“We built this city. Now let’s take our place in it.”

Britain was built by the people who worked in its factories, shipyards and mines; who fought its wars; built its roads and houses; and paid its taxes.  The working class has a proud history of strength, resilience and hard work.

 But now, more than ever, working class communities are stigmatised and isolated: stereotyped as chavs, ‘workshy’, and ‘feral’.  Many working class young people feel disconnected from their heritage, no pride in their surroundings and excluded from the nation’s future.

RECLAIM discusses class with young people, but many people in modern Britain struggle to articulate what ‘working class’ actually means today, beyond traditional images of mill workers and strikes.

This bold campaign aimed to tackle the ‘uncomfortable’ debate around the ever-prevalent class system in the UK. The young people at the forefront of the campaign called on working class communities to reclaim their history and heritage and to reject stigma and the increasing isolation of their young people.

Built By The Working Class was led by 15 young people aged 12 – 20, all proudly from working class communities across Greater Manchester.

These pioneering young people took to the streets of London and Manchester, directly engaging with members of the public and prominent leaders, seeking respect and recognition. In London, they visited several key locations; from media institutions to Westminster, talking to leaders and decision-makers. For many of the young people, it was their first trip to London. They experienced first-hand the divide of power and income between the North and the capital of the country.

The Built By The Working Class campaign was made up of a month of action including:

  • Several Manchester city centre campaign billboards to raise young people’s visibility in prominent locations across the city
  • 12 young people visited London; directly targeting people in positions of power and wealth to have conversations around class and representation
  • The young people met with MP’s, journalists from the Guardian, BBC radio broadcasters as well as members of the public
  • 10 young people took to the streets of Spinningfields, the financial district of Manchester city centre, to start conversations about class and representation with members of the public
  • Interviews with local Mancunians discussing what they think of the term ‘working class’ and created a vox pop series
  • The Walk for Change – a 200 strong walk through central Manchester proudly championing working class communities and demanding their voices be heard

RECLAIM’s Built by the Working Class Campaign was created with pro-bono support from creative agency True North.