Published: Friday, 12th March 2021

Residents are being encouraged to help shape Medway’s future by taking part in take part in Census 2021 on Sunday, 21 March. 

The census is a survey, managed and run by the Office for National Statistics, which is held every 10 years and provides government and local authorities the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941. The information residents provide will help decide how services are planned and funded in Medway.

The census helps local authorities across the country understand their communities by asking questions about residents’ sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. For the first time, there are also questions which ask residents if they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ONS only publishes anonymous statistics from the census.

Census 2021 is being run mainly online and households will receive a letter before Sunday, 21 March, with a unique access code which allows them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets. The census can be filled out before 21 March and residents have until Tuesday, 4 May to complete the census.

Residents who are unable to complete the online form can request a paper copy.

Our libraries service has dedicated officers who can help residents who need support completing the census over the telephone, appointments can be booked by calling Medway Libraries on 01634 337799 between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday and between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays.

Help shape Medway's future

Cllr Rupert Turpin, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Business Management, covering Democracy and Governance, said: “The census will give us a picture of all of Medway’s communities and help us plan for the future needs of all our residents. Census information is also used by other public services and charities. We are also pleased that, for the first time, the census will include an armed forces question. This will help us have a better understanding of the needs of veterans in Medway and ensure our services are tailored to meet their needs. It’s vital that we all take part in the census to help shape Medway’s future. I would encourage residents who are unable to complete the questionnaire online to call our support centre for advice.”

Now is the time to make your mark on history

Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the Office for National Statistics, said: “A successful census will help give the best picture of the needs of everyone living in England and Wales. It helps us understand what our society needs now and what it will likely need in the future. We’ve had a fantastic response so far, with so many of you completing the questionnaire on your laptops, phones and computers. It takes just 10 minutes per person to take part and if you can’t get online, there are paper forms available for those who need them. Now is the time to make your mark on history.”

As well as helping plan for the future the census can tell us about our past. The council’s Medway Archives Centre has been looking at what past censuses tell us about Medway. The 1921 census was postponed due to months of marches, protests and strikes and was rescheduled for Sunday, 19 June 1921. But as many people were on holiday rather than in their hometown places such as Ramsgate showed an unexpected population increase.

In 1921 Chatham had a population of 42,665, an increase of only about 400 since 1911; Rochester had decreased in size and had a population of 31,261, and Gillingham’s population had grown by around 200 to 54,038.

The census also records important social history. In 1911, with growing momentum in the women’s suffrage movement, many women avoided taking part in the census. In Medway a group of Suffragettes hired the Jezreel Hall in Gillingham for the night. The hall was watched by police whilst the group spent the evening dancing, playing cards and giving recitals. Someone attempted to complete the census return on the women’s behalf stating ‘a party of suffragettes, assembled in Dancing Academy. 40 in number. One male and 39 females’.

Find out how to complete the census

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