Thursday, January 17, 2008

the other side

Occasionally in life you get the opportunity to meet a remarkable person. The other day, I had the privilege to meet one. After laughing loudly about the latest trick she'd played on her family - which incidentally involved hiring a hot tub over Christmas (what a great idea) - Sue* told us about her life as a minister in one of the roughest estates in our community. An almost post-apocalyptic community where houses not only stand empty and blocked out, but are still black from recent arson attacks. Where whole blocks of flats are boarded up and where the shops have bars on the windows.

It is a community in flux. Some people work hard, and move away as quickly as possible. Others are institutionally dependant, having been many years living on government social security payments. Local government is rebuilding and rehousing in the community, so people are being moved from one part of the area to another. At the bottom are the asylum seekers, who move in because they have nowhere else to go.

This community has received millions in grants, various groups have internet centres, walk-in advice centres, after-school care centres, nurseries and women's projects. Yet an air of sadness hangs in the air, a community that hopes for a better future but can't quite believe that it will happen.

Sue has a brisk style and takes no prisoners, so managed to invite herself onto many of the management groups which run projects in the area. She is the only person who lives in the area. Professionals commute to sort out other peoples' problems and other peoples' lives.

From the standpoint of commuting from one area of middle-class intelligentsia to upper-working class suburbia, it is like observing life through the bottom of a milk bottle. Our lives become havens of irrelevance compared to the struggles others face. Yet it is hard to know how to break out of the boxes we live in and how we could assist those stuck in cycles of poverty, neglect and crime even if we did.

*not her real name

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Blogger dmk said...

nothing to do with your post I'm afraid, but I've tagged you. Hope you don't mind. More at

here's the deal:
I don't go in for this sort of thing big time but this one captured my imagination. The task:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five other people.

but don't feel that you have to, it's just a good way of spreading blog links around.

11:45 AM  

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