All I want for Christmas…

…is money? “people with lots of money don’t spend it. They just sit on it, like Smaug in his cave. The more money you have, the less of it you spend every year. If you have $10,000, you might spend it this year. If you have $10 million, you’re not gonna. If you have $1,000, you’re at least somewhat likely to spend it this month.” (Evonomics)
 
…is a home? “We need organisations like ACORN, because it’s time we got off the sofa. No more sofa politics – its time not be ashamed, I used to be ashamed…but this is the 21st century, it’s time renting was brought in line” (Youtube)
 
…is a job? “From striking British Airways Mixed Fleet, to the Picturehouse cinema workers and teaching assistants in Durham, the most high profile battles taking place at the moment involve precarious workers that previously had little or no involvement in trade-unions, but have become radicalised after months of struggle.” (Open Democracy)
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 6th December, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Playing the inequality game, discussing Basic Income, and plans for the new year. All welcome. Donations for tea and biscuits. Mince pies free.
 
Re-Imagining Brexit Britain
6.30pm – 8.30pm, Thursday 14th December The Unity Centre, St Leonard’s Road, Rotherham, S65 1PD
The vote to leave the European Union in June 2016 touched upon some of big themes about the future of the Britain as a nation state. Issues such as the backlash to globalization, inequality, the growing divide between cities and rural areas, identity, and blaming of migrants in the UK. This grassroots perspective aims to build ‘Communities of Solidarity’ who can through discussions, active campaigns and programs to build leadership begin to challenge the language and debates around Brexit ahead of 2019. Organised by The Monitoring Group, see Eventbrite for more details and tickets.
 
More?
 
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…is food?
 
“The S2 Food Bank is a network of community and faith organisations who have come together to provide food parcels to those in need of food who live in the Sheffield S2 area.”
 
“As a new social enterprise, we are always looking for a bit of extra cash to help us grow. Any funds donated will be used to help us intercept more food and feed more people.” (Real Junk Food Sheffield)
 
“All of the food we use at Jubilee Food Bank is donated in some way, shape or form. This is the easiest, most stress-free way to get involved as you can do so at your own time and convenience.”
 

Educating the Workers

“My parents had a strong sense that the educational system hadn’t been fair to them and they had missed out. I learned as a small child I had to work at least twice as hard as the middle class children to achieve the same result. When I did show ambition – to go to LSE to be a political researcher – I was told it wasn’t appropriate.” – Professor Diane Reay on how the education system still trains working class children for obedience and low expectations… (The Guardian)
 
“When Jean arrives at a house she swipes her phone to say she has arrived, and she swipes again when she leaves. She is paid for the time that is shown on the roster, rather than how long she is actually providing care. The phone tracks her movements throughout the day” – and technology ensures that obedience continues… (The Guardian)
 
“A great irony of British life is that lower-class people are often regarded, by their affluent superiors, as being a little coarse and unsophisticated, rough around the edges – when the true vulgarity on display is the apathy of many of those who regard themselves as educated and insightful; those who blindly believe, from the comfort of their economically gated communities, that this untenable status quo, built on sand, won’t soon collapse in on itself” – until people, one way or another, have had enough… (The Guardian)
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 6th December, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Playing the inequality game, discussing Basic Income, and plans for the new year. All welcome. Donations for tea and biscuits. Mince pies free.
 
Zero-Waste Market
10am to 5pm, Sunday 26th November, Trafalgar Warehouse, 120 Trafalgar Street, S1 4JT
Want to learn more about living sustainably? Join us for a fun-filled day of talks, stalls, music and activities!
 
Sheffield Soup Lucky #13
7pm to 9:30pm, Wednesday 29th November, St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane
Four pitches are made for local projects to do good stuff in Sheffield.
Minimum £5 donation on the door. Soup supplied by Silversmiths Restaurant. All money on the door goes to the winning pitch.
 
