It’s a stormy morning in Frome. Battered by the edges of hurricane Florence – exacerbated by climate change we seem unable to recognise. And a collection of inputs over the last 12 hours that add to a river of thought: Firstly a Town Matters council meeting yesterday in which people from three organisations stood and told us in stark terms what new county council cuts really mean. We move in minutes from positive moving stories of people’s lives changed by simple inputs, to ‘Our funding is being cut this year and I’m being made redundant in December’. I am not alone in feeling a mixture of horror, shock and anger – and powerless. Although we have knows this was coming for years, the visceral impact of hitting rock bottom is different.
So I went home and finished reading John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ in bed. (Dustbowl Oklahoma’s farming populating heading West in desperation, hitting both the worst and best of humanity). Stories from then mixed with life of now. Inequalities in Britain are greater than at any point since the nineteenth century, with over a million people considered to be destitute and rural England in the mix as much as anywhere.
Hope – or at least options – comes in my breakfast reading. Hilary Cottam’s ‘Radical Help’. Focussed on how we could remake the Welfare State, she simply exposes how we’re continuing to use systems designed a century ago to do a job that has completely changed. The challenge facing us all is how, when we know what to do, is can we get the drivers of these vast ocean liners to change course? In health, in education, in work, in political systems, even with climate change, humankind has the information we need to get out of the mess. But…..