MY NAME IS SANDRA MARSHALL

MY NAME IS SANDRA MARSHALL, AND TODAY LIFE CHANGES!

TODAY I BECOME A WARRIOR FOR PEACE, JUSTICE, FAIRNESS, REAL SUPPORT and FACILITATION OF EDUCATION!

THERE IS HOPE, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE, YOU JUST HAVE TO PUT THE EFFORT IN!

NOTHING HAS TO STAY THE SAME FOREVER!

THE WORLD CAN CHANGE, YOU JUST HAVE TO CHANGE IT!

EVERYTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL IT IS DONE! (NELSON MANDELA)!

WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO CHANGE EVERYTHING, IT’S TIME!

Yesterday, I heard some very sad news, yesterday a woman Lesley, in her thirties or forties died from an overdose, because, well we will never know the real answer to that.  A woman who had suffered trauma and abuse all her adult life.  A woman who fought a drug dependency for years and who I saw just two weeks ago, laughing, strong and happy as she graduated from rehab alongside my friend. She had a new flat, was going to a new life, had changed her life and was fighting hard with confidence. JUST WHAT HAPPENED.  Within one week of her leaving the Rehab she is dead.

I know I will not wait any more, it is time for action!

DID YOU KNOW THAT ONE IN THREE ADULTS IN THE UK HAVE SUFFERED SOME FORM OF ABUSE BEFORE THE AGE OF 20?

Did you know that it is in the teenage years that the brain decides what is needed for the human body it inhabits to survive.  Trauma and abuse at this age mean that the brain will see survival from these acts as the normal way of being for the body at a sub-conscious level.  The brain becomes hyper-sensitive and sees danger, even where there is no danger.

IT TAKES AN EXTREMELY LONG TIME TO RE-EDUCATE YOUR BRAIN!

Do you know what we are doing to our teenage children now?

We expose them to NEGATIVE CONDITIONING, they are forced to live with unbelievable pressure and anxiety put on them by our way of living, our present society.  It is too easy to brand someone a failure before they have ever had a chance.  The unique individual talents and gifts that we all have are smothered under the fear that things might change if everyone is allowed free choice and development.  Everyone is judged to be in one box or another because of where they came from or their “abilities”.  We are conditioned to be afraid of this group because of where they come from or how they have to live. WHY?

We all belong to different clans and live segregated lives, WHY?

Can we not accept that we are as diverse in knowledge, ability, practicality, etc,

Can we not celebrate and love that diversity instead of being afraid of it.

Can we not negotiate ways of working together instead of being afraid of each other.

Can we give up this mantra of divide and conquer and I need more power and create a sensible decent environment for everyone to live.

Can we not cast our barometer to hope instead of fear.

There is much more to this than you think but it is better let out slowly than all in one outburst, and for the avoidance of doubt I am talking about the brain and not politics.

However, here’s a question for you. JUST ASK YOURSELF, DO I HAVE HOPE?

IN MEMORY OF LESLEY

As a young girl I imagine you playing with your friends

Being the leader, the caring one I see,

At School I imagine the clever shy girl

Loved by everyone

As a teenager, trying hard, A young woman crying in pain

Made to feel worthless, useless, time and again

Looking for love that would mend everything

Caring and loyal, fighting hard to the end

Trying to break free

For your children, for your grand-child,

Always

Putting a brave face on everything, so hard

To find the light at the end of that long dark road.

But you, you are the strong one who succeeded

You did it, with bravery, sensitivity, a lot of laughter and tears.

You broke the devil’s bonds

The joy, strength, love in your heart

Showed through everything on that day 4th May 2017.

Although I only knew you for a few minutes, a few seconds in life

I will always remember that moment and the inspiration that shone in your face.

The shame of shames,

That there was no-one there, to help you through at the end

God bless you always Lesley, I will not forget that smile

With love from Sandra Marshall

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Truth Is Good

What an interesting morning, yesterday, with a lot of political content!

Watching the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC was definitely different, for a start.  We do not get to hear a lot around what and how debates are going in England in respect of the General Election, so yesterday morning was really just to catch up.

The main reason for carrying out this research, actually, was because of the Question Time programme on Thursday 11 May, broadcast from Edinburgh which did not really reflect the arguments I thought were being debated on the ground in Scotland and that disturbed me quite a bit.