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Monopoly
 
A Game of (In)Equality
 
“next time someone invites you to join a game of Monopoly, here’s a thought. As you set out piles for the Chance and Community Chest cards, establish a third pile for Land-Value Tax, to which every property owner must contribute each time they charge rent to a fellow player. How high should that land tax be? And how should the resulting tax receipts be distributed? Such questions will no doubt lead to fiery debate around the Monopoly board – but then that is exactly what Magie had always hoped for.” (BBC)

Giving people the space they need

“No working-class kid, however self-confident, is ever going to be made the editor of the Evening Standard without any journalistic experience, in the way that George Osborne was. What he has is a complicated nexus, a network of power and relationships that means you can’t really fail” – Laura Barton and others on gender, class and confidence, and the impact of an unequal society (The Guardian)
 
“Our policy proposals are designed solely to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic and social inequality, as per our charitable objectives. As a politically neutral charity, we urge all political parties to adopt these policies.” – You can read the Equality Trust’s proposals for policies towards a more egalitarian society.
 
In the meantime, one thing that would help is to exempt care leavers from paying Council Tax. A campaign from the Children’s Society, this important change will give young people valuable time to learn how to manage their finances without the worry of falling into council tax debt. Please sign and send if you can.
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 8th November, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Discussing the rollout of Universal Credit, the inequality game, and projects for the coming year. All welcome. Free. Donations for tea and biscuits.
 
‘Large’ families, poverty and welfare reform conference
10am to 4pm, Monday 13th November, Banqueting Suite, Bradford City Hall
This conference will bring together policy makers, practitioners, voluntary sector representatives and academics with an interest in better understanding the experiences and consequences of poverty and welfare reform for large families. Organised by Bradford District Anti-poverty Coordination Group and The Children’s Society.
 
Rise Like Lions
Thu 16 Nov 2016, from 6.45pm, Trades and Labour Club, 200 Duke St. S2 3GA
Banner Theatre’s performance is a political kaleidoscope of working class struggles, told with humour and music. It stages the successful strikes of teaching support staff in Derby and Durham, the campaign against cuts to school budgets, interlaced with the stories of those who lead the lively anti-fracking campaigns that have sprung up around the UK.
Doors and bar open 6.45pm, start time: 7.30pm. Ticket price: £8 waged / £4 concessions. To reserve tickets please email tucsheffield@gmail.com. See alt-Sheff for more info
 
Voices from the Margins
10am to 4pm, Saturday 18th November, St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane
Inspiring stories from churches, projects and people with lived experience
Hear how your support of Church Action on Poverty has an impact on the root causes of poverty. Roundtable conversations and discussions – share your own experiences and ideas.

After Brexit

“Offering tax loopholes or financial laxity brings in, at best, exactly the wrong kind of investment – flighty, profit-shifting, wealth-extracting nonsense that hardly touches the sides – not the wealth-creating stuff Britain needs, rooted in its economy with local jobs and supply chains.” – why becoming a post-Brexit tax haven is a really bad idea…(The Guardian)
 
“To make any significant progress in distributing wealth in the UK more fairly we will need both pre-distributive and re-distributive measures that are radical and far reaching in scale” – on the other hand, we could become a more equal society… (The Equality Trust)
 
“Pay people proper wages, give them decent working conditions and housing and they will do the work. You simply can’t pay for overpriced rural housing out of a wage packet that’s kept artificially low because the middlemen pocket most of the sales price.” – which might help grow more food in our isolation. (Open Democracy)
 
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Meeting date change
 
Apologies but we have had to change the date for the next Equality Group meeting. Please note that the date is now Wednesday 8th November. Usual time and place – 7pm at Quaker Meeting House. Looking forward to talking equality games, Universal Basic Income, and the coming Universal Credit.

