Where was the Big Society at Christmas?

First published in Letters

As I was eating my Christmas dinner alone, the Queen’s Speech came on the radio.

She was talking about how communities need to pull together in these times austerity and support one another.

I was reminded of something Margaret Thatcher said about there being no such thing as community.

I don’t have any family or friends and Christmastime especially is a very difficult time of year for me where I feel isolated and excluded. Even the “carelines” which used to scroll across the television for desperate people to call over Christmas no longer appear. The only contacts I have are non personal ones such as paying a bill or going to the shops.

I have lived on my street for 12 years and I do not know the name of a single neighbour. I am sure that this is by no means exceptional.

People do not get involved with each other, it is a transient area with people moving on and there are frequent disruption and arguments, anti social behaviour such as disputes over drink and noise nuisance.

If the community isn’t my neighbours who do not know I exist, where exactly is the community I am supposed to belong to? Does anyone actually know?

On Christmas Eve I called in my local cafe and was reminded of how much an outsider I am as I heard people wishing each other “all the best” whilst songs were playing on the radio about “having fun” and not having enough room for all the relatives.

I tried to call in my local church to say a prayer but this was locked, a sign of the times.

The whole message of Christmas about peace, goodwill and togetherness has been lost. There is an ever growing culture of “individualism”. Rather than the “Big Society” David Cameron had talked of, people are concerned with protecting their own interests. A recent British Social Attitudes Survey bears this out.

We are not all in this together. Rather than sticking together, the Government rhetoric of attacking the most vulnerable members of society such as the sick and disabled as “benefit scroungers” for example has actually undermined communities as people turn on each other and people who are not lucky enough to be part of a family such as me are left out in the cold.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year Lonely at Christmas

Comments (2)

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10:41am Thu 5 Jan 12

johnpopham says...

I find this a very sad story.

Personally, I think it's much easier these days to avoid this kind of loneliness. Online social networking gives access to millions of potential contacts and even friends. So, I would say to the person who wrote this, get online and start talking to the world. You may think you are the kind of person who doesn't like computers, but the benefits are so great that I think there is a massive incentive to overcome that. And, if you think that online networking could never be as good as face-to-face meetings, then take heart from the fact that I and many others have met hundreds of people who have become real friends through initial online contacts.

So, get on Facebook or Twitter; or sign up to a site like Wordpress.com and use blogging (a kind of online diary) to tell the world your thoughts. You will be surprised how many people are interested in what you have to say. There's a fantastic group of people at http://oursociety.or
g.uk who are thinking about the future of communities. That could be a good place to start your rewarding journey online.
I find this a very sad story. Personally, I think it's much easier these days to avoid this kind of loneliness. Online social networking gives access to millions of potential contacts and even friends. So, I would say to the person who wrote this, get online and start talking to the world. You may think you are the kind of person who doesn't like computers, but the benefits are so great that I think there is a massive incentive to overcome that. And, if you think that online networking could never be as good as face-to-face meetings, then take heart from the fact that I and many others have met hundreds of people who have become real friends through initial online contacts. So, get on Facebook or Twitter; or sign up to a site like Wordpress.com and use blogging (a kind of online diary) to tell the world your thoughts. You will be surprised how many people are interested in what you have to say. There's a fantastic group of people at http://oursociety.or g.uk who are thinking about the future of communities. That could be a good place to start your rewarding journey online. johnpopham
  • Score: 0

11:46am Thu 5 Jan 12

buryreader says...

you don't state your age, but there are community centres and social clubs for older people in particular, you could become a volunteer, do a course at education centre involving a hobby.
You would meet people and be less lonely.
The fact you have no friends indicates you do not get involved in anything. whilst at the same time judging others for the same thing. friendship is a 2 way street, people will not come knocking on your door. If you want to be part of the wider community you have to make an effort.
you don't state your age, but there are community centres and social clubs for older people in particular, you could become a volunteer, do a course at education centre involving a hobby. You would meet people and be less lonely. The fact you have no friends indicates you do not get involved in anything. whilst at the same time judging others for the same thing. friendship is a 2 way street, people will not come knocking on your door. If you want to be part of the wider community you have to make an effort. buryreader
  • Score: 0

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