the United State of mental health in the UK

Last month the UK government announced an increase in mental health funding by 1.3 billion.  This should be welcomed news, but I have my doubts.  The total disregard and intentional underfunding of the NHS means I can’t help but wonder whether this is just another tactic to stop us thinking about Grenfell or DUP rather then a true calling of the Conservative government…but on the positive, London  (Feel free to insert your town name here.) needs every extra penny it can get to tackle mental health issues.

You see London (Feel free to insert your town name here.) is a hotbed of insanity.  The fast pace, isolation, exhilaration, inequality, anonymity, poverty and riches make it a head fuck prime location.  Behind closed doors and touch screens people are falling apart.

If in any doubt, take an early morning stroll along Brixton High Street.  You’ll see that full blown, in your face, well recognised “madness”.    At the lights you’ll see Rough Looking Guy shouting at the top of his voice in the middle of the road, daring drivers to go on and kill him then.  Look to your left and see White Laydee (sic) a women in her fifties, with a white emulsion painted face perfectly colour matched to her white lace ballgown.  Hanging out on the corner you’ll see a lady I call “Elsa”, who, regardless of the weather, wears a bikini and so for most of the year must be frozen.

But when I think of the people above, I wonder whether there actions are a result of a clinical mental illness?  I don’t know their stories, or diagnosis’ but would there behaviour be classified in the DSM?  Or is it just that the pressures of life have been so traumatic that they just snapped and no longer wanted to play the game by the conventional rules?   The stresses and strains of living in London; (Feel free to insert your town name here.) with its austerity cuts, institutionalised racism, housing crisis, £7:00 coffees and food banks are immense.  With many Londoners struggling to “keep their heads above water”, are we always just one job restructure away from losing it?

So perhaps if the government is really dedicated to improving the mental health of the London and the nation as a whole,  it should look to healing a broken society crippled by uncertainty, fear, rising financial difficulties and debt.

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the free

Our world feels unstable at the moment. Brexit. Trump. Backstabbing. Resignations. Scapegoats. Uturns. New Laws. Innocents murdered. Victims villianised. Cognitive dissonance.

I can’t keep watching the news and hearing people talk of not being racist then proceeding to find excuses for condoning the murder of a black person by an officer sworn to uphold the law.

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But I’m not racist…

… the KKK hood wearing, Confederate flag waving, violent thug who loves nothing more than to hang out with his/her mates burning crosses, and killing black people- type of racist.

The extremely overt type of racist that frees society from the guilt of ignoring and benefitting from the inequalities and discrimination in our society, whilst proudly proclaiming..

I’m not a racist!

But unless you are actively making a stand against racism – you are supporting the institutionally racist society in which we all live.

I know I’m not saying anything new (and many have said it far more eloquantly than I ever could) but I will not stand at the side quietly: We must not stand at the side quietly.  We must bring about the change, we are change.

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BH xx

Links to articles who have said this far better than I:

 

http://occupywallstreet.net/story/explaining-white-privilege-broke-white-person

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/11-things-white-people-can-do-be-real-anti-racist-allies

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/07/oscar-pistorius-sentence-an-homage-to-celebrity-and-white-privilege

http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

https://aeon.co/essays/unconscious-racism-is-pervasive-starts-early-and-can-be-deadly

https://www.buzzfeed.com/michaelblackmon/17-harrowing-examples-of-white-privilege-9hu9?utm_term=.trlEZvWzX#.hkM27NkwZ

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/06/alton-sterling-address-police-violence

 

http://jezebel.com/a-black-woman-police-officer-calls-out-racist-cops-in-h-1783271684

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15796700-americanah

https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/08/27/the-racial-empathy-gap/

Scapegoat Britain

Utter disbelief.

The results of the London mayoral elections lulled me into a false sense of security.   A belief that the British could not be fooled by racial propaganda or scapegoating.

I was fooled by common consensus in social and wider circles and the general sense of bewilderment at the hypothetical nature of the Brexit “political” arguments…and well common sense.