Universal Credit Discredited

“Croydon council in south London, which piloted the universal credit full service, renewed its calls for a pause in the rollout. It said it would spend £3m this year helping thousands of tenants in arrears to avoid eviction, and said the 50% increase in support costs was unsustainable.” – Councils say it’s going to be a disaster… (The Guardian)
 
“Tens of thousands of very vulnerable people have their lifeline switched off with a click. Although we are told to provide vulnerable claimants with more support, perhaps by reminding them that they should be doing something, normally we have very little to go by as we sit behind a computer screen” – those putting the system in place have serious concerns… (The Independent)
 
“I was told to apply for Universal Credit and make my appointment down the job centre in July and I did not have my first payment until August 9.” – and those being put on the new system face debt and hunger…
 
foody
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, PLEASE NOTE DATE TBC, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Discussing the rollout of Universal Credit, the inequality game, and projects for the coming year. All welcome. Free. Donations for tea and biscuits.
 
The New Poverty
7:30pm, Tuesday 24th October, Creative Lounge, Workstation
Today 13 million people live in poverty in the UK – one of the richest countries in the world. Investigative journalist Stephen Armstrong tells the story of an unreported Britain and what we can do to stop the destruction of the welfare state. Tickets £6/£5 (conc) from the Off The Shelf site
 
Voices from the Margins
10am to 4pm, Saturday 18th November, St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane
Inspiring stories from churches, projects and people with lived experience. Hear how Church Action on Poverty has an impact on the root causes of poverty. Roundtable conversations and discussions – share your own experiences and ideas.
 
More?
 
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Professors and Lecturers on the Welfare State
 
Professor Henrietta Moore, setting out the proposal for Universal Basic Services, said: “Without radical new ideas that challenge the status quo, we face a future where the changing shape of our society and labour market leaves more and more people struggling simply to achieve the basics – let alone having the resources and mental energy to allow themselves and their families to flourish.” (The Independent)
 
Whither the Welfare State? Laurie Taylor talks to Chris Renwick, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York and author of a new book examining the origins and purpose of the ‘cradle to grave’ welfare provision introduced under a Labour government in 1948 as part of this edition of Thinking Aloud on Radio 4. (BBC iPlayer)
 
In Britain today, one in four children are growing up in poverty. Experts say these figures are predicted to rise by nearly one million in the next five years. In this intimate documentary, rapper Professor Green sets out to uncover what life is like for young people living on the breadline today. (BBC iPlayer)
 

Trickle up theory

Youth-Unemployment-10-1024x682
Is awareness of what income inequality does trickling up…?
 
“You get in your car and you think, ‘I’m going to go home now.’ Then you see the big TV and the missus is going, ‘What do you want for dinner?’ And I’m like, ‘What have you got? What are the options?’ And then she reels it off and I’ve just given a bag of food to someone who has no option.” – a premiership footballer on volunteering at a food bank
 
“Despite spending more, young people today are more likely to live in overcrowded and smaller spaces, and face longer journeys to work – commuting for the equivalent of three days a year more than their parents.” – a former Tory minister on how the housing crisis is hitting each generation harder (The Guardian)
 
“closing the outcome gaps in education and health between advantaged and disadvantaged groups can reduce inequality and promote growth; social benefits, such as cash transfers can help protect the most vulnerable” – IMF economists on the threat of income inequality (the IMF)
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 4th October, Quaker Meeting House, St James St

Discussing the Question Time card project, the inequality game, and projects for the coming year. All welcome. Free. Donations for tea and biscuits.
 
Viking Economics
7:30pm, Sunday 15th October
George Lakey explores the inner workings of the Nordic economies that boast the world’s happiest, most productive workers, and explains how, if we can enact some of the changes the Scandinavians fought for surprisingly recently, we, too, can embrace equality in our economic policy.
See the Facebook site for more details.
 
The New Poverty
7:30pm, Tuesday 24th October, Creative Lounge, Workstation
Today 13 million people live in poverty in the UK – one of the richest countries in the world. Investigative journalist Stephen Armstrong tells the story of an unreported Britain and what we can do to stop the destruction of the welfare state.
See the Off The Shelf site for more details and to book tickets
 
More?
 
