Category Archives: Opinion

100 reasons not to vote UKIP.

As some context for my non-British readers, a political party called UKIP is starting to gain support at the moment. Their leader is quite a charismatic guy who makes people feel like he is in touch with them but underneath his smiling facade is a controlling, far right, racist autocrat who will destroy the country if he gets into power. This post explains just why no one should vote for UKIP by exposing what they really stand for!

max j freeman

100 reasons not to vote UKIP.

Please read these reasons not to vote UKIP.  Many of you have concerns about the way the country is being run, but UKIP are not the answer.  There are many parties out there that you can vote for as a protest vote if you don’t want to vote for the main three.  Before you cast your vote, please take the time to see who you are voting for.

Change profile picture on socialmedia to this picture the day before Euro elections Change profile picture on social media to this picture the day before Euro elections

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Love Letters to the Home Office

Although it might seem like all of my life is taken up with movie watching, outfit picking, cooking and general mischief and nostalgia, I do occasionally involve myself in something a little bit more serious.

Almost two months ago a colleague of mine approached me about getting involved in a project he was working on. He (Jason) and I are both British Citizens who started our lives elsewhere. Me in South Africa and him in the United States. Over the years we have shared our immigration and visa woes and given each other tips on the best ways to jump through the UKBA’s (as it was then) various hoops. Jason’s friend, Katharine, was recently affected by the Family Migration Law of 2012, which specifies a minimum income of £18,600 p.a. for a British citizen in order for them to sponsor a non-EU spouse (increasing with every child where there are children). She has been married to her partner, Raco for over 18 months but he has only been allowed to live with her in the UK very recently.

Before I go into the project, I want to explain how unfair this law is in practice. First of all, 47% of all British citizens would not be able to meet this criteria and even worse, 61% of women would not be able to. Secondly the non-EU partner’s income is in no way considered. So even if the non-EU partner earns a gazillion pounds they would not be able to live with their partner and family. Thirdly it says in the EU Human Rights convention that you have the right to marry whomever you want and to have a family life. Deciding who gets to have human rights depending on their income is flat out wrong.

To make people aware of how British families are being affected, Katharine came up with the idea of getting people who have been separated from their families by the law to send in their love letters to be collated and published in a book called Love Letters to the Home Office. As someone who feels really passionate about Human Rights I was really excited to get involved and started out by doing some ghost writing and helping out with the social media, especially around our first petition urging for a change in the law.

The book, which you can and should buy here, has now been published and will officially be launched tomorrow night. While we were gathering stories of those who have been affected by the unfair Family Migration law of 2012, we realised that no one we encountered, including ourselves, had had a positive experience of dealing with the Home Office Visas and Immigration Section. So as part of the launch we decided to write a manifesto of how the Home Office should operate it’s visas and immigration section and that’s the second part of what I’ve been working on. Tomorrow night I will read out the manifesto that I have written with the help of Jason and Katharine and which is also available as a petition.

If this is something you also care about you can read the stories here, sign the petitions here and here, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and even attend the launch if you’re based in London… and you can buy the book no matter where you live.

lovelettersbook

 

It might very well be snowing in Morocco, to be fair, Bob…

As Christmas carols start to bellow through my office, I have decided to republish this blog I wrote 4 years ago about my most reviled (and ludicrous) festive tune, Do They Know It’s Christmas? Which, as an African, makes me so angry I have fantasies about bludgeoning Bono to death (although in fairness that would probably happen without the song). Enjoy:

Those who have been reading this blog for a while may remember some conversations I had with a very special character we nicknamed Anonymous Boy. He was the one who thought Africa was one country and it was all a desert. In case you don’t remember, you can read about it here.

For a long time I was baffled by where he got this perception, since although his spelling, grammar and logic was somewhat flawed, he didn’t seem to be completely mentally deficient or incapable of grasping basic concepts. But now… courtesy of a twitter conversation with Tash, I think I’ve figured out who to blame… Bob Geldoff.