“Only in America could Donald Trump be taken seriously”

Cue terribly British laugh, smug face and amused shake of the head.

donald-trump-30

Only now we are leaving the EU.

Nigel Farage has successfully convinced millions of ordinary people that it is best for Britain to leave the European Union.

nfarage

We were all  in total shock in the staff room this morning; but this isn’t reflective of the situation across England.  I live and work in London and London like most other major cities is cosmopolitan. Immigrants (pronounced average human beings) of all skin colours and origins call London their home, living and working side by side us true Brits.

It is impossible to convince me that my “immigrant” colleagues are the reason that this government is dismantling the NHS, selling off our school system or destroying the Unions.  But to that slim majority that voted #brexit, that shadowy figure of the “immigrant”, who they have never met, is the perfect scape goat. A voiceless devil who is the reason for any misery and discomfort in their lives.  No need to look within (figuratively and literally), it’s much easier to blame the illusive immigrant.

meme

Except

Now we have left the EU, who will have to blame? Maybe, just maybe #teambrexit will begin to see the bigger picture and start to ask questions like: Who really is at fault for the state of our economy and public sector?

(Maybe this is why Cameron resigned?)

Or

Once #teambrexit realise that the dream of returning to the Glory Days was a lie, (Or as Farage declared on morning television a simple printing error) they will have to accept that the true fault lies much closer to home.

Or perhaps

We will just find the next shadowy figure to blame..

Anyway

Welcome one and all to Scapegoat Britain!

What would you do if you had two homeless people living inside your gas cupboard?

What would you do if you had two homeless people living in your gas cupboard? 

Stepping outside of my front door this morning, I was greeted by a shiny Maserati sparkling in the early morning light.  As I drifted off, wondering which “new Brixton” resident was trying to muscle in on parking this time, the stench of rotting food and sweat dragged me back to reality.

It was the two men in their early twenties who are living in the external gas cupboard infront of our house.  It sounds like fiction, but this isn’t Harry Potter. 

It’s the daily co-habiting extremes of New Brixton…  New Peckham – Wilesdon    -Walthamstow.  New London.  

Many articles talk of the social cleansing of London: but neglect to mention those left behind or over looked.   This is what the growing disparities between rich and poor looks and smells like when you live in it.  

Ignoring the mice, rotting food, urine filled plastic bottles and beer cans – the stench will tell you that the two men live in squalor.  A lifestyle a million miles away from the owner’s of the car worth in the region of £60,000 which is parked less than 1 metre away from the makeshift bed of the homeless men. 

Although I’ve never been inside the cupboard, I know that it mirrors that of the one inside our home.  Maximum, 150cm wide possibly 300cm long.  Not big enough for the discarded mattress that they managed to fit in there, let alone two grown men.  One person’s closet is another person’s home.  Literally.  Again the disparities of London.  

But if only it was just a financial disparity.  When researching how to help the two men,  I stumbled across a homeless forum.  Battling opinions greeted me.   A homeless person was either seen as a victim or villian.

 “I’d just call the police and your building management company. The doorway is almost certainly private property.”

“I wouldn’t even feel bad. If he is sleeping in a doorway (of all places) he is knowingly antagonising the building’s occupants. My guess is that he is hoping for someone to give him a big bag of charity beddings and food (like has been suggested in this thread many times now), in exchange for leaving. DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING. He will just move to another building. Contact a charity for him if you feel bad – but don’t enable what he is doing either.”

 The lack of empathy was astounding.   It seemed to contradict the public outcry condemning poor doors, homeless spikes and other designs aiming to segregate poor and wealthy residents in new housing developments across London.  I remember reading articles heralding “hipsters”* turning anti homeless spikes into libraries with comfy seating.

Hoorah for Hipsters!

But where did the “hipsters” involved actually live?  Would they have made such a stand on their own door step?

Have you ever walked into a “hipster” bar as a non-hipster? The inconvenience your presence causes stabs at your dignity almost as deeply as the bill for buzz word bar food hits your wallet.  But why does the presence of some make others feel so uncomfortable?  Because it is a reminder of the other side of London.

