An NHS in crisis?

Austerity has meant that poor people have suffered the most since 2010. They not only die, if they are men, 10 years sooner than the rich, but they can expect to become disabled two decades earlier. The geographer Frances Darlington-Pollock, in her book Disease, released last November to mark the 80th anniversary of Sir William Beveridge’s radical blueprint for the welfare state, writes that by 2021, life expectancy had fallen for the first time in 40 years, by an average of 1.3 years for men and 0.9 years for women; and those living in the poorest areas had suffered the greatest loss. It is a political choice, she says, to not properly fund the health and social care system.

The Guardian View on Prime Ministers NHS Problem: Editorial, 3rd January 2023

This is not the first winter we have seen headlines aghast at wait times or worrying over respiratory conditions, but the cumulative impact of year-on-year of questionable politicking and mismanaged or misguided reform is taking its toll. 

A global pandemic teetering, it seems, on the edge of resurfacing has not been enough to force political action on a crisis-ridden health service. Headlines abound with cries of soaring demand, rising flu and COVID, a collapsing workforce, and unfathomable wait times whether for an ambulance or an operation. 

This may not be the first winter we have seen headlines aghast at wait times or worrying over respiratory conditions, but the cumulative impact of year-on-year of questionable politicking, of mismanaged or misguided reform, and of disinvestment in training, is taking its toll. Add into the mix austerity, COVID, and a cost of living scandal and the consequences may well be catastrophic. 

Yet too much of public outrage is directed at the Doctor, the Nurse, or the Paramedic balloting to strike. Too little is unleashed on the political machinery that is letting this happen. It is a political choice to not properly fund our NHS. More importantly, it is a political choice not to properly fund our social care system

We do not value those who care for us, whether the porter, the care worker, or the paramedic. The consequences of underfunding health and social care, while also undervaluing key occupations within it, are severe. Not only does it limit individual ability to provide high-quality care, it undermines public confidence and trust in a system where people who are at the limits of their capacity to cope become the focal point for public anger. 

We misdirect frustration and demands for action when we only condemn a failing NHS hospital or struggling care home. Yes, urgently address failings in any care provider, but this is a symptom of the root problem: chronic underfunding, mismanagement and politicking seeking to jettison responsibility for health and social care. 

In 1942, Sir William Beveridge outlined a system of social security for the British population, introducing the National Health Service we now see in crisis. The basic tenet of his vision was premised on a biomedical model of health favouring the silver bullet of medical and, increasingly, pharmaceutical intervention. 

The goal? To return a body in the deviant state of ‘ill-health’ or ‘dis-ease’ to wellness, to ensure that all men are able to continue contributing to a prosperous and growing economy. This did not leave space for the wider provision of social care needed to maintain health and wellbeing. Today, those care needs are more complex than ever and yet there still seems no space for a uniting of the provision of health and social care. 

We live in a society where our health and our life expectancy are shaped by where we are born, where we live, where we work, play or school. For those who may live a life of relative disadvantage,  the cumulative affect in older age can be significant. We do not, however, account for that in our system of care.

Pushing responsibility for care into the realms of our private lives feeds inequality. The health of people with caring responsibilities suffers, and the degree of care for people in need varies according to their and their family members’ time, resources and flexibility to manage  are provision alongside their own lives. We can fix an NHS in crisis, but not just by analysing wait times and worrying about flu or COVID (all of which are needed). Integrate and properly fund our health and social care system, building outwards from the individual and the social networks that sustain them. View individuals as more than a vehicle for economic output, and see populations and resources as more than components on a budget sheet.

Arguments extracted from my new book, Disease.


We need more than patchy reform

We need more than patchy reform
New book: Available to buy Agenda Publishing

“There is mould and damp in all of the rooms and the window panes are rotting. In the kitchen, the rot has caused the glass pane to fall out, meaning the cold air seeps in”. This is quite the Dickensian image of poverty, squalor, and decrepit housing. It is in fact line three of an article published in The Guardian, Wednesday 19thOctober 2022. 

