Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has launched her Oldham Fairness Commission (OFC) and is being backed by a wide range of influential leaders from the town’s public, private and voluntary sectors.
Launching the Commission, on 18/7/13 at the Oldham Link Centre for Independent Living, Debbie said: “Many inequalities persist across Oldham. One shocking example of the socio-economic inequalities that exist here is that there is more than an 11 year life expectancy gap between men who live in the most and least deprived parts of the borough.
“We have to ask ourselves why it is that people in the most deprived parts of our town are dying so much younger than those in the more affluent parts. Why there are around 14,000 children in Oldham living in poverty. Why, in Oldham, there are around 16% of people with no qualifications whereas the average is 10% nationally.
“There is strong evidence that fairer, more equal, societies benefit us all, and that many of these inequalities are not fixed or inevitable. That’s why our Oldham Fairness Commission is coming together and aiming to identify and address what may be contributing to local inequalities in education, employment and income, and to define action to address these issues through our local partners and beyond.
“We will seek to complement and enhance the existing work that is being undertaken by our partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors. It’s only by working together that all our agencies will be able to pinpoint the best use of our scare resources to tackle some of the most ingrained inequalities in our town.”
Norman K Stoller CBE, who has donated £1M to help young people get appropriate vocational training and qualifications leading to a proper job and career prospects in Oldham, supports the aims of the Commission. Norman said: “I welcome Debbie’s initiative to so publicly pull Oldham’s leaders together to identify real actions to deliver positive results for the benefit of the community in general and the disadvantaged in particular.
“It’s quite clear that progress in Oldham is made by doers and it takes more than just talking to make a difference to people’s lives and there are many examples, including the highly successful Mahdlo Youth Zone. This is a great example of where hard working people with a variety of skills, who are willing to accept the challenge of change, have come together to find new and better ways to make progress. It’s initiatives like Mahdlo, the New Youth Guarantee and the Oldham Fairness Commission that will help achieve the vision of a more confident and revitalised working community.”
Rob Berkeley, Director of Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank, said: “Our research has shown that Oldham experiences high levels of inequality in education, employment, housing, income and health. We welcome Debbie’s efforts to understand the drivers of such inequality and to work with Oldham residents and organisations to identify solutions through the Oldham Fairness Commission. If others up and down the country do the same we will be better placed to create a society where all have the opportunity to contribute and to fulfil their potential.”