Lent day #3

Day #3 (40acts): share a skill. I wasn’t sure about this one. What skills do I have to offer? A colleague suggested that I check out a new table and work out how to use it. Quite simple, I think, it has a lever to raise it up and down. There’s a hinge and you can double the surface area, but I couldn’t find any way to support the second half.

Not much of a skill share really. So I taught some colleagues some basic Swahili. ‘Jina langu Jez’ = ‘My name is Jez’. Literally = ‘Name of mine Jez’. Still not much so I’m going to ponder this and explore this over the weekend. If you’ve got any ideas, let me know!

Day #3 (action): Today, on the prompting of my partner I took part in the Fawcett Society’s ‘Fightback Fridays’ challenge (see http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=1263). This week they’re campaigning about the closure of Sure Start Children’s Centres. Here’s the email that I sent to my MP, Joan Ruddock, via www.38degrees.org.uk.

Dear Joan Ruddock,

I am writing as your constituent to ask you to take urgent action to protect funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres.

Sure Start Children’s Centres are open to all parents and provide a range of services including affordable childcare, health and family support services and advice on training and job opportunities.

The safeguard, or ‘ring-fence’, which guaranteed funds for Sure Start at a local level has been removed. As a result, many Centres are having to reduce the services they offer, with some having to close down altogether. The government reports a reduction of 124 centres since April 2010.

Cutting Sure Start is socially unjust – the Centres provide positives outcomes for whole communities, but are particularly vital for low income families. In particular, where childcare provision is reduced or lost parents who use such services – the overwhelming majority of whom are women – may be forced to leave the labour market as they are unable to meet higher private childcare costs. This both constrains women to prohibitive caring roles and limits their ability to contribute positively to the labour market and the wider economy.

Please ensure that funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres is protected by asking the Government to reinstate the ring-fence to local authority funds for the Centres in the 2012 budget.

in friendship,

Jez Smith

I also sent a tweet about this that stated: “Cuts to Sure Start risk pushing women back into the home. Pls tweet yr MP to protect in #2012budget. See how here http://bit.ly/zODZCU”.

I’m a Quaker and that means that I try to respect that of God in everyone. But I’m concerned that government cuts are affecting some people more than others and are creating a more unequal society than before.

Quakers are campaigning about the cuts. See for example: http://www.quaker.org.uk/news/quakers-oppose-unfair-government-cuts.

Thanks by the way to everyone who has sent me ideas for actions to take. I’m particularly interested in having a few more that I can do in a few minutes, as well as the longer challenges. I also get the feeling that my MP, Joan Ruddock, is going to get used to hearing from me a lot during lent!

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