Aug 3, 2022 Event

Tacking Inequalities for our Children

Avatar Image for Gregory White

Dr. Gregory White

Bradford Institute for Health Research - Senior Research Fellow

Photo credit: Simon Wiffen

Over 400 delegates flocked to Salts Mill on July 12th to pledge their support for a new alliance formed to improve life chances for young people across Bradford. The delegates were treated to a unique mixture of science, art, and the inspirational stories of the lives of children and young people within Bradford.

The day highlighted world-leading programmes of research. Parallel sessions provided delegates with the opportunity to hear about national initiatives such as linking health and education records to identify undiagnosed autism, the creation of neurodiversity friendly schools, and the use of air cleaning technologies in schools to combat covid-19.

The event concluded with everyone signing a giant board where they pledged their support towards tackling the inequalities blighting our country. The signatures included the CEOs of our health and education services as well as practitioners and communities. The event demonstrated the eagerness and urgency across Bradford around the Alliance’s goal of significantly improving the life chances for the children and young people of Bradford by 2040.

Photo credit: Simon Wiffen

Young people in Bradford – and across the UK – are experiencing a dual crisis that affects both their home life, as the cost of living increases exponentially, and their physical and mental health following the Covid-19 pandemic. Recent analysis from the Resolution Foundation indicates that a further 500,000 children in the UK will fall into poverty by 2023, and many of are likely to reside in the Bradford area.[1] These intersecting crises mean that we are in the midst of a mental health pandemic which has significantly impacted children and young people, according to recent evidence.[2]

There could not have been a more opportune moment for academics, practitioners, policy makers and representatives to come together. The newly formed coalition – building on the legacy of the Bradford Opportunity Area (BOA) – is a partnership of independent leaders from the Bradford district area with one mission: to improve the life chances and outcomes for a generation of children and young people in Bradford.

There were many highlights during the day – including performances from Hazelbeck Performing Arts and St John’s CE Primary School choir – with the speeches from Bradford school students delivering a powerful and emotive start to the day. The students spoke directly to their lived experiences of living and studying in Bradford, and the considerable challenges they face every day as young people in an uncertain world.

There were powerful interventions from research leaders, including the director of the Born in Bradford research programme – Professor Rosie McEachan. In the debate on improving community engagement, Professor McEachan made an impassioned appeal to delegates for adequately fund programmes that address the needs of the community in Bradford.

The challenges faced by many children and young people in Bradford are profound, and we need to work hard to achieve the 2040 goal set by the Alliance for Life Chances. But the pledges of support – from school, health services, the business sector, academia and government – allow us to be confident that the people of Bradford will transform the life chances of the next generation.