Tackling Oxford’s social divide: lessons from the lockdown
We shone a light on the work done by community organisations who mobilised behind support efforts during the first coronavirus lockdown (March 23 to June 1 2020) only to find themselves face to face with the daily realities of those who, even in normal times, struggle to get by. We explored the advantages of community action in supporting families with specific issues that holding them back. And we reported on calls for this sort of community action to get much greater support and recognition as part of efforts to ending the cycle of deprivation that blights communities in Oxford and elsewhere.
The story was funded by a grant from the European Journalism Centre and is published on our home page. The story was published by Byline Times. A more local version was published by the Oxford Mail, which reported on how already high rates of poverty have shot up during the pandemic, and heard from a range of voluntary and community groups who stepped up to offer support.
The deadly poverty in one of Britain’s richest cities
We revealed the shocking disparity in life expectancy between the rich and
the poor in Oxford.
There were a number of outcomes, as a direct result of our story:
- A community event, organised by us together with the hyperlocal Leys News, was attended by NHS Trust governors, county and district councillors, community workers and local residents. It facilitated a productive discussion around who needs to do what to help tackle health inequality in the community. It highlighted in particular the importance of local economic strategies and the role of the Local Enterprise Partnership.
- Our story led to social media posts from local MP for Oxford East, Anneliese Dodds. Ms Dodds wrote a letter to her constituents about it and raised some of the issues in the House of Commons.
- Our investigation was picked up by London-based radio station LBC, who invited us on air to talk about the issues raised.
- Residents from the most affluent ward in Oxford set up a group to help those living in the least affluent ward, as a direct result of reading our story. They raised £550 for the children’s group we mentioned in our story, which was threatened with closure.
- This impact is ongoing, as these residents plan to organise a community meeting, to see how they can continue to work together, once the Covid-19 lock-down is over.
- In December 2019 we followed up on our story with an interview with the head of the Department of Public Health for Oxfordshire, asking about strategies for closing the gap in life expectancy.
- Health campaigners in Oxfordshire are calling for public health considerations to be a stronger factor in developing local economic strategies.
- In February 2020, as guest lecturers, we talked to journalism students at Oxford Brookes University about our investigation, the importance of data journalism and our collaboration with the local community, hyper-local community publication Leys News, regional newspaper The Oxford Mail and Bureau Local.