I am disturbed because it would appear that realities facing the country are not being debated in any great depth.  There appears to be some real confusion, especially among young people, about the whole political system, the different colours and outlooks of each party, misconception and misunderstanding about what historically happened and a general lack of understanding around why voting for what you believe is right is essential if you wish to get the best out of the governance of the country you live in.

Why do I mention governance?  I have found myself on the largest learning curve of my life over the last ten years and a lot of what I have had to learn has been about structure and governance of everything from community groups, charities, social enterprises, educational structures, the list goes on.

The simple truth is although we all should have our say and take part in the running of our countries, the most effective and constructive way of ensuring the job gets done properly is to have a committee that will apply their management skills to taking what is being said and delegate action on behalf of everyone.  Debates in parliament are meant to decide the best way forward for each action giving equal opportunity to as many points of view that are shared as possible.

That is what our government is supposed to do.  They are not there to act independent of those voting for action etc., but to carry out what the majority decision is.

It is a serious bit of mis-communication that puts individuals, families, communities, living within a country at a lesser level and insists that action is being taken on behalf of everyone without consultation of everyone.

My intention, therefore, during the coming days, is to put forward what is actually being stated by each party’s manifesto in a way, hopefully, that will be plain speech to everyone.  I will not only put forward the manifesto points (not the whole manifesto – too long),  but I will also record what has been achieved by each party to date in terms of benefit, or non-benefit to the people of the UK as a whole from recent (2010 onwards), previous manifesto promises.  Please note that I cannot eliminate my viewpoint totally from what I write, however, I will put both sides of the argument as clearly as I can.

The reason I am doing this is not to benefit any particular party but to inform the younger generation properly because they need to make their minds up on real facts, not disinformation or un-clear communication.

I would urge anyone who has a question to comment or get in touch if they think I can answer or someone else reading can answer.  I also welcome all feedback because, it keeps everything real, up-front, accountable and honest.

To start with, some points that came up during my research yesterday:

There was a lot of discussion around the Conservative sound-bite about preserving worker’s rights, in fact making them stronger, one point put across several times was the fact that the Conservative Government are introducing a right for carers to take unpaid leave to care for family members etc.

I have to say, from my own personal viewpoint, this is a sound-bite because:

  • In 2010 the Conservatives wanted to re-write the Human Rights Act from a UK perspective, partly because they did not understand the European Convention on Human Rights. This party is now planning to make sure the European Convention is complied with fully, which shows that they did not originally understand the European Convention.
  • Why would a Conservative Government seek to scrap paternity leave because, in their words, it was not required, then decide that unpaid leave would be given to those caring for a family member. Is there any sense there?
  • Why unpaid leave?  Are family members worth less? What is the difference between caring for a child and caring for an older family member.  You get child benefit for caring for a child.  This job is to be unpaid, need I say more?
  • If the Conservatives truly believe in strong workers’ rights, why have they been working against this as a party since 2010?
  • The Conservative Government have, I have been told, been advised that their Government has actually breached the UN Convention on Human Rights, never mind the EU Convention on Human Rights which came after the UN Convention, with their actions in this country.

I  have found, throughout my 33 years’ voting experience, that political parties of every persuasion will create sound-bites in order to get votes.  The sad thing is that politicians don’t realise that not everybody follows politics, and this type of electioneering  tradition can cause total confusion. At a time where it is essential that as many as possible vote, it is probably extremely unhelpful to any political case to enter into this type of electioneering.

One more point, every government, since I was a young girl, have kept salaries and budgets in public services including police, education and health service low compared with their spending on war and weapons!!

Lastly, one thing we all do from time to time we and our governments blame others for the course we choose. That is not going to solve anything is it!

Don’t we all have to take responsibility for making our communities, the places we live in the best they can be responsibly?

AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE ARE THE GOVERNMENT!!

You can follow Sandra Marshall on twitter at @leithunique and at her webpage leithunique.wordpress

Terminally ill woman lost her ESA, home and all her belongings after being told she was fit for work

Claire Hardwicke

Claire Hardwicke has stage four thyroid cancer. This means that it has spread to other parts of her body, and sadly, Claire was told that her cancer is terminal. She also has chronic osteoarthritis. Despite taking 80mg of morphine a day to cope, she still experiences considerable pain.

Additionally, Claire already had a life-threatening, acute allergy to latex. This means that she has to carry an EpiPen at all times, which is an epinephrine (adrenaline) injection to treat life-threatening anaphylaxis. Developing a severe allergy to latex unfortunately meant that Claire could no longer continue working as a mental health nurse.

