Susie looks at the hot issue of social mobility
Topical reflection from Susie on social mobility
WE all know we live in a beautiful part of the world, but for some it is more beautiful than others. However lovely Norfolk may be, a substantial part of the county comes very low on the league table for social mobility.
What does that mean? That’s a question we struggle with every time we report on the issue at Look
East. Officially, it’s a person’s ability to move to a different social status, although in practice it’s about getting on in life, making progress compared to where you started.
Finding answers to this problem is not necessarily straightforward. Education is, of course, key. But geography plays a big part too, with the harder to reach places finding it difficult to attract the best staff, and the lack of transport holding young people back from further education or apprenticeships.
It’s also about families – the hopes and aspirations that are passed down the generations. I know a lot of people who were the first in their families to go to university. That achievement meant so much to their parents and grandparents, who’d not had the same opportunity.
The trouble is if you’re living in a deprived area, struggling to make ends meet, or dealing with your own personal problems, it can be hard to have aspiration for your own children. You might just be grateful to get through the day.
That is why I was so impressed by a course being run by Catton Grove Primary school, on the outskirts of Norwich. They’ve invited some parents to have their own lessons in life skills, like cooking and household finances. They help them register with dentists or GPs. They teach them how to cope with day to day living.
One father, whose wife had died, says it’s changed his life. He hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone after his bereavement. He’d stayed at home, feeling isolated and lonely. Imagine the effect on his children. Just being invited to be with this supportive, non-judgmental group, and taught how to cook a lasagne, or do a weekly shop, has made all the difference.
Some parents have themselves come from chaotic backgrounds, and have never learnt how to run a home. The more they can be helped by courses like the one at Catton Grove, the more their children will benefit. And surely that is where social mobility comes in: the feeling that your life can improve, and with the right kind of help, it will.