"Stoke is on the up" and...

“Stoke is on the up”

I feel very positive about Stoke-on-Trent and it’s trajectory. I’m privileged to find myself in rooms listening to presentations about new investments, new jobs being created, roads, buildings, change, hope.

I feel excited. I get the train into Stoke station, walk out, head into Staffs Uni and I feel life. I see colour, smiling faces and I feel potential.

I see opportunity everywhere. I see the empty space in the train station to the left as you walk out and think… “coffee shop - 100%”.

I wonder, “where do the students or Uni staff go for a drink that’s near to campus, surely someone needs to open another pub to rival Bod, The Glebe and The Terrace Inn”. Opportunity.

I’m in a bubble. A lovely bubble, where I see the same faces at the same events. MPs, local authority leaders, University Professors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, people high up in education.

Everyone is on the same page. Skills, employment, role modelling, culture change, opportunities, infrastructure - let’s move forward. Stoke is on the up.

In these rooms, I feel a shared purpose. A shared belief and desire to move forward. A commitment to action, to building and to creating new opportunities for the City and its people.

I feel excited and proud to be here.

It’s all very exciting and the day to day reality for many people in Stoke-on-Trent is very different from the warm smiles, powerpoint presentations and free croissants I keep getting.

We can be excited about the growth and future prosperity in Stoke and we can be honest of the deprivation and poverty.

There is poverty. It’s not a word I ever expected to use this close to home. But it’s there. You can find the statistics about it, they’re readily available. If you live or work in and around Stoke-on-Trent, you don’t need them. You just know.

You know it because you’ve witnessed it yourself. You’ve seen it with your own eyes. Perhaps with a couple of bad breaks, it could have been you too, or someone you know. 

I find it hard to accept at times. Confusing too. How can I be excited about where this city is going when I just drove past a row of derelict houses littered with rubbish and as I crossed the car park a man told me to f*ck off for no apparent reason?

Because, both realities are true, both are real and both exist everywhere up and down the country. I am excited and I am sad/angry/confused all at once.

And that’s ok.

I am personally very excited for where Stoke-on-Trent is going. I believe there is change in the air, I can feel that. And I can admit that we’re not there yet, we’re a long way off and we can’t lose sight of that.

When we take our 32 Msc Entrepreneurship students up to the 5th floor of the Mellor Building in Stoke I stand by the windows and look out across the City.

I remind myself and our group of next generation entrepreneurs. That’s what we’re here for.

Never forget that.