Furness: Opportunities and Challenges 2021

5th July 2021

A major report examining all aspects of life for people in Furness has been published last week.

‘Furness: Opportunities and Challenges 2021’ has been commissioned by the charity Cumbria Community Foundation as a guide to what needs to be done to improve lives, and how to help attract funding to the area.

More than 100 hours of research went into its production, which uncovered some startling statistics:

  • Life expectancy for a boy born in parts of High Furness is 84 while for a boy from certain wards in Barrow it is only 72.
  • 29% of people live in areas classed as among the 20% most deprived in England and 1 in 5 live alone.
  • Almost 1 in 4 adults have no qualifications

Against those stark figures, the report found many positives. People in Furness are substantially happier with their area than the national average, and that Barrow is the second most affordable place to live in Britain.

Cumbria Community Foundation Chief Executive Andy Beeforth said: “We produced a similar report for West Cumbria, which resulted in a new transformative programme being developed, funding partnerships that address family wellbeing, financial literacy and young people and enterprise.

“The report has been created with the backing of all local councils, a number of business leaders, BAE and charitable funders, and all are committed to positive change for people of the area.”

Furness MP Simon Fell was one of around 100 people to attend an online launch event this week and praised its scope.

“The report shows poverty and prosperity rubbing together side by side,” he said, adding: “It is a tremendous piece of writing and will give me the tools I need to go into Government and speak to ministers to press for more support.”

The report looks at everything from health and unemployment to education and housing, and speaks to people in the public, private and third sectors, from local government to film making to drug treatment.

The impact of the pandemic is covered but is far from the main focus which takes in a wider look at Furness and what the future holds for the region.

The report highlights the often extreme contrasts in Furness, from the fells of South Lakeland to the expanse of Morecambe Bay, the highly-skilled jobs at Barrow’s main employer BAE Systems to the pockets of acute deprivation just streets away.

The next generation feature too, with the views of more than 250 schoolchildren sought in a survey which asked them what they thought about the place where they lived.

Asked to describe it in five words, the overwhelming majority chose positive terms, including ‘beautiful’, ‘peaceful’, ‘friendly’, and ‘safe’.

One girl said: “I want to stay here when I grow up because my family are here. I want to be by the sea with my family and friends. Being with the people I love makes me happy.”

In his foreword, Tony Keen, MD of SN Group, writes: “Now we have a document which gives us focus and direction to help make the changes the area needs.”

Furness: Opportunities and Challenges 2021 click here.