A response to Alan Sugar’s remarks that those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn have no life experience.
Dear Mr Sugar-Rush,
My life experience began as a child when my parents began fostering children and young adults that had suffered years of abuse from neglect to physical and sadly sexual abuse. Those children were emotionally damaged through their experiences, having been let down by a system that only now we realise promoted abuse and protected abusers. When I was a teenager I had a wake up call by being at Warrington, the Messenger News Paper dispute, where your mate Eddie Shah was using the police to attack the printers and break the strike. I saw the police, who up until that point I trusted in a whole new light. The attacked the peaceful crowd by first kicking the lit braziers in towards the protesters then charging with horses, batons and riot shields. Thatchers ‘Army’.
I left school with little and initially started a YTS for £25 a week. It felt like a lot of money then but sadly in reality was not. It did however equate to far more in real terms than school leavers can expect to earn today.
I then went to college – free for me to chose and with a small grant. I was coaxed away though by yet another job, this time at 16 wiping the bottoms of old people. I worked in a very un-regulated industry, that of Nursing and Care homes. At 16 I was often left alone with fifteen high need residents by the owners. I was asked to carry out personal care on both men and women, including bathing and yes as I mentioned wiping their bums after they had soiled themselves.
I then went on a community Program which paid a little more than the YTS. I worked for Keep Britain Tidy. I actually loved this job and left with more toil than I could take. I met friends there I still call friend. I even went on GMR radio dressed as a dustbin.
I then was romanced by the idea of running my own business. I saw a hole in the market for selling seconds of pottery. I got a loan and joined the young enterprise scheme. Sadly at that point I had no business experience. I was not as you see it ‘cutthroat’ enough. I was naive but honest. So after 18 months of trading I went under. Luckily my parents were supportive. Throughout this time I was also voluntarily working in youth clubs, trying to make kids lives on economically deprived estates a little better.
I then went working in a factory making belts and braces for up market shops. The owners, two brothers were cutthroat despite their evangelical beliefs. We worked 50hr weeks for a pittance in conditions that were akin to Delhi sweat shops. Health and safety was non existent.
After that i got out to drive buses. It was at the start of privatisation and even though our pay was lower than that of the old council corporation drivers it was still hugely better than the sweat shop. I earned £125 pw driving at first a Little Gem then a £145 driving a busy Bee. I drove all round Manchester and later Wales for Crosville Cymru, Derbyshire for Trent, and back in Manchester. I ended my bus driving career after many years of doing late buses in areas that the police saw as ‘no go’. After incidents where I had guns pointed at me, my bus shot at by a sniper and knives being the norm. Guess what though? I loved this job. Why? Because amongst all the nastiness I still would manage to get the whole bus singing ‘pack up your troubles’ in the middle of a Manchester Rush Hour. That’s why.
I then fell into Children’s Residential Care, children’s homes to you. I worked for a local authority first as a relief RSW (residential social worker) then as a trouble shooter, going into units where there were no staff other than home helps seconded in due to the regular staff being off sick due to stress or sever assault. Yep kids can hurt you, especially a fifteen year old with a baseball bat or a kitchen knife.
I then took my social work qualification (yep despite being told I was thick and a duffer at school i passed this) and began working firstly as a social worker in a therapeutic unit for what were thought of as ‘the most damaged kids’ by the local authorities, but actually were generally strong and with a little support very well balanced children and young adults. I have the honour to still know some as adults and am proud to do so.
From there I went into Child Protection. That’s not working just with the children, its also investigating and assessing their abusers. It is a dangerous, thankless and difficult job. Often the hardest thing is remaining professional with people that most in society would not only condemn but would hang from the nearest lamp post.
I have gone into houses with no armour on my body, no gun, mace, CS gas or baton, with just my ID badge and a pen, to find people with machine guns, pistols, knives, drugs, gangs but that is part of the job. I have been refused police assistance because it was ‘too dangerous for an officer to attend’. I have ended a police siege without any support beyond armed response snipers behind me.
I am not remarkable or alone in this. Its what social workers do every day. But if we make a mistake then we are the ones vilified. We do this for the money you would likely have in your pocket for a night out. We do it in reality because we care and it our self worth, our morality.
None of that however is the hard part. The hardest part is having a child disclose what an adult, a sibling, a parent, a teacher, a family friend has done to them. How they have had their childhood taken from them. How they were betrayed by people that should prioritise and love them unconditionally. The hard part is removing a child or children from a parent or parents that do love them but cannot sustain their ability to parent.
Mr Sugar-Rush you try to look hard faced on TV, but could you sit and explain to a mother whilst looking into her eyes that has just given birth that you are now taking her baby. That she will never see that child again? I reckon not.
Well now though still registered as a social worker, ill health has took its toll. I cannot work at the moment and have had three years of what to me has been hell. I lost all self worth and value. I still see myself as useless and am guilty of being ill. Even more guilty of living on the days I do not feel as ill.
I wake each day with the hope I can find a way out, can get back into the ‘society’ I crave. Not yours with big cars and big houses, shouting and bullying people, no that does not appeal at all, I want to feel I have a purpose and an doing some good. That’s what I want Mr Sugar-Rush.
So please do not assume that because I am a socialist, because I support ant voted for Jeremy Corbyn that I have no ‘life experience’. I find that offensive, derogatory and shows you to be extremely misinformed.
I am not a great financial success, I do not measure my worth in money, cars, houses, watches, suits or power. My worth is in the lives I saved, the people I helped and those given the chance I will help again. That is my worth and the worth of many millions of others. I hold you in the same contempt you hold me. So maybe either keep your uneducated views to yourself or even better try to give up on your greed and help a few (or in your case many) people instead.