A LEADING charity is shining a light on issues in the community to help guide businesses that wish to invest in improving lives in West Cumbria.
The document, called West Cumbria Opportunities and Challenges, provides an accessible, evidence-based picture of need across West Cumbria with examples of projects that improve the lives of residents.
Cumbria Community Foundation was commissioned to write the report for Sellafield Ltd to highlight the opportunities and areas of economic and social need in West Cumbria.
Some of the issues highlighted in the report include:
- Childhood obesity – one in ten children are starting school overweight
- Adult obesity – two thirds of people in both Allerdale and Copeland are overweight.
- Deprivation – one in seven households are living on less than £10,000 a year.
- Education – one in four adults have no qualifications.
- Schools – half of all secondary schools are performing below national average.
The document isn’t all doom and gloom. It celebrates everything that west Cumbria has to offer, like:
- Being the global Centre of Nuclear Excellence.
- Being the home of innovative world leading businesses (M-Sport, Iggesund, Innovia).
- Having low crime – it’s one of the safest places to live in the UK.
- Some outstanding schools.
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “Sellafield approached us to write this independent report after seeing the quality of the research we presented in our countywide document ‘Cumbria Revealed – a County of Contrasts’ in 2017. I hope this new report will help people and organisations who want to devise programmes or create activities to tackle the needs of those living in west Cumbria.
“We’re celebrating our twentieth anniversary as a charity and we know that the solutions to the issues lie within the people and organisations already in these communities. What we need is investment in the areas identified to create real and lasting change in the areas we’ve highlighted.
“West Cumbria is an area of contrasts where a high-wage technology-based economy is contrasted with high levels of youth unemployment and some shockingly poor levels of health and wellbeing. Some the key issues are skills shortages, access to jobs and services, low aspirations, poverty, health and wellbeing, social isolation and obesity.”
The evidence used in the report has been drawn from different sources and presented under key themes:
Growing Up, Living and Working, Ageing, Housing and Homelessness, Fuel Poverty, Debt, Transport and Access to Services, Healthy Living, Safe Communities, Strong Communities.
It looks to the future and explains how businesses can get involved. Sellafield Ltd published its Social Impact Strategy last year and will measure its success by using the National Themes Outcomes Measurements Framework. The Social Impact Strategy says it wants to:
- Improve access to sustainable incomes by increasing skills, knowledge aspirations and access to opportunities.
- Enable resilient economies by growing the local economy and securing new opportunities.
- Build thriving communities that create self-reliance and address community needs.
- Create effective stakeholder and partnership working for collective impact.
Gary McKeating, Head of Community and Development at Sellafield Ltd said: “The new Sellafield Social Impact strategy illustrates a significant shift in thinking. Sellafield has always recognised the close interdependency between our business and the local community and as we continue to make Sellafield safer, sooner, we are working to make sure that our local community, the UK as a whole and the nuclear sector receives the maximum value from the £2billion of taxpayers’ money spent at Sellafield every year.
“As a world class business, dealing with some of the most complex scientific and engineering challenges on the planet, we want our activities to benefit as many people and businesses as possible, but this isn’t just an issue for Sellafield Ltd, it’s for all of those companies in our supply chain as well.
“There’s a lot to be done, but by working collectively, we can address the issues raised in the report, and the entire community can succeed. Look at how the investments from Sellafield Ltd and the NDA leveraged in excess of £30m for the new Campus Whitehaven. This represents the biggest educational investment in Whitehaven for over half a century and will address some of the issues highlighted in the report. This is an illustration of the kind of social impact we should all be striving to achieve.”
A copy of the report is available on the Foundation’s website www.cumbriafoundation.org or by contacting Anne Meeghan on 01900 825760.