JOIN US – set the agenda for 2018

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It’s about thinking what we are campaigning for, the change and equality we want to see in Lewisham. It’s the perfect event to bring new people to, so please think of someone to extend this invitation to and ask them to come along. Continue reading

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Universal credit “may” have been a good idea but it’s a credit to no-one

If you believe the rationale given behind Universal Credit, you might agree that simplifying the benefits system so that it’s easier to understand both for people applying to it and for people administering it, is a good idea. You might.

You might,  like me, be riven with concern that paying all the money into a single house-hold account risks sending women’s equality back into the dark ages and that insufficient research on this has been carried out. You might have a myriad other concerns, especially if you’re self-employed with children, and so you might like many people be urging the Government – like the Grolsch ad –  to SCHTOPPPPPP!

Here we are in the eye of the storm, where both sides are opposing the roll out and the only people left defending it, are revealing an appalling and unforgivable ignorance of how the system actually works.

In the real world, the implementation of UC has caused everyone who is close to it – or even three rungs out –  to point out from positions of personal distress, rage, professional frustration, confusion and academic objectivity, in every form of media, on every street corner, that it isn’t working.

Even if the principle is fair (by whose standards of fairness), even if it will save some money (for whom, for what?), even if in the end it’s simpler (is it?)  – its instigators have once again demonstrated why taking creativity and artistry out of education is a terrible terrible crime against humanity.

Only a system *created* with the spreadsheet as canvas and which reduces people to statistics and units of £££, a system devoid of the empathic thinking which creative skills and humanities subjects imbue, could:

  1. Decide that instigating change could be done quickly and without human interaction.
  2. Fail to listen to feedback and roll it out anyway without pausing to fix the faults
  3. Decide that it would be an online system – so the helpline should only be a back up,  and therefore that helpline could be 55p a minute – ( to discourage people from using it?) And from having a helpline that the initiative’s creators don’t want us to use, it follows that said helpline is understaffed.

What the unempathic thinkers have forgotten or never knew is:

  • People hate change on a good day. Vulnerable people who have been trained by the system over years to fear getting that system wrong, have good reason to fear change
  • People who are feeling vulnerable  – for whatever reason –  often prefer and need human interaction rather than online forms and guide sheets, which themselves are not always the easiest to understand.
  • Many people who will be moved to Universal Credit are not confident with the internet or have access to it in a secure environment (whilst I’m sure there are some who prefer it).

Our culture of moving everything to automation and internet access can be cruel, isolating and for those of you who can only think in this dead language – A FALSE ECONOMY.

And yes, there’s more.

I’ve heard people speaking up in favour of the 55p/minute phone line because it wasn’t supposed to be used much. And Liz Truss then suggested that if we didn’t want or couldn’t afford 55p/minute we should visit our local Job Centre. I am grateful that the last time I had to visit a Job Centre was in 2010 after a redundancy. It was a 3 hour round trip on the bus.  Every time I went, the security men were aggressive and would only let people in who had an appointment. Liz Truss doesn’t appear to know that Job Centres don’t act as advice centres on benefits. She appears to have some misty-eyed vision of a UK where you can pop to your local Job Centre – a bit like popping to the post office or the GP- err,… no wait –  where a friendly and unhurried public servant will slowly and carefully take you through the process. She appears not to know that the understaffed and hard to find Job Centres (many now wittily reclaimed as pubs or redeveloped into executive homes) are no place to discuss Universal Credit, as logical as that would be.

Public service and economics are not science. They are an art, they require skill, humanity and an ability to empathise with and respect how human beings behave. Our education system, our public services are being systematically stripped of opportunities to develop and use these skills and the most vulnerable in our society are already picking up the bill.

RMJ

WE crowd source our policies and campaigns. WEP Lewisham is actively seeking candidates and campaigners (first timers especially). We want a diverse and inclusive election team for local elections in May 2018. If you are curious/enraged/inspired/expert/beginner, generous of spirit, with a bit of time and a lot of will to see change, come and meet us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Well this would shake things up a bit!

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GOLDFISH BOWL: An interview with Illustrator Olivia Twist

I’ve pinned this before but I saw the show last night playing to a capacity house of young people and adults, this was the most vibrant I’ve seen Canada Water Culture Space. The show has such a big heart and isn’t afraid of hitting deep. The two performers are equally beguiling and as Olivia says here, her animations bring another dimension and root us entirely in the Peckham we know from
The 90s. I was very fortunate to see this show at the start and if you get the chance, you must.

The Albany, Deptford

kidsGoldfish Bowl is a collaboration between The Paper Birds theatre company and Caleb Femi. With live music from DJ / music producer Lex Amor and illustrations by Olivia Twist, Goldfish Bowl is based on the life & works of Young People’s Laureate Caleb Femi, and interrogates the many small, but defining moments that make up a life. It’s a thrilling combination of spoken word, theatre, music and breath-taking visuals. Find out more on our website here.