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Deprivation and community
 
“I see a great bunch of kids, who may not have much in the way of material possessions, but who are rich in the fact that they have each other. The sense of community and friendship is strong as they suffer the misery of debilitating boredom together, and my mam documented their attempts to alleviate it.”
Photos by Tish Murtha of the lives of unemployed kids in Newcastle
(British Journal of Photography)
(top image from From the series Youth Unemployment © Ella Murtha)

Because you’re worth it

“Too many corporations are competing to achieve the wrong results in the wrong way, led astray by perverse incentives that produce bad outcomes. And the excessive rewards for those at the top are a prize for the people who play this game best” – Stefan Stern on the broken culture of business (The Guardian)
 
One solution is to make pay more transparent and have worker representation on the boards of companies, you can sign the 38 Degrees petition.
 
Of course, if the Government won’t push for justice, there is another way… “Pushing back is something we all need to learn how to do. The problems me and my colleagues face on the McDonald’s counter are problems faced by a generation of workers– in food and hospitality but also in call centres, warehouses, offices, and retail stores up and down the country.” – an employee at MaccyD on striking for better conditions (iNews).
 
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Forthcoming
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 6th September, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Discussing the Question Time card project, the inequality game, and projects for the coming year. All welcome. Free. Donations for tea and biscuits.
 
==============================
Worth out of work
“Minimum overheads, maximum profits – that’s what they’re going for” – the DWP continues redefining the welfare state to make people as unwell as possible (The Independent).
 
“This is a recipe for, at best, bureaucratic chaos and at worst, widespread economic hardship. Party politics aside, any politician worth their salt would look at the damage already being caused by universal credit’s mix of flaws and cuts and hit the pause button. Instead, the government is pressing ahead regardless.” (The Guardian)
 
Across the system, it’s as if whole populations of human beings are being defined as worthless… poet Agnes Torok on the worth of people

Life in the machine

“There are too many people at work who are treated like cogs in a machine rather than being human beings, and there are too many people who don’t see a route from their current job to progress and earn more and do better.” – the Taylor report is in, but will it change anything…?
 
There’s a lot to sort out… “research by Cambridge and Oxford sociologists indicates that 4.6 million people are on flexible contracts, meaning they have minimal guaranteed hours that can be subject to last minute changes and reductions, often having a negative impact on their home lives and mental health.” (The Independent)
 
And the effects might be terminal… “social factors such as education, employment and working conditions and poverty all affected life expectancy by influencing lifestyles. As austerity was placing pressures on these, they may in turn be influencing life expectancy.” (BBC)
 
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Out and about
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 6th September, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Discussing the Question Time card project, the inequality game, and projects for the coming year. All welcome. Free. Donations for tea and biscuits.
 
The Real Junk Food folks continue with their excellent work – one of their Pay As You Feel cafes and the Sharehouse Market continues over summer. They also have a new school learning initiative.
 
If you have some time to spare and would like to do something practical to create a better society, volunteering is an excellent start!
 
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Ways to fix the machine…</div>

 
Work with the people affected… “among the families we work with, we repeatedly find that parental confidence is on the floor. And yes, this is probably related to financial stress within a family. The Foundation Years Trust cannot provide a cure for financial hardship. However, we do find that once parents realise how much they already know and already do to support their child’s early development, their self-perceived ability to parent improves.” (Open Democracy)
 
Support the people affected… “if one thing sticks with you from reading this, then let it be to buy an extra bag of porridge oats, some long-life milk or a few tins of soup every now and again and donate to your local food bank, which you can do at most supermarkets. Many foodbanks, including the one I volunteer at, rely completely on donations from people like you and me.” (The Motherload blog)
 
