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ARIANE BURGESS: The wellbeing economy aims to create a more fair and inclusive society

By Scott Maclennan

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Ariane Burgess, Scottish Green Party. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Ariane Burgess, Scottish Green Party. Picture: James Mackenzie.

As the nights draw in our focus often turns to our personal wellbeing and what we can do to take care of ourselves and loved ones. Increasingly we’re also hearing about the idea of the wellbeing economy. What is the wellbeing economy, and why is it important for Scotland?

The wellbeing economy is a way of measuring the success of a country not only by its GDP but also by its social and environmental outcomes, such as health, happiness, equality and sustainability. The wellbeing economy aims to create a more fair and inclusive society that values people and the planet over profit. At a time when we must right to the challenge of the climate and nature emergency, the wellbeing economy approach is a great way to go.


One of the key actors in the wellbeing economy are social enterprises, which are businesses that have a social or environmental mission at their core. Social enterprises reinvest their profits back into their communities or causes rather than distributing them to shareholders or owners. Social enterprises are different from standard businesses because they put purpose before profit, and they are accountable to their stakeholders, not just their investors.

Social enterprises come in all shapes and sizes, from small local cafes to large housing providers. For example, Link Housing is a social enterprise that provides affordable and quality homes to over 15,000 people across Scotland. Link Housing also offers support services, such as advice, training and employability, to help its tenants and communities thrive.

Inverness is a hub of social enterprise activity, with many innovative and inspiring businesses that contribute to the wellbeing economy. For instance, Àban Outdoor Ltd is a social enterprise that offers outdoor education and adventure activities to young people and adults, especially those who face barriers to access the outdoors. Àban Outdoor Ltd aims to promote physical and mental wellbeing, environmental awareness and social inclusion through its programmes.

Another example is Café 1668, a social enterprise that runs a cosy and welcoming café in the heart of Inverness. Café 1668 serves delicious food and drinks made from locally sourced and organic ingredients, as well as hosting events and workshops on topics such as art, music and wellbeing. Café 1668 also supports local artists and makers by displaying and selling their products in the café.

Able2Adventure based in the Cairngorms National Park is a social enterprise that provides accessible and inclusive outdoor activities for people with disabilities and additional support needs. Able2Adventure offers a range of activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, cycling and climbing, that are tailored to the needs and abilities of each participant. Able2Adventure aims to empower people with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors and challenge themselves in a safe and supportive environment.

These are just some of the examples of how social enterprises are making a positive difference in Inverness and beyond. Social enterprises are not only businesses but also agents of change that create social value and impact in their communities. By supporting social enterprises, we can help build a more sustainable and equitable wellbeing economy for Scotland.

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