question

I think it was along the lines of GDP is very good at measuring the success of an economy which isn't much use in measuring the success of a society.

do the panel agree with that

Keith so I'm going to come to Jane first this time

Jane : that's a good question I think it's about changing the way we measure things, because I know that when you measure gross domestic product, you actually measure things like, road accidents contribute to having a better GDP, whereas actually things like more people not being in hospital beds, that's not necessarily, or people being well, or people not needing so much medication, whatever it might be, there's different ways of running the world

I don't think just because we've always run the world one particular way we need to be stuck on always doing what we do, because if you always do what you do, there's that old saying isn't there, you always get what you've got, and what have we got we've got a world that's suffering from climate change, at the brink if you actually look into what's happening with climate change literally, we're we're so close to being heading for catastrophe, it's biodiversity being lost an alarming rate, there's a lot of people suffering with mental and wellness

we need to change what we measure and what we do, and one way to change what you do is to change the way you measure it, to change what's important, so I think as a first step we're not going to get rid of GDP as a measurement, what we need to do is to move it from one way of measuring things, to another way of measuring things, and I firmly support the thinking that Liberal Democrat policy have done on this, and that's that we start by looking at having a Minister of Well Being, and making sure that every decision we take as a government looks at what's the well-being implications of it, you don't have GDP without having that well-being incorporated into the decision-making framework

Keith and Emmy if you want to pick up on that point as well

Emmy: I just completely agree with Jane on that, and clearly you know if you look at a family, if you only look at how well they are doing financially, you're not going to find out much about what's really going on in that family, you need to have a very different conversation, and you need to make very different observations, to know whether that family is high functioning or low functioning, whether they're going somewhere, whether there are conflicts inside, so we're going to have to think about you know measuring conflicts as well as good feelings or good structures in society, this this is going to have to be thought about from scratch in a way because you know there are several experiments like the Quatar experiment and the New Zealand one but I'm sure we can improve on this greatly o

Keith: Okay thank you very much indeed thank you meg and I'm not sure I said thank you to alexander before for asking his question but thank you to him for that question

we've got a question from George Miles which I think relates to the relates to the slideshow Emmy I don't know whether you can you've got that on your screen and I don't know which slide it is george is going to ask for but if you might need to do some quick whizzing around the slides, george george here

George: I'm here it was this one yeah yeah this is this is it go for it take a screenshot take a photo with the camera love truth beauty loyalty, courage, freedom : you haven't got music because Michael Meadowcroft did one yesterday, two days ago he was talking, he's an old liberal from ages back isn't he, I remember in the young liberals, and he was talking about what's important and one of them was art

Emmy: sure but those are concrete activities so you could make a list of all of those as well, so that that would include things like music, and painting, and walking, and nature, there's lots of different categories in which you can do this, these are just general concepts

Keith yeah it's a lovely list it's a lovely list I really like it

Emmy: well because it reminds you how much more there is to life than money and happiness

Like Honour spelt in the American way unfortunately

oh I'm sorry about that

Lib Dem's hate those things! if you get an apostrophe wrong you will get the most feedback on any libdem site anyway thank you very much

Keith: thanks George for your question and thanks for letting us see that slide again. I mean Emmy just made me remember that you were talking earlier about the relationship a lot of people have with their pets

we had jo crotty on last night and she was actually speaking with her dog on her lap so we we had we had a we had a bonus speaker yesterday

how lovely

a silent speaker which I thought was really rather nice

Mary Page has asked a question - it's a long question Mary I'm not quite sure whether you can make it a bit shorter you want to come on stage and ask your question blue hand up and you'll be on stage yes she does Caron if you could bring Mary onto the stage and if you can keep the question fairly short Mary we'll get a long answer from our speakers. Mary is there, she's mute,d and she's going to appear any second now, h

Mary Page: Hello I'm absolutely loving this session I'm sorry that you can't really see me because I'm sat in a different place. This is so perfect for me.