Create an equal society (no-one will object, more or less)… “Our equality condition shows that people would accept the elimination of hierarchies,” write Zhou and his colleagues. “It is only when winners become losers and losers become winners that people object.” (Ars Technica)

Falling upon closed ears

“Today has seen coverage in various media reports of yet another study on food banks and food bank use – there’s little new here, and little that those involved haven’t been saying to Government since at least 2012 – but somehow it falls upon closed ears. Over the past few weeks our shelves at Pxi-Parson Cross Initiative Projects have been getting more and more depleted, and have required more and more topping up. We’ve spent nearly another £100 this week alone on food in addition to that donated directly. We are nearing a crisis point – what happens then I genuinely do not know.” – comment from Nick at PXI on the latest investigation into food bank use
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
7pm to 9pm, Wednesday 5th June, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Discussing the Question Time card project and other actions around inequality. All welcome. Free. Donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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As the NHS enters its 70th year, what now?
From 6:30pm, Monday 3 July, at Central United Reform Church
On the 70th anniversary of the NHS, a post-election special preceded by birthday cake! With Sheffield Save our NHS.
 
Sheffield Utopia (workshop #2)
6:30pm to 8:30pm, Tuesday 11th July, Showroom Cinema
We will be developing our discussions of how utopian thinking might be useful in our personal and political lives today. (If you couldn’t make the first event, don’t worry, you’ll be welcomed at this one!). This is utopian re-framing on a very small scale. This is going to be a process, and the process has to start somewhere. Hosted by Max Munday. Please see event page for more details.
 
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Poverty, insecurity, and the need for organisation
 
Did you know that the poorest 6.5 million people in the UK live on just £7.20p a day, after tax? That money has to cover everything, including housing costs
 
“If 30 percent of people have experienced poverty incomes in the last 4 years, many people will know someone in their workplace who has found themselves in financial difficulty relatively recently.” – insecurity in poverty and out
 
Excellent Radio 4 programme uncovering zero-hours exploitation and self-employed starvation wages in the UK, uncluding an eye-opening expose of the clothesmaking revival in Leicester, and how Unions could push back

A Manifesto for a Fairer Society

“The UK has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the developed world, and evidence shows that this harms our physical and mental health, hinders our education, damages our economy, restricts social mobility, reduces levels of trust and civic participation, and weakens the social ties that bind us.”
 
Read the rest of the manifesto and follow up the campaign on the Equality Trust site
 
p.s. you only have until the 22nd May to register to vote!
 
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A fairer society starts here…
 
The Tax Dodgers Tour of Fargate
1pm, Saturday 20th May, meet at the Cathedral forecourt, free
 
Want to find out how to dodge tax like the professionals? Come on down to the Dodge & Co Tax Tour on Fargate this Saturday from 1pm – gathering on the Cathedral forecourt.
 
 
“Garners laughter and despair in equal measure”
“Reminds me of Sheffield Uncut”
“Very eye opening. Lots of jokes”
 
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Festival of Debate Question Time
Exhibition at Theatre Delicatessen to 20th June
 
Festival of Debate Question Time is a postcard and online project taking place as part of the Festival of Debate. The project aims to gather answers to four questions from across the city, as well as at Festival of Debate events. You can fill out cards at Theatre Delicatessen or go to our Facebook page and post a response – written, drawn, videoed, or audio!…
 
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Festival of Debate: Universal Basic Income: The Sheffield Model
Thursday, 1 June 7pm to 9pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James’ St, Sheffield.
 
A Universal Basic Income raises questions about the value of the work we do and what motivates people to work. A proposal has been drafted that sets out options for a Sheffield Basic Income and ways that we can get there. The meeting will take this proposal forward. With Ryan Powell (University of Sheffield), Simon Duffy (Centre for Welfare Reform), Richard Crisp (Sheffield Hallam University).
 
The event is free, donations welcome. To reserve a place, please go to tickets for good.
 
 
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You want more?