Thank you, it has been a blast

Thank you, it has been a blast

It’s less than half an hour to go until the polls close on the 2017 UK General Election, as I begin to write this piece.

I am exhausted. Feel deflated. The tank’s empty and I’ve been running on fumes for some time. I get the feeling that there are plenty of others who are experiencing the same thing as I, all over the country. People have mustered their all to do what they can to bring about positive change in this country, by getting the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party into government. Many of these people had precious little to give. Financially, mentally, physically and in spirit, we are already at the harsh end of Tory Britain and debilitated by the harsh conditions that we are made to exist in. We’ve dragged ourselves up and screamed in every way we can. Online activism has gone through the roof. Volunteers out door knocking in numbers not seen for years.

It’s not just us who are fighting for our very existence who have been promoting the Labour cause. People with no other reason to connect with politics have become engaged and have learned the truth about how our society and economy is operating. They’re not happy with what they finding out. So many people have woken up in recent years, to how tightly controlled our lives are by a very select few, to our detriment and their financial advantage. People are getting angry.

The question is, are there enough people in this country who have actually woken up? How many are still in the semi-conscious state that our mainstream media have carefully held us in for decades? Are we ready to see the real world, as a populace?

These questions will be answered over the coming hours. Anxiety and uncertainty is at dangerous levels, both for individuals and whole demographics in this country. We can only wait.

My own experience of this campaign has been hugely significant in my life. Some will have read about my own hellish journey through mental health and emergency housing services, both in Labour Bristol and Tory Wiltshire. On the flipside to this, which has been circumstantial and only coincidental to the politics of the time, I have also seen a side of humanity that I thought was becoming extinct.

I started making use of my long dormant twitter account again, in early February 2017. If memory serves correctly, I had around 70-80 followers and had tweeted a few hundred times, maybe. As I write this, those figure have risen to over 3,100 and over 32,000 respectively. The growth has been purely organic, no attempts to buy or use apps or follow groups and hashtags to artificially grow. Connections with genuine, decent people have been plenty and I’ve seen genuine concern and thoughtfulness from like-minded people. When I first became homeless and before I was getting benefits, I received a total of £500 from online donations. This enabled me to eat and keep my phone going, for the all important mental health crisis team and benefits related calls that needed to be made and received. For a few days, while in Wiltshire, it enabled me to eat and also got me the train fare back from Chippenham to Bristol when Tory Wiltshire County Council sent me packing, mental health issues and all.

I’ve seen people devote themselves to promoting the Labour cause in highly innovative, creative and passionate ways. People have shone online in their determination to get the truth out there. To educate people. Then we see the huge crowd that are attending the Labour and Jeremy Corbyn rallies around the country. It is breathtaking. The efforts of volunteers in all areas of the campaign has been inspirational and the learn on the job, campaign work performed by the various Momentum groups has been heartening, to say the least.

People power has brought people together and I hope that those connections endure whatever is to come. We have become a family of sorts. Let’s keep it that way. We could well be needing it. Thank you people. Thank you the whole Labour team, supporters, friends. You have all been amazing! I have been inspired and utterly blown away by you people. My faith in humanity has gone up a few notches, even as times have become darker.

I can’t even bring myself to do any more than wish us all luck. Let’s hope for the result that we’ve all worked to very hard for.


It’s a hostel life for us

You may have been following this blog and read the path that has led me here. If not, you can start from the very beginning, here.

If this is a next installment for you, then where were we? Ah yes, right here, where I am now. In a Salvation Hostel “crash pad”,  where I have been since 26th April.

How is that going?

Well, firstly I have to give credit to the staff who, on the whole, have been brilliant within and in some cases beyond their restrictions. My fellow residents are a very eclectic bunch. I see some people who I think should really be in a nursing home. A couple of frail old men, who really shouldn’t be here. Then there’s just a big old mix of the aftermath of various forms of substance abuse. Among them are numerous of those who are on their way to aftermath, developing or having already acquired crack, smack and spice habits. There’s like a little micro-economy to be observed, where each knows each other’s benefits payment day. I’m learning it quite easily. A given person’s benefits payment day is usually the day they first disappear for two or three days. I’m learning the ways, always learning.

