Social movement Action for Happiness becomes an independent charity

Date: 25 January 2018

In the context of our growing mental health crisis and the importance of finding new solutions, we are proud to announce the spin-out of Action for Happiness as an independent charity. Action for Happiness is a grassroots movement of people taking action to build a happier and more caring society. It was launched within The Young Foundation in 2011 and has been incubated over the following years as it has grown into a thriving global movement.


Action for Happiness was founded by Richard Layard (Director of the Wellbeing Programme at the Centre for Economic Performance and Emeritus Professor of Economics at LSE), Sir Anthony Seldon (Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham) and Geoff Mulgan (CEO of Nesta and former CEO of The Young Foundation). The movement’s patron is the Dalai Lama who helped to launch its 8-week “Exploring What Matters” course in 2015. Thousands of people have since taken part in these courses, which have been found to deliver significant increases in mental wellbeing (+20%) and social trust (+17%).

The rollout of Action for Happiness continues The Young Foundation’s proud history of creating and incubating ventures that tackle entrenched social issues including the Open University, School for Social Entrepreneurs and Uprising.

Since inception Action for Happiness has grown to having:

  • Over 100,000 signed up members across over 100 countries
  • An online community of over 1 million people
  • 25,000 people who have attended face to face events
  • 3,000 people who have stepped forward to lead local community courses


Richard Layard, co-founder of Action for Happiness said:

“We want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get for themselves and more about the happiness of others. We had a flying start inside the Young Foundation and have brought together an amazing movement of people taking action to increase happiness by helping each other. Our aim is now to see our Exploring What Matters course reach far more people and to help our volunteers in creating thousands of face-to-face groups in local communities across the UK and around the world”

Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness said:

“We urgently need a shift in priorities in our society. The unique thing about Action for Happiness is the link between personal action and social change: our members not only discover ways to increase their own wellbeing, they also do a huge amount to help create happier families, schools, workplaces and local communities. We are so grateful for the amazing support and incubation provided by The Young Foundation over many years – and we are very excited about this next phase of our journey as a fully independent organisation”

Helen Goulden, CEO of The Young Foundation said:

‘‘The Young Foundation is rightly proud of its track record of creating and incubating the scaling-up of great ideas that have really made a difference to people’s lives. We know that happiness and fulfilment come less from material wealth and focusing on ourselves and more from relationships and helping others. Action for Happiness offers a fantastic way of advancing that idea in easy, practical and impactful ways. We are thrilled at the success of Action for Happiness and wish them every success in the future.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For interviews and more information please contact: Lucie Russell, Tel 07931 507873
  2. The Young Foundation finds new ways of tackling major social challenges by working alongside communities, using the tools of research and social innovation. We run a range of national and international programmes, and work in partnership with leading organisations, thinkers and policymakers to achieve this. Find out more at
  3. We have created and supported over 80 organisations including: Which?The Open UniversityLanguage LineSocial Innovation ExchangeSchool for Social Entrepreneurs, Uprising and Action for Happiness.
  4. Action for Happiness is a movement of people building a happier society by making positive changes in their personal lives, homes, workplaces and communities. It is a Registered Charity (1175160) and Company Limited by Guarantee (10722435) in England and Wales. Find out more at