Yesterday, I had my first experience of canvassing for a political cause. Attempting to collect signatures for the Protect Youth Services! campaign, a movement which is aiming to prevent the cut of £1.35 million to the youth service budget here in Brighton, I was unsurprisingly ignored, disregarded, and, on more than one occasion, met with the response, ‘I’m not from here’. Baffled at the fact that these reactions came mostly from those with young children, I couldn’t help but mourn for civilisation and what it has become. Here I am, in one of the most forward-thinking cities in the UK, yet ignorance, as they say, is still bliss. I am sure those shoppers went and enjoyed their days, spending money on their wants whilst unaware of the struggles that lie ahead, as myself and Elijah stood soaked by the rain with sodden leaflets. The weather seemed emblematic of the fight ahead and all of a sudden I felt tired. We didn’t falter, though, and gained thirty-four signatures by the end of the day. An amazing feat, but melancholy still found its way to my heart.
The problem, I have to come to realise, is the boundaries which we imagine, so as to separate and detach ourselves from the injustices which are occurring every day. Asserting ‘I’m not from here’ seemingly gave each passer-by an excuse, a justification, and somehow allowed them to continue their day without qualm. This attitude is toxic. The idea that someone can cross some imagined border, into their warm home where these issues don’t knock on their door yet, put their feet up and survive in a universe that revolves around only them, must be far too comfortable to pick up a pen to sign a piece of paper. On approaching my trip to Calais to work with HelpRefugees, I was met with the criticism that I should be ‘supporting people at home’, as if I am in some dystopian football game, where I am marginalised for supporting the ‘other’ team or chanting the wrong anthem. ‘Away’ is somewhere far beyond the horizon that I shouldn’t care about because, in some form, they are the ‘opposition’ and we are indoctrinated to feel threatened and to compete against that which is ‘foreign’ or ‘different’. In reality, such boundaries are merely lines drawn with a politics-coloured Sharpie pen by people with far too much money and power than they know what to do with. Telling me to ‘help those at home first’ is a subterfuge; when was the last time you helped at home? Did you take the leaflet? Did you listen to what we had to say? Did you even acknowledge me or look up from your phone? No, because you had somewhere to be. Is it ridiculous to assume then, that the place you so urgently had to get to, was merely a place away from the reality that is becoming so much more difficult to ignore?
Read more about Protect Youth Services; prequalukblog.WordPress.com
Sign the Petition; https://www.change.org/p/youth-workers-don-t-cut-the-youth-services-funding
Attend the Protest March; https://www.facebook.com/events/242124549561261/