It should be impossible to imagine, in a society once lauded for the depth and breadth of its welfare provision, for such conditions – or versions of them – to not only exist but to be increasingly widespread. And yet, the combination of a decade of government austerity, the ravages of a global pandemic, and the uncertainty of an exit from the European Union means this is the reality for too many of the British population. 

80 years ago, Sir William Beveridge delivered a report to parliament signalling the birth of a welfare state premised on tackling the ills of society blocking its journey to growth and prosperity in the aftermath of war. Those ills were characterised as five giants: want, squalor, idleness, ignorance and disease. In tackling those five giants, Beveridge’s vision weaved a safety net below the population, from cradle to grave. It looked to safeguard against poverty, improve housing, secure employment, educate, and treat and prevent ill-health. 

It was not without its flaws. It was patriarchal, ableist and nationalist, framing men as the breadwinners of society and women as it’s mothers. Receipt of the many benefits the welfare state afforded was tied to citizenship and continued input into that system. Ill-health was treated, but the deviant state of ill-health was always expected to be temporary. 

Nevertheless, it was radical. The reforms it ushered in have had no small role to play in a lot of the subsequent development and growth of the British society and its economy. One of the flagships of this vision of welfare was our National Health Service, a healthcare system that really has been, at times, the envy of the world. 

But the system Beveridge designed and his attack on those five giants of want, squalor, ignorance, idleness and disease has run its course. Those giants are both more monstrous and in fact, less constrained. Despite the many benefits the implementation of Beveridge’s vision has heralded – and his attack on ‘Disease’ is an excellent example – the politics of today are now not only actively dismantling the essence of the welfare state he created, but significantly contributing to the burden of those who depend on it.

Meaningful welfare provision was, for Beveridge and those who enacted his vision, perhaps little more than a means to an end, the route to economic prosperity and growth. However, the intervening years – particularly those of the last decade or so – should show us with startling clarity the extent to which prioritising growth over people is not only catastrophic for that growth, but the people it should benefit. 

As we edge closer to the anniversary of Sir William Beveridge’s landmark report, a reassessment of where we stand in the fight against those giants he once sought to slay is urgently needed. But now, let’s frame that reassessment in different terms. Let us centre that assessment on the people and the planet that constitute any growth or progress, let care of them be the goal and not the means. Let’s have more than patchy reform, but let’s do it in a truly revolutionary way. 

Giants: A New Beveridge Report – published Thursday 20th October 2022

Disease – Fran Darlington-Pollock

Want – Helen Barnard

Idleness – Katy Jones and Aswin Kumar

Ignorance – Sally Tomlinson

Squalor – Daniel Renwick and Robbie Shilliam

Catastrophising climate change?

The British are famous for their tendency to talk about the weather – more than nine in 10 Brits have talked about the weather in the last six hours’, reported the BBC back in 2015.[1] In fact, we will spend more than four months of our lives talking about the weather, said The Independent in 2018.[2] What a boost the recent heatwave must have given to those four months… Weather is front and centre to the national art of small talk, but it is time to elevate it to big talk.

Photo by Maxim Tajer on Unsplash

2022 should now be the pivot point too many have missed. Not only did we see the UK’s warmest New Year’s Day on record (a balmy 16.3°C reached in St James’s Park, Central London), we also saw the hottest day ever recorded (a not so balmy 40.3°C in Coningsby, eastern England). Mild winters and searing summers are not to be celebrated in what is typically considered a temperate climate. 

As the mercury rose, Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, encouraged us to “enjoy the sunshine” while the Daily Mail mocked the school closures and transport disruption of ‘snowflake Britain’. Meteorologists warning of the deadly impact and unprecedented nature of the startling new temperatures were condemned as ‘harbingers of doom’ and useless comparisons between our melting infrastructure and that of our typically hotter global neighbours abounded. 

