Conducting Research on the Care Leavers Project for Digital By Default

dbd-research (1)This week saw the start of the research element of the Care Leavers Project as part of the Digital by Default programme. This project is looking at how we currently provide support services to Care Leavers, and how we might use digital technologies to improve outcomes for Care Leavers. Over the next three weeks, members of the project team will be spending time with care leavers who have agreed to talk to us and allow us to gather our “user needs”. We are spending approximately 6 hours with each care leaver, seeing how they go about their daily lives, and asking questions about the Care Leavers Service. We want to understand how activities, technology and appropriate support and services can improve future outcomes for Care Leavers.

The first visit took place on Tuesday, with one of the project team from the Observatory spending the day with a care leaver who is a young mother. She used to live with a foster carer in Warwickshire, but now living independantly in a city centre. The day was spent both at their home and shopping with the children, her friend and boyfriend. During this time many questions were asked about how and why she does things, her experience of life and the care services and various topics were covered such as communication, aspirations and attitudes. As you can imagine, spending the day with a young person is a daunting task, especially living in a social deprived area, when it is at times surrounded by gangs.

“The experience was extremely rewarding – yes the area was everything that you would expect but I felt fully protected by the people that I was with when shown around the local area. The care leaver spent the day answering my questions, taking me through a typical day that she would experience, taking me shopping to her local supermarkets (alongside her friend and baby).

I noticed a few interesting things throughout my time with them:

– the planning around shopping at a number of different supermarkets in order to get items at the lowest prices e.g. Aldi for nappies, main shop at Tesco (for value products primarily), Iceland for all frozen food. But no fruit or vegetables! All food was convenience food and easy to cook e.g. beans, pizzas, instant noodles.

– Using top ups to manage her mobile phone – only spending £10 per month getting unlimited internet but typically running out of text messages. She hadn’t purchased her phone from a typical provider but from Cash Generator and her friend agreed this was the cheapest way to get a phone.

– Buying the majority of clothes and some household items from ebay and Gumtree – sometimes getting items for free if they would collect. All of the clothes for the children they buy in bundles on these websites for very small amounts of money.

– Attitudes towards others were very broad e.g. “social workers are all the same”. She had branded everyone with one view based upon experiences with just a couple of people. She had a very similar view towards her neighbours and local people.

– Ability to manage money – as money is tight every penny counts!

– A desperate need to not repeat the life she had for her children. She was trying to seek advice on how to get out to work and have a career that she wanted but felt she was not getting the support to do this.”


The entire experience has been fascinating and a real eye opener for the project team. Pre-conceptions that the team had before they conducted the research are being challenged by many of the people that they are meeting. It is already proving to be a very valuable method of conducting research and engaging with young people that access our services. It has already highlighted ways and methods that we can engage better with care leavers and will ultimately help identify ways that we can help them access services in the future.
This is the first post of many by the project team but hopefully it gives an insight into the very useful research that we are conducting.

Have your say on New Electoral Division Boundaries across Warwickshire

LGBCEThe independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people for their help to draw up a new pattern of electoral divisions for Warwickshire County Council.

The consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will re-draw division boundaries across the whole county.

The Commission has also announced that it is minded to recommend that the county council should have 57 county councillors in the future, five fewer than the current arrangements.

The Commission now needs information from people and groups across Warwickshire to help it to produce a new pattern of electoral divisions to accommodate 57 county councillors.

In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each county councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council divisions reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Warwickshire.

Max Caller, Chair of the Commission, said:

“We are asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new electoral divisions for Warwickshire. As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters.

If you have a view about which communities, parishes or neighbourhoods should be part of the same county division, then we want to hear from you. And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part of Warwickshire, then this consultation is for you. Alternatively, if you’re simply interested in the way the county is run, just log on to our website to explore our interactive maps and have your say.

Your views will make a difference.

We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole of Warwickshire or just a small part of the county.

Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in September.”

Warwickshire County Council has agreed its set of proposals for consideration by the Commission. Councillor June Tandy, Chair of the Warwickshire Working Group said after the proposals were debated at a meeting of the County Council last Thursday:

“I’m pleased that full council supported changes to the boundary proposals.  They make absolute sense and we hope that the Boundary Commission will recognise the decisions made at the meeting when they consider the boundaries.”

Local people have until 23 June 2014 to submit their views.

The Commission will then publish its draft recommendations in September 2014 and open a further phase of consultation with local people. New divisions are scheduled to come into effect at the 2017 county elections.

