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The Hoe, Plymouth

New report fights back against unfairness

Tackling issues of inequality in the city of Plymouth forms the basis of a new report, by the Plymouth Fairness Commission. University of Exeter experts in politics and medicine have been closely involved in the Commission’s recommendations for making Plymouth a fairer city for all.

The Commission’s report, ‘Creating the conditions for fairness in Plymouth’ has looked at the implications of the huge differences in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas, unfair funding allocations from central government, young people struggling to get a start in life and the crisis in the cost of living. It has recommended that there needs to be a fundamental change in addressing these issues and has tasked the City Council, police, education and healthcare providers, as well as private and voluntary sector bodies with delivering it. It also includes specific recommendations for central government.

Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Commission said: “Unfairness isn’t just confined to Plymouth. There are national flaws in the system which means that those most vulnerable are treated most unfairly. We hope that the Plymouth Fairness Commission, by addressing these issues, will encourage change, not just in Plymouth, but across the whole country.”

Politics lecturer, Dr Robin Durie and Professor Katrina Wyatt from the University of Exeter Medical School have been involved in developing a learning programme, called Connecting Communities (C2) designed to reduce health inequalities and create healthful communities in areas of high disadvantage. It is a unique approach to working with communities which empowers both local residents and frontline service personnel to co-create solutions to local issues. The C2 programme is led by Hazel Stuteley, a former health visitor in Falmouth and honorary Research Fellow at Exeter Medical School. C2 is informed by practice and provides a unique evidence based approach to addressing health inequalities and creating heath enhancing environments.   

Professor Wyatt explained:“C2 results in high levels of community self-organisation and engagement, leading to long term transformative outcomes in health and social wellbeing. The track record consistently shows that C2 can achieve profound and lasting change within hard-pressed communities.” A powerful example of what can be achieved through the C2 approach is the TR14ers, a youth dance group that has engaged over 1000 young people in dance, and which has had transformative behavioural, educational and health outcomes.

Barne Barton, a deprived area of Plymouth, was involved in the C2 programme and the results fed into the development of the Commission’s recommendations. Using the C2 approach, the Plymouth Fairness Commission is working with Plymouth City Council to look at transforming the way decisions that affect communities are made. 

Dr Durie said:“This is the type of thinking that the Fairness Commission wants to see adopted by those who currently have the power to decide; giving the power back to those who live with the consequences of these decisions. Not only is C2 an approach with a proven track-record but, in the longer term, it’s one which is likely to reduce the need for already-stretched public services and public sector budgets.”

The Plymouth Fairness Commission’s recommendations will be closely monitored to make sure everyone involved in delivering. The Commission will publish an update on achievement in 2015. 

Date: 10 April 2014

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