Five Ways to Wellbeing
five ways to wellbeing

Paying attention to personal wellbeing is something that we believe is vital and offers value for individuals and whole communities. The value that we place on looking after our wellbeing impacts on our motivation to develop good habits.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing was developed by the New Economics Foundation. Based on the latest scientific evidence, nef has created a set of five simple actions that can be adopted to improve everyday wellbeing.

What Do We Mean By Wellbeing?
“Wellbeing is a dynamic state in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others, and contribute to their community. It is enhanced when an individual is able to fulfil their personal and social goals and achieve a sense of purpose in their society.” (F.Huppert, 2008)Mental Fitness

Put simply, wellbeing is feeling good and functioning well. There are many simple things that can improve wellbeing. The challenge is that most of us do not think about our wellbeing until we feel stressed. The idea of the Five Ways to Wellbeing is that individuals recognise the need to be mentally fit by participating in regular, intentional activities. Or in other words individuals develop habits that are proven to improve wellbeing.   

Wherever an individual lives, whatever their age, social or personal situation, research shows that intentional activity will improve personal wellbeing. Improving wellbeing has a direct link to not only feeling better, but also functioning well. It helps with physical health, performance at work or school and quality of life.

Wherever an individual lives, whatever their age, social or personal situation, research suggests that intentional activity will improve personal wellbeing. Improving wellbeing has a direct link to not only feeling better, but also functioning well. It helps with physical health, performance at work or school and quality of life.

The five ways to wellbeing are:

  • Connect - with the people around you. With family, friends, neighbours, peers. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building connections will support and enrich you everyday.
  •  Give - Do something for someone. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Help out a less able neighbour. Look outward, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness linked to what you can offer and give of yourself is incredibly rewarding.
  • Be Active - Stand up, go for a walk or run. Step outside. Walk up the stairs. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Find something active that you enhoy and suits your level of mobility and fitness.
  • Take Notice - Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons and colour around you. Savour the moment, wherever you are. Often life passes us by at top speed – slow down – be aware of the wonderful world around you. Reflect on your experiences, take notice and appreciate what matters to you.
  • Keep Learning - Try something new, however big or small. Rediscover an old interest or explore a new one. Set yourself a challenge to seek out information about something you have been wondering about. Learning new things from a motivated position is engaging, fun and will improve confidence.

Each action can be undertaken individually or collectively, but they should become part of regular and intentional activity.

We offer sessions using the Five Ways to Wellbeing Framework to engage adults about the need to look after their mental wellbeing. The sesisons are fun, engaging and most importantly practical.

Each action can be undertaken individually or collectively as part of regular and intentional activity. 

To find out more contact us at: or .

Case Study: Music for a Generation Project

The Music for a Generation (M4AG) project was an intergenerational pilot scheme that aimed to demonstrate positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people of all ages. 

The main elements were to bring older and younger people together to consider activity that was engaging and linked to wellbeing. The Five Ways to Wellbeing framework underpinned the project and music was used as the medium. The partnership project was planned and initiated by Hertfordshire’s Community Wellbeing Board (CWB) and How to Thrive. The music element was been developed with Hertfordshire Music Service (HMS) and Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS).

Main Elements

The Five Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Keep Learning, Be Active, Take Notice and Give) provided the framework for the project.

Music was selected as the medium based on evidence suggesting improvements to a range of health and wellbeing factors. Music was able to offer a creative element that enabled participants of different ages, interests and cultures to come together. 

The project ran in four day centres across Hertfordshire and involved 115 individuals.

  • Borehamwood Seniors in Borehamwood with students from Hertswood Academy. 

  • Daylight Club in Harpenden with the Care Cadets.

  • Douglas Drive in Stevenage with students from Barclay School.

  • Parsonage Lane in Bishop Stortford with their carers and support staff.

M4AG Project Design and Key Findings

Project Design

The project design allowed it to ‘evolve’ rather than be prescriptive. Individuals engaged through the music in a way that was meaningful and based on their feedback and comment. This gave those involved a sense of ownership of the project. 

The project used both quantitative and qualitative methods for measuring the impact.

