Disabling Austerity

People who are disabled were already coping with large losses of support under austerity before the latest cuts to support. People with the severest disabilities (2% of the population) were already bearing around 15% of cuts
(Centre for Welfare Reform). Austerity is disabling us.
 
“The phantom benefit cheat is the perfect patsy for austerity. If there are hordes of disabled, mentally ill, or unemployed people who are draining the public purse, there is justification for sweeping cuts to social security. It doesn’t actually matter if this horde is lying to claim benefits or not” – Frances Ryan on how the shrinking of the welfare state is being spun (Guardian)
 
Swiftly passing the threshold for debate by parliament, a petition asking Government to reverse the cuts to disability support
 
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Forthcoming
 
The Peckham Experiment
Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
 
Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residentscould organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together. Talk by former GP Jack Czauderna, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group.
 
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The Divide Documentary
Wednesday 4th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Documentary inspired by the critically-acclaimed, bestselling book “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. https://www.facebook.com/events/588046788021095/
 
What happens when the rich get richer?
Wednesday 18th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. https://www.facebook.com/events/544693055703055/
 
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Banking on Land Vs. Prosperity
 
Monday 21st March, 7:30-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Exploring a remedy to systemic prosperity problems through film animations and a new game, this workshop will give you a helpful grounding in all things Land Value Tax and explore its helpful banking system with positive prosperity cycles.
 
Part of the Festival of Debate http://www.festivalofdebate.com/
 
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“Principle 5” general meeting
Tuesday 22nd March, 7pm, The Harlequin, 108 Nursery St. S3 8GG
The general meeting of “Principle 5” the Yorkshire Co-operative Resource Centre which provides study sessions, education and training on the development of co-operatives. Newcomers and volunteers most welcome.
 
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Achieving Our Potential
 
We’re all in this together – aren’t we? Excellent film from DPAC on the loss of the Independent Living Fund.

It’s a plot!

council-deprivation
 
If you work how much Councils have had their budgets cut by, and plot that against how much deprivation they are in, you find a strong link. The more deprived the area, the more the Council has its budget cut. It’s not a surprise – many extra grants to help those most in need have been cut – but it’s a signal of how the burden of austerity hits the worse off most.
 
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Forthcoming
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 2nd March, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
This month we’ve got more practicing of our equality games – prompting discussion and reflection on inequality. Also this month – what is a job worth? All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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The Peckham Experiment
Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residents could organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together. Talk by former GP Jack Czauderna, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group.
 
 peckham2
 
For more on the Peckham Experiment see http://thephf.org/
 
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Banking on Land Vs. Prosperity
Monday 21st March, 7:30-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Exploring a remedy to systemic prosperity problems through film animations and a new game, this workshop will give you a helpful grounding in all things Land Value Tax and explore its helpful banking system with positive prosperity cycles.
 
Part of the Festival of Debate
 
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Aspiration
 
“We can’t keep pretending that our taxes and benefits system is fair when the rich are given all the ladders and the poor all the snakes.  The system doesn’t help the ‘aspirational’ hard-working families we often hear politicians talk about. If anything it’s an Aspiration Tax.” – http://bit.ly/1RqaQcC (Equality Trust)
 
“Who doesn’t want to believe they have risen to success because of their own innate ability, talent or drive? To believe there are potentially more talented journalists, politicians, actors and judges from Manchester’s terrace houses and Glasgow’s housing schemes: well, it’s a recipe for insecurity. Better to comfort yourself with the belief that inequality is really just deserts.” – Owen Jones sets out how inequality selects whose aspirations become reality (The Guardian)
 
“The boys were attracted to a middling position – neither failing or succeeding – and being thought of as ‘ordinary’ by their peers. Yet their schools often promoted an idea of aspiration that was competitive and self-serving.” – the egalitarian aspiration of working class white schoolboys (Garth Stahl, The Guardian)

The wealth of sharing

Illuminating New Economics Foundation podcast on *that* research finding 62 people are as rich as half of humanity, concluding redistribution driven from top and bottom is the solution
 
“If I have 100 seal skins, it’s not going to do me any good. I cannot use them all” – A tribal elder from Greenland talks about sharing, in a series of videos on wealth by Triodos bank
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 3rd February, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Informal discussion about income inequality and actions for a better society. This month we’re trying out a game about the chances and pitfalls of life, looking at Basic Income, and discussing affiliating to the Living Wage Foundation. All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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A FAIR, FREE AND EQUAL SOCIETY. Is that really possible?
Friday, 12 February 2016 – 7:00pm – 9:30pm Freeman College, 88, Arundel St, Sheffield S1 2NG
An MP, an academic and a Quaker social activist consider the topic in three short talks, followed by questions and discussion.  Free admission. Voluntary contributions towards expenses.
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A Fair, Free and Equal Society: From Vision to Action
Saturday, 13 February 2016 – 10:00am – 5:00pm, Freeman College
What world do we want? And how do we get there? What is the role of social businesses, co-housing, farming and education? Explore ways ahead in this workshop led by Martin Large.
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For booking a place, email mailto:robertchamberlain43@outlook.com

