We had an article published over the weekend highlighting my thoughts on how all the political parties are addressing issues close to our hearts here at Changing Lives. I feel very strongly that we have to make a stand for our clients and shine a spotlight on issues that many politicians are just choosing to ignore.
Increasingly, I am frustrated by Westminster politicians focused on winning marginal seats – but ignoring the needs of the most marginalised. What we need are real policies for real issues and I really do believe politicians of all parties have systematically failed to address the problems our most vulnerable citizens contend with.
One of our main issues affecting our client group is the rise of the so called, legal highs; they must be banned immediately to save the lives of many vulnerable and young people we work with. We also need a work programme that really works and not one where the prime contractors feel our client group is too difficult to work with (or difficult to get paid for). The next Government must also crack down on the cynical use of zero-hours contracts, which many of our clients, once they have found what they believe to be full-time work, are actually given.
So far we’ve seen glimpses of a few good ideas from the major parties; the Conservative commitment to address drug and alcohol addiction or Labour’s plans to abolish the bedroom tax and make legal highs illegal. But in reality, when, if ever will these actually be made law? Especially with the real possibility of another coalition government.
No single party has even got close to talking about the biggest issue in this election – help for the ever growing numbers of vulnerable and impoverished. People in our society are being forced to choose between heating their home or feeding their family – and this just isn’t right.
We can debate the figures until we are blue in the face – whether the economic upturn is really here, or whether the failing unemployment numbers are down to real jobs or just more zero hours contracts but the bottom line is that in the last five years things have got much tougher for our clients – less jobs, less services and less money, but more sanctions, more poverty and more distress.
We have to start giving the people we work with a voice which is heard. The most vulnerable in society are often forgotten about or they are given a label by others. But we know everybody deserves a second or third or fourth chance and we will be pushing the Westminster elite to address the issues that really affect the people we work with day in and day out – helping us together to change lives.