I’m fretting because it’s raining and windy, and our election activity for today (street stall) is probably cancelled. What can I do instead? Why does it matter so much that it hurts?
Thinking over how badly we need a change of government – how the government IS progressively selling off our NHS and care services – reminds me of the most painful moment on the 2017 campaign, the one we so nearly won, and of why this is all so vital.
It was a rainy day, like today, and we had some tower blocks to visit. One of the doors on the landing I was doing was propped open.
“Is that you?” calls a quailing, anxious voice from within.
“I’m from the Labour Party,” I say, sadly sure that wasn’t what she was wanting to hear.
“I thought it was the carer,” she says, and collapses into sobbing.
She’s elderly. She’s ill. She can’t get out of her chair – the chair she had slept in. It’s lunchtime, and she’s waiting uncomfortably, miserably, for the carer who will help her get washed and dressed. She doesn’t know who’s coming, or when.
That’ll be a carer on minimum wage, who is not paid for the time she spends zapping around the town in her little car, trying to park, trying to do morning visits for as many people as possible before the day’s over.
That’s a frightened old woman in a tiny little flat, who gets an hour’s care in the morning (ish) and an hour in the evening, that she has to pay an agency for. She keeps her front door propped open all night. She says yes, this is dangerous and it does frighten her, but she’d be more frightened if she could not hope that passing neighbours might put their heads round the door to say ‘hello’.
This will probably be your life and mine, unless we’re lucky, when we’re old and infirm. We can do better than this – we MUST do better than this.
When I was young, there were council care homes for the elderly and infirm. We felt a little bit guilty about them, because it’s sad when someone’s got no friends and family with the time and resources to care for them – but council care was there, it was friendly and it was funded. There were social workers and district nurses, too, who weren’t stymied by enormous case-lists, who had time to visit, to sit and to talk to people. That, of course, counts as inefficiency in a private care agency.
Health care, social care, social services – all broken up and being sold off day by day to this and that profiteer.
I’m not a Labour activist because of any crazy, tribal ideas – I’m in because it’s the party of the NHS. If you’re a member, never mind the nonsense – get on the campaign, save the NHS, fund proper social care.
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If you’re not a member, please consider joining now, to help us win this, and restore our health and social care services…