Archives for posts with tag: food banks

188a

When I was at school I was often reprimanded for being a dreamer. I am very pleased to announce that it is a failing that has, above all others, lasted to this day.

But what does it mean to be a dreamer? It is used as a pejorative term but which, if it makes you lots of money, is called, innovation, entrepreneurial, blue sky thinking, being creative, thinking outside the box, success. But, if it isn’t index linked to a successful career, the stock market and profit it’s a put down for what is in simple terms, caring and consideration.

Looking back, it is easy to see that what my being dreamer was all about was caring enormously about life in hard times. It wasn’t just an escape into la la land, it was a way of working things out and what mattered to me. It was an internal exploration of life, the universe and everything and it remains a critical ability in today’s hard times and it is as precious to me now as it was then.

Christmas time is here, and, as I’ve said many times, I don’t ‘do’ Christmas any more, but that does not mean I don’t think about it and this year more than most. So please bear with me while I DO a bit of Christmas.

What has struck me this year is the impossible comparison between the relentlessly dismal world of the Tories and the very real and present hope in people for better and reaching out for that. Across the country people are gearing up for a Christmas in Tory DisMay Land, homeless projects, food banks, helping others caught in the Universal Credit death trap, making sure that children do not go hungry and have at least one small present to open on Christmas Day, in this, the, so called, 6th richest nation in the world and the reality of social exclusion from any share in that wealth. Living in Tory Britain is like living with Scrooge on Crack.

We talk about a light at the end of the tunnel, an expression I’ve used many times, but I think we’re being disingenuous. People are being beacons of light every day, and never more so than at Christmas. The light isn’t some fairy god light which has become occluded by the brutality of the Tories ideologically driven austerity.

I wonder how many people out there are planning to share a meal this Christmas with someone in need, with a lonely pensioner, someone less able than themselves, or even in the many centres that will be open (for homeless people not the least) to people in want of a meal and a little human kindness and consideration? No one will be recording the numbers, data grubbing, extolling their own virtues, they’ll just be getting on with it. And if that isn’t the real and present light, I don’t know what is.

It’s the light of living people, real people, sharing love. I am 66 years old and it’s something I have witnessed every year since I was a small child and in receipt of that loving care myself, with little grasp of the efforts of others it took to share that with us as a struggling family, one amongst many.

The British Legion took us to a pantomime every year. I didn’t know that it was something they did, year after year, for struggling families. They organised and paid for the coaches and the tickets and I recall the huge number of coaches arriving on the day from many different areas, not understanding at all what that meant. I shall never forget the unfamiliar grandness of the theatres, the rows on rows of seats, the hub bub and excitement of what was about to unfold before our eyes on the magical stage and the magical, real, live, actors who got us involved… “Oh no they didn’t!” “Oh yes they did!” And they threw sweets to us as well.

The British Legion also brought round to my Mother a box of second hand presents every year, donated by local people and a hamper of food. I know that my Mother struggled with the shame of it, it was brutally hard for her, who battled every day with poverty. It is only in looking back that I can appreciate the enormity of her heroic struggle, year in year out and the breakdowns she suffered in the struggle to survive and raise us, her loved and cared for children.

She didn’t know that one day her son would become a writer, she didn’t live to see it and nor did I treat her as kindly as I might had I truly grasped the enormity of her struggles in life.

Yet here I am, the product of loving kindness. A product of The Light which is as alive and well today, as it ever was.

It’s not at the end of any tunnel, it is here and present and it’s alive this Christmas.

And we are it.

With love,

KOG. 16 December 2017

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toriesa

The world is being driven off a cliff, politically and economically, it is astonishing and bewildering how far off the beaten track of common sense and reason we are being driven by people without a shred of humanity and who are corrupt to the bone.

But what is also astonishing, but in no way bewildering, is how the functioning of nations and societies across the globe are being sustained and supported by the daily efforts of the majority of ordinary people, even and despite that many of them are living on the edge of, or are in, crisis.

As the UK government stumbles on, floundering in its own incompetence, driving us backwards into a future of enforced slavery and economic woe for the many, to enrich the few, the enormous task of keeping Britain going on a minute by minute basis carries on, competently and capably handled by the unsung heroes of progress, the ordinary people who make up the body of the nation and who are the living, breathing engine that maintains the life of the nation and all nations.