Though the tide did somewhat turn as major incident after major incident was declared across the country, with video footage of smoking, destroyed houses from Doncaster to London going viral, big talk is lacking. Nowhere more visibly, perhaps, than the ongoing debates between the Tory MPs currently vying for the top spot. 

Beyond the party political sphere, there are more definite signs of engagement in the need – or otherwise – for climate action and climate policy, but whether this is better than small talk of weather is questionable. For example… 

This is quite the tweet, shared on a platform of more than 100k followers. There is a lot to unpack here. But let’s put aside the history and geography lesson perhaps needed, and focus on the juxtaposition of ‘catastrophising’ climate change and that being a justification for widening inequality. 

By 2050, the World Health Organisation suggests that climate change will be responsible for an additional 250,000 deaths per year.[3] In the UK alone, the number of excess heat-related deaths is expected to triple.[4]Older people and young infants are more at risk, but that risk is not uniform. The further up the social and economic hierarchy we sit, the better our chances of good health outcomes. Your ability to keep cool owes much to the sort of house that you live in which in turn owes much to what you earn, where you work, and before that, where you schooled and ultimately, the circumstances of your birth.

We should not catastrophise climate change, it would be wrong to blow something so serious wildly out of proportion with reality. But we should take it seriously, even when doing so raises the spectre of a catastrophe. 

“To usher in a new way of living, the core dynamic of ever greater production and consumption of goods and resources must be broken, coupled with a societal focus on repairing the environmental damage of the past.”[5]

Maslin and Lewis, 2022: 99

Any narrative designed to make the poor poorer and the rich more powerful should be an anathema to us all. Proper regard to the devastation of climate change is not that. Neglect of what is now needed to adapt, mitigate and survive in the face of climate change, however, is. 

The arrival of both the warmest New Year’s Day on record, and the hottest day ever on record, demand that we usher in a new way of living, recognising that lower carbon emissions than the 1800s are not the be all and end all of our future sustainability. A political consensus is needed that is not tied to the right or the left. 

Professor Kate Raworth’s (2017) ‘donut economics’[6] is but one incredibly viable way to do just that, captured within the wider ethos of a care economy placing people and the planet at the centre of economic thinking. We are more than our economic output. We are more than our contribution to GDP. And the planet is more than a container for our economic activity.

Let’s not catastrophise climate change, but let’s not allow it become a catastrophe. 





[5] Maslin M and Lewis SL (2022) Climate. In (eds) Hawkins M and Nadel J ‘How compassion can transform our politics, economy, and society’ Routledge: 99. 


When is the time to act? Now

To act or not to act, that is the question. Or at least that’s where Rachel Wright of Stanford University and Hilary Schaffer Boudet of Oregon State University began their paper when reflecting on what does, or does not, lead to social movements emerging in the context of environmental risk. They note that ‘social movement theory has rarely been tested with counterfactual cases, that is, instances in which movements do not emerge’. 

I was reminded of that when tuning into a webinar from The Oxford Institute of Ageing (@oxford_ageing) which asked ‘Do we need a Human Rights Charter for older people?’. Very much arguing in favour were the two speakers, Nena Georgantzi, Policy Coordinator on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination at Age Platform EU, and Ken Bluestone who leads Age International’s policy and influencing work in the UK and internationally. 

Speaking in the context of COVID-19 which, as I have remarked upon in a previous blog(and in which you will see more from in a forthcoming opinion piece with Town Planning Review), has illuminated openly ageist discourse in public rhetoric and policy narrative, Georgantzi and Bluestone reflected on the issue of age discrimination in society and why it is so critical that we need a charter to protect against it. 

