Three days they’ve been coming and going – you’d think I had the messiah in a manger upstairs, they’re queuing round the block. Never met a single one of them in my life, but im hugging them and crying and they just keep coming and coming.
“Im really embarrassed to ask” I had said, my toes curled at the thought of what I was doing, “we are in such a difficult place right now. We dont have a freezer, and im not really eating.”
I had lost my job through stress and depression some months before, during a particularly difficult period surrounding my son. I was trying so hard to get back into work, and I still am – Im not afraid of graft, I embrace it. I am so proud of my working class, I feel ashamed to be unemployed. I feel ashamed that whilst everyone else is desperately selling their labour to the greediest bastards they can find just to put food on the table, Im sat at home all day looking for work. How can I be so indignant at the exploitation and degradation of my class, when Im at the job centre once a fortnight?
I understand that this is not something that is legitimately shameful. I know that unemployment is often an inevitability at some point in every workers life, but that shame has been branded on our backs – if you’re not working you’re of no use to anybody. You’re a sponge, a scrounger, a waste of oxygen. They put us in the paper and rip apart our personal lives, they ask us how we dare to have children or smoke a fag. If you’re not working you’re scum, who fucking cares how long your backs been broken under that burning sun, you’re no fucking use to us now.
It doesnt matter that I spend hours and hours each day trawling the internet, visiting businesses, often literally begging for a shift. It doesnt matter that for every application I send out there are 150 in competition. It doesnt matter how much I want to work, all that matters is that I’m not. Those taxes I paid for the last eight years, the welfare system that was built on the backs of my brothers and sisters, it doesnt matter what I paid or for how long. Its been ripped from me, its not mine and I dont deserve it, and they’ll be fucked if they’re going to give it to me without a fight.
They wont pay my housing because my tenancy is out of date, the landlord wont give me a new one because hes more concerned about getting this dole scrounger out of his property. Ive paid him on time every time for the last year, but it doesnt matter now. Hes got a business to run, he hasnt got time for scum like me. Im sat here now in a house with no electricity, hes been ignoring me since I came clean about my situation. Cunt. Karl Marx said “Landlords, like all men, like to reap where they never sowed.” Never truer words were spoken.
£213 a month, thats what they’ve decided I need to survive. My rent is £400, so Im fucked before I start. Id been buying nappies, milk, food for my little comrade and hoping for the best when it came to everything else. The worst thing was having no freezer – which meant buying more expensive food and more often, it was crippling us. None of my clothes fit, I put on a pair of size 6 shorts and watched in horror as they slid back down my legs. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and though the shame weighed so heavy on my back that I could barely crawl, I finally opened my mouth and asked for help.
Id been on this free site for months, I tried to give what I could to people, I liked the idea of it, but Id never have dreamed of asking for something for nothing. The thought made me cringe and though I understood perfectly how necessary these groups were, I never wanted to be pitied, I never wanted anyone to know that I wasnt coping as well as I thought I should be. More than anything I was scared that being so hungry and so desperate, somebody would accuse me of lying and scrounging. The shame thats beaten into us from birth had me in a vice – work or die, dont ask for help, you’re a burden from the cradle to the grave.
But eventually the thought of starving in front of my son, of him having these memories of the poverty I felt responsible for, pushed me to it. The cupboards were bare, I was on my last legs and fading fast. I reached out, I threw myself on the mercy of the people of Liverpool, and the response overwhelmed me. Within an hour I had people dropping off shopping, furniture, nappies – everything from tampons to tea lights. People wanted to help, they hated the idea that one of us was suffering. I had thought all this time that I was on my own, that community was dead, and yet here they were – twenty to thirty people with their own crippling debt and harrowing tales desperate to help. I cried my eyes out, the shame and the guilt washed over me but the gratitude was enormous. The people of Liverpool saw me struggling, and they picked me up. They dusted me off and spurred me on. Hope for this battered broken city burst from my chest, the people united.
If this experience has taught me anything, it is this. No matter what David Cameron does to us, no matter how many people they sanction and starve and push onto the streets, no matter how they demonise us and berate us, no matter how they flog us publically with our own pride, no matter how they humiliate us and degrade us – we will not bend, and we will not break. There is power in the working class, there is solidarity and there is love. These people might not be in unions, theyre not organised or politically motivated, but they are strong. We stand together, we look after our own. We protect our children, we stare defiantly into the faces of these monsters and we show them, in no uncertain terms that we will not be scattered. We will not be bullied and abused, we will not be driven from our homes and we will not tolerate their persecution.
Charity starts at home. There is a community in Liverpool, the backbone of our society – the working class. We will not be divided, we will not bow to these slave masters, these animals, these tyrants. You can take our homes, you can starve us out – but you will never take that spirit, you will never kill what we are. When the day comes that these people open their eyes to the hatred that suffocates them, when these people stand together strong and determined and say “this is OUR city, that we built with blood sweat and tears and you WILL NOT take it,” when the red flag flies on every corner of this beautiful city and freedom is known to us all. On that day, they will tremble, they will flee, and they will be pursued. Power to the working class. Power to the people.
**A HUGE THANKYOU** to all of the amazing huge-hearted people of Free-To-You Liverpool, you are a credit to your class, your children, and to this great city of ours. You should be immensely proud of the sacrifice you have made to ensure the wellbeing of one of your own. I am eternally grateful, you have saved my life, and I will stand in solidarity with you forever. Love love love to you all.