Social Mobility Day: The stark reality is that not all paths are equal


Mike Mutawe Social Mobility Awareness Day 2023

Social Mobility Day serves as a poignant reminder that not everyone has an equal chance to succeed. In a world where inequities persist, it is essential to shed light on the transformative power of social mobility. By sharing my personal journey, I aim to amplify the need for change and inspire others to #SpeakMore.

Before I share my journey, what is Social Mobility?

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states that: “Social mobility refers to change in a person's socio-economic situation, either in relation to their parents (inter-generational mobility) or throughout their lifetime (intra-generational mobility).”
But I think about all the other factors affecting mobility, such as education, geographical location, income, heritage, social and professional networks, all of which play a part in your starting point in life.

Reflecting on my upbringing, I experienced firsthand the challenges of limited opportunities due to circumstances beyond my control. My journey through education opened my eyes to the stark reality that not all paths are equal and that equality alone would not be enough. It is through this lens that I recognised the immense value of social mobility in empowering individuals and shaping a more inclusive society.

Raised by a single mother who tirelessly worked two jobs to support four children, my early years were marked by financial challenges. We relied on free school meals and resided in an overcrowded council flat in the heart of East London. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighbourhood, facing financial hardships, and realising the impact of limited opportunities, It wasn't until my university years that I began to grasp the profound impact of my upbringing, geographical location, school, and circumstances on the opportunities available to me. The realisation of the invisible barriers hindering progress was both disheartening and motivating.

Statistics on educational and young people's experiences vividly reflect the struggles faced by those with limited social mobility. Studies have shown that only 13% of children eligible for free school meals achieve a strong pass in English and Mathematics at GCSE, compared to 53% of their wealthier peers (Department for Education, 2020). This disparity in educational outcomes based on socio-economic background is unacceptable and perpetuates a cycle of inequality.These stark numbers highlight the urgency to address the systemic barriers that perpetuate inequality and limit the dreams of countless young people.

My journey with Urban Synergy has allowed me to contribute to a cause greater than myself. By helping to Inspire, Guide and Ignite the ambitions of young people, Urban Synergy strives to create a world where social mobility becomes a birthright rather than a distant aspiration. Through this work, I am able to recognise not just the power of equal opportunities but the much more important and relevant component of equitable opportunities, allowing young girls from disadvantaged areas to confidently pursue their dreams and enabling young boys from low-income families to break free from the limitations imposed upon them.

Social Mobility Day serves as a call to action. Let us not remain complacent in the face of inequality but instead unite in our pursuit of a more just society. By speaking more, sharing our own experiences, and advocating for stronger social values which lead to increased social mobility, we can build a future where every individual, irrespective of their background, has an equitable chance to flourish.
Together, we can create a world where dreams are not just imagined but realised, and social mobility becomes a fundamental right for all.