Cuts to mental health funding affect the most vulnerable

May 26, 2015

akwaaba

Mental health has long been seen by authorities as the “Cinderella” of the health service. It attracts relatively little funding because it is not visible and because people who suffer from mental health problems are less likely to be able to articulate their concerns. The cuts being passed on by my council in Leicester are affecting vulnerable people, and will end up costing us more in terms of healthcare, because people’s problems will be exacerbated by funding cuts.

A supporter, angry at the cuts to local mental health services, contacted Leicester Socialist Party. He had been given help with confidence-building skills from a local service called Akwaaba Ayeh. He had found the staff there very helpful and experienced. It has been around for over 20 years, helping some of the city’s most vulnerable people and is a specialist service for ethnic minorities, situated in Highfields, a diverse, working-class area in the city, with high unemployment and levels of poverty.

Nearby, a mental health care charity, the Adhar Project, also serves ethnic minorities in the city. The two services are being closed down and merged, in a building situated miles away from the local community. This change is being driven by cuts to council services, not by people’s needs.

Due to the stigma surrounding mental health in many communities, there is a reluctance for people to come forward. This is why specialist services should be situated within the communities they serve, to help overcome such barriers, and make people feel welcome.

When I tried to visit the centre, to discuss the cuts with staff, and ask if the Socialist Party could help, a notice informed me that it would be closing next month; the building was currently empty. With the move elsewhere, I have been informed that cuts are being made to staffing levels. Charges for meals have been increased from £2 a month to £6 a week – representing a huge difference for people on benefits. The amount of activities on offer have been reduced – previously groups were on offer, which would help people find solutions to their problems together. The new site is over-crowded and only offers bingo and cooking.

Mental health difficulties often arise from long-term unemployment, social isolation and discrimination against communities, all of which are exacerbated under the system of capitalism. Mental health services should be delivered locally, in an environment where people feel comfortable and safe. They should offer therapeutic activities to help recovery. They should be directly funded by the council and NHS, and not have to rely on charity or lottery funding.

Socialist Party members pointed out in the recent election campaign that cuts to public services are not necessary. Leicester’s overwhelmingly Labour-controlled council is meekly passing on Tory cuts, rather than opposing them. The council actually have £50m of funds in reserve and is adding to this pot “for a rainy day”. We say that cuts are raining down on vulnerable people now! If councillors had the will to oppose cuts, they could keep services running, while building opposition amongst trade unions and the wider community, including protests and if necessary, strike action and occupations. This could empower people, angry at service closures, to fight back and demand money from central government. This would give vulnerable people confidence and purpose, rather than accepting austerity and cuts, which is all that mainstream political parties have to offer.

As part of TUSC (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Socialist Party members will continue fighting for a socialist future for all, free from discrimination and for investment into services rather than cuts.

Hustings for Animal Rights

May 6, 2015

11182185_10152930460486275_8103327209787770490_n

Britain is a nation of animal lovers, they say – so it is surprising that events like the one above, where candidates were asked questions on their party’s stance on human rights, are not more common. Animal rights was hardly mentioned in the mainstream media during this election campaign.

From left to right above are Ian and Iona (Lib Dem candidate and his guide dog); myself representing TUSC for Leicester South; Mags Lewis (Green candidate for Castle Ward) and Leon Hadji-Nikolau (Conservative, Leicester South). The Labour Party clearly didn’t think the issue was important enough to send a representative! The event was organised by LUSH, which made for an unusual and interesting debate.

We discussed the ethics of fishing, one of the most common past-times in Britain – humanely carried out, with barbless hooks, it causes the fish little distress and anglers regularly report pollution in Britain’s waterways. The Tory candidate confused coarse fishing with game fishing, where fish are returned to the river (although many “game” fish are also returned to the water to preserve fish stocks). I contrasted responsible angling with the overfishing of the seas by commercial trawling, where many fish are returned dead back to the ocean. Capitalism always seeks the greatest profit, and long-term considerations, such as the sustainability of fish stocks, are not taken into account.

The treatment of animals for food was discussed – all participants agreed that CCTV cameras should be used in slaughterhouses. My argument was that we need to connect up the reality of where food comes from, with the meals we eat. Again, capitalism’s mantra of cheapest possible production costs, has led to factory farming and poor conditions for animals.

I pointed out that we cannot rely on the state to uphold the law in respect of animal rights – fox hunting has been banned, for example, yet hunt saboteurs still have to protect foxes from being hunted by dogs. The Socialist Party has a record of supporting activists and upholding the right to protest peacefully. We would also reduce the working week to 35 hours – this would create more jobs in the countryside, thus supporting people involved in industries around hunting – grooms, farriers, etc. At the moment, farmers are not even being paid a fair wage for the produce they sell.

