2021 has already seen incredible demonstrations of community kindness, togetherness and spirit and were only 4 months in! However, there is always more we can do for our communities by even the smallest of actions. The census is one act which proves it’s not too late to make a difference to our community.
The census is a short survey that goes out to every household in the UK and should take just 10 minutes per individual to complete. It is circulated once every 10 years in order for the office of national statistics (ONS) to get a picture of the people and households of Britain.
The information gathered from the census helps a range of organisations plan for the future. Local governments use the information to help best develop services, such as schools, hospitals, transportation and rubbish collection, in each area. Businesses use it to decide where to set up, which influences job opportunities and some charities also use census information to help get the funding they need.
This year’s census is the ideal opportunity to shed a light on how much the pandemic has changed our communities and help piece back together the society we miss. Two of the things which have come to light as important issues over the past year are mental health issues and nature.
- Mental health issues have become more prominent during these trying times. The census is here to help as the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) uses it to find those more at risk of mental ill health and give them the support they need.
- The importance of open spaces/parks for our health and wellbeing is something widely focused on. Again, the census is here to help as the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) works to protect the national park so that we, and future generations, can enjoy it.
By spending just 10 – 20 minutes to share some information about yourself and those that live in your household you could be helping to set up a healthier and more productive community for future generations as well as existing ones.
Please rest assured that your confidentiality is a top priority of the ONS team. The personal information you put on your census is only used for statistical purposes. These statistics will never allow you or anyone you live with to be identified and it won’t affect any services you get (i.e. benefits), decisions about you (i.e. residency applications) or be sold to third parties. Personal information is required (date of birth/names) purely to ensure that each person is only counted once.
So how do you get started?
2021 sees the digital first census, which means that they are encouraging people to respond online if possible. However, you can request a paper copy if you wish to. To start your census online, you will need your 16 digit access code printed on the letter the ONS sent you. You can do so using any device. If you know anyone who may struggle to access it online and you can safely help them within government guidelines, please do!
If you need help yourself, don’t fret, the ONS have got it covered! Help is available: online via the ONS website, by phone, web chat, email, social media or text message. Calls are completely free so please don’t hesitate to get the help you need! You an access the form and the help in 19 languages, Braille and easy to read formats to.
If anyone feels that completing online is not for them, just ring 0800 876 6276, it’s a free dedicated line to request hard copy census forms. You can also arrange an appointment with the Census Support Centre on freephone: 0800 169 2021
Completing the census is a legal requirement and you could be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to do so. But don’t panic if it’s not yet topped your ‘to do list’ or if it’s ended up amongst piles of paperwork and pizza delivery menus, you still have time! Although census day was 21 March, you can still answer yours throughout April and if you have any concerns, questions or problems completing it help is at hand as aforementioned. Why not find 20 minutes to do so today? Or check if your family or friends need any help with there’s if you have spare time.
Households who haven’t yet completed their census may get a visit from a census field officer. The officer’s role is to help encourage people to complete it and access the help they need to do so. Please be reassured that they are there to help and will wear Personal Protective Equipment and never need to enter your home.
Ena Lloyd, Census engagement manager for Cardiff, spoke passionately about the Census and urges everyone to complete It “ The Census is a once a decade opportunity to have your voice heard, so that both public and private sector services can plan around the needs of you, your family and your community. “
For further information please log onto https://census.gov.uk/ or free phone 0800 169 2021or send a text message on 86677.