Claire first became ill 9 years ago with uterine/ovarian cancer, but it was the allergy that made her unemployable and ended her career as a mental-health nurse, her partner, Alan King, told me

Claire’s first bout of cancer was treated and she made a recovery, which lasted only 7 years. Sadly, the diagnosis of her more recent thyroid cancer and metastases wasn’t diagnosed until it was incurable. The tumours had spread throughout her thyroid gland, neck, lymph system and adrenal glands.

All Claire can hope for now is palliative care, which is alleviatory only, as a cure isn’t possible.

Unbelievably, Claire was assessed as “fit for work” by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year. Her Employment and Support Allowance was stopped. All of her financial support ended. This was despite being told by the Capita assessor (for Personal Independence Payments) that the report to the DWP would state that Claire was in need of more support, not less.

Overnight the couple lost every bit of financial support they had previously been entitled to, so Alan decided to use what little financial resources he had left to help Claire to fulfill some of  her”Bucket List.”

The couple were forced to say goodbye to their rented bungalow and 99% of their possessions because their housing benefit was stopped. They had no income, as Claire’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was stopped, and the Carer’s Allowance also ended.

Claire explained to me that when she lost her lifeline support, the wait for appeal hearings was over 18 months. The couple couldn’t afford to wait that long, as they had no income. They also didn’t know if Claire would survive the wait.

Claire and Alan went to visit family members around the UK before setting off, in October 2016, on a Mediterranean cruise for a month, which Alan paid for, using his credit cards. They already owed a lot of money on their credit cards, but with no income at all, the couple were facing destitution.  The incredible distress the couple suffered took its toll on Claire’s already poor health, too.

On the return journey, both of them realised that coming all the way back to the UK – where they were homeless, with no income, and they no longer even qualified for free prescriptions – would be pointless. So the couple left the cruise when they got to Portugal, where it’s significantly warmer than the UK (and therefore less painful for Claire) – and they’ve been there ever since, living in a very basic, rented room.

Alan told me: “Claire’s cancer hasn’t claimed her life as quickly as we both had imagined, (which is good), but with medications, food and board, we’re now out of funds and out of options unless we can somehow fundraise for some subsistence.”

The couple have paid money in advance for their single room in Portugal, which covers rent until 14th March, after which time they will have absolutely nowhere to go.

Claire says: “There are new trial therapies for extreme cases of thyroid cancer like mine.

 I wish I had a pot of gold to pay for the experimental cancer therapy.
I don’t want to die, but choices and chances aren’t given to the poor people. We need a miracle, a winning lotto ticket. There should be equal opportunities for all patients.”

The treatment would possibly extend Claire’s life and improve the quality of the time she has left. She says: “I could have a chance of a longer, fuller life…. but I don’t have that option open to me….”

Tiffany Williams, a friend of Claire’s in the UK, has set up a crowdfunding page on JustGiving to raise £800 to help pay for her treatment. So far, 53% of the sum has been raised.

It’s such a modest amount for a treatment that will make a huge difference to Claire and Alan, who have lost their home and everything else they had in the UK. Now they are at risk of losing their room in Portugal, too.

You can make a donation at:  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tiffany-williams

Update

Claire informs me that the gofundme collection has now closed. But for those wishing to help in some way, there is a beautiful painting of Claire by Jason Pearce, which is up for auction with funds going to her medical fees.  

She says many thanks. 

Jason Pearce is an administrator for a very popular political group, and like me, he was originally contacted and asked if a member (Alan) could post a gofundme page to raise money for treatment costs to the group, as his wife, Claire, is seriously ill. Jason agreed, and offered to help. As Jason is an artist, it was suggested that he could paint a portrait of Claire and it could then be auctioned online to help raise some more money towards Claire’s ongoing treatment.

This is Jason’s lovely painting of Claire.

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“Claire”

20″ x 16″ Mixed media on canvas.

You can follow Kitty S Jones at her webpage Politics and Insights

 

Point of View – Election Schadenfraude – Fox or Faux

Point of View

There are three ways to do things; the right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power Way. FT 😄

Election Schadenfraude

Nigel Pompadour took a sick day after reading this story and refusing to report on it. FT 😛

Fox Or Faux?