Ian, for the Lib Dems, made a telling point that it is now an offence to allow a dog to attack a guide dog, and this is on the increase, with 10 guide dogs being attacked every month in the UK. However, could this be something to do with government attacks on the disabled benefits and disabled people being labelled as “scroungers” by right-wing tabloids? Ian came across as a very genuine and concerned person – I just wonder why he is with the Lib Dems, when they have been complicit in the Con-Dem government’s savage austerity programme.

The Conservative spokesperson seemed uncomfortable with many of the questions, and contradicted his own party’s policy, which has sought to repeal the Hunting Act, saying that he would fight to ban hunting. He said that a vegetarian diet was as unhealthy as a diet involving meat (which came as a surprise to most of the people in attendance!) and blamed a high-carbohydrate diet for obesity. I pointed out that Cameron had said he would deliver the greenest government ever in 2010, and the Tories could hardly be trusted on environmental issues.

The question of vegetarianism was also raised. I said that this was a personal decision – I am not a vegetarian myself – but that it is a more efficient method of feeding the population of the world. Capitalism cannot provide enough resources to deliver basic human needs for the world’s population, and hunger rather than obesity is a vital issue for most of humanity.

The Green candidate skilfully answered the questions and her party has some very worthy policies. However, her response was limited to staying within the confines of the present economic system – she pointed out that while capitalism had its problems – we needed to do something now about animal protection. My position was that, while we fight for reforms under capitalism, the whole system cannot be reformed – that practices such as the horrific conditions in puppy farms and people importing dogs in the boots of cars (very risky due to the risk of rabies entering the UK) – would continue, as long as there was profit to be made from the exploitation of animals.

Only by getting rid of the capitalist profit motive altogether, and replacing our present economy (profit-driven and short-term) with a democratically planned society to meet the needs of everyone, can a truly sustainable and environmentally friendly society be achieved.

If you agree, support TUSC candidates – read more about us at http://www.tusc.org.uk – in the forthcoming elections this Thursday. If you can’t vote for TUSC where you live, why not consider standing yourself? It is very likely that there will be an unstable coalition government, and a new set of elections could be just around the corner. We need to build an alternative to cuts and austerity, to meet the needs of the millions and not the millionaires.

Leicester South Hustings – TUSC is the only party opposing cuts

April 26, 2015

Footage of myself and other candidates at Leicester South Hustings, at Highfields Community Centre – a local community facility, which is itself under threat because of cutbacks to council funding. This is at the hands of Leicester Council, which is overwhelmingly Labour-controlled. What is the point of Labour if it offers no opposition to Tory cuts?

“Andrew Walton, representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) said they would argue against cuts to public services. He also said TUSC would increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour. And he committed, if elected, to just take the average salary of Leicester South constituents.”

Two councillors in Leicester, Barbara Potter and Wayne Naylor, have left the Labour group – upset at infighting and a failure to fight back against the government’s austerity agenda. They founded Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts, which is part of TUSC nationally.

In contrast, Labour have committed themselves to Tory spending plans – only 5 Labour MPs voted against the government’s austerity agenda in January 2015 – http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2a08-Labour-MPs-backing-for-austerity-Bill-a-disservice

To fight against the cuts – vote TUSC, wherever you can in the elections on May 7th.

For more information about TUSC, see http://www.tusc.org.uk

If you agree, join my facebook group here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1616394085249208/

In Defence

April 24, 2015

We need our public services
The poor have no voice.
Fall through cracks and crevices.
They need our public services.

Right wingers blame the immigrant
Make me want to shout and rant.
Don’t fight your fellow man
We are all part of the same plan.

Defend our public services
We do have a choice.
Mend the cracks and the crevices
We all need public services.

Fight back against their policies
Greed, arrogance and hate.
Privatise our public services
Bosses’ profits accumulate.

We need our public service,
Our libraries and schools.
Cuts make me nervous
Defend our public service.

There is an alternative
To austerity and cuts.
Strike back, get organised:
Defend our public services.

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

Conflict

April 24, 2015

I dwell, fox-holed, warm beneath once-green leaves.
Snug and secure, I curl in a corner.
Silently, I fester in the enveloping dark.

I grow in the minds of men.
It is there I make my den.

Sparks fly when I venture outside.
I bring division, discord – the breaker of worlds.
I sow despair, grief grows. My weeds are of black.

I corrupt the hearts of men,
It is there I make my den.

I am mantled in heavy robes,
The ancient uniform of my dank kingdom.
Sheet armour – proof against steel.

I sculpt the minds of men,
It is there I make my den.

Underneath this velvet surface
Hidden depths
Shimmer with surprise.

I am the psyche of men,
It is there I make my den.

I plot and scheme
Voracious, ambitious
Glory is what I crave.

I prey on the minds of men,
It is there I make my den.