A big hindrance at the moment is the aforementioned crash pad situation. A crash pad is a very temporary-term accommodation, here at the hostel. I’m not formally booked in as a resident, but am being given emergency accommodation. While I’m in this state of limbo, I don’t get assigned a support worker, so there is little that any of the staff can formally do for me. So far, I have had to try to navigate the benefits process unaided. Although I’m of a working background usually requiring a decent intelligence, my current state makes this a hugely daunting and confusing task. I have to give credit where it is due – and I’m amazed I can say this – but the guy I dealt with at the DWP to initiate the claim was just superb. He navigated me through the system for just over an hour and all I’ve had to do was get sick notes, showing my current severely depressed state.

I have also been well looked after by the Central Bristol Mental Health Crisis team. They’ve been very supportive in numerous ways, a little more on that in a bit. A piece of good news is that my mental health concerns are getting a bit of a fast tracking, at long last. Hopefully there is light at the end of this, so far, 30 year long tunnel.  I’ve had an assessment already. They’ve given their view which actually does mirror how I feel, how life has been. I have some faith that I am finally on the right path to recovery or at least good management of it all. I’m finally on the path to getting some long term talking therapy and they’re looking to phase me off the medication path that I’ve been on, on and off, for 15 or so of the last 25 years.

Housing is the concern at the moment. Being at the hostel isn’t helping with my already highly anxious state. It’s not exactly a calm environment most of the time. I’m also a bit “frightened of my own shadow” at the moment, so leaving the room is a challenge that I tend to try to set for when I know there is least corridor traffic. It’s as much about me as it is about my perception of them. On the whole the others here are downtrodden blokes with all hope sucked out of them. Some are in desperate positions, health wise, money wise, street wise. I’ve not seen any physical violence as yet and the only death since I’ve been here was a heart failure. But it feels volatile. I’ve seen the magnifying effects of a bit of excitement, positive or negative, soon builds an exponential pressure around it, taking everyone before it as fuel until everybody is part of an inferno. It isn’t a pleasant experience, but was quite an insight into another life. It isn’t all totally negative and hostile though. There’s times that I can clearly feel the unspoken “it’s tough going, isn’t it?” that seems to telepathically pass between me and random people I see about the place.

I’m looking to get out of this environment as soon as possible, for obvious reasons. The plan, as it stands, will be to try to move to Wiltshire, to be nearer to my brother. He’s been a genuine rock in recent weeks and is the base of a sizable support network that can be available to me. Moving out of the city is also likely to have a positive effect on me, in the longer term. I found this when I lived out of the city, in Thornbury.

So, I’m currently waiting to hear from the Mental Health Recovery Team, to learn what the long term plan is going to be for my support and therapy. I have been quite impressed with the mental health services, now that it has gotten to this stage. It would have been better, especially for me and those affected by my mental health, if this level of care and support had been available to me at any point when I have pleaded and begged for it. Rant over, I am acutely aware of the strains and limitations that they are under. Government cuts on health and social care have almost destroyed these vital services.

It looks like my benefit claim is now under way, so that is a relief. I’ll be able to eat. That has been a major part of the last few days. Let me expand on that a little. I spoke with my key / support worker and said that the emergency money I had been issued by Bristol City Council was going to run out or expire very soon. He went off and sorted something out and said he would come round to see me the following day.

Welcome to the foodbank

The crisis team guy came around in the middle of the afternoon to take me to a foodbank. Obviously, if you follow me on twitter, I am all too aware of the existence of foodbanks, I protest a bit against the reasons for their existence, to say the least.

This protesting is quite different to the realities of actually having to use one. I found it to be a breathtaking experience. The physical feelings that hit me during this experience took about a day and a half to wear off. The gut wrenching, chest tightening shame, sadness and indignity of what life is like right now.

