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Social Inequality 'Smoking Debate'

Published: 12 Dec 2014


When we first opened our doors Smoking Debates were a regular part of Toynbee Hall life and the hall was filled every Thursday with debate and discussions covering the important issues of the day for over 30 years.

‘Social inequality 1884-2014, How much has changed?’ was the topic of our contemporary debate and over 100 social policy experts, young people, members of the local community and historians gathered for an engaging discussion chaired by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News. 

 The debate was lively and covered a range of topics from housing, food banks, health and also delved into the causes of social inequality. Issues addressed included: the growing control of wealth by the top 1%, low wages and poor quality jobs, attitudes of society and tax systems.

 Professor Danny Dorling, Oxford University, spoke of the history of inequality in the East End and the distribution of the City’s wealth. After the debate progressed, Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, stated his belief that the minimum wage is not a constructive tool and Professor Anne Power, LSE, talked about how inequality is at its highest levels since World War I despite improvements in health and conditions. She also talked about the ‘draconian’ policies affecting young people.

 The discussion was open to all in attendance to contribute. Other speakers included: Dr John Bew, Kings College London, Paul Nowak, TUC, Mita Desai, The British Youth Council, Samuel Kasumi, EN Campaigns, Dr Angela Donkin, The Institute for Health Equity, John Lucas, Oxford University and David McAuley, The Trussel Trust.

 Toynbee Hall has over the course of its 130 year history aimed to bring people together in this way and will continue to do so.

“Our halls have always been at the centre of discussion and debate regarding people’s welfare and the issues that affect their lives. It is great to see that 130 years on Toynbee Hall is still leading debates on vital issues such as social inequality as we carry on working for a future without poverty."
Graham Fisher, Chief Executive of Toynbee Hall