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Making the world better

Author: Richard Docwra

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Writer and do-gooder Richard Docwra talks to people who are making the world better - from a global to a local level. He explores what these people do, the issues they’re working on and why they matter. This podcast aims to inspire, and pay tribute to, everyone who’s trying to make things better. New episode on a Monday every 2 wks - subscribe now! @RichardDocwra www.richarddocwra.com
10 Episodes
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This week you’ll hear the second part of my conversation with Professor Richard Layard, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the LSE. If you’ve not listened to the first part about his work on the subject of happiness and mental health, check it out after you’ve listened to this – it’s fascinating!Richard is an economist who spent much of his life working on how to reduce unemployment and inequality. In more recent years though he has become one of the world’s leading figures exploring the science of happiness, as well as how better mental health could improve our social and economic life.He is the author of a number of books, including ‘Happiness – lessons from a new science’, 'Thrive – the power of psychological therapy' and his new book ‘Can we be happier?’, which is out now. He is also the founder of Action for Happiness – a not for profit organisation that is inspiring millions of people around the world to live kinder and happier lives.In this second of the 2 episodes I’ve recorded with Richard, I talk to him about Action for Happiness. We discuss what led him to set it up, what it’s achieved and what Richard wants to see it achieving in the future.  These are really fascinating discussions on a topic I’ve also been involved with for over a decade with the not-for-profit organisation I founded, Life Squared.This is the last episode in this first series of Making the World Better but we’ll be back with some more episodes soon. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts to listen to the rest of the series and stay informed of new episodes. Take care and see you soon!
 In this episode I talk to Lord Richard Layard, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the LSE. Richard is an economist who spent much of his life working on how to reduce unemployment and inequality. In more recent years though he has become one of the world’s leading figures exploring the science of happiness, as well as how better mental health could improve our social and economic life.He is the author of a number of books, including ‘Happiness – lessons from a new science’, 'Thrive – the power of psychological therapy' and his new book ‘Can we be happier?’, which is out now. He is also the founder of Action for Happiness – a not for profit organisation that is inspiring millions of people around the world to live happier lives.In the first of 2 episodes I’ve recorded with Richard, I talk to him about his work on the subject of happiness and mental health, and how it has become one of the most pressing social issues of the modern world, with an ever-increasing base of scientific evidence behind it. We explore what is being done, and what more can be done, to build happiness more into our lives, politics and economies.In the second episode – out on 11th May 2020 - I talk to him about what led him to set up Action for Happiness, and about the important work the organisation is doing.  These are really fascinating discussions on a topic I’ve also been involved with for over a decade with the not-for-profit organisation I founded, Life Squared.I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, check out the others in this series and share them with everyone you know!
My conversation in this episode is with Dr Tilly Collins. Tilly is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College, London.She runs research projects in a range of environmental areas, but in this episode we talk about her work on how to make global food production more sustainable, and in particular the potential value of insects as a nutritious and sustainable food source for human beings.You may well have seen a few insect food products making their way on to the shelves of supermarkets as snacks and might have felt the idea of eating insect is a bit of a novelty, and nothing more than that. But in our conversation, Tilly explores the important role they could play in the global food system, and the role they are already playing in many countries around the world. Tilly certainly showed that there are loads of exciting possibilities for the future of food production that could really help to change the world for the better - not just for the environment, but also for local economies and people's lives.I hope you enjoy this episode - thanks for listening. Please follow or subscribe to this podcast, and do share it with anyone you think might like it!
My guest in this episode is Mike Buckley. Mike is a political campaigner who has been seeking social and political change for many years, most recently as head of the ‘Labour for a public vote’ campaign. I got to know Mike after my social change consultancy Praxis had prepared a report in 2019 to set out the strategy the Remain campaign needed to take if there were a second referendum on Brexit. In the end of course this report wasn’t needed!Our conversation took place at a very interesting point, when the Labour party was recovering from a massive election defeat to the Conservatives, and as a consequence Brexit was going to happen. Mike was taking stock of what had gone well and what hadn’t in the campaign, and gave some very honest and passionate answers.I hope you enjoy this episode - thanks for listening. Please follow or subscribe to this podcast, and do share it with anyone you think might like it!
