Thought Leadership


Connected Citizens and Communities creating the climate for change


“ Peaceful Protest – slow and steady are winning the race to create change” says researcher Jessica Leber, author Co-Exist World Changing ideas

Mention “peaceful protests” in conversation and immediately the discussion moves to media news and of ordinary people taking to the streets to correct an injustice.  The societal revolution has gone beyond taking to the streets, the internet and mobile phone have made it possible to create social voice – just a “Click to Connect with individuals worldwide”  Connected citizens and communities are making their voices heard through the host of social media sites … twitter, what’s up, instgram, Facebook, LinkedIn etc

Collective citizenship is getting the message to a global audience. Gloria Macapagel Arroyo said “The power of one, if fearless and focused is formidable, but the power of many working together is better”   Connected communities working to make their voice heard have become the drivers for societal change.

And when Governments or public bodies are not listening or addressing societal problems – people are doing it for themselves


Amy Kaherl, Founder of Detroit Soup, calls herself a urban pioneer and is quoted as saying  “we don’t have to wait to ask for permission – we can do this for ourselves”  The story of crumbling Detroit with abandoned houses, homelessness and unemployment, following the collapse of the car industry is an inspirational story of a community working together for others,  A simple idea based on crowd-funding concept into parts Part A cooking soup together as a bonding experience. Part B Generating income by charging $5 dollars for soup and a vote to decide which of the ideas pitched by members of the community would make a good business. Gradually over time the city is being reenergised. Homeless and unemployed people have got jobs, homes and new skills – and as important self-worth.  SOUP’s small micro grants have created a network of social enterprises, building skills and social value

From local to global … the logo SOUP has become a icon for urban regeneration and is now popping up all over the world !!


The collapse of the banking system has created a culture of distrust across the world about the ethics of the banking sector.  Huge bonuses for banking staff whilst a tightening of loan facilities forcing those who can least afford high interest rates, to seek credit from unscrupulous sources.

Charities and Communities supporting those in difficulty have started to offer their own “pay day loan” at an interest rate that stops individuals spiralling into debt.  A growing trend in local community internets are encouraging residents  “if you don’t like the values of your bank – change to an ethical bank”   The societal shift of “people over banks” is continuing without abatement in sight.

At PPLX (Public Private Leadership Exchange) Dave Coplin,Senior Envisioning Officer, Microsoft exploring the issue of productivity paradox elicited a response that was worth further exploration …”should we continue to measure outcomes as productivity or should we measure outcomes in respect to social value”

“Its about Me” generation of the 80s/90s has been replaced by the new millennium “it’s about us as a society”

The Social Value Act 2012 was a response to a growing societal voice that public money generated through taxation of citizens should be used to improve local communities through procuring services/products through local enterprises. . “Public money generating community growth and economic worth” The “top down” rather than bottom up “SOUP” approach to regenerating communities has yet to realise it’s ambition

Global communication brings stories to life beamed into the living room, i phone or computer there is no escaping powerful imagery of the injustices and human suffering.  The “conscious” of ordinary people has been stirred.

People now care about where goods are sourced and the human cost of low cost items.  They care if supermarkets have been lapse about the origin of products – and vote with their feet.

They care if humans are trafficked for money or forced into bonded labour.  The Modern Slavery Act that came into force on 26th March 2015 is a result of people and Governments deep seated concern that human beings are being used as commodities. Businesses are now expected to start to ensure the supply chain that brings products to market is free from modern slavery.  2015 has been defined as the new age of enlightenment – and slavery has no part in an enlightened society. Richard Branson commented on LinkedIn discussion “This is incredibly important because today 21-26 million people are enslaved worldwide. Many think the number is much higher.  Slavery is a business issue More than 75% of slavery victims today are in forced labour – forced to work in mines, make cement, harvest crops, fish, stitch, and sew products for global chains.  Looking for modern slavery may not be as easy task, but all businesses need to do it”

Maybe the baby boomer generation of the 60’s who witnessed the rise of Civil Rights are making their voice heard one more – or through their children – whatever the catalyst – society has shifted and a new era of caring has emerged.


Can treating low-wage workers well – become the hot new business strategy?”  Jessica Leber’s research highlights that Aetna, Gap, Starbucks and even Walmart – are to step up pay and benefits for their low wage employees. Mark Bertolini, CEO, Aetna said “We are a Fortune 50 company and we have employees who are on food stamps and putting their kids on Medicaid. Does this work”  America’s focus on income equality was highlighted  when President Obama called the growing inequality in society as the “defining challenge of our time”  In Britain Channel 4 highlighted 4.8 million people in Britain (20% of employees) were paid at a level below the rate deemed necessary for a basic standard of living.  Next boss who earns £4 million a year and pays shop workers £6.70 an hour … sparked a row by declaring “living wage “irrelevant” with no basis in reality”   Tory Peer Lord Wolfson with an estimated wealth of £100 million and a basic salary of £729,000 waded in with a comment saying he thought the living wage was an “an invention”.   Labour MP Ann McKechin (a member of the influential business committee) responded that taking into account Lord Wolfson’s wealth the comments were “ill judged”  In March 2015 Cameron and Clegg announced 3% rise – the new minimum wage of £6.70 per hour (an uplift of 20p) will be effective from October 2015.  The TUC responded by saying that the increase will not be enough to end in-work poverty.