The people are the biological thrumming heart of the nation, labouring not just for our own personal survival but for the survival of those around us, extending outwards into the global community and every part of it operated by we, the people.

Governments come and go, with varying degrees of competence, some, as now, with ideological agendas driven by greed and raining ruin of the lives of ordinary people.

What makes a nation great is not conquest or war, which are the exclusive domain of governments, and which, without the legions of ordinary people who makes up the armies and are the sacrifice of conquest and the vanities of power, the assumed greatness of the dominant elites would be just so much wishful thinking. Even the tools of government, whatever they may be, are made by ordinary people, in order to govern, the government are entirely dependent on the services of ordinary people. Government is a bureaucratic extension of organised society, a festering boil or enabling bubble, depending on the competence of those elected to office or who seize power for whatever reason.

Thanks to the bankers and the Tories, Britain is a nation in crisis and the only thing that is staving off the worst of that crisis is the people, even as our lives are being increasingly sacrificed to greed.

And if the people are divided by racism, sectarian interests and hatred of ‘other’ of any kind, it is worth asking, what forces and interests drive those divisions and who benefits by them? Whatever answer we might come up with, those who benefit does not include – us – the people. We are all victims of government and media propaganda, which serve the interests of power and greed.

The banking crisis has been used to exclusively and brutally punish ordinary people and were it not for the determination and actions of ordinary people the death toll would be catastrophically higher than it already is. Without food banks, which exist exclusive of government and the financial markets, and through the generosity of ordinary people, hospitals would be swamped with malnutrition and poverty related diseases immeasurably higher than they already are. Without the dedication and iron willed persistence of NHS staff, themselves in crisis due to government malfeasance with malicious intent for the future of our NHS, even more lives would have been lost for want of care. But this doesn’t come close to expressing the effect of the lives of ordinary people on the day to day running of the nation, many people just doing their job, or just doing the caring to which they have dedicated themselves, often without pay or recognition.

If you think of cleaners, a job regarded and treated as low status and consequently low paid, what kind of mess would society be in without them, even for one day? What kind of chaos would the Palace of Westminster, the home of the UK’s two houses of parliament, be in if those whose job it is to clean them daily, decided that, under the imposition of austerity, cleaning would have to be either abandoned or severely restricted and the architects of austerity would have to clean up their own mess? It is doubtful that the government would rethink the status of those they so heavily rely on, without thought or care, day by day, but the complaints and cries of outrage would likely be front page news. The accusations of cleaners holding government to ransom, as the government has the nation, would be loud and long.

It is a curious truth that the more privileged people are, the more they take for granted and denigrate (look down on) the lives of those who maintain their comforts, and, indeed, go to great lengths to withhold the taxes they owe to the nation, expecting the rest of us to pick up the tab for the nations infrastructure and maintenance on which they also rely on a daily basis, and, thanks to government policy, are further enriched, whilst, again due to government policies, the rest of us are impoverished.

Since 2010, Britain has been turned into an open penal colony, specifically targeting the poorest and most vulnerable people by design and intent, that it continues to function on a day by day basis and resists the chaos of a government gone rogue, is all down to the people, to the good will and intent, consciously or unconsciously, of ordinary people going about the business of surviving this most despicable of governments in the UK’s long history.

The wealth of the nation is the people, and we survive despite the government, who have criminalized poverty and driven hundreds of thousands to death through economic murder by intent, which in this writers eyes counts as genocide.

There will be a reckoning, and it looks like it will be soon, because enough is enough. Even Bankers Morgan Stanley, no friend to ordinary people and as much a part of the problem as any other bank, predict the government will fall in 2018 over May’s Brexit omnishambles. Whatever the final cause, the fall of the Tory imposters to government cannot come too soon.

KOG. 06 December 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/26/recession-rich-britains-wealthiest-double-net-worth-since-crisis

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/tory-austerity-deaths-study-report-people-die-social-care-government-policy-a8057306.html

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/theresa-may/news/88695/theresa-mays-government-will

jacobb

Within Britain’s historic class system the idea of an upper class person getting a job was unthinkable, that’s what common people did. Today, within the Rees-Mogg household, the idea of Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher Rees-Mogg growing up and wanting a job would be a cause for outrage. It’s not the done thing, and ‘the done thing’ is everything. It would quite possibly be a step lower even than Edward going orf with that dreadful American woman.

