"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative


There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months by the coalition government about the need for the public to accept difficult decisions that the state are making on our behalf.

These decisions are now about to affect all of us. Decisions we were not party to and have little say in. Most of them will likely be irreversible.

As you know,they involve cuts in our services such as in our health care system, in housing, cuts to state benefits, cuts in education, in fact few sectors of public ownership will remain untouched. More than that though, the level of cuts to the public purse are starting to affect the private sector too and very few of us over the next few years will be unaffected.

Let’s be brutally honest here-many of us will soon be losing our jobs, our houses, our benefits, in fact our whole way of life will likely see major upheaval, all across the country. Norfolk will not be spared, in fact there’s every reason to believe we’ll be one of the worst hit regions.

While this is occurring the left-wing in Britain march in our cities waving placards declaring FIGHT BACK and the right-wing rub their hands with glee and constantly repeat the mantra IT’S ALL LABOUR’S FAULT.

What the left-wingers mean is

‘I have a public sector job-support me or you’ll regret it!’

They offer little response when you ask,

‘Why? What are you going to do for us? Why aren’t you marching on our estates and offering us assistance-we’re the ones who’ll really be hit!’

What the right-wingers mean is

‘Don’t blame us for the mess we’re about to launch at you, just be grateful you live in Britain! We suggest you blame the foreigners among you.’

They offer little response when you ask,

‘How come the wealthiest in our country are getting wealthier and the rest of us are close to losing everything? If it’s all Labour fault why is there an international financial crisis, did they cause that too?’

We believe neither the left-wing or the right-wing, or the political parties that represent these clubs that come knocking for a few days every four years at election time with their promises, care one iota what happens to us as long as we do not become a problem. We are required to support the left, and accept the actions of the right.

Likewise while the right-wing would have us at each other’s throats using race as the issue, the left-wing would define us by identity (race, sexuality, disability, age, etc) and separate us accordingly, our own identity ghettos if you like.

These are simply two sides of the same coin. Both actions take away our fundamental and collective unifying force which is the power to organise ourselves and our lives based on our common goals and interests. No longer should we be celebrating our differences but recognizing our similarities.

And we should start by organising ourselves within our streets, neighbourhoods and communities.

We recently received a message from a supporter we have been speaking to over the phone,

“ I feel very strongly these groups are very important to communities – there are many people dealing with very serious problems with anti social behaviour, problems with their neighbours and hate campaigns where serious threats of harm are made to some families and the Police say they are unable to help as the communities are too scared to speak out in fear of  a back lash mostly due to of race, disability, culture and religion or just being a bit different? From personal experiences I have and am still fighting a battle of over 2 years against being bullied by local drug dealers, anti social behaviour and isolation and a hate campaign due to disability/mental health issues of a young member of our family. We have been forced into isolation and our neighbours around us from being able to speak to us in fear of them being targeted next, leading us to be forced to leave our home and friends just because they are not willing to be bullied by the offending people and do there best to report issues of crime in their community.

It was only 1 week ago the situation got so dangerous we were offered safe-housing in a B&B in a non disabled friendly place over 50 miles away from our loved ones and our pets to be put in kennels. But as much as we were scared and very fragile we refused to be bullied out of our home until we are ready and have somewhere suitable for our needs. – congratulations to those who have set up these support groups to help others. I can help in anyway I gladly would offer my help.”

The simple fact of the matter is that in many cases similar to the above the very organisations who could/should be helping to solve the highlighted issues rarely prove to be fit for purpose before or after the governments cuts. The Police work on a scaled target system and would be first in attendance if you lived in a mansion on Norwich’s Newmarket Road, but a council house
on the Heartsease? They may pop in several days later if you’re lucky, if at all.

Likewise the council, the social services…all appear to do more to hinder than help. Do we not pay our taxes? Are they not supposed to be working for US? Either they’ve forgotten who they serve or we’ve simply got it all wrong.

We are calling for a local debate. A debate for direction to set up local neighbourhood groups to tackle the repercussions of the cuts we now face and some of the more unsavoury issues the likes of the Police, the Council, political parties and the Womens Institute can’t handle! A debate in respect of forming a Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative which would be the first port of call to cover all situations in our communities from the basic checking in on the elderly in winter to turning out against bailiffs harassing members of the community, to the more difficult subjects such as violence on the streets outside our houses and so-called ‘antisocial behaviour’.

We would welcome input from all and will be organising local public meetings shortly and will post up the details in the next month. All we ask is that people leave their political parties at the door on the way in and come with an open mind and serious ideas and see if together we can’t create the communities we deserve as opposed to the ones our government suggests we live in. On a day when it emerges that the wealthiest boardroom directors are giving themselves 50% pay rises while we are close to destitute, it’s time we started finding inspiration from each other rather than populist celebrity.

We do not look to the past to some imaginary golden age when our communities were some how idyllic. We do however believe the future can be a lot brighter if we act together and finally wake up to the fact that the state and all it’s services are mostly not worth the price of a peak rate telephone call.

The Norfolk Community Respondents Initiative coming to your neighborhood soon.

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2 responses

  1. Rick

    Why we need Community Action

    We all know that the world faces big problems but all those problems are played out and have at least part of their solution in the places where we live. People that are actively trying to make the world better, perhaps naturally, gravitate towards the big global issues but we think that activists should complement this with taking local action on these big issues. Because ultimately the only way to solve all these problems that we work on is to build strong and empowered communities who can resist injustices of all sorts and build a positive, cooperative community.

    The links between them are often most obvious when we see them in a local context – the global growth economy relies on continued consumerism in our own high streets and is responsible for poverty, inequality and climate change which will see more refugees who we need to make more welcome in our communities rather than letting the government deport them (while war and the arms trade also continue to force people to seek asylum). Everything we do locally is also really positive because it builds strong communities that can build renewable energy to help us stop climate change and be resilient to that and other crises, growing our own food can make us independent from the supermarkets and organising ourselves horizontally, using direct action and creating social centres can allow us to take more control of our lives rather than waiting for the council or the government. These are just a few things that community action can do, but the complete list is as varied as the communities themselves.

    As activists we’re already aware of these big issues, how they link together, and their consequences but community activism isn’t just about tackling the big injustices, sometimes it’s about challenging individual situations where people are denied access to housing or benefits that they are entitled to using the tactic of direct action casework and sometimes it’s about volunteering to support people with learning difficulties, picking up litter or organising a bingo night. I often feel that the most inspirational ‘activists’ are people like those who are carers for disabled relatives – it’s not big or headline grabbing but something needed doing and they stepped up to do it themselves not expecting the government or anyone else to do it for them. These people often come together to form tiny local charities, and these people should be part of any programme of community action.

    To make a real difference on a worldwide scale you need to speak to, and involve, the people in your street, as they are part of the world community too. join forces with people who are actually self-organising already but maybe not aware of it. Because the MOST radical thing we can do is build strong communities that can think, decide and act for themselves.

    http://communityactionnetwork.wordpress.com/why-work-locally/

    October 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

  2. villa

    cool

    November 1, 2011 at 9:28 am

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