Bridging the divide in Kensington + Chelsea: An update 18 months on from our research

Many of you will remember the stark statistics and stories revealed in our November 2021  report, ‘Poverty and Prosperity in Kensington + Chelsea’.   The report revealed that despite being one of the most economically prosperous and diverse boroughs in the UK, the community is heavily divided - with sharp disparities in education, employment and health outcomes:

  • 1 in 4 children in our community live in poverty and the number of children on Free School Meals has doubled in the last 4 years.  We were shocked to learn that K+C also has the worst rate of school exclusions in London, meaning significant numbers of children in the borough  lack access to mainstream education and are often on a  well evidenced pathway from school exclusion to unemployment, youth violence and ultimately, prison. 
  • In terms of residents’ health, K+C is in the lowest 20% of Local Authorities for mental health scores, with levels of anxiety significantly above national and London averages, exacerbated by both the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the Covid-19 pandemic.  There are also huge disparities of up to 17 years in the life expectancy of residents, depending on which wards they live in.
  • The unemployment rate in the borough is higher than the London average and even when residents are in work, many find that this is not necessarily a route out of poverty, with wages insufficient to meet high living costs.  Since 2020 the number of people claiming in-work benefits, reflecting in-work poverty, has tripled.

When we launched the report 18 months ago, we committed to prioritise improving mental health, education and employment opportunities and outcomes for our residents.  We launched 3 new portfolios which have so far invested in 23 projects reaching 10,113 local residents in need.

These projects all embody the key features for success identified in our research  such as the need for tailored and targeted support, collaboration amongst providers and the development of community-led services.    One Community is a perfect example of this approach.  As one of the 8 projects in our mental health portfolio, it offers non-clinical, informal and fun activities to support recovery from admission to hospital.

One Community collaborates with other local grassroots projects to offer a wide range of experiences and support to its service users, including the  Well Written play writing group, gardening with Westway Trust, and beauty therapy with Beautiful People.  Over the past year, 1033 local residents have benefited from this approach, including 23 year old Christina, who fed back:

“One Community is a place where you can meet people where they're at. You don't have to explain why you're there, but you also don't have to pretend that life is going swimmingly and everything's on track. When I walk into a space of One Community members, there's always a feeling of warmth and appreciation for just turning up. It's unspoken that we're all united in having come from a place of difficulty, but also hope that something may come from us being together.” Christina, aged 23, One Community service user

The K+C Foundation has committed to supporting these 23 projects for the next 2 years, enabling us to track their impact and outcomes.  We look forward to sharing progress with our supporters, as we continue to raise funds to ensure projects can continue in years 2 and 3.  If you’re interested in learning more about any of our 3 portfolios, or how you can get involved, please contact [email protected]