Being an oik I can’t do justice to any attempt to plumb the depths of arrogance, bigotry and hypocrisy of Britain’s class system, except to say that it is very much alive and well today.

If an upper class person fell on bad times, the last thing they would think of would be stooping so low as to be forced to get a job, ‘We’re not that poor!’ they might cry.

Who knows? And yet in the mind of Rees-Mogg senior, getting a job is what the poor must do and if they must be driven into work through privation and poverty, so much the better.

It is impossible for me to get inside the mind of someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg, we might just as well be from different planets. He might, in his patronising philanthropy, visit a McDonald’s and get in amongst the hoi polloi to show them what a thoroughly good egg he is to attract their simpering votes, but it would be vast mistake to think he in any way regards us as anything other than working stock.

On food banks he declares, “I think it’s a very suitable role for the churches to be playing, to help those who find themselves in very difficult circumstances, doing the role the Church can do.. a very Christian thing to do.” Quite. It is not the government’s job to encourage the idle poor by offering any assistance, as his voting record shows (second link below).

No matter how we might view Rees-Mogg, in his own eyes he is as righteous as God. his beliefs are unshakeable and certainly not up for debate with the likes of you or me.

Whether we might think of him as an eccentric, his views are hidden in every Tory heart whether they admit to them or not. In their more (unwittingly) honest and unguarded moments, they can be seen mocking, braying and laughing in parliament at the travails of the poor.

When Debbie Abrahams spoke at a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Select Committee of the hardship and suffering of people under the brutal sanctions regime and said that people are dying, Iain Duncan Smith responded with, “Well can I just say, I don’t agree with any of that.”

The countless thousands of people now dead across the country, many taking their own lives, are a matter of insignificance to the government, not relevant enough to suggest that they are even regrettable.

Nothing shakes the gloss coating of their towering arrogance and self belief. They are quite happy for the ‘managed’ catastrophe of Grenfell Tower to disappear in the blanket haze of their complete indifference to our lives.

The Tory plan to ‘warehouse’ disabled people by forcing us into institutions is just the re-emergence of Victorian work houses by any other name.

Rees-Mogg, in his campaign for the Tory leadership, is not just looking credible but extremely likely to succeed as we descend ever further into the dictatorship of power of the Tories who are doing everything in their power to rid themselves of the irksomeness of democracy which they so utterly despise.

Andrea Leadsom is leading the way towards rigging parliamentary committees to rid themselves of the inconvenience of opposition to their appalling policies.

They have no interest in public opinion, so low in their considerations are we. Opinions? Who do we think we are?

It’s about as mad as asking a cow for its opinion of its treatment by the farmer. You don’t consult the stock, you merely farm them, and get rid if those for whom you have no further use.

Of course, it’s slightly tricky that we happen to be human stock, which is why they have gone to such lengths to strip us of the many protections we have fought so long and hard for in the past, but none of this is insurmountable as we witness on a daily basis.

Whilst they are perfectly happy to spend billions to refurbish the crumbling halls of Westminster and protect their hideous grasp on power, frankly we would do better to bulldoze the entire damned edifice into the ground.

Nothing will be right until we are rid of the Tories, hopefully once and for all. They are a stain on humanity and a blight on the lives of ordinary people. Their one avowed intent is to leech the life of the nation for profit. Our job, as difficult as it seems right now, is to stop them.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is an emblem of a past we cannot afford, which has cost millions of lives through cruelty, brutality, exploitation and war. They are dinosaurs long past their extinction date.

KOG. 10 September 2017

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/06/20/jacobs-crackers/

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24926/jacob_rees-mogg/north_east_somerset/votes

https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2931-oldham-mp-tells-minister-people-are-dying-because-of-these-sanctions

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/25/disabled-people-disabilities-health-care-homes

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/09/tory-tyranny-now-they-want-to-overrule-the-result-of-the-general-election/

david-freudb

Philip Hammond recently said to Andrew Marr, “Public sector pay raced ahead of private sector pay after the crash in 2008/9 and taking public sector pay, before pension contributions, that gap is now closed, public and private sector pay on average are round about the same.”

This statement by Philip Hammond is a golden nugget, a mini master class on the arrogance of privilege.

