Edinburgh is a wonderful city; a marvellous, vibrant, successful, cosmopolitan European Capital that embraces its history and world-renowned heritage without being remotely backward looking.
It’s a city that regularly wins international accolades and awards as a place to live, a place to work, and a place to visit. It’s a city that all of our citizens can be proud of and enjoy.
Or is it…
I’m the last person in the world you would ever find downplaying Edinburgh. Like most people, I love our city. But until we can truly say that ALL of our citizens share in the benefits that living in a successful city brings, we can ill afford to rest on our laurels.
And while we should take pride in Edinburgh, we should also never blind ourselves to the big jobs that still need to be undertaken, for example:
- 1 in 5 children in Edinburgh is living below the poverty line – and 1 in 5 of those children have parents who are working
- 4000 young people are registered as homeless – and there are many more who are unregistered
- Major health inequalities continue to exist – a man living in Greendykes and Niddrie has a life expectancy of 64, while his fellow citizen in the New Town can expect to live 21 years longer
These are just three statistics but of course there are many others, that demonstrate that for some in our city everything in the garden is far from rosy when it comes to quality of life, employment, connectivity and so on. And often, these problems exist amongst people that the established authorities find difficult to reach and interact with.
That is why I’m embarking on the One City programme to harness the power of Responsible Business.
Edinburgh’s businesses are a huge part of the life of our Capital. They are, like the rest of the citizens, proud of the city in general, and enjoy being here. And in my experience, they see real value in playing their part in helping us to tackle the kind of social exclusion that damages us all.
Working with Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, we will be bringing businesses and business leaders together to look at how we can put companies keen to play a part in tackling inequality and injustice in closer and more collaborative contact with those organisations who are already out there, working with people, identifying issues, and working and innovating to find solutions.
How might that work? A hospitality business keen to get involved might work alongside an organisation that is training long-term unemployed young people to work in their industry; or a technology business might work with a charity that is training people in computer skills to help them find work.
In getting involved, businesses will help extend the pool of talented, skilled people available to work; they’ll help some of their fellow citizens get more engaged in the life of the city; and they’ll motivate their own staff and feel good about themselves.
One City does what it says on the tin. We want all of our citizens to feel the same pride and pleasure in being in Edinburgh. It’s One City, and it’s Our City – all of us.