Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Midnight Oil: Beds are Burning

The time has come
To say fairs fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A facts a fact
It belongs to them
Lets give it back

This track was the athem to my twenties – weekends passed with a crew of henchmen (hench Jimbo, Tombo, Mark, Al, Paul, Mary, Steve, Slimey et al), merrily intoxicated and happy. Suddenly, just now, the words came flooding back and, burning the midnight oil to have this site more widely recognised, I thought, hey, they're relevant. Shame I can't find the damned CD to play as I write this :-(.

[20.09.10 maybe we have the tech know how to paste the vid in?]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrjv2lc7Vx4?wmode=transparent]

It's been an interesting couple of days. At the weekend I decided to forego rampant Twittery to research my target market: NFPs, Third Sector – anyone and everyone who has the expertise and common ground to profligate my wares and make the very real savings to be made from living without credit more widely known, shared and discussed. As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report “Poverty in the media” suggests, I'm unlikely to be the only one with experience of zero-credit.

My voice had been harsh and crass of late - many thanks to Dave Lee, Roy Zimmerhansl and Rob Dyson for pointing that out. Of course individuals are responsible for their borrowing, but do you make wise decisions when dependents are compromised by your misfortunes, miscalculations or errors? I didn't. Ironically, I don't yet seem to communicate the more pragmatic and empathetic approach to poverty and debt that I advocate because the money speaks volumes to me. This is why I opted for flashing pound signs and growing coin stacks on my home page – soon too be edited, when I psyche myself back into technical mode, I assure you. You see, my understanding is that far more of us are at risk of “going under” than we'd like to believe – goodness knows I've cited the statistic that 50% of us own 1% of wealth often enough. 

So pervasive is the stigma of poverty that I believe folk will do anything to hide it, making for an awful lot of people who live a lie, funded by inappropriate credit. I believe this, because by far the greatest part of my quasi-celebrity childhood was spent fabricating reasons why our family had not. People never think of opera singers as having not. In a photo taken for my father’s TV series to coincide with the launch of S4C (“Delme”), my mother is wearing a hideous skirt made from some off-cut my aunt had found on a market stall and I have an ill fitting T shirt. Only my brother pulls off our cheap skate fashions as something faintly artistic and quirky. A godsend, the art of Boho...

Did you know that the uptake of free school meals drops nigh on vertically at secondary school? It never surprised me, when I entered the teaching profession nine years ago. When Dad claimed benefits back in the eighties, in no way was he going to allow school to know that he was out of work – what, a performing artist not working? He must have lost his talent. Anyone in the know was already talking widely about his drinking, but the obituares never asked me about that. Nowadays such judgements are common place – we live in a performative society where everyone tries to keep up with the Joneses – Hey! I am a Jones – can you keep up with me, perhaps?

To see peer evaluation at its worst, try sending your kids to school with value yoghurt and a Lidl carrier in their packed lunch. Set a cat amongst the pigeoons in the playground by shouting “charity shop” on own clothes day – Oxfam is more foul mouthed than the “C” word, these days. Set in this context, what would you do to protect your child from bullying? And the situation is exasperated by the likes of David Kuo prevaricating on national television that some people will have no alternative but to turn to pay day loans: http://www.fool.co.uk/expert/money-talk/blog/257/the-truth-about-debt.aspx?terms=David+Kuo+pay+day . Ever heard of a Credit Union, Dave?

“Poverty in the Media” is right:

  • Poverty is generally under-reported in the media. If more people with experience of the everyday realities of poverty were given a voice in the media, this would enhance public understanding of poverty in the UK.
  • When journalists write stories about poverty they usually want case studies – people who can talk about their experience of living on a low income. This provides an important opportunity for people living in poverty to tell their stories.
  • Journalists often ask third sector (voluntary and community) organisations to help them find people to interview. These organisations need to support people who come forward to work with the media.
  • The internet provides new opportunities for self-expression. People can send emails, develop websites, write blogs and upload sound, stills and video clips.
  • Third sector organisations can provide people with access to internet technology, train people to use it effectively and host content on their websites.
  • An online audience could be developed by setting up a web portal to provide a reliable resource of material from people with experience of poverty. This would also be a focus for debate. A demonstration project with a specific community could test the potential of internet media to develop awareness of poverty issues.

I'm ready to do something about it. Are you?

Posted @ 11:53:02 on 14 July 2009
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