Georgantzi condemned the existing legal frameworks and tools with which we could fight such discrimination, pointing to the very bias that exists in them in the first place. Just as media stories too readily demonise older people and population ageing as a looming crisis, so too is this rhetoric reinforced in policy documents using language of ‘frail’ and ‘elderly’ or where older people become objects of care, a burden on health and social care, the tax-payer, and the individual. Georgantzi spoke of our collective lack of consciousness on ageism, invoking the concept of hermeneutical injustice wherein the experiences of older people, and the injustices against them, are not readily understood as injustice. 

Bluestone delved further into the ways in which COVID-19 has created and contributed to the ‘othering’ of older people, and the extent to which that othering thus grants permission to treat the life of an older person as somehow less valuable, and therefore grants permission to society to treat them differently. 

We do need that Charter, that legal framework which is not built on existing bias and that creates a universal obligation to protect and value older people. 

It is here then, that I was reminded of the idea that we can rarely test social movement theory with the counterfactual, the situation in which the social movement did not occur. We can. At the moment anyway. 

Bluestone noted that there aren’t ‘enough angry older people’, a point picked upon by Professor George Leeson of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. And I echo it. We, bar any poor health or accident, will age. The very fact of the apparent crisis of an ageing population should be enough to remind us that one day we too will be the object of that fear. It is time to remember that and look to how our parents, our grandparents, ourselves may be stigmatised and agitate against it. 

But it is also time to look for more understanding. One question in the webinar was what can academics do? 

We can push forward the debate and contribute to efforts to reframe discussions of ageing from ones of crisis, to ones of opportunity that are responsive to need rather than assumptive of vulnerability. Work I am doing with colleagues in the Department of Geography and Planning (@livunigeog @livuniplanning) at University of Liverpool will help with this. 

But there will be challenges. We are developing a tool to better support policy makers in understanding what the nature of need in their local older population is, rather than those automatic assumptions of vulnerability based on counts of ‘65+’. This tool then is limited by what data are available to us that we can best capture that need, or indeed those opportunities. Yet where we are conscious of that we can still help stimulate the debate that is needed to drive forward an ageing movement, one that helps create the space for acceptance of a Charter for Older People even while striving to negate the very need for it. 

International Older People’s Day… let’s talk about challenges, opportunities and geodemographics

It’s International Older People’s Day, and I’ve been tweeting about our Nuffield Foundation funded project: Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities. As Rich Pereira, Head of the Office for National Statistics Centre for Ageing and Demography pointed out, it is certainly a day to shine a light on the contributions of older people, and their needs. So why is this important? 

The ageing of the population is all too often demonised as a looming crisis, a ticking time bomb. You only need to look to the tongue-in-cheek presentation of the work of demographers from Danny Dorling and Stuart Gietel-Basten’s (2018) opening pages to Why Demography Matters

“Demography appears to promise more bombs and explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster… the demographic future is presented like Die Hard (and its four sequels), as an endless fight against explosion after explosion…”

Dorling and Gietel-Basten (2018: 1)

Following up with the great line from Stephen Emmott’s account of population growth, 

“I think we’re fucked”

Emmott (2013)

But let us argue otherwise. Though it is, in many countries, inevitable that the population will age, if we reframe debates around not only the challenges that such an ageing will of course herald, but also the opportunities within that demographic, are we faced with a demographic dividend and not a demographic burden?

To do this, it is critical we move away from policy, public and media narrative that homogenises older people. There are some that champion this. Professor Tom Scharf frequently calls out adverts and images from news articles that perpetuate a homogenised view of frailty and suffering, particularly from those that should know better. More broadly, the current pandemic has sparked a lot of debate, particularly amongst gerontologists, as to how reframe ageing positively. Though these efforts are not new, they are perhaps gaining more traction as the ‘threat’ of an aged population becomes the reality of a shifted age-structure. So what can geographers bring to this debate, and these efforts to shift policy emphases away from vulnerability to opportunity? 

