Saturday, 25 April 2009

Week 1: #2 Write to my MP about something I am passionate about

OK - quite an easy one to start with, but I have had a hell of a week between my birthday, work woes and London Book Fair. Anyway, it still counts, so there.

I used to be very up on politics and policy - I did my degree in Social Policy so could talk til the cows came home about the pros and cons of privatisation, why meritocracy in education and employment was the ideal but virtually impossible to achieve in reality and why I was never going to vote Conservative. But life kinda got in the way. I was distracted by current affairs, cultural things and idle gossip, not to mention all of the usual work/life interfering stuff. I can't remember the last time I got heatedly involved in a political discussion and really knew what I was talking about. The last time I talked to my friends about an election, it was one that wasn't even taking place on these shores (can any of you tell me what Obama's policies actually are? Thought not).

Then this popped up on my Twitter via @JazCummins. It is called The Map of Gaps, and it's a map put together by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the End Violence Against Women Coalition. It shows the access that women around the country have to various amenities to do with violence, rape and so on. The map is quite startling in terms of how much of a postcode lottery it all is. I hadn't realised that for the 4m women in London, there is one rape crisis centre. One! The NHS spends an estimated 1.2 billion pounds on treating physical injuries sustained through violence on women, but the Dept. of Health has not made any significant investment in specialised violence against women services.

I have been very lucky to not really have experienced any need for these services (the only violence towards me being meted out by muggers) but other women I know haven't been so lucky. And I won't necessarily always be so lucky.

The Map of Gaps has a form to fill in that goes straight to your MP if you enter your postcode. My local MP is Glenda Jackson, who, I can see from has some good views on the Iraq War and gay rights. I think I like the woman (and not in the same way as my Dad, who likes her cos she took her top off on some BBC drama in the 70s). So, through the Map of Gaps site I have sent her a letter lobbying for more access (and equality of access) for women in my local area to the services they will need should the awfulness happen to them. And you should do it too! Go on - it'll make you feel good.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

So little time left

So, Sunday brings the start of this year of doing my list. I need to get over my natural reserved-ness and start shouting about it to people to keep me on track. God knows I am prone to letting things fall by the wayside if I think no-one's watching so I need everyone to keep pestering me about this. It's for my own good.
I have a couple already lined up for the next few weeks, so the initial start shouldn't be a problem. It'll be showing some stamina in four months or so that may be tricky. Lots of people have said they would help, so it's just a matter of knowing when I need an extra push and asking for it.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Getting some stuff in order

OK, so to complete some of my list takes a bit of planning. This week I have returned to the simply awesome Camden Society to talk to them about doing some voluntary work with their social groups for adults with learning difficulties (number 3 on my list). Apparently they don't just let any old schmuck loose on these guys. So they are going to check I am not a sex offender or anything nasty, but I should be able to start after Easter, once my ankle metalwork has stopped giving me quite so much jip (I do walk and grumble like a pensioner at the moment).
One of the best things about these guys is just how accepting they are of anyone, and how much faith they have in me to make a difference. It's a real boost after a day at work where you run round in circles getting virtually nothing done to have someone putting such trust in you. They want me to work at their Monday Club, which has recently re-launched and needs a bit of a boost, so there's loads to get my teeth in to. Hooray!
(Oh, and I got a lift on the Sunshine Bus, which was certainly a euphemism when I was at school)