Time to make an impact

Have you ever wondered what life was like 100 years ago? Or how funds and services are distributed in your area? These may seem like two contrasting questions but I assure you they are directly linked.

Next year we will all have the opportunity to stamp our mark in history by completing a survey that has been taking place every ten years since 1801. The Census of England & Wales.

Like any large scale production or task, it requires planning and rehearsals. In fact, the Office of National Statistics completed a census rehearsal in 2019 to test all the systems and processes.

The rehearsal must have gone well as the Government are now recruiting 30,000 field staff across England & Wales to help the census run smoothly and ensure the maximum number of people complete the questionnaire. If that wasn’t enough support to make the census a success, they also have the law behind them. As of 1920, it became compulsory to complete the census. If you don’t complete it or provide false information it could result in a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.

If you still don’t feel obliged to complete the census, you need to know that the information is anonymised and is used to help plan, fund and run local services such as schools and health services.

Ever wondered how so many or so few supermarkets can be in one town? Well, the census data is used for this; a supermarket chain can use the data to decide where to open another store.

If you’re still not keen, would it make a difference to know that the data can help support voluntary organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation to get information on the communities they are working within? They use the data to plan services and support funding applications.

By completing the census you are helping in the education sector too. Students and academics may use the data to support their coursework or research. And finally, if you are researching your family history, the census is a great place to start. But remember, public access to the census is restricted under the terms of the 100-year-old rule.

To make it even easier to complete, 2021 will be a digital-first census. For the first time, you can complete the questionnaire online.

As I love history, I couldn’t leave the article without sharing some census history;

The word census originates from the Latin word ‘censere’ meaning estimate.

  • In approximately 4,000 B.C the Babylonians used a census as a guide for feeding their population. They recorded it on clay tiles which can be viewed at the British Museum.

  • The Egyptians used the census to calculate the labour force needed to build the pyramids.

  • In China 2 A.D, the Han Dynasty instructed a census which recorded 57.67 million people living in 12.36 million households.

  • The Roman Empire used theirs to determine who should be paying taxes. This was completed every five years starting as far back as the 6th century A.D.

  • The doomsday book of 1086 commissioned by William I recorded all the land and resources owned in England at the time. William used the results to raise taxes. Middlewich is famously listed in the book as Mildestvich.

Make sure you grab your chance of helping your community and becoming part of history by completing the census in 2021.

For information on how the census can help with community services; census.gov.uk/case-studies/mental-health-foundation/

If you fancy a job helping to make the census a success; www.censusjobs.co.uk/search-for-a-job/

For information on the 2021 census visit the website census.gov.uk

Jody Woodbridge

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