In October 2016, RECLAIM re-visited Brinnington, an estate in the north-east of Stockport created as part of the local authority housing developments of the 1950s and 60s. When working with young people, RECLAIM aims to gather a true sense of what it means to be young and working class in modern Britain. What drives them, what holds them back and what makes them more important than ever. In the first week of the programme, Brinnington young people, aged 12 and 13, created a manifesto of things they wanted to see change in their area, as well as truly reflecting on what it means to be them. One of the stand out manifesto points was:

‘Being from a council estate is nothing to be ashamed of’

A statement on its own that exudes power, but what is most powerful is that this came from 12 and 13 year olds. Young people who had spent their short lives experiencing the unnecessary stigma of their postcode dictating their value.

Being from a council estate really is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it plays a huge part in the identity of Britain’s working classes. It goes without saying that public housing in the U.K is in real urgent need of focus, it is important to recognise that the current state of social housing has a great impact on quality of life. Grenfell highlighted that, but what it also highlighted was the absolute necessity of a strong community on council estates. We cannot ignore that.

Whilst there is much irony that the mantra of recent governments around social housing has emphasised that no person in this country is forgotten, it needs to be understood that residents of social housing estates have never forgotten each other. Community is the lifeblood of estates. So what happens when we take it away?

Re-developing working class communities by replacing their existing infrastructure with shiny new buildings and expensive coffee shops means that residents become dispossessed in the interests of profit. The integral community element is stripped away. The heart of estates is lost. The identity of working class people is eroded.

Working Class Heroes is a RECLAIM Institute programme, led by working class young people, aiming to celebrate the cultural heritage of rapidly gentrifying communities in Manchester. Young people will interview long-standing residents of gentrifying communities, reflecting on how much growing up in these areas shaped their identity, values and sense of community – but also how it feels now, to see what you have always known become a distant memory. RECLAIM wants unseen community champions to be spotlighted as they are too often uncelebrated.

Being from a council estate is nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s keep it that way.