You’re creating the illustrations for Goldfish Bowl. How did you get involved with the project? 

Me, Caleb and Alexis are mates. We are part of the SXSWKS collective and we are all fans of each others work. Caleb brought me in. What’s better than working with you mates?

You’ve collaborated with Celeb Femi and Lex Amor before. How is this process similar / different to other projects you’ve worked together on? 

I guess…

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Here’s a great blog on importance of local press, a great local female athlete and a lost Lewisham hero

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The Pinking of October

I never liked the idea of fighting cancer either. We fight so many things and it’s not always the most creative or productive way to deal with problems. When my mother had cancer, we wanted to help her through it. We negotiated with it – it was always going to have the last word. I am so glad that many of my friends negotiate their way through breast cancer and I’d so much prefer if they didn’t have to.

I’m working with the Women’s Equality Party Health Group and among other things, we’re looking at why women’s illness is so often diagnosed late. The structural reasons why although women live longer, they live so often in ill-health.

So I’ll add one to Stella’s plea, get active in the positive campaign to create a society where the way we are living means that we can take time to get to a doctor in time, when we need to, ALL of us. And a society that makes it an article of certainty and principle that when we need to see one, there will be a doctor available – FREE.

Not Writing But Blogging

Oh dear. I just realised it’s October, aka breast cancer awareness month.  A whole month of pinking up something that is neither pretty nor pink. Sigh.

Here’s what I hate about it :

  • comedy  references to ‘boobs’/’tits’ – neither word is relevant, it’s breast cancer. Men get it too. Men (usually) have neither boobs nor tits. It’s BREAST cancer. If you can’t say the word, then maybe work on that.
  • social media full of secret hearts/bra colour or size memes which do nothing for actual awareness
  • cancer-anthropomorphising phrases. Fighting it, kicking it, standing up to it. It’s a disease, not a person. We deal with it better by being honest about it.
  • stories of ‘brave’ ‘battles’. gah.
  • If you want to do something of value, there are dozens of brilliant charities who could benefit from your money and/or your time. Go for it. Pink has nothing to do with…

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    Not great ‘for our age’, just great.

    This gallery contains 3 photos.

    Originally posted on Not Writing But Blogging:
    Yes, Debbie McGee’s high kick on Strictly was great. Yes, it’s brilliant that she is on the telly and doing and learning and showing. But please, enough with the ‘for her age’. Seriously?!…

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    Damien Egan confirmed as new (Labour candidate for) Lewisham mayor

    Lewisham Lately

    Unless local voting patterns shift more dramatically than even the most ambitious Kremlin-sponsored election tinkerers could imagine, the future mayor of Lewisham became clear earlier today – decided by a fraction more than 1 per cent of the total registered voters in the borough.

    Members of the Lewisham Labour Party comfortably voted to put forward Damien Egan, currently the council’s cabinet member for Housing, as the party’s candidate for the mayoral election next May, which will run simultaneously to the local council elections. His nearest rival was Paul Bell, a councillor for Telegraph Hill and a Jeremy Corbyn supporter whose candidacy was endorsed by the local Momentum movement.

    In the final run-off, after other lower-scoring candidates had been eliminated and their second preferences transferred, Egan registered 1,434 voters in his favour, compared to 911 for Bell. Such is the dominance of the Labour Party in Lewisham at the moment, that bookmakers – if…

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    Only 15 days left … but its not too late to #keeplewishamlive

    There is only 15 days left of our Lewisham Live crowdfunder campaign – but it not too late to pledge your support and help us keep the festival going and ensure tickets remain affordable for local families.

    If we can raise even just 30% of our campaign we will be able to apply for The Lewisham Festival Fund to help us secure the remainder – every pound really does help!

    untitled4 A word cloud showing how young people involved in the event described Lewisham Live

    If you can spare a little bit more, why not pledge £30, £50, £100 or even £200 – and receive event tickets, social media promotion and your name (or business name) on all of our festival print.

    Lewisham Live Festival is a major event on the local youth calendar, providing opportunities for over 2000 children and young people to develop and perform in some of the…

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    ‘Ludicrous’ and ’embarrassing’ planning expertise: a Lewisham councillor’s view

    Lewisham Lately

    Lewisham Gateway ‘Build at greater density and greater pace’, says Lewisham mayor Steve Bullock

    The London School of Economics held an event earlier this week exploring the shape of the city’s development.

    The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the “Good Growth by Design” evening as a speaker, before a panel discussion and question and answer session.

    Topics ranged widely, from issues such as diversity within architecture firms (limited), to London’s rising skyline, the stretched resources of council planning departments and the crucial topic of affordable housing.

    There was also an interesting insight into the planning process in Lewisham and the expertise of council members.

    Suzannah Clarke, a Labour councillor for Grove Park since 2010, revealed she had only had “about two hours” training before joining a planning committee.

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