I feast on the bones of war.
I eat proud men;
Glut on their entrails.

I devour the hearts of men,
It is there I make my den.

I build great machines of battle
Enslave armies of people,
Bend them to my will.

I break the spirit of men,
It is there I make my den.

I dream of power.
Machiavelli, Tsung Tzu
Are nothing to me.

I control the minds of men.
It is there I make my den.

I bask in conceits
And flatter politicians,
Gullible, dishonest cheats.

I infest the minds of men,
It is there I make my den.

I spread rumours like venom.
Dreams the powerful hear
In their troubled, guilty sleep.

Words shape the minds of men,
I use them to make my den.

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

On trident replacement

April 4, 2015

 

Its a rollover: the jackpot

is an estimated £10 million.

We have one lucky winner.

 

The cost of Trident’s replacement

is an estimated £100 billion.

We have no lucky winners.

 

You would need to win

the lottery, every day

for the next 27 years.

 

In nuclear conflict,

there are no lucky winners.

 

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

Watch “Leicester South Hustings” on YouTube

March 29, 2015

Dear Bob

March 25, 2015

DSCN0408 

I took the train, that fateful day

When you reached the end of the line.

You fought like hell, for workers,

But your heart sadly hit the buffers.
 

I was wearing my Jarrow March T-shirt;

I got off, at the end of the line.

Bob’s right – bollocks to the cuts!

And your big heart softly hit the buffers.
 

Trade union banners lined the way

And the black cortège passed by.

Red flags waved farewell to the winter sky,

52 was far too young.
 

A round of applause arose from the crowd

As the funeral cortège passed by.

Millwall FC, loving dad – tearful tributes.

52 was far too young.
 

I still fight for what you believed in

Socialism, equality – common sense.

I wondered when my train would draw near,

My heart slowly hit the buffers.
 
 

DSCN0395

TUSC Parliamentary Candidate Pledges Support for the NHS and for a £10-an-hour Living Wage

March 16, 2015

Press Release:

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) today announced its second local parliamentary candidate for the General Election. Andrew Walton, who has lived in Highfields for the last 20 years, will be standing in the Leicester South constituency. He will be working closely with the present city councillors who are part of Leicester independent Councillors Against Cuts, which is affiliated to TUSC.

Andrew Walton picture

Photo credit – Mike Barker, Leicester Socialist Party

Having worked in the NHS for the past decade, I have direct experience of the attacks faced by the health service and its workers from both Tory / Lib Dem and Labour governments. “Unfortunately, the Labour Party’s role in promoting Private Finance Initiatives and Foundation Trusts handed large parts of the NHS over to privateers. Since then, the Lib Dem/Tory coalition has continued this trend”.

“TUSC on the other hand campaigns for a high-quality, free NHS under democratic public ownership and control. We see no future for greedy corporations and tax avoiders, like Boots, who make massive profits from health provision at our expense.”

Another key area which I will fight on as part of his electoral campaign, will be fighting for a living wage for all. TUSC supports the Trades Union Congress’ demand to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour, and for this to be linked to inflation or increases in wages, whichever is higher.

vote tusc

A recent article in the Leicester Mercury, highlighted the plight of over 2,500 textile workers in the city, who are paid less than half the minimum wage, just £3 an hour. “In the 21st century, in the world’s sixth wealthiest economy, there is no excuse for poverty pay,” he explained.

I will also pledge to campaign to relieve the day-to-day pressure on overworked front-line hospital staff. “This will improve service provision and minimise stress-related illness. This is one reason why TUSC stands in solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, and public services.”

If you are not on the electoral register, you won’t get any say in the coming elections. Please register to vote, and use your vote to support TUSC in Leicester South and Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts in the local elections.

Unexpected item in bagging area

March 3, 2015

Do you have a Nectar card?
System can be frustrating to some shoppers.
Are you using your own bags?
Growth is projected to steadily rise.
Keep customers happy.
Approval required.

Your call is currently number six in the queue. Please continue to hold.
Reduce the length of checkout lines and wait times.
Your call is very important to us, please hold.
Minimizing the stress on employees.
We are currently experiencing high call volumes.
Please call back later or continue to hold.

Please insert cash, or select payment type.
The salaries of multiple cashiers can quickly add up.
Notes are dispensed below the scanner.
Lower overhead costs.
Providing customers with the service they need.

Many customers don’t feel comfortable with the process:
Dealing with a faceless machine.
Customers enjoy a brief conversation,
Prefer to have a one-on-one interaction with cashiers.
Thank you for using Sainsbury’s self-checkout.

[Found poetry – automated voice commands from self-service checkouts; telephone answering services and http://www.businessbee.com/resources/profitability/the-pros-and-cons-of-using-self-checkouts/]

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.


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