By Andy Cook
It is a great honour to lead the Centre for Social Justice.
In 2007 a friend and I set up a charity to help and support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into training and work. It was founded on the principle that the individuals we worked with were people to be developed, not problems to be solved.
Time on the front-line taught me about the genuine passion that exists within political, charitable and business spheres to tackle disadvantage and support people to reach their full potential.
Now is a crucial time in the fight for a more socially just Britain. Our new Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, has committed her Government to tackling the “burning injustices” that are endemic throughout this country. She has promised that the UK will be a country that works for everyone.
The CSJ shares this passion wholeheartedly. A passion to not only understand what traps people in poverty, but also to release them from it and give them every opportunity to thrive. We also understand that drawing people together for this common cause is key to making and sustaining change.
Much has been achieved in lifting people out of poverty in recent years, most notably through the UK’s job’s miracle which has seen unemployment plummet to 4.9 per cent. There is, however, still much to do.
Under half (47 per cent) of disabled people of working age are employed, compared to 80 per cent of non-disabled people; one in 40 children under the age of one live with a parent addicted to drugs; just 34 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals achieved at least 5 A*- C GCSEs (or equivalent grades) including English and Mathematics compared to 61 per cent of all other pupils; the number of people seeking help with debt problems hit a record high in 2016; and about a million children in the UK are growing up without meaningful contact with their fathers.
These startling realities outline just some of the challenges the Centre for Social Justice is committed to solving. We will be working closely with our alliance of charities, business and Government to develop transformative reforms to tackle these issues and to help ensure that we have a country that works for everyone