Prior to 2010 public sector pay was subject to modest rules, improvements and protections, teachers, nurses and other public sector workers were not getting rich off the fat of the land, running huge investment portfolios or making off with million pound bonuses. They might get cost of living rises, but little more than that. They are just part of the vast body of workers, public and private, who live modest lives on modest means and who keep Britain running, day by day, year in year out.

What they did not do, any more than those struggling in poverty, or disabled people or young or old people, was to crash the global economy. Had they done so it is certain that, unlike the way bankers were treated, the government and the media would have screamed it from the roof tops. Oh, but hang on, they did scream it from the roof tops. Benefit scroungers, work shy and lazy, sleeping off a life on benefits, generations of unemployed, ‘cuts for the poor’, George Osborne cried, ‘how else are we to pay down the debt?’

Private sector wages took a hit after the crash and so, in the words of Hammond, ‘Public sector pay raced ahead of private sector pay’, clever mealy mouthed words which justified cuts to public sector wages to drive them down to match dismal, struggling, private sector wages. A gap which Hammond now proudly announces is closed. Fairness and justice for all, the Tory way.

In the exciting new private sector gig economy, of low pay, no pay, zero hours contracts, we can’t have the public sector undermining the first world free market slide into third world, sweat shop, employment. Globalisation and liberalised markets means everyone must scrabble to the bottom and be grateful if the food banks haven’t run out of food.

And if public sector workers complain, they get told firmly, ‘There’s no magic money tree you know’. Except for the rich, of course, people like multi millionaire Philip Hammond who has never suffered a days austerity in his life.

It is the privilege of the privileged to kick and cull the poor. It is a time honoured tradition, like conkers and casual racism.

No one, but no one, screams louder against social justice than those who profit from injustice, for whom inequality is a way of life and for whom money is the measure of their own worth and who, by dint of their own excessive wealth, demand ever more. They give tax cuts to the rich and arrest beggars on the streets. They own multiple properties and despise the homeless. They have fancy schemes to avoid paying taxes and stash their wealth in tax havens yet hound and prosecute the cash in hand window cleaner as a bad citizen if every penny is not accounted for and taxed.

It would be laughable were it not so stinkingly mean, if Hammond wasn’t really just a grasping crook and a dismal throw back to the days of work houses and gruel for the poor, taking vicious pleasure in flogging the urchin who dares to ask for a penn’orth more gruel.

And the greatest tragedy of all is. after all their lies, of hounding the poor to death, of stealing the food from the mouths of children, finding the food bank empty and facing another horrific week of poverty and despair, Tory propaganda is so successful that vast numbers of the poor go to the polling booth and vote for them. That is the Tories greatest success and the worst travesty of any form of natural justice. Or, perhaps the very worst travesty of all, is the Tories delight in mocking and shaming the deceived poor, laughing and jeering in parliament when they cut their incomes further.

Hidden in Hammond’s weasel words lies a profound truth, in the pursuit of wealth our lives are less than bargaining chips, of less value than wheat or steel or the minerals poverty workers drag from the earth, rather we are expendable stock. They care nothing for the substance of our lives or whether we live or die.

The poor are suffered to exist only to serve the interests of the rich.

KOG. 17 July 1017

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-accidentally-reveals-how-much-10666222

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/827571/Theresa-May-s-adviser-attacks-people-who-pay-workers-cash-in-hand

 

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Readers might be somewhat put off by a silly, perhaps frivolous, attempt to portray the Labour and Tory leaders as characters from a movie, but the truth is that we’ve gone a very long way beyond that, so please bear with me.

For over a week now I have had a growing ache in my body, a wrenching ache that has steadily increased. I have felt the need to rest more, to sleep it off, but it is relentless and the very simple fact is that I am living on the edge of tears that will, at some point, release, but the problem remains.

I am outraged at the farce this election has already become, the power games Theresa May is playing, the lies and deceit and the vile twisted spectacle of it all.

My response has been mixed, from sharing some of the stories going the rounds which I felt needed sharing, to mocking and satirising the whole damned ludicrous ‘thing’, to sharing the policies that should be the real story but which are being smothered to the point of banality by ‘spectacle’.

The facts are that we’ve lived through seven years of Tory hell and thousands of people have died. They are stealing our NHS right from under our noses and if they get in again it’ll be all over for our most treasured institution and our greatest national achievement. They have turned the national safety net, our system of social security, into a secret penal system driving people into despair and death and attacking the weakest and most vulnerable people in the UK. Since 2010 food banks and food bank usage have gone through the roof as has poverty. And those are but a very few issues that we face which will, of a certainty, get very much worse if the Tories get back in.

