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SIP Reflection Assessment

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SPI Assessment

B00249702 – Chris Paul


I have been tasked to complete a series of reflections that will aim to explore core ideas in relation to participation and inclusion from my own experience within practice settings in relation to a contemporary issue. My focus will be aiming to display how the Covid-19 global pandemic will exacerbate inequalities witnessed within our society, negatively impacting members of the Inverclyde community who experience deprivation more than those who do not.


I utilised my case study assessment to document my journey of developing Man On! Inverclyde, a peer-support group to support wellbeing, and I will use these experiences within this reflective account. Inverclyde has the highest share of all Scottish councils of individuals and families living in the most deprived areas, with data suggesting the gap between affluent areas and deprived has widened further (Inverclyde HSCP, March 2020), prior to the global pandemic and the devastation this has caused communities.


Ledwith (2020) advises that inequality creates large reductions in wellbeing due to feelings of class inferiority within daily life and the social stresses created as a result. This is something that I view on a regular basis with the members of Man On! Inverclyde who feel a sense of despair and hopelessness on a regular basis, devoid of any opportunities and a fatal lack of hope. Dorling (2018) discusses inequality harming our imagination, leaving people stuck in a rut believing there is no alternative. This was evident at the start of the lockdown, exacerbated by members on low paid / minimum waged jobs being placed on furlough or released from employment.


I engaged with wider organisations, including Financial Fitness and Money Advice, to ensure that our members had the best support available for finances. I worked closely with CVS Inverclyde and accrued £500 from the Inverclyde Community Fund to get devices for members to engage with online supports, such as Zoom. This was important for me to engage with this as I knew all of this could be a real lifeline for the group members. I felt powerless at times and came up against plenty of blocks when engaging with certain organisations, really understanding the frustrations of those who were on their knees financially. We did manage to get there, however this is an ongoing battle to ensure that those who need support are able to get it.


This work corresponds with a number of the CLD Values, notably “inclusion” and “working collaboratively”. equally important to ensure those who require the support are able to participate. I also ensured that this work followed CLD competencies, mainly “facilitate and promote community empowerment”, all directed towards bringing about change through collective action. Following the competency framework, this involves wider interaction across the community, being inclusive across the community and campaigning for change, all of which has been a factor during the lockdown period. This work also follows the 7 National Standards for Community Engagement, including working together, inclusion and support.


Inclusion and participation within a community context is invaluable when attempting to engage those who really require the support, particularly those experiencing levels of deprivation and poverty. By understanding the theories, principles and values before applying them in practice, will provide better opportunities for community engagement.


Klein (2007) argues that governments take advantage of major disasters by using their power to profit and take advantage of the shock experienced within the communities with a theory named “disaster capitalism”. Klein argues that neoliberal free market policies have risen to prominence because of a deliberate strategy of shock therapy during natural disasters or man-made wars, such as Iraq. Disaster capitalism is closely linked with the views of Milton Friedman, an American Economist, who had a strong belief in free-market capitalism. He stated that “only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change” and I believe has close links to the policies and impact of Covid-19 due to those in more deprived areas being disadvantaged disproportionately.


During the initial pandemic period, the UK Conservative Party voted against extending free school meals over the holiday periods to prevent vulnerable children going hungry after a well-publicised campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford to highlight this concern. The same political party have decided to award multi-million-pound coronavirus contracts without competition, refraining from competitive tendering for items such as testing kits and PPE. Critics of this scheme believe that such deals are awarded “to those with political connections”. Lord Bethel, House of Lords, advised that The Department of Health and Social Care has awarded 289 contracts worth a total of £6.1 billion to private companies for test and trace supplies alone, yet they failed to vote through an action that would prevent children living within poverty and deprivation from eating during school holidays.


The Trussell Trust, a UK-based third sector organisation produced a report - “how coronavirus has affected food bank use”, stating that food banks are forecast to give out 6 emergency food parcels a minute this winter, forecasting a 61% increase in food parcels across the UK. The research went on to state that families experiencing poverty with children have been hardest hit, advising that this can be “turned around if this evidence is prioritised and acted upon by government during the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and Budget”. It remains to be seen if the upcoming spending review prioritises those living within poverty and using the opportunity to ensure no child in the UK goes a day without food.


As a community worker on the front-line encouraging participation, inclusion and helping to deliver essential items during the first lockdown phase to families, this is a subject that is personal to me and an area that I am passionate about having experienced poverty as a child growing up in Inverclyde. The theory of disaster capitalism intrigues me as I can now begin to understand how those in power were able to profit from crises times, such as the Iraq war, Grenfell Tower and Hurricane Katrina, and is an area that I will closely follow as we navigate through this pandemic. I have always felt aggrieved at inequality within society and austerity policies punishing the most vulnerable and Klein’s theory really resonates with allowing me to develop a wider understanding of why these policies are in place, whilst giving me a theoretical foundation to challenge this when I see it.


