Oldham Council and Unity Partnership

Find below a case study of Oldham Council's work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Efficiency and income generation

The Challenge

Oldham in recent years has moved toward a place-based model of care and support based on geographies aligned to primary care networks. Parts of the borough house residents who are subjected to high levels of deprivation and have higher levels of need – and the town has a high-level widespread community spirit. The council needed tools to be able to knit together a holistic picture of their resident population to identify and measure areas of high need and target resources appropriately in all situations.

The Solution

When the pandemic started, Oldham quickly set up a community COVID-19 helpline, reconfigured their contact centre and established a customer database to support people get access to urgent food, medicines and personal goods.  In the first 2 weeks it received over 2000 calls with around 100 calls coming into the contact centre daily from those who were under isolation and without a network to support them.

Prior to this - the council created the Thriving Communities Index over a year ago, this was co-produced with services, VCSFE groups and elected members to truly reflect the geographic localities as agreed by those communities within the borough. 

The index is made up of 30 socio-economic indicators for each neighbourhood so the council and partners who use it can understand the different needs across the borough.  This is underpinned by a combination of quantitative data (ranging from housing churn, A&E admissions, safeguarding through to police data) and qualitative perception data derived through workshops.  The index created a physical map of 115 hyper local neighbourhoods made up roughly of 2000 residents per neighbourhood – identifying where the pockets of need were in the community.

By cross referencing the data from the call database and overlaying the data from the thriving communities index the council were able to analyse information on their neighbourhoods to monitor low call engagement zones which indicated that there may be unmet need in these areas caused by the national emergency.  A multi-language comms campaign was then carried out to reach further into these communities to ensure that they had the right support to deal with the socio-economic impacts of C19.

The data overlay was collated through a Microsoft dynamics and blue-works platform.

This method has allowed the council and partners to respond in an efficient manner to meet the needs of its diverse population suffering during the covid-19 lockdown. The index and the Customer database developed has informed the provision and access to food, sanitary products, mental health support, mutual aid, medicine and housing support.

Who is Involved?

Oldham Council, Oldham Unity Partnership, Oldham Cares (Hospital, Council, CCGs), Action Together (VCFSE umbrella), Positive Steps, Mind, Trussell Trust and the Inter-Faith Forum.

The Impact

  • 3,522 people supported with urgent food, meds and personal items
  • £72k raised locally by the corona virus fund
  • 189k visits to the corona virus council website
  • 700 people signed up to volunteer


Peter Pawson, Principal Consultant: Peter.Pawson@unitypartnership.com