I am getting on in years, I live on ‘my’ state pension, I have terminal cancer and I struggle with mental ill health and the brutal callousness of the Tories has had a dramatic affect on my life. I have little hope that my remaining years under a Tory government will be in any way peaceable and the reality is I do not expect to survive another five years of Tory misrule and their callous brutality. I do not require anyone’s pity, but I do require of myself that I face reality. I will fight these bastards to the bitter end but I have no plans to lose my sense of humour, my love of life and nor do I have any intention of giving up fighting for justice, but it hurts and it hurts badly.

I’ll find the release in need in tears, I’ll take their healing balm and I’ll go on, I will not fall into despair, endless depression and futility.

This is no film, some romantic dreamscape in which good triumphs over evil in a pre-scripted plot, but nor can I ignore these times in which the plots of a million films are being lived out. because this is fundamentally a war of good against evil, although I never thought I’d live to see such a thing.

Since coming to power in 2010 the Tories have been conducting a war on the poor with brutal contempt for our lives. Theresa May can hide in her exclusive gatherings of the Tory faithful, to the exclusion of all others, including the press, and pretend she’s the ruling matriarch of Britain. She may even believe she has some divine right to rule and she may be planning a coup if she does not, who knows? We’ll certainly never know from her or her sick party of the privileged.

Jeremy Corbyn won’t play their games, he won’t join their macabre pantomime, nor indulge in the name calling, dirt scraping, tactics so beloved of the right. And yes he does rather resemble Obi-Wan Kenobi, played so well by Alec Guinness and Theresa May does resemble the evil Emperor Palpatine played by Ian McDiarmid. And there is steel in Corbyn that May can neither emulate nor overcome. The force is as strong in Corbyn as the farce is in May. Overcome we shall, overcome we must, because our lives really do depend on it. This is the fight of and for our lives.

KOG. 03 May 2017

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/social-care-scandal-tory-cuts-9836261

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/02/18/tory-cuts-have-caused-thousands-of-deaths-again-they-are-denying-it-with-nonsense-claims/

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/nhs-health-service-healthcare-privatisation-a7160771.html

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/05/05/benefit-sanctions-are-britains-secret-penal-system/

https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/benefit-sanctions-britains-secret-penal-system

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disability-benefits-motabililty-rule-change-disabled-people-vehicles-dwp-a7191636.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/food-bank-usage-at-record-high-reveals-trussell-trust-a6984921.html

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/16/child-poverty-in-uk-at-highest-level-since-2010-official-figures-show

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This is a difficult one, what I am about to do is like going on stage and having a shit. As a writer, that’s not something you ever want to do and then something happens and you have to write something because if you don’t it’s just going to be in there tearing your head and heart apart.

What the fuck happened in London? People have died because someone for reasons unknown decided to drive a car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people and injuring 40 others, and attack parliament with a knife, stabbing a copper to death. I don’t care who the guy was and I care even less about why he did it and I am deeply sorry for the harm he caused and those he killed and I cannot help but be affected by that, especially in ways that are not obvious until you start to think about it.

It headlined all around the world… Latest terrorist attack, usual racist, xenophobic, shit from the Sun and others, hate spreading. Heroes of the hour. Statements from Theresa May and parliament. Endless talking heads talking bollocks and meaningless conjecture.

We are living in extraordinary times, but certain things have not changed and parliament is still the home to the worst, terrorist, government in UK history, and Theresa May, whatever she may say, doesn’t give a shit about ordinary people and what this fucking idiot has done is hand her a golden chalice to continue to oppress us, invade our privacy, destroy lives and steal from us all that makes life good and meaningful. All the stuff that day by day does not make any headlines, all those who have died due to Tory austerity policies, the violence of increasing poverty, the suicides, the hunger that drives people to food banks in shame and despair.

Every fucking day. Every day.

Parliament was in lock down on Wednesday, Theresa May was whisked away to safety, safe in the knowledge that she will probably never have to answer for her crimes against humanity, just like David Cameron and a Tory party which is robbing all of us blind: the most corrupt government in UK history and entirely corrupt financial markets which have also robbed us blind and are protected by government as they continue to do so.

