Dickensian times return for children

December 30, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

 

 

By

Hazel Speed

What a dreadful and sad indictment there are so many children sleeping rough in the UK, Oliver Twist being reenacted in real terms in 2016.

It is unbelievable and incredulous and creates a sense of moral outrage that the UK Government, already neglecting adult homelessness in terms of real solutions, is now permitting the state of affairs where children are also sleeping rough.

One cannot conceive of anyone, any age, feeling dejected and alone, sleeping rough and living at risk from attacks, (rape and murder), being cold and hungry, nowhere to wash or go to the toilet anywhere in dignity and privacy, with clean soap and water, towels, a fresh change of clothes then hearty meals, but children who sleep rough are even more at risk from sexual predators and adult slavery as well.

Now, apparently, local Councils are opting out of certain responsibilities to assure rights of children and it is a postcode lottery so a child is at the mercy of where they live or don’t really ‘live’ if they are eligible for help.

Wake up all you politicians, from where do you search for your sense of priorities – your cold hearts or your political career prospects?

You will be accountable for your inaction one day and if any of you have children of your own, can you not empathise – what if it were your child or your grandchild, niece or nephew?

In Victorian England, children were physically sent to climb inside large chimneys of houses and factories to help chimney sweeps. Many became very ill breathing in soot and fumes. Others fell to their deaths and some suffered burns.

No school days or fun for such children who either had no future or an unhappy one and early death. Little creature comforts such as food, clothing or footwear. No NHS in those days either, only the rich could afford medical treatment, though in reality that in itself was more hit and miss relying mostly on historical myths and superstitions such as leeches bleeding the blood of poisons and I have heard tell they are making a comeback to eat the skin surrounding wounds.

Then again more children worked in match factories helping in the production of ordinary matchsticks. Again many died or became ill due to the phosphorus elements which constitute the striking part of the match.

Over a century later we are reverting back to those grim times – children sleeping on the streets, some drug users, also pawn shops have returned in recent times and are in profusion on high streets, families breaking up when jobs are lost, mortgages thereafter being defaulted causing evictions, and predictions of the return of the Work Houses for all age groups – a cruel state-run form of ‘institution’ giving a roof over one’s head in return for no money but a cruel work regime within the walls resulting in no individual freedom or liberties, little food and cruelty either physically, mentally or emotionally.

Many died on their feet working. They took in laundry to do for those who could afford to pay for such services – no washing machines, washing powders or liquids, no hot water just a scrubbing brush, a large tub of water and a scrubbing board. Probably flat irons were used for ironing which had to be heated over coal fires so burns and accidents generally were common and some fatal. All ages from very young to very old those sick or disabled, it made no difference, each had to pull their weight or be thrown out onto the streets.

We must not allow anyone of any age to sleep rough, without basic amenities we all mostly are privileged to be able to enjoy.

So to paraphrase the famous Dickensian phrase from Oliver Twist “Please Mrs May, can we have no more of this!”

 

 

 

 

 

Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: www.thepinkprofessor.com. She has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

Art sites: www.candystoreart.comwww.terrificart.comwww.artbadges.co.uk.

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