Community Development Report Of Bolton County Cultural Studies Essay

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The Community Report and profile given here is that of Bolton County in Lancashire within the postcode of BL3. The community statistics have been obtained from National Statistics Office and the profile drawn is that of Bolton that is marked as region 026D on the map. The Bolton neighbourhood has 1,570 residents and Bolton local authority has 262,300 residents (2007 estimates, Census, NSO 2009). The population statistics with male and female count according to latest reports show that the male members of the community are lower at 742 with higher number of females within the neighbourhood.

Age:

Considering the community profile the percentage of people in each age band in the neighbourhood is highest for the elderly as individuals above 65 years of age are the most common residents in the neighbourhood with 24% of individuals above 65 years of age followed by children below the age of 15 years who comprise of 21% of the population. Nearly 20% of the population is middle aged above 45 years and below 65 years (NSO, 2009). The high number of elderly residents also reflects on the social attitudes and such a society is more likely to be religious, conservative and traditional. The demographics of the population is given in a graph below which shows that Bolton is primarily an elderly community that in turn reflects on the work culture, employment rates and benefits claims which are discussed later in this report.

Apart from Age, race and health, housing, environment and long term illnesses, this report also focuses on employment and labour, benefits claim, crime rates and the physical environment including availability of greenery and greenspace. Population data shows mainly a white Christian predominant population and this would mean that the community may have closed attitudes towards social inclusion of other groups and races and prejudice could be very high.

Percentage of people in each age band in your neighbourhood, mid-2007

Graph from Office of National Statistics, 2009

Race:

The white population in Bolton is slightly lower than the white population in the whole of England with higher population of Asia and Asian British communities in Bolton area. In fact 87.5% individuals are White as compared with 88.2% white population in England. The minority mixed group as well as Blacks and Chinese or other race are very few in number. This would probably require more cosmopolitan emphasis and more non white individuals could be encouraged to reside in Bolton and a social inclusion programme could be implemented to increase the cosmopolitan population of the community.

The Christian community is very strong in Bolton with 78% Christians in the neighbourhood alone and 74.6% Christians in Bolton. Muslim population is higher than the national average at 7.1% and 10.8% indicated that they had no religion (NSO, 2009).

The Life expectancy of males at birth are lower than national average at 75.5% and life expectancy at birth for females is at 79.9%, again lower than that of England which is at 82%. Conception of women below the age of 17 per thousand is 47.2 and higher than the national average of 41.7 which suggests that teenage conception and pregnancy could be one of the serious health issues for the county. Infant mortality or death of infants under the age of 1 is 6.2 per 1000 in Bolton compared with the National average of 5.1 deaths per thousand children.

General health

By general health the people were asked whether they suffered from limiting illnesses or had health problems or disabilities that would restrict daily activities or work. The individuals when asked to rate their health as good, fair or not good, indicated the following results. The table shows that with the BL3 neighbourhood community, health conditions are drastically poor when compared with the national and 54.5% claimed to have good health when the national average is at 68.8% (NSO, 2009). Fair is also higher at 27.4% for individuals within the neighbourhood although the Bolton council and national average results on fair health were the same at 22.2% individuals indicating that they have fair health. As high as 18.2% of individuals in the neighbourhood has indicated a condition of poor or deteriorating health and this is double the national average as seen in the table. This table is significant and suggests that the community health profile is rather weak and the community suffers from poorer health facilities or treatment and diagnosis so the general perception on health condition is rather poor and more negative than present in other counties. The table is given below:

People's health and health perceptions have a close relation with long term illnesses with very high proportions of limiting long term illness at 33.1%. As indicated by individuals in the neighbourhood and this is significantly high or nearly double when England's long term illness percentages are considered at 17.9%. This is also true for working age adults with long term illness at 26.8% (NSO, 2009). The statistics show the growing health concern in the region with long term and debilitating illnesses being significantly higher than in other counties. Poor health of community members in general and presence of long term illness in the working adult especially adversely affects the work culture, productivity, and the availability of labour that in turn may be having an impact on the economy as they also associated with employment rates.

