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Supporting communities, preventing social exclusion and tackling need

Supporting communities, preventing social exclusion and tackling need: a report to Hammersmith United Charities on four low income estates in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham by LSE Housing

Laura Lane and Anne Power, LSE Housing

June 2009

1. Introduction

This report provides information on the levels of deprivation and need in 4 estates within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. These estates are:

  • Edward Woods
  • White City
  • William Church
  • Old Oak

We were commissioned by Hammersmith United Charities (HUC) and its project partners – Notting Hill Housing Group and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham – to carry out research in these estates to help advise and guide HUC in designing and targeting its grant-giving programme in its area of benefit – the former Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith in the Northern part of the borough. The main focus of the charity’s work up to this point has been to provide care and well-being for elderly people in the Borough of Hammersmith. H.U.C now has a limited annual budget from which it makes grants.

The charity wanted to establish a plan:

  • To help meet the needs of people in the area of benefit that are not otherwise being met.
  • To focus support on those groups who currently have greatest need and least support.
  • Offer help that is realistic and useful for as long as that need is there.

We suggest models for supporting low income communities within the borough and urgent areas of action the charity could focus on.

Area conditions do cause serious problems of social deprivation, and poor areas do attract concentrations of social problems far greater than the average. Because of this, we believe that a charity like HUC, operating in a particular area of London, is right to consider priorities for action and support on the basis of deprived areas and community need. This inevitably means that area-based problems and interventions will focus more on problems affecting groups, even though at the end of the day areas are made up of individuals, many of whom in poorer areas do have specific individual problems and needs.

Aims

Our research has five main aims:

  1. To uncover evidence of social need and poverty in four areas of Hammersmith, in the Northern part of the borough, covering the major themes of income, employment, crime, health, education and skills.
  2. To set this evidence in the context of London and the country as a whole.
  3. To visit four social housing estates in the north of the borough, record observations of the conditions and identify social facilities, support organisations and general conditions that might be positive or negative for the lives of residents.
  4. To interview a sample of residents in each estate in order to collect views on the estate, its conditions, problems and prospects, and to present our findings.
  5. To investigate possible models of charitable support that HUC could explore as options for future development of their work in the borough.

This report presents our findings under these aims in six sections following this introduction, structured as follows:

  1. Background on Hammersmith and Fulham and the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) to include evidence from the census and IMD on the main themes of Income, Employment, Health Deprivation and Disability, Education, Skills and Training, Barriers to Housing and Services, Crime, and Living Environment in the four areas, showing clear levels of deprivation.
  2. Contrast between East and West London – specifically between Islington and Hammersmith and Fulham to show the significant deprivation in the four estates
  3. Description of conditions and facilities on the estates based on visits and photographs of the estates.
  4. Analysis of the findings from the survey of residents including reporting back what residents think about their areas and their suggestions for ways to improve conditions.
  5. Models of possible ways to help overcome disadvantage in four deprived areas of Hammersmith and Fulham.
  6. Our conclusions and recommendations.

Methods and approach to the study

This research and our findings rely on both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

We used detailed qualitative statistical data in order to uncover evidence of inequality and need on seven main themes affecting deprivation. We also used statistical data to show the social and ethnic composition of the local communities, the borough, London and England. We are heavily reliant on various sources for this statistical information including the Census, Communities and Local Government, NOMIS, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the Office for National Statistics, the Audit Commission and the Greater London Authority.

We collected qualitative evidence based on a structured or purposive sample of residents, chosen to reflect the statistical composition of local populations. Our qualitative interviews included leading questions, which were then broken down into themes, based on what people told us. Our semi-structured questionnaire included some open-ended questions and room for comment to allow people to express their views freely. We include a selection of people’s free and open comments as quotes in the body of our report.

The vignettes, or short pen portraits, of selected residents are based on individual interviews that seemed to give the clearest and most complete picture of life on these estates.

We have simplified all the figures we present by rounding them to whole numbers but we have included all detailed tables and sources in the annex. For small areas we used Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) of which there are 32,482 nationally. We ranked these small areas for all evidence on an index of 1 to 100, often presented as a percentage.

There are many different ways of understanding the multi-faceted problems of social exclusion and the many particular groups who are deeply affected by it. Homeless people, people with mental health problems, those who suffer severe physical disabilities, people suffering from drug and alcohol misuse are just some examples. This study is based on poor areas rather than individuals. We explore the theme of multiple deprivation through a neighbourhood lens, in order to understand the dynamics of area conditions and their impact on households and communities. We therefore focus on the issues that emerged from our analysis of concrete evidence about the areas, both in the form of numbers and in what people said to us.

We carried out this wide-ranging research with limited resources and in a short time-frame, and there are therefore several limitations to our work, although we are confident that it fairly reflects conditions and problems in the areas we examined.

  1. We studied four estates, as proposed by HUC, and restricted our visits to the North of the Borough.
  2. We interviewed residents in three of the estates, but despite several visits and attempts through various local channels we were unable to locate residents on the smallest estate – William Church – which comprises isolated blocks, where we found no evidence of residents around the estate during the day.
  3. We interviewed a total of 36 residents and spoke to a further 20 in three of the estates, whom we met in open and public spaces, shopping areas and community facilities during our visits. We were unable to contact people by knocking on individual doors to find interviewees due to constraints of time. But we readily identified a wide range of residents reflecting different ages, ethnic backgrounds, household size, tenure and other characteristics. We are clear that they broadly reflect the populations of the estates.
  4. We also spoke to 8 people working in the estates and immediate local areas, in housing and community offices and other local services.
  5. We visited four organisations outside of the borough that offer models for local action and we explored their applicability to HUC’s aims.
  6. We visited two estates in Islington and explored social deprivation there in order to gain a clearer perspective on Hammersmith and Fulham’s problems of deprivation, setting it in the wider context of the contrast between East and West London. We were not able to analyse specific data for local schools, nor could we investigate in detail regeneration schemes or local economic conditions. With more time we would have wanted to visit local schools and employers, learn more about local youth provision and support for families and young children. We would also have liked to investigate more thoroughly local environmental problems which had a major bearing on the needs of young people and families with children.

We were not able to contact sick or otherwise vulnerable and isolated households in the area because, almost be definition, they are not “out and about” on the estate. But we do know that they are there, based on our discussions with locally based staff and believe their needs should be recognised.

In presenting this report, we are confident that we have fairly represented the degree of need concentrated in the four estates, have reflected accurately the views of over fifty residents about conditions, and described objectively the options for future development of HUC’s work.

Table of Contents

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