A patronising smile and a cup of coffee

empty coffee cup.jpg

This is a guest post by Lisa Ansell, in response to UKUncut’s latest campaign, Refuge from the cuts.

Are you one of the entire generation of women for whom equality was rolled back to silence? Have you been forced to quit your job, lost your home, and watched the creeping web of privatisation swallow up the services that helped you exist in the world?

Can you no longer plan from week to week because poverty-related crisis and bureaucratic demands on your life remove any possibility of linear planning? Are you drifting closer to being criminalised for losing the ability to pay key bills? Are you watching your adult kids get angrier by the day as their futures are taken and they are forced to return to you? Is it your gender that was relied on to ensure you would absorb EMA cuts, social care cuts… cuts to what those around you need… is your house full of the sofa surfers austerity has created?

Are you missing meals so your kids can eat, perhaps one of those women who returned to an unsafe relationship because poverty was a bigger threat to your children’s outcomes, than you living in a situation that isn’t safe? Can you no longer get a social worker to see your teenage daughter, or the care that allows you to leave the house?

Did you watch as discussion of what was happening to you was swallowed by elite lefty activist nonsense and the egos of those who orbit our political media? Professional bodies of knowledge ignored because they were too dull for media hungry activists to concern themselves with.

Did you watch as you were reduced to ‘the poor’ while people with little life experience argued about what you would need in terms they could understand? Did you watch as welfare changes transferred autonomy over motherhood for working class women to the government and therefore the market, while people occasionally murmured ‘women hit disproportionately hit by cuts’?

Did you watch as companies like Serco, Crapita and G4S extended their tentacles into your life, while people shouted about Vodafone and Topshop and Surestart? As local democracy was dismantled openly and control of your life handed to the market?

Worry ye not. Nip to Starbucks, UKUncut are taking over to reinstate the things YOU need. A women’s refuge where domestic abuse survivors get their pictures taken with lefty activists while they drink lattes, bring your kids….

UKUncut have a long history of media-orbiting activism. Admittedly, rather than following the trail of the organisations slowly swallowing our public sector, they concentrated on Topshop and Vodafone, names they were familiar with. Their fundraising is largely confined to the legal fund their activists required after sitting down in Fortnum and Mason, but this time they are here for you. Admittedly their targets are functioning in a system, rather than individually breaking any laws. Admittedly your political invisibility to groups like UkUncut was rather the reason you could be hit so hard.

Be grateful and take your kids and your sleeping bags down to Starbucks and show you care enough to have your picture taken so they can get the ‘authenticity’ that comes with a downtrodden novelty pov turning up to be patronised, and feel good as they wear you like a badge to add to a collection. Its a refuge, how hard can it be? A patronising smile and a cup of coffee is what a refuge does. Isn’t it?

[The image is a photograph of an empty coffee cup on a wooden picnic table. It was taken by @doug88888 and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]