In this episode I talk to Professor Tom Kirkwood. Tom is a biologist who for several decades has been a leading figure in the study of aging - how and why we age.He has published several books, including Time of Our Lives: The Science of Human Aging and The End of Age: Why Everything About Aging Is Changing. In 2001 he gave the annual Reith Lectures.I asked Tom to be a guest on the podcast because I’d read some of his papers and books about the science of aging, and found them completely fascinating. They made me look at ageing in a completely different way. Most people think that our bodies are somehow ‘programmed to decline and die’, and that this is why we age, but as you’ll hear Tom explain, it’s actually the opposite - our bodies are programmed to survive. This has some amazing consequences for aging and how we might look to improve the quality of people’s lives in the future. Our increasing life spans also raises some fundamental ethical, cultural and political questions about the attitudes we should have towards old age and old people.I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please follow or subscribe to this podcast, and do share it with anyone you think might like it!
In this episode I speak to Tim Walker. Tim is a direct response copy writer and campaigner. Tim’s been a colleague and friend of mine for many years, and is the founder of the fundraising agency TWCAT, now On agency, and is a member of my team at ChangeStar. He has had decades of success in helping charities and other good causes to raise more funds and build stronger campaigns by communicating better with the public and their supporters.This is an aspect of the work of charities and political causes that is often not seen by the public yet it can be critical to how well they are able to achieve the change they are seeking. A lot of people work in the social change sector simply to help charities get their message across to people, and Tim is one of the most knowledgeable people doing this. In this chat, I’ll talk to Tim about the work he does, why it matters and some of his biggest successes. I hope you enjoy this episode - thanks for listening. Please follow or subscribe to this podcast, and do share it with anyone you think might like it!
My conversation in this episode is with Neal Lawson. Neal is a political commentator and a director of the centre-left pressure group Compass. He was an adviser to Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, is the editor of the political journal Renewal and has regularly appeared on TV and in newspapers to talk politics.Neal, like many people, feels that traditional politics is broken, and that to get a better, fairer and more sustainable future for everyone, we need to build a new vision of politics that is rooted in people’s lives, relationships and communities. A ‘bottom-up’ approach, where politicians listen to people, give them more power and shape policy based on their needs, rather than the current ‘top-down’ approach where ‘politicians know best’ and impose policies on the population. In this conversation we explore the work Neal does and why it matters - as well as how we can all have hope and work towards a better future, even in difficult times. I hope you enjoy the episode! Please subscribe to the podcast and share it with everyone!
My conversation in this episode is with Professor Peter Harris. Peter is a professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex.His academic research investigates how people can be encouraged to respond less defensively to important information – especially about their lifestyles or behaviour. This can be particularly important when trying to get people to make positive changes to their lives - including stopping smoking, tackling climate change or just learning more effectively. In other words, it could help to achieve social change on a range of issues.In this conversation with Peter we explore the idea of 'self affirmation' and how it can help to change people's behaviour. We also discuss where the research has got to and what the challenges are in turning it from an interesting academic idea into a real-world solution. It's a fascinating topic and I hope you enjoy the episode! Please subscribe to the podcast and share it with everyone!
My conversation in this episode is with Andrew Copson. Andrew is the Chief Executive of Humanists UK, a charity seeking a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Andrew has been a leading voice in the humanist movement for many years and has contributed to a lot of important political and social campaigns in the UK and beyond – from those fighting discrimination and injustice through to initiatives to help people get the emotional support they need at critical moments in life.In this episode we discuss what humanism is, the ways in which Humanists UK has a profound impact on people's lives, and how they could help to change society in the future.I hope you enjoy it - please subscribe to the podcast and share it with everyone!
In this episode I chat to John Russell, who is the founder of The Oyster Project, a community charity for disabled people in the Sussex town of Lewes.The story of how and why John built the charity is fascinating - as are his stories of how people have benefitted from it, and the model of change he uses to achieve his aims.John himself is also a remarkable character. 20 years ago he had a cycling accident which left him with massive injuries, but despite this he's set up a series of amazing community initiatives. It's a very inspiring story - and I hope you enjoy this episode!  Please like and share it!  
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