To receive a presentation on the draft Supporting Communities Strategy and Plan which aims to address deprivation and inequalities in Rushmoor (copy attached).
The Board welcomed Andrew Colver, Head of Democracy and Community, Emma Lamb, Community and Partnerships Manager and Tony McGovern, Supporting Families/Strategy Coordinator, who were in attendance to give a presentation on the draft Supporting Communities Strategy and Plan, which aimed to address deprivation and inequalities in Rushmoor.
Rushmoor had had areas of deprivation for many years but, during this time, some areas have dropped out and others had been maintained within the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). Work has taken place over the years to help address these issues but change takes time. The latest IMD data had been reported to the Board in January, 2020. At that time, specific areas for action had been identified and the Action Plan sought to address those areas.
The Board was given an overview of the background to the development of the Plan. There had been a strong partnership working approach to develop the Plan and this had led to a better understanding of the work of different local groups and access to funding that would not have been accessible to the Council alone. Key Council services had also been involved alongside Member involvement and engagement. Through the work with partners, four priority areas had been identified, two of which focused on specific deprivation factors and two were Borough wide issues. The Plan would initially focus on these four areas but would be reviewed annually as priorities might change over time.
The four priority areas were:
· Physical and Mental Health, including, smoking obesity self-harm, mental health issues within schools
· Economic Hardship including, youth unemployment, impacts of COVID
· Young People – cuts across all priorities and includes opportunities and aspirations for the younger population of the Borough
· Connecting Communities including, reducing loneliness, the digital divide and isolation
A number of projects had been identified within the four priorities, some would be Council led and some led by partners. It was important to recognise that this was a partnership plan and there was a combined desire from all involved to work together to deliver change for the community and produce a Plan that was achievable, with local projects that would work and hopefully make a difference. The Plan was adaptable and data would be considered regularly so adjustments could be made to the work to fit community needs. The Plan would be resourced through the Council’s Community and Partnerships team, a range of partners and funding streams. The Council had a reserve fund of £100,000 and proposals within the Plan highlighted how some of those funds could be used. These included unemployment and skills development work for young people, work with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on addressing health and inequalities and pump priming local projects.
The Board were asked to share their views on the draft Plan and further comments would be accept over the following two weeks to inform the Report being prepared for the Cabinet meeting on 19th January, 2021. Additional consultation/engagement had also taken place with partners, the Portfolio Holder for Community, Strategy and Partnerships and the COVID-19 Cabinet Champion.
Members discussed the Plan and a number of comments were made to help inform the final document and the Report being prepared for the Cabinet. These included:
· Further engagement with the private sector (small medium large employers in the area), Faith groups around their work relating to food provision, befriending, young people and help for the vulnerable etc.
· Testing to be applied to projects i.e. is something already being done, can we support it, do we have capacity to do/support
· Evaluation of the success/relevance of the projects - are they doing what was intended and making a difference to the right people?
· Ensure Plan adaptable to address changes in need
· Emphasis on the Council being there to facilitate and enable and not just do
· Initiatives to address core issues around debt/access to food/housing etc. resulting in stress/self-harm/addiction etc.
· Role of Ward Members - especially in most deprived areas
· Military Families – engagement
· Ensure projects affect the most people in the shortest time and ensure value for money
· Reflect the need for English Language Training in the BAME community
· Careers advice in schools
· Mentoring for the self-employed
· Barriers in training
· Purchasing of goods and services locally to economically support local business
Mr. Colver, thanked Members for their contributions and welcomed written responses, in addition to those already submitted by the Chairman. The importance of being realistic was stressed and some comments would be considered going forward as the Plan developed and needs changed.