Gene and I started a project called “Ask Gene Hackman” years ago solving real problems for real people. We were inundated with letters to the point where a hiatus was in order; however, since this is such a heinous issue that needed to be addressed, I asked Gene to bring his remarkable powers of common sense to bear and settle it…..once and for all. Thank you, Gene. FT

You can follow The History Twins at @thehistorytwins and at the webpage thehistorytwins.wordpress.com

 

 

So you thought you could improve yourself!

The jobcentre regime is built around the myth that those who are unemployed just haven’t tried hard enough; so you might expect that they would help people to go to university and improve their qualifications. That might be logical, but it is not what happens. Most students have to support themselves with part-time work, but if you are not managing to find work, you generally can’t claim benefits – at least not if your course is considered to be full time. If it is part time (and there are strict rules about what counts) then you have to demonstrate that you are available for and looking for full-time work. You can specify on your claimant commitment which hours you will be available for work, but only up to a point as you also have to show that this doesn’t significantly reduce your chances of finding a job. For the DWP it is always the short-term prospects of getting a job – any job – that count.

At this week’s stall we came across two people who had been forced to give up their degrees in order to be able to claim the benefits they needed to survive. Anna had gone to the jobcentre hoping that she could sort something out, but emerged in tears having been surrounded by three jobcentre workers all shouting at her. John was less visibly upset, but his situation was more severely worrying. He had been aware of the problems with claiming benefits as a student and had discussed his particular situation with the DWP. They were not certain whether or not he qualified, but signed him up for Universal Credit anyway meanwhile. It was only after he had received benefits for several months that they told him that they had decided he was not actually eligible to receive anything – and that he would have to pay it all back. (Universal Credit overpayments have to be repaid regardless of who was at fault.) Now, not only has he had to give up being a student in order to get Universal Credit, he also has unmanageable debts. These have got so bad that he is facing imminent eviction for unpaid rent. We urged him to see a money advisor as soon as possible and gave him the list of the different welfare-rights sessions in his area.

CPAG has made it’s student welfare advice handbook freely available on line, and most universities can provide some help navigating the system, but this can’t alter the basic problems within the rules themselves – especially when the DWP doesn’t know its own rule book. Even with this government’s limited vision of education, regarding it merely as training for work, these rules are damaging to individuals, and put a hurdle in the way of any plans to develop a better trained workforce.

(The picture shows the student in Puccini’s opera, La Boheme, burning his manuscript to keep warm.)

Thanks for help at this week’s stall to Norma, Tony, Gary, Gordon, Chris and Duncan

Mental Health – Complex Trauma or PTSD or Being Human

With regard to Mental Health, I have learned so much and more each and every day I learn. It was no different in our workshop today.  So many different unique perspectives on one subject.  I have suffered from a complex trauma issue for a few years now and I have been human all my life.

There are times when I over-react simply because my brain is telling me about the dangerous situation I am in, even when it is not a dangerous situation.

If a trigger I have never realised was there suddenly decides to rock my boat, it takes time to recognise what it is and what I can do to re-train my brain not to consider that particular trigger a problem.

There are some long, quite scary words used in Complex Trauma training, “systemic abuse,” being one of them.  Now that one can open up a whole can of worms, anything from watching too much news, to being hounded in respect of benefits, creating all the anxiety and stress that does bring-up.

You know, I am sure that every single individual interprets communication completely differently from the next person.  If you look at the process:

You see something, you think a thought – through the chemical processes of the brain, that thought becomes communication and in the case of verbal communication, you then have a  verbal, communication.

The person, receiving the information, hears and sees the verbal communication, which is then decoded by the brain.

A complicated process.

Added to which we all have our own developed individual realities, issues, background, that get in the way of us completely understanding, or interpreting what is being communicated in the way the person creating the communication meant it to be heard, seen etc.

We also have something else that can interfere in the whole process and that is an ability emotionally to feel what a communication is about.  We pick up emotion at an unconscious level and can get the communication wrong if what we see and what we feel do not match-up.  We can be honest about statements, and truly believe that the act was carried out, even when it didn’t happen that way at all, simply because we feel the intention, even when we do not see the act, itself.

Empathy, when we connect with others at an emotional level is an amazing human ability.  It allows us to sympathise, and, although we cannot walk in anyone else’s shoes, relate to others with similiar life experiences or issues.  In this way, we  can share, learn, teach, support each other.  Mutuality, as it is called, can bring a more complete, in-depth mutual support experience (Peer Support), than other forms of support. Some people are so sensitive to the emotions of others that they can end up travelling the road with the person suffering emotional disturbance.  It can prove impossible to pull away or draw back easily from situations, causing trauma to the previously unaffected person in addition to the person suffering disturbance.

