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By Lisa J Long

Friday, December 24, 2010.

As we approach the end of the year and the end of a decade it is difficult to find many positive events from the last twelve months. The year that started with a big freeze and looks set to end with a big freeze has brought economic doom and gloom. By the mid term general election we all wanted a change and that’s what we got! In a monumental shift the coalition government took control and within weeks announced unprecedented cuts in the interest of reducing the deficit.

If we all had a pound coin for every time we had heard the word ‘deficit’ in 2010 the economy would have swiftly recovered. But with ‘British’ stiff upper lips we all remained silent, as the con-dems slashed welfare and education budgets and added six years to women’s working lives; we shrugged our shoulders whilst France erupted over a two year pension age increase.

So who will fill the gap left by the cuts? We will of course in our ‘big society’, a civic society where we will all do our bit. Helping each other is apparently a new idea, so we will all be volunteering, doing something for nothing; though some will not have another choice following redundancy in a climate of soaring unemployment.

 The ‘big society’ isn’t really a new idea. Most of us living in the real world day to day know this. Volunteering is a part of our life whether it’s shopping for a neighbour, babysitting for a friend or formally volunteering through an organisation. It is utterly depressing that the government thinks that we are so disengaged that we need a strategy for that.

 The student protests of recent weeks have resurrected the hope that there is a community spirit in this country. Some have argued that there are more important things to protest about, welfare cuts and the like however whilst the rest of us are too busy trying to hang on to our jobs and pay the bills the students are a beacon of hope that we don’t have a completely disenfranchised next generation. The cuts won’t affect their education but it will affect their younger siblings, their children and mine.  They are protesting about something that will affect somebody else, giving up their time, helping out. Perhaps the big society was there all along? Who knew!

Lisa J Long writes from Harrogate, UK.

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