By Sonia Brown, Visa
As we grow up we are often told ‘you are what you eat’, but I think that people across communities are underestimating that the ‘choice that you make’ more broadly – for example about whether you shop online through Amazon or take the time to visit your local high street – has a huge impact on the quality of our lives.
In a recent survey, over 75% of people said that they would miss their local high street if it no longer existed. Yet when we look at where we are spending our money there is a huge shift to online sales as busy people hit ‘buy’ to shopping baskets on busses on the way to work etc. Loving ‘Brian the local butcher’, at Christmas isn’t enough. If we want Brian to be part of our community for many Christmases to come we need to shop local and support our high streets.
People often don’t make the link between their choices and their outcomes. The high street is one area but there are so many others that through consumer power we can have much more influence for all of our futures. A great example of this from 2018 has been the movement against single use plastic. From a TV show to consumers starting to carry re-usable cups, the change has been transformative.
This in turn perhaps helps us to understand why there is so much frustration towards politicians. Many of us grew up with the notion that politicians were there in a somewhat paternalistic role to protect and promote our interests but increasingly they are finding themselves unable to move at the pace of social media and our parliamentary processes feel sluggish. Real social change is being brought about much more quickly by the man and woman on the street making their own decisions.
As we enter 2019, what other areas might be as game-changing for society?
Those of us living in the UK take for granted free health care for all – and yet so much money is wasted in the NHS through missed appointments, and unused medication. Perhaps 2019 is a time to look to reset our expectations and treat the services that we value so much with the respect and care that they deserve.