Did you know?  The brain is really like the branches at the top of the tree, it is where the chemical/electrical thought, memory, etc. processes occur.  We do, however have other systems in the body that are part of the whole brain system.  These areas are located in the heart and the gut, the liver as Muslim people would say.

It is only when these three brain functions work in harmony, ie. we do not have a gut instinct or a heart suspicion that is different from the thoughts going through our brain. On the contrary, everything is working together, that we can be in the best place we can possibly get too.

So that was my day’s learning.  I would love to hear from folks on what they think, etc.

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Why the US and Britain are not democracies

Surely the United States and Britain are democracies. After all, they have free and fair elections and representative governments; freedom of speech and association means that dissent and demonstrations are tolerated; all citizens are deemed equal before the law; and individual civil liberties are respected.

In fact these countries are electoral oligarchies. Political power is closely allied with wealth and immigrants are regularly scapegoated for the inequalities fostered by state policies. Donald Trump’s recent ban on travel for citizens from Muslim countries is but the next stage in the increasingly obsessive and racist policing of those deemed foreign to the polity.

A cursory examination of the word democracy demonstrates that we no longer live, if we ever did, in democracies. True democrats must reject the exclusions and the inequalities which have become the acceptable face of liberal democracy.

Democracy against democracies

Let’s begin with the ancient Greek word “democracy”. The term does not denote a political regime as many have come to understand it. Monarchies and oligarchies are political regimes. They concentrate sovereign power in the hands of the wealthy few. In a democracy, by contrast, the people (the demos) – without qualification – govern. Who counts as a member of this group is an open question. Representative democracies of today, however, bound democracy to citizenship, and neurotically exclude those deemed to have no qualification. As the novelist Tom McCarthy recently argued, for the Athenians of ancient Greece a citizen was first and foremost a citizen of the world. As such they constantly put into question any attempt to restrict the demos.

Recent debates about immigration into Europe tragically confirm the terrible consequences of bounding democracy to a “legitimate” public, for those classified as foreign. Democrats must enact equality in the name of a common humanity, against political regimes which lay claim to the name of democracy.

The power exercised by the demos – or “kratos” in ancient Greek – signified the capacity to act politically, the collective ability to do good. For the ancient Athenians, public office, and representation, were very limited ways of exercising this power.

Democratic power rests on the presupposition that everyone is equal. It tests all political regimes, notably those which assume that democracy is only about voting. In both Britain and the US the representative system allows political parties with a mandate from only one third of the voting public to rule. Moreover limiting democracy to citizens who vote ignores the consequences of how citizens in the UK and the US live for distant others. Those who produce its food, are affected by its wars, produce the energy and goods – all the products which oil the wheels of Western lives. Democracy implies that such limits can never be justified.

Radical ways of thinking

The implications of this argument are radical and go well beyond considerations of immigration policy, although this is a salient place to start. It means that we should never simply equate democracy with existing political regimes. Liberal democracies radically limit the powers of the people. Freedom of information is restricted in the name of state security; every aspect of life is calculated according to the measure of profit, as value becomes almost completely monetary; inequalities of wealth and of pay are extraordinarily high; and equality is daily sacrificed on the altar of individual freedom while millions live their lives in debt, getting by from day to day.

Solon of Athens. Wikipedia Commons

It was no mistake that in 594BC, Solon of Athens insisted that Athenian citizens could not participate fully in public life if indebted. In Britain and the US today too many are marginalised by apparently poor credit ratings, and by state policies which privilege monetary rather than democratic accountability.

All democratic regimes undermine the equality they espouse. In securing borders they exclude others who might be deemed members of “the people”. In protecting against possible challenge and in institutionalising the “best” forms of rule these regimes police the equality which they simultaneously proclaim. It is an equality which rings hollow. Long before the revolutions against the Soviet Union and its satellite regimes, citizens of these states knew that the proclamations of those in power were ruses without foundation.

In the democratic regimes of the “West” today, citizens also live in a world of Orwellian double speak. A topsy-turvy world that tells us that the economy is growing, the stock market is at historic highs, satisfaction ratings have sky rocketed – yet these measures are a semblance which politicians use to pat themselves on the back. Our democracies are oligarchies which protect wealth yet blame those with nothing for the inequalities generated by their own practices.