I'm running to be mayor of Bristol, but I am running on a platform whereby I wish to scrap the role, and hand back power to the citizens of Bristol, precisely to do what you've just been talking about so eloquently both of you, about re-empowering and re-engaging us the disempowered and the disenfranchised, and obviously with the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol, we actually have a great time of angst at the moment, and people are fearful and in that society of fear, then we have already seen three tit for tat reprisals, direct reprisals, breaking of an ancient gravestone, vandalism on on slave and African heritage monumental statues, and our mayor talks about having a conversation, but he's talking about having a commission, and appointing people to this commission and this is his way

but he's the first black mayor in Europe. he's labour. he is hide-bound by his labour tradition that that is the way that one puts in a commission ,that one does that that one imposes from the top from a central structure

we as Lib Dems and I'm fundamentally committed to re-empowering the people through parish councils, community engagement, if I'm going to really sell this as the policy, how do I tie it all up? because this isn't just Bristol

I want Bristol to be the template for every other sort of liberal open-minded radical city in the uk

I want us to do this first, and for us to lead the way, so to maybe backed by the green Lib Dems, for just to be sayin,g there is another way because we've had this amazing thing called We are Bristol and that is the way that the Covid communities have been empowered to work with the council, and I'd already thought before that and in my manifesto, I had a department of innovation where I was thinking where any citizen could come along to the council and say look, you know I'd like 50 quid to just sort out the you know the litter in my area, or I'd like 50 quid to do this, and have like a petty cash system where we trust people, without having some form and triplicate, that you have to have a postgraduate degree in form filling to do it

waiting for the question mark

so yeah it's no it is it's all of that how do I tie this all up Emmy into your into your vision, because I love your vision, I want you and Jane to be my advisors and so because

Emmy: well I think there's a better person to advise you I i used to live in sheffield and absolutely like majid??? in sheffield and he was pretty amazing how he revolutionized everything, and kind of you know was one one of the people really, so I would have a chat with him to start with

but my learning from that would be, don't go overboard with it, don't get rid of the job, because in every society and in every group, we need facilitators

what we don't need is top down hierarchical power, and autocratic decision-making. what we do need is people who hold the space safe, and take responsibility for facilitating other people

so I do think there is a very important role to hold, and just stepping down from that, or denying that it is important, is not going to help

that's just going to create a laissez fair situation

Mary Page: I can reassure you on that right that we have we have both a police and crime commissione,r a regional mayor a directly elected city mayor, and then the the 70 councillors, so actually we do have that top role, it's just the fact that we have too many, we don't have that structure that Manchester, Liverpool do with a you know, a senior directly elected mayor that has control of the police, and so right what we're saying is we would like to recombinee that's what you'd like yes absolutely because

Jane: this discussion here myself and Mary are kind of kindred spirits here because three years ago I stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate to be the greater Manchester mayor, and now Mary's standing to be the mayor of Bristol

I took a different perspective to Mary there, I decided that the role of greater Manchester mayor was really important, and I actually do believe it is because

Mary: that's what I'm saying Jane that's exactly the perspective the greater Manchester is

Jane: it's a very different situation entirely to the one Mary finds herself in, so if I was in Mary's shoes I might well be taking Mary's position, but I think the important thing here is we each there is no one answer to these things, the important things we decide for ourselves how we play the role, how we become role models how we devolve power in the best possible way as emmy's just saying

for me in greater Manchester I think that role is important, I would change it if I got the job but

it's actually because we're one of the first places that have health and social care together .

it's interesting because it goes back to the north south divide that I've mentioned to people before

but in the north of England we don't have the same opportunities overall as in the south, there are many indicators of everything the north of England are are worse off, but actually the greater Manchester mayor came with social care added, and I've been very lucky to be part of a lot of innovative things where we are trying to fix the well-being things that Emmy's been talking about, so in greater Manchester we do have this aspiration to work across boundaries, and across policy fields, to try and fix the the problems of health and social care in greater Manchester, and I'm absolutely, I'm part of that as a as a local councillor

but I can see where you're coming from on your question Mary, you're wanting to devolve power, so that people take control and power in their own lives, and I'm completely with you in that

definitely definitely

okay well thank you thank you for the question Mary

thank you

Kevin: I was just going to say Keith we've touched upon the world to work in terms of talking about more people possibly working more from home, but that won't be an option for many people, so I don't know whether Emmy and Jane have got any suggestions of how businesses and trade unions can work together, to improve the the potential for mental health and well-being in the workplace

