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Half of residents find island non-inclusive

Island snapshot: from left,Tamara Gathright Fritz, founder of Strategic Evaluation Consulting, Myra Virgil, managing director of the Bermuda Community Foundation, and Lisa Kolody, executive director of the Windsor Essex Community Foundation (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Fewer than half of Bermuda residents see the island as “inclusive” and 31 per cent feel uncomfortable because of their skin colour a new report has revealed.

The news comes in the Bermuda Vital Signs study for 2017, carried out by the Bermuda Community Foundation.

The survey showed housing ranks as the top concern, with only 38 per cent happy with their living conditions, even though 60 per cent of people own their own home. A total of 38 per cent believe healthcare is affordable and 60 per cent hold a favourable view of healthcare on the island.

Myra Virgil, executive director of the Bermuda Community Foundation, said the study was designed to give a “snapshot” of Bermuda across a range of areas.

Dr Virgil said some of the seven categories that were looked at provided surprises.

She explained the island’s score on diversity and inclusion, where feelings of exclusion are determined by skin colour or race, “implies that we are not attending to this issue enough”.

The report is to be followed next year by a series of “community conversations” including charities and government agencies to help co-ordinate resources.

Dr Virgil, who has headed BCF since its foundation in 2013, said: “This is our baseline report,”

The group started with a $6 million grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, boosted by large donations from Bermuda’s international business sector.

Lisa Kolody, executive director of Canada’s Windsor Essex Community Foundation, said the study, released today, was carried out with Vital Signs, a global programme for community foundations co-ordinated by Community Foundations of Canada, where there are 191 similar groups.

She added: “Vital Signs started in Toronto in 2001. We have standardised it, but also created a sense where people can keep it unique to their community.”

Ms Kolody is on the island with Tamara Gathright Fritz, the project’s research co-ordinator, to launch the first report — the culmination of two years’ work at BCF.

Dr Gathright Fritz said the initiative’s “first swipe” had been adding questions to the Bermuda Omnibus Survey, in which 400 people were surveyed by telephone.

The quality of life indicators that emerged were health and personal wellbeing, economy and work, housing, education, safety and security, community wellbeing, and diversity and inclusion.

Information was collated on each priority area, and a public perception survey was developed to explore the island’s performance in each category.

Dr Gathright Fitz said: “What you see is what people said.”

Each respondent’s assessments came with a one to ten ranking of “poor” to “excellent”.

Most Bermuda residents rate their quality of life around seven out of ten.

The summary is taken from a full White Paper report by BCF that will be used to help potential donors and policymakers. The surveys will continue to be refreshed, to improve the group’s understanding of local quality of life.

Dr Virgil said: “This is about people’s experiences, and their expectations. All of this is really about generating and facilitating conversations.”

On housing, residents assess availability at 44 per cent, and the cost at 31 per cent.

Dr Virgil said regional factors, such as the island’s small size, would influence residents’ views.

She added: “That’s where we need to dig deeper. It appears we are not doing very well — so what’s underneath that?”

The White Paper will be updated next year once 2016 census data is available.

A comprehensive Vital Signs update will be carried out in 2020 or 2021.

Dr Virgil said: “Over the next 18 months, starting in January, we will host Vital Signs conversations.”

The talks will bring together charities and government agencies in a bid to better distribute the island’s limited pool of charitable donations.

To read the full report, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

<p>Vital signs</p>

The higher the percentage, the more favourably the category is seen.

• Health and personal wellbeing: 60 per cent

• Economy and work: 44 per cent

• Housing: 38 per cent

• Education: 47 per cent

• Safety and security: 61 per cent