The first data from last year’s census has just been released and shows that Solihull continues to grow. Like the rest of the country, we are seeing an increase in older people in the borough but also an increase in the number of children and young people living here.
We continue to change and we know that since the census was carried out, we have seen people moving into Solihull including arrivals from Hong Kong as well as people from the Ukraine who have been welcomed into the borough
As expected, our biggest population increase is in the older age groups, which means we have an ageing population and this inevitably has implications for our health and social care services in the future.
These and other issues will be food for thought for the first meeting of the new Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System Board. This is a collaboration of all the health and social care organisations, including NHS, Solihull Council, Birmingham City Council and the voluntary and community sector (VCS).
This builds on years of successful partnership working in Solihull with our health colleagues and our VCS.
The BSol ICS is a once in a generation opportunity for a radical overhaul in the way health and social care services are designed and delivered across Birmingham and Solihull. This will bring together all the agencies to act with a single voice and strategic approach in tackling the inequalities that have beset Birmingham and Solihull for too long.
The new Integrated Care System won’t solve all the issues we face, but I am confident together we can tackle some of the difficult problems we have struggled to deal with by ourselves, such as the differences in life expectancy, both between areas within Solihull and across the whole ICS area.
Working with our health colleagues we can also increase their contribution to the borough’s social and economic development, alongside reducing infant mortality, making sure our residents have swift access to diagnostic, emergency and elective care services and developing services that support children and older people early on, before their difficulties become a crisis.
You will hear more about BSoI ICS in the coming months and as a Council we will work hard to make this collaboration work to benefit you.
And, while we have an ageing population, we also have a growing population in the younger age groups, ages 5 – 14, which have seen a 10.5% increase from 2011 to 2021. We will have to continue to provide the excellent schools and colleges they will need as they go through their lives. It also means we will have more families within our communities, strengthening them and adding to the rich tapestry of our borough.
Having mentioned the ICS I did want to highlight something I am passionate about, which is mental health. All health and care partners recognise the importance of good mental health and together we want to ensure those who need support with their mental health can access it locally and quickly.
So I was pleased to hear that around 80 Solihull residents have already benefitted from a Council commissioned mental health drop-in service which started in April. Providing the right kind of support for people makes such a difference. That’s why we’re asking for feedback on our five-year plan for adult social care, to make sure we include what matters to the people we support, their carers and families, our staff, NHS and voluntary sector partners.
Last Saturday I joined our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, our Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti, our Deputy Leader Cllr Karen Grinsell and other Solihull councillors in a joint litter pick at Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve organised by Solihull’s Clean & Green and Talking Rubbish volunteer groups.
The litter pick was part of the West Midlands Clean Up in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy and our own Love Solihull team. Paul Sultana from Clean & Green organised the event and over 30 volunteers collected 28 bags of rubbish, three bikes, tyres and assorted fly-tipping.
I mention the litter pick not only as an example of how communities across the borough are playing a truly amazing part in helping to keep our parks and open spaces clean for us all to enjoy, but also to pay tribute all those people who don the tabard, pick up a litter picker and a bag, and then every few weeks take time to show pride in their area.
Well done everyone, and if you want to join or set up a group in your area have a word with our Love Solihull team.
Finally, I am not known for being the greatest sports buff, but I have been finding the tennis really gripping in the last few days when I have been able to watch a bit. OK not the UK results we wanted, but the agility the players show with the ball was just awe inspiring.
My thoughts remain daily with the suffering of the people in Ukraine, and that one day the Russian aggressors will see sense. Let us pray for an end to this horror.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council