I mean some we I don't know whether we can encourage employers to transfer people from one office to another so they're actually working closer to home

what do you think are the possibilities for actually to make the workplace a better place to be ? because there is a lot of stress and mental health issues going on in the workplace


Emmy: would you like to

yes well I I'm afraid I'm going to make you all upset here I I have a son who works for google in new york city and visiting their offices is a lesson in making the workplace more interesting

so they created a playground basically for people to work in, so they're all very young people, but they made it a nice place to be, with lots of kitchens, lots of areas where they play ping pong, where they play with Lego, and the idea is that people should be relaxed at work, and look forward to coming to it, that it should be more like a family, and that when they sit around doing these other things, then they become creative, whereas if they sit at a desk, they'll come up with red tape kinds of solutions, and I think that has worked incredibly well for them

so that's very impressive

but then of course there is the whole mental health side, which they're also very good at by the way, which is and with which what we need in schools as well as in various other places

people need to have access to group sessions where conflicts get resolved, so many people suffer at at work because they are bullied, or because they end up in conflict, they don't get resolved, and so they don't want to come in any more, there is just a lot of stuff going on in a workplace or in a school, that nobody is doing anything with, and this is where you get these emotions that become suppressed, and people who don't enjoy being there any more, and who start hating their work, and who start hating their school, and who start hating life all together

so we do need to have that as part of things as well as the creative elements and what Kevin said, you know, trying to have workplaces that are easier to access or that are not all based at the centre

Jane: you know that is such a good question and once again I'm going to make my answer complement Emmy's

my husband has been working at home and he is so much happier because he's taken over my daughter's bedroom who's left home, and there's a bed there, and he thinks it's absolutely great that he can have a bit of a nap in the middle of the day when he's at work, we're also going out cycling every other day, he can come home and get lunch whenever he wants, he's actually seriously very happy at home working, that isn't the case for everybody, I know from being a Trafford councillor I've been right at the hub of what's going on there with the council workers in part then twice weekly meetings with the chief executive and other group leaders that they've had

they are only just slowly easing the lock down, they are not going to go to a state where they're going to have more than 20 of staff in the council offices, and people are moving towards this blended way of work they're calling it, so it's not just working at home, but it's also working in the office as well, because as an NHS worker, I start my NHS job next week, I'm expected to travel into work, because actually if you're working for the national health service, there's a lot of things you can't do kind of sitting at home, you have to be there face to face with people all be it with the necessary social distancing

so I think we're moving towards a more blended way of working I know from working in Trafford that they are going to try and keep the good working practices that have been established during Covid times, for some people as Emmy was saying in the earlier part of the speech, it's quite difficult when you've got family around you, you've got very young children, or you've got lots of you're not in a great environment, your internet access doesn't work, but there are some cases where it's not great to be working at home, but for other types of work then it's great, but I think people need a mix, and if we're going to have something positive develop from the way of working, I think it's shown things that you don't need to travel two hours to a meeting, burning fuel and wasting time, you can have a zoom meeting, it's great, but you also need those times where you have one-to-one meetings, site visits, training events work much better with with real life situations, so I think we've moved to a better way of working through Covid, and I hopefully the trade unions will pick up on the positives, but at the same time recognize that there's a you know there's different ways of working, and it depends on the role to a large degree as well

Keith: okay thank you Jed Marson would you like to come on stage Jed to ask your question yes he would Caron could you oblige please Jed he's nearly there yep and he's

Jed: hi I'm I'm I'm here hi I'm enjoying homework in a slightly different way this afternoon, and thinking back to my my mother's tales of as a as a girl, eldest daughter teenager, with a much younger brother and sister, going hungry during the war, she was Maltese, and I'm particularly concerned about school children and their mental health, in terms of having a good start

I was particularly worried, not so much that we couldn't browbeat the government into eventually agreeing to carry on school vouchers into the summer, but much more delay was going to cause a much stronger long-term mental problem, both for the parents worrying about whether or not they could feed their children, and the children themselves, those of them who are bright enough to have picked up on the problem

so I'm just wondering what the panel feel about how we can give children a good start and overcome this after Covid

