Think North

Austerity, women & health inequalities

Reality Bites

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Earlier on I chatted to a young woman sat outside Pret in Newcastle. 24 weeks pregnant, the only housing the council can provide is temporary hostel accommodation which she said is full of drug users. I don’t know where we went wrong in the calculation of what constitutes being a wealthy nation but I don’t think leaving vulnerable women homeless is a part of this. We should have a long hard look at ourselves and who our states really benefit. It makes me beyond sad and angry.

 I posted the above on Facebook earlier. Here name is Sarah, and I bought her a sandwich, a coffee and a chocolate bar and then talked to hear with tears in my eyes. I felt like a total phoney. What right did I have,  with my stupid smartphone resting casually in my hand and all the great things in my life, to ask her how she was feeling?

How could I even look her in the eye, tell her how sorry I was, that I’m so sorry it worked out this way and that I hope things end up ok for her and that her baby is ok? What kind of a place do we live in where Sarah has to sit on the cold concrete in one of the wealthiest countries in the world when all around her people talk on their iPhones, commit tax evasion, drink £5 coffees and say that poverty doesn’t really exist here, not in the same way that it does in…somewhere else.

On my way home I went into Waitrose, as I like to do with I am in Newcastle. I browsed for a long time looking for deals and I purchased some white vinegar to clean the plug, a bag of coffee and some hypoallergenic non-scented laundry detergent. Why do I get to make these choices?

What could I say to a woman who is in so many ways similar to me, but has none of the really astounding opportunities that I do, at least not right now when it matters, for her and her baby?  I didn’t know what to say, so I asked her about herself, we talked some shit about the police, and then I said goodbye. There is nothing I could say to her, because we live in a society that doesn’t care about her, will maybe take her child into care, and convince her that she’s a bad mother for smoking because it’s harmful for the baby’s health.

There was nothing I could say. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be really angry about it.

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Author: Amy Greer Murphy

Think North

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