The employment rates and labour markets are understood through the economic activity rates, through employment and unemployment rates and the economic activity and employment and unemployment rates of Bolton are almost close to England's rates although may be slightly lower, yet the labour and economic issues are clearly not major concerns as much as health and long term illness is. However as seen from the chart, the percentage of jobseeker allowance is higher than the national average at 6% for the neighbourhood although for England it is at 2%. Working age benefits are at a very high 35% with incapacity benefits at 21% and both these figures are way above the national average which is 14% and 7% respectively (NSO, 2009). This table would suggest how long term illness among working adults being very high in Bolton has pressurized the benefits system with 35% seeking working age benefits and 21% seeking incapacity benefits (NSO, 2009). Although unemployment rates are not significantly high, the benefits claim being very high seems to indicate a problem with the economy and the employment system or the availability of appropriate jobs in the community. It is important to recognize this gap between employment rates and benefits and it is also important to determine how long term illnesses of working age adults are creating pressure on the employment system.

The occupational data for people in employment show that skilled trades occupation and elementary occupation are highest in the neighbourhood and higher than the national average. However professional occupations and manager and senior level officials are lower in number when compared to the rest of England suggesting that high level skills maybe absent in the community indicating the need for better opportunities for residents and young people to enhance their professional skills and managerial level experiences.

The table above shows that the dwellings of Bolton tend to follow the basic standards for a Decent Home as when England's percentage of buildings below decent home standard is 26.2%, in Bolton all homes maintain a basic standard of dwelling. The Bolton homes also have a 57% energy efficiency rating. As far as recorded crime rates are concerned, violence against a person within a year was at 3,985 with wounded count at 1,778. Theft from motor vehicles was high at 3,220 and burglary in a dwelling was at 2,143. Burglary from places other than dwellings was at 1,830 and criminal damages were at a high of 5,941 (NSO, 2009). The table of recorded crimes shows that crime rates are phenomenally high in Bolton with criminal damage through arson and violence against person incidences very high and theft from a motor vehicle and burglary in or outside a dwelling also high.

The physical environment is based on land already used for developments and domestic buildings comprise of 10.7% of the physical environment and non domestic buildings are 3.3%. However domestic gardens in the community neighbourhood are much higher in proportion than the national average at above 30% compared with the 4.3% in England and 14.1% in Bolton. However Greenspace is significantly low in the neighbourhood with 33.4% of Greenspace compared with 63.3% of Greenspace in Bolton and 87.5% in England. This suggests that Greenspace and greenery will have to be increased in the neighbourhood and also in Bolton and as domestic gardens are found in high percentage, it may be possible to increase public greenery or public gardens and parks in Bolton and the neighbourhood. It is important to increase the area of Greenspace in both the community neighbourhoods where Greenspace is significantly low and in Bolton county itself. However the physical environment along with road facilities is quite adequate and transport links are very superior in the Bolton area.

However land available for development figures show that whereas 62,130 hectares of land are available throughout England, 22 hectares of land are available for use in Bolton.

NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY

Bradshaw's four types of basic needs of a community and Maslow's theory of needs hierarchy could provide the theoretical framework for needs issues within a community and the data obtained could be interpreted in accordance with these needs. Bradshaw provided a constrained concept of need and suggested that needs could be defined within sociological contexts and could thus be normative that are specified by professionals as in case of medicine or treatment in healthcare. Needs could relate to desires or wishes as in felt needs, expressed needs are more vocalized on how people use services (Bradshaw, 1972) and comparative needs show how needs arising in one situation could have similarities with people living in another socio-demographic region with different set of characteristics (Bradshaw, 1994).

In the context of Bolton, some of the needs of the community could be better health care facilities, more provisions to take up managerial and professional jobs and high employment rates and low crime rates. In fact unemployed youth add to crime rates within a community and thus felt needs of people in controlling crime would be most significant along with the comparative needs of better employment opportunities and more managerial level jobs that could enhance the socioeconomic level of the community. Maslow's theory of hierarchy of needs suggest that individuals are first concerned about safety, security followed by love, power, social status and finally need to follow self actualization (Maslow, 1954). Health needs in this case could be considered as basic safety and security needs and should be of primary concern to any government.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, several issues could be highlighted here and the community report file shows that health facilities and treatment are one of the most significant needs of the community that would go a long way in curbing long term illness in the community and this would be followed by improving the employment rate and controlling crime within the county.

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