Feed the world? maybe; But do kids know there’s youth clubs here at Christmas?

Significantly its 34 years since the original ‘Feed the world’ song graced our TVs and radios and brought about a heightened awareness of the tragedies in Africa, of starvation and hunger. Today, there are tragedies still all over the world. Do give to charities such as Tear Fund, Christian Aid, Oxfam and all the major world charities who do good.
But there is also the poverty at home.
The UN report was damning recently on the state of poverty in the UK. The challenge of just living, coping, finding a way to deal with debt, housing, pressures and expectations.
And in addition the reduced funding for every support group that might have helped has been nothing short of criminal. Including the decimation of youth clubs for young people, all the mental health provision, housing benefit, EMA’s and University grants.
As i have said before, even with the cuts, youthwork hasnt died, its just that everyone else is doing it without the relationship and philosophical background. So it its time to raise that awareness.
As teacher said to me recently. Kids growing up dont know about youth clubs. As i said, also, Young people in the austerity generation dont quite know whats hit them. But what many dont have this year, or for a few years is even the notion of the youth club in the town or village. Thats not to say there arent these things, and run by volunteers and faith groups – but these are often less publicised or open to all.
Maybe at this Christmas time, or Brexit time, it is time to sing that song again, its probably already being piped through the speakers in the shops,, but in 2018 it needs some new words..
It’s Brexit time,
there’s no clubs for going to
Last Christmastime,
we let in neo liberalism and we banish love
And in our world of plenty
theres foodbanks and banished hope
Throw your fists up in despair
at Brexit-time
But say an outcome objective,
pray for the closed youth clubs
At Christmastime it’s hard,
even to be having fun (not even a hollow game of ping pong this year)
For there’s a world outside your youth club,
and it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only people going
are the detached team, full of cheers
And the Christmas smells that ring there
are the dope and fags and beers
Well tonight thank God it’s them
instead of you
And there won’t be knowledge of youthwork this Christmastime
The closest that theyll get is N C S (Oooh)
Where funding ever slows
No young people ever go (according to all the reports about the ‘success’ of NCS)
Do kids know there’s youth work here at all?
Here’s to you raise a glass for Jeffs and Smith
Here’s to them underneath that burning embers of youthwork courses
Do kids know theres youthwork here at all?
Build the youth clubs
fund the youth clubs
love the world
Let kids know theres youthwork here again
Build the youth clubs
Let kids know that adults care again.

Maybe that is the cause needed to be sung about. That there is a charity single/download for the reality of austerity in the UK amongst young people. But then again, charity isnt really providing much in the way of funding for open youth work anyway. Feed the world – thats what is needed and its a tragedy this Christmas.

Apologies for ruining the song for you, but i figured its been done to death already.

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Are young people born since 2000 to be known as the Austerity Generation?

Imagine being 10 and at youth club that evening the leaders pass the bucket around, and ask you to make a cake to sell to keep the youth club going.

Imagine being 11 and the youth club that you went to closing.

Imagine being 12 and your parents have to move house because, after your brother moved out last year, they cant afford to stay in the same house, and they need to be in something with one less bedroom.

Imagine at 12 1/2 having to change school and friendship groups because of this.

Imagine that at 13 your birthday meal has to be got from the foodbank because the universal credit payment didnt come through on time after the house move.

Imagine being 13 and not coping with your new school, and you ask for help and counselling, but no one really though you were serious.

Imagine being 14 and developing an eating disorder

Imagine being 14 and having to wait 6 months for a Camhs referral and appointment.

Imagine being 14 and just having to cope and be told you need more resilience.

Imagine being 15 and trying to cope in school, where there was no let up.

Imagine being 16 and advised to stay in school or college

Imagine being 17 and realising that in college, that you get to do a 1 day timetable in something that you really dont want to do.

Imagine being 17 and the thing you want to do, you cant because the education maintenance allowance doesnt ‘exist anymore’

Imagine being 18 and realising that college might be the answer, but a bus ticket to it is too expensive.

Imagine being this young person.

Imagine that every year since you were 10 you were directly affected by the underfunding of youth services, education, travel, housing, social services, mental health provision, imgine that every year there was a change to be made.

Imagine how that uncertainty might have an effect.

When its not just one thing.

Its been one thing every year.

Imagine that being 14 might have been easier with a youthworker around.

Imagine that being 16 might have been easier with a youthworker around to help think through education choices or help realise dreams and potential.

There will be 17 year olds, who for the last 7 years all they have experiences is something that had, being taken away. Something they want that might be good for them being out of reach, something that used to exist not being there anymore, something that makes their already challenging life even more difficult to try and reach. I guess thats tough love by the tory government, or just tough luck.

Imagine thinking that it wasnt just your postcode that you feel left out in, but that its the wrong time in the world to be a young person.

Imagine how being 10 was a time of hope, of dreaming and of looking forward to the rest of life with excitement. Imagine having all of that dashed by austerity cuts.

Imagine being blamed because you’re now a bored teenager who hangs around the town.

It isnt what you dreamed for. what you wanted. But dreams are dangerous now.

Imagine that you are still the problem.

Imagine that no one still wants to listen.

Imagine being shunted from one 6 week course to another.

Imagine being in between. Out of one home, not in another.

