The process of deindustrialisation has destabilised many working class communities across the country. The large industrial workplaces (docks, mines, steel works, potteries, and car plants) have often disappeared. In towns which once had an industrial identity, that has gone, along with the high levels of trade union engagement, the sports and social clubs. Even the pubs are going. Meanwhile the once solid relationship between the communities and their traditional representatives; the Labour Party, has become ‘more complex’.
These post-industrial communities face a future where parents know that their children's future is significantly less promising than their own was, where 'career opportunities' are often limited to work in low wage jobs such as retail parks and where the traditional sense of community has often been replaced by an uneasy division along ethnic, social and religious lines.
All of this raises a number of questions for academics, economists, public health professionals, politicians, policy makers, trade unionists, funders, anti-racists and community activists. This conference aims to bring people from all these fields (as well as some international speakers) together to discuss a number of these questions:
• Why have new, high quality jobs, not replaced the ones that were lost?
• What alternative economic choices are available (and why have they not been adopted)?
• What is the relationship between poverty and a growing fear/hatred of ‘the other’ (and can that relationship be changed)?
• If ‘myth busting’ doesn’t change people’s minds, what sort of conversations might undercut the emerging racism and fear in these communities?
• Given that these issues appear most dramatically in former industrial towns, what insights can an analysis of place and space provide?
• Can health inequalities be used as a inclusive issue around which fractured communities can to mobilise as a step towards addressing underlying issues of poverty and exclusion?
• How can local communities rebuild the networks that have been lost?
• What is the role of faith in these communities.?
But ultimately the really important question (that all of the above feed into) is: ‘how can the sense of economic and social decline in these communities be reversed?’.
At this stage we envisage a number of academic and practitioner panels over the 2 days covering a range of topics related to the questions above. We anticipate three or four panel speakers presenting for around 10 minutes followed by a discussant drawing out key points. This will then feed into a series of workshops for conference attendees.
If you are interested in speaking in one of the panels then please send an (approx) 500 word outline of what you would like to say, along with a short biography covering your expertise or key area of interest no later than 18 January 2017.
If you would like to attend, or to contribute towards a session in this multidisciplinary conference, then please complete the form below.