West Cumbria Opportunities and Challenges


West Cumbria Opportunities and Challenges was commissioned in 2019 by Sellafield Ltd and prepared by Cumbria Community Foundation.  The report looks at the opportunities and challenges facing communities in West Cumbria. It provides a summary of the social needs and community issues, highlights some of the work already being done to address disadvantage and identifies opportunities for social impact investors to target their efforts and help our communities to thrive.

It shines a light on issues in the community to help guide businesses that wish to invest in improving lives in West Cumbria and provides an accessible, evidence-based picture of need across West Cumbria with examples of projects that improve the lives of residents.

Some of the issues highlighted in the report include:

  • Childhood obesity – one in ten children are starting school overweight
  •  Adult obesity – two thirds of people in both Allerdale and Copeland are overweight.
  • Deprivation – one in seven households are living on less than £10,000 a year.
  • Education – one in four adults have no qualifications.
  •  Schools – half of all secondary schools are performing below national average.

The document isn’t all doom and gloom. It celebrates everything that west Cumbria has to offer, like:

  • Being the global Centre of Nuclear Excellence.
  • Being the home of innovative world leading businesses (M-Sport, Iggesund, Innovia).
  • Having low crime – it’s one of the safest places to live in the UK.
  • Some outstanding schools.

The evidence used in the report has been drawn from different sources and presented under key themes:

Growing Up, Living and Working, Ageing, Housing and Homelessness, Fuel Poverty, Debt, Transport and Access to Services, Healthy Living, Safe Communities, Strong Communities.

It looks to the future and explains how businesses can get involved. Sellafield Ltd published its Social Impact Strategy last year and will measure its success by using the National Themes Outcomes Measurements Framework. The Social Impact Strategy says it wants to:

  • Improve access to sustainable incomes by increasing skills, knowledge aspirations and access to opportunities.
  • Enable resilient economies by growing the local economy and securing new opportunities.
  • Build thriving communities that create self-reliance and address community needs.
  • Create effective stakeholder and partnership working for collective impact.

Gary McKeating, Head of Community and Development at Sellafield Ltd said: “The Sellafield Social Impact strategy illustrates a significant shift in thinking. Sellafield has always recognised the close interdependency between our business and the local community and as we continue to make Sellafield safer, sooner, we are working to make sure that our local community, the UK as a whole and the nuclear sector receives the maximum value from the £2billion of taxpayers’ money spent at Sellafield every year.

“There’s a lot to be done, but by working collectively, we can address the issues raised in the report, and the entire community can succeed. Look at how the investments from Sellafield Ltd and the NDA leveraged in excess of £30m for the new Campus Whitehaven. This represents the biggest educational investment in Whitehaven for over half a century and will address some of the issues highlighted in the report. This is an illustration of the kind of social impact we should all be striving to achieve.”

View the full report or contact us to request a printed copy.

If you have felt inspired by the report and would like help tackle some of these social problems, please contact Andy Beeforth on andy@cumbriafoundation.