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Forest Gate school joins TikTok challenge to promote real Living Wage for carers

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 June 2020

Dance teacher Caroline Verdant and music teacher Nathan Chan from St Antony's Primary School have become involved with the Citizen's UK TikTok challenge, which aims to help carers get paid the Real Living Wage. Picture: St Antony's Primary School

Dance teacher Caroline Verdant and music teacher Nathan Chan from St Antony's Primary School have become involved with the Citizen's UK TikTok challenge, which aims to help carers get paid the Real Living Wage. Picture: St Antony's Primary School

Archant

The staff at a primary school are taking part in a TikTok challenge which aims to secure the real Living Wage (RLW) for carers.

At a time when carers have never been more important, St Antony’s, Forest Gate, is undertaking the challenge set by Citizens UK, which wants a £1.4billion government settlement to guarantee the RLW.

Music teacher Nathan Chan told the Recorder that St Antony’s has a long-standing interest in this issue, with the TikTok challenge an effective way of “getting young people involved in the conversation”.

The RLW — £10.75 per hour for London — is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, and exceeds the national minimum wage.

Figures released in April by the Resolution Foundation think tank revealed that around one million carers are paid below this hourly wage.

With these findings released during the coronavirus peak, the staff at St Antony’s felt compelled to act.

Dance teacher Caroline Verdant said: “One carer I spoke to feels like she is working in fear for her own life, and for those of the people she cares for.”

While their efforts have been recognised with the weekly clap, Nathan believes this doesn’t compensate for such paltry financial reward: “A lot of carers liked the clapping, but alone it’s not enough. Most don’t want to be lauded as heroes, they just want to be fairly paid. By doing this challenge we are hoping to change the narrative.”

Doing the videos has been invigorating for the performing arts staff; Caroline filmed the challenge with her two daughters, while Nathan shot his in the garden in around 15 minutes.

They want to take the campaign nationwide; East Ham MP Stephen Timms supports the initiative, the GMB is on board, and talks are ongoing with Unison.

Engaging the students remains the current priority, with Caroline sure “this will become much easier” when they all return to school.

According to Nathan, securing the RLW will require “a combination of grassroots activism and help from the government”, but he’s confident it can be done.

For the music teacher, the importance is clear: “Everyone will need a carer at some point in their lives.”


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