London is home to a plethora of diverse identities and cultures, it’s a vibrant, busy and exciting place. It’s also a place of stark inequality. London is very much a divided city, for some people, it’s a finance hub, with endless opportunities, for others London means food banks and unemployment.
East London is evidence of how inequality completely transforms an area, from massive offices and banks protruding from Canary Wharf, hipster gentrified cafes in Bethnal Green, and council flats densely dotted all around. Tower Hamlets and Newham are two most of the deprived London boroughs, whilst tenants at Canary Wharf contribute £19.7 billion to the UK economy. People living a few roads apart can have completely different perceptions and experiences of East London.
Wealthy inequality is directly linked to health inequality, resulting in life expectancy rates being significantly higher in wealthier parts of East London. The massive dispersion in life expectancy has been illustrated on the London Tube map. For example, life expectancy for residents in Canary Wharf is 88 years, compared to 78 in Whitechapel and 79 years in Stepney Green, despite being only 20 minutes apart life expectancy decreases drastically by a decade.
Health inequalities in East London also disproportionately disadvantage women, studies show that women have “a significantly increased risk of maternal and newborn complications, including diabetes, where it has the highest rates in England with 10-15% of local mothers developing it in pregnancy”. Decreased life expectancy and health inequalities in East London prove that ill health is not just down to lifestyle factors, but instead, our postcode plays an enormous role in determining our quality of life.
Gentrification also plays a huge role in widening the inequality gap in East London, rent prices rocketing means locals are being pushed out of their homes, whilst landlords’ profit from the mass influx of new middle-class residents. Fancy cafes with overpriced coffee and gastro pubs can be found on most street corners, alienating lower-class residents.
There are ways to try and reduce inequality, for example donating to food banks, women shelters and charities to improve the people’s quality of life. Fighting for political change to reduce inequality is a step towards creating a fair, more equal, and better society.
Image credit: Beatrice Zanca