So the guy from the crisis team takes me for a drive. We pull up near a pub I have sat outside of, having summer beers in happier times. Just past that I start seeing the foodbank vans coming and going. I am led into the hall, as in functions hall, into a sombre, almost morbidly hushed atmosphere. It felt sad and as the lovely little old ladies flitted around getting me a hot drink and some biscuits, it hit me, hard. It has come to this. I am about to be given food as a charitable hand out, in order to stop me starving. In a fairly major city, in the United Kingdom, in 2017, this is happening to me.

My stomach churned, my heart sank and I swear it tried its best to be swallowed up by my churning gut. The crisis team guy did pick up on this, knew what was going through my head and all he could really do was acknowledge it with me. It must be hard for these people, seeing this every shift, wanting to do more but not being able to, due to cuts and lack of resource from above. Fair play, he just made sure that I knew he was there with and for me and just silently acknowledged that yes, this was happening and NO, this was not right.

My eyes were welling up, my spirit felt broken. I glanced over at another guy who was there, on his own, but clearly going through the same emotions as me. I wanted to nod, to acknowledge that I felt his pain, but we were probably both too close to cracking point by then, that we both held firm in avoiding eye contact. It was a sad moment and one that I will hope to forget, in time.

I filled two and a half carrier bags with food. They’d picked tins that had ring pulls to get around my lack of tin opener and ensured that everything was microwaveable if it needed cooking. They didn’t hover around me, but were there as soon as they could see a question forming. Proper lovable old ladies wanting to do their bit to help those who need it. They know the indignity that people are going through. They are good at respecting that and not poking it further. I appreciated it.

We came back to the hostel and he brought me around through the staff entrance, so I didn’t have to walk past everybody with my carrier bags. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One it doesn’t pay to be seen as recently fortunate, or being in possession of stuff. Also, I just didn’t need the indignity of it. Eye contact is hard enough for me around here as it is.

So, as the days go by I’m hoping that I may be moved into something a little more permanent, so I qualify for the support that I really think I need in navigating the housing process. Just waiting on whatever, a decision, a vacancy, I don’t know.

I’ve been lucky not to have run out of money, by the generosity of social media users who have gifted donations to help me, while benefits are being sorted. This enabled me to buy food and other essentials. I’ve even got somebody sending me a hair/face grooming kit, so I can have a proper shave and sort my unruly hair out. Going to need to do-it-myself for a while, I think, to keep costs down. I’ll update on this when it arrives. A lovely gesture from a nice human being. There are more about than the news would have us think, it seems.

So, the anxiety is pretty high, but I can lock myself away in my small room and distract myself by ranting on about the state of the country, on twitter. I’d be lost without it at the moment, to be fair. Gotta have a focus and my political rants and raves give me that.

Hoping to get something moving soon on the housing side of things. Everything else appears to be ticking along as well as I could hope at this stage of things. For somebody who worked with large IT networks for a living, life seems to have become very complicated and confusing, all of a sudden. It’s a whole new world to me and I’m only taking it in at a blur.

So, in a nutshell. I’m safe, but not really appropriately accommodated for somebody in my condition. I accept that this is the way it is and am just grateful to be indoors, safe.

I’ll update further as and when things happen and turn up.

Thanks for your support. Much love.

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We mustn’t talk about Jeremy

We mustn’t talk about Jeremy

Although I despair of politics, you and I just cannot avoid or escape it in everyday life, much as many of us would like to. I don’t claim to fully understand it, or even understand it to a novice level, but I do get gut feelings about what is wrong and what is right. My earliest memories of politics, around the 11-16 age range are how I was influenced in my leanings by the media. I remember being confused as to who stood for what and even which MP was a member of which party. It was all such a jumbled mess. However, I could sense what the parties stood for in general terms. Who represented who in terms of social class. It didn’t help that my parents were on either side of the political divide, with my Mum being a Labour voter, my Grandfather on her side, Walter Jenkins, being a former Labour Lord Mayor of my city of birth. My father kept chirping on about how Margaret Thatcher was the greatest leader of UK government of all time. But then again, he’s all about money and a complete Narcissist. Back then he was a charge-hand scaffolder working in the Berkeley and Hinkley Point power stations and other big contracts for what was then GKN Mills, later GKN Kwikform and earning great money for that period.