The bigger social question still remains about how we will address income inequality. The consequences of not addressing the growing number of hard-working people who live in poverty are large – including increasing burdens on social services and decreasing motivation for people to find work

Maintaining social cohesion and equality is a global issue that will require a collective political and societal approach


Along with equality of income sits the thorny issue of maintaining population growth.   The “replacement rate” as it is known is calculated at 2.1 (often rounded up to 2.5)  children to be born to each couple.  However across the developing world the birth rate is declining.  Europe’s declining birth rate is continuing to fall.   In Italy the birth rate has dropped to 1.6 – which put simply means there are less Italian born citizens on the planet than there were 30 years ago.  The US has also plummeted to a record low 1.86 (US last had 2.1 births in 2007).  Whilst in Britain there has been a bit of a baby boom between 2001-2012 when live births rose to 1.94 in 2012 but decreasing in 2013 to 1.85 births

In the UK is no single explanation as to the mini baby boom. Possible causes may include

  • More women currently in their twenties having children
  • More women at older ages having children
  • Increase in foreign born women (higher fertility rate than UK born women)
  • Government policy and economic climate indirectly influencing decisions around childbearing  eg support for families has been increasing for example maternity and paternity leave and tax credits, support for first time home owners and more affordable homes.


Sound economy, inflation, cost of living and the living wage are all factors influencing population growth.  It makes sense that Governments are addressing pay inequality to ensure continued population and economic growth

Whilst there is a need to ensure the population continues to grow there is also a concern that the demographic trends predict an ageing society where there are more people not working than working.  10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old.  The latest projections are:

  • By 2035 23% of the population will be over 65 years
  • 5.5 million more older people in 20 years time
  • The number will have doubled to around 19 million by 2050.

An inverted population demographic where there are more older people than live births creates huge economic and societal pressures.  The health and wellbeing of the population along with an older population that contributes rather than draws on the economic wealth will be the “real deal” for Governments and society.  Against the backdrop of demographic trends it is easy to predict that there will be a continuing rise of pension age, indeed retirement as we know it may well not exist.  For employers balancing four generations in the workplace with different values and work abilities will be the challenge that extends far beyond the issues of living wage pay.



Source Authors re-elaboration The Economist 2003 cover

In 3-4 decades man has undone 5-6 million years of evolution


Obesity is a global phenomena and the causal factor in the rise of chronic diseases

Diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, hypertension, mental disorders, Pulmonary conditions, Stroke. In 2015 estimated 2.3 billion of the population were overweight




Brigitte Piniewski, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Peace Laboratories commented “we are no longer accidentally well.  In a few decades we will lose the last of the generation of accidentally well which was the “baby boomer” generation who acquired a level of health, fitness and cognitive performance they did not set out to earn.  High calorie food was not invented, children played outdoors, and walked to school.”   What was a genetically stable population has within four decades moved to 67% of the population overweight and obese, with secondary adverse health conditions, more cardiovascular disease and one or more chronic diseases.  In the UK patients with long term condition consume 70% of the health budget.  Patients with more than one chronic condition are set to increase by 2.9 million by 2018 – that equivalent to another £5 billion spend.  In the US 75% of healthcare spend in son chronic care management.  Research is indicating that 70-85% of health conditions are lifestyle mediated.

The World Health Organisation research indicated that the global rise in obesity (and associated conditions) is due to entirely to drop in activity and a switch from farm to factory foods (diet) This is consistent regardless of population or country.

Globally there are profound social implications regarding the evolving epidemic of T2 diabetes in children and young people.  What will the future hold for a whole generation who are managing diabetes through medication and lifestyle.?  What is the impact of poor diet and nutrition on the cognitive ability of a whole generation of young people? How will that in turn impact on the “knowledge” industry job market of developed countries and consequently economic growth?

In summary the emergent explosion in chronic diseases have arisen as a result of :

  • preventable poor health,
  • lifestyle, diet and inactivity
  • and a model of acute hospital care which fails to meet the explosion in lifestyle induced conditions.

If population health is to be improved there is a need for a societal shift towards health self management Piniewski comments “citizens can no longer be passive recipients of healthcare but co-creators of their own health and wellbeing”



The green shoots are here!   Society is starting to embrace health, fitness and wellness. There is an acknowledgement that nutrition plays a large part in diet.  Early humans consumed fish, seafood, vegetation and meat in their diet – providing all the nutrients needed for human bodies and brains, including the capacity for complex abstract thought.  The central nervous system was tightly regulated regarding glucose and insulin balance. Today a lifestyle with little activity coupled with significantly refined carbohydrate loads wrecks havoc with nervous and immune system.  Lifestyle modifiers including activity and diet would deliver a reduction of 60% of some cancers and 83% less heart disease.  Emotional wellbeing is also key to healthy lifestyle – there is a strong link between emotional ill health and chronic condition … and physical pain and emotional difficulty.

The top tips for wellness are:

  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Mobility
  • Avoiding carbohydrates and fast food
  • Peer support
  • Giving back to the community
  • Positivity
  • Daily Exercise
  • Me time
  • Family/friend time
  • Avoidance of smoking and excess drinking


Making national news on BBC/ITV at the end of March 2015 was a press release from Public Health Institute.   They have been undertaking a research study measuring the impact of how negative emotions can harm health and wellbeing and effect the choice people make such as smoking, diet, alcohol ….. and the good news is    … “We are all officially happier”

There is no doubt that society has shifted and is grasping the challenge that individuals, communities and countries can make a difference to tomorrow’s world … is that making us officially happier?  Time will show


Author : Visiting Professor Lady Christine Bamford is Chair of CCEG and Board member of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Northampton

Untitled6Acknowledgement to Brigitte Piniewski MD Chief Medical Officer, Peace Laboratories, Portland, USA, for her generous sharing of research, articles and presentations http// and istock royalty free images


IDF Diabetes Atlas (http//

OECD health data

CDC World Health Organisation, Milken Institute

You tube Dave Coplin Microsoft Chief Envisonist ,“Future re-imagined”




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