A chance of a lifetime…

The point of the story is that the message I felt moved to deliver– that they are strong, they are valuable, they can handle what happens next, they will be okay– that’s a message our children are hearing almost never from the culture. Instead, what they hear over and over is, “You are balanced on the edge of disaster, and if you make one wrong move, you will topple over into the pit, and knowing you, you’re probably going to make that one wrong move.”
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 3rd February, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Informal discussion about income inequality and actions for a better society. All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Reading Group: PostCapitalism by Paul Mason
Tuesday 9th February, 7.30pm, upstairs at the Rutland Pub, 86 Brown St
A small reading group which welcomes new members, just starting a new book: PostCapitalism by Paul Mason. This month discussing chapters 2 and 3, pages 31-78.. Please note there is no wheelchair access.
 
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Eat junk food!
The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield hosts the Junk Cafe in the Regather Works, offering breakfast, brunch and lunch (pay what you feel). The project is about starting discussion on the value of food and building community. And eating tasty food!
 
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Inequality on the up…
 
Oxfam calculate that the 62 richest people in the world have since 2010 seen their wealth increase by 44%, equivalent to more than half a trillion dollars. Yes you read that right, half a trillion. By contrast the bottom half of the global population, a mere 3.5 billion people, saw their share of global wealth drop by an astonishing $1 trillion dollars, which is 41%.
http://bit.ly/1nvzzCO (Open Democracy)
 
It’s easy to think that inequality is inevitable but, says Danny Dorling, we are living in extraordinary times. The overall wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK has doubled in six years. Not only should this not go on, but it can’t go on…
http://bit.ly/1RKy3cb (the Guardian)
 
…what happens in the workplace might change it…
 
…a wider group of people should have a say on pay, not just directors on “remuneration committees” or shareholders, but others who have a different kind of stake in the company. … “Get employees and customers to vote on executive remuneration. If they are treating people well, all well and good.” – the BBC on how executives earned the yearly wage of average employees in just a few days
 
“There should be tax incentives towards employee-owned and co-operative companies. There should be legislation for employee representatives on company boards. A number of members of the European Union have that kind of legislation. We don’t, and we need it.” – Richard Wilkinson, co-author of the Spirit Level, on what we can do to address inequality

Buy less, live more

“Black Friday sucks the life out of small businesses, who cannot compete against this ruthless price cutting. If you really need to shop on Buy Nothing Day, ignore the big retailers with their aisles of organised landfill and make commitment to support local independent shops and businesses.”
 
“By making the discount period small, consumers are encouraged to bypass the contemplation stage of a purchase and grab products mindlessly off the shelves. This plays perfectly into the retailers hands, as shortening the decision process will lead to less questioning over how good an offer you are really getting, whether you really need the particular product, and if that money could be better spent elsewhere. The period of consideration has evaporated completely, and it appears that people are willing to buy now, regret later.”
http://bit.ly/1MI1AOV (Sandmachin / WordPress)
 
“Can anyone reasonably argue that discounts of up to £50 on any of these items are not worth a teeny, tiny little soul that you don’t really need anyway?” http://bit.ly/1kWzI0E (The Daily Mash)
 
Tonight – before you go to bed, think back over your day and remember three good things that happened – things that went well, that you enjoyed or were grateful for. These can be small (e.g. a delicious sandwich or a child smiling on the bus) or of bigger importance for you. Then do it tomorrow. You’ll probably find it varies. Try doing this for a week to start with. The maybe another week. It helps if you note down the good things, then you can look back and think about what makes you feel good and why.
 
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Forthcoming
 
Play games for equality – Sheffield Equality Group
Wednesday 2nd December, 7.00pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
What’s your favourite board game? Is there a parlour game you love? For our last meeting this year we’re having an evening of chat and game playing, thinking about how games can get across ideas of co-operation, equality, community… or we might just have a bit of a laugh with the usual chat. All welcome, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Time for Climate
Saturday 28th November, from 12pm midday, Tudor Square
Buying less stuff isn’t just good for us, it’s good for the planet too! Come with your family and friends and be part of our growing climate movement – all welcome. Mass sing and silent vigil at 2pm, various events round the town centre, part of the Global People’s Climate March.
 
“Local Public Banking” – with Positive Money
Monday 30th November, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
Public banking is 40% of banking in Germany and 25% of banking worldwide, but is rarely discussed in the UK. In Germany, this has resulted in a very vibrant small and medium business sector. With no speculation in the financial markets, local banks did not suffer from the crash of 2008 and helped keep businesses going.
Suggested donation of £3
 
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Stay Inspired!