When I started to develop my own views and leanings, I discovered myself to be completely in tune with the original principles of the Labour party. A socialist, wanting the people to be the first priority in any political debate and decision and for their views to be respected and part of the political process. A true democracy. The votes I have cast have only ever been for the Labour party, including getting New Labour into power and getting them in for the second term. I also voted for Miliband’s Labour, although grudgingly. I think my socialist views led me into the social care sector, first as a hands-on support worker or a year and then in various technical roles for a further six.

Since those times, voting apathy has been a big part of my thoughts when it’s been time to vote and the was because I felt that New Labour just didn’t represent me, my principles and those that I thought were meant to be those of the Labour party. The principles that gained my support in the first place. My utter loathing and confusion of politics had returned. How can the Labour party do this to me, to us the voters? Take us into what was dubbed an illegal war based on highly questionable evidence, sell us out for honours and titles for the already elite and dismiss the voters’ views so badly? I’d come to the conclusion that they were as bad as the Tories. ‘Labour MPs with blue underwear’ I called them.

Then along came Jeremy Corbyn, who I had read about from various online sources. There’s a man of principle, a man of his word, I was thinking. When he spoke, I didn’t feel I had to insert a political babel fish into my ear, or record the speech or interview to go over again and again, until I was able to make an interpretation of the broader message and see through the political jargon and spin. As has been billed, he is a straight-talker. He also has integrity, humanity, puts people first and their human rights appear to be a top priority. The will of the people, democracy, is what appears to shape his policies and that seemed almost unique and even novel in the political landscape that I saw before me. I was delighted to see him become leader of the Labour party and felt a certain relief that maybe things were on the change. A change for the better.

Then came all the political in-fighting within the Labour party, which the MSM (MainStream Media) seem overjoyed to be reporting. My heart began to sink again. The despondency and thoughts of ‘here we go again, a party with an identity crisis’ began floating to the surface. I began losing hope for the only thing that I could see bringing about a change in this country and my voting apathy was brewing up again. Then I came across The Candidate by Alex Nunns and read a free sample of it on my Kindle app. After three pages, I went online and bought it. Cue a night of no sleep. I was hooked. The in-fighting now could be understood, although not agreed with. The resistance against him that was being spouted all over the news was becoming obvious in its motives. I could see two reasons why they didn’t want him as leader the first strikes me as not wanting to fall out with the new breed of Labour party backers, big business and MSM. The second was a win at all costs mentality of New Labour which seems intertwined with the first reason. The obvious influence that the new breed of political backing seemed to be all that New Labour cared about and certainly not for the will of the people who were actually casting their votes at the ballot stations. There’s more to it than that, mostly behind the scenes political jostling and weighting by process, but I feel disconnected from that and totally powerless to do anything about it.

There’s still a lot of the ‘unelectable leader’ and ‘find another leader’ about in the debates, in parliament, MSM and online. But I don’t see it, all I see is Blairite collective and a Tory leader who is threatened by what Jeremy Corbyn represents. Digs about hero worship and fanaticism are slung about and at him and this does have some truth about it. It does seem to be a trait of some factions of the left, but that is because of where many left sided voters come from. The working and lower classes, the disenchanted, disadvantaged, the under-represented and even misrepresented down-trodden ‘peasants’ that make up the majority of the country. Yes, in Bonnie Tyler’s words, we’re holding out for a hero. That’s because we have grown to feel so powerless that we can only see somebody of a higher status, ie a politician or part of what we see as the decision making process, to make the right decisions and lead us into a better life. But that doesn’t have to be the only way. Okay, because of the whole political system, it is the only practical way of getting our wishes put into practical effect, made national policy and passed into law, but it isn’t the only path. There is a path that we are under the illusion still exists within the current system but is actually possible with effort and is the way forward. That path is called Democracy.

