I wanted to post quickly just to say I haven’t disappeared! I am in the process of moving house (again!) and haven’t yet had the internet installed.
I am still plodding on and enjoying reading for pleasure after finishing my degree, I have booked my graduation ceremony which won’t be until June 2015 but I am very much looking forward to it. I have been very busy with my voluntary mentoring role at the moment and have recently completed some accredited Outcome Star training which was delivered in a brilliant way. After a very short break in my studies I am already starting to seriously think about postgraduate study and weigh up all of my options.
I hope everyone is well and enjoying 2015!
Social housing and council estates are never far from front page news and I’m sure most people will agree that stigmatisation goes hand in hand with any surrounding discussion. I know that coming from the North East of England gives me a different experience of social housing in comparison with the extreme lack of housing in places such as London but there is still a shortage of suitable housing. As far as I am aware I am in a similar position to thousands of people throughout the country. I earn a part time wage, have a partner who is self employed and works extremely long hours, have a young baby and a family surrounding me who are extremely supportive. Beside a car on finance we, as a couple, owe no money out and manage to get by month by month without having to borrow money. We work hard and are blessed to be in a situation where this is possible. However housing is a major issue. The reason we are currently in this position with regards to money is that we live with my mother. It’s a story I have read, heard and experienced time and time again. The issue that living month by month is manageable but overpriced and no secure housing leads to misery and heartache. We have just collected the keys to a property on a new estate described as ‘the councils new affordable homes programme’. This is something which is new to both of us. After a period of time registered with the council we were offered a two bedroom property ten minutes from where we currently live but an area I am not familiar with
The private rental market is my real issue here. As I have mentioned we can comfortably live each month but haven’t been in a position where we can build up substantial savings in order to save a deposit to buy a home and I can’t see this changing any time soon. Another issue, which has also reared it’s ugly head when we have privately rented in the past, is that although my partner earns enough to support us, due to my low income and him being self-employed many people aren’t willing to offer us a tenancy as my wage alone wouldn’t cover the rates charged by private landlords – and don’t get me started on the cost of private rents! As I mentioned earlier, we do live in the North East, and property prices are nowhere near as high as they are ‘down south’ but nevertheless the issues still remain the same. In the past we have paid to rent privately with rates that have left us with nothing left after paying bills – literally! We have lived in places with damp, mould, drafts, leaking boilers and unanswered phone calls, text messages and empty promises with regards to arranging times to meet. We have had issues with getting back deposits and the list goes on. The point I suppose I am trying to make is that there appears to be an unhealthy, negative and on the whole untrue stigmatisation that goes hand in hand with social housing. Every individuals situation is different but upon telling people about our new accommodation we have been met with mixed responses – responses we didn’t get when privately renting. We aren’t entitled to any benefits but we are entitled to an affordable and secure home – what does that matter? Yes there will be people living on the estate who claim housing benefits, Job Seekers, disability allowance and the list goes on. There will be people on the estate earning more than we do, people who work and people who don’t but that is no different to any of the streets myself or my partner have lived on, whether privately renting or living with parents who own their own home. ‘The people’ who live on council estates (as they are often referred too) are no different to you or me. I am now one of these ‘people’ and I want to know why is it that you often feel as though you are being met with pity with regards to living in social housing?
This Thursday, 8th January 2015, at 9pm on ITV a new programme is airing. ‘Bring Back Borstal’ is a programme aiming to put a number of young offenders through a 1930’s ‘borstal’ style regime. It features Professor David Wilson, a well known and respected criminologist along with fourteen volunteer ‘offenders.’ I am very much looking forward to this as on the face of it is demonstrating a punishment style I don’t entirely agree with so I will be watching with interest. I will follow up with an opinion post on Friday and would be keen to hear views from others.
There is currently some Twitter talk regarding this programme – which I am sure will get a whole lot more interesting at 9pm on Thursday! Searching #bringbackborstal will bring up any current discussion.
Every year I hope to read more than the last however now my degree is over it is possible! I have so many unread books and really want to start getting through them. I still have a little way to go with the current book I am reading, ‘Naming Jack the Ripper’ and there will most definitely be a review on here once I am finished, it is an interesting read but not exactly what I was expecting. I received only one books for Christmas (usually I end up with quite a few) however I was pleased about this as, like I stated above, I want to start getting through the piles of unread books I already have. The book which I received was ‘Revolution’ by Russell Brand – a book which I am extremely keen to read. I have never been a ‘follower’ of Russell Brand until rather recently. I began to take an interest in what he does when I found out he supported the efforts to overturn the ridiculous ruling stating prisoners could not have books sent to them. I then found his YouTube channel which, in my opinion, contains a wealth of very interesting videos, talking about a range of contemporary and topical subjects. I think that this book will be my next on the to read list as I am interested to hear what he has to say.