Emmy: well that's a very important question I think I'm sure Jane has a lot to say about Jane you want to go first

Jane: in terms of children and food bounces well my professional role I'm a dietitian which means I work different ways all to do with what people eat and the food they eat for people well and people who can improve their health by changing eating, and there's a lot of conditions where that's really important

one thing I've discovered during the Covid crisis is actually, food has become much more important because the one thing you are allowed to do is go out shopping, the one thing's actually essential you've got to do is get food into the house, whether that's through going out to supermarkets, or relying on deliveries, or relying on food donations

locally the food banks where I live completely change, because for social distancing reasons you can't have people going into a food bank to collect food, so we've created these hubs, community hubs, where the food is distributed, and it's absolutely key, because when you when thinking about Emmy's talk and well-being and resilience, having access to food, and food security, is absolutely a kind of fundamental plank of well-being, if you don't know where your next meal is coming from, if you're unsure about where what you're going to eat next week or the next day, then people can't be well in other ways, you can't plan ahead unless you you know you've got a secure food supply, so I think that when people haven't got that secure food supply, it completely impacts on everything they do in life, and as as politicians as people community activists, as people who are have got access to food, helping them to support themselves is so absolutely important

and I think I'd like to see a whole area of policy develop around food, and how we get that to people, because it just encompasses so much on the environmental well-being, what people eat and access to food is everything, and your your question around food vouchers

we're talking about how how to make a difference how to make a change, we had one individual a footballer who stood up and said actually it's wrong that we are stopping these food vouchers, he came from a poor background he wanted to give back what he'd given, we've all got that same responsibility haven't we to make sure our neighbours the people of our communities have got access to and politics, we make sure that that access to food is key, not just in our communities in the uk, but also across the world, there's people starving in the rest of the world, and I somehow feel we need to link all that together, and put food essential to people's well-being definitely

Emmy: well Jane is completely right as usual. so it's totally essential and we can't have a situation where some people don't have access to the basics, and I think we had an interesting situation right at the start of the pandemic do you remember

I think a lot of us have forgotten this already, when we all panicked for a few days thinking there wouldn't be enough food for any of us, and how much did we like that hey? do you remember how people fought in the shops, and how terrible it is when you're actually faced with the reality of maybe having to go hungry?

it is something so fundamental and so basic, that no society should allow some children to have that experience, not just that they might have to go without, but that they are part of a family that cannot provide them with that, and that they are different to other people who take these things completely for granted

it's that, being marked with the difference of going hungry, that I worry about the most

because those are the kinds of things that stay with people

I was the kid who wore the second-hand clothes, or I was the kid who had to stay behind because I couldn't afford the food, or you know I was the one who had the milk paid for me, but fortunately they were hiding that so nobody knew about it, but in this situation, everybody knows about it, and that is incredibly shaming, and that kind of shame at an early age, yeah, that will mark a person for a long time to come, for sure

Keith: okay thank you both and thank you Jed for asking the question

my next question on my list is from Sean. I asked his first question without asking him to the stage, so perhaps Sean if you would like to come and ask your question personally, if you'd like to put your blue hand up, if you can find it and we'll get Caron to bring you on stage, perhaps he's here already yes he is ,wow right here he comes, Caron's obviously listening in the background well done Caron thank, you you need to unmute John okay

yeah sorry so I I'm I'm also a local councillor as well as a mental health support welcome and my council as many councils are at the moment are in a bit of financial trouble, we're in we're facing between three and ten million black hole post Covid

my concern is that why what we're saying is fantastic, how are we going to realistically implement it going forward, because we already need to find money to make up for our shortfalls, and then we need to look at improving services as well, because clearly we've already spoke about it how poor services already are, so my worry is without government coming in and saying yes we're going to help out, which they seem reluctant to do at the moment,

um is, do we need to look at other ways of raising money, and is that kind of focusing on a well-being type tax that local authorities can implement, or other ways, I'm just not sure how how we could get around it going forward if you get what I mean

