YOUTH MATTERS Eleanor Griggs...Opportunity for all must be top of the agenda

As children, we are inundated with mottos by which we are told we should live.

“Treat others as you wish to be treated,” my parents and teachers reiterated with alarming frequency, keen to instill in me the idea that wealth, class, colour or creed should never be used as a legitimate excuse for discriminatory behaviour.

I like to think such advice is never far from my mind as I navigate my way through life, and as a politics student, I seldom forget the importance of treating others with equal respect and opportunity.

Because if there is one issue I feel especially passionate about, it has to be the ongoing row about social mobility.

I’m talking, of course, about those from the poorest homes in Britain – and their ability to change their status in the context of social hierarchy.

If we are to strive to avoid permanent social segregation, what about those who hail from unprivileged backgrounds?

If we really want to ensure that admirable prospects are accessible to all – with absolutely no exceptions – what steps must society take to live up to its aspirations?

Finding a solution to these questions is something which is particularly close to my heart

Not least because I have long surrounded myself with people from a variety of backgrounds and the notion that some may be refused the chance to succeed leaves me feeling genuinely disillusioned.

Incredibly, however, it would seem that very little is gleaned from the mottos ingrained on my memory in childhood and translated into government policy.

Rather, the economy is the buzzword of the day, used as justification for everything – from closing local libraries to upping the cost of attending university.

For me, though, it’s an excuse which falls short of the mark.