Thursday, 12 February 2015

Waking up to what we have before it's too late

There is another wonderful tool that has proved useful here in Beit Jala though – that of Google Translate. I know it is not without its wonderful mistakes that can give rise to amusing moments of misunderstanding, however, for someone in a foreign land with no useful command of the language being used by everyone else, it has proved useful when communicating with the children and their parents with whom I have been ‘working’ over these past days.

In the evenings, I have been going up onto the Ward to play games with the children. Although there are some books and toys available, the parents are tired and lacking in energy, and the children are, in various ways unable to access many of these resources either through being in a wheelchair or unable to move so easily on their own, being unable to read on their own, or concentrate for long periods of time. And so, for a bit of light relief (I hope), I have gone to play with the children, ‘chat’ with the parents and generally be around. Google translate, with its useful tool of being able to listen to the translation has been so useful as it has allowed for me to ‘say’, “See you tomorrow.” or, “I hope you sleep well.”

There is good work going on here – and I have had some small insight into a small amount of it… from Speech Therapy for children and adults (following on from Brain Surgery or a Stroke or (tragically for a young child) the accidental introduction of a small bubble of oxygen into the blood stream during a routine scan procedure) to Stimulation Therapy for children and adults too. I know that all of this work goes on in the UK – and I come to realise increasingly how we are amazingly fortunate we in the UK are to have the NHS to support all who need it when they need it.

Now I had thought to restrain myself from a quasi-political diatribe about the funding cuts to the NHS and other Services – but I can’t.

Over the years, various UK Governments, whilst varying the Tax Bands, have not actually increased Income Tax all that much. I am glad that those on lower incomes are released from the burden of paying Tax, but the money to pay for the NHS etc has to come from somewhere and the promise of lower Tax overall does nothing to ensure that increased costs (required either through inflation or demand) are actually met through what is being brought in. Many say that they are worse off than in the past, but how many of them buy a coffee each day or so from one of the High Street coffee shops or have an iphone or a 4x4 gas guzzler vehicle when, in actual fact, a smaller car would suffice? How many women have their nails done, or hair coloured, whilst claiming that they can’t afford to shop anywhere other than Lidl or Asda? (Personally, I don’t mind Asda, and find it has a decent range of goods in our local one… Whether they are good employers or not, I can’t comment though.) A good number of people could afford to pay more Income Tax and, if we (all) did, then there would be more money available for Services required. In addition, Groups and Organisations would not be going out of action because there is no funding.

Locally, in Rickmansworth, a group that meets in our Church Centre had the funding cut for their Facilitator of their group. It is a crucial role and, when the cut came, they were given no notice – only a phone message, after the Facilitator had not been present one week, to say that she was not coming back as there was no funding for her post. Along with the funding for the post disappearing, so did the funding for paying for the room. I feel that the work the group does is of vital value, and so does my church community, so now we give them the room for free. Why should we have to do this though? (I assure you, no-one minds, but that is not the point.) If Local Government receives less funding from Central Government, because Central Government is operating some kind of appeasement model for us all that means if taxes are low we will vote any particular party back in, then this is a corrupt model and should be seen for what it is.

I have been working for more than 25 years and have said all my working life that I would rather pay an extra 1p or 2p in each pound so that there is money to be used for the good of all. If everyone paid this small amount more, then there would be money to spare, and more.

In a world where the global is increasingly local, through news and media, we in the UK we should comprehend the value of what we have and work to maintain its place in our society. It wouldn’t take much, just a bit more honesty and integrity and everyone taking responsibility as to the price for medical care, social care and education for all.

Rant over.

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