Right now the weather is grim and deeply depressing here in the metropolis. The skies are endlessly grey or dark and full of rain. I am sure most of us are suffering from a significant detrimental lack of energising sunlight but even this is a small thing compared to the issues many are facing at this time.
The government has made some more cuts to welfare benefits. It has become clear that many people are in favour of cuts to welfare for the unemployed. It will be interesting to see how some of them feel now that we know two thirds of the people who will have significant reductions to their benefits, are in fact working. Further down the time lines major wage cuts are inevitable and there is no nationally cohesive workers union base strong enough to resist this at this time.
In the north a young man from southern Europe arrives to work and settle. He quickly finds a job and soon after, a small flat in a block near the centre of a large northern city. Work is hard but life for him is reasonable and in quite a short time the young man is speaking some English and beginning to achieve some sense of personal security. Soon after this the man is involved in an accident that results in him losing his sight. After hospitalisation he is completely blind, home alone and totally with out support.
A neighbour who is concerned that she has not seen him calls Social Services. A social worker visits him and establishes that the young man has no money for food and heating and is quite naturally disoriented and low. The social worker calls the Department of Work and Pensions.
The concerned person who answers explains that the man has no rights regarding benefits at this time. He explains that the man has received a letter explaining this. The man is blind so cannot read this. Then it is established that the man has also received another letter explaining that he can receive some benefit. He cannot read this letter either. I won’t bore you with the discussion over entitlements and form filling that followed.
After further discussion it is established that the man is entitled to some financial support but it will take eight weeks for the assessment to be finalised.
So in 2013 the UK has no viable safety net for those who are vulnerable or in peril. If the young man waits for the system to kick in he will die of hypothermia and starvation.
The statutory machinery is incapable of the kind of care most of us would have regarded as essential only ten or so years ago.
Recently a Tory spin droid defending Government cuts to welfare and the
UK ‘s care of the young declared, our children do not suffer from poverty as they do in other counties. He must have been referring to “third world” children because according to UNICEF child poverty in the UK is rife and our general care of the young is next to bottom in their “first world” survey.
So what of the young man in the north? The social worker contacted the Salvation Army and a small local trust that can provide small amounts of cash for critical need, The nice man from the salvation Army told the social worker that he would have some one at the mans flat within the hour. Twenty minutes later the “Sally Soldier” arrived. The Salvation Army has agreed to provide a visit to the young man 5 times a week. They will provide food and heating money until the young mans benefit is available. They have found some one to visit who can speak the young man’s language.
The salvation Army has achieved what the State cannot. This is extremely worrying. According to a spokesman for the Salvation Army they are receiving more and more calls of this type on their time and on their resources. The “Army” is a magnificent organisation that has always kept to it’s mission. In my opinion no one is doing more so they get my vote and my money but, isn't it a disgrace that here in the UK, we have become so dependent on them and their fellows to save us?
I can’t walk or talk or do any thing much
I know - to some amusement
So take me dancing
let’s take a chance on you being my hope