A future for post-industrial communities?

New approaches to addressing the poverty and division within the UK’s post-industrial communities will be discussed by community activists, leading academics, charity workers, health professionals and campaigners at a conference at the University of Leeds today.

More than 100 attendees are expected at 'A future for post-industrial communities?' which is jointly organised by the charity HOPE not hate and the University’s Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC).

The conference will discuss the complex, multifaceted nature of the challenges facing post-industrial communities and explore new ways in which those living within such areas can be supported to become ‘change makers’ within their community.

The conference is held on 23 and 24 March and speakers include Hilary Benn, MP Leeds Central, and Professor John Denham, former Minister for Communities and Local Government.

John Page, Head of Organising at HOPE not hate, said: “The problems in these communities are a direct result of the fact that deindustrialisation often happened without a coherent regeneration strategy.

“The trend to see out-of-town shopping malls as the centrepiece of regeneration has led to often low paid, and contingent work. The subsequent actual poverty and poverty of hope that so often exists in these communities is a key factor in driving many of the most talented young people to move out in search of better quality jobs, the shocking patterns of health inequalities and elevated levels of inter-community division.

“These communities are often rich in culture and heritage, but have been taught that ‘nothing will change’ because successive governments have not responded effectively to their pleas for help.”

Jane Holgate, Professor of Work and Employment Relations at Leeds University Business School, said: “We are interested in working with post-industrial communities to explore how we can improve life for those living in them. This often includes collective self-help proposals, addressing issues like food poverty, or a lack of exercise facilities.

“But at some time, there has to be a process by which the voices of these communities are heard, and practical steps are taken to facilitate grass roots economic renewal. HOPE not hate are the experts on supporting communities to organise, and if we can marry that level of community engagement with expert, evidence-based suggestions for improvements, maybe we can reverse the decline in these post-industrial areas.”

Speakers at the conference include:

  • Professor Clare Bambra, an expert on health inequalities
  • Professor John Denham, former Minister for Communities and Local Government
  • Andy Lock, Coalfields Community Trust
  • Rachel Laurence, New Economics Foundation
  • Hilary Benn, MP Leeds Central

HOPE not hate currently has three pilot projects running in post-industrial towns: Rotherham, Dudley and Merthyr Tydfil. They are working at bringing communities together to address local challenges, in particular the health inequality within these towns (with male life expectancy at birth differing by 10 years depending on where in these town you were born).


Professor Holgate is available for interview. Contact: Guy Dixon, Senior Press Officer, University of Leeds on 0113 343 1028 or g.dixon@leeds.ac.uk

John Page is available for interview. Contact: Nick Ryan, Communications Director, HOPE not Hate, on 020 8133 9560 or media@hopenothate.org.uk

media@hopenothate.org.ukFurther information

HOPE not hate

HOPE not hate www.hopenothate.org.uk | @hopenothate is the UK’s largest anti-racism campaign, challenging organised hatred and working to strengthen communities.

Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC)

The Centre draws from the expertise of internationally renowned scholars at Leeds University Business School and the Faculty of Social Sciences. The Centre aims to create a vibrant research environment incorporating established, Doctoral and leading visiting researchers. Our work contributes to contemporary, national and international debates surrounding the changing dynamic and the future of work, employment and labour markets. 

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