Further information on the review and interactive maps of the existing boundaries can be found at and

You can have your say on the new arrangements by writing to:

The Review Officer (Warwickshire)
Layden House
76-86 Turnmill Street


Follow the Commission on Twitter: @LGBCE

Go directly to the Commission’s consultation portal at:

Note: The electoral review will only consider the electoral division boundaries of Warwickshire County Council. It will not make any changes to district council wards or the external boundaries of districts in the county or the boundaries of the county itself.

Crime, Recovery and Treatment

It has been suggested that drug users are more likely than non-users to commit criminal offences.

Research studies have found that acquisitive crime such as stealing is commonly linked to offenders of these crime types testing positive for drug use. Treatment for drug using offenders has been measured using a Value For Money (VFM) tool, which demonstrates that crime falls and health improves when people are in drug treatment.

A report has been produced, focusing on drug related criminal activities across Warwickshire for 2012/13. A link to this report can be found below.

Crime, Recovery & Treatment in Warwickshire 2012-13

“Living in Warwickshire” survey: First results now available…

Health and Wellbeing Board

Warwickshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board agreed to sponsor a large scale survey of local people which focussed on issues around ‘Living in Warwickshire’, including health and lifestyle issues.

25,000 surveys were sent out and 7,617 completed surveys were returned, which was over 50% higher than our target response rate.

Warwickshire mapSome of the key headline results are as follows:

  • 6% of respondents self-reported that their general health was either poor or very poor.  This is in line with figures from the 2011 Census.  However, only 28% of stated that their health was very good, in contrast to the equivalent figure of 47% from the Census results.
  • Nearly half of people have an alcoholic drink once a week or more, whilst just over 15% are abstainers. Just over one in ten respondents would like to cut down on their current level of drinking.
  • Nearly half of all respondents were either fairly or…

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2013 Annual Pupil Survey

Report Front Cover

The Warwickshire Observatory have been working with the Business Intelligence (Children’s) Team in the People Group over the last five months on the latest Annual Pupil Survey (APS). Previously known as the Every Child Matters (ECM) Survey, the consultation is open to all schools and Colleges in Warwickshire.

Over 5,500 young people responded to the questionnaire this year, representing 43 different schools and colleges across the county. The questionnaire covers a wide range of issues including pupils’ happiness, safety, physical activity, awareness of different issues and accessing help and information.

A copy of the report summarising the key findings from the survey can be accessed by clicking here.

If you have any questions about the project, or would like any further information, please contact us by e-mailing

Online consultation and engagement tool – Ask Warwickshire

Ask Warwickshire LogoWe appreciate the need to engage and consult with our residents in new ways.  Social media has provided a much broader range of opportunities for people to get involved in local democracy, and the Ask Warwickshire project is designed to help raise awareness of the many ways that residents can now share their views on subjects affecting the county.

Ask Warwickshire is not about discarding traditional approaches to consultation, such as paper-based surveys.  Our aim is to complement these methods with new and increasingly interactive approaches.  We want to provide the opportunity for residents to share their views on a range of topics in a more dynamic, informal way.

We want to generate more timely conversations on topics that are of interest, so that we can develop a better understanding of our communities’ views and perceptions. Ultimately, we want to provide the opportunity for all residents to get involved using the methods they prefer to use, rather than the methods they may have been limited to in the past.

Please visit the site and let us know your views on the conversations going on across Warwickshire.

Quality of Life in Warwickshire 2012/13 Annual Report Published…..

Today Warwickshire Observatory publishes the annual Quality of Life report which provides a detailed look at the people, places and communities in our county. The report is an assessment of the demographic, social, economic and environmental themes that all play a part in influencing our residents’ quality of life.  Some of the issues are easier to influence than others, but the purpose of the report is to provide decision makers with the analysis they need to make more informed choices, and to give all staff in the council a better understanding of the communities that we serve in Warwickshire.

We are always looking at ways to improve the Quality of Life Report and the main innovation this year has been to provide a tool to view and analyse many of the datasets included in the report at a very local level. Throughout the report, you will see the ‘Interactive Map’ icon,  which allows you to examine local data on particular themes through our Instant Atlas tool. This feature also allows downloading of the raw data for each indicator so that you can carry out your own analysis, should you wish to.

This year we have seen some interesting changes, for example where trends may now have reached a turning point and are starting to shift, and where there is little evidence to suggest that inequalities are shrinking.

To find out more please click on the link below to be taken to the report.

2012-13 Quality of Life Report

Any feedback you have can be made through the comments section of our Blog or via Twitter (@WarksObs).