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Communities in Carlisle will get extra support as they take part in census rehearsal

Chris Kolek

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has appointed a census engagement manager to support Carlisle residents help rehearse the census this October.

Carlisle was chosen as one of just four areas for the census rehearsal, which will enable the ONS to test some of the systems and processes it has put in place ahead of the digital-first 2021 Census.

Chris Kolek, the area’s census engagement manager, will help organisations, charities, faith groups and community leaders within the city district to raise awareness of the census rehearsal and the value to local residents in taking part.

The 50-year-old who lives near Penrith, has had a long career focussed on revitalising high streets and supporting rural areas. In his spare time, the dad-of-four is often found coaching football, having recently helped set up a football club for children and young people with disabilities.

He has also been part of a project to rebuild a village hall in Stainton which relied on census data to gain funding.

Chris said: “It’s important to have good quality data on Carlisle and Cumbria to make sure we do understand more about what the needs of the city and the wider area are.

“Good quality data is vital in getting things done to make a difference to people’s lives and the census is an important part of that.

“However, the challenge is making sure this rural county is accurately represented and making sure everyone’s voice counts within the census. The rehearsal in Carlisle will play a big part in this.”

People in each of the chosen areas, Carlisle, Ceredigion, Hackney and Tower Hamlets, will be asked to complete a questionnaire about those living in their household on 13 October 2019.

The rehearsal will be primarily online, with help for those who need it. Residents will be invited to take part later this year.

Director of census operations, Pete Benton, said: “The census helps inform vital public services such as the number of children’s school places, hospital and GP services and social care provision in local areas.

“As the census only takes place every ten years it is important we hold an operational rehearsal to ensure that all our processes run smoothly.

“The people of Carlisle who take part will all be helping to ensure the overall success of the 2021 Census.”

The ONS’s recommendations for the next census were published in a government White Paper in December.

The 2021 Census will, for the first time, collect information on veterans of the UK Armed Forces. This enables monitoring of the Armed Forces covenant – the deal between the country and those who served it.

And it is proposed that there will also be a new voluntary question on sexual orientation for those aged 16 and over. In addition to the usual question on being male or female, there will also be a voluntary question on gender identity for those aged 16 and over.

Everyone across the UK, including those living outside of the four rehearsal areas will be asked to take part in the actual census in 2021. More information will be made available nearer the time.

Community leaders in and around Carlisle can find out more about the rehearsal by calling Chris on 07458109341 or emailing [email protected]

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