Partnership working in Bradford District and Craven helps communities with the cost-of-living crisis
Case study summary
In Bradford, the council, health and voluntary and community sector partners have come together to support residents with the cost-of-living crisis. Together they are running a number of activities to support residents and colleagues. Work includes community outreach, webinars and meetings for frontline professionals and a targeted cost of living campaign aimed at local people.
One in five households in Bradford are in food poverty and are fuel poor. Crucially around a quarter of million residents live in the top 20% of deprived wards in England. Also, 2 in 5 children are living below the poverty line which has risen by 2% in 2019-20 and 10% in past 8 years.
The ‘cost of living campaign’ offers residents help and information about government support; energy and bills; food resources; housing support; debt and gambling; savings; scams and safeguarding; volunteering; and mental wellbeing. It is well known that these wider issues directly impact health outcomes for people, and ICSs are uniquely placed to tackle these locally, actively preventing ill health and improving the quality of people’s lives.
Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership, Bradford Council and voluntary and community sector partner, Community Action Bradford and District (CABAD), working together as part of the West Yorkshire integrated care system (ICS).
The ongoing project aims to prevent ill health by working together to support people through the cost-of-living crisis, providing advice and support on a range of topics such as mental health, food, warm homes, Christmas, loneliness and isolations, finances and bills to help people support themselves and enable self-care. This will be done through a phased roll out of activity so people can benefit from targeted information on specific topics.
Support and advice about energy is crucial as 70% of houses are energy inefficient, families with low income spending 26% of income on energy (12% two years ago) and recent research identifies Bradford as the second highest city out of 30 local authority areas with the most energy crisis hotspots and communities with lower than average income but higher than average energy use.
Working in partnership, the council, health and community services and the voluntary sector co-designed a significant place-wide public and staff facing campaign launched on World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2022 which included:
- a focused week of events around World Mental Health Day and the cost of living crisis
- the launch of a new booklet and website packed full of information, advice and signposting. Both include a range of topics to help people including information about government support; energy and bills; food resources; housing support; debt and gambling; savings; scams and safeguarding; volunteering; looking after your mental wellbeing; things to do and other helpful websites.
- series of themed mini-campaigns including warm hubs, food (including cooking on a budget session), Christmas money and scam avoidance advice, new year budgeting support and a series of life hack videos are also in development.
- a leaflet highlighting mental health support with a direct link to local services.
An anti-poverty strategy was presented at Bradford’s Wellbeing Board that highlighted the impact of rising energy, food, fuel and living costs, millions are at risk of being plunged into financially unstable positions. The booklet was developed alongside online resources in recognition of the issues around digital exclusion across the district.
Some of the specific challenges highlighted in Bradford District and Craven:
- Fifth most income deprived and sixth most employment deprived local authority in England
- Rurality in the Craven area leads to specific challenges around access to services, social connections and loneliness as well as issues around digital connectivity.
- Over a hundred local residents attended the information stalls finding out how they can look after their mental wellbeing as well as getting support on the cost of living. Staff reported residents coming to them with a range of issues including urgent and serious need for help with one family facing homelessness.
- The events provided valuable opportunities for people to share their concerns including:
- Struggles with the cost of living, sharing personal stories, wondering how they were going to make it in the next few weeks and months.
- Many said they were feeling stressed and weren’t sleeping at night because of the huge increase in the cost of living. Some were reluctant to seek support for their mental health as they felt it would be a sign of weakness not only for them but their family.
- A dedicated website is now live for people in Bradford offering a range of support with the cost of living crisis.
- A booklet is widely available called ‘Cost of living: Support in the Bradford District’ which people can pick up at local libraries, community centres, GP practices, food banks and information centres.
- Flyer widely distributed promoting daytime and night support for mental wellbeing.
Staff were asked to help people in their day-to-day role who needed support, signposting people to the website and booklet and a video guide to starting these conversations was shared with staff.
At the same time the campaign targeted staff with the clear message that it’s a difficult time for them too and the rising cost of living may be making it hard to make ends meet but that support was available.
The events, booklet and website were widely promoted to public and staff, making it clear stalls were open to everyone without a need to book.
“People from all walks of life were stopping for a chat, whether that be volunteers at the hospital who wanted to share what they were doing to support people, to mothers who were concerned about their children’s mental health”.
“One gentleman approached us and was clearly frustrated with services he had received support from. He was not employed due to mental health and addiction challenges and told us that he was finding it increasingly difficult to access support and didn’t know how he was going to cope as the cost of living continued to rise. We gave him the cost of living booklet and talked him through the support available including the Wellbeing Network and he was happy for us to take his details and follow up with a call later that day”.
“On calling this gentleman, he initially appeared resistant and very angry, however, soon became willing to engage and accepting of the support on offer. In total five different avenues of support from debt and financial advice to services that can help overcome substance misuse and better manage mental health were provided to him and he also referred his neighbour to us.”
“We referred a couple who were homeless to Britannia House Homeless. We provided them with a travel bag and sleeping bags. After assessment they decided to go back to their city and their journeys were paid for by Britannia House.”
“One member of the public discussed her son’s mental health. We provided information on Kooth, the Youth Service and First Response as well as other mental health support.”
The campaign was supported by key local leaders including
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We know these are difficult times for most people across our district, the cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on our communities. It can be hard to absorb all the information around the support for cost of living, what we’ve done is bring all that information as best as we can on this one single website, alongside the booklet. We will continue to add information onto the website which we think will benefit our residents in the coming months”.
Soo Nevison, Chief Executive for CABAD, said: “The cost of living crisis is one that requires a system-wide response and the style of partnership working we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. The work we’ve done in developing this campaign demonstrates the strength of cross-sector working that reflects the ambitions of integrated care systems and, as shown locally, place-based partnerships.
I want to thank all partners for their ongoing support and commitment, I’d also like to take this opportunity to say a thank you to members of our team who have demonstrated the can do attitude that has resulted in one of our best received resources across the Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership.”
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