The Poverty Bandwagon

There’s a lot of noise being made about people jumping on the so-called poverty bandwagon. Apparently lots of highly successful, super affluent people had a tough start to life. Apparently they experienced poverty. Apparently they know the pain associated with the breadline. I say apparently because I am not them and cannot make comments on their lives. I can only talk about my own experiences and views on the world.

Poverty is no joke, and is all too real for too many. According to leading charities, 14 million people live in poverty in the UK. That’s approx. one in five of the population, which is made up of eight million working-age adults, four million children and two million pensioners. Eight million families living in poverty, where at least one person is in work. Think about that for one minute.

If you search #poverty on Instagram you’ll find over half a million posts. I honestly don’t have the words to articulate how I feel about this, but perhaps that’s part of the problem? Can everything in life really be summed up with a catchy, SEO optimised, Google friendly hashtag?

poverty bandwagon

Poverty and dysfunction don’t have to go hand in hand

I have spoken about my dysfunctional upbringing since my very first blog post on here in 2013. I never talk about my childhood to jump on the poverty bandwagon, or stay relevant. I talk about it because it still affects my day to day now. I do not know a single person, not one, who escaped a traumatic childhood without war wounds. How deep the scars run varies, but no-one gets away scot-free.

We can stick our broken pieces back together. We can have all the counselling in the world. We can write until we own the word catharsis. We can do everything in our power to break self-destructive behaviour cycles. Ultimately though, whether we like it or not, our past is a part of us. Making peace with it will help us heal, but it won’t erase the memories of it.

Dysfunction stems from not dealing with our demons and allowing them to overtake our lives. Dysfunction occurs regardless of the size of our bank accounts. None of us are immune to negative cycles turning into serious dysfunction. It’s up to us all to be self-aware enough to either stop things spiralling out of control, or admit when things have spiralled and seeking help.

Some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve had the privilege to know throughout the years have been dirt poor. Poverty doesn’t stop you from being a good, kind hearted person. Just as money doesn’t stop others from being mean spirited and unkind. We all have a moral compass and can choose to tune in or out to it.

Poverty certainly doesn’t stop us from being the best parents who ever walked the planet. Love is free of charge, after all.

poverty bandwagon

Lack of financial wellness

In April 2008 I had to declare bankruptcy. At the time it was a truly horrendous experience – degrading, humiliating and soul destroying. However, it forced me to take a long hard look at my relationship with money. Toxic doesn’t come close. No-one had ever taught me about financial wellness. I had zero idea of the impact on my mental health that being in debt from the day I could legally have a credit card would have.

Had I not gone bankrupt I might still have ridiculous and snobby views on buying things second hand. These days pretty much everything I buy comes from charity shops or selling sites. I’m not ashamed for my kids to wear clothes that have been kindly passed on to them, and they love knowing their friends wore it before them.

When I was a kid we had loan sharks who preyed on those with little cash to lend small amounts of money at extortionate rates. Nowadays they are on almost every high street in the form of pay day loans. I’ve often wondered how many are being kept in poverty because of them. That’s a whole other blog post though.

poverty bandwagon

Poverty is not glamorous 

Whilst I have never experienced living poverty as a parent, living through it as a child was very valid. Yes it was a different era, but no electricity or food in the cupboards on a regular basis was pretty tough going. Sleeping on floors at fifteen years old. Being exploited working underage. Having dirty old men ply me with booze and try to take advantage of me every week. Do I honestly think these things would have happened if I’d come from a “nice and wholesome” middle classed family? I doubt it very much indeed.

Right now, today, I live a comfortable life. I don’t have to stress about where my next £10 is coming from. Whose to say this will always be the case, though? I am all too aware that falling into poverty could happen to most of us. I’m not setting up a hashtag, or going on a crusade, but I will continue to donate to women’s refuges and food banks and hygiene banks. I’ll still take food to homeless people and carry on trying to help in any way I can. Be it spreading the word on social media about a crisis campaign or not buying Christmas presents and donating what I would have spent.

Great things can happen when people put their heads together

Scotland recently announced they would make sanitary products available for all students, let’s hope the rest of the UK follows suit. This incredible initiative would have never happened if girls and women had stayed silent about their situation, and carried on putting up and shutting up month after month.

There are success stories all over the internet. Of people who experienced temporary poverty and turned to their local community for support. When communities help their own, it builds lasting foundations. It helps get to the root cause of problems, so cycles can be broken.

There are some absolutely amazing people making noise for those less fortunate, in a non-patronising, non-IG filtered way. If you honestly want to help, start by opening your eyes, and taking a proper look. This A-Z guide of grass roots charities is a great place to start.

If you want to do something good, don’t jump on the poverty bandwagon with second hand stories and tenuous links. It pisses people off, and takes away from the truly needy. If everyone has had it “really really hard”, then how do we know who genuinely has?

**many thanks to Unsplash.com for the gorgeous, copyright free, free to download photos**

The Left and Right Need to Come Together #LoveTrumpsHate

The Left and Right Need to Come Together #LoveTrumpsHateI’d like to start this blog by stating loud and clear that I am not a ‘loonie leftie’

I’ve written before about where my liberal values come from (clue: not through an early life of privilege, quite the opposite). I am not a communist, and don’t think socialism could even begin to work in the UK. I feel that the world is way too politically correct on many levels.

