This event aimed to address the pressing need for a deeper understanding of the complex challenges facing coastal communities in England.
Recent evidence reveals alarming patterns of deprivation in these regions, including high unemployment rates, low incomes, seasonal job markets, inadequate education outcomes, and issues such as unaffordable housing and hidden homelessness. Moreover, there are concerning trends in mental health and public health outcomes.
However, addressing these disparities is hindered by several factors:
- Lack of specificity: Coastal areas vary greatly, yet current categorisations fail to distinguish between thriving coastal towns and struggling ones.
- An absence of policy focus: Existing geographies do not provide policy-relevant data solely for coastal populations.
- Insufficient granularity: Current classifications do not adequately differentiate coastal communities from others.
To develop effective policies for these diverse coastal communities, we must first understand their unique characteristics and challenges.
This event fostered a debate among key coastal stakeholders to explore the potential benefits of creating a coastal classification system. The discussion revolved around the data needs of coastal stakeholders, how best to define coastal communities and capture disparities in coastal health outcomes, and the cultural and historical aspects and attributes considered unique to coastal areas. By delving into these issues, we intended to inform the design of an outward facing, user friendly coastal classification linked to spatial data that will inform evidence-based policy interventions aimed at addressing the health inequalities faced by English coastal communities.
The event was aimed at local authorities and the voluntary, care and social enterprise sector, particularly NHS managers of health inequalities and non-clinical service providers.