Lies, damn lies and mental health promises…

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PM Theresa May saying nice-ish stuff about justice and mental health in an almost convincing manner.

Talk is cheap. Something I’m sure Theresa May is aware of as she continues to embark on her programme of saying nice-ish, sensible things whilst backing them up with fuck all.

Today it was all about the ‘shared society’ (very different from the ‘big society’, you understand) and reforming mental health services. Today she uttered the ground-breaking words that will, no doubt, go down in history:

“For too long mental illness has been something of a hidden injustice in our country, shrouded in a completely unacceptable stigma and dangerously disregarded as a secondary issue to physical health.”

Well, thank God a political leader is finally talking about this… If only we’d had someone like Theresa May in a prominent cabinet position for the past six years… Oh wait… Continue reading

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Another 6 things that prove the world hasn’t gone to shit…

Oh dear. The news.

Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary and the Department for the Environment and Climate Change has been scrapped, but astoundingly that’s not even close to the worst thing that’s happened in the past few weeks. If it’s not the ugly, power-grabbing underbelly of British politics then it’s racist abuse and attacks on our streets. If it’s not that then it’s the deaths of more innocent young black people at the hands of the police in the USA, or misguided, tragic attempts at ‘retaliation’ that also spread mindless violence. Then there’s more atrocious violence in Nice on Friday and Turkey not long ago (oh and the coup that seems to be occurring as I write this), as well as the continual bombing-to-shit of Baghdad by ISIS and the uncomfortable truth that we seem to care a little bit less when it happens there than in Western Europe or the USA. Then there’s the Chilcot Report, and all its unheeded reminders of the dangers of the ‘West knows best’ attitudes of so many powerful people. It’s enough to make you think that the world is unequivocally bad to its very core. Bleurgh.

Back in December, shortly after the Paris attacks and the UK’s decision to join in the bombing of Syria, I wrote a sort of ‘reasons to be cheerful’ post listing some actual good news stories that had been lost amidst all the horror. I thought that we could do with another one of those right about now. So here they are, 6 more things that prove the work hasn’t completely gone to shit…

1. Tanzania and Gambia just voted to outlaw child marriage.

On opposite sides of the African continent two governments have moved to put a stop to child marriage once and for all. 

Unlike the UK and many parts of the USA, parental consent is no longer a factor that can weigh in and ‘approve’ of marriage at an earlier age (nor should it be!)  – neither boys nor girls can marry before they’re 18. This will make it much easier for campaigners to save young girls from forced marriage, which can only be a good thing!


My favourite bit about this is how the Gambian president, Yayha Jammeh, affirmed his commitment to enforcing the new law:

“If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see…”

Bad ass.

2. The United Reformed Church just voted to welcome same-sex couples to get married in their churches. 

This is one of those things that simultaneously shouldn’t be news at all and is actually AMAZING news. Slowly the church is cottoning on that loving who you love is something to be celebrated and marginalising LGBT people is probs not what Jesus would do.


Just last week the United Reformed Church voted to allow local churches to welcome gay couples to get married in their churches. Nice one.

Talking of churches…

3. One church in Tottenham has turned itself into a shelter for men that even charities won’t help.

A few years ago, one random church in Tottenham decided to put its money where it’s mouth was, literally. After every service the congregation stack the chairs away and give the space back over to its main purpose; a shelter for 50 destitute men. Many of them also donate 10-20% of their income to keep the shelter running.


These men are some of the most troubled people in our communities, sometimes addicts and thieves, sometimes dangerous – many charities and government services won’t touch them. By some miracle of bravery the church provides a space for people most of us would be afraid to walk past on the street, and they see results. A recent study estimated that For every £1 invested in Highway House, £5-£8 is returned to society due reduced strain on public services. Boom.

4. The Eiffel Tower has new wind turbines, and they are beautiful!


Clever engineering types have installed wind turbines on the Eiffel Tower and they are powerful enough to power the whole first floor (restaurant and all that jazz). Very clever, and very beautiful. Somehow they’ve also managed to make them look good and not interfere with Form of the iconic structure, daaaarling. (This video isn’t the best but you get the idea)

5. This guy…

Responding all of the racist, xenophobic bullshit that followed the leave vote, one lovely man posted this note through his neighbour’s door…

6. These guys…

Okay, this video isn’t new, but since there will inevitably much prejudiced nonsense spoken about Muslims and Islam after the Nice attack (#YouAintNoMuslimBruv), if you haven’t already seen this you really should…

This is the British version,  but check out YouTube for Dutch, German, Chicago versions and more. I defy you not to smile!

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Share the love, let me know some more good news in the comment section, tweet me or like my Facebook page.

You can keep your ‘free’ childcare, I know the real cost: An open letter to George Osborne.

Dear Mr Osborne,

I watched some of your Autumn Statement during my lunch hour today and was filled with an uncomfortable mixture of amusement and disgust. Not towards you personally, I was actually surprised to find that you can be quite funny when you want to be, though I suppose you had someone else write the jokes. But I am angry at the way you very cleverly delivered a speech that appeared to be presenting a generous provision to a ‘prosperous’ nation. I can’t credit you with ignorance, so my only conclusion is that you’re involved in a serious deception.

What larks.

What larks.

Well, Sir, your smoke and mirrors can’t fool me. Quietly announcing 25% cuts to this and following it up with a lively patter on the £6 billion you will be spending on that; I know your game. In fact, while we’re on the subject, could you please explain something to me. Don’t the “£22bn efficiency savings in England and Department of Health to cut 25% from its Whitehall budget” sort of offset that £8 billion you’ve promised the NHS? I mean, isn’t that actually a £14bn cut in NHS spending? #justasking

To be honest, mate, I could go on all day about the many problems I have with the idea you put forward that your government is one that ‘delivers social justice’. I mean, we both know that’s nonsense. I can’t decide which example highlights this better: right now I’m torn between the rather under-played scrapping of grants for student nurses (replaced with loans, naturally) and or a more global issue. For instance, how the denigration of women and routine beheadings don’t bother you so much when it’s the UK arms-buying, cheap oil-selling state of Saudi Arabia doing it.