When a secondary school teacher in a Northern Secondary school said to me a few weeks ago;

‘Young people perceive that no one cares about them’

‘Children and young people deserve investment, they have been at the rough end of austerity’

‘They are vulnerable first and foremost, they need people who care and then be alongside them’

They might just be right.

Yet, that doesnt seem to matter to the current government.

In a discussion at the UK prime ministers questions yesterday there was the following exchange:

Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op)

Q7. Last year, a quarter of young people thought about suicide, and one in nine attempted suicide. Young people are three times more likely to be lonely than older people. Knife crime is up, and gang crime is up. There are fewer opportunities for young people than ever before—68% of our youth services have been cut since 2010—with young people having nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to speak to. Is it now time for a statutory youth service, and will the Prime Minister support my ten-minute rule Bill after Prime Minister’s questions? [905633]

The Prime Minister- Theresa May
I think “Nice try” is the answer to the hon. Gentleman, but he said that there were fewer opportunities for young people here in this country. May I just point out to him the considerable improvement there has been in the opportunities for young people to get into work and the way in which we have seen youth unemployment coming down?

Whilst the question may not have got to the hub of the whole matter and the situation facing many young people who have now experienced 7 years of austerity, and have a firm grip of how their lives are and have been affected. It is as true to say that the response from the Prime Minister is one who has no idea on what 8 years of targetted cuts that have affected families may have had on young people.

Young people still the brunt of the cut backs. Still demonised by the press. They deserve much better. Even just to catch up with what young people 10 years had the benefit of, no not the benefit of, the right to have.

‘Nice try’ – even the question about young people is belittled in response.

Its as if no one is pretending to try, and helping young people to survive is a mish mash of agencies scrambling around for the crumbs off the plate. The gaps are huge and many are falling through.

‘Nice Try’ nah when it comes to young people, this government have barely tried. And dont even start on NCS.

Mark Smith has written this piece at length on the http://www.infed.org site detailing all the research and reports which indicate the effect of austerity policy on young people education. Harrowing. austerity affecting young peoples wellbeing and education

Austerity; the political choice no one believes anymore.

The day after watching, I Daniel Blake, and our current Government announce that £369 million of tax payers money is being spent on Buckingham Palace. The Story is here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38025513

Countless millions is now being spent on the Legal system to negotiate Brexit. Money that could have been used elsewhere.

Yet the NHS is accused of over spending, but I didnt see any legal fee targets the government has. Or Value for Money assessment on the spending on Buckingham palace – and im not against the Royals by the way, but just find the cost of their DIY project, whos is paying for it, and the timing of it, in a time of Austerity (apparently) bewildering.

No one can buy the austerity narrative anymore. Or if it exists it is selective Austerity at best, and thats what makes it a Political Austerity.

There are some things that are scrutinised as value for Money, there are others where Money is just spent. The case for job creation for Trident was laughable ( ie £2m per Job) and likewise the tourism income from Buckingham Palace. But when it comes to actually helping people on benefits, when it comes to denying people allowances for disabilities, when it comes to cutting universal youth services (and replacing them with a similar cost NCS programme for young people to pay for also), cutting libraries – none of these things are maintained because it might be said that they are good to do or have – yet HS2, and Trident and Buckingham Palace are said to be good to have and not under the same scrutiny, so it appears.

So Austerity this week has been called out as a Political Choice. The Government are choosing what to apply the austerity narrative to. Its public services. Yes services for the pubic. It is local councils. Yes thats councils who are in local areas for local people. it is the NHS, and your schools, it is your safety net, which might be because of a mental health diagnosis (if you can get one). It has affected the salaries of teaching assistants in Durham http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38006545, of council workers, of youth workers, of social services, the Police force, fire service and Paramedics. You know, the people we all need every now and then.

And gradually the nation is getting sicker. Gradually it is getting more pissed off. But thanks to our best pal Nigel, Donalds new golden boy, its far easier to blame other people who are in a similar situation to us, or who have travelled from even worse situations to try and find a home here. The narrative of blame for the state of this sick country has been claimed and normalised to be immigration.

If the country isnt what it used to be (says Anna Soubry in her Guardian article here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/18/anna-soubry-interview

the cause of it, is not the Banking Crisis, or Brexit. It is that by choosing a political austerity that blamed the poor for poverty, rather the system that actively maintains it, and reducing support to those who need it. Thats where the blame should be. But this is not about blame, this about revealing the truth that Austerity has been a smokescreen for blazoned political judgement on the choice of government spending of tax payers money. Austerity has meant cuts, but only subjective ones.

Maybe I shouldn’t watch films that are so real and painful they stay in my head and heart for days. I, Daniel Blake tears you apart, because it is all true. It builds you back up because it reveals that humanity and dignity is found despite the system. That hope exists in friendship despite poverty. But it makes you mad that these are the crumbs of comfort in the film. The government were quick to say that the film was unrealistic. I think they’re right, the reality is that people might not be as generous as they were in the film.

Image result for i daniel blake

If he is misrepresentative its tha Ken Loach probably over plays the helpfulness & kindness of people, he doesnt represent the system badly.

Let it just sink in that £369million pounds is being spent on Buckingham Palace. On

On an house in London. One house.

That money could regenerate the whole of Hartlepool. Or Schools in the North east. Or upgrade housing – lots of it.

Austerity is a choice the Government is making on behalf of those it wants to.