Last week, as usual, I tuned into radio 4 at 7am. Usual waffle about brexit and politicians, then an article was broadcast about a school. I wasn’t paying too much attention, until I heard the story of a boy in school on a Monday morning who fainted, It transpired that the lad had not eaten anything, since his last school meal the previous Friday. The boy was quickly given a sandwich and an apple. The sandwich he made short work of, but put the apple in his school bag. When he was assured, “it’s alright to eat the apple as well, and school diner wont be long, for you”. The boy said “my sister is in another classroom just up the passage, and she has not eaten anything either.
Now, I was truly shocked by that story, I don’t know how old the boy or girl was, but what a dreadful, terrible indictment of England and the austerity that has been meted out to working class people, over the last decade. How could this Tory Government inflict such poverty, with any justification? Yes I have heard so many times, to many times that their actions were as a result of the last Labour Government leaving office, and therefore the incoming administration without any financial security. What I didn’t hear much about, was the financial meltdown of the banking sector. But of course, that sector was heavily supported. That gripe over:-
I did say to Jan my wife, who now runs the Council estate that I used to control. “Do you think there might be children on this estate who go to school hungry”? She replied that she didn’t know, but she would make enquiries. A day or two later it was reported that someone on the estate who was considered susceptible to financial difficulties, as her child was often seen passing the office on his way to school, clutching a small bottle of pop and a packet of crisps. I do happen to know this woman and her background. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised to learn that she may have financial problems. She is a single parent, who partner decided to leave the estate, for fiddling the electric meter.
The revelation is a problem for the organisation, as they can’t just ask the Mother about her personal financial situation, as the question could be embarrassing for her as well as PETRA. If she is cash strapped, to the extent that her children are suffering, she may choose, to admit to her deprivation, or more likely throw a hissy fit of indignation. Or, she might feel so offended, that someone on the estate, has singled her out to PETRA.
Knowing the estate, I am confident that others would be quite willing to help, either directly with cash or indirectly, with food or just general support. Indeed I am considering putting a motion to the next committee that £1000. Be put aside from the PETRA reserves, for any family to call upon, in desperate circumstances. Yes there will have to be checks and balances, as well as measurable accountability of the committee members approving the hardship donation/s, but I do not see it as an insurmountable, unachievable project.
Just to finish, I was shocked to note, when I asked “Google” to list the richest countries in the world, I thought England would be about ninth or tenth, we’re not even in the first twenty-ninth countries listed. Poverty is here, in heart-breaking measurable reality. The sad truth is, I live in a nice comfortable home with a loving wife, and both of us would help others as we have our children, over the years. Is it a paradox of being pensioners, that have lived through poor times (especially as children) that we now don’t see, the needs all around us!?