On that day, Wednesday 22 March 2017, the world reacted in horror and Britain joined the club of nations subjected to a very public, so called, ‘terrorist’ attack – by a bloke with a knife.

Knife crime in the UK is rising, the Office for National Statistics reveals that there were 13,613 offences of “assault with injury or intent to cause serious harm” in the year to the end of June 2015, a rise of 1,788 from the previous year.

Disability hate crimes recorded by police rose to 2,765 incidents in 2014-15 compared to 1,955 incidents in 2013-14, up 41 per cent. A UN report revealed evidence of “grave or systematic violations of rights of people with disabilities” by the UK government. Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green rejected the report’s findings and said the document demonstrated “an outdated view of disability which is patronising and offensive”.

Damian Green also criticised as “monstrously unfair” the portrayal of Job Centre staff (who are, by government dictat, destroying people’s lives on a daily basis) in ‘I, Daniel Blake’, despite admitting he had not watched the film.

Ken Loach, the films director, said of the government, “If they don’t know what they are doing to people they are incompetent and shouldn’t be in Government. If they do know what they are doing then they are not fit to be in Government.”

When is the world media going to report on the systematic brutality and cruelty of the UK government towards ordinary people, when will we see the outrage, the shock, the horror of what goes on every day in Britain by the terrorist actions of the UK government?

KOG. 24 March 2017

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/22/victims-london-terror-attack-murdered-police-officer-named-keith/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/the-uk-is-a-global-corruption-centre-campaigners-claim-a7058126.html

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/knife-crime-in-britain-soars-by-15-in-one-year-new-figures-show-a3091326.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/hate-crime-against-disabled-people-rises-41-per-cent-in-one-year-a6713546.html

http://dpac.uk.net/2016/11/the-united-nations-report-into-the-uk-government-maltreatment-of-disabled-people-has-been-published/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37899305

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/ken-loach-i-daniel-blake-damien-green-monstrously-unfair-a7393031.html

random-acts-of-kindness-shoes-for-the-shoeless

I missed a doctors appointment this week, it was entirely down to an oversight on my part for reasons that don’t matter. The next day I visited the health centre to apologise and to make another appointment. The receptionist was very gracious, not a trace of impatience or frustration that my oversight had put unnecessary strain on a practice which I know is stretched to the limit.

I felt strongly enough about this that I asked the receptionist if I could make a donation to the practice to at least put something back for the time and expertise, cost and inconvenience, I had unintentionally caused both them and my fellow patients.

The receptionist said that they had no facility to accept donations, but suggested I talk to my GP about it, which I will do, but what astonished me was as she said this she teared up.

I also spoke to friend yesterday who had called me for some advice. In the course of the conversation he told me about a recent visit to A&E and how under stress the medical staff were and yet how amazing they were. As he left the hospital he thanked the nurse who had looked after him and he was taken aback when her eyes filled up. She was grateful for a kind word, something which she said was rare and often quite the reverse.

These are just two on the hoof moments but they say something to me. Both these situations bespeak of people working hard under pressure and wanting of simple kindness and understanding.

In a world being torn apart by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, it would seem that this is a world in want of kindness, thought and consideration, and, here’s the rub, these are within everyone’s power to give for free.

Governments are selling out to the economic forces of greed, the so called free markets, and far too many of us are feeling the strain of heartless economics that are creating an ever expanding underclass of impoverished people living precariously. Is it any wonder that people who are forced to go to food banks for the basics of survival are often reduced to tears, not just in gratitude for a bite of food to eat, but by the kindness they encounter?

When ‘I, Daniel Blake’ was shown at the Cannes festival audiences were reduced to tears. These were not the tears of goofed out sentimentality, but tears of empathy, anger, identification, of being moved by the suffering of others and unnecessary cruelty.

Ken Loach’s film is not a Hollywood blockbuster dripping in sentimental romance and tear jerking lurv, it is a documentary which hits hard. That said, what also comes across is the care with which it has been written, performed and made. I have not yet seen the film, but its impact is clear.

