The level of deprivation in Eastbourne ranks third highest across the county, according to a new report by a Sussex charity.
However the borough has now fallen below the national average since the Sussex Community Foundation’s first report on poverty published in 2013.
Its latest report released this week, called ‘Sussex Uncovered 2: Bridging the Gap’, ranks the borough third across Sussex behind both Hastings and Brighton & Hove against indicators of multiple deprivation, and 129th out of 326 areas in England.
Three areas Devonshire, Hampden Park, and Langney rank in the top 20 per cent nationally for deprivation.
Clare Hackney-Ring and Sue Moris are directors of Eastbourne-based Community Stuff, a community interest company which has received funding from the Sussex Community Foundation.
The organisation provides free summer holiday activities for families on low incomes and throughout the year runs cooking courses and sessions for parents, mostly in children’s centres in the town with the help of a team of volunteers.
Clare explained how their sessions allowed parents to take some time off and learn basic skills, and also gives families in temporary accommodation the chance to have a break from being stuck in a room.
Community Stuff has seen an increase in demand over the last few years due to cuts in children’s services, which Clare felt had particularly affected low income families, and described how Eastbourne would be a sad place without voluntary organisations, community interest companies, and charities.
She added: “It does not really hurt to take a bit of time off to help somebody else. This is what we try to promote, a feeling of community spirit.”
The report also ranks 999 small areas of 1,500 people across Sussex on the proportion of children living in income-deprived families.
Using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index, parts of the Sovereign, Langney, and Devonshire wards have nearly four in ten children living in poverty, all figures in the top 40 across Sussex.
Part of the Upperton ward has the lowest rate of child poverty in Eastbourne, at just 5.1 per cent.
David Tutt, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “The Sussex Community Foundation’s report correctly identifies that there are pockets of deprivation and child poverty across East Sussex including parts of Eastbourne.
“As a borough council we will do all that we can in these challenging times when Government are cutting benefits to combat this.
“To this end we will continue to work in partnership with the many voluntary and charitable organisations in the town to find ways of easing this hardship and provide opportunities to help people escape poverty.”
Kevin Richmond, chief executive at the Sussex Community Foundation, said: “The first Sussex Uncovered report was the first report to give a broad view of issues facing local communities across the entirety of Sussex.
“It found that Sussex is a great place to live if you can afford it. In this report, we wanted to look in a more qualitative way to uncover what is going on at the grassroots.”
He added: “We asked a number of the groups that we have funded to tell us about the services they provide, how they are managing the new funding environment and their hopes for the future. Their views and experiences are reflected in this report.”
According to the report, reductions in Government spending has started to have a ‘real impact’ on Sussex residents and on the charities and community groups that support them.
The report’s executive summary states: “Many local charities feel they are facing the perfect storm of increasing need, reducing funding and an uncertain future.
“We aim to provide shelter from the storm for the local community by providing a flexible and responsive source of funding for the people who give their time to help those in need.
“Sussex is a great place to live, if you can afford it. We hope that this report will show our current and future donors what the needs of Sussex people continue to be and how, together, we can use our unique model of community philanthropy to support the charities and community groups and volunteers that work so hard to make Sussex a great place to live for everyone.”
Visit www.communitystuff.org.uk email firstname.lastname@example.org or search for their Facebook page by searching ‘Community Stuff Eastbourne’.