Sunday, 13 December 2009

The way forward

I'm coming up to the first anniversary of completing the Zero-credit book. It's been a tough year with loyalties torn between earning an income and keeping Zero-credit and now ConkerTU up to speed. Why spread yourself so thin you may ask? How do these activities relate to one another? The answer is simple – need.

I live in what should be one of the most accessible regions of England – less than 20 miles from the M42, M1 and M6, less than thirty miles from Coventry, Birmingham and East Midland Airports. All highly accessible when I use my car...

However, without it I'm lost. I cannot get direct transport to any of Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester or Derby – indeed, I cannot easily take a bus after 6pm from any nearby town where I might find employment. In the summer I blogged how a five mile round trip for my son and myself cost £9.60 – imagine that on a low income! 

When there's a storm, fog or some other inclement weather, my phone line crackles and my Internet connection is non-existent. Yet according to the digital network analyses I enjoy an 8MB soon to be 20MB connection. Speak to any service provider and you'll be told that this is what the exchange can handle but at more than four miles away we're consigned to 1.5MB download and 0.25MB upload speeds. Could you run a business on that?

I've recently been involved in a community battle to retain a local fire station. At the county boundary, Moira Fire Station could seem surplus to requirements. Leicestershire would be a safer place if resources were more evenly spread across the county we're told, with scant regard for the Derbyshire and Staffordshire villages, which years of boundary changes have shifted in and out of the catchment, all in the name of democracy. 

After 6pm, the police attend from some 20 miles away, by which time any ill gotten gains are well and truly gotten. Specialist medical treatment can be at either of Leicester or Derby hopsitals (no direct bus to either, remember) and if you need blood tests to be sent on you can only do this if your GP is in the same county – otherwise it's two trips to the hospital where you'll be treated.

In the nine years since I moved here, house prices have trebled but only come back down to around 2½ times what they were, yet local jobs at or over £25kpa remain few and far between. When I was unemployed in the summer, it was suggested that I might travel half an hour by car to earn the minimum wage for shift work in a distribution centre, built here for the outstanding infrastructure!

I left social research ten years ago. Public services to cross boundary communities were poor back then and I was tired of the political tick boxing to demonstrate so called standards. Over the last decade, I've seen much the same in education. As ever, it is being at the front line of empowering people of any age which thrills me.

As 2009 comes to an end I find myself at a cross roads. Workng part time as a teacher, I have neither the funds nor the the capacity to make the impact required. I guess it will be a busy Christmas for me looking at social enterprise models so I can really kick butt!

Posted @ 10:36:48 on 13 December 2009
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