Readers may be aware that I have just begun therapy to help me break my self imposed isolation of over 20 years and deal with issues I have struggled with all my life. I have elected to pay for this therapy because I want a therapy that is compatible and sympathetic to me and my circumstances. That is going to involve some fancy belt tightening on my part, but I am happy to do that because being isolated has ceased to be a haven of safety and become an intolerable burden to me. I’ll come to why in a moment, but what I must say is that the money I pay for this is to cover the obvious needs we all have as a perfectly reasonable contribution towards the material needs of my therapist. What that money does not pay for, other in the most tangential sense, is the expertise, care, kindness, consideration and the focused intention and attention of my therapist to work with me towards achieving my aims and desires in life.

The money I pay her is not a reflection of her dedication or years of study and practice which have given her the skills she has today. To me, her skills are priceless. Only in the most simplistic sense am I paying for her time, what I am getting is a whole lot more on which it would be hard (if not impossible) to place a value in mere monetary terms.

I recall a story of a woman watching an artist finishing a sketch of seagulls flying. She was awed by the skill with which he captured their movement and grace in simple pencil lines and she asked him how long it had taken him, to which he replied, ’35 years’. The story may or may not be true, but how much is a picture worth if we think in terms of the skills acquired over such a length of time and the love he has for his craft?

So why am I in therapy? What is it about? Whether I want to join a fracking crew of protectors or get active in protecting our NHS I want to free myself to do that. Right now I am not free.

But I have something else weighing on me. I want to either join or start a kindness project. We need many kinds of revolution in many areas of life, but it seems to me that we also need a revolution of kindness and, for me, that is a big fucking deal! That is something worth living for and doing.

We are up against intractable and implacable enemies and I’ve lived with the anguish and pain they cause. I may not know how to tear them down, as much as they richly deserve it, but starting at our ordinary level of life and living, I can be part of something that lifts people up and it is the freedom to do that that I want. To engage.

All the people who have truly impacted my life and made me who I am today have been people of extraordinary kindness. I could say they’ve branded my soul with it, it’s something I cannot ignore, it is so powerful in me and the love I have for them is for all the inspiration that lives inside me now that has been their gift to me in life. These are people who have helped me deal with the hardest things in my life, whatever skills I have learnt have been learnt under the umbrella of incredible kindness and gentleness of others in dealing with, what was for me, life threatening trauma.

Above all, kindness is a gift, it can’t be bought, it is a bottomless well innate in all of us, although it may need some help in learning to share it when people are trapped in fear and the best help is being on the receiving end of it. It has certainly helped this soul to heal from the terrors that bound me.

A world without kindness is not fit for life.

KOG. 25 January 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/26/ken-loach-food-bank-cannes-i-daniel-blake

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05august_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,513

Friday 05 August 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

It is expensive being poor. Being poor comes at a premium cost, whether it is food, health, essential services, transport, life expectancy, being exploited as cheap labour, lack of choice, mental health and quality of life, the poor pay more.

Michael Gove is reported as saying that families were visiting food banks “often as a result of some decisions taken … which mean that they’re not best able to manage their finances.”

Others, like Baroness Jenkin, claim the poor don’t know how to cook.

It is an age old myth that the poor are responsible for poverty as if there are no structural causes that create and drive poverty.

It is 2016 and we still have a minimum wage, that is a wage less than the minimum required to live on. The minimum wage has been exploited ruthlessly as a cheap standard of pay regardless of an ability to pay more and, of course, the motive for that is simply greed, boosting profits. That makes cheap labour an assault on people’s lives. It means that poor people create wealth but are denied any share of that real wealth. Labour comes at a cost but the cost should be borne by the value workers add in the work they perform, if they did not add value the business would not be viable. Yet workers are routinely denied the value of their labour, denied even a minimum on which it is actually possible to live.

The scandal over Mike Ashley and Sports Direct is a case in point. Ashley is a billionaire and Britain’s 22nd richest man. There is no magic involved, he’s a billionaire through ruthless and brutal exploitation. Instead of treating those who work for him with dignity and respect, he despises them, treating them like dirt. Workers are the wealth creators of the nation, were that not true Ashley would have no billions, no life of luxury and no football club. Philip Green is just the same, just another robber baron who has utterly betrayed those who have faithfully laboured to create his wealth.