What then is democracy?

Democracy takes place when equality is enacted in the name of the people. Those committed to democracy should ask themselves the question posed by philosopher Jacques Rancière: “What happens when we act as if all are equal?” To start with, the gross inequalities in wealth preserved by democratic regimes would be challenged. We would recognise that all are capable of participating in rule. Borders separating us “from them” are fictions which preserve inequality. We would reject a society which purchases the future of the young by tying them up in debt, and would ensure that everyone has a decent home not subject to the change in fortunes of a market in property – another one of those measures used to demonstrate the “health” of the economy.

There are instances when political regimes do foster such democratic practices, but these are few and far between. More interesting are the many instances, often unseen, sometimes banned and condemned, when democracy is enacted by the men and women of no property. In Newham in east London in 2014 the Focus E15 mothers’ group occupied housing owned by the local council, on the all but empty Carpenters estate. They were responding to the closure of a nearby hostel for the homeless, to cuts in housing benefit, and to a lack of affordable housing in the city.

The occupiers opened the empty “real estate” to the public as a social centre organising daily events and debates – much to the chagrin of the local mayor and his council who had proposed relocating the mothers and their families to Birmingham in the West Midlands and Hastings in the south. The campaign briefly gained national coverage as the mothers shamed the council into providing social housing on the Carpenters estate.

These women exercised extraordinary power. They did not ask the council for housing. They took what they claimed everyone is entitled to: a home. They refused to accept the council’s claim that there was no affordable housing. Having occupied the homes they engaged the wider public in a debate about the social cleansing of London. Their actions did not stop with this occupation. In the two years since they have lent support to immigrant communities victimised by racists. Other groups fighting social cleansing have sprung up across the south-east. They have lent support to those excluded from the bubble economy that is London, including Deliveroo workers demanding the right to unionise.

Having enacted the equality which democracy promises, these activists now have in their sights the equality distorted by Britain’s political regime. The test of democracy is that whether or not a practice enacts equality without limit in the name of a people unbounded by any prior principle. On this test the US and Britain are not, and never have been, democracies.


Read more in our series, On Freedom.

You can read more on the Conversation here

NHS: Tories SILENT on introduction of £145 charges for 40 minute GP consultations

Theresa May has been accused of ignoring news that NHS GP services have begun to charge for consultations.

In some parts of the UK, NHS patients will have to continue to wait four weeks for a seven-minute appointment with a GP unless they are prepared to pay £40 for a ten-minute phone consultation, £80 for a 20 minute face-to-face appointment or £145 for a 40 minute consultation.

The first roll out of this newly-privatised GP service has already been announced in Dorset – but only in the local press.

There has been no comment from the Conservative Party.

Surprise surprise …

You can follow Tom on twitter at @ThomasPride    and at his webpage Prides Purge

Choosing Jail Over Life On The Outside

With budget cuts in place and jails getting fuller by the day, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would rather be behind bars than live life on the outside, but sadly that is what is happening on a global scale.

Adults who have committed crimes and been released from prison are making conscious decisions to go back behind bars rather than to live their life in freedom. To these people, a life locked up is safer than being alone and out on the streets.

Life outside prison can be turbulent to those without the correct support system in place. This can cause confusion, fear and ultimately lead some back on the path towards crime just so they find safety once again.

You may ask how someone can consider life in jail to be the better option in comparison to being out and living a life of freedom? Regrettably there are many reasons for this consideration.

Stability – Life in jail offers a secure lifestyle to those within. All inmates are provided with a routine and some are even offered work duty. This lifestyle gives them stability, it makes them feel safe. Going from having a daily routine to having no purpose can be a major disruption which causes confusion and panic. Many enjoy the work they are provided and upon release find it difficult to obtain jobs due to criminal records. This lack of stability can have a serious effect on physical and mental well-being.

Safety – Those in prison do not need to constantly fear for their welfare whether that be due to abusive spouses, other gang members, or anyone on the outside who could pose a threat to them. Ex prisoners understand that on the inside there will always be an officer looking out for them, making sure they come to no harm. Life alone on the outside can be nasty and potentially dangerous, jail provides some people with a sense of protection.

Housing – A roof over their head and warm blankets are provided as a basic human right to all inmates. Someone who leaves jail without the correct support system in place may find themselves without guaranteed accommodation. Some find themselves back on the streets and sleeping rough, others find themselves in shelters or halfway houses. These options are temporary and leave people wondering what will happen next.

