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UEL is set to become the UK’s first Flourishing University

students studying at UEL

The University of East London is using practical and evidence based wellbeing and resilience  to create a positive culture within the institution and become the first “Flourishing University” in the UK.  Putting wellbeing at the heart of staff development and welfare, the university is rolling out a series of wellbeing and resilience workshops for all staff.

UEL’s new initiative reflects its history as the “people’s university” and its position as London’s leading university for civic engagement. Flourishing institutions are inherently community-focused, using a strengths-based approach to promote cohesion, support and trust.

One of the architects of the scheme is Reader in Psychology, Dr Kate Hefferon.  She observed: “The workshops are one part of a wider culture shift in addressing staff wellbeing and resilience. The aim of the overall initiative is to create a “Flourishing University” that enables the individual, the institution and the wider community to prosper and thrive. We are aiming to increase the awareness of, as well as access to and use of, a variety of tools and information that may help foster wellbeing and resilience. We want to create environments that help to foster flourishing. Overall, we aim to support and recognise staff wellbeing across life and work domains.”

The staff wellbeing and resilience awareness workshops will focus on tangible, real world skills that are applicable to both personal and professional practice. These workshops aim to provide attendees with an understanding of the importance of wellbeing and resilience in everyday life, as well as a set of activities and skills (or toolkit) that have been shown to improve personal wellbeing and resilience.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Joughin, said: “Our strategy of civic engagement takes account of the long term ‘value-added’ contribution to the wellbeing of individuals, society and the economy.  We are all focused on supporting our students to transform their lives and realise their potential, contributing directly as active citizens to their communities.

“We are privileged to have some of the most eminent academics in this field working here at UEL, within our School of Psychology, and I am delighted that we can draw on their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of all.”

Wendy Cartwright, Director of Corporate Services, commented: “Work is a central part of most people’s lives: it’s where we spend a large part of our time and can provide us with structure, purpose and a sense of fulfilment. We are taking the wellbeing of our staff and students seriously. By investing in a systemic approach to wellbeing, the aim is for staff, as well as students, to feel invested in, valued and cared for.”

Before rolling the scheme out at UEL, Dr Hefferon and her colleagues Dr. Itai Ivtzan, Dr. Tim Lomas, Dr. Francisco Eiroa-Orosa and Dr. Rona Hart enjoyed success with similar schemes at other institutions.  Dr Hefferon explained:

“We have offered wellbeing/resilience workshops and our academic expertise to several large external organisations over the years. We felt that we wanted to give back to UEL and contextualise what we had done in the past, for the university environment.  We are excited about helping shape the concept of a ‘Flourishing University’ in such a pioneering initiative.”