We’re carrying on inspiring conversations at our next meeting, 7pm Wednesday 18th November at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House. You are most welcome to come along and share ideas, take part, and change the world for the better, even if just a little bit. (Facebook event page)
 
You can watch a video with ideas and reflections from our screening of the Spirit of ’45 here:
 
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Hope and taxes
 
Mrs Carthew said the traders had a “very good meeting” with HMRC when they submitted their offshore tax plan for approval. “It’s a threat to the Government because if they don’t act this could be rolled out to every town. Everything we have proposed is legal.” – the town that moved offshore to expose tax loopholes (Independent)…
 
“If you are reading this in the Beehive on West Street or the Graduate on Surrey Street, you are in a building owned in the Cayman Islands. If you work in the Hallamshire Business Park off Ecclesall Road, the ground under your feet is owned in Luxembourg. If you shop in M&S, Boots, Starbucks or Topshop, your pennies will be spirited away into tax havens across the world.” – on why we should share what we have for a better future (Now Then)
 
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Waste not
 
In a consumer society we don’t realise how much is being wasted (BBC iPlayer)… there’s now a national campaign you can join (Waste Not UK)… which has already persuaded one supermarket to change (Telegraph)… and donate food to places like the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP Sheffield).
 
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Forthcoming
 
Spending Review Rally
Wednesday 25 November, 5pm outside Sheffield Town Hall
Will the Autumn spending review witness a change in politics as wealth is distributed more equally and universal services to those most in need protected? Or will it be another swathe of cuts to local government that will risk care and support? Rally outside Sheffield Town Hall organised by South Yorkshire People’s Assembly
 
People’s March for Climate, Justice, and Jobs
Saturday 29th November
Ahead of the climate talks in Paris, a global march to demonstrate the need for action on climate change.
 
“Local Public Banking” – with Positive Money
Monday 30 November, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
Public banking is 40% of banking in Germany and 25% of banking worldwide, but is rarely discussed in the UK. In Germany, this has resulted in a very vibrant small and medium business sector. With no speculation in the financial markets, local banks did not suffer from the crash of 2008 and helped keep businesses going.
Suggested donation of £3
 
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Make Extreme Wealth History!

The impact of extreme wealth is heartbreaking… “In itself, ironically, it’s harder to talk about having money than it is to talk about not having money. It’s much more socially acceptable to say: ‘I am broke. Things are hard.’ You can’t say: ‘I have a ton of money.’ You have to keep a lot of your life private except in small circles.”
http://bit.ly/1LUe16J (The Guardian)
 
…a campaign has been founded to free people from the burden of extreme wealth…
http://bit.ly/1jz9JLE (Films for Action)
 
“I suppose I arrived at my charitable commitment largely through guilt. I recognized early on that my good fortune was not due to superior personal character or initiative so much as it was to dumb luck.”…thankfully a cure is at hand
 
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Forthcoming
 
Get inspired! Spirit of ’45
7pm Wednesday November 4th, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Our Inspiring Cinema season starts with a showing of Ken Loach’s “Spirit of ’45”. As the welfare state is being dismantled, Loach argues that “we should look to the past for a better future”. Looking at the spirit of unity that enabled the formation of the welfare state, the film is more relevant than ever 70 years on.
 
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£10 an hour now! Sheff4Ten launch
Saturday 24th Oct 1pm -2.30pm at Novotel Sheffield
Nick Rudikoff Senior Organiser with Service Employers Industry Union talks about the great success of the American Union in the Fight for $15. Joined by Ian Hodson (BFAWU) talking about the UK Fight for £10 campaign, along with shadow minister Louise Haigh MP and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
 
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Alternatives to Austerity
Monday 26th Oct, 7.30-9pm Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
How do we make fair and sustainable use of our world’s resources? What should be the role of politics in the economy? What alternatives are there that can deliver prosperity without busting the planet? Public discussion with Adrian Cruden of the Green Party, hosted by Positive Money
 

Inspiring Cinema

It’s a pleasure to announce our season of films and active sessions to create inspiring change. Inspiring Cinema will begin on Wednesday 4th November with Ken Loach’s excellent Spirit of ’45. The film documents how a spirit of unity forged in the second world war carried on to create a fairer Britain. Following each film there will be a short discussion, leading to an active session to create positive change the fortnight after.
 
To keep in touch with the season, and swap ideas for activities etc, you can join the Facebook group:

Inspiring Cinema flyer

 
Get inspired: Spirit of ’45 – 7pm Wednesday November 4th, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
 
The season starts with a showing of Ken Loach’s “Spirit of ’45”. Loach “movingly argues that we should look to the past for a better future”. As the welfare state is being dismantled, the film is more relevant than ever. The screening will be followed by an informal discussion to inform the active session.
 
