The Victorian Era: A Time of Two Nations
Many of us still call Victorian-era architecture our home, but behind those doors lies a different era that could be hiding a concerning reality. The Victorian age was marked by a significant gap between mainstream society and an impoverished underclass, comprising more than 13 million people. The impact of lockdowns during the pandemic has only exacerbated this gap, with staggeringly high numbers of individuals experiencing mental health conditions.
A Personal Perspective: Bobby’s Story
In a video produced by a charity called On Tside, we meet Bobby, a man who has experienced the challenges of transitioning from prison to finding employment. Reflecting on his journey, Bobby shares, “How I look at things now and I think to myself, well, could things actually get any worse than what they are now? The biggest hurdle is getting out of the care provided for you and being able to step away from it.”
Bobby’s story is not unique. The disparities between various regions and the struggles faced by the most disadvantaged individuals paint a bleak picture of lives marred by family fragility, stagnant wages, poor housing, chronic ill health, and crime.
The Growing Need
The Center for Social Justice’s report highlights the alarming reality that the most disadvantaged in Britain are no better off than they were 15 years ago, during the time of the financial crash. It also reveals that moving from welfare into work often proves to be unrewarding for many individuals.
While the report does not aim to portray the entire region as being on its knees without any care for itself, it does emphasize the significant disparities between different areas. These disparities are evident in the impact of lockdowns, where there has been a massive rise in alcohol consumption and drug use among those who are lonely, bored, and feeling lost.
Desperate Need for Solutions
The report’s authors assert that help is urgently required. They argue that our political culture is entrenched in pessimism and a sense of decline, and with a general election on the horizon, the country needs answers on how to close the gap between the rich and poor.
As we reflect on the legacy left by the Victorians, it is crucial to confront the realities of our present situation. The architecture may remain, but the societal disparities, mental health challenges, and economic inequalities persist.
We must strive to find solutions that address the root causes of these issues and ensure that moving from welfare to work becomes a viable and rewarding option for all. Only through collective action and a commitment to change can we hope to build a more inclusive and equitable society for future generations.
Greg Milm, “What the Victorians Left Behind: The Growing Gap Between Rich and Poor in Britain,”