4 February 2019

Sue Frossell and Caroline Ryder work for the People Directorate at Coventry City Council. In this blog they share how Marmot changes Coventry and the amazing regeneration the area has seen.

Sir Michael Marmot talks about Coventry at lectures and presentations all over the world. Who is Michael Marmot and why does he talk about Coventry, I hear you ask!

Professor Sir Michael Marmot is the Director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London (UCL); a leading authority on health inequality for over 35 years. In 2008 Government asked him to carry out a review and propose the most effective evidence-based strategies for reducing health inequalities in the UK and the final report “Fair Society Healthy Lives” (the Marmot Review) was published in 2010.

Coventry became a Marmot City in 2013 and since then we’ve worked hard to embed Marmot principles throughout the Council with strong senior management and political support.

Sir Michael will often ask a simple question, “Why treat someone with an illness and then send them back to the conditions that made them sick?” Common sense really, isn’t it? This is the challenge that we have taken up in Coventry – we don’t accept that inequality is inevitable.

Where does housing come into it?

Housing is a reoccurring issue in health inequality for many reasons so one job for us is to engage and work alongside housing associations and providers to make sure accommodation is warm and free from damp.

Did you know that poor housing conditions, poor air quality, overcrowding and fuel poverty cost the NHS £1.4bn every year? As housing is a separate, important area that needs its own focus, this is a different project the council are working on to help our city work together to improve lifestyles and living conditions.

Rising to the challenge

The Marmot Steering Group provide leadership across the system (across the social gradient) to improve standards across all the social determinants of health. We want to make Coventry a great place to live and work.

It is crucial that we strike a balance between place-based local responses and understanding issues in the context of wider structural inequalities. A Marmot approach demands that we resource and deliver services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need; just focussing on one group of disadvantaged individuals or one geographical area won’t deliver change.

We need our communities

We can’t do it alone though. Being a Marmot City has provided us with a platform from which to unite different organisations across the public and voluntary sector and to work together to address the conditions that determine health.

We have brought together teams in procurement, education, jobs and libraries, as well as colleagues from West Midlands Police, West Midlands Fire Service, Voluntary Action Coventry, DWP, Chamber of Commerce, Local Economic Partnership and third sector organisations such as Positive Youth Foundation and Foleshill Women’s Training. Bringing these people together helps us utilise varied skillsets, knowledge and to help unite the community into working together towards a common goal – improving our hometown.

Celebrate the wins

Since 2013, we’ve achieved so much. Some successful outcomes include:

  • The percentage of children with good development by the end of reception year has increased.
  • Over a three-year period, the Coventry Ambition programme supported 1700 young people who were not in employment, education or training to achieve a positive outcome. This saw Coventry’s youth unemployment rate, which was higher than the national average, switch to now being below.
  • The Job Shop annually works with over 1,000 local people to get them into jobs and there are now 16.5% more Coventry residents in work than 5 years ago when the Job Shop opened. This is significantly larger than the rest of the region.
  • Over the same period, the work of our Employer Hub in the Job Shop has challenged employers to recruit differently and offer better quality jobs with excellent increases in average weekly wages for Coventry residents.
  • The impact on health inequalities is now considered alongside the Equalities Act characteristics in all major policy decisions taken by the Council and this approach has also been adopted by West Midlands Fire Service.

Marmot is here to stay in Coventry. With exciting events coming to the city, such as the European City of Sport in 2019 and the UK City of Culture in 2021, we have a lot to look forward to. But we must also continue to tackle inequalities if we want to grow our economy and improve the wellbeing of our communities and we’re ready for the journey!

Sue Frossell and Caroline Ryder work for the People Directorate at Coventry City Council.

Making a difference in Coventry – the Marmot approach