'Making history' amid Liverpool's 'Giz a Job' militants



‘Giz a Job’ (Give us a job) became part of the Liverpool vernacular in the 1980s as mass unemployment and Thatcherism hit working class people hard.

In May 1981, 500 jobless Scousers walked the 200 miles to London to protest the closure of the docks and the decimation of manufacturing in the region.

As they passed town after town, the marchers mostly in their late teens and twenties, opened working class eyes to a new, militant, independent spirit which began to blow away the last remnants of deference to the ruling officer class of Westminster.

The largely-forgotten March for Jobs ushered in a change in the North and in Liverpool, in particular, which has helped define a political rift which remains today as a notably un-‘levelled-up’ North-South divide.

To remember this historic episode, a new exhibition has opened in the city curated by the Vauxhall Law Centre and the not unsubstantial contribution of researcher Katie Rimmer, a final-year student of BA (Hons) History at LJMU.

The exhibition is staged on the 3rd floor of Liverpool Central Library and runs through to 31 May.

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Titled And So we Marched/Giz a Job, it provides first-hand account of the run up to, and aftermath of the March, which also highlighted wider injustices around race, disability and gender inequality. The March concluded with a huge music festival and a 150,000-strong demonstration in Trafalgar Square.

Katie, who volunteered to work on the project, interviewed marchers and others more than 40 years on.

She said: “I had never heard of the 1981 People’s March for Jobs before, so I had to explore archives and delve into a range of primary sources.

“The interview was the most exciting thing, an incredible person with real stories to tell.”

Katie, received training in archival research, oral history interviewing and exhibition design provided by Liverpool Archives, the Oral History Society and the Museum of Liverpool.

She took part in a heritage walk, reminiscence sessions and a historical talk and worked alongside local creatives to produce the exhibition, educational booklet, public artwork and a website.

Dr Greig Campbell, Project Manager, said: “Katie was an extremely enthusiastic volunteer throughout the delivery of the Giz a Job. The skills and knowledge she had acquired from her time at LJMU enabled her to play a principal role in the research and dissemination stages.

The material she sourced from research facilities such as National Museums Liverpool, the Working Class Movement Library and the People's History Museum underpinned subsequent phases of the scheme.

As a community historian, I would not hesitate in working alongside LJMU history students in the future.

Added Katie: “I found myself applying skills that I had learnt at LJMU and definitely noticed a shift in my confidence. That’s testament to the environment that the project took place in as well as the culture LJMU History has created for students to enjoy their studies.

Dr David Clampin, Subject Lead in History, said: “Experiences like this underpin the core ethos of the LJMU History programme, that is giving our students authentic experiences and supporting them to “make” history, especially where that connects them with the community of which we are a part.”

 

 



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