For many residents of the city of Manchester and beyond, over the past few years, the dominant political narrative has felt to be one of fear and distrust. The combined impacts of austerity, the result of the EU referendum and a global pandemic has meant that people are also experiencing the effects of increased inequality, poverty, isolation, and alienation. The country feels like a place that is hostile, alien, frightened and turning in on itself – especially for the most marginalized.
The impact of COVID-19 has demonstrated an appetite for a ‘new normal’ among these marginalised groups, one which has those most affected at the centre of strategic decision making. For too long those with lived experience of social issues relating to poverty and inequality have seen politics and power as something that did not belong to them; now they realise they can be heard, claim their rights and demand change. In the face of the pandemic and immediate societal divisions - along lines of ethnicity, race, class, geography, and age - community members have got organised, leading and steering community actions via mutual aid and solidarity and action within movements such as Black Lives Matter.
In January 2021, we delivered our first workshop for the Social Rights Alliance (SRA)
Manchester, with an aim to support individuals and community groups from Moss Side and Wythenshawe to tackle social injustice through the framework of economic, social and cultural rights. Both communities over the past few decades have been subject to increasing inequality as a result of the political landscape, whilst continually receiving negative press. The SRA Manchester will draw upon the existing efforts, organizing and strengths of the residents of both communities and look to a hopeful future in which people are able to understand their rights, recognize when they have been violated and use them as a tool to effectively call for meaningful social change. The city – during a global pandemic – is caught between a boom and a crisis. Now more than ever, it is important that the voices of those deemed powerless in the struggle are at the forefront and heard for their authenticity and legitimacy -particularly as the ‘new’ Manchester emerges.
The SRA Manchester is a movement, for anyone in the communities of Moss Side and Wythenshawe who want to shape life after the pandemic and ensure a more equal society in our ‘new normal’, our next workshop will be on Thursday 11th February 2021, further details to follow. If you need further details on the programme, contact Rachael Gibbons: Rachael.firstname.lastname@example.org. Assistance is available for digital access.