  • The Flourishing 10 point scale asks about general health and wellbeing and was as the quantitative measure. It provided a soft distance travelled result based on individual responses captured before and after the project. Each individual was given a unique number so that ‘before’ and ‘after’ responses could be analysed. .

  • Qualitative data was collected during and at the end of the project. This data was captured through informal discussions, filming of events and discussions and oral feedback from everyone connected to the project including; service users, service managers, volunteers and workshop leaders. Briefing sessions were held at several points during the project as another way to capture comments about progress from staff involved.  Semi structured interviews were held at the end of the project.

Key Findings 

Positive improvements to language, speech and motor skills were seen for stroke victims who participated. 

New connections and relationships were developed across the project and young people continue to visit the clubs they were linked to. Increased confidence and skill development was realised through co-production and working together on the project.

A positive increase was seen across 9 out of the 10 areas of the Flourishing Scale offering tangible evidence of improvement to health and wellbeing. Those who fully engaged and participated in the project saw the greatest improvements in health and wellbeing. 

Partnerships were formed across organisations that proved critical for success within the project; increasing capacity for future joint projects and funding applications.

Keep learning was a key element of the project and ideas offered by those involved helped to identify learning opportunities. Transferable skills were developed as part of shared group activities. 

The centre staff’s willingness to engage in the music proved a vital component to breaking down barriers and connection with the Workshop Leaders. 

The 10 Care Cadets that took part have all secured either full time employment or further education placements.

Models for intergenerational work were identified with learning that can be shared across the county. 

The project has been successful on many levels with both expected and unexpected outcomes. 

The pilot proved economically viable and therefore sustainable. Future funding has already been secured to continue the work in the pilot centres. 


“It [the project] has helped find out about people lives that you didn’t know about. The stories of their lives have added so much to the group, they are quite closed people and they don’t often talk about things openly. They look forward to a Monday. It’s been fantastic.”

“It has really helped me break down barriers. I really know now that I like working with people who have learning and physical disability.” 

“[this project has]Taught me how to enjoy myself more.” 

“I know the M4G project had a very special impact on the Cadets and Members lives and friendships have been formed. I recall a conversation I had with one member of Daylight Club, I asked him what he had been up to since I last see him the week before, he said Wayne, nothing much really, this is the highlight of my week coming to Daylight and singing along with you and your Space Cadets.” (Space Cadets are suggested as a fun reference to the Care Cadets).” 

“I would really like to keep the friends I have made.”

“I have learnt how well people can recover from illness, and how they can still be enthusiastic and happy about everything.” 

“It has helped me much better with my communication when working with people with learning and physical disability.”

“When I’m not here I feel like I am missing something. I now go to another project at Greenfields. We can still become someone different. I was someone but I can still be someone, I just have to turn the angle, go a different way and I love being here, singing or not singing. I do feel that the singing is a valuable thing.”

“all the music team commented they had very much enjoyed being part of the project. HMS has experience of working with targeted vulnerable adult groups (mostly learning difficulties and mental health service users) but for most of the Workshop Leaders this was the first time they had worked with mainly with older people on a weekly basis.”

M4AG Key Learning and Recommendations

The project was not without challenge, but the challenges offer an opportunity for improved understanding and learning for future projects.

It is important to identify appropriate groups at the planning stage. Do not delay in recruiting appropriate young people to take part as their involvement is crucial and probably the hardest to establish.  

Identify appropriate activities that are suited to those involved. This project demonstrated that individuals benefit most when they are fully engaged and able to help shape the activities, whether it is informal learning, leisure or music therapy. 

Ensure there is careful planning to form clear outcomes. Specifically to ensure good understanding of the groups and activities before mixing with a different age group so as to maximize participation and support delivery of health and wellbeing outcomes. 

Consider and plan appropriate evaluation methods and tools to measure impact. The Flourishing Scale is not appropriate for all groups. 

Form partnerships to apply for funding through joint bids. This would enable a greater reach to a wider group of organisations and individuals to benefit from this type of activity.

Provide support for those involved. Bringing together new groups of different ages and needs can be challenging. Those involved require appropriate support in order to be flexible, resourceful and responsive to need during the delivery element of the project.

For a full copy of the report or to find out more contact:  

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