Stay inspired: Spirit of ’15 – 7pm Wednesday November 18th, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
Following on from the film there will be an active session to create, make, lobby and inspire. You could write a letter to your MP on housing, make a short film about the need for a national health service, or make plans for an event on education. You don’t have to have any experience campaigning, just turn up and get inspiring!
 
 
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Next screenings:
 
Get Inspired: The Divide – 7pm Wednesday May 4th, Quaker Meeting House, St James St
A film documenting the impact of the divide between rich and poor, following the stories of those affected. Followed by an active session on Wednesday May 18th
 
Please note that the February events have been postponed

Generation Rent

generation_rent
 
“I’m a single mother on a low income … Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, then I had a failed reconstruction operation that ended in a full mastectomy. They know all this. I have massively improved their property, I have always paid the rent. I have been a very good tenant.” – a mother speaks out on her eviction (Guardian)…
 
“The latest official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows how since 1998 their rents have risen more than twice as fast as living costs. The median private rent has risen from £71 a week to £128, an increase of 80pc, while the consumer prices index, which measures the cost of living, has risen by 38pc.” – research from Generation Rent shows the impact of rent rises (Telegraph)…
 
“The medieval rent extractors of the Rhine went too far. In the end they provoked a popular backlash. The picturesque castles of what became known as ‘robber barons’ were besieged and sacked by the angry subjects of the Holy Roman Empire. The strange thing is that, despite bringing on the global financial crisis and taking a sword to the living standards of millions of their fellow citizens, today’s financial robber barons have been more or less untouched.” – Ben Chu on the rentiers of finance  (Independent)…
 
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Forthcoming

 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 2nd September, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
Sheffield Equality Group chat about income inequality and actions to reduce it. Talking about The Divide documentary, on-going cuts to welfare and the rentier economy. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Libfest: a free festival of music and community organising
Saturday 29th August, 11am to 10:30pm, Old Sharrow Junior School, South View Road, S11 8
This August bank holiday, Sheffield IWW are hosting a one day festival, with live music and DJs throughout the day. There will also be stalls from different community groups, and workshops on topics such as workplace organising and anti-fascism.
 
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£10 AN HOUR AND A UNION! – Sheff4Ten organising meeting
Monday 7th September, 6pm-7:30pm, upstairs meeting room, Red Deer, Pitt St
This meeting will discuss the concrete steps we can take to organise young workers into union branches, making the latent strength of the trade union movement relevant to this new generation of motivated youth, with the aim of kicking off a New York-style mass movement for decent jobs and fair pay.
 
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Positive Money – talk on “Banks, Debt and Inequality”
Monday 28 September, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
This talk will illustrate how the nation has surrendered its sovereign right to create money to private banks, and how this leads to high levels of private debt, and a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. Followed by discussion.
https://alt-sheff.org/events/4174
 
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The New Workplace
Excellent BBC series on the changing workplace. Particularly eye opening is an episode on agency workers in a Marks and Spencers delivery centre, who are farmed out to increasingly obscure tax dodging companies and offered ever worsening contracts, with unions struggling to find out who they are actually employed by…
 

This is a song about equality

The IMF says “In advanced economies, policies should focus on reforms to increase human capital and skills, coupled with making tax systems more progressive.” (PDF IMF) …
 
An economist argues for “a newly progressive income tax, rising in steps to a top rate of 65% … this may sound like impossiblist stuff, but Atkinson demonstrates that the constraints are purely political, not economic.” (The Guardian)
 
Constraints are also social, as “[t]hose experiencing poverty show significantly lower levels of confidence in their own ability to succeed. This has negative physical and psychological health consequences, along with reduced educational and professional attainment.” (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
 
And when that comes to raising kids, that lack of confidence carries on for generations, as  “children from less advantaged family backgrounds who were high attaining in early cognitive skill assessments are found to be less able or at least less successful at converting this early high potential into career success … A society in which the success or failure of children with equal ability rests on the social and economic status of their parents is not a fair one. Not only is it unfair but it is a waste of the talents of those from less advantaged backgrounds; damaging for the individuals, the economy and society.” (pdf, .gov.uk)
 
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Equality in the Pub
7pm, Wednesday 5th August, Rutland Arms, Sheffield
We’re having another summer Equality in the Pub meet, this time at the Rutland Arms. A chance to have a meet, chat about inequality, politics, and owt else 🙂 All welcome. If it’s warm, we might be in the beer garden.
 
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This is a song about equality
 
This is a song about equality,
If you are never givin the chance,
Then you are never able to show you can succeed
(Anti-Flag, the video is a tad amateur, but the song is quality)