The side of London that is replaced every time a new luxury apartment development is built on hardcore made of the social housing which once stood on the same spot.  If you have purchased a new “luxury apartment” in inner London recently, it is very likely that your new pad displaced a low income family.   It is an uncomfortable truth.  A truth which taints the aspirational image sold with the luxury apartment purchase.  A truth preferably ignored and forgotten by wealthy residents and developers alike.

How would you feel if a homeless person slept in your door way?

BH xx

 

 

 *After researching the piece further I discovered the “hipsters” were actually a group of artists, who have also been priced out of housing in London.  So not actual “hipsters”but people who face and understand the financial pressures of housing in London.

ishare. weshare. YOUSHARE.

I was delighted to receive an email today to say that my post The N word had been featured on the YouShare Project.

youshare-website-logo-sept-16-20151

 

The stories that shape us…

The N word is definitely a story that has shaped me.

What stories have shaped you?

Find many more inspirational and thought provoking stories from across the globe..and maybe even the odd one from a small corner in Brixton.

http://www.youshareproject.com/the-n-word/

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amen for JC (Jeremy Corbyn)

It’s been almost a year since my last post and it’s not really a coincidence that my little, no longer a baby, baby has just turned one. But I cannot put the blame for my lethargic state solely on the babe.

Wading through the daily sludge of fad humanism (I think we are still on only welcoming a la mode refugees?) and the brutal everyday reminders of the social cleansing of London, I’ve been a devoted follower of the Church of Escapism.  Spending sacred down time scouring the property pages, I became an extremist addicted to all More 4 house porn programming. Escape to the country. Another country. Escape.

But something enticed me to change the channel.

The results of the labour leader election was a very welcome surprise. A break from the political monotony which has plagued our country since Blair proclaimed This Is New Labour.

Certainly to early to say it has restored my faith in our political system, it has at least offered me a glimmer of a hope for the future. A society who recognises and nurtures the human side of our nature.

#TeamCorbyn all the way
 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DgMl9qBTBq0

 

 

Vote For Me and other stories

The story is based around two children Alex and Evie. Alex’s parents support the Stripy Party and Evie’s the Spotty Party.  No spoilers however, you’ll simply have to read the book to find out who wins..  The story uses simple  language and child friendly illustrations to introduce key aspects of the election process including canvassing, voting and results night.  The Election is a great conversation starter for parents and teachers to introduce political concepts to the future rulers of the world.

#BringBackOurGirls 100 days later

Over the past 100 days I have:

pottered in my garden.

tweeted.

helped my husband lay new flooring.

written school reports.

protested for Palestine.

bitched with friends.

received flowers.

been overdrawn.

attended a street festival.

laid in the sunshine.

argued with loved ones.

bought new artwork.

laughed.

witnessed the dashed hopes and dreams of a nation.

taught Zumba to my class.

cried.

received callaloo and cabbage seeds from a stranger.

hoovered (ok I’m not fooling anyone) hoovered.

listened to my unborn baby’s heartbeat.

felt fat.

stalked on Facebook.

watched a human chess match.

daydreamed.

found it impossible to sleep.

eaten Nandos.

watched TV.

participated in a treasure hunt.

joined the TEDx Brixton event team.

had a pedicure.

rushed to hospital.

attended a beautiful wedding.

Over the past 100 days the Chibok girls have:

?

How quickly the world forgets. ©Sarah Peace
How quickly the world forgets. Photograph S Peace ©

Yesterday marked 100 days since the girls were kidnapped from Chibok Girls Secondary School in Nigeria by the group Boko Haram.  In the 100 days since the kidnapping the people of Chibok have continued to face daily assaults from the terrorist group; 11 parents of the kidnapped girls have since died in the fighting.  

 

 

We have no idea if their daughters know of their death.

We have no idea if their daughters are still alive.  

We have no idea.