Have any of you ever listened closely to the lyrics of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

It’s Christmastime
There’s no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer

Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

(Here’s to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here’s to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again

(Bob Geldof & Midge Ure)

Let’s have a little look at some blinding issues with these lyrics:

There won’t be any snow in Africa this Christmastime: surely that’s more about climate than poverty. I can’t remember anyone ever saying, god I wish we had more money so it would snow?? Anyway, there are ski resorts in Morocco, where it may very well snow at Christmas so there. It also won’t be snowing in London, Sydney or Southern California… maybe it’s time to expand some of the aid to these snow-impoverished regions too.

Where nothing ever grows: The UK imports 14% of all it’s fruit from African nations including South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Egypt… wrong again Bob.

No rain nor rivers flow: Clearly he’s missed out on the glory of a Highveld thunder storm… there are also upwards of 60 rivers in Africa, including the NILE, which happens to be the longest river in the world and flows through Egypt, Ethiopia, Burundi and Sudan.

Do they know it’s Christmastime at all: I’m going to go with probably not and they’re unlikely to care since 45% of the continent is Muslim and couldn’t give a toss about your Christian holiday.

I’m sure Sir Bob’s heart was in the right place but his facts were severely lacking and I can’t help but wonder how much good this kind of bizarre imagining of Africa does. It’s almost as bad as this horrendous Cadbury’s advert that depicts African’s as grinning childlike buffoons.

How is this supposed to break down this “us” and “them” perception between the developed and the developing world?

Passport league table

Ever wondered just what your passport was worth? Regular readers of this blog will know that I hold dual South African-British nationality. I was born and grew up in South Africa but moved to the UK in 2004 and eventually gained British citizenship last year. I hold passports for both.

Of course anyone who has citizenship from somewhere outside the “first world” will know not all passports are created equal. If you come from anywhere in Western Europe, North America or Australasia most countries will welcome you, at least as a tourist, without any kind of pre-qualification. However those who don’t, will know all too well the joyous hoop-jumping thrill of applying for a visa… for everywhere.

Recently residence and citizenship planning advisors, Henley & Partners published their annual passport league table, ranking 219 territories in order of “ease of travel” I suppose. According to the league table the maximum points total a nationality could get is 218, as a point is subtracted for traveling to your own country, except for countries where nationals have to have a visa to reenter their own country. It seems that this only applies to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (has anyone else noticed that the minute you add democratic to the name of your country it’s normally a signal that it’s the exact opposite). A point is then subtracted for every country that requires you have a visa to visit.

It’s unsurprising that a UK passport ties for number one with Sweden and Finland with a whopping 173 points, followed closely by the USA in second place with 172 (tied with Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark). South Africa comes in at a rather pitiful 42, with only 94 points, tying with Turkey and St Lucia – slightly better than Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania and the Solomon Islands but not quite as good as Serbia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or El Salvador.

However one must be satisfied with one’s lot. At 42 Mzansi is still the highest ranked of all African countries. You also wouldn’t want to come from Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan who come in at joint 91st, 92nd and 93rd at the bottom of the table. Afghans are only able to enter 28 countries without a visa. Bizarrely even citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea are more welcomed worldwide at 85 with 41 countries not requiring a visa… maybe because you can’t actually leave the country without an exit visa anyway. They’re hardly likely to deluge the French Riviera.

I guess this proves once again that there is a very distinct divide between the two different halves of the world… those who are welcome and those who are seen as a threat!

You can see the whole league table here, so let me know… how does your passport rank and do you think it’s fair?

Passports

FINALLY, Home Secretary Theresa May declares the UKBA “unfit for purpose”

After my immigration rant yesterday, it seems I am not the only one who has realised that the UKBA is a complete joke. Only five years after its creation Home Secretary Theresa May, has announced that the Border Agency will be scrapped as it is, “not fit for purpose.”  It will now be split into two different arms – one dealing with visas, immigration and citizenship and the other focused on law enforcement.

Surely this can only come as a relief to those who are concerned about the millions of asylum seekers that the UKBA has managed to lose track of along with all the illegal immigrants they have failed to eject, as well as those who are personally stuck in its Brazil-esq processing hell.

Whether you wish everyone would just fuck off to their own country or you wish someone… anyone… would just tell you if your application has been successful and give you your fucking passport back, the UKBA is not doing what it was intended to do.

What this will mean for people who currently have pending applications or for the obscene backlog of cases, it is hard to tell. As it stands, the change is supposed to start next week but in real terms there doesn’t seem to be any time line for actual daily operational changes.

