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A Fairer Stockton-on-Tees

A Fairer Stockton-on-Tees (FSOT) is the strategic framework for tackling inequalities in the Borough. The impact of inequalities is significant and impacts on quality of life, life chances and life expectancy.

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We have affluent areas alongside disadvantaged areas in the Borough. Nine of our 26 wards are in the 10% most deprived in the country and there is an average male life expectancy gap of 21 years between the most and least deprived areas.

At this time, the rising costs of food, fuel and other essentials are combining with this existing disadvantage and vulnerability to put households under significant pressure. This leaves them at risk of hardship and poor wellbeing in the short-term and reduced opportunity in the long-term.

A Fairer Stockton-on-Tees immediate focus is on shaping Council services and working with our partners to ensure the most vulnerable individuals and families receive the help they need to navigate these challenges.

Our partners Catalyst have secured almost half a million pounds in National Lottery funding to support the work of the Fairer Stockton-on-Tees framework. This provides funding over the next three years to address inequalities by identifying gaps in services, working with voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and statutory services to address these gaps and build volunteer support for individuals not currently accessing services in deprived communities.

The outcomes of this project are focused on: more people living healthily, increased positive mental health, higher income and poverty reduction in disadvantaged areas, successful partnership working between organisations, increased commissioning from statutory bodies of VCSE services and more volunteers and volunteering opportunities across Stockton-on-Tees. 

Read more about Catalyst's Reducing Inequalities project on the Catalyst website.

If you or your organisation would like to get involved with our work, email


Here to Help Hub

These are difficult times with the price of energy, food and other bills rising steeply. Many people are finding it tough to keep up with the cost of living.

If you are struggling with money, it's important to remember that you're not alone and that help is available to support you.

Our Here to Help hub contains information and resources in a 'one stop shop' that covers energy saving schemes, welfare assistance, benefits guidance, our Holidays are Fun programme and food banks as well as housing, health, training and employment advice.

Cost of Living Working Groups

Under the strategic direction of the Council's Senior Management Team (SMT), the Fairer Stockton-on-Tees team are working with colleagues and partners on a range of short-term priorities around the cost of living crisis that have been identified via the direct feedback from our local communities and service users. These efforts are concentrated into six working groups comprising representatives from across Council services and key partner organisations to address the most pressing issues and needs in that area. These groups feed into an 'umbrella' Cost of Living Group featuring representatives from the sub-groups and feeding back to the SMT for consistency and further strategic direction. The six groups are:

Energy Crisis

Ensuring key energy and utility advice, help and support is identified, promoted and available across Council and partner services. This group also monitors Community Spaces in Stockton-on-Tees.


Food Crisis

Food banks, community pantries and eco-shops are experiencing significantly increased demand. This group works in partnership with the Stockton Food Power Network to ensure activity and resources are coordinated to resolve shortages and boost resilience in the longer-term.


Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) describes how organisations consider the economic, social and environmental impacts of how they work. It can provide real benefits for residents and community groups while making the most of what businesses and organisations can offer. This group is working to develop and coordinate a Borough-wide approach to Corporate Social Responsibility that reflects the values and culture of the Council.


Child Poverty

Following a recent scrutiny review, plans are developing to help tackle child poverty in Stockton-on-Tees. Proposals include increasing the take-up of free school meals, improving access to laptops, community support schemes and a family poverty profile to ensure support is targeted where it is needed most. This stream of work includes the Holidays are Fun (HAF) programme.


Employee Support

As a large employer, we know the cost of living crisis will be impacted our staff in the same ways that our residents are experiencing. We're working to make sure all staff are aware of all the support and benefits that are on offer to them as an employee of the Council.


Employee Upskilling

It's vital that our staff are armed with up-to-date and effective information that enables them to have the biggest positive impact when helping our residents. This group is developing training and support for staff so they are equipped with everything they need to make every contact count and directly assist people to get the help they need at that time.


Community Spaces

The Fairer Stockton-on-Tees team alongside partner organisations including Catalyst, Thirteen, North Star Housing, Tees Active Leisure, and more, have built a directory of warm and welcoming spaces across the Borough.

Community Spaces are inclusive, non-judgmental places where our residents can go to get warm, take part in activities, receive support and advice, avoid social isolation, reduce their anxiety about the cost-of-living and generally stay well.

Visit the Community Spaces page to view full details of what is on offer and where.

If you or your organisation has a suitable venue that could open its doors, the Fairer Stockton-on-Tees team wants to hear from you. Visit the Community Spaces application page to complete the online form.

Our Community Spaces have been featured by the Local Government Association as an example of great work done to support residents - you can read about it on the Local Government Association's case study webpage.


The Fairer Stockton-on-Tees team is supporting several Council services and partner organisations that work with vulnerable individuals and families to provide free mobile data, calls and texts.

Digital exclusion means people cannot access vital online public services, stay connected with family and friends, or get the health, housing, education or employment information they need.

We're currently distributing more than 150 data vouchers and SIM cards to people and families in need across Stockton-on-Tees who may be in financial difficulty, refugees or asylum seekers, homeless or care leavers.

Learn My Way is a website of free online learning for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world. Their free courses can be accessed at any time and cover lots of topics including starting to use the internet, using email, safety and security online, managing your money and more.

Please be aware that there are many scams operating online, visit the Friends Against Scams website for the latest information where you'll also fine free online scam awareness training.

This work is supported by the Good Things Foundation.

Our Learning and Skills Service offer a wide range of computing and digital skills suitable for beginners to advanced learners, no matter what your ability - there is a course to suit you. Call 01642 527904 for an informal chat or book an initial assessment.

Here to Help drop-ins

Working with the Community Partnerships and Catalyst Stockton-on-Tees, we are bringing a wide range of Council services and organisations under one roof to guide residents to the right support for their needs. From money worries and health concerns to just wanting to explore their local community, the monthly Here to Help drop-in sessions can offer advice and support tailored to the resident.

Visit the Here to Help webpage for session locations, dates and times.

The Bread and Butter Thing

The Bread and Butter Thing is an organisation that provides high-quality, low-cost food for everyone. Jointly funded with Thirteen Housing Group, we are opening 5 The Bread and Butter Thing hubs across Stockton-on-Tees. Find out more on The Bread and Butter Thing webpage.

FSOT Strategic Framework

The FSOT Strategic Framework 2021-31 (PDF) [1MB] outlines five key areas of focus:

  1. tackling fundamental issues across the Borough as a whole
  2. reducing the inequalities faced by disadvantaged communities
  3. deprived neighbourhoods/wards
  4. closing the gap in outcomes for our most marginalised individuals and families
  5. reviewing the impact of the Council as a major employer, commissioner and purchaser

The framework is one of the key priorities of the Council Plan.

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