Defining well-being in community development from the ground up: a case study of participant and practitioner perspectives

Annette Coburn, Sinead Gormally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of well-being is part of an inter-disciplinary agenda for health improvement and human flourishing, critiqued as a superficial ‘solution’ to structural inequality (Friedli, L. (2003) Mental Health Improvement ‘concepts and definitions’: briefing Paper for the National Advisory Group, Scottish Executive, Edinburgh; White, S. C. (2010) Analysing wellbeing: a framework for development practice, Development in Practice, 20 (2), 158–172). This article discusses an evaluation of three health promoting community projects, over a two-year period. The study identifies important features for understanding well-being at grassroots, community and practice levels. Local people had viable and holistic perceptions of well-being that helped them reflect on their current contexts. Practitioners tended to have a more limited conceptualization by associating wellbeing with mental health or community safety. Consideration of findings identified five conditions of wellbeing for community development practice: creating a sense of community; strong volunteering ethos; networking and partnership working; positive language; enhanced relationships. Applying these findings in practice helped to create a new reflective grid, incorporating seven elements of well-being. Participants found this grid easy to use and affirming in facilitating reflection on their personal well-being. This was also beneficial for community practitioners, who were not clinically qualified, to facilitate reflective learning at grassroots level. Analysis of this research enables a conclusion to be drawn to suggest that well-being is a valuable construct in unifying community development.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbsy048
Number of pages21
JournalCommunity Development Journal
Early online date22 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2018


  • community development
  • well-being
  • Community Education


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