I am no longer at the mercy of the whims of the UKBA (or whatever it becomes), but I will be watching this very closely as I have several friends and colleagues whose daily lives will be deeply impacted by the changes. I want to believe things will be better, but the cynic in me who has personally had to deal with the UKBA can’t help but worry that we haven’t seen rock bottom yet.

On female body hair and why it just isn’t fair

This year for winter I decided to stop removing my body hair. This is a statement I feel very apprehensive making and a blog  I feel somewhat nervous posting but I am adamant I am going to soldier on because I can’t possibly be the only person who feels the way I do about this.

Initially it was an experiment. Having conformed to societal norms and shaved my legs and armpits from about the age of 13, I had no idea what was going to grow out. It turned out to be not that much, in fact there seems to be almost no hair on the backs of my legs, but enough for me to feel squeamish about letting said hair out in public. I expected to be somewhat repulsed by my body hair because I have been conditioned my whole life to believe it was disgusting. However, I found it didn’t really bother me and my husband seemed to rather like it.

Last week it briefly got warmer and I started to think about wearing dresses again… ones without sleeves and tights and suddenly my love affair with my hairy legs and pits ended. I thought about the attention a luxuriant underarm bush might draw and as much as I wanted to tell society to fuck off… I shaved my armpits. I also paid a small, but efficient Asian lady to rip the hair out of my legs using hot wax.

Afterwards I felt defeated and a bit naked but also more comfortable with the idea of my legs and armpits being out in public. I guess I’m just not ready to be a hairy woman yet.

Now I know I do and have done several things to my body that are not natural. I wear make-up, I paint my nails, I dye my hair, I have tattoos and piercings. But unlike body hair I feel like these things are my choice. I could choose not to wear any make-up and to let my hair grow out medium boring brown and although I would feel less like me and less attractive, these would be considered valid choices. No one would stare if I didn’t put any mascara on. I don’t feel like choosing to let my body hair grow free is a choice that will currently be accepted by society as valid. It’s not my choice but rather something I am forced to do.

The normalisation of women removing their body hair has become so prevalent that even when we watch TV or films set in a time where no one was removing any hair, we see women with perfectly smooth legs and hairless armpits. Trust me… in the 1700’s they all had pit forests.

I am not disputing anyone’s personal choice to remove their body hair or make any cosmetic choice for themselves. What seems unfair is that it’s not a choice. You either get rid of it or face the fact that you are making a political statement, which is a lot of pressure just to put on your pits.

Maybe next winter I will be brave enough to stay the distance but for now I’m learning to live with my nude underarms and my cowardice. I know there are people who will read this blog and be horrified that I did not immediately remove all hair the minute it appeared and I am steeling myself for a potential onslaught of eew comments but if no one ever says anything how will we ever know how many of us feel like this?

If you want me to waste less food, maybe you should sell me less food…

According to statistics from Food AWARE, the UK wastes 18 million tonnes of food each year. I’m not surprised by this when I think about my own little household. I absolutely hate wasting food. Mr Osbiston finds my constant attempts to invent dishes that use up what’s left in the fridge both amusing and scary. However I can’t always get it right and I regularly find myself having to turf out half eaten bags of salad, fresh herbs, mouldy bread and lumpy milk.

I think my home is somewhat similar to that of many urban dwellers, single or dual occupancy with a busy work and/or social life. What this means is that we mostly cook small meals, we can’t always predict when we’re going to be home and our freezer is the size of a letterbox.

I really like to cook from scratch so I buy a lot of fresh ingredients but what I often find is that food is sold only in “family” sized quantities in the supermarket. I can’t buy one chilli or a portion of fresh herbs or salad leaves that is smaller than sizeable hedge. An entire loaf of bread or even the little half loaves they sometimes sell is usually more than we can get through before it develops a lovely green tinge. Same goes for the average sized piece of cheese, a pint of milk or a bag of potatoes. Now I know I can buy single potatoes but normally only of one variety, where the choice is huge for bagged potatoes.  It’s got to be even harder if you’re cooking for one and would like to buy a single chicken breast or piece of fish.

It’s not even really about price. I often will buy a more expensive variety of food if I can buy a smaller quantity and not have to throw any away.

