Salford: ‘Keep things alive’

It’s a few days after the attack on the Manchester Arena. Coupled with the fact it’s exam time, and the mood is somewhat subdued in Salford City College’s Pendleton campus.

But it’s still lively and bustling, as you would expect. And although many of the sixth form centre’s students aren’t yet old enough to vote, there’s a definite buzz around the forthcoming election.

IMG_6453

This election has disproved any idea that young people aren’t politically engaged.

Many naturally support a Labour campaign that has very effectively targeted their concerns around tuition fees and education.

It would be wrong, however, to assume that different generations think differently.

IMG_6448.jpg

I gather five willing, articulate interviewees – Leah, Liam, Quinn, Dom and Jack – and ask them what their primary political concerns are.

Jack Lees, 18, says for him, poverty is a huge concern. But he’s also unhappy about the way his city looks – and that the two are linked.

“You see all the rubbish everywhere, and people aren’t happy with it,” he tells me.

“Young people may not say it. But they feel the same way.”

Quinn Phillips, 17, also has a keen sense of civic pride that he thinks politicians should share.

Salford, he says, is full of “great institutions and great people” – but that these need to be cherished and maintained.

“Keep putting money into our colleges, our services for people with mental health problems and disabled people,” he says.

“Keep things alive. Don’t close things down.”

Dom Hotham, 16, agrees. He cites all of Salford’s great assets, its buildings, the derelict Eccles theatre – and questions why more isn’t being done to protect and regenerate them.

“I’d like to see more going into the derelict buildings in Salford.”

“There’s a building in the park near college; it could be such a good community or youth centre,” he tells me.

“But the money isn’t there to do it.”

For the whole group, education – and cuts to colleges – are a huge issue.

One they fear will affect their future.

“I’m soon to progress to university,” says Leah Dean, 18. “And it has been a challenge to get to this point.”

IMG_6450

“Education is being majorly cut,” agrees Dom’s brother Liam.

“That’s going to have a knock-on effect, when you have a lack of teachers and a lack of funding for students.”

But interestingly, its not just the amount of money spent that concerns them – it’s how it’s spent.

Jack says students don’t feel they are being given an adequate ‘real life’ education.

“We need to have a more focused look on how to survive in the adult world,” he explains.

IMG_6451

Quinn agrees that, while education should prepare people for “life in general”, it should also avoid just “funneling people into work.”

“I’ve seen changes made to the GCSE system that just don’t seem good,” he adds.

“It seems to be change for its own sake.”

Across Greater Manchester, thousands of young people have been affected by the terrible events earlier in the week. Salford is no different; many of the college’s students were at the Ariana Grande concert.

So it’s not surprising when the conversation turns to security. Both Leah and Dom say investment in the armed forces is one of their priorities.

“I would like to see more funds diverted to the armed forces,” Dom says.

“Especially with all the conflict in the world.”

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s