New research shows targeted welfare to work provision is necessary to reduce worklessness

Welfare to work programmes aimed at getting people back into work should take a ‘whole person’ approach, rather than tackling factors such as age, ethnicity or disability in isolation, according to new research from the West Midlands Regional Observatory carried out on behalf of the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel.

The research findings confirm those of other studies by the Observatory, that the West Midlands has one of the highest rates of worklessness in England, with some disadvantaged groups experiencing much higher rates of worklessness than others.

The latest research provides insights into the major factors influencing a person’s chances of being in or out of work and shows that these can vary greatly according to the individual’s background and personal characteristics.  The research demonstrates how combinations of factors such as having no formal qualifications or a long-term health problem or disability, or being a lone parent, affect a person’s chance of being out of work.

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Cultural Observatory update: what we’re working on

Millennium Point in Birmnigham

This post is intended to give a run down of the main pieces of work that will be undertaken by the Cultural Observatory during 2010/11.

Our work plan is not set in stone as we are often called to respond to policy needs as and when they develop (in common with many public sector organisations), but hopefully this short post will give you a flavour of our aspirations for the coming year.

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Tweets, whistles and gold: an overview of the Cultural Research Conference 2010

The first Cultural Research & Intelligence Network (CRAIN) conference took place on 2nd June 2010 at Birmingham City University (School of Art) in central Birmingham.

The conference was well attended, attracting 41 delegates who between them represented 26 different organisations (including five local authorities and four local universities).

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Birmingham wins national award for innovative health improvement programme

Birmingham’s innovative Be Active programme won a national award for health improvement this week.

The collaborative programme run by Birmingham City Council and the local Primary Care Trusts scooped the 2010 Local Government Association’s LGcomms Reputation Campaign Award for improving health.

The Be Active scheme is an extension of ‘Gym For Free’, a pilot project introduced by Heart of Birmingham Teaching NHS Trust and Birmingham City Council in 2008, which offered residents in the Ladywood area of Birmingham access to free gym sessions at council leisure centres. This recently won the national overall Best Public Services award at the Guardian Public Services Awards 2009. Commenting at the Guardian awards ceremony, BBC presenter Jeremy Vine said:

‘This is a fantastic example of a local authority and the NHS thinking imaginatively and working in partnership to make a real difference to people’s lives. The impact has been simply stunning.’

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