Monday, 7 January 2013

UK Poverty and why enough is enough.

Tonight I was going to post on the gorgeous meal I had on Saturday. I was then going to schedule a second post on the pros and cons of different computer tablets (I thought I wanted an iPad Mini). However after reading a whole bunch of tweets on SturdyAlex's timeline, I am now ashamed of ever wanting to boast about  being able to do either of the above. Within the first five, if that, tweets I read tonight that Alex retweeted, I felt sick and disgusted with myself. These people barely knew where their next meal or shower was coming from. It sounds clich├ęd in what we assume to be 'poor' people. However these are real people. Real people recounting their awful, awful times in life. Some of which are still going on and they are at their wits end. I'm really trying not to exaggerate here and go all 'Daily Mail' but it really is that atrocious. Our fellow humankind. We're allowing a huge chunk of society to have to go without meals, keep their children off school because they haven't got shoes or the money for a school trip, and pay £5 to take a shower in somewhere that isn't a safe and warm home.

I feel sick to my stomach over all this, as you can tell. These people aren't just a number. That's the most frustrating part. Most of them are working and if they aren't working it's because they are too ill or have to look after a relative. In some of the cases they've been out of work for 6 months and don't have the clothes to impress at a job interview. They might even be unable to afford the bus fare. Yes we can encourage them to walk 16 miles to that interview but they shouldn't have to at all. The public transport network in the UK is a whole other kettle of fish that I could go on about. It's a complete let down to anyone who actually doesn't want to drive.

Tonight I tweeted Alex about how when my brothers and I were quite a lot younger, my parents claimed working tax credits amongst other child benefits. Not because they could but because they needed to. They needed to try and keep us as well clothed as possible. To make sure we ate properly and were entertained and well developed  (no, I'm not talking piano lessons here, before you start commenting). Those benefits made ends meet. However the worst times were when HMRC wrote to them and said that they (the government who should be able to use a calculator properly) had overpaid the benefits to my parents.

This has also happened to Kirsty and she had to pay back £300 a month for 4 months. £300! What planet is this government living on? (Don't get me wrong, when it happened to my family it was a Labour Government but I don't think those in HMRC are all red are they?)

This one is just the worst. I don't have children and this does really put me off ever having one. I'd worry every single day that I'd let them down due to situations out of my hands. This could happen to any of us. Any of us. £10 a week. Ten pounds. I spend that amount too easily. This ends. It's time to think about the 'What if's'. No iPad Mini's and you can wait a bit longer for a write up on ice cream and sausages that didn't come out of the reduced aisle.

There's not only the physical side that people go through when they can't afford to eat. It also affects their mental well being. No one should have to suffer unnecessarily. They just don't deserve to. I am sure a high number of these people are nice. They're generous. As another tweeter pointed out and I've heard it said many times before. Those who are poor are normally those who share. The happiest of us don't have a pot to piss in. It's not always true but from these tweets tonight, it's pretty much right on the nose.

I'd like to think that if I should ever leave this life, that people would call me generous. Maybe tonight has been my 'Ebenezer Scrooge' moment. Who knows?

Of course me writing all this drivel and lots of us tweeting about it isn't going to solve everything. It takes real action from us to 'make a change' (I know, I sound like Cheryl Cole in Africa for Comic Relief). We have to look out for our friends. Look out for our enemies. Talk about this. Talk about it a lot. And then go help. Help out at soup kitchens. Think about the food we are wasting. I don't know all the answers. But humanity can come good on this. I really believe it can. We just need to fight this coalition government and change the attitude the nation seems to have towards those who claim benefits. The welfare scheme is not used by scroungers alone. That's a myth. Statistically taxes are more likely to pay for a teacher or someone on dialysis.

There are plenty of charities who can help and in a recession it's equally important not to let these disappear.

Crisis - National Charity for single homeless people.

Shelter - Housing and Homelessness charity for England and Scotland (Wales is ShelterCymru and Northern Ireland is Housing Advice NI

Stepchange - Free advise on problem debt

Trussell Trust information on UK Food Banks

If anyone knows of any other links, I'd be more than happy to add them.

I have set myself up for a negative onslaught. Right now, I say bring it on. I've put forward my feelings and I can live with that. Can you?

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