I think this is Jane's area more than mine

Jane: well as a local councillor so I love the family noises there in the background sure the shame we couldn't see you briefly there, but come back on if you you feel able to, because it's it's so lovely to see people as well as let's hear people, but so, I have been very frustrated as a local councillor, because during times of austerity, the government has cut local government so so terribly, it's it's eye-watering the amount of money that is left local authorities, so I would go to voting????? during the spare times

and it's like well we've got to cut 20 percent of our budget this year, 20 of our budget next year, and another 20 on top of that, so over a five-year period we're literally shaving 20 off every year, it's scary because you have to sit in a room with people that will what, what more can we cut

that was wrong it shouldn't have happened because yes, austerity was something that happened in the UK, but local government wasn't one of those places that were shouting loudly, I think as Liberal Democrats because we are so much engaged in being local councillors in our local communities, I would hope that we would do that differently, we would fund local authorities differently

one of the scary things is that local authorities have had to get quite creative in terms of how they raise money for people, so I know in greater Manchester for example the greater Manchester authorities actually own Manchester airport and Stanstead airport and another airport as well, as three airports that the three three the ten boroughs of greater Manchester own sixty percent of them so we

and there's all sorts of deals go on where local authorities become like financial institutions, where they're managing big investments, which to me it's actually wrong that local authorities are forced into this situation, so I think what we need to do is change central government, and it does mean people need a greater understanding of what is happening with local government, hopefully through the Covid crisis people will come to appreciate just what local government does, and how important it is, I would hope that

unfortunately that hasn't been my experience so far, because often people are just has has the lorry been around to empty my bin yet seems to be some knowledge of what people understand their local authorities

but I do think it requires a much greater level of engagement, and a real commitment to decentralization

what about the well-being tax Jane

well being tax? I don't think that would work locally quite so well, I think a well-being tax would be much better done nationally, I think the reason for that would be is because in the UK we are facing such massive inequalities, that we need some redistribution and the areas that have the most lack of well-being, the depth of deprived areas, I think you need to have some kind of system where the more affluent areas can lift up the more deprived areas, I think that can only happen on a national level, I wouldnt trust that we would get that right if we just operated that locally, so I'd like a well-being tax but I think it should be a national tax right

Emmy good I'm all for it

Keith good that's a precise answer Emmy thank you I i think we've just about got time for a couple more questions, we're we're going on slightly longer than the hour and a half we've had for a lot of others, I think this was built in to be an 8 30 finish, but I think we probably need to move to the meeting hall for some of that time, but then we do have time for a couple more questions, and Matthew Hulbert is the is the next question on the list that I see on there

Matthew do you want to come and ask your question? I'm not sure he's there

Caron: do you want to take that question Keith

Keith: i'll take that question then

how important are NGOs and cross-party groups like compass in moving this agenda forward it fits in it fits with the build back better refrain we do keep hearing

how how important the non-government organizations to recovery of mental well-being and health

emmy you go for this one yeah

Emmy: well I think they are important but they're often not very visible

I find I spend a lot of time10 years 15 years ago actually making the European association for psychotherapy an ngo for the council of Europe

but actually that took a lot of work, but once it was done we had very minimal hearing, very minimal influence, so I don't think NGOs are very much in the in the mindset of people who want to listen to new ideas, so I think they are important, but we need to change the structure of how they are used, and how they can feed into the ideas and the systems that we need to change

Keith: and as as we move to Jane to answer the same question let me just add a comment that has been in the chat from someone, I'm not quite sure who it was, talking about salvation army in their particular area, who is, they've obviously been strongly involved in terms of helping people's physical welfare there, and perhaps I guess mental welfare as well.

