Creating opportunities for all in Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire Council has officially launched its pioneering ‘Opportunity Bucks’ programme – our local initiative for levelling up in Buckinghamshire.
Led by Buckinghamshire Council with £4.5 million of planned investment, ‘Opportunity Bucks – Succeeding for All’ is our approach to addressing disparity in Buckinghamshire and creating equality of opportunity for all residents and communities across the county, ensuring they have ready access to the means to thrive and achieve. The programme will initially focus on ten identified wards where residents are experiencing poorer outcomes around work, health and education.
This week’s launch has been a key moment in moving the project forward with partners and stakeholders gathering at Adams Park in Wycombe to discuss how to deliver the key aims of the programme, to give everyone in Buckinghamshire the best chance at achieving good outcomes around health, work, living standards and quality of life.
Buckinghamshire Council Leader, Martin Tett explained: “Here in Buckinghamshire, average figures for prosperity and well-being can, in fact, conceal real difficulties amongst families and in particular areas. It also makes it harder to make the case for funding; a situation shared amongst many parts of the South-East facing similar challenges, which is why we are committing our own funding to this key policy.
‘Opportunity Bucks’ is a targeted approach which is built on very local engagement, led by local councillors, so we can get to the very heart of what’s needed in some specific parts of our county to make sure all of our residents can access what they need to thrive and achieve. We are seeing many Buckinghamshire residents face hardship at the moment and alongside the package of immediate support we are offering, programmes like this that target investment and resource at specific places can help us provide longer-term solutions for all of our residents.”
Guest speakers at the launch event included former Aylesbury MP, Sir David Lidington who joined council leaders and invited guests. A series of workshops took place focussing on themes including education and skills, health and wellbeing, jobs and career opportunities and standards of living.
Sir David commented: “This is an issue very close to my heart and during my time as a constituency MP in Buckinghamshire, I saw how many different problems combine to affect a single household, such as debt, mental health problems, drug and alcohol misuse or relationship breakdown. It all goes beyond the responsibilities of a single council or agency which is why this event has been so important – as this has to be a joined up approach. I must also pay tribute to our partners in the voluntary sector whose contribution to our local communities is absolutely critical – in providing support to both individuals and the area as a whole.”
Jenifer Cameron, CEO of Action4Youth is leading the education and skills sub-group for the initiative. She said today: “Buckinghamshire is seen as an affluent county but through our work we see first-hand that not everyone is wealthy or doing well. We are well aware of the inequalities and are delighted that the council has engaged key partners from across the community in addressing them. As a youth charity we are always looking to the future and are delighted to input the voice of young people to this significant work.”