For our cities to truly thrive, we need to collectively create inclusive societies that cater for people from all walks of life. This means overriding the differences of race, gender, class, age, location and sexual orientation. By ensuring places are developed and operate in ways that ensure inclusion, cities will be able to provide equal opportunities that allow people, as well as places, to flourish.
Improving social mobility is crucial to creating inclusive societies. While this is an issue that many have been trying to solve for some time now, the pandemic has only worsened the disparities across the country and within our communities. Both economic and educational inequalities have been on the rise this year, and, unless we act now, will cause huge impacts into the future.
The pandemic has highlighted a number of issues rooted in social mobility and the problems many people within our communities are facing, such as health and educational inequalities, living standards and job security. And there are further concerns around the impact the pandemic could have in the long term on individuals due to the negative impact on mental wellbeing, unemployment levels and the economic recovery.
The crisis has hit at a time when households were already struggling. Data from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that typical income for the fifth poorest households in the UK fell by around 3 per cent in 2018/19 (when taking inflation into account), meaning that the poorest in our country were actually worse off than in 2014/15.
We need to act now to tackle these problems and prevent more arising as we work our way through the current crisis.
We believe in creating equal opportunities for all. Through both the ways in which we operate as a business and our work with partner organisations, we aim to support the creation of communities that have a long-lasting, positive impact on individuals, as well as the places in which they live, work and play.
By providing people with the support they need to fulfil their ambitions, and focussing on growth sectors and regional strengths, we know that people can harness the opportunity to develop a successful life and, in turn, economic growth which enables better opportunities for others in the future.
We work with organisations, such as HideOut Youth Zone in Harpurhey, to support people within our communities to build and fulfil their ambitions, and lead healthier, happier and more aspirational lives.
We also partner with health institutions to help tackle the health inequalities faced by communities within our regions. For example, we’re working on a joint venture with the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust to redevelop the North Manchester General Hospital. This health campus will focus on healthy living for residents, as well as offering specialist care facilities and training and employment opportunities for local people.
This is one part of a strategic regeneration framework, of which the vision is centred around creating a “focal point for the community” which offers integrated health and social care facilities, provides quality new homes and gives access to better education and training.
This kind of joined up approach to regenerating areas and developing opportunities for local people can help to reduce the disparities between individuals in our societies. It is imperative that we allow everyone to have the freedom to explore and pursue opportunities, as well as giving those less fortunate a fair chance to succeed in life.