Swindon is a unitary authority in the South West of England, population 157,000. It was a railway town up until the early 1970’s. A huge amount of investment over past years by high tech and manufacturing companies meant that for several years it was Europe’s fastest growing town. Intel, Motorola, Intergraph, Nationwide, Lucent and BT all have their UK/European headquarters here. Honda and BMW have large manufacturing plants in the town and are major employers. However Swindon has been one of the most significant areas hit by the recession and unemployment has risen dramatically recently.
Swindon continues to grow with extensive housing developments on the north, south and east sides of the town. Because approx 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce there are lots of 2-3 bedroom houses being built for single occupiers for “weekend mums and dads”.
- 20% of Swindon’s population are young people
- One in four of Swindon’s children are living in poverty (‘Invisible children’ report, Banardo’s 2001)
- There were 1,161 young people who were found to be “in need” – much higher that the national average.
- 9,900 under 16 year olds live in or below the bread line
- 104 children are on the child protection register – above the national average
- 205 children ‘in care’ – 21% rise since 2001 – again above the national average
- Swindon has a large sexually active population of young people. Up until recently it had that highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the south-west. It has high rates of sexually transmitted infections. Figures from the sexual health department in Swindon show a 20% prevalence to Chlamydia infection amongst attending teenagers.
- Waiting times for appointments have risen from 2-4 days to 4 weeks and because of demand at the walk in heath centre youth service, the number of patients seen in the evening has had to be restricted.
One school counselor remarked “Children in Swindon don’t really suffer so much from financial poverty but a ‘poverty of love’” – with parents either separated or working all hours to maintain their lifestyles.
Whilst Swindon can end up being the butt of peoples jokes we think it’s a great place to live and know that God loves our town.