#ELBA30: Creating Brighter Futures
This week is London Challenge Poverty Week – #LDNChallengePoverty – a campaign supported by many organisations tackling inequality and poverty in the capital. In such a successful city as London there are still high levels of relative and absolute poverty, and in east London we have some of the worst indicators. Pensioner poverty in Tower Hamlets is the highest in the UK, and the level of children living in households below the poverty line (after housing costs) is as high as 50%+ in Tower Hamlets, 40%+ in Newham and over 30% in most east London boroughs.
This week, as part of ELBA’s 30th Anniversary we have teamed up with The Big Issue to highlight what can be done to help children and young people growing up now from repeating the experience of poverty and inequality. Lord Bird, founder of The Big Issue is promoting a new Future Generations Bill in Parliament which would place a duty on public bodies to act in ways which would prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change.
For 30 years ELBA has been working with like-minded businesses who also see the importance of helping young people raise their aspirations, widen horizons and make better careers decisions, and also to help them develop the practical employability skills that will get them into better jobs with higher earnings. Our campaign with the Big Issue – ELBA Brighter Futures – is highlighted in the magazine and online this week.
Our challenge is to get more employers involved. ELBA members have been pioneers and shown the way. But a new report this week from the OECD and charity Education and Employers, shows that children’s career horizons are already being narrowed at primary school age. Business and employers can make a difference in really simple ways. It takes a bit of commitment but just opening up their offices and premises to pupils and students, and getting a wide range of their staff to go into schools and talk about careers and pathways really helps. A further report from Education and Employers shows that it works – pupils who spend meaningful time with business have higher motivation, leading to better results at GCSE- and, most tellingly, it has most impact on pupils from poorer backgrounds.
So let’s do more. Let’s take a lead from the businesses who are already committed. Let’s take a lead from Lord Bird and think about how we can look forward to future generations and eradicate the inequalities that start to appear at so young an age. Let’s not settle for accepting whole generations of young Londoners from some backgrounds growing up in poverty and not getting the opportunities the rest of us take for granted.