I have to, at one point, tell my fieldwork organisation that I’m leaving them. And I am dreading the moment already. In fact, I have postponed it for as long as I can. Ideally, fieldwork is finished in the 2nd year of the 3 year PhD process. However, since it took me a while to figure out what I should, could and wanted to focus on after collecting data for a while, I felt it was necessary (which was supported by my supervisors) to keep on going for just a bit longer, 4 hours per week, to get some extra data to support my argument. Continue reading “The end is near… And that’s difficult. How to get out of the field without any feelings of guilt?”
Earlier this year I watched the film “Pride (2014)“, that tells the story of a LBTG group joining in the protests of the 84-85 miners strike. They felt that as two different groups, they were also very much the same: groups that felt let down by their government that was supposed to be negotiating and ensuring good and happy lives for all its citizens.
My second year of PhD-ing is coming to an end, and…. I am still here.Yay!
Sometimes it feels like I’m barely here, other times it is just like this is the way it should be and that I am right on track. Continue reading “Progress Report – I am still here!”
There are loads of blogs on the internet. In fact, the entire internet seems to be one big ‘blog-o-sphere’ at the moment. Most news websites and newspapers have their own blogging sections, there are entire newspapers based on blog posts, and then there is of course the individual bloggers.
Even in the PhD and further academic scene, blogging has become massive. Everyone is doing it. So is that the reason I am jumping on that bandwagon?
Sometimes things can take a while. A PhD is one of those things. It’s not just the, you know, PhD writing process that I am talking about here, it is also the way we actually develop our projects into what we feel needs to be analysed and shared with a wider (academic) audience. It is the way we develop our own views of the world around us, and the way we finally get to that tiny bit of the world we feel is worth exploring.
The outskirts of Doncaster harbours a little rough gem. A gem that may look a bit chaotic and odd at first sight, but once you have decided to give it a closer look, open the proverbial book and read, what you will find is that it has some amazing potential to sparkle and shine if only you permit yourself to give it a closer look…
Re-Read is a social enterprise that works with and for books and people. With and for books? Yes. Because just as people who will see the potential in Re-Read when having a closer look, ReRead sees the potential in unloved books that other people no longer want to have a closer look at. And frankly, the same applies to the ‘with and for people’ part. Re-Read sees the potential in people who have been discarded by society for various different reasons, and find themselves in a bit of a pickle. They believe in the good in people, focusing and working with what people can and want to do, instead of what they cannot and do not want to do. And this works.
£12bn welfare cuts are now probably becoming £15bn. Voluntary organisations often step in where others step back, so if anything, they need to step in right now to assist those who will be (even more) affected by these cuts.
“Does volunteering build stronger communities?” was the question originally asked when this project was advertised and although it seemed to me I had moved away from this question quite a bit over the course of one and a half year of finding out my stance, I am slowly returning back to it. Because after all, it is what volunteering tries to do, building stronger communities by offering services that others (and especially the state) aren’t, but that people still need.
At the moment there are already only 56 jobs available per 100 people of working age in South Yorkshire, leaving a lot of people unemployed and living below the poverty line; food banks are ‘booming’. However, Recent news media (BBC Look North Yorkshire) have suggested that Yorkshire will be among the counties that will be hit hardest by the welfare cuts to come. So what will happen now? Since charities and community volunteers step in there where the state falls short, there are a lot of organisations that aim to help the unemployed in South Yorkshire, help them with their job seeking efforts, but also with (re)building their confidence. Another growing initiative is the food bank, which aims to alleviate poverty and hunger, mostly to those who are affected by for example sanctions from the job centre on their benefit receipt.
dɪˈspɛː/noun: despair; plural noun: despairsThe complete loss or absence of hope.
“…a voice full of self-hatred and despair”
This morning I met a gentleman whose picture could feature next to this dictionary entry, and next to this post, obviously. Despair. It was all over his face, in his eyes, in his voice, his body. He was in his forties, and Job Centre Plus had sent him to our job club. He had to come, and had to be there by 10. Otherwise, he’d get sanctioned. That was it. Regardless of the job club being situated quite the distance from where he was living, leaving him relying on public transport, for which had to spend his last few quid.
“Watch out for what they all tell you Gaby! They might just say what they want you to hear. There’s a lot of people on benefits who are playing the system, and might be playing you too!”
This is a word of caution often received when I tell people about the work I’m doing. They say it’s interesting, and important work, but that I “need to be careful” with what I believe to be true.
It is easy enough for some people to say that people who have fallen on hard times and are now in receipt of benefits are all at fault themselves, and that they enjoy being on benefits, that it is a ‘lifestyle choice’. It’s also easy to say for other people that none of them are playing the system, and that there never is any personal responsibility involved. The truth might be somewhere in the middle, whatever that truth may be. And what that truth its? Who knows? Perhaps no one knows, and perhaps no one will ever know. All I know is that I want to make sure that the people who are victims of a flawed system/society don’t suffer any more than they already do.