How data can help you understand your community
By Sonia Bussu, research and learning co-ordinator, Local Trust
Local Trust and NIHR School of Public Health Research have been doing a lot of work to map Census 2011 and other government data onto the very small boundaries of the Big Local areas. We’ve now estimated area and demographic characteristics for all 150 Big Local areas.
Some Big Local areas have asked us for this data to help them understand the demographics of their community: things like residents’ age, health and ethnic groups. This kind of knowledge can help identify and tailor activities to include when writing or revising a Big Local plan.
Referring to data could also help you challenge assumptions about your area and start a conversation with your Big Local residents.
The data reports for each area give the most accurate data we can get for Big Local areas, but it’s important to keep in mind that these are still estimates, and what’s more they are estimates for small areas– and with statistics the smaller the numbers the higher the margin of error.
Data is always only part of the story. Rather than trusting it blindly, it’s important to take it with a pinch of salt and use our collective intelligence and judgement to make sense of it. As Mark Twain once said, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable”.
So what data is on offer?
Each area report contains the following:
- total population count
- ethnic groups
- marital and civil partnership status
- economic activity
- households by deprivation status
- general health (self-reported)
- long-term health problem or disability
- unpaid care
- religious beliefs
- country of birth
- multiple-deprivation score for 2010 and 2015
- traffic accidents.
What does the data look like?
Here are a few snapshots from data reports for three Big Local areas.
Gender and age in Clapham Junction
At the time of the Census there were 14844 people living in the area of which 7012 were male and 7832 female.
The age range is:
- 17% (2451) of the local population is under the age of 15
- 14% (2029) of the population is between 15 to 24
- 44% (6580) of the population is between 25 to 44
- 17% (2453) of the population is between 45 to 64
- 9% (1331) of the population is 65 and over.
Marital status in Lawrence Weston
There are 5316 residents aged 16 and over.
- 42% (2238) are single
- 35% (1876) are married
- 15% (780) are separated
- 8% (421) other.
Ethnicity in North Brixton
The ethnic diversity of the area is as follows:
- White British 19% (1793)
- Other white 19% (1817)
- Asian 7% (622)
- Black 43% (4051)
- Mixed 9% (809)
- Other 4% (405).
Request the report on your area
We’ve done our best to put the reports together in an accessible way that can make sense to people, but of course things can always be improved and we’ll be happy to work with you to make this data clearer and more relevant as we start getting your feedback.
You might want to join our Facebook group on Big Local research, where you can exchange ideas and learning about self-evaluation (think of plan reviews!) and research tools with other Big Local areas and researchers interested in supporting community research.