‘Boot Out Austerity Marches on in Wales – Austerity Kills’
Events in the past week have seen a step up in the activities of BASW’s Austerity Action Group (which was formed following our 100 mile ‘Boot-Out-Austerity’ walk in April 2017) with two launches of our ‘Activists Campaign Pack’ – one at Salford University and one at Cardiff University.
The pack was inspired by all of the brave and dignified people we met during the 100 mile walk and by a strong belief that we have a choice to be proactive and do something practical to effect a change in Governmental policy and practice.
The campaign pack is a step-by-step guide outlining everything you need to know from organising public meetings, rallies and awareness-raising film nights, to setting up petitions, lobbying and contacting the press. It contains templates for writing letters and information to ensure organisers meet legal requirements in areas such as copyright, licensing and data protection.
The first launch event at Salford University was preceded by a rally at Manchester Museum and a symbolic walk. The walk took us past important landmarks related to past social action in the struggle to achieve better living and working conditions for ordinary people. Some of the landmarks included the sight of the Peterloo Massacre, the People’s History Museum and Salford itself which is the setting for Walter Greenwood’s ‘Love on the Dole’.
The launch in Salford speeches by users of services, an anti-austerity blogger, updates from each of the four nations within the UK, a social work academic, Ben Ashcroft (who recently walked to raise issues relating to looked after children and care leavers in the UK) and Rebecca Long-Bailey, the MP for Salford.
The second launch took place in Cardiff University and was an opportunity to present the campaign pack to a Welsh audience. The Cardiff launch was co-produced with the People’s Assembly Wales, Psychologists for Social Action, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Social Workers Union and Cardiff University. It was a well-attended and vibrant evening, so a big warm thank-you to all speakers and attendees.
Len Arthur (People’s Assembly Wales) spoke cogently about the real cost of austerity policies to the economy in Wales over the past 7 years and how this has impacted on services and users of services. The Peoples’ Assembly Wales wrote to all Assembly Members in the run up to the Westminster budget last month, responses can be viewed at: https://pawalescymru.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/endausteritywales-bilingual-letter-to.htlm
Jen Daffin from Psychologists for Social Action (PSS) spoke about the psychological impact of austerity on people - how cuts to public services link with poor mental health. PSS have identified ‘5 Ailments of Austerity’
1. Humiliation and shame
2. Fear and distrust
3. Instability and insecurity
4. Isolation and lonliness
5. Being trapped and powerless
Trevor Palmer from DPAC, prepared a written statement in which he spoke passionately about his concerns related to the impact austerity has on co-production. Co-production is vital for users of services to achieve voice and control over the design and delivery of services and can also be seen as a way of mitigating against some of the losses that cuts to public services have led to.
During the evening, there was the opportunity to have conversations amongst ourselves, to ask questions and think about how we stay connected. We all resolved to remain in contact and form alliances in our fight against austerity policies – watch this space!
The evenings event was filmed by Thomas from ‘Time and Space Production’ and will be posted as soon as it’s completed.
The campaign pack can be accessed at: http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_60542-4.pdf