Working class must be part of equality strategy

Oldham’s Equality Strategy needs to do more to address the problems faced by working class people across the borough, according to the Oldham’s Liberal Democrats.

The report, which was presented to full council at its September meeting [09/09/21], was broadly welcomed by the group for the many positive approaches it has taken, but some key changes were requested by the opposition group going forward – socioeconomic inequality, mental health issues, and the digital divide among them.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “Despite the delays, this report does an excellent job of addressing many problems that people in our borough face.

“My primary concern is that it almost completely misses out socioeconomic inequalities. If you are working class, you are likely to have faced so many difficulties, whether that is in education, opportunity, or work. While people are able to overcome these – and I applaud those that do – this strategy needs to find ways of reducing these barriers.

“I worry that if you are working class in Oldham, you will have faced inequalities all your life, and yet if you look at this equalities strategy, you will not see yourself in here as one of the people that this is intended to benefit. That needs to change.”

Sam Al-Hamdani and Louie Hamblett

Councillor Louie Hamblett also identified issues around the ‘digital divide’ and mental health as components of the report that needed strengthening.

He said: “My personal experiences, particularly with regards to my autism, mean that I know how it feels to try and get support within a system that is not designed to be accessed by someone like me.

“I want to make sure that anyone else who has similar issues gets the support that they need.

“This strategy does that in many ways. I hope that we can improve on it so it does even more.”

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