Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 25, 2012 21:11:32 GMT
Mylegal comes up for two years
On the Social Justice run....
It doesn't seem possible but very nearly two years have elapsed since Mylegal was launched shortly after the dreaded October 2010 Comprehensive Spending Reviews were announced by our favourite friends in Parliament.
I remember the email from Mylegal's founder Patrick which followed shortly after Mylegal went on-line inviting me to 'get involved' with the public side of the ilegal forum network, I remember agreeing to give it a go without a clue as to what I was getting myself into!
I'd like to think Mylegal has made a connection with those who concern me the most, the people who fear these far reaching and wretched welfare reforms more than anyone else, those who are filled with absolute terror when the dreaded DWP manilla envelopes comes through their letter boxes with more 'We are sorry to tell but you are not entitled to' news. I've never seen so many lives turned up side down in such a short space of time, it's relentless, heartless and worst of all it's not even being done to make financial savings - the claimant count figures tell the real story. (a 'Mylegal' project on this is currently under way).
I'd like to think a fair few people have found a friend in Mylegal. By which I mean those who have lost faith in our advice agencies and the charities who are meant to be there to protect them. In my view it's a great shame that some have turned their back on the importance of offering face to face specialist advice and looked to new way of 'delivering advice'. It's handed government just what they want on a plate - an advice sector without an effective voice.
It's the clients who we don't see who most concern me, they are the ones who seek some kind of safeguard in social media 'be-friending', it has become all too clear that they have no where else to turn; a fair number tell me how they've lost faith in advice agencies that they can no longer get through to, some tell me that after waiting weeks they don't feel it was worth the wait because they get to see someone who doesn't seem able to understand their problem. I encourage them to complain but whilst the sector remaps its 'delivery models' these people need something they are finding increasingly difficