Vibrant and healthy communities
Thriving communities outcome: Vibrant and healthy communities with inclusive, leisure, heritage and culture
A safe night out in Chester
Chester was awarded Purple Flag status in February, recognising the city as a place that offers an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out. The Council worked collaboratively with partners, CH1ChesterBID (Chester’s Business Improvement District), Cheshire Police, Chester Pubwatch, the University of Chester and several third sector groups to achieve the award.
The Drink Less Enjoy More campaign is also helping people enjoy Chester. The campaign, which originated in Liverpool, started in October 2017. It aims to reduce anti-social behaviour linked to excessive alcohol consumption, making a safer city for residents and visitors.
Natural Health Service
We have invested £427,700 from 2016-20 to get more than 3,000 residents active and looking after their mental health. Mersey Forest is working with our Public Health and Total Environment teams, Active Cheshire, local schools and other community organisations to reduce health inequalities and help residents make the most of the wonderful greenspaces in the borough.
Mersey Forest has developed the Natural Health Service, where participants can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including health walks, a forest school, horticulture therapy, practical conservation and mindfulness. The sessions take place in carefully-chosen green spaces close to where statistics show there are health inequalities. Following a survey of participants over 12 weeks, results to date show significant improvements in their health: a 83 per cent increase in walking and a 12 per cent increase in wellbeing.
Last autumn and winter a robust flu vaccination campaign was carried out to protect the most vulnerable residents in the borough. We worked with local clinical commissioning groups to raise awareness of the importance of getting the flu vaccination. There was a three per cent increase in uptake in those over 65, and a 2.5 per cent increase in pregnant women choosing to receive the vaccine.
Celebrating our thriving libraries
We saw nearly two million visitors to our libraries in 2017-18, an increase of more than 550,000 people over the year before. This has been boosted by the opening of the library at Storyhouse in Chester. There have also been two per cent more books borrowed and a six per cent increase in new members across the borough. Our libraries have created programmes of regular and special events, developed volunteer opportunities for people looking to get back into work, and promoted community cohesion with vibrant and diverse cultural events, such as Fun Palaces in October 2017, a national celebration of community.
- Summer Reading Challenge – A total of 5,204 children took part in 2017, which was an increase of three per cent compared to 2016. Themed events in libraries attracted 5,000 children and their families, supported by 45 young volunteers aged between12 and 24 who contributed almost 600 hours of their time.
Equality and diversity
We supported or funded events and activities in 2017-18 to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion across the Council and within the community.
- Age UK and Silver Rainbows – improving access to services for older LGBT people
- Diwali – the Indian festival of lights
- Chester Pride
- Chinese New Year
- Gypsies and Travellers – drop in and outreach advice service
- Holocaust Memorial Day
- Interfaith Week
- International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
- International Women’s Day
- Proud Trust – workshops to promote diversity and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia across our borough
- Remembering Srebrenica
- Unity Centre Open Day for Black History Month
Welcoming refugee families
We have welcomed 13 Syrian refugee families to the borough as part of a Government programme. These families are being supported by Council services in partnership with public and voluntary organisations. Eighty per cent of the families settled so far said their health has improved either a little or a lot since they arrived and all of the adults agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well together in the area where they live. Seven more families are expected to arrive in 2019.
Chester History and Heritage
Chester’s History and Heritage service moved from St Michaels Church in Bridge Street to the Grosvenor Museum at the beginning of 2018. This service helps bring the city’s history to life and supports activities such as opening Chester Castle with summer events programme, opening buildings across the borough for Heritage Open Days (in association with Chester Civic Trust), and delivering arts and history events on the Chester Rows.
Leading by example
We are committed to ensuring that equality, diversity and inclusion is a part of our internal culture, not just out in the community.
- We received the Disability Confident Employer Award in January 2018, which demonstrates our commitment to providing opportunities for disabled people to work within the Council. In January 2018, Stonewall, a national equality organisation, named us in its top 100 LGBT-friendly organisations for the second year (out of over 400 submissions).
- Hundreds of Council staff attended half-day equality and diversity workshops in 2017-18, delivered by volunteer colleagues.
- We sponsor and support Chester Pride every year. In 2017 we had nearly 80 people participate in the parade, and we hope to see even more staff in 2018. Many Council teams also represented us at the health, wellbeing and lifestyle zone, including Fostering and Adoption, Libraries and Childrens services.
- At the end of March 2018, we completed our first Gender Pay Gap reporting, a national requirement for employers with over 250 employees. Our positive results showed an overall gender pay gap of less than two per cent, compared to 12 per cent nationally. This demonstrates all the work that has been done over the years, including recruitment strategies and our approach to getting women into leadership.
In March 2018, over 200 volunteers who support people were thanked at the Love to Give event at Chester Racecourse. The event also provided opportunities to learn about other volunteering roles. It was organised and hosted by a partnership group, including the Council, Chester Voluntary Action, Brightlife and Vivo Care Choices.
The Youth Senate took part in the Make Your Mark UK Youth Parliament in autumn 2017, working in partnership with the British Youth Council to encourage young people aged 11 to 18 to take part in a national ballot on young people’s issues. Over 7,000 young people voted, the largest turn out in west Cheshire history. The top issues for our area were mental health, transportation and curriculum to prepare young people for life. Our Youth service is working to enable young people to address these challenges.
Brio Leisure is a community interest company that is wholly-owned by the Council. We have contracted Brio to manage and operate our leisure centres and entertainment spaces until 2030. We believe that Brio made a major impact on the physical activity, health and wellbeing of residents in 2017-18.
- Over 2.4 million visits to leisure centres
- Over 169,000 visits to entertainment and civic hall events
- 23,000 active memberships
- The £2.5 million refurbishment of Neston Recreation Centre that will open in April 2018 on budget and on time – this investment will significantly improve the facilities available in the area
Brio also supported more than 3,600 people at Cheshire Change Hub, including more than 61 per cent of customers losing their five per cent weight target. Overall, Brio focuses on aligning its services to support the Council to achieve its priorities, including health improvement, mental health and Starting Well.