Tagged: Xmas

A Christmas Quiz

Here’s the scenario –

You’re walking along a riverbank, just above a high waterfall, you have your camera with you.

Suddenly you notice a boat on the river. It appears to be in trouble, it’s engine has failed and the current is pulling it towards the falls and certain destruction.

Looking closer you see that the boat is full of people you recognize – David Cameron, George Osbourne, Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and several others of their motley crew.

There is a rope on the riverbank – if you were to throw it to the boat and tie the other end to a tree, it would arrest their headlong rush to destruction and they’d be able to haul themselves to safety.

On the other hand… you have your camera and, should you choose  not to  intervene, the chance of some photos which you could name your own price for – easily enough to get you off the dole and set yourself up for life.

So… the big question –  do you

(a) use colour film, or

(b) opt for dramatic black & white shots ?

Christmas and Foodbanks – Bishop of Jarrow Gets Stuck In…

Well, to a degree anyway. Certainly in his 2013 Christmas message, the Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, adressed subjects which seem to have struck local politicians dumb. I suppose its a start…

Extracts – (full message here).

I wonder if 2013 will go down in history as the year that in this country we discovered Food Banks?  Wherever I go across the region, almost every day I hear stories of people for whom life is becoming more difficult than I can even begin to imagine. I hear stories too of amazing generosity as people give time and money to support people…

It seems impossible this year to separate Christmas and Foodbanks. While very many of us will be spending more and eating more than we do at other times of the year, the media coverage and the collections outside our supermarkets will make it difficult to forget that we are a deeply divided country in which something is very deeply wrong.

If there is hope, – and I surely believe there is – for me it lies in the extraordinary generosity of so many. People I talk to who collect outside supermarkets tell me of the amazing generosity of so many.

Mmm.. and dont forget the amazing generosity of the supermarkets themselves, who generously allow people to buy from them to give to the foodbank collectors outside. Nothing in it for them at all…

There have been those this year who have seemed to want us to harden our hearts with their talk of benefit scroungers – ignoring the fact that very many people on benefits are in work and some foodbanks report that sometimes their busiest time of the day is when people are going home from work. The Good News is how many people refuse to let their hearts be hardened and persist in being generous. That gives me hope.

The bad news is that those propagating the benefits = scroungers propaganda are those in parliament with access to and control of the media, with not a few, I suspect, working for the DWP. I wonder if the Bishop has heard of sanctions and the unnecessery hardships they are causing ?

The Christmas story is a story about a God who does not abandon us whatever the mess and that sense that we are not alone is a reason to have hope.

Trouble is, that God doesn’t seem to give a fuck about suffering. If anything, he seems to get off on it…

It’s the god of Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and David Cameron. the god that saves the Queen but cares nothing for the poor.

The god that says you’ll get pie in the sky when you die (maybe)… but until then you suffer.

I’m not sure I’d want to put too much faith in a god like that.

The 12 Days Of Coalition Christmas

Something to sing in the dole queue…

The wonderful work of

DOC HACKENBUSH 

http://dochackenbush.tumblr.com

ATOS – Expecting Miracles

From the  xmas edition of Fortean Times (#309) – available from all good newsagents (and W.H. Smiths).

In an assessment for Employment Support Allowance, Gary Swift, 40, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, who was born without a right arm, was asked (in all seriousness):

“Do you expect your arm to grow back within the next two years ?”

The interviewer was an employee of Atos, a company that runs the assessments for the Department for Work & Pensions.

Well, they do say you could wheel a week-old corpse in front of Atos and they would pass it fit for work… growing a new arm seems quite a minor expectation by comparison.

Homelessnesss – The Xmas Present No-one Wants

An increasing number of families in the North East are facing homelessness this winter, according to the latest statistics.

Calls to charity Shelter have increased by 12% since last year, and the number of people in the North East who called the Shelter helpline from 2012 to 2013 reached 2,490, the equivalent of more than 200 callers per month.

The charity say the figures reflect the growing number of people struggling to cope with the rising costs of living coupled with stagnating wages, and expect more families will find it increasingly difficult to keep a roof over their heads, especially as bills mount in the run-up to Christmas.

Shelter helpline adviser Liz Clare said the Christmas period is the most difficult time of year for her and colleagues. :

“The threat of homelessness is devastating at any time of year, but it seems to get worse around Christmas as the strains of the holidays close in and the weather gets cold.

“One Christmas Eve I answered a call from a mum with a disabled son. They were evicted from their home that night and had to sleep on the streets in the cold. We managed to find them a place to stay, but I’ll never forget the devastation in her voice. The sad fact is that eviction notices can come at any time of year. “

“I’ve never seen the helpline as busy as it has been this year.”

Jeremy Cripps, the chief executive of charity Children North East warned the figures could also increase following Christmas as people struggle to cope with the costs of the festive period and fall into arrears.

“What we have noticed is that a high proportion of families are there because of rent arrears or because their homes have been repossessed because of missed mortgage payments.”