Vital research exploring the links between economic inactivity and poor health is being coordinated by academics at Teesside University as part of its mission to reduce inequality and support levelling up in the region.
The University has won funding totalling almost £120,000 to undertake the research which will provide an invaluable insight into the relationship between health and economic inactivity.
In doing so, it is anticipated that the 10-month research project will provide a huge boost to the levelling up agenda in the region where health related barriers to employment can play a major part in limiting social mobility.
The North East faces real challenges, with the latest data showing that 26% of the working age population are economically inactive compared to 21% nationally.
In some parts of the region inactivity reaches nearly 30%.
The reasons for this are complex, with poor health and caring responsibilities playing a big part.
The project, which has been funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Work & Health Research Programme, will be led by Paul Crawshaw, Professor in Public Policy at Teesside University, and an internationally renowned medical sociologist with a 25 year track record in public health research.
Led jointly by Public Health South Tees, the project brings together partners from across the public and private sectors including Newcastle and Keele Universities, Tees Valley Combined Authority, the North East England Chamber of Commerce and Trades Union Congress.
Professor Crawshaw said: “Tackling inequalities in access to work is really important for regional growth.
“This is a huge issue nationally, but is particularly acute for the North and North East.
“This research will give us a much better understanding of the work that has been carried out previously and what works and catalyse some important collaborations.
“The findings will develop some research-led interventions which can make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Scott Lloyd, joint lead for the project and Advanced Public Health Practitioner with Public Health South Tees, said: “This is a huge opportunity to bring together partners and communities to tackle one of the biggest barriers to reducing inequalities in our region.”
The project will begin by studying previous interventions in health and employment, to gain a greater understanding of the work that has been carried out in this area.
It is also keen to gather evidence from people who have experience working across health and employment.
Professor Crawshaw was previously Dean of Teesside University’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law and most recently Director of its Institute for Social Innovation which worked to harness the impact of social science research.
The important work of the Institute is now firmly embedded within the University’s People and Places research pillar, led by Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law.