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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Monday, 12 July 2010 15:08 UK

Whitehawk 'one of the most deprived areas of Britain'

Helen Drew
By Helen Drew
Politics Show
BBC South East

41% of Whitehawk's working population is on benefits

Whitehawk is one of the most deprived areas of the country; it is in the bottom 5%.

Obviously somewhere has to be at the bottom, but in many ways it is surprising that this area is.

It is located in the thriving seaside city of Brighton and Hove, not far from the affluent marina.

On first impressions it looks fine- the houses do not look particularly run-down and it is not at all cramped, with nice green spaces surrounding it.

So what is going wrong?


For starters, 41% of Whitehawk's working population is on benefits, compared to 15% across Brighton as a whole. (Office for National Statistics)

The Crew Club is the local community centre for young people. Its manager Darren Snow has lived in the area for all of his life. He says:

"We are isolated by default. People have no reason to come here unless you need to, you do not travel through it to get anywhere else.

"I think one of the issues is Whitehawk being integrated within the whole city. We need to break down perceptions, which are out of date and kind of boring now."

Travel to school

Next up, education. There was a secondary school here, but that closed down in 2003, meaning that children have to travel to various schools around the city.

At GCSE level, 12% of pupils who live in Whitehawk postcodes got five A*-C passes, compared to 45% for Brighton overall.

Daniel Weiner, Head teacher of Whitehawk  Primary School
Mr Weiner aims to provide a whole range of support to children

But, when that has broken down, that is 0% for boys, compared to 43% in Brighton. (Office for National Statistics)

There is a local primary school, Whitehawk Primary School, and its head teacher Daniel Weiner says that they need to think about a lot more than just the lessons:

"We have a lot of children facing difficult circumstances at home. We have plenty of children who are able, but also have many with other difficulties, either in the community or at home.

"The challenge is to provide a whole range of support, not just academic development."

Life expectancy

Which brings us onto health. Men across Brighton have an average life expectancy of 76 and a half years, but in areas of deprivation people die younger- in Whitehawk's case, by about seven years. (Brighton and Hove PCT)

So what is being done to help the area? £7.4m of investment was agreed by the previous government and the local council to create a 'community hub'.

Its aim is to bring lots of facilities together. There is also an adult community centre, the Whitehawk Inn, on the site of what was Whitehawk's only pub, before it had its licence taken away.

The centre receives government funding, but its director Frances Duncan is worried that it is focused on box ticking.

She says: "The current funding is very definitely targeted at people who might go back to work. But in this area, a large proportion are not going to work in the near future.

"Here we provide range of courses around things like health and fitness and arts and craft."

The situation in Whitehawk is far from unique- it is replicated in various areas across the region and the country.

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