Sunday, 17 May 2015

Save Your Library

It was my niece’s 1st birthday last week, bless her! My sister had arranged a little do at the Newbridge Memo. Stepping away from the cuteness of babies, I started to walk around the building. With Newbridge being our hometown, I think its safe to say that it is dear to lots of people. I hadn't explored it properly since its recent refurbishment, the library, ballroom and cinema is brilliant. I would urge anyone to go there and support it. They have done a great job.

Walking around I saw this poem on the landing heading up to the first floor.

We do not ask you to remember us, 
you have your lives to live as we had ours,
and ours we spent on life not memory.
We only ask you this - that you live well, 
here, in the places that our labour built,
here, beneath the sky we seldom saw, 
here, on the green earth whose black vein we mined 
and feel the freedom that we could not find. 

The Memo, was built and run by miners who felt they had a responsibility to educate the community they lived in; they didn't have universal education back then. Many Stutes, Libraries and Community Centres have been created for this reason.

So, are we free?

Here are some fancy stats for you, the 2010 National Survey of Adult (16-65) Skills in Wales showed that 51 per cent of adults were assessed to have Entry Level or below numeracy, 12 per cent of adults were assessed to have Entry Level or below literacy, and surprise surprise literacy and numeracy levels were lower among the unemployed.

We live in a society in which the necessity to have basic numeracy and literacy is essential in order to work and live. The library is a place for personal study, applying for jobs, free books to lend if you can't afford them, using computers, taking the kids, having a quiet half hour, finding out about local services. A way of keeping a society down is by leaving people to remain uneducated. Freedom is found through equality; an educated society is a more equal society. As you can see from the statistics, people at the bottom remain to be left behind. What are we and the local Council going to do about this? 

Well for starters, the Cardiff Council in which I live under at the moment, thinks the best idea is to close Roath Library….you what?! They have also thought the best course of action to take is to cut 90% of Youth Work in Cardiff.

The council want to tackle this literacy inequality by closing a free establishment that allows people from all backgrounds to develop their skills, skills like, oh I don’t know, LITERACY through having access to a plethora of knowledge and wisdom at their feet. Whilst doing this, they have also cut a service that focuses on facilitating personal, social and educational growth in young people to help them reach their full potential in society.

This is crazy talk. I found out yesterday at the brilliant anti-austerity march in Cardiff, (run by Cardiff’s People’s Assembly, links below) that activists have been campaigning very hard to prevent the closure of Cardiff libraries, they thought they had won until Cardiff Council went back on their word just after the election.

Closing this library and putting others in jeopardy would be failing the dreams of so many working people before us. Generations of ordinary people, who hoped that one day, people could live freely and live well. Closing an educative building that enables people to do so is a disgrace.

A Mass Read-In-Protest has been organised to take place on Wednesday 20th May at 6pm at Roath Library. I hope that people from Cardiff and beyond will support this. People are being robbed in front of our eyes, we have to protect and reclaim what is ours.

Save Roath Library! - Mass Read-In Protest -

Cardiff People’s Assembly -

Newbridge Memo -

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Finding Hope in Marching

The Tories are in power, elected by a minority of voters with a majority of seats....I know...what a shady democracy we live in.   I've developed a sleeping problem since Dimbleby unveiled the exit polls, when Cameron's face was projected on the side of the BBC studios **shudder**.  Sat in my little Cardiff flat with dawn approaching, I realised that soon enough that cruel blue manifesto will become a reality, with an added cruel cherry on top.  How are citizens going to cope? Yes, citizens, not chavs, not scroungers, not idiots, not migrants, not scum, citizens.  

Like many young people, I supported the Green Party with full gusto! I put a poster up in work and my facebook page looked like the ruddy Amazon rain forest!  I didn't come to supporting Green's lightly, I understood why people were going to tactically vote and I was afraid to vote with my heart myself in fear of this electoral conclusion.  Despite this, there was a part of me that thought, how can people disagree with these amazing green policies? A lot of people were going to vote green and we were going to see the beginning of change, a beginning to the return to Socialism (even better, Eco-Socialism).  A society based on compassion and fairness with the end of hedonism as we know it. Like many young people, my naivety got the better of me.     
In power is a party that hates young people, that demonizes, that ignores us.  Cameron during a Tory Conference referred to the young as idle and 'choosing' a life on the that time I was one of those 1 million young creatures.  During that time I was low, and I was one of the lucky ones, I had people around me.  The number 5 bus every Wednesday to the jobby was a struggle and I saw many sad young faces on those trips, heads down and quiet.  Altogether I spent a year jobless and 6 months on a work scheme, I can tell you one thing, young people aren't choosing anything mate.  I'm not trying to share a sob story, this is what people are facing but for lots it’s much worse. 

I read a book once about the life of a South Wales former miner, describing what it was like starting out mining as a young lad.  In order for young miners to learn the ropes, and for health and safety reasons they were given an older mentor that would look after them, to protect them really. Nowadays, I find young people are left unprotected and are seen as a scary burden, you nearly always need to have 'experience' in doing anything but without someone investing time, effort and faith (a.k.a money) in you, experience is never going to be gained.  I don't know whether they believe in self-fulfilling prophecy either but they should really think about how they treat their young. If you are treated like a menace, you become the menace.  

I feel that the young generation for a while has felt hopeless...looking in on society. Not affording a home, not being allowed housing benefit, being in debt from the get go and so on...with this extra brutal party in power now, it’s looking bleaker not just on young people but on all ordinary souls.

I had to do something.  I heard on facebook and twitter that Cardiff People's Assembly were holding an anti-austerity march.  I was a bit nervous but when I arrived I thought, thank f***, there are people who are sticking up for the young, the old, the disabled, the poor, thank f*** I have found a speck of humanity in this ever individualistic and money fuelled society. I bloody loved it.  A community that is pissed off too, a community that will not conform to these harsh decisions of austerity.  Across the country we have seen thousands organising.  In Bristol, an anti-austerity march was organised by group of A level students.  The young are angry and refuse to be ignored anymore.  

I watched an interview with Tony Benn today on You-Tube, he said that the greatest strength of the right is apathy.  If people are apathetic about change 'what's the point in marching, voting, blah blah blah' it'll never achieve anything, it’s a brilliant way of keeping a society down.  But he said that the greatest strength of the left is confidence and hope.  Confidence that you will change society from the ground up...through organisation, through unity, through peaceful protesting.   I believe that young people will play a big part in this.   I hope that people of all ages will join Cardiff People's Assembly march on Saturday 16th May at 1pm by the Nye Bevan statue on Queen's Street to begin this long journey.

I'm new to all this marching lark, I’m not the brightest and I'm only now beginning to invest my time into activism, but I’ve decided to use my voice and everyone should too. I'm a new wide-eyed marching ant and I hope that makes some sort of positive difference. 

 Lots of love.