There are no excuses, no exceptions, the poor cannot afford those who get rich on their backs and it is your duty to end this historic, systemic and obscene exploitation and brutality. That’s not socialism, that’s justice.

https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/nov/10/poverty-premium-costs-poor-energy-phone-tariffs-councils

Michael Gove Doesn’t Get It. Being Poor is Expensive

http://www.bridgingthegap.scot.nhs.uk/understanding-health-inequalities/poverty-and-health-inequalities.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30386108

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/dec/09/how-sports-direct-effectively-pays-below-minimum-wage-pay

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36950806

14_july_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,493

Thursday 14 July 2016.

Dear Mrs May,

I am most interested that the target demographic for your reign as prime minister is: “If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly.”

If that is your datum point, you are aiming high, there are many millions below that who are traditionally ignored, voiceless and, indeed, have been the target of social cleansing under David Cameron’s leadership from 2010. Oxfam finds that ’13 million people in the UK do not have enough to live on, and most do not have the power to speak out about what this feels like and why it is wrong’.

You said that your party is called the Conservative and Unionist Party, I would remind you that a union, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link.

It is to Britain’s shame that we now have food banks the length and breadth of Britain, that further education is subject to a life time of debt, that many women are facing years of hardship having been denied a pension or any interim help for which they have spent a lifetime working, that the provision of universal health care is no longer a duty of the state, that those in the most need face a sanctions regime that deprives them of the means of survival, that sick and disabled people have been cast aside through brutal cuts.

If your focus is not on building a nation from the bottom up, of supporting the most vulnerable, living the most precarious existence, of giving the voiceless a voice, then we are no further forward and those without hope are facing the same future that David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith have cast them into. In this time of political upheaval we need change, drastic change, and I am not at all sure you are offering anything like what is needed for Britain as a whole.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/theresa-mays-first-speech-prime-8415313

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-a2b8-Camerons-Social-Cleansing-of-Britain#.V4aUuKKzzc4

http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/our-work/poverty-in-the-uk

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a1c27f38-0c86-11e6-b0f1-61f222853ff3.html#axzz4EJqsz2Zn

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/110776

http://classonline.org.uk/news/press/its-time-for-a-political-response-to-attacks-on-universal-health-care

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/19/benefit-sanctions-ruin-lives-dwp-fiction

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/15/disability-cuts-cutbacks-destroy-independent-living-budget

20_may_2016

A letter a day to number 10. No 1,439

Friday 20 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I was very impressed at this little nugget that you threw into the Queen’s speech for the State Opening of Parliament, “… and to move to a higher wage and lower welfare economy where work is rewarded.”

It’s amazing, in all the commentary that has followed the Queen’s speech, not a word has been mentioned about pay being redefined by your government as a reward for labour, yet it is possibly the most egregious patronising insult contained in the speech.

Pay was once an entitlement in exchange for labour, but, of course, that’s something you have worked assiduously to bring to an end. The fundamental right to expect a decent rate of pay in exchange for the expenditure of our labour no longer applies in Tory Britain, that is what Workfare has stolen from workers. You have rewritten work as a state duty under threat of punitive sanctions, in which pay has been eradicated and is now merely a reward, if we’re lucky.

I don’t care how many times I have to say it, forced labour is a crime under the Human Rights Act! Yet under the DWP’s brutal and punitive regime this is now routine. The reward being that if you meekly obey you will get to keep the pittance reward of so called ‘benefits’. Even our pensions are called benefits, disregarding that they are an entitlement we have contributed towards all our working lives.

How you’ve stealthily slid us back into feudalism!

Priti Patel is promoting Brexit on the basis of halving the ‘burdens’ of the EU social and employment legislation, which exist to protect workers rights. Such inconveniences you refer to as ‘red tape’, which prevents businesses from being even more profitable at the expense of workers.

Your government is behaving like feudal overlords, patronising us as vassals of the state and rewarding us with a token keepsake if we’ve performed well whilst stealing all that we have so arduously laboured for. Small wonder the Trussell Trust reports that the number of working people needing emergency food parcels from food banks is increasing, citing  low wages, insecure work, high living costs and problems accessing working benefits. Weaponising money to use as a bargaining chip over people’s lives and calling it a reward is a crime against life.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/queens-speech-2016

Who let the cats out? Priti Patel suggests we could lose half our EU work rights after #Brexit

https://www.tuc.org.uk/international-issues/europe/eu-referendum/workplace-issues/priti-patel-reveals-leave-campaign-agenda

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron-scrap-80000-documents-of-red-tape-for-businesses-and-builders-9087036.html

Foodbank use remains at record high