I read an article recently about not calling pregnant women ‘expectant mothers’ for fear of offending transgender people. I thought it was out and out bonkers. Is this honestly what transgender people want? Or are clueless people in the government making decisions about things they don’t know? 

I’m a mama. I grew three babies, pushed them out into the world and fed them with my breasts. I will not apologise for owning the title mama. Ever.

I grew up in a right wing household, but do not hold the same values as the people who raised me. I vehemently oppose any form of racism, and am appalled that open misogyny still takes place. For what it’s worth I think that Donald Trump is the devil incarnate.

Coming together on the things that divide the sides

A heated debate that is currently taking place on my personal Facebook page has prompted me to write this. And I am doing so with shaky hands and my heart beating in my mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as strongly about getting words on the screen before. You can probably guess the topics of conversation.

Brexit.

Trump.

Hillary Clinton being the rightful president of the USA v’s Hillary Clinton being the She Devil.

Directly after the EU Referendum, there was lots of hatred. Then it died down a little. Then Trump got elected and it started up again. And now? Now people are sick and tired of being polite whilst being shat upon. People are protesting in their droves to get their voices heard.

I posted a link to a news site after the Brexit update on Thursday, and a few (non-British) friends commented with their thoughts. In a nutshell they are concerned that they’ll be kicked out of the country. This is a worrying time to live through. They’re scared for their kids, and don’t know what to do and where they’ll go next if it all goes tits up.

A British friend commented that he’s finding the Brexit fallout very interesting, as he was a leave voter. As a remainer, and someone who is always willing to listen to intelligent arguments, I find it genuinely enlightening to hear why people voted leave. In many ways I’m starting to see their logic. Which I’m surprised about, because I couldn’t for a long time. I was too emotionally caught up in the immediate consequences. 

The system as is needs fixing in a big way 

I don’t think many could argue that we have a broken political system, that properly needs to change. Unless you’re in the top 5%, and if you are I doubt highly that you’re reading my blog,

My friend said that if he was in the States, he’d have voted for Trump in a heartbeat. This initially got my back up (along with the backs of all the others who had commented on the thread). After a few days of reflection though, and many more comments along the way, I’m starting to see where he’s coming from.

Bear with me please. 

Let me state for the record that I feel it’s utter lunacy that Donald Trump is sitting in the White House. I don’t agree with a single thing he says or does, and his openly racist, misogynistic stance makes my blood run cold. His campaign was run on fear and hatred. Some of the laws that are now being passed are backward at best. For once a politician is keeping his campaign trail promises, but at what cost?

Like it or not though, he is the president. Even if he got impeached, the alternative is not going to be better. Look how swapping David Cameron for Theresa May is working out.

Let’s use our collective voice for real good

It feels like us in the UK are getting sidetracked by the states to be honest. Yes we should be shouting loudly about how much we hate Trump, but how about also using our voices to speak up about our own government? The Tories have been running the country into the ground from the day they took office, yet won last year’s election hands down.

WTAF?

Austerity is clearly failing the masses, and looks like it’s only going to get worse. Assets are being sold off to the highest bidder. Budgets for public services are being cut to the bone. The NHS is being run into the ground, people dying on trolleys in the corridors of our hospitals. I cannot for a second understand the logic behind charging nursing students to study. 

There are more homeless than ever before, yet hate-mongering media are showing headlines of record numbers in employment. You couldn’t make half of it up.

The women’s march two weeks ago was nothing short of amazing. People came together across the world to say they were not going to sit back and watch their rights being taken away. Women said, loud and clear, that they’ll do whatever it takes to protect the rights that have been worked so hard for over the years.

Unfortunately though, it was largely seen as a liberal thing to do. Right wing women have been condemning the marchers and making fun of them. How very sad.

Wouldn’t it be amazing for us to find our common ground and come together? For the sake of human decency?    

It’s time to wake the f*** up, open our eyes and get angry  

Now that the worst has happened, it’s put politics on everyone’s agenda. This is a wonderful thing, and should be celebrated. Which ever side of the political fence you sit on, we should all be using the current momentum, which is so strong, to be protesting about what the Tories are doing right here in the UK.  

When the junior doctors marched last year, over appalling pay and ridiculous hours, they ended up with a much better deal. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could save the NHS before it’s privatised? Sorry to state the obvious, but once it’s gone it’s gone!

Wouldn’t it be incredible to get something done about the housing crisis? About zero hour contracts, which are pushing people into poverty, even though they are technically employed? 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get some extra funding for our schools? As the mother of an autistic child, I find it abhorrent that SEN budgets have been slashed to next to nothing, and that a child has to be suicidal before they can get in front of a counsellor. Good teachers are quitting in their droves because they have had enough. Just think about that for a minute.  

Left or right, we all have to share the country. Let’s stop allowing ourselves to be divided and conquered. 

Collectively we very much do have a voice, we should start using it for some proper good. Let’s not become tired and boring shouting the same old things that fall on the same old deaf ears.

What we cannot do is apathetically resign ourselves to what’s going on right under our noses. We can’t allow it to be considered normal, because it very much isn’t.

#LoveTrumpsHate

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