The area: Claremont is an area of Blackpool that suffers from severe deprivation, including high levels of unemployment, poorer health than the national average, and lower life expectancy. Housing is predominately poor quality and privately rented.
Who we are: The Neighbourhood Resilience Programme (NRP) in Claremont named itself Claremont Together to make the name more accessible to the local population. Claremont Together is a group of residents, local councillors, Claremont First Steps Community Centre, Hare Krishna Society, and a range of professionals from departments at Blackpool County Council, including Housing and Public Health.
What we have done:
High levels of transience, and widespread economic inequality and disenchantment with politics poses enormous challenges for residents’ involvement with programmes like the NRP. Overcoming these barriers requires creativity to design engagement activities that also serve to provide rich information about how local concerns could be addressed. It also requires time to build rapport and empathy to understand residents’ distrust of professionals. The group has tried a variety of activities: administering a questionnaire to a small sample of residents to explore the links between poor quality housing and health, professional interviews to map out existing resources and identify gaps in knowledge communication and resource sharing, as well as information sharing events.
Three priority goals were determined in response to engagement activities:
- Building capacity and understanding of system partnership working. To do so, Claremont Together strives to bring together a diversity of system actors including residents, local organisations and public sector professionals. The goal of this partnership is to share resources and skills to design actions that will change the local environment to promote health. This is what we are calling ‘building systems resilience’.
- Improving the quality of private rented accommodation in Claremont. Our engagement activities made clear that poor housing and transience was a significant issue affecting the health and well-being of tenants, neighbours and the wider community. Subsequent discussions pointed towards a lack of information that tenants have about their rights to a safe, health and stable home.
- Evaluating the impact of changes put in place on health.
Resilience enhancing emerging actions:
We hosted a Housing Advice Event at Claremont First Steps. Organisations offering free advice for all residents of Claremont included: The People’s Team; Licensing and Enforcement; Energy Efficiency Team; Debt and Benefit Advisers; Housing Options; Employment Advisers; Claremont First Step Community Centre; Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group; Housing Coastal and Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre FYI Directory.
The group is working with a local artist, members of the public and paid professionals to redesign a tenancy rights leaflet so it is more relatable to the population in Blackpool. This will also help in efforts to engage with vulnerable tenants about their housing rights.
Neighbourhood academic lead:
Ana Porroche-Escudero; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org