Featured image: Duncan Johnson Street Cleaner, Telford Morton below: Irene Welburn, Nurse Brown
‘Every so often a moment comes along that snaps everything into sharp focus… this chapter in history has seen society shift its attention on to some of the people in this country who are not usually afforded the spotlight.’ Edward Enninful, Editor Vogue magazine
For working class people: men and women, genders of all ages and ethnicities: it’s been a long time coming…
How can we put back the respect, purpose and motivation and 100% achievement into work, working class people and their hopes and aspirations? Perhaps if we think of every organisation, business, company and institution as interdependent and interconnected we can look at the power of the organisational culture to transform either in a positive or a negative way.
The way we’re treated, the way an organisation sees the work, its people, its contractors, its purpose, allows 100% success or not. 100% success is possible when everyone feels part of the process, feels they can contribute, should contribute.
Genuine 100% achievement is a spur, a motivator that boosts ability, capacity and achievement. Our problem in the last forty years, moving away from a community and neighbourhood focussed society into a market orientated, exploitative, extractive, individuated economy we’ve stigmatised the victims of that exploitation and created a culture around them that it’s hard to change. in doing this we’ve also lost the purpose and the meaning of why we do what we do.
If we can change the culture around the poor, the underclass the dispossessed, recognising that the harms that have becalmed the working class neighbourhoods are felt in affluent neighbourhoods that are just as becalmed, we can transform relationships across society. Relationships between working class and professional people have been lost to the market and a regressive status anxiety that makes professional people think they need servants.
Let’s tell the truth: no-one needs servants: neither should they allow their children or their family promote the idea of power and status combined with managing servanting.
When we look at the harms and problems we want to solve we realise that we’ve lost the working class to all the harms and viccissitudes of the market economy of the last forty years. The working class has been seen as an underclass, excluded and imprisoned in agency, gig and gang labour, short rented contracts with private landlords and social housing estates. Working class people need their desire for progression to be understood, acknowledged, listened to and supported: it’s unacceptable to say I have a cleaning woman because she needs a bit of pin money in the 21st century. No she doesn’t: you are exploiting her and she is vulnerable because she needs this job.
Understand that and work towards creating her alternative world.
Social and private rented housing now needs a good press, good support that can help them turn around forty years of negativity around social housing and rented property tenants. If we can do this it will be as if we control the media, the news: if the people who work with social housing and private rented tenants see them as people with boundaries, people with a desire for a future, who have aspirations just like theirs then that mutual respect can become something useful in society, it will spread across the neighbourhood like wildfire, just as the rumours, lies and innuendoes around working class people, single parents and anyone from an ethnically diverse background spread across local, regional and national media over the past forty years.
We’re all here to change that.
The culture around private renting and social housing has been toxic: over the past forty years, tenants have been a captive group in society, free but tagged for future exploitation: short contracts, agency, gig and gang labour, short tenancies that have undermined relation, relationships, community and the historical traditions within the working class of collaboration, sharing and progress. Public humiliation in an increasingly voyeur/surveillance media that misses the real issues until it’s much too late.
Understanding how the reduction in quality of education, jobs, housing in working class, health and life chances in working class neighbourhoods is something we’ve all contributed to, we’ve all stigmatised in our ignorance.
The way to change this is to encourage conversations across the neighbourhoods: working class and professional people talking together about the things that matter to them, the things they care about.
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