Health, wellbeing and economic prosperity are intrinsically linked. However, so too are deprivation and health inequalities.
It is our belief at the Connected Coast that we cannot ‘level up’ without understanding that driving growth requires us to create opportunities and an environment in which everyone can benefit from them. We are already seeing the impact of COVID-19 on deprived communities and it is also disproportionately affecting our coastal economy, businesses and residents.
Mablethorpe as a town is largely reliant on tourism and its seasonal economy. It has a declining population, low-paid employment, a limited range of opportunities and faces significant health inequalities affecting the aspiration and prosperity of the town.
We are already seeing the negative impacts of COVID-19 and it is clear that levelling up has never been more important for our coastal towns. The needs and challenges are significant and require a collaborative approach as well as a shared commitment to think differently.
The Towns Fund has given us an opportunity to explore the needs and aspirations for the towns of Skegness and Mablethorpe. Whether we have been talking to residents, community groups, businesses or stakeholders, the themes of health, skills, education and opportunity are incredibly strong. We have heard from you all about the difficulties in attracting and subsequently recruiting health and social care professionals to live and work locally. We have also been reminded of the limited access to basic services such as banking and dentistry in the area and have listened to concerns around prospects for our younger population.
The health and wellbeing of our people is vital for the economic prosperity of the area. Community feedback has allowed us to shape our plans to enable change and our proposals respond directly to what residents want from their town. In Mablethorpe, we want to create a prosperous, inclusive local economy and empower communities. It is a town that deserves to attract people, to provide good quality jobs with thriving businesses, as well as having a skilled workforce and a positive future.
Through the Towns Fund tackling the challenges as a shared commitment; public, private and voluntary sector partners, as well as local, regional and national partners, have all come together to contribute which is very encouraging.
We have a unique opportunity here to collaborate and not just face these challenges – but to turn them on their head. Together we can try something different, to innovate and develop something that will not only be a catalyst for change at a local level, but also a national example of how to achieve prosperity and opportunity in a rural and coastal area.
The Campus for Future Living is the landmark project in the Mablethorpe Town Deal and is a perfect step in the right direction. It harnesses the intrinsic link between health, wellbeing and economic prosperity and has inspired enthusiasm, excitement and commitment locally, regionally and nationally.
As a beacon for change and a system-wide opportunity to turn challenges and weaknesses facing our place into nationally significant strengths, the Campus for Future Living will have local relevance and impact, and national reach and influence.
The project has been a catalyst, a coalition of partners with ambitions to create a national centre – an anchor point which not only supports better health, wellbeing and prosperity for the town’s residents, but also attracts health care workers, innovates digitally and encourages technology development which when all brought together, empowers the community.
While it must be acknowledged that Mablethorpe has some deep-rooted issues, we are proud of our place and have high hopes and aspirations for its future. We are working tirelessly to prepare to submit our investment plans, because transformational opportunities of this scale, breadth and scope for impact do not come along very often.
Michelle Howard, Assistant Director for Housing & Wellbeing – East Lindsey DC and Boston Borough Council.