Voluntary organizations Jane are they important in your in your area your council area have they been active in your council

Jane: it's actually quite a good question because it talks about non-government organizations and it talks about cross-party working

I think this is one of the key things about being elected is that I find when it comes to elections I will fight for what I believe in, and absolutely go out there and meet people and talk about what I believe in as a Liberal Democrat, but when it comes when you're actually elected you have to work cross-party with people, and this was very much an evidence in the European parliament, I think they get that much better than we do in Britain, in terms of the way the European parliament is structured it's much more collaborative, and I think non-government organizations are very important in terms of their role in driving the big institutions like the European parliament like governments like you know our international organizations the united nations, these non-government organizations are extremely important, because they drive us towards doing the right thing, they're the ones that do the research, they're the ones that gather the evidence, and without them then politicians are pretty much floating in the air aren't they, you do you do need these non-government organizations

I think they work at different levels, you've got the international non-government organizations which work across many of the more environment, the health and the, or all of those international ones, you've and then you've got the kind of local ones the local government type ones

I absolutely think these organizations have got a part to play

a political organization isn't for everybody, and when the question came up about how do you deal with these big issues like climate change, like Covid, like the problems of health and inequality, for some people joining the political party is just too damn frustrating

and it might be that they're better off engaging with a non-government organization because it fits in with where their passions are, but I i think it's a good question, but I think it's the dual approach in politics isn't it, it's working within a political party, but it's also working outside of a political party to do you know, to drive social change for the better

Keith: yeah I find it terribly frustrating working a political part I have to say I've lost track now did you did you answer it first Emily or do you want to come in and say something

Emmy: well I i have my own frustrations around these things because in my field a lot is done by voluntary organizations, and I see a lot of exploitation happening, where people who can ill afford it are basically expected to work for free because the nation or the state isn't providing the services

so counseling and psychotherapy are hardly available through the NHS

it was very long waiting lists, and a lot of people who are in really dire straits, suicidal, things like that, end up with voluntary surfaces, but as I said you know they are heavily burdened by this task and there really should be funding for things like that for everybody, it shouldn't be such a struggle in a country, to provide decent help and support for people

I'm all in favour of people doing voluntary things together, and having community events, and you know putting your effort in for free, but it's quite different when you end up your whole entire life supporting other people and never earning any money with it

I think there is something about all the charities and the voluntary organizations that we rely on far too much

Keith yeah I i think it goes back to mrs thatcher saying there's no such thing as society

you got it

I'm afraid she was wrong but

I'm glad she was wrong I'm not afraid I'm very glad you're from

I'm afraid I'm afraid her politics and policies based on that belief were wrong, let's put it that way

yes the dreadful thing though is that you went affirm these things when you say there is no such thing, and you start acting as if there isn't one, you end up with a situation where there isn't one, and that is kind of what we're seeing isn't it, it's still the result as you point out

Keith: yeah the next and I think last question is going to come from Linda Johnson if Linda is there puts her hand up we'll bring her on to the onto the stage as it were, I can't see whether Linda is still there, I have a feeling Linda might have gone, she's there but her hands not up there okay well in that case no we have her we haven't got it okay I like to make these things as personal and personable as possible and I'm just saying that until we've got Linda on screen and unmuted Linda the floor is yours

Linda: hi, what a fantastic session and this really speaks to me

I worked for several years as a stress management consultant working with people, but it just struck me that we perhaps have a have an opportunity of working more with schools, of encouraging young people to learn more about thinking in a in a more holistic manner, so that we don't get the situation that we've got whereby people leave school, and then they become disenfranchised they, perhaps cannot afford to buy more greener products, all the stuff that they learned at school about plastic pollution and saving the earth becomes impossible to do when you're being bombarded by by this which is covered in plastic, oh buy this car it's only going to cost you seven thousand pound, whereas you'd rather buy an electric vehicle, but you can't afford it, so from that perspective, and certainly with your your holistic way of thinking Emmy looking at physical, social spiritual, and personal aspects of life, whether perhaps we as green Lib Dem should be looking to change the curriculum the school curriculum

Emmy: please do absolutely, it all starts in schools and there is so much that needs to happen on that. We teach children far too little about life, you know about the real problems that they're going to have to deal with in their relationships, in you know things just happening to them crises happening, we can teach them how to be resilient, how to be kind, how to be cooperative, of course lots of teachers try to do this, but there isn't enough room in the curriculum for it, so it gets squashed out, but there is there are some people who trying really hard, but you you can do this from the bottom up, and of course if you did that in primary schools, and you had spaces for it in secondary schools, and you carry that through into the workplace too, then you really are changing society, it should happen ahead of time rather than after the fact

we shouldn't be talking about illness and cure, we should be talking about education and preparing people to know how to be creative about these things, and not fall ill because things are difficult