The old adage that birds of a feather flock together underpins the field of geodemographics research, research that sets out to uncover generalities of particular places or to explore the geography of particular domains of interest, such as health (see Singleton and Spielman, 2014). As Singleton and Spielman (2014) explain, geodemographic classifications organise areas into categories that share similarities across multiple socioeconomic attributes. These classifications are then a valuable resource from which a range of policy insights – such as developing interventions or targeting services – can be gleaned. The classifications equip policy-makers, planners and service providers with an understanding of the features or characteristics of local populations in the areas in which they serve. 

Such a tool, if developed to organise areas into categories according to attributes of the older people who live there, and indeed features of the local environment which are pertinent to the needs and opportunities of that older population, would then do much to shift policy emphases away from tropes of vulnerability. 

Perhaps the easiest way to evidence how such a shift would arise, let’s take an example from the current pandemic. Policy responses to COVID-19 risk deepening and entrenching social, economic and health inequalities, as well as inequities in service planning, provision, and resources. Though we have increasingly seen a turn to more localised interventions, such as the various curfews and bans on household mixing across much of the North East and North West, policies still homogenise groups generalised as at risk. Older people are a prime example of this. 

A geodemographic classification of older people would provide policy-makers with a detailed understanding of the social and spatial variation in the characteristics, behaviours and needs of their local older residents. As I argue with colleagues in a forthcoming opinion piece, this sort of sensitivity to the geography of our older population at a small area level is essential if we are to both channel resources and services to those most in need, and counter ageist narratives in policy and public debate. 

We are developing a bespoke, multidimensional classification to capture the social and spatial heterogeneity of the older population in England. Drawing on a variety of data sources, spanning the Census to more novel data sources such as Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards, this classification will be built around a number of domains including: Socio-demographic; Health; Consumption; Digital; Mobility and Accessibility; Environment. 

Once built, the resources will be freely available for anyone to download and use. Our tool will equip policy-makers, planners and service providers with the insights needed to effectively meet the needs of their local older population. It will highlight need, but also resilience, opportunity. 

If you would like to be involved in helping to ensure we develop and deliver a meaningful tool, whether you are a policy maker, a service provider, an advocate, or someone who identifies as part of that older population we want to support, get in touch

COVID’s insidious toll on society

On 31st July, I posted a piece reflecting on the toxic narrative of blame seeping through British political narrative. It is picked up and rolled out to frame discussions on how we should tackle COVID-19 and more importantly, who we should blame as it goes wrong. Now, some 6 weeks later, more and more places are entering some form of local lockdown. Bizarrely, while I am still unable to meet friends and family in my back garden yet able to socialise in an outdoor public space (no more than 6 of course), elsewhere across the North West, places with lower local infections rates have even more stringent measures imposed. 

But despite my disgust at the way in which politicians are deliberately seeking to frame events, even I am falling foul to scowling at social media posts of acquaintances and beyond quite blatantly flouting the guidance and laws I know they should be following. I simultaneously read in amazement the vitriolic comments characterising those lambasting these flouters, or the outrage from others demanding to know why they shouldn’t be allowed to meet family and friends however they please. 

It is hard not to feel anger, however you position yourself. The pain, suffering and mental anguish gripping society as we battle with rage against rule-breakers and rule-makers is growing. As a society, we are pulling further and further apart. Even the chaos of Brexit is proving less divisive than the shambles and violence of COVID. Just look at the blatant racism both in responses to a recent Daily Mail tweet over No 10 conjecture as to a Christmas reprieve of lockdown, and the possibility of that reprieve in the first place. 

And what are we doing to stop this? Either the public disintegration of societal goodwill, or the ramping up of a second wave to COVID? 

Not enough. 

We’re tiptoeing around the knife edge of economic disaster, a surge of COVID deaths, and the entrenchment of social, economic and health inequalities that is going to ruin the life chances of generations. 

