A theory of thriving for people living in financial hardship

A working paper to accompany the coproduced report on A Model of Thriving.



We report on a process of coproducing a theory of thriving for people living with financial hardship involving collaboration between people with relevant lived experience, practitioners from the UK national charity Turn2us, and academics.

We explain why coproduction is desirable for developing legitimate, context-sensitive, and rich understandings of thriving, and how the practice can undergird wellbeing public policy more broadly.

We detail the methodology involved, illustrating it with our own practice and the conceptualisation of thriving that it produced, and demonstrating that it is not just desirable but also feasible. While the theory of thriving we arrived at bears similarities to many established theories of wellbeing, it goes beyond them in some ways.

It also emphasises specific items that can inform policy for people experiencing financial hardship in a general wellbeing theories could not. Furthermore, coproduction revealed that ‘off-the-shelf’ measures of wellbeing can be rendered ineffective by contextual factors.

This highlights the need to involve coproduction not just in conceptualising wellbeing and similar concepts but also in the design of wellbeing metrics.     

The Many Dimensions of Wellbeing Project is funded by AHRC and ESRC, and is a collaboration with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

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  • About the author

    Dr Mark Fabian, Research Associate

    Mark is a welfare economist working on the Measuring Well-Being project at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy. His research focuses on the epistemology and ethics of well-being metrics, especially how policymakers and citizens understand well-being, its measurement, and the legitimacy of well-being policy interventions.    Learn more

  • About the author

    Abby Meadows

    Abby Meadows works at Turn2Us, a UK based charity fighting poverty, as their Co-production and Participation officer. She also guest lecturers in humanitarian response and the contemporary European refugee crisis at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

  • About the author

    Dr Anna Alexandrova

    Anna is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King's College, having previously taught at the University of Missouri St Louis. She writes on philosophy of social sciences, especially economic modelling, explanation, and the sciences of well-being. She was a recipient of the Philosophy of Science Association Recent PhD Essay Prize.