Following on from this I have a number of academic texts I would like to read, albeit not the entire book! I have had David A. Crighton and Graham J. Towl’s ‘Psychology in Prisons’ for a while and really want to get stuck into reading chunks of interest of this book. Another book, which I have dipped into on a number of occasions, is ‘The Oxford Handbook of Criminology’ and this is another I would like to look at in more detail.
Aside from these ‘text’ books I really want to get through ‘The Lucifer Effect’ by Philip Zimbardo. This featured briefly in the psychology modules of my degree but a rather thick book, with tiny text, it ended up not being one of the further readings books I chose to read.
What is everyone else reading in 2015?
Today is the last day of 2014. What a year it has been! This is the year I have welcomed my gorgeous and amazing son into the world and is the year that I achieved a major goal of mine – which resulted in a BSc Hons in Criminology and Psychological studies. I don’t make new years resolutions as I think it is important to constantly set goals and targets for yourself and to keep reviewing, changing and adapting these as your life changes. What I am hoping is to start working towards changing my career path and put my degree to good use! I would like start narrowing down my area of study and go on and do some further studying. For as long as circumstances allow I want to continue with my voluntary work and I would like to write a little more – including more blogging!
There are 365 days in a year which means it’s highly unlikely every day has been filled with joy, as always there are sadly tragedies which affect so many people but I hope everyone can look back on parts of 2014 and smile. Finally I hope everyone has a brilliant new years eve, whatever you may be doing, and that 2015 is full of happiness and success.
The current state of prisons in Britain is shocking. From staff shortages, a rise in the number of prisoner on prisoner and prisoner on officer attacks, the abhorrent number of suicides in our prisons, privatisation of prisons to the preposterous ban on family members and friends sending books (along with certain other items) which was enforced in November 2013 and thankfully was ruled to be unlawful by the High Court on December 5th 2014 – this was with great thanks to everyone involved in the books for prisoners campaign. But some members of society hold the opinion that it is not their place nor is it necessary for them to care about prisoners. Why should they give time and thoughts, or even actions, to people who have ‘brought it on themselves?’ This is something which in my opinion must change. I have to use generalisations when talking about this topic as it is just my opinion, however I am aware that with everything and everyone there are exceptions to the rules. Prison sentences are a result of a huge number of factors, too many to go into detail, but the majority result from failings in society. Individuals suffering with addiction, the housing crisis, lack of jobs and training, adults with reading and writing ages similar to children in primary schools, healthcare, the cost of living, the list goes on and on. Of course there are other reasons but when you are faced with the long list above it is often difficult to find a way out. I have noticed, from some, an attitude which allows little or no thought for others and a desire to help only ‘number one.’ We are all members of society, old and young, ill and healthy and I believe it is our duty to care about others. It starts with us. Creating some sort of barrier between ‘them’ and ‘us’ only contributes to the problem of offending and re-offending. Hostility and in many cases an unwillingness to understand the cause of an action contributes to a belief that people can’t change. People can change but they need help, positivity and support from everyone around them in order to succeed.
Cannabis is extremely controversial. There is a growing argument that cannabis should be legalised for a number of reasons from health benefits to the state being able to control and regulate as opposed to illegal dealers. Some may be for the legalisation, some against and some may not have an opinion which fits either of these brackets. This blog post is facts, pure and simple facts.
Cannabis is the most widely used drug (illegal) in Britain. It is made from a naturally occurring plant, which contributes to notion of some that it is an entirely harmless drug. The main active chemical in cannabis is commonly known as THC – the ‘proper’ name for this is tetrahydrocannabinol. There is evidence both for and against cannabis being addictive and material surrounding the short and long term effects of cannabis can be rather vague. When cannabis is smoked, and individuals mix it with tobacco, all of the risks associated with smoking are then something which affect the individual. Cannabis is currently a class B drug in the United Kingdom and dependant upon the quantity you are found with possession can result in up to five years in prison, whilst supply of the drug may lead to up to fourteen years along with a fine. If you are found with a small amount of cannabis on your being police can issue a warning or an on the spot fine, which currently stands at £90.
Effects: in general cannabis makes users feel relaxed, chilled out, happy and for many it brings on the feeling of hunger! However it is worth noting here that many users also experience hallucinations (these can range from mild to in some cases rather severe), a feeling of being faint, slightly sick and an alteration to your senses – in some cases serious paranoia may occur. At the time of using cannabis is effects how the brain works.
There are a number of street names, or slang terms, for cannabis and some are dependent upon the strength of the drug but the most common are: