Now then, sometimes the night seems overlong and starless. I have found the last thirty years to be like that. Slowly but surely most of the things I have held dearly have been eroded away. One of the fundamental things to me was always being able to lend a hand to those who required a bit of a lift. I took great delight and personal satisfaction from being able to help defend my colleagues in a Runcorn warehouse when I was a Union Rep. Standing in an Employment Tribunal as part of a winning team was awesome, lets not delve into the losses for now. All in all it was a brilliant time, negotiating wage rises, shaping Time off For Dependants, going through the long evolution that was the journey from wanting to get the heavy weapons out to realising that the only winning formula actually involved assisting the business to be viable in financial terms and therefore sharing the same ultimate goals as the management team. I would not change a second of it. Not today nor any other day.
So, a few decades have elapsed, the last one has been truly soul destroying. Out there on the streets the depth of desolation is vast. NMW and ZHs are condemning generations to a shoddy existence in Workhouse UK. While the poor get poorer the rich get ever richer, and the current arrogant truth twisting Government is nothing short of a privileged gang of masked highway men robbing and pillaging all before them. We are seeing Care Homes being turned into death camps, contracts awarded to Tory friends, corruption on unprecedented levels. It is a cavalry charge of the cash hungry, trampling the great unwashed into the dust. That starless night desperately needs a shaft of light.
I think I may have found it.
Yesterday morning I had the happy fortune to spend a few hours picketing a premises in Sheffield City Centre. The small office belongs to a company which has been letting properties to people around Sheffy. Thing is, they have been responsible for treating a lady in an extremely appalling manner. The list of obvious examples is extensive. They even decided to add fees to any rental debts on a daily basis (a practice which I am convinced is actually illegal?), along side this, when the victim -Sue- requested a written statement of any debts accrued the company said they would indeed supply that, for £250. So, all in all this particular company personifies all that stinks regarding the attitude of the wealthy to the poor. Shameful in the extreme. Sue had been coping with this situation for a very long time and was beyond her wits end. That starless night was getting longer and more ominous for her. Then something wonderful happened.
You may have heard of Acorn, which is a renters union. It is a national organisation. It consists of ordinary people who have stirred themselves and acted. They have set up a network across the country and stand ready to assist anyone they can. Around the Steel City they are known as "Acorn- The Community Union".
Yesterday I met about 15 of them. Mixed bunch. All organised extremely well and strictly adhering to the "6 rule".
Polite people, deeply altruistic people, bright young girl I spoke to is studying for her Masters in Physics. I,m 60, there was another lady of around the same age, hard to tell when everyone is wearing a mask. All ages, and from all walks of life. One thing in common. Ready and willing to stop doing whatever else they have to do and show up to the picket in the name of helping somebody who needs helping. I am truly humbled and staggered to come across this shining example of organised altruism. I really did think that all that had died under the heavy crunch of the ultra hard right wing Tories jackboot. The fact that it has not fetches hope for better days ahead.
Acorn is sharp, Acorn is clever and effective. Acorn gets the job done. Here is why I can say that without any doubt. Yesterday, within two hours of the picket commencing the company involved collapsed spectacularly and Sue won the day. Backed by Acorn. This may or may not feature on front pages or news bulletins, it sure as hell should. It was a superb pleasure last evening to witness the debrief Zoom meeting (how do you work all that bloody gear?) and see Sue beaming and so very very happy. A living example of that which can be accomplished when ordinary people stick together and display an appetite for beating Goliath. I watched it happen yesterday in the sunshine. I was there when the Acorn member came out of the office with the written statement. Elation followed the few moments of disbelief and shock. Masks obscured the smiles, but not the watery eyes, glinting in the bright sunshine.
This is proper altruism at work. It defines it. When you look up Altruism in the dictionary it should say "Join Acorn". Acorn has other fine achievements under its belt. A bus route that was due to disappear around Barnsley will now remain due to the intervention of Acorn. That starless night seems to be seeing the odd spot of twinkling light in the distance. Those odd spots can become more and more prevalent quite quickly. Many people out there live their days under the ominous clouds that are debts, waiting lists, isolation, bullying, credit ratings, wrong postcodes, victimisation, well, there is now a way to directly have a positive affect on all of that.
Those distant spots of light that threaten to brighten the starless night are YOU.
You know what you need to do. Do it today. See you there.
Thanks for looking in. Please help by spreading word.
Society not Economy.