#BringBackOurGirls

We must keep the pressure up and continue to ask questions and demand that they #BringBackOurGirls.

To find out about how you can show your support visit: https://www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls?

The Domestic Goddess Within…..

As I open a bag of treats that my mother has brought over, I can’t help but smile… Amongst gardening books and baby grows, a goddess gazes up at me.

Has the sun set on the domestic goddess?
Has the sun set on the domestic goddess?

The Original Housewife…  Recent problems aside, this women has shaped how many British women view their role in society….

Domestic Goddess: noun, informal

A woman with exceptional domestic skills, especially one who excels at cookery and preparing meals.

…I am not one of them, yet I admire any person who is highly skilled, motivated and passionate about what they do.

And the self titled Domestic Goddess, Nigella, is not alone in her passion for domestic supremacy.  We are in a time when classic DG skills like baking, knitting, gardening, sewing, and cooking are all making a revival – Dare I say it they are “#trendy”. Just look at BBC programming for examples.

It seems that everybody wants a slice (or at least an amuse bouche) of that old Domestic Goddess life.

Pushing nostalgia and 1950s fashion lusts aside, that life was due to necessity and not as glamorous as many companies, the BBC or Mad Men would have us believe.  Fortunately, as society changed, gender roles became more undefined and technology adapted to suit, freeing DGs to step through the Stepford gates onto the world stage.  As society and technology progressed so did the Domestic Goddess.  Her skill set diversified; baking alongside banking, motherhood alongside management, all to achieve the relentless goal of finding a balance between her responsibilities, aspirations, commitments and dreams.

In this blog I salute  a couple of the domestic Goddesses that have inspired me.

1) My Mother  This I’m sure is no surprise.  Studies show that it is the mothers achievements that play the most significant role in determining the aspirations of offspring.  From as early as I can remember my mother has worked, and I mean worked hard, yet still found time and energy to be spontaneous and caring.  She has shown me how to be determined and focused yet still find the work/life balance.

2) Boudicca Boudicca was queen of the Iceni people of Eastern England and led a major uprising against occupying Roman forces, and I had an absolute fixation with her when I was 6.  I think she was officially my first girl crush.  Obsessed, I pleaded with my mum to call me Boadicea, slightly different from the name change requests I receive from my students now… Although before I get all “the youth of today” my love of Boudicca originally spawned from a children’s television programme called Bill the Minder, in which the main character’s little sister was called Boadicea.

3) Josephine Baker To a fifteen year old girl, the autobiography of Josephine Baker read like a film script; a poor girl finds fame and becomes America’s first African American millionaire, moves to France, joins the resistance, becomes a spy, then in later life aims to overcome racism by becoming mother to her Rainbow Tribe of adopted children from around the world… Maybe Ms Jolie is also a fan.

4) Minna Salami In a small, sweaty dance studio in 2008, I met Minna shaking her thang to the Brazilian beat.  I couldn’t believe this beautiful, intelligent women was so humble… And brave.. Quitting her successful profession as a graphic designer, she declared her passion to become a writer and within a year Ms Afropolitan was born.

5) Benazir Bhutto Hearing my mothers childhood reminisces of how it was normal for her mother to pace “respectfully” behind her Pakistani husband along the cold East London streets, I knew that a women becoming the prime minister of Pakistani was an incredible feat.

6) Margaret Thatcher (Ok so I would not call her a goddess but…) A while ago I was asked whether I thought Barack Obama would really make a difference to the lives of young black boys, which lead me to the rather uncomfortable conclusion that the milk snatcher had inadvertently empowered and inspired a young mixed race girl from Peckham. Now I’m sure this was never her aim.  But she knocked down barriers for me that I never even knew existed. Growing up I never thought it was particularly impressive to have a lady as prime minister, in fact it was my norm.  If I wanted to become prime minister when I grew up, no big deal.  What I have learnt from this is that you never know who you inspire just by doing your job, also never assume that you have nothing to gain from somebody you despise.

With a couple more to add, the question I pose to you is..

Who has inspired you?

BH xx