Knowsley is one of the boroughs across the country that has united in a new national network to tackle issues of social inequality. To symbolise this commitment, Councillor Ron Round, Leader of Knowsley Council, has signed the Birmingham Declaration on Social Inclusion, published today.
The declaration states that, against a backdrop of public sector cuts, the task of creating more inclusive cities has moved beyond what local or national government can do on their own and that there is an urgent need to rally resources and expertise.
By signing the declaration, Knowsley has agreed to:
- Be part of the National Social Inclusion Network
- Share learning and develop joint campaigning on key issues around social inclusion
- Build a strong collective voice to articulate the arguments for social inclusion for all our communities across the country
- Identify action that can be taken around issues of shared concern
The formation of the National Social Inclusion Network and the declaration resulted from the National Social Inclusion Symposium hosted by Birmingham City Council’s Leader, Cllr Sir Albert Bore and The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, in September 2013.
The network’s activities will be focused on eight themes that were identified from the reports produced by fairness and poverty commissions from around the country and developed at the symposium. Each theme is being coordinated by a local authority member of the network. They are:
- Living wage and income inequality (Islington)
- Impact of welfare reforms (Birmingham)
- Fuel, finance and food (Plymouth)
- Education and skills (Liverpool)
- Youth employment (Birmingham)
- Access and affordable transport (Sheffield)
- Democratic accountability (Newcastle)
- Housing (Tower Hamlets)
Work has been undertaken in Knowsley to empower and support communities to be resilient and progress has been made to alleviate the impact of social inequality and deprivation. Examples of this work include:-
- Improvements in the school readiness of our children under five.
- Leading the work across the Liverpool City Region to tackle the causes and consequences of child and family poverty.
- Ensuring that primary schools are as good as any and better than most.
- Supporting over 500 Knowsley Apprentices into work over the last five years.
- Establishing the Knowsley Youth Mutual – a social enterprise set up to deliver youth services in Knowsley.
- Establishing the Knowsley Foundation which has been created to support new social enterprises and community organisation.
Cllr Ron Round, Leader of Knowsley Council, said “To build on these developments in Knowsley, we will work with colleagues in other local authorities to collectively tackle social inequality and deprivation. By signing up to the Birmingham Declaration on Social Inclusion highlights Knowsley’s ongoing commitment to address this issue.”
Cllr John Cotton, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for social cohesion and equalities, said:
"I entered politics to help people and I'm proud to say that this declaration represents a very real commitment to improving the lives of millions of people across the country. Even as we face up to unprecedented cuts, the councils signing up to the declaration are demonstrating a united commitment to those people who feel they have been marginalised for too long.
“It's clear that we're all facing similar challenges. Looking across the various fairness commission reports and frameworks that have been developed it is also clear that we all share a common determination to address deep-rooted issues of inequality and disadvantage and to deliver the changes needed."
The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, said:
“The strength of the Birmingham Social Inclusion Process which I have been chairing for the past two years is that it has not been simply about defining the problem, but instead, building a movement to drive forward the solutions that are needed to address the significant disadvantage that exists in our city. This is not just the responsibility of a few policy-makers but rather the opportunity for everyone to play their part as life-changers and hope-givers in the places they call home.
“Creating a national movement is another step in the process. The National Social Inclusion Network will provide an opportunity to bring together our experience and expertise, learn from each other and combine our efforts to build a strong collective voice to articulate the arguments for social inclusion for all our communities across the country.”