Battling parents were on song yesterday in their fight against cuts which could see vital services for their kids cut.
A group of around 30 mums, dads and their children braved the chilly weather to take part in a street theatre event at the Centre for Life and later Central Station in Newcastle city centre.
For it, they also re-worked a few well known Christmas tunes to highlight their cause.
These included ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ which detailed what they saw as the effect on services of proposed city council cuts.
Lines included ‘On the first day of Christmas the council took from me, a future for my family’.
Meanwhile Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin’ Stevens also got the treatment.
It was the latest in a series of high profile events by The Parents against Cuts group which have resulted in at times heated clashes with city council leader Nick Forbes. Some wore Nick Forbes face masks for the event yesterday.
Last week the council announced proposals to cut its budget by £40m in response, it says, to Central Government austerity measures.
The PAC group was set up when plans to reduce the number of Sure Start Centres, which provide early educational and play facilities for pre-school children from the poorest backgrounds to save around £4.7m as part of these measures, were first made public.
Shannon Sherman, who helped organise the event, said:
“We’re still waiting to hear which Sure Start centres are to go.
“We were told it was to be this month, now the council is saying it’s in January.
“Christmas is a busy time for parents but we’ve got a good turn out.
“We have another planning meeting next week to decide what to do next.”
Those attending the event laughed off a suggestion made by Mr Forbes last week of a link between PAC and the Revolutionary Communist Group.
In an interview the council leader said:
“The Revolutionary Communist Party website clearly claims responsibility for a number of actions that Parents Against Cuts is taking.”
Vanessa Cutter of PAC denied the link. She said:
“I think it shows the council leader had been rattled by our protests.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Dec 2014
Christmas spirit is taking over Teesside this year as groups of volunteers plan to feed and clothe the homeless and others in need over the festive season.
Friends Faye Forbes Spencer and Zoe Lonsdale, both of Billingham, have set up a 12 Days of Christmas project for the Billingham and Stockton areas, and have already had offers of help from dozens of kindhearted people as well as bags full of donated clothes, tinned food and toiletries.
Faye decided to set up the Billingham-based project after reading a message on Facebook suggesting it.
“The initial idea was to go out on to the streets with hot food for the homeless, but we realised they can often be hard to find as they tend to hide. We approached some shelters, including Prefer Homes and the Moses Project, so now we’re working with them.
“We’ve asked what they’re in need of for donations, and we’ve got kitchens to cook in over of the 12 nights in the run- up to Christmas, from the 12th to the 24th.
“The shelters are helping to get the word out to homeless people to let them know we’re going to be there, so we’re not sure how many people will turn up.
“We’ll just have to take the first night as it comes and learn from it for the next.
“We’re not just giving out food though; we’re also there to meet people and have a chat with them.
“I didn’t want to be just one of those who drops off donations on the doorstep, it’s also about interaction.”
Faye said she and Zoe have already had to sort out dozens of black bags full of kind donations, and were grateful for every single item.
“I didn’t expect it to get this big. People have been absolutely fantastic. We’ve had plenty of coats, hats, scarves.
“The things we’re lacking in now are shoes and duvets or sleeping bags.
“Loads of people have been brilliant, and I can’t name them all, but one lady used to own a warehouse, and she donated what she had left over, loads of toiletries, which I’ve been able to use to make little washbags we can give away. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s offered help. It’s been hard work sorting it all, and Zoe and I have put as much of our own money into it as we can, but if we can make just one person’s Christmas better, then it’s worth it.”
Faye said the group has also had offers of help from Billingham’s Asda and Iceland.
Anyone wanting to get involved can friend request Faye Forbes Spencer on Facebook and ask to be added to the 12 Days of Christmas group.
A meeting is also being held in The King’s Arms, Billingham, tonight from 7pm, which people can attend for more information.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 11 Dec 2014