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Council to spend £325k tackling health inequalities

Cannock Chase Council is set to spend more than £100,000 to help residents affected by damp and mould in their homes or living in shared housing.

Cannock Chase District Council

The authority has been given £325,000 from the Staffordshire Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) to tackle health inequalities in the district.

On Thursday cabinet members gave the go-ahead for the funding to be spent across three projects. They include an extra £215,000 to extend the work of Cannock Chase Can, which aims to help residents improve their health and wellbeing through schemes such as a phone app developed by the council and its leisure services provider Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles.

A further £110,000 will be split between two projects focusing on housing issues in four district wards which have been identified as having a high level of need. These are Cannock North, Cannock East, Rawnsley and Western Springs, which combined have a combined population of 25,900 residents – 26% of the district.

A report to Thursday’s cabinet meeting said: “The first project is focussed on addressing damp and mould in private properties; currently the Environmental Health and Public Protection team respond to and resolve complaints about damp and mould in the private sector. This project will enable them to take a proactive approach, working with partners to identify those residents likely to be living with damp and mould and work with their landlords to address the problems.

“There is extensive published research demonstrating that health outcomes among tenants / residents of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) are among the poorest in society and the second project aims to engage with tenants in HMOs. The team will address any physical hazards in the property and importantly seek to support tenants who may be experiencing or may be likely to experience mental health conditions, in finding and accessing support services.

“The third project is an extension of an existing initiative which has been shown to improve population health. All funding must be spent by September 2024, which has informed the choice of projects, unspent funding must be returned.”

Councillor Jo Elson, Portfolio Leader for Community Wellbeing, said: “The causes of health inequalities are generally factors that positively or negatively influence our ability to be healthy, such as smoking and diet, social deprivation, access to work and poor housing. The funding allocated will be used to deliver these three projects, which all have a clear focus on identifying and addressing health inequalities.”

The Cannock Chase Can app, which was shortlisted for an award last year, is available to download from Google Play and the iPhone App Store to smartphones in the district and beyond. The free app offers support and advice to users on topics including healthy eating, physical activity, money management, sleep and mental wellbeing.

To get started users are invited to answer a series of “wellness statements” and register to complete their own “wellness wheel”, which shows their current strengths and where they can take steps to improve other aspects of their lives. They can take on challenges such walking and cooking recipes, spin a “reward wheel” when they complete a task, monitor their success, collect virtual trophies and share their progress online to inspire others.

The cabinet report said: “Money will be used by Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles to develop with communities further projects linked to each of the themes on the wellness wheel. The evaluation framework will be developed, and the app’s functionality will be enhanced and upgraded.

“There will also be work on developing a wellness wheel outside the app aimed at different target audiences.”

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