Tuesday 4th Oct, 2016

Vital Signs highlights challenges faced in Norfolk

Norfolk Community Foundation has found that youth opportunity and poor mental health are amongst the biggest issues facing Norfolk whilst also recognising the pressures on the health and care sector associated with a rising elderly population. 

Vital Signs, one of seventeen reports from participating community foundations across the UK launched today provides a health check for the community across a number of social themes and a range of subjects. The report is designed to measure social trends and the vitality of our communities to build a picture of life and social need in our county.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Education and Employment – Norfolk is one of the most challenging areas of the country to grow up in in terms of achieving life goals with Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and North Norfolk in the bottom 20 of 324 local authority areas.
  • Mental health and wellbeing – people in Norfolk are more likely to be affected by poor mental health compared to regional and national averages. 

Graham Tuttle, chief executive at Norfolk Community Foundation, comments: “The findings of the Vital Signs report provide pause for thought and clearly highlight some of the issues our community is facing. It shines a light on the concerns and fears that require attention and provides an impetus for action.”

The report raises a number of questions which will be discussed at the official Vital Signs launch on Thursday:

  1. How do we inspire young people and reduce the barriers which limit them from succeeding in employment and education?
  2. In a time where funding cuts affect the availability of statutory provision in the mental health arena, what is the role of the voluntary sector is supporting our local people?
  3. As a county facing the future with an ageing population, we need to consider now how the charitable sector can support struggling health services to avert a care crisis.

While there are significant areas of concern, Vital Signs also offers more encouraging news:

  • Strong sense of belonging – identified by community members and independent research as an area of considerable success where Norfolk is leading the way against other counties in the UK.
  • A safe place to live – the statistics show that the crime rate in Norfolk is the lowest in the East of England and in the lowest quartile nationally
  • Community engagement – Norfolk ranks in the top ten counties when it comes to volunteering.

The report recognises and celebrates the groups and activities already in operation which are responding to the demonstrable local need. However, greater funding is required to continue this valuable work and to support organisations such as Great Yarmouth & Gorleston Young Carers, Kickstart Norfolk and local Foodbanks who between them are providing support for young carers, helping local people access work, training or education opportunities and providing emergency food supplies for those most in need of support.

Graham Tuttle adds, “Whilst wonderful work by a host of community organisations is underway, there is huge need in our area which we have only seen grow in recent years.

We are calling upon the wider community – strategic partners from the health sector, local government, police and other statutory bodies as well as individuals and businesses – to work with us and be a part of the solution that takes action to answer the call in today’s Vital Signs report. A joined up, strategic approach to community investment and philanthropy is vitally important and can change our communities for the better.”

If you would like to know more about Vital Signs, please contact Claire Cullens or Jenny Bevan on 01603 623958.