Through Life in Faith - Poverty and Hardship - Page 1
The years 1920-1939 were years of very high unemployment. I can remember hundreds of men outside the Labour Exchange. In the winter some unemployed men were given metal rods to clear the footpaths of ice and snow. But my most heartrending experience of that time was to see limbless and blind ex-servicemen singing in the streets to beg for pennies. These men had fought in the Great War and were deserted by the Government. At that time, we were the richest country in the world, but the wealth was held by a small percentage of people, while many others lived in poverty.
When I was about twelve years of age my mum got a job cleaning offices to supplement what money she had while my dad was unemployed, unfortunately I had to stay at home from school on Mondays to pay the rent man and on Fridays to pay the tally man (a person selling shoes for one shilling per week). My mum explained that these men had to be paid or, in the case of the rent man, we would be thrown out into the street. Thus I lost much of my education.
I slept in the same bed as my mum and dad until I was about twelve years of age, around which time two of my sisters got jobs as live-in housemaids.
When the second war started in September 1939 men like myself joined the services and for many like me it was the first regular job they had had. Once again when the country was in danger it was those people who were called upon to put their lives in danger and save us. But the end of this war was different. The Labour party became the Government in 1945, led by Mr Clement Attlee, and they set about forming a country in which everybody deserved to share in the wealth of the country.
Through Life in Faith - Poverty and Hardship - Page 2
The Government set in motion a huge building program to replace the slums and rebuild where houses had been bombed. They introduced pre-fabricated homes, known as prefabs, which were built on sites where houses had been destroyed by the bombing. The aim was for everybody to have a home.
For the first time many people enjoyed an inside toilet and a bathroom with running hot water – such luxury! But best of all Mr Aneurin Bevan gave us the National Health Service, an organisation that gave health and care to all and was free for everyone to use.
I have seen many changes in my life. No one in this country is as poor to day. I have seen poorness. However, some people still suffer hardships. There is still inequality and there always will be.
We have a responsibility to choose those who are to govern us carefully. Do not choose based on what they will do for you, but what they will do for the community. Don’t let us ever go back to the “them and us” society.
May God bless you all
Through Life in Faith - Journey to Faith - Page 3
Through Life in Faith - Journey to Faith - Page 4
Through Life in Faith - Journey to Faith - Page 5