Our children need to be in school. Our local businesses need to be supported. Our communities need to be united

Ineffective, conflicting and confused messages as to local lockdowns are not enough. When it’s needed, impose it. And do it decisively – how can something be so critical yet we can wait for days for it to come into force? 

But more importantly, do morethan create a set of policies that readily slide responsibility awayfrom those who have the power to do more. Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public  Health at the University of Edinburgh, is quite clear as to the importance of a functioning test-and-trace system as the only viable alternative to more restrictions and attempts to modify mass public behaviours. We should be demanding this. 

With each failure to fix our allegedly ‘world beating’ system, public trust in Government policy and ability erodes further, whether consciously or unconsciously. With each incorrectly reported statistic as to daily tests, with each inability to secure a test when needed, the despair and anger plaguing us all means we again, turn on each other, we blame those few flouters, and we roll over. 

Inequality has long been present in our society. COVID is making it worse. But it’s doing something more insidious too. We are polarising more than ever before in our thoughts and our behaviours. It is a case of ‘us’ – i.e. that small group of people that creates your social and daily lives – and ‘them’, the rest of the population. It is a suspicious, wary, concerned society. It is not one that can readily withstand and recover from the ravages of a pandemic. 

We have to stop blaming and hating each other. We have to ask more of those we put in power to lead us. We have to ask more of ourselves. 

A toxic narrative of blame

#covid19 #inequality #toxic

I and many others have woken to the frustration and disappointment of a return to a more stringent lockdown. But I know that for many in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, this is even more acute given the impact on their celebrations for Eid. 

The announcement was shambolic. MPs and local politicians variously tweeting or facebooking contradicting pieces of information with no indication that they had any idea this was coming. 

BBC North West went as far as reporting that my local Director of Public Health (DPH) had said only the day before that no significant changes were imminent. This is not the fault of our local MPs or  our DPHs who are working with whatever information they have. 

But more worrying, is the extent to which this new lockdown announcement is continuing a narrative of blame that is both toxic and irresponsible.  

Hard on the heels of a return of the ‘fat shaming’ policy approachesare repeated statements that the lockdown is because people in the affected areas are “not abiding social distancing”. 

This may be true for some. For example, in my local area, texts from GPs alerting us as to a rise in cases ‘especially amongst 17-23 year-olds’ points to a level of frustration, claustrophobia and loneliness pushing younger people outwards to seek solace with their friends. Indeed this is considered as a factor across Europe, according to Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Europe regional directorreported on BBC News today.

But other than supposition, what evidence is there to suggest that it is specifically because of these groups lack of adherence to social distancing that is the problem? 

Consider a tweet from Dominic Harrison, DPH in one of the most affected areas in England: “I do not think that there is any evidence that the northern towns now taking extra control measures are seeing rising rates because of exceptional local failures to social distance”.

Social distancing is only part of the problem. What other determinants of health matter here? 

In tackling local rises in cases, policy approaches must not focus on the individual as the primary source of either the problem or the blame. There are more than individual health-related practices at work here, and far more that the Government and its policy should be considering. 

Bambra et al. (2020) describe the devastating interaction of persisting toxic social conditions which contribute to uneven exposure to social determinants of health and unequal experience of chronic disease that has magnified the severity and impact of COVID19 in more deprived communities. They augment a framework which for any working in public health is very familiar, forcing us to continue looking upstream when we evaluate unequal health outcomes. 

It is not just individual level-health related practices (e.g. the decision or ability to effectively adhere to social distancing measures). It is not just the role of local social and community networks. It is also the interaction with uneven exposure to social determinants of health. What are your working conditions? Your housing? Do you have stable employment? Can you access services? But then look again, move further upstream. What are the political, economic and environmental conditions you live in. 

Source: See Bambra et al. 2020 

The areas affected by this new lockdown are relatively deprived. This is about social and economic vulnerability. It is about inequality. It is not about blaming individuals and their social distancing measures alone. Policies should emphasise thisGovernment statements should emphasise this

We should not blame each other. We should mobilise, and tackle the social, economic and political conditions that mean some are more vulnerable to a devasting disease while others, in their security, their stability, their position of power, can shift responsibility and instigate a toxic narrative of blame.  