I know I could grow my own herbs, buy everything in precise quantities from an independent greengrocer and foist my leftovers on my neighbours (who hate me because I keep complaining about their late night karaoke sessions), but the reality for most households where everyone works full time is that the most convenient and practical place to buy food is a supermarket.

So my question is, along with more sensible food labelling that doesn’t encourage people not to eat food that’s past a seemingly arbitrary “best before” date, would it make sense for supermarkets to sell smaller portions and give us more choice of how much we want to buy?

Considering the National Identity of an Immigrant: is home where the heart is?

Earlier this week I read an article on The South African (which is a little on- and offline newspaper for expats around The Globe) where the writer’s friend suggested that after ten years in the UK, he was no longer allowed to call himself South African.

I’ve lived in the UK for eight years so the article actually hit me quite hard. I think the national identity of an immigrant is something that is deeply challenging and affecting to the individual, no matter how long you’ve been away or far you’ve gone.

By the end of this year I should legally be a British citizen both by the virtue of living here for the allotted minimum time and because I am married to an Englishman. I will, however, never be truly British. This is not because I won’t or haven’t embraced the culture. It is because of the culture that I want to be here. It’s also not because I don’t feel welcome here (although sometimes when I’m hula hooping over UKBA obstacles I wonder). It’s not for any reason other than what I feel inside me.

As probably the most “Anglicised” of my South African immigrant friends, I thought I’d just become dual nationalised in my heart as well as my documents but after the Olympics when my team was given permission to bunk off work and go and cheer on Team GB during the parade, I could not bring myself to go. It felt wrong.  And while I happily cheered on Team GB throughout the Games I never felt that desperate mixture of panic and pride that I felt watching the South African athletes. Nor did I feel the right to refer to Team GB as my team.

I have no intention of moving back home… although the fact that I still instinctively refer to South Africa as home after eight years probably says something in itself. While half the reason I’m happy to remain here is because I am openly and admittedly a massive anglophile, the other half is because I don’t have the balls or the energy to live with the political upheaval, corruption and crime endemic to South Africa now that I’ve experienced something different. On a daily basis I wonder if this makes me a bad person.

I have done the paperwork to keep my legal status as a South African. There was never a question that I’d “relinquish” as it’s fondly referred to. But from an philosophical perspective do I still have the right to call myself South African if I will never live in South Africa again? And if I can’t call myself South African and I don’t feel British, what am I?

I’d love to hear how other immigrants feel about this stuff (any country to any country, of course) or deal with not quite ever belonging anywhere.

3D or not 3D? Or shall we just skip to holodecks?

This morning I made the (in hindsight obviously inflammatory) statement that it’s unlikely that my children will ever experience cinema in 2D, apart from some kind of nostalgic retro viewing.

I don’t think it’s an outrageous statement. At least half the films out at the moment have a 3D version available. At the moment 3D is focused on animated and action blockbusters but there’s no reason why this shouldn’t extend further to a wider range of genres in the near future.

In terms of 3D itself, I’m relatively agnostic. I have seen some films that were made more exciting by the addition of 3D. I’ve also seen some pretty shoddy 3D. And for the most part the kind of films I like provide a full experience in boring old 2D. In general things that are either retrofitted with 3D or have it slapped on at the end to try and squeeze out a few more drops of revenue (Topcat in 3D anyone?), translate badly. However, stuff that’s shot for 3D, fares a lot better. I’m not suggesting that it would be likely that our cinema-going experience would be totally overtaken by 3D as it is right now, but rather that advances in the technology, will make films shot specifically for 3D the norm.

After all, I’m probably a good 6 – 10 years from having children of cinema going age. I still have to actually spawn a progeny and then keep it alive beyond the blob stage. Think back to what CGI and mobile phones were like 10 years ago and tell me that the concept of a touch screen phone seemed realistic when you picked up that first Nokia 5510. It’s an aeon in technology years.

I’ll bet you that when film went from silent to sound, there were a lot of people proclaiming it a fad and that that happened when colour became the norm rather than back and white. Or even when animation went from hand drawn to digital. There is a natural evolution and I think it’s happening.

As for home cinema viewing, I think it would need to be glasses free and unlikely to cause injury before it’s a realistic option… might take a bit longer.