Food – In Jail, cellmates are provided with three hot, square meals a day. There is never a fear of going hungry and no need to ever have to scavenge for food. On the outside, there is no guarantee that food will be readily available. Food costs money and for some that is just not affordable or obtainable.

Effort – Some criminals have spent many years locked up and when it is time for them to be released they cannot ease back in to society. These people have become accustomed to life inside prison and to go back to the general public would take a lot of effort. Some find the difficulty of going back to normality too much of a challenge and therefore they would rather be back to what they are familiar with.

Unfortunately, criminal recidivism is quite a common issue. Men and women around the world are being released from prison, only to go forward and commit petty crimes just so they can find their way back. There are not enough resources due to the budget cuts to help them reform and circulate comfortably back into society. Lack of financing means we are leaving people afraid of life on the outside.

People are left to sleep on the streets, left to go cold and hungry and left to fend for themselves because we cannot afford to continue programmes that help ex convicts make a new life for themselves on the outside.With prisons lacking the space, staff and capability to look after those already in their care something has to be done to offer a life worth living to those who are released otherwise we may find ourselves overrun and dealing with an epidemic.

Everyone deserves to lead a life where they feel safe, a life where they do not go hungry or have to sleep rough. These people may have committed crimes within society but does that make them any less human or any less deserving than the rest of us?

featured image Jail Cell

You can follow Dionne Melissa Newman on twitter @DionneMNewman or at her blog page dionnemelissanewman.wordpress.com   

Too Poor For A Period

In this day and age feminine hygiene products are not hard to come by. They line the shelves of every supermarket, corner store and pharmacy around the world. They come in an array of brands, sizes and uses so that women everywhere can find something suitable to the lifestyle they lead. There are tampons, sanitary towels, menstrual cups and even reusable underwear so that women can carry on throughout their period without disrupting usual day-to-day activities. These products are not only used for hygiene purposes but are available so that no woman has to lose her dignity due to something that only nature can control. Sadly not all women have the luxury of accessing these. Thousands of woman are forced to struggle silently every month when it comes to their period, hoping that somehow they can find a way to keep a little dignity. This is not because these products are not available to them, it is because they cannot afford to buy them.

Menstrual products are often seen as a luxury. A market. They come with a price that some women cannot afford to pay. These products are taxed and advertised as a money-making scheme and the women out there who cannot afford to pay for them are left with a heavier price to pay.

These women have to find other ways of controlling their natural flow so that they can still carry on with day-to-day activities. There are women who have to use scrunched up toilet paper, wrapped in their underwear just so they do not bleed through. There are young girls missing days of school every month, losing out on their education, just because their parents cannot afford to pay for these “luxuries” whilst providing everything else for their children. There are women in third world countries who have to bleed freely whilst they continue trying to provide for their own families all because these products are luxuries.

Periods are not a luxury. They are messy, emotional and can be downright painful. Sanitary products do not stop periods from being any of these things, but they do provide one thing. They provide a human right. They allow dignity. They take away the embarrassment of bleeding through clothes, They allow a sense of relief and cleanliness and they provide a safety net to all women.

Every month millions of women suffer with symptoms of PMS, from cramping, to their skin breaking out, to mood swings – after all they go through do you not think they deserve to at least keep their dignity?

Taxes won’t be taken off of sanitary products any time soon but something can be done to help those who cannot afford these necessities. A grant could be introduced that allows women under the average financial threshold to get free sanitary supplies from their health centre, supermarket or pharmacy. Donations could be made to schools to ensure that all children get the education they need rather than taking days off because their bodies are made to menstruate. Homeless shelters and food banks could hand out supplies to homeless and poor women, either via donations or from government grants.

Condoms, contraceptive medication and lubricants are handed out for free by the NHS because they are an important part of sexual health without a doubt, but sanitary products are just as important for the sexual health and well-being of our women and girls.

We cannot aim to look after just one section of sexual health, we need to consider all issues including menstruation and if the government won’t grant it then maybe we need to fix the problem ourselves. So the next time you donate to food banks or charities. Please consider these women and drop off a box of tampons too.

You may just help another woman to retain her dignity.

You can follow Dionne Melissa Newman on twitter @DionneMNewman or at her blog page dionnemelissanewman.wordpress.com