Redrow tycoon pledges £2.3m to tackle Mersey inequality

Founder of housebuilder Redrow, Liverpool-born Steve Morgan, is pledging £2.3m towards a push to tackle inequality in on of the most deprived areas of Liverpool city region. Tony McDonough reports

Steve Morgan
Redrow tycoon Steve Morgan is backing the Crade to Career initiative


Redrow tycoon Steve Morgan is backing a multi-million pound campaign to transform the lives of children and young people in North Birkenhead.

His Steve Morgan Foundation is pledging £2.3m towards Cradle to Career aimed at tacking inequality in one of the most deprived areas of Liverpool city region. The initiative is being run by national charity Right to Succeed.

Its mission is to empower communities to create what it calls ‘Dream Schools’. On its website, the organisation says: “We believe every child has a right to succeed and have access to a great public school.”

Cradle to Career is a 20-year programme that will look to boost literacy standards, support families and create opportunities for young people in north Birkenhead. The programme follows a major consultation which found that although residents are proud to live in the are, they feel a lack of opportunities and jobs are holding them back.

In Birkenhead as a whole, there are only 0.62 jobs for every person aged between 16 and 65 – the third lowest of 162 areas nationally. Around half of children in North Birkenhead live in low-income households, three times the national average.

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Research found that male residents in the Bidston and St James ward have a healthy life expectancy of around 52 years – 11 fewer healthy years than the national average of 63. Cradle to Career aims to tackle the inequalities and claims to be “one of the most ambitious public-private partnerships ever launched in the UK”.

This is not the first such programme Liverpool-born Mr Morgan, who has built up Redrow into one of the most successful housebuilders in the UK, has funded in recent months. Late last year he gave more than £1m to both the LFC Foundation and Everton in the Community, to support disadvantaged people across Merseyside. 

Mr Morgan, said: “The Steve Morgan Foundation recognised the importance of communities working together and the idea for Cradle to Career in north Birkenhead, and giving every child a chance, was born out of that.

“We brought together senior leaders and education charities to properly join forces for the first time.  We’re as eager as anyone to see positive results and lasting change.”

North Birkenhead
North Birkenhead is one of the most deprived areas of Merseyside


North Birkenhead mum Karen Beazley said Cradle to Career had the potential to create the future she’d always dreamed of for the community’s young people. In 2019 Karen was one of several mums to tell MPs at a joint hearing between the Education and DWP Select Committee of the constant struggle to make ends meet.

She said: “The opportunities a child gets in life shouldn’t be determined by where they’re born but that’s been the case for too many people in north Birkenhead for too long. Cradle to Career offers genuine hope for the first time in generations. The talent is there but it needs a chance. This could give them that chance.”

One of the key aims will be raising literacy levels as children’s reading ages in North Birkenhead lag significantly below the national average. In a bid to better engage with families, Wirral Council has created a hub in a community centre in the heart of north Birkenhead, staffed by representatives of nine different services.

The 17-person team includes school readiness workers; an independent domestic violence advocate; and an employment coach.

Elizabeth Hartley, the council’s assistant director for Early Help and Prevention, said: “Cradle to Career has revolutionised how we structure our services – they are now designed to work for families, not organisations. I believe the model could be replicated in other places local authorities have traditionally struggled to engage with.”

Charitable donations of almost £3 million over three years have been pledged by the Steve Morgan Foundation, SHINE Trust and UBS Optimus. And the initiative also has the backing o Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

He said: “Investing in our children and young people is just as vital to the future of the Northern Powerhouse as large-scale infrastructure projects. Our research found that even prior to the pandemic, long term disadvantage was a growing problem in many schools across the North and that challenge has worsened following a year of disrupted learning.

Cradle to Career is a people-centred model of community regeneration, delivering ‘levelling up’ – not just talking about it. The Government should consider scaling up the programme in order to help those living in more disadvantaged communities across the country at the next Comprehensive Spending Review.”

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