As the year draws to a close I’d like to share my thoughts about the homeless paper ‘The Big Issue’. I do believe that it is a great idea to offer homeless people a legitimate way to earn their way into a better future. I’ve been inspired by John Bird the papers founder in the November/Dec issue where he argues ‘There is no alternative to getting involved in the day to day world of politics, if you feel that politics is going the wrong way.’
It might not be clear why someone working in the field of health might become interested in politics. Over many years of coping with a chronic health issue myself and working with others struggling with health concerns, I have felt and seen what is like to struggle and work consistently to be able to make a living. People with chronic ill health and disability will inevitably be amongst the poorest in our society. I think it’s very sad that the current government is choosing to set different sections of society against each other. Disabled against able bodied, poor against rich and employed against unemployed and most notably with the coining of the phrase ‘strivers’ pitted against ‘skivers’.
It seems to me that the further one gets from the bread line and the longer one has enjoyed the security and standard of living that goes with being a good distance away from the bread line, the easier it is to distance ourselves from the reality of what it is like to be poor. I question the validity of anyone who has been ‘comfortably off’ for any amount of time to be charged with making economic decisions that will impact mostly on the poor. I believe that we have to work towards a system where it is compulsory that disadvantaged sections of our society are properly represented and truly listened to.
At the moment we have a situation where our most vulnerable people are ‘demonised’ and like John Bird says in the Big Issue, the only way forward is encourage more people to become politically active. He says lets ‘ have a big demo for signing people up to political action...Go out on our high streets and diligently promote your argument. Take every opportunity to get your voice heard.’
For those people who say ‘I’m not interested in politics, it has nothing to do with me’ I would say it has everything to do with you. How much money you pay in tax, how much money you pay for your bills and your food, what the local government has to spend in your area, how your local services, like schools, the fire service and the police service are run. All these areas and most of the areas that affect our daily lives are governed by politics so it has everything to do with us whether we like it or not.
The Big Issue is available from a homeless person on a street corner somewhere near you this Christmas.