My hometown lost its soul when the steelworks closed

My hometown lost its soul when the steelworks closed, but I want a future

Memorial to Corby steelworkers, photo by Tim Heaton (Creative Commons)

Memorial to Corby steelworkers, photo by Tim Heaton (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Jac Green, Lincoln Socialist Party

I joined the Socialist Party in September 2015, having flirted with the idea of socialism throughout my student days. I was guilty of turning up to only a few demos and protests before deciding to take action and join the party.

I come from a strong working class background; my grandfather was a steelworker and union rep in my hometown of Corby up until his death. In the late 1980s, the steelworks closed, taking with it hundreds of jobs. The town lost its soul.

Growing up in Corby, there was nothing. There was no investment. The town centre was sold to private developers time and time again and the latest attempt at urban regeneration has left several uncompleted projects, empty buildings as monuments to failure.

Virtually every single one of my childhood friends has left Corby and they will not return. There are few jobs to be found and there remains a chronic lack of investment. This is something that is not unique to Corby.

This pattern is being repeated nationwide and the future of me, my friends and millennials across the board is uncertain. Zero-hours contracts offer no job or income security.

How can you pay rent when your job offers no guarantee of hours? How can a zero-hours contract qualify as a job at all?

Workplace conditions are deteriorating and young people are terrified of the consequences if they speak up. This is why it is so important that they have the support of unions where possible. This is why the work of the Socialist Party is crucial: we need to demonstrate that there is a viable, workable alternative to the capitalist system responsible for crushing the hopes and dreams of our generation.

We know that this is possible. We can make our voices heard across schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace.

My generation is full of energy. To borrow from the campaign slogan used by the Anti Austerity Alliance in the recent Irish General Election we’re hungry for real change, not spare change.

We’re sick of being priced out of the rental market. We’re fed up with having to rely on benefits to supplement our wages. We don’t want to see our public services slashed, our NHS rapidly eroded through privatisation and any chance of a quality university education systematically stripped away through rising tuition fees.

We want a future and access to the tools to build one. It’s our job to fight to give young people the opportunity of a life and not just an existence.