Whilst I am much more of a 'Netflix and chill' sort of a person instead of an avid TV viewer, there is one television program which never fails to draw me- 'Call the Midwife'. Sitting down on a Sunday evening to an episode fills me with a calming reassurance. I love the nostalgia, particularly the community comradery. In a crisis, they pull together. It seems these days 'community spirit' is beginning to struggle.
This morning the toddler and I passed our local Children's Centre. Last week it was a bustling hive of activity. Laughing children filled the rooms, climbing over soft play equiptment, while their parents and carers watched over, enjoying a cup of tea and a gossip. This week, half the lights are out. The area which doesn't hold the preschool looks abandoned. We can only 'thank' the government cuts for this. I cursed them under my breath as my toddler screamed because she wanted to play. Try explaining to a two year old she can't go in today because some men in suits decided her play time wasn't important enough.
On my kitchen table there is yet another letter with a foreboding message. The possible closure of our local midwifery units, A and E services and many other vital facilities. The thought of having a 40 minute journey if my child is injured (more if there is traffic- and there usually is) leaves me feeling sick. Two years ago, almost to the day, my second child was born after just 42 minutes of labour. I will be forever grateful that our maternity unit is (currently at least) just 3 minutes away by car. Despite this they were still filling up the birthing pool as she exploded into the world! Given the sheer speed, and the fact it was rush hour, had the unit not been there my little girl would have been born somewhere between home and the nearest hospital, on the side of the road.
As a nation we claim to be 'great' we are proud of how we rallied around during the World Wars, how we support each other in a crisis. But I can see so little of it these days. We vote to keep those desperately in need OUT of 'our' country. The abuse I have seen aimed at people who are not the same colour or religion as us is something out of the dark ages. Then to top it all off we are closing the services most vital in helping us to remain as a community! (I haven't even mentioned the threat to local libraries).
In the town where I live, we are lucky. We have had decades of being a close knit community. Therefore, the community is pulling together to help overcome these challenges. We are avidly protesting closures, in the hope that someone will listen. The church have already conducted meetings in the hope of filling the gaps that the children's centre cuts have created, but what happens when a community like ours isn't in place? Areas where there are no facilities to house playgroups? To support families. While the governments claim their budgets will help families in crisis where is the prevention of a crisis in the first place? Having a solid community in place means when someone is having a tough time, there is always someone that will notice. There will be somebody there to help, to talk to, and to prevent a problem getting out of hand. If the help is there to begin with then a 'crisis' is so often averted.
I send this plea out, please stop killing our communities, once they are gone what else can possibly make Britain 'Great'?