I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Norman Tebbit would have loved this guy, so why is he getting shafted!

They came in yesterday. A young couple. Twentyish I suppose. He was studiously polite. She hung back a little, doting on a smiling infant son who was obviously their pride and joy. He explained that he had been in for a food parcel before. A while ago. His head dropped a tad as he fronted up the fact that it had been his probation officer who had sent him in. No doubt that had been his wild time. Some idiocy fuelled by valium, Buckfast and complete and utter boredom. Then his head came back up. Things are different now. Changed. He explained that all that stuff was done and dusted whilst sneaking a glance at his smiling offspring. He told a familiar tale of umpteen job applications and no replies. Couldn’t care less shrugs from the staff of JobCentre Plus. So what do you expect? You’re young, you’ve no experience, you’ve got a criminal record. How dare you harbour hope? Just learn to live on fifty quid a week and count yourself lucky. That all too familiar take of the doomed youth of the disintegrating West.

But my man had decided he wasn’t going to take it lying down. If nobody would give him the chance of a job he would create a job on his own. So he knocked the door of every takeaway in the town and punted his services as a menu delivery guy. And he got two of them to say yes. I have no idea what he charged but who cares really. He knocked doors and got two orders in the book. I couldn’t help but cast the mind back to the gnarled face of Norman Tebbit all those years ago extolling the virtue of recession doomed youth getting on their bikes and finding a job. Norman, you really would have loved this lad. He was your kind of people.

And there’s more. He was going to get paid cash once he had letterboxed the menus. And he knew that that he would be breaking the rules if he continued to sign on. And he had decided that his days of rule breaking were all done. So he had marched into the JobCentre Plus and signed himself off. He walked away from his £50 a week to follow his new course. Obviously he asked if there was any financial help on the table but of course there wasn’t. Had he been a bit older, over 25 I think, them an appreciative state would have replaced his dole money with some new enterprise money for six months. But apparently anyone who is young does not deserve any help in setting up on their own. Odd really when we are so keen of offer unsecured loans running to tens of thousands at subsidised rates to any brainy kid wanting to study ancient Greece for three years at university.

So my man basically had a problem. A cash flow problem. The menus had been delivered but payment wasn’t due for a week and he had walked away from his dole. Which left him with a partner and a baby to feed and no money whatsoever to make that happen. He told me it had been a long day. They had toured every agency in town looking for help and they had found none. And finally he had remembered the place his probation officer had once sent in for a food parcel. And here he was. Here they all were. Nervous, ultra polite, a little bemused. They couldn’t quite understand why everyone had lost all interest in them now that they were trying to do the right thing. We were able to give them bags of food enough to get through the week and I did my best to be encouraging. Stick at it. Acorns and oak trees and all that. But why oh why are we so hell bent of crushing every ounce of spirit out of this horribly unlucky generation. Even you might agree with that Mr Tebbit.

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