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Where was the Big Society at Christmas?
9:35am Thursday 5th January 2012 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
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