A COMMUNITY “healthcheck” report has revealed one in four South Yorkshire’s residents don’t feel safe in their neighbourhood.
Crime and safety was highlighted as the biggest priority for action in South Yorkshire Community Foundation’s annual Vital Signs report.
The report, which aimed to “‘take the pulse” of the county, also found three in five people felt isolation had taken its toll on their mental health and two in five said there was not a good level of professional care to support them.
One in nine surveyed said they struggled to meet basic needs such as food and heating.
There was more optimism around leisure and culture, with three-fifths happy with the heritage opportunities available and 83 per cent enjoying parks or green spaces.
SYCF chair Chris Booth-Mayblin said: “We are imploring stakeholders and policy-makers across South Yorkshire to not simply sit on the results of this research but act.”
South Yorkshire’s crime rate is a tenth above the national average and half of those surveyed said not enough was done to address causes of crime in their area.
A third had experienced harassment, discrimination or anti-social behaviour and almost half believed crime and safety was an area South Yorkshire could improve on.
The Vital Signs report concluded work was needed to understand why crime rate was among the 20 per cent worst in England and the reoffending rate was also higher.
SYCF has pledged to “amplify the voice” of groups working in tackling this and bringing them together to show what approaches were successful.
Police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings said making people feel safe was his main priority.
He said responses so far to his own survey found 80 per cent of people did feel safe but he was keen for it to reach 100 per cent.
Dr Billings pointed to the recruitment of hundreds of new officers and the formation of an
Armed Crime Team to disrupt gangs and disrupt gun and drug crimes, as well as efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and burglary.”
On inequality and deprivation, the survey found two-thirds of people believed the gap between the richest and poorest was growing.
The report said SYCF said it would try to ensure its grants reached the most disadvantaged areas.
There was also cause for concern on health matters, with Rotherham’s rate for people diagnose with depression a quarter above the national average and more than half of those questioned saying the overall mental health of South Yorkshire was “not good”.
The report acknowledged the higher number of depression diagnoses in the county, adding: “We need to get to the bottom of why this might be, whilst also asking ourselves about the level of undiagnosed problems, the waiting lists, the increasing number of referral and the general lack of resources.
“The pandemic should have equalised us in being able to talk about mental health yet in the wake of the pandemic yet over a third of our community do not feel it is openly talked about.”
SYCF said it hoped its report would start conversations, concluding: “It is crucial that Vital Signs is not seen as a one-off that generates short-term interest.
“We cannot be writing this report in three years’ time and face the same problems.”
SYCF is launching a dedicated Employment and Employability Programme to support young people aged 14 to 30 and help them gain the skills needed to find employment.