Jane: absolutely fantastic question Linda. I think for me education is more about lifelong learning, and how we unlock the potential in every person

I think lockdown has high lighted how there's some families that are able to offer their children, in spite of lockdown, a good all-round education, but there are other families who perhaps aren't able to do that, maybe there's too many children family, they're living in very poor conditions, there isn't that support, and they haven't got the resources to do it

so I think again it's highlighted in equality in society

in terms of what schools do currently

my mum was a primary school teacher, so I've grown up with that commitment to education

I think a lot of primary schools do actually get this right, I've been a school governor at primary schools and we're very engaged when my children were at school

they do give that children that really rounded education

I think things start to go wrong when they get towards the top end of primary school where we start testing children, and then we put them into secondary school where they have to perform, and I've been a school governor at a primary school and at a secondary school, and I think what's frustrating is how we stop looking at pupils as rounded individuals with resilience, with life skills, with a curiosity about learning, and they become just fodder that does exams, and it kind of takes something away from an individual when you have that situation

I live in Trafford and area where they have grammar school education, and many parents invest so much into getting their children to grammar school.

I never did that for any of my children, because I could see how that was robbing them of other extracurricular things, whether it be sport or music or art or whatever it might be, or just doing their own thing on that is is their thing that we're not doing enough to enable people to be individuals, and to be rounded coping resilient individuals

personally as a Liberal Democrat I would change the education system around, so we measured different things in in our young, kindness, and resilience, and sociability, and all those things were more important than just how many o levels or a levels, or what gcses you come out with at the end of the day

Emmy: it's also about the world view though isn't it, it's about changing the emphasis on competition to an emphasis on collaboration

Jane: yes kindness and cooperation that that spirit of things that you take with you throughout life that enable you to cope with life and thrive, or go into places that end up costing you the individual and the state a lot more because we have to rescue people from that lack of resilience, and that lack of coping ability, if we don't educate people in the right way in the first place

Keith: okay so that's smashing thank you thank you Linda for asking the question, and well she's disappeared back into the audience again

we're going to go to the sort of winding up stage now what

I'd like to do is just ask Kevin if if he would care to give us a couple of moments of reflection on how the evening has gone, and then come to Jane and then Emmy to just say a few words in summary of where we've been and where we might go from this evening. Kevin first

Kevin: thank you Keith I think we've personally I think we've had a fantastic discussion tonight, I mean it's not just being the contributions of Jane and Emmy

I think the participants through their questions and their contributions in the chat room have added a dimension to it as well, and I certainly am leaving discussion with a better understanding of well-being

I'm not sure that I'm totally clear how we will use it as a replacement for GDP I think that's still a big challenge, but I think one of the things that's come out from both Jane and Emmy is that this has got to be a bottom-up approach not a top-down approach, and I think that fits so well with with liberalism as it stands and has been for many years so I i think the liberal approach is clearly the right approach

Keith: okay thank you and I'll come to Jane I just remember seeing in the chat a little line to say Emmy for president of the Liberal Democrats, I'm not sure whether Emmy saw that herself but Jane over to you first

Jane: I i vote for Emmy to be President I i guess I've met you in a non-political cross-party role, so I think the strength with somebody like Emmy is that working cross-party, but to summarize the whole evening, I think we've covered a wide range of things we've talked about what well-being is in terms of the WHO definition the state of complete mental and physical well-being, we've talked about how we look at gross domestic product, and how that is mismeasured some of the health of our societies and the health of our economies, that we need to add the dimension of well-being to get a truly accurate and meaningful measure of what's important about human life,

we've talked about how we've all experienced the Covid challenge the Covid pandemic, and how in some ways that's been a model for how we might handle the awful events we are likely to experience as a human race in terms of the challenge of climate change and how we get out of that

we need to think very clearly about what things can we learn about human behaviour when we are faced with as Emmy said one of these existential crises of humankind, and we've got to make sure we've learned those lessons, because if we've only just managed to cope with Covid, climate change is going to challenge us a whole lot more

we need that resilience more than ever we've talked about my favourite political areas which are the environment they are health and our education those three things kind of embed what we, what I'm personally in politics is about, and I've always thought that education, health, and well-being should be part of the economy, it's always confused me that we haven't had that turning around of politics that we've talked about now

