Posts Tagged ‘uk’

Trying to make sense of the senseless violence

August 11, 2011

Over the past few days, many people have tried to analyse why the riots started. Many have said that they ‘understand’, even if they do not condone, the way young people in the UK are behaving because they are so ‘detached’ from society.

These thugs (and they seem to be aged between 10-20) are on a rampage smashing up shops, burning down homes and in the tragic event that unfolded last night, killing people in cold bold.

Some argue it is because of the government spending cuts to youth services, because many of these children need help and attention which has supposedly declined since David Cameron was voted in to head up the country.

Government spending cuts have not yet been put in place though, and statistics show British expenditure this year is actually up when compared to the same time frame in 2010.

I believe that instead of the government not giving these youths enough, they have given them too much. These children, most from the poorer end of society, have often been brought up in troubled homes, living on council estates and not having good role models in their lives. The British benefit system is so vast that many do not see the need to work – why bother when you can get given a house for free and an income for nothing?

The younger you are and the more children you have also increases your chance of getting up the free-housing ladder. If you’re an unemployed single mother, your prospects are greater still and it won’t be long before you’ll be getting benefits for your children, your rent paid for, exempt from paying taxes – such as council tax – and even enjoying free dentistry.

Looking at it this way, it is easy to see why many have jumped on the free-ride train.

Unfortunately, getting something for free doesn’t bring many people joy. How can you have appreciation for something if you haven’t worked hard to earn it? How can you feel a sense of purpose when you feel you have nothing to lose or anything to gain?

To say that these people are struggling to get work is a myth too. When I arrived in the UK, excited and disillusioned about the amazing journalism job I believed I would find within two months, it was disheartening when it took two years. Arriving in the middle of the recession meant I had to work in a call centre, become a shoe shiner, and work as a waitress in a diner – basically every scummy job you could think of aside from selling my body.

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t awful and that I didn’t feel like packing up and going home. But I stuck at it and things slowly improved. What this does prove is that even when the UK was in its worst economic state it had seen for decades, during the recession of 2008-2009, jobs were still to be found. They’re always hiring at McDonalds as they say!

When I finally got some money in the door, I even managed a holiday on my minimal budget. But it was the best holiday I’ve ever had because I felt I’d earned it.

As these youths loot stores and steal their neighbours’ goods – many of which are small business owners who will lose their livelihoods as the items are stripped from their shelves – I can’t help but get the feeling that these thugs feel they deserve it.

The government has given them so much already – why not take a little more?

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Good things come to those who wait

May 19, 2010

I’ve had a good week. On Monday I was offered a job as an editor at a business and finance magazine and with glee I accepted it.

After 18 months of living in the UK it finally feels as though my partner and I have finally cracked it and landed good jobs.

Everyone thought we were mad (even we thought we were a bit crazy) to leave perfectly good jobs in Australia at the end of 2008 and move to London. The UK was facing its biggest recession since World War II and there were about two million people out of work – a statistic that we joined.

I won’t lie because it hasn’t been easy getting where we stand today. I worked as a shoe shiner, in a greasy spoons restaurant and in a call centre before I finally got media work. A year and a half later I can look back on those times and laugh but when we were living through it, it wasn’t so great.

We very nearly ran out of money and even had to borrow $200 from my parents to pay the rent one week. I was ashamed to ask for the money because it seemed like admitting failure. But I had to swallow my pride or face being kicked out on the street!

It just goes to show that if you want something badly enough and work hard enough to get it, it will come your way! I’ve really learnt the virtue of patience over the past 18 months – something that I never had before.

Thank goodness things are finally looking up! It’s been a good week!

What Anzac Day means to me

April 26, 2010

War memorial in Leeds

So it was Anzac Day yesterday and I wasn’t feeling well so I missed out on the London celebrations, which was a bit of a bummer. When I told my boyfriend in the morning that I was too sick to go he mumbled that a stomach upset didn’t stop the diggers from fighting for us. Gosh, that made me feel guilty for a Sunday morning!

To me Anzac Day is a day of reflection and appreciation. I reflect on what it must’ve been like for those who fell in Gallipoli and appreciate that they fell for us in order to make our world a safer place. It also makes me think how lucky we are to grow up in a country where there is peace.

My parents grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) when it was peaceful and it was only when my dad was 18 that the Rhodesian Bush War (civil war) began. He was so young and yet all of a sudden he was fighting alongside his best mates, attempting to stop Mugabe coming to power.

As we all know now, Mugabe won that war and continues to rule Zim. It’s so sad and difficult to image a safe place such as Australia, and Rhodesia as it was then, being taken away from you. My parents left soon after the war and never came back. They were one of the lucky ones – I still have family living there.

I can’t imagine myself living in a war-torn place and I certainly can’t imagine my boyfriend going off to war. I know that he would if he had to and that was what it must’ve been like for my dad.

It’s such a brave thing to do. But I know that my dad doesn’t think of himself as brave – it was what he had to do and I know it’s something that will stay with him forever.

So on Anzac Day I think about all of these things and remind myself how lucky I am.

Leeds and York

April 7, 2010

Went to Leeds and York on the weekend. It was great. Here are some images from the trip.

Old enough to go to war but too young to have a beer

February 10, 2010

So news this week is that the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd wants to raise the legal drinking age to 21. I’m not a fan of Rudd (I voted for Howard in the last election, shoot me) and this only deepens my dislike for the man.

I feel that if a person is able to fight in a war, then they should at least be able to have a beer. What Rudd is saying is that 18-year-olds are responsible enough to make decisions on taking someone else’s life on the battlefield, but too irresponsible to have a glass of wine. Something doesn’t seem quite right here.

In America, the drinking age is 21 and yet there is still a problem with youth binge drinking within the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 92 per cent of US adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days. Obviously raising the drinking age to 21 didn’t make these people more responsible drinkers.

I’ll be the first to admit that binge drinking is a problem in Australia. It’s also a problem in the UK. Between 2004 and 2005 in Australia, statistics revealed that one in eight adults drank at risky levels. However, I don’t think that the best way to combat this problem would be to raise the drinking age. Nor do I think raising the tax on ‘alcopops’ would help either. The culture of drinking needs to change before people change their habits.

I lived in France for a year between 2002 and 2003 and during this time I attended many a party. Although there was always alcohol present, never did I see anyone out of control and throwing up in the corner. By contrast, every party I attended throughout high school in Australia there was at least someone being sick. (Including me at times.)I put these differences down to the differences within the two cultures.

In France it is unacceptable, not to mention embarrassing, to get out of control on alcohol. In Australia, people laugh it off and in some ways even encourage rowdiness. If we want to change our binge drinking culture we need to first change our attitudes.

Whatever happens, hopefully the younger generation won’t be as unlucky as my dad – he grew up in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and when he was young the drinking age was 21. But when he turned 21, they lowered it to 18. Ouch.