Of course I might be wrong and 3D will disappear but then the question has to be, what’s next? I’m putting my money on holodecks…

 

Your LAST chance to add your support for Equal Civil Marriage

For any of you how feel as strongly as I do about the Equal Civil Marriage consultation going on in parliament at the moment and believe that all people regardless of their sexual orientation should be allowed to marry their partners, today is the last day to fill in the Home Office survey and lend your support.

Please take the time to fill in the quick survey and let the Home Office know that you back equal marriage for LBGT couples. This is what the Home Office uses to get a sense of how the public feels about the policy so it’s essential that you fill in it!

Help South Africa protect equal rights for gay people

As a South African citizen, I’ve always been really proud of the fact that the South African constitution is one of the few in the world that actually protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the only country in Africa that has legalised same sex marriage.

With this in mind I was disgusted to find out that, Patekile Holomisa, the chair of the South African Constitutional Review Committee is backing a proposal from the National House of Traditional Leaders to delete the protection for homosexuality from the constitution.

Surely in a country where most of the population has firsthand experience of the terrible results of removing rights and freedoms from parts of society, this should be unthinkable.

I would love for Holomisa and these supposed traditional “leaders” to explain the reasoning behind wanting to change the constitution. I don’t understand how someone else’s sexuality and their freedom to express that sexuality with other consenting adults can affect anyone else’s existence.

Please, please, please sign this petition to demand that Holomisa retract his statements and that the Committee rejects his proposal. It’s an international petition so you don’t have to be South African to make your voice heard, but if you are it’s that much more important.

This is not about gay rights; this is about human rights and not repeating the very fresh mistakes of the past.

In support of same sex marriage… surely it’s a no brainer?

Earlier this week I received a letter from my local MP (on embossed paper about an inch thick… if you were wondering how the government is spending your taxes) to tell me she had received my email about the legalisation of gay marriage and was watching the consultation taking place on this issue. I suppose I should be grateful that she took the time to read my email and actually signed it herself… no stamp or computer print here… but it kind of got me wondering.

Why are we having a consultation on this in the first place?

What possible reason could there be for not allowing two consenting adults from entering into a legal contract with each other? And what logical reason could there be for making name of the contract different depending on whether these consenting adults are a man and a woman or of the same sex?

The entire notion that we would even be wasting the time to consider whether it is a good idea to give all humans the same rights to marriage seems completely bonkers to me.

For those claiming that allowing same sex couples to marry goes against the “sanctity” of marriage, I ask you this: Can your marriage be made less valid or sacred because of someone else’s? Surely passed the standard legal obligations of marriage, the sacredness and validity of your relationship is determined by the couple involved in the actual marriage. Some religions require the female partner to submit wholly to the dominion of the male partner. If my husband and I agree that we’re going to have a marriage of equal power, does that make the religious marriage less valid to that couple? I think not! If you’re worried someone else’s marriage is going to make your marriage less valid, it might be time to assess your own marriage.

Coming onto those arguing against same sex marriage on the basis of religion… if someone’s ridiculous religion does not subscribe to allowing two people who love each other to marry, that is their prerogative. The bill under discussion will in no way force any religious institution to marry anyone it doesn’t want to. The same way a church can currently refuse to marry non-parishioners at its discretion, religious institutions can choose to marry or not marry same sex couples at their discretion… so I’m not sure how allowing same-sex marriage would change anything.

Whether you agree with the principle of same sex marriage or not, I can’t see in any way how a same sex couple marrying would affect anyone but that actual couple. My husband and I have a civil non-religious marriage. Whether some religious organisation recognises or agrees with the fact that we are legally married in is irrelevant to us.

I hope that one day my children, or at least my children’s children, will look back to the time when we had different rights for people of different sexual orientations and be baffled at how incredibly backward we were.

In the meantime while we wait for society to evolve, if you agree with me and agree with the idea of all humans having the same human rights, please sign this petition on the Coalition for Equality’s website and follow their instructions for getting in touch with your MP. Make your voice heard and make ours the generation that says, no more to inequality.

