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.

Achieving Social Inclusion Across Warwick District

Achieving Social Inclusion across Warwick District

Earlier this year,  a steering group convened by Warwick District Council commissioned the Observatory to produce an index to assess the scale and distribution of social exclusion in Warwick District. This evidence base will support the District and other partner agencies in reviewing their approach to improving social inclusion.

With the need to understand the geographical spread of social exclusion issues, our analysis focuses on spatial data.  However, there was also a recognised need to understand where specific themes may require more attention than others; therefore, the analysis is based upon producing a model that describes social exclusion at a local level whilst also identifying overarching themes that require district-wide attention.

The 53 indicators used in the index were grouped into the following 7 themes:

  • Isolation
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Children and Young People
  • Income and Labour Market
  • Housing and Homes
  • Crime and Community Safety
  • Communities of Interest

The map and table below show the top ten areas that are most socially excluded across Warwick District according to this bespoke index.

Index of Social ExclusionLillington East in Crown ward is the most socially excluded area on the index. It is the worst performing area for two of the seven themes (Income and Labour Market and Children and Young People) and features in the top ten for five of the seven indicators. This area exhibits a wide range of exclusion related issues rather than a handful of problems which exist elsewhere.

Map of social exclusionOne of the benefits of producing the index at a very local level is areas are identified that may have been previously masked when looking at data at a higher level.  This is the case for the two Sydenham areas (ranked 3rd and 4th on the index) which sit within Willes ward. Sydenham North is the worst performing area in the District for two themes (Health & Wellbeing and Communities of Interest) and both areas have a diverse population in terms of the proportion of residents born abroad and ethnicity.

Half of the areas in the top 10 are in Brunswick ward. Stoneleigh is the first rural area to feature on the index as the 8th most socially excluded area in the District.

For more of the key messages and to access the report, please click on the link below:

Warwick District Social Exclusion Index Report

Warwick District Social Exclusion Index Appendices

The steering group have created a short project feedback survey for the Social Inclusion Index work.  Please could you spare a few minutes to let us have your feedback on the work and how you plan to use it by clicking on the link below:


Quality of Life in Warwickshire 2013/14 report published

Quality of Life

Today the team is publishing our annual Quality of Life in Warwickshire 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.

The need for this type of material is more important than ever, as increasingly limited resources need to be deployed in transparent, evidence-led ways. The Quality of Life in Warwickshire report continues to provide local decision makers in the public, private, and voluntary sectors with that evidence base so that improving the lives of all of Warwickshire’s residents remains our collective priority.

New in this year’s report is the inclusion of 2011 Census data across a number of the themes, resulting in several new indicators. Our 2011 Census prospectus gives further details of the team’s work in this area.

As in previous reports, we’ve started each section with a ‘data visualisation’, designed to stimulate your interest and make the statistics more engaging. We’ve also continued with the Interactive Maps in this year’s report. This provides users with a tool for viewing and analysing many of the datasets included in the report at a very local level.

To find out more please click on the link below to download the report:

Quality of Life in Warwickshire 2013/14 report (6.8 MB)

Continue reading

Mapping where English is not the main language

Inspired by work undertaken by the Washington Post, we have used 2011 Census data to explore the extent to which English is not the main language used by residents across Warwickshire. The analysis has identified some interesting geographical patterns, highlighting the diverse communities we have in parts of the county and drawing attention to certain neighbourhoods where a notable proportion of the population does not have English as its main language.

Of particular interest is the unique nature of the diversity that exists in each of our towns. We have produced maps illustrating the specific make-up of language use in each of our main centres of population, and the individual character of each profile is striking.

To set the scene, here are some headlines on the subject:

  • Across Warwickshire as a whole, nearly 23,000 residents aged 3+ do not have English as their main language (just more than 4% of the county).
  • The key languages spoken by residents whose main language is not English are Polish (5,600 residents), Panjabi (3,100), Gujarati (1,400), Portuguese (950) and Nepalese (900).
  • The percentage of residents that do not have English as their main language ranges from 0% up to 49% at Output Area level.
  • There are nearly 70 different languages used as a main language across the county.

The maps that follow identify Output Areas where at least 10% of residents state that English is not their main language. These Output Areas have then been colour coded to reflect the ‘primary non-English language’ used in that neighbourhood. This is defined where at least 25% of those residents that do not have English as their main language state a particular language as their main language (such as Polish or Panjabi). For more details on the methodology behind these maps see the notes at the foot of this article.

Let’s look at some of the detail in individual towns…


The analysis for Rugby makes it clear that the dominant non-English language here is Polish. One third of all Output Areas in the town have Polish as the primary non-English language, with these areas being concentrated in the north and west of Rugby (New Bilton / Benn / Brownsover). The only other language of note is Gujarati, which is the main non-English language spoken in four Output Areas. Click on the map to see a full screen version.


Warwick & Leamington Spa

There are three key points to draw attention to here. Firstly, we see a large number of neighbourhoods were a notable proportion of the population has Panjabi as its main language, particularly in south Leamington Spa (Sydenham and Brunswick). Secondly, there are several areas where Polish is a prominent language, particularly in the Brunswick/Old Town area. The third point, which is unique to Leamington Spa, is the fact that many of the areas where English is not the main language for at least 10% of the population do not have a ‘primary’ non-English language. These areas are denoted by the grey shading in the map and are concentrated around the town centre itself.

