Lay perceptions of health, housing and community on the Kent Coast, England

Stewart, Jill ORCID logoORCID: and Meerabeau, Liz (2009) Lay perceptions of health, housing and community on the Kent Coast, England. Journal of Environmental Health Research, 9 (2) . pp. 69-80. ISSN 1476-0932 [Article]


Lay perceptions of health inequalities are becoming increasingly important in developing local housing strategies and many coastal areas have attracted recent attention because of high levels of deprivation. This paper draws from the findings of 14 socioeconomically and geographically representative focus groups as part of the wider French British Interreg IIIA project examining health inequalities and health behaviours in South East England and Northern France. Kent coastal areas were identified as being of particular and unique interest, leading to a wider literature review of socio-economic and health inequalities more generally in coastal towns and the effect of geography on health.

Participants in the focus groups particularly suggested that the loss of traditional industries – notably the holiday trade (tourism), but also other local employment – had led to new low-income, deprived communities, including immigrant communities, whose needs often went unmet. Participants identified the changing nature of coastal or seaside housing from guest house to residential living accommodation and the relationship to the benefit system as being of particular concern, affecting both physical and mental health and the wider environment. However, participants also described successful local community-led regeneration solutions which could run alongside new local authority responsibilities to tackle health inequalities.

The focus group findings suggest that lay perceptions are in many ways close to recent governmental research findings which identify the coastal regions as unique environments, some with similar levels of deprivation to inner urban and rural areas and lacking sufficient public investment. The results of this study suggest that the public have additional concerns around housing allocation policies creating marginal coastal communities and how these needs might be addressed.

New strategies need to involve the communities affected. Although this can prove challenging, there is a new range of legislative provisions to tackle complex and multifaceted housing, social, economic and environmental conditions faced by those suffering some of the most acute health inequalities.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): coast, environmental health, health inequalities, housing, lay understanding, lay perception, seaside
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
Item ID: 21743
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Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2010 10:40
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 15:02

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