I think one thing that's changed during the time I've been in politics is, we have started to look at diversity haven't we, and I was challenged today in a good way, that we need to think about inclusivity, and it's about when we're having political debates, we're doing it in an inclusive way, we're doing it in a way that makes sure we're representing everybody, and we're taking people with us, because as Kevin said at the end, that as liberals, this philosophy of well-being so much fits with our basic philosophy of being Liberal Democrats and Green Liberal Democrats, I think we are the party that can move this forward in a way that maybe no other can, but we we've got to make sure we position ourselves, and actually in a way practice what we preach, and if we are talking about well-being, and these important things we've talked about tonight, we've got to be role models within our communities, in our workplaces, and in all the spheres we work

on that note I i thought the other thing that was interesting, gardening came up a couple of times, I have to say my passion during lockdown has been gardening, and I could probably write a whole article about politics and gardening now, so maybe i'll do that for challenge magazine, so I'm interested to hear what Emmy's got to say

okay Emmy , your chance to say whatever Jane wants to hear please

Emmy, yes okay well, I think the garden metaphor is a very good one, I think we need to get a better idea of how the world is like a garden, and the police??? you know of politics, the state, the city, is actually like a kind of garden that we only exploit rather than feed, and where we only do some things and not other things, and where we only include some people and not other people, and what that means is that we are wasting our resources, because people are resources, and the more we get people to be empowered, and the more we get them to be confident and creative, the better our city state or our country becomes

and what we're actually seeing as I said before, is that we're trying to shut people up, and shut them down, and keep them under control, so we're doing things completely the wrong way around, and it's incredibly refreshing to see you guys so enthusiastically thinking about how this could be changed, of course it's not going to be easy, but it has to be done

because we all know, and it's become more obvious during these crises, that the humanity has gone out of our world, we are all estranged from the world, we are alienated from each other, and we're uninspired, and too many people are upset and don't want to bother with it any more, so that's got to change we got to inspire people ,and draw on their humanity, and for that we have to create different structures that allow that safe space in which we can create these new structures of meaning

and I shall be looking to the Lib Dems to show us the way

Keith: excellent we will do our very best Emmy to do that for you

first of all let me apologize to those of you who didn't get to ask your questions, but I will say to those of you, and all the folks in the audience, that we are going to move I think to the meeting room for half an hour or so for a more informal relaxed session and approach there, so Caron is going to transfer us at some point if you would Caron

thank you very much to the speakers, if I could just refer back to the songs, the song was being played as we came in, I read a line, I spoke a line from the song as we were starting, we need to find we need to find the friendliness, no we need to find the familiarity in the unknown, well I think there were a lot of unknown questions tonight and I'm quite pleased to say that the familiarity feels a little bit more welcoming and my well-being has gone up by a notch

thank you both very much indeed, so if we can go to the chat if people would like to put applaud applaud or clap clap whatever it is that you would like to say and then we can see how much you've enjoyed the session is the chat

responding yes we're getting some applause down there, yeah that's it clap going through, anyway my applause certainly for professor Emmy and thank you MEP Jane who's been a counsellor for 20 years and never failed to get back, thanks to my co-chair Kevin for keeping us in line and reminding us about the photography exhibition which finishes when tonight

tonight midnight tonight

if you've got photographs in your camera that you think might win the photography exhibition competition you need to send them to you need to email them to Kevin straighto, oh wait hang on we're going to get a photograph from Jane

this this counts as your Covid 19 experience I think Jane, I think that was last week's challenge, okay thanks ever so much Caron is now going to transfer us to the meeting hall, and so thank you very much we'll see you there ,bye bye-

Emmy bye bye

WellBeing Video from GreenLibDems Vision2020 Conference (greenlibdems.org.uk)