In these areas, the range of languages spoken is particularly diverse and no single non-English language emerges as being dominant. The 16 Output Areas coloured grey cover a population of around 4,300 residents; 13% of which do not have English as their main language. A total of 49 different languages are quoted as being the ‘main language’ used by residents in these areas, none of which are the main language for more than 1.5% of the population.



The key finding of the analysis for Nuneaton is that the neighbourhoods where at least 10% of the population does not have English as its main language are all tightly clustered around the western side of the town centre (Abbey and parts of Wem Brook). Here, the key language other than English is Gujarati.

Another interesting aspect of the data for Nuneaton is that we see a small number of neighbourhoods where Nepalese is the primary non-English language spoken. This is unique to this part of the county and is associated with the Gurkha barracks at nearby Bramcote.



The analysis for Bedworth is relatively straightforward; there are just a small number of Output Areas where more than 10% of the population does not have English as its main language. These are concentrated in the southeast of the town (Poplar) and all have Panjabi as the primary non-English language.



In Stratford-upon-Avon, we see a small number of neighbourhoods where Polish is a prominent language. These are largely clustered in the north of the town centre.


Particular neighbourhoods of interest

As mentioned earlier, nearly all of the areas where 10% or more of the population do not have English as their main language are located within our main towns. There are, however, a small number of exceptions.

One of Warwickshire’s Output Areas, on the border with Coventry, contains halls of residence for the University of Warwick. Not surprisingly, these halls contain a highly diverse range of nationalities and languages. Here, more than 34% of residents stated that English was not their main language, and more than 50 different languages were quoted as main languages.


The Sydenham estate in Leamington Spa is also particularly notable. This contains the part of the county with the highest percentage of residents stating that English is not their main language (49%). In other words, nearly half of the residents in this specific Output Area do not have English as their main language. Neighbouring Output Areas across the estate also have high levels (see map).


So what?

This is the first time this information has been available from the census. How can it be used? Well, it is important for service providers to have an understanding of their customer profile and to recognise the diversity that exists within our communities. Of particular importance is the point that the nature of this diversity varies from town to town across the county, and that the way services and agencies interact and engage with residents needs to be tailored to suit local circumstances. On a very basic level, the provision of information and services in different languages, involving the need for translation services, is clearly needed in certain localities.

What does this mean for you?

We would be interested to hear whether this analysis matches your perceptions and experiences of living and working in Warwickshire. Does it surprise you? Does it have new implications for the way you design policy and deliver services? Please let us know via the comments section at the foot of this article.

Footnote – the techie detail

The data behind this blog article was taken from Table QS204EW of the 2011 Census release. This dataset provides estimates that classify usual residents aged 3 and over by their main language. More information can be found here.

The maps are produced using Output Areas as the geographical unit. Each Output Area is roughly the same size with on average 300 persons and at least 40 households. They are the smallest geographic unit for which census outputs are published and are the building blocks that are aggregated to form all higher geographical areas for which statistics are produced. Following revisions by ONS there are now 1,819 output areas in Warwickshire.

As mentioned in the main body of the article, it is important not to interpret the figures as representing residents that do not speak any English. The statistics relate to people whose main language is not English. Nationally, around three quarters of those people that said English was not their main language went on to describe themselves as ‘proficient’ in English.

This blog article focuses on those parts of the county where we see the greatest concentrations of residents that do not have English as their main language, typically our main towns. The full analysis has covered all parts of the county and further information for other parts of the county is available upon request at

More national analysis on this topic can be found in this Office for National Statistics video.

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).

Mosaic Seminar – understanding our customers

Today we hosted a seminar for County Council colleagues on the Mosaic dataset.  Mosaic is a household classification tool, providing a detailed understanding of each resident’s demographics, lifestyle and behaviours.  It provides us with an accurate way of differentiating between different customer types, each with their own unique set of service needs and channel preferences.  We had previously posted a briefing note on Mosaic and have produced Warwickshire Mosaic profiles, and today’s session was designed to raise further awareness of the dataset and discuss how it might be applied.

For those of you unable to attend the seminar, we have attached our presentation below.  It contains the following sections:

  • What is Mosaic?
  • Tell-us-a-postcode exercise (making it real)
  • Warwickshire’s Mosaic profile
  • Applying Mosaic in Warwickshire
  • Case study: the ‘one front door’ programme

Staff then discussed some potential applications of Mosaic within their own service areas, with many good ideas emerging.

We recommend clicking on the ‘view fullscreen’ button when browsing the presentation.

We will now help colleagues across the organisation explore how they might be able to make use of Mosaic to profile customers, identify need, engage with residents using the most effective channels and target service delivery in the right places.  Please contact us at if you have any queries.

Briefing Note – Quality of Life Feedback 2011/12

We have compiled a briefing note highlighting the feedback received on the Quality of Life 2011/12 document.

The overall satisfaction of the 2011/12 report was 98%, where respondents were either very satisfied or fairly satisfied. The highest areas of satisfaction for respondents were around the design and presentation of the report (98%) and the structure (98%).

A link to the briefing note can be found below…..

Briefing Note – Quality of Life Feedback 2011-12