What is happening and this is evident if you know where to look, mainly the internet and its plethora of community and individual based sites that are out there. It is what is now being called a movement. A collective of people all trying to pull in the same direction, towards a common goal, the return of democracy. Not the fake democracy that is presented by referendums where the voters are manipulated by MSM and their billionaire backers who want to shape societies to maximise their power, profits and wealth. Not the illusion of democracy presented by the governments online petitions that are then roundly rejected and ignored in the end result. It is the democracy that brought about Corbyn’s improbably rise to the Labour party leadership and subsequent re-election, against the weighted processes that were designed to stop it happening.

I don’t see Jeremy Corbyn as the knight in white armour, riding towards our freedom. I do see him as a role-model but what I really see him as is a voice of the people. Somebody we can trust to be our mouth piece and to carry forward the views and wishes of the people in a democratic way. A leader who will stick by his principles which happen to be the principles of a huge number of the population of this country. What he has done is unite a hell of a lot of people who share the same philosophies and principles. A better society, a truly sharing and caring society. A fair society. Who wouldn’t want that, if they weren’t after a disproportionate slice of wealth and power through guile and least effort?

I could be accused of being brainwashed by another form of propaganda in the form of Alex Nunns’ book, but all it did was resonate and connect with what I have been feeling for a very long time in my stomach, heart and head. It did this by explaining the principles of the movement and by pointing out that there are a hell of a lot of like-minded people out there. An example of this is the Momentum movement. This has restored hope and made me feel that I can have a connection to the people that I cast my vote for. How can that be brainwashing, when all it has done is reinforced my views and beliefs? How can that possibly be a bad thing? I am a critical thinker and what I have seen through this critical thinking is that there is a lot that is very, very wrong with the way things are and have been for quite some time. The only way that we can make that right, within the current rules and socially acceptable norms are to get Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour into government. The next step, should this not come about, would be to exercise peaceful and lawful civil disobedience. This is akin to the unionsised route, which the Tories and New Labour before them have tried to weaken. It is also not how many would prefer to do it and I agree, but it is a better way than outright revolution which is what history has taught us is the extreme, but effective, way to overthrow tyrannical rule. It is not a veiled threat or attempt to incite rioting  or anything like that, I truly hate to see scenes of that nature. It does seem to be a vision in the subconscious of where things might lead in the distant, or maybe not so distant, future if the worm that is society is continued to be trampled on and be forced to turn.

Let us hope that the movement and the collective thoughts and voting actions of the people can get us back to true democracy, or even something resembling that, by playing within the ever constricting rules that are in effect today. It is all about the will of the people, not about Jeremy Corbyn himself. He’s the best person to speak for us at the moment and I hope that continues, but it isn’t all about the man, it’s about the movement. The movement of the people’s will.

Update – 22nd April 2017

Now that a General Election is upon us we need to make our voices heard and use our votes to get the vile Tory party out. We also need to encourage others to ensure that they are registered and to use their vote to get the Tories out. In some areas tactical voting may help, such as where LibDems are second to the Tories. Overall though, we must be aiming for a majority Labour government. I will personally never forgive the LibDems for selling us out to the Tories in the 2010 coalition and voting for the cruel austerity measures that are killing people and doing nothing to reduce the national debt which has, in fact, almost tripled. Nor do I swallow their anti-Brexit line. They cannot and will not reverse Brexit. They have already said that they’re open to another coalition with the Tories, so that will only give us the self harm that is hard Brexit. They have also been supportive of Donald Trump’s unnecessary military actions in the Middle-East. Only a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party will give us the chance of a sensibly negotiated Brexit deal with the EU. Only Labour will revolutionise and rebuild our economy through investment, proper taxation of big business and the super rich and fair wages for the real economy drivers, the working classes.

Use your vote or lose your voice.

Vote for this.

Let’s rebuild Britain by electing a government that works for the many, not the super wealthy few. Vote Labour, get the incorruptible Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.