Panic on the streets of London

Anyone who has been watching the news will know that London has spent three nights under siege by rioters and looters. The violence kicked off after the shooting of a man called Mark Duggan, during an arrest in Tottenham on Thursday. It appears there are questions around whether the shooting of Duggan was lawful and members of the family and community where protesting peacefully and demanding answers from the police on Saturday. Unfortunately the protest did not remain peaceful and Tottenham High Road was the first area where widespread destruction and looting took place.

Following this numerous other areas including Enfield, Ealing, Croydon, and the frighteningly close to my home, Clapham Junction, have been targeted by bands of youths in balaclavas smashing in shop windows, helping themselves to electronics and sports goods and setting things on fire.

As a London resident, this is all pretty scary. I personally have managed to avoid all riot activity but Paul watched out of his office window as the riot police chased troublemakers down the Soho street he works on and many of my colleagues and acquaintances have been close enough to smell the smoke and hear the sirens.

Of course there is mass debate over why this has happened and who is to blame. I don’t in any way profess to have a deep insight into society but you have to wonder how we’ve gotten to a place where people are this angry. While there is absolutely no excuse for destroying property and taking things that are not yours, there is a large part of the population who appear to feel like this is their way of “sticking it to the man.” Unfortunately a lot of the time they don’t appear to realise that burning down small local business is just sticking it to your own community but that’s just a symptom of the lack of big picture thinking that’s going on.

A lot of people are looking back at past immigration policy, past police interaction with communities and past education policy and saying well if we had have done this or done that we wouldn’t be in this situation. But we are in this situation and we need leadership who will find a way to engage people, who are unable to see the effect that what they are doing is having and how much they are hurting themselves. These are people who don’t think what they are doing is wrong and believe that there won’t be consequences to their actions. That’s the bit that needs addressing. It doesn’t matter if it’s pure greedy opportunism or a result of a disconnection between the state and the disenfranchised youth, or something else entirely. What matters is making it stop and preventing it from happening again.

Have a little listen of this to get an idea of the mentality…

The saddest thing is that most Londoners are law-abiding citizens, who work hard for a better future for themselves, their families and communities, but the actions of the opportunistic few is likely to lead to the further demonization of the British youth… and that’s just not fair.

Does Britain need more fairy job mothers?

Last night Paul and I found ourselves watching something called Fairy Jobmother on Channel 4, not our proudest moment, but hear me out. The premise of the show is that recruitment specialist, Hayley Taylor, takes 5 people who are long-term unemployed (12 months or more) and pretty much overcomes all of their protests and shortcomings when it comes to finding a job.

I started watching last night’s episode with my usual snorts of derision and disbelief at the fact that these people who had no disabilities were not just going out there and getting work but as the show unfolded I found my opinion changing.

What Taylor does is not rocket science. She addresses issues of confidence and the kind of job seeking and job interview appropriate behaviour that those of us who have spent the majority of our lives in gainful employment take for granted… things as simple as what you should wear, being able to explain your skills in a sensible manner, turning up on timeand dealing with someone telling you what to do. And she does it with a firm hand and a refusal to listen to excuses. Her motto is that there are jobs out there but looking for one is hard work so focus yourself and get on with it.

By the end of the show four out of the five had secured a job. These were not glamorous or high paid jobs but things like part time cleaner, kitchen porter and garbage truck drivers’ assistant but they had all made a culture shift within themselves and it’s the culture shift within individuals that leads to culture shifts within families and communities. Three months on all four were still in work and one had been promoted.

There is no point in debating how the work/benefits situation happened in the UK. It is what is. What is important is that the government is spending money on getting people the simple skills and support that it takes to get a foot on the job ladder as well as a bit of a reality check. Growing up in a family where everyone is gainfully employed, education and hard work are encouraged and rewarded and support is easy to get, often makes those of us who have had the hand up, think that getting into and being in work is something simple. But without all of that, would it be as easy?

Why not train some of the public sector workers who are going to lose their jobs as part of the cuts as fairy jobmothers? Give them five vulnerable people at a time to work with for two weeks and target them on the number of people getting work and keeping it for 6 months or more. Alternatively why not go “big society” and work with employment related businesses about getting volunteer hours from their staff to help people. I bet loads of the people at the job board I work for would be willing to use their charity days to help people write their CVs or practise interview techniques… or am I oversimplifying things?