Nice one George.

Nice one George.

But I digress…

I’m writing this letter because I’d like to make you an offer: you can have my 30 hours of free childcare back, as long as I can tell you how to spend it. Because, Mr Osborne, I know the real cost of your finding money for middle-class ‘hard-working families’ and it’s not a price I’m prepared to pay.

In fact, most of your spending review actually benefits me. I am a middle-class, employed, married, straight, white home-owner; we should be best friends right? Except that we’re really, really not. Because I am not better off in a world that’s going to shit. Your ideological economic agenda will not make me wealthier if it comes at the expense of society’s most vulnerable, such as the poor souls (have there really been hundreds?) who have committed suicide in face of hopeless poverty or abject humiliation due your government’s cuts.

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No, that’s not the world I want for my son and no amount of free childcare bribery will convince me otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, childcare is atrociously expensive, and many families need serious help. But my family can manage. I mean, as long as we can scrape together the pennies for our weekly delivery of organic veg and a couple of cheeky bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, I think your should have concerns higher on your list. By all means, give free childcare to those who need it, and don’t cap it at 30 hours either. In fact, could I arrange for my extra 15 hours to be transferred to a struggling single parent? Why not? My mum got free child care in the 80s so that she could work full time whilst raising me on her own (and she did pretty well, I got into Cambridge dontchaknow). That’s right, even Thatcher was more generous than you lot in her early days. Even Thatcher. (I am aware that is, to you, in no way an insult, but let’s be clear, it’s meant as one).

Okay, so how about this. 30 hours a week… let’s say that’s 4 days. 4 days a week would cost me around £204, so £816 per month, so £9,792 per year. That is a lot of money. Let’s say the government gets a discount – you know, for bulk buying – so it’s £8,000 or something. Then let’s half it, as there’s already 15 hours free. £4,000, can I give it back please?

I’d like to give my £4,000, which you can apparently afford, so someone else. Can I give it to one of the people you’ve deemed ‘fit to work’, and in doing so in such an exacting, compassionless manner have actually made their symptoms worse? Or one of those who has lost their dignity and independence due to you revoking their Independent Living Allowance, perhaps? Or could I donate to a victim of domestic violence, a third of whom now have to court unrepresented because they can’t supply you with the required ‘evidence’?

Seriously, I don’t need your vote-buying money. Of course I’d like it, of course it would make life a bit easier, give us more in choices and even a nice holiday, but if it means you’re taking important, civilised social security and rights from others who really need them then I’d rather not be party to it. Really. I won’t allow you to masquerade as a man of the people while you rob from the poor and turn a blind eye to the ‘victimless crimes’ of those who fiddle our markets and carefully avoid paying their taxes.

This headline demonstrates everything that's wrong with the world.

This headline demonstrates everything that’s wrong with the world.

Of course it’s appropriate for people to consider how the government’s choice affect them, but it’s not right for us to only think about that. So I’m going to ignore the part of me that wants to punch the air when I think about not having to pay my son’s nursery fees, and do the right thing, if you’ll let me.

And if you won’t, will you tell me why you have decided to prioritise the childcare costs of families earning up to £100,000 over the funding of nurse’s education or the proper payment of doctors or the right of every person to dignity and legal representation?

I await your response,

Yours very, very sincerely,

Aileen Few

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Dear Reader, I don’t come out to play much any more, but this has made me need to scream in public. I’m sending this letter to George Osbourne any way I can, and if you’d like to tweet him with it (@george_osborne), or email it to him too, that would be fab, or at least mildly amusing. #KeepYourMoneyGeorge

Cheers x

Mental health services: a matter of life and death

On 4th January 2014 me and my mum turned up at A&E in Manchester. I was afraid of my own mind. I was the most tired I’d ever been in my life but when I tried to sleep by body was tensed with anxiety and horrible thoughts piled on top of me like a lead weight. I had a 10 week old baby to care for, but I couldn’t enjoy this beautiful, bonny boy because I was ill. I was very very ill. 
Without the love and support of my endlessly sensitive and understanding family, and the wonderful mother and baby mental health unit that’s took us in, I genuinely don’t know where I’d be now. I’m sure my boy would be okay, but I do believe those mental health services saved my life.
Even as I write this I feel self-conscious; what will people who didn’t know about it think of me? Will they see me differently? But I’m not ashamed, I’m proud to be a survivor of a condition that is as cruel and unbidden and potentially fatal as any physical illness. And this separation between ‘mental’ health and ‘physical’ health is a false divide; an incredibly harmful one at that.

When I came out of the unit I was still not strong. It was 12 weeks of therapy, followed by an 8 weeks mindfulness for depression group that really changed everything. Now I have the resources to protect myself against further episodes. I am stronger than I have ever been. I am so grateful to live in a country where health care is free at the point of delivery.

But this care is under attack. The notion that a body set up to protect the sick and vulnerable should be ‘economically viable’ when subject to vicious spending cuts is inhumane. But even if we took compassion out of the equation (which it often seems the Tories have already done) it’s utter fiscal stupidity. Without occupational therapy and ongoing support people with chronic mental health issues move from low risk to high risk, when that happens they either need intensive community based care or a hospital bed.

Now, I’m no economist but I’m pretty sure a group gardening class costs less than having somebody sectioned.

So Dear, Dear Readers, please share this post and sign this petition. If you live in Manchester please lobby your councillors and MP.

For some people this will be a matter of life and death.

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