Does migration, deprivation change at the area level, or social mobility influence health inequalities within the population?

Inequalities in health are well documented. But it is less clear why inequalities between people and places change over time. One mechanism that may contribute is the redistribution of differently healthy people between locations, area types or social classes. 

Though the relationship between these highly inter-dependent mobility processes, the resulting socio-spatial trajectories, and health inequalities is widely explored, conclusions vary. This, in part, is due to the different approaches employed. 

For example, modelling individual-level outcomes – a common approach – reveals the relationship between particular socio-spatial trajectories and health outcomes. Yet it does not reveal the influence on health inequalities at the population level. There may be a strong implication that differences between groups may affect either area or class relationships, but this is not specifically measured. 

A more appropriate framework of analysis must establish three key questions to determine the relationship between socio-spatial trajectories and changing health inequalities. Specifically:

  • To what extent do health gradients vary when populations are able to move between area types or social classes compared to those arising when populations are put back into their area type or social class of origin? 
  • To what extent does the health status of those entering the most and least advantaged areas, or highest and lowest social classes differ from those leaving these areas or classes?

And finally, given the inter-relationships between opportunities for migration or residential mobility and social mobility,

  • To what extent does the patterning to health by transitions into and out of differently deprived areas or social classes vary migrant status? 

Using data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study, we demonstrate three methods that collectively reveal whether and how different socio-spatial trajectories can contribute to changing health inequalities at the population level. Our framework offers insights into the nature and extent of inequalities within population, identifying mechanisms that can contribute to changing inequalities while also illustrating differences in opportunities for and nature of social or geographic mobility. 

Future work, in combination with this framework, must examine the complex interplay between people, places and politics to better unpack the injustices in uneven opportunities for social or geographic mobility, particularly where this contributes to widening health inequalities. 

To learn more, see our open access paper published by Population, Space and Place: ‘Establishing a framework of analysis for selective sorting and changing health gradients’, Frances Darlington-Pollock and Paul Norman

Looking to University this Autumn?

“Your studies may have been disrupted, but the opportunity to engage critically with geographically relevant issues has not”

I share my thoughts and some advice for all aspiring Geographers who have faced significant disruption to their studies over the past three months. Whether it is a few months or a few years before you begin your academic career, you might find this post useful!

#geographical #alevels #highereducation #tips #lecturer #studies

Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

**New Research**

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated openly ageist discourses which not only negatively impact on older people, but also highlight a frequent failure in policy approaches and public narrative. Old-age is too readily equated with dependency, frailty, and vulnerability, ignoring the diversity of experiences within the older population, both in capability and need. As the population ages, it is ever more critical that we better understand variation in characteristics, behaviours and needs within the older demographic, and challenge ageist discourses.

Funded by The Nuffield Foundation, this project will develop an open access, multidimensional classification of the older population in England at a small area level, enabling more effective service planning and policy development.

We will produce an online open access platform visualising the geodemographic classification of older people in England. This tool will classify areas according to different characteristics of the older population. It will capture information on demographics, socio-economic status, health, consumption pattern and digital use. It will also capture information on pertinent features of the local built and natural environment.

The project will produce an online open access platform visualising the geodemographic classification of older people in England, including interactive maps and pen portraits of the identified clusters.

The project will take place across three work packages: creating the geodemographic classification, ground-truthing, and applying the classification. It will provide a robust account of the social and spatial stratification in the older population nationally, and demonstrate the importance of understanding this stratification for policy. In this project, we will be working with local stakeholders including Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to showcase how the purpose built classification of older people can support policy development, service planning and retail provision to better meet the needs of our local older population. 

If you are interested in knowing more, please follow my ReseachGate page here; or contact me on