Fairer Futures


Sometimes you are lucky enough to be invited to an event which offers something fresh, new and relevant. This doesn’t happen very often. Recently it did.

RECLAIM Project’s Fairer Futures work with young people launched its manifesto today with the heading ‘A Postcode should never dictate potential’. It was impressive to see big player employers including KPMG – who hosted – Virgin Trains and Penguin Random House contributing and engaging.

I was struck by Penguin’s Jennie Pitt making the strong business case for representative employees: ‘Lack of diversity isn’t good for books, for culture, or commercially’. She was spot on to make the point that this is not about tokenism or looking good, but ‘staying relevant’.

The stars of the show were, as ever with RECLAIM, the young speakers. Their articulate, confident delivery would wow any employer and everyone present agreed that they outshone all their senior corporate colleagues on the podium. There is no doubt these are future world beaters.

One speaker – Jesse – brilliantly described the barriers he experienced in trying to get to the college where he wanted to do his A levels. He wanted to do Physics which was understaffed at his school. He got the place at the college but it was a 2- hour bus journey from his home. And he could not afford the train fares. So he had to remain at his school. He described, matter-of- factly how there ‘was no teacher’ for one key area of the Physics curriculum, so he had to somehow pick this up by working alone. His summary should give pause for thought to all recruiters and employers:

‘Three A’s on a CV from a person from a working class background are not the same. The achievement – and journey – they represent is different. It’s about appreciating a person for what they are.’

Another young speaker, Rachel, wants to go into politics. She described her council estate background as ‘a good thing – because I know what I want to change’.

We were put to work at the launch event to consider one of the 8 key areas identified in the manifesto. Our table was discussing how to value experience and get recognition for working class lived experience. The difficulty of feeling squashed into a cultural framework, or set of ‘rules’ which may be totally different to the one in which you grew up – cannot be underestimated.

Result CIC has now worked with two years of RECLAIM Project’s young people and we are looking forward to starting with our third group in 2017. The young people’s most common response to coaching and self-discovery is surprise at what they can achieve and how they can go about it. Confidence is the key. Based on this event, there is plenty of this around – it just needs encouragement.

Watch the Fairer Futures video and read more about the launch.


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