My next focus is going to look at how I am contributing to work against oppression by promoting human rights, equality and social justice, whilst reflecting on the importance of creating inclusive environments. I believe this will demonstrate my work within areas that demonstrate a widening of the poverty gap in society during the global pandemic. Ledwith (2020) argues that homelessness is a result of the housing crisis that was first saw within our communities when the Thatcher-led government introduced the “right to buy” scheme, where good quality public housing was sold at minimal prices, with them all being lost as a public housing resource. Ledwith further argues that this triggered soaring housing prices with the crises closely following it.


On World Homeless Day 2020, myself and another Man On! volunteer travelled to Glasgow and walked around the city centre, engaging with those living on the streets. We distributed essential items we had collected and connected with people, talking to them about their life journey and sharing our journey in return to try and create inclusive environments to engage within. It was a sobering experience and I viewed higher levels of deprivation and inequalities than I had anticipated seeing, with a severe lack of human rights being witnessed consistently across the City Centre. Alston (2018) stated that “Austerity Britain” was in breach of four UN human rights agreements relating to women, children, disabled people and economic and social rights. The UK Government argued against Alston’s analysis, advising that income equalities had fallen, and household income was at a record high, however this was not evident during our trip to Glasgow, nor is this evident in the communities that I work within.


Freire (1972) discussed leaders who imposed their decisions on others as being manipulators, stating that they oppress the people that they represent and this resonates with my views on the leadership within the country when it comes to any form of inequality, be it financial, health or social. The levels of inequalities that I have managed to demonstrate during this reflection that I am working with on a regular basis at a community level is an example of this oppression, particularly in a society where the rich continue to prosper thanks to tax cuts and tax avoidance schemes being promoted, whilst our most vulnerable face a winter on the streets, worried about freezing to death overnight. My fear is this gap only widens more as we continue to experience lockdown measures during the global pandemic and as we progress from a post-Brexit country.


I have learned a lot about myself since beginning these reflections. I have always had a passion for social justice, whilst fighting for those experiencing inequalities, however that fire within me has sparked stronger. I now understand the wider world involved in a United Kingdom where the people that are elected to government have used their power to reject feeding hungry and vulnerable children and this is never acceptable. The theories and values that are attached to the practice has led to me considering events from a deeper perspective and will play a key role in my critical thinking moving forward. My research has led me to find information on the Scottish Wellbeing Economy which advises of non-negotiable values such as "dignity" to ensure everyone has enough to live in comfort and "fairness" to ensure that the financial gap between the richest and poorest within society is greatly reduced and this is a vision I now have for my community.

REFERENCE LIST


CLD STANDARDS COUNCIL., Facilitate and Promote Community Empowerment. [online] CLD Standards Council. [accessed 18th October 2020]. Available from: https://cldstandardscouncil.org.uk/resources/the-competences/facilitate-and-promote-community-empowerment/


CLD STANDARDS COUNCIL., Values of CLD [online]. CLD Standards Council. [accessed 18th October 2020]. Available from: https://cldstandardscouncil.org.uk/resources/values-of-cld/


Freire, P., 1972. Pedagogy Of The Oppressed. 1st ed. New York: Herder and Herder, Chapter 4.


Dorling, D. 2018. Peak Inequality. Britain's Ticking Time Bomb, Bristol. Policy Press


INVERCLYDE HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PARTNERSHIP., 2020. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020. [online]. Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership. [accessed 18th October 2020]. Available from: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/meetings/documents/13198/05%2520SIMD%25202020.pdf+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk


KLEIN, N. 2007. Naomi Klein: Disaster Capitalism, YouTube, viewed 9th November 2020 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JG9CM_J00bw>


KLEIN, N. 2007. The shock doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism. Toronto, Alfred A. Knopf Canada.


Ledwith, M. 2020. Community Development. A Critical and Radical Approach. 3rd Ed. United Kingdom. Policy Press


Ohchr.org. n.d. Statement on Visit to the United Kingdom, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights [online] Available at: <https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Poverty/EOM_GB_16Nov2018.pdf> [Accessed 7 December 2020].


TETT, Lynn., 2010. Community Education, Learning and Development. Scotland: Dunedin Academic Press LTD


The Independent 2020, Coronavirus Testing, Andrew Woodcock [accessed 9th November 2020] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coronavirus-testing-randox-owen-paterson-b1613424.html


The Trussell Trust 2020, Coronavirus Effecting Food Bank Use, [accessed 9th November 2020] https://www.trusselltrust.org/2020/09/14/new-report-reveals-how-coronavirus-has-affected-food-bank-use/


VOICE SCOTLAND., The 7 National Standards for Community Engagement [online] Seven NS. [accessed 18th October 2020]. Available from: http://www.voicescotland.org.uk/Seven-NS/


Wellbeingeconomy.org. 2019. [online] Available at: <https://wellbeingeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/A-WE-Is-WEAll-Ideas-Little-Summaries-of-Big-Issues-4-Dec-2019.pdf> [Accessed 7 December 2020].

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