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LET'S MAKE HEALTH EQUAL
Because of things like income, air quality and housing, where you're born can cut your life short by up to
16 years
We travelled the UK to meet the next generation at risk of poor health and shorter lives, and brought them to London with one ask: to #MakeHealthEqual.

Discover the life expectancy in your area

The number of years a person can expect to live is affected by many things, from good-quality homes, to neighbourhoods with green space and clean air.

Discover the life expectancy where you live.

HOW DOES LIFE EXPECTANCY COMPARE ACROSS THE UK?
74years
The national average81
90years

LIFE EXPECTANCY

The world around us shapes our health and wellbeing.

From quality homes that are warm and safe, to stable jobs, social connections, and neighbourhoods with green space and clean air, these are the building blocks that have a lasting and positive impact on people’s health, and reduce health inequalities.

In the UK, these building blocks are not available to everyone, or not at the quality needed.

MONEY IN OUR POCKETS

The higher our income, the better chance we have to access all the building blocks of health. People on the lowest incomes are less likely to be able to afford nutritious food, pay bills to heat their homes, or access the internet for education and employment opportunities.

OUR ENVIRONMENT

 

When we have access to nature, green spaces and healthy waterways, our health is improved. Air pollution and climate change have negative impacts on our health, with 6.7 million children living in areas of the UK where air pollution has breached legal limits.

SAFE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Affordable, safe and warm housing is a cornerstone of our health. However, millions of people in the UK are living in homes that do not meet basic health and safety standards, triggering ill health such as respiratory conditions and chronic stress.

Meet Louis and Lorcan

WHAT ARE PEOPLE FACING AND HOW DO WE CHANGE IT?
  • 'Home for health is so important'

    Julie, 56, solo-mother of one, returned to the UK from South Africa in November 2023, after leaving when she was 14.

    Julie and her son were forced to stay at a temporary accommodation until recently. In the temporary accommodation they had to share a room, couldn’t cook, and didn’t even have a toaster. This had an impact on them, as Julie has mobility issues and diabetes requiring suitable accommodation and access to basic healthy nutrition which was impossible in the hotel.

    ‘We’ve been housed because of Crisis. So much has been happening and my health isn’t fantastic. I’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. If it wasn’t for Crisis and the team, supporting me and my mental health, I don’t know. I was bursting into tears every day.

    ‘[Now] My home is really accessible for me. The lift is here, and it took a while for them to fix the lift, but the lift is here… Home for health is so important. Because your stress is gone, like you know that tomorrow you’re going to be warm. You’re going to be fine. If you’re on the streets, you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, sofa surfing or in an unstable accommodation. In your own home, you feel so proud.’

  • 'Affording and accessing nutritious food is just one problem alongside many others'

    Food Ambassador, Maggie, is a registered nutritionist from Liverpool.

    ‘We are surrounded by junk food advertising: from personalised money-off coupons and deals on foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, to retail outlets and small shops filled with them. Even youth hubs, hospitals and schools do not make nutritionally balanced options easier. Why in my local hospital does deep-fried fish come with chips and peas? Why do you have to pay full price or more for rice and salad instead of chips? Even seemingly ‘healthy’ salads tend to be too sweet or too salty. What is the point of having the Eatwell Guide in the school curriculum if school food does not mirror it?

    I, and several of my friends, have received a letter about our child’s weight, but is it our fault? We are frustrated and feel helpless. Affording and accessing nutritious food is just one problem alongside many others including housing conditions and new universal credit rules. We drown in stress and worries.’

SEE OUR JOURNEY ACROSS THE UK TO UNDERSTAND HOW HEALTH INEQUALITY IMPACTS DIFFERENT AREAS

Want to demand change now?

Sign our petition and ask your local MP to commit to #MakeHealthEqual.

Let’s #MakeHealthEqual

Sign up to find out more about our campaigns and how you can help shape a society where each of us has the best chance of good health, no matter where we’re born.

Sign up to find out more about our campaigns and how you can help shape a society where each of us has the best chance of good health, no matter where we’re born.

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CAMPAIGN FAQs
  • Why is life expectancy different in different areas?

    The world around us shapes our health and how long we live – from quality homes that are warm and safe, to stable jobs, clean air, neighbourhoods with green space, and social connections. But access to these building blocks of good health varies across the UK, and right now, things like poverty and poor living conditions are damaging health and wellbeing and cutting some lives short.

    When we don’t have access to safe, green spaces; our homes are unsafe through disrepair or damp; or we face the stress of rising energy, housing and food costs, these all have a direct impact on our health.

  • Where did you get the life expectancy data from?

    Health Equals is drawing on data released publicly by the Office of National Statistics. For England, the data covers the years 2015 – 2019. For Wales, Scotland and Norther Ireland, the data covers the 2017 – 2019 period. These are the most recent time periods for which comparable UK-wide data is available which is not affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The data has been analysed by the Health Foundation.

    Our interactive postcode lookup tool provides life expectancies related to postcode district level – this is estimated as an average of the life expectancies in the relevant Middle Layer Super Output Areas (MSOAs) / local authorities which lie within a postcode district.

  • Why are you using images of babies in your campaign?

    Our campaign intends to highlight the health inequalities that people in the UK face from the moment they are born, who through no fault of their own, could be at risk of poor health because of where they live and their access to the building blocks of health. But a baby’s life is not predetermined; if we take the right steps, we can change their future prospects for the better.

    The babies featured in our campaign are real babies from across the UK, whose families have agreed for them to take part by having their photograph taken in their homes. The babies include a mix of gender and ethnic diversity representative of the UK population, from a range of different backgrounds.

  • Why have you highlighted geography, aren’t other factors important in determining our health and how long we could live?

    Our health and wellbeing is not only shaped by where we’re born, but also by protected characteristics (such as our race, sex, age or if we have a disability), and if we’re part of a marginalised or socially excluded group.

    We’ve chosen to focus our campaign on the impact of where we are born and live in the UK, to show how the building blocks of health such as housing, income and air quality are not available to everyone equally, meaning that our geography can have a significant impact on our health. However, change isn’t out of our control – things can be better if we make sure that action is taken to prioritise the building blocks that act as vital cornerstones of our health.

    While the babies in our campaign include a mix of gender and ethnicities, we are not focusing on the impact of these characteristics on health. Similarly, we are not featuring babies with a health condition or disability, which may have specific impacts on their health outcomes and life expectancy.

  • Where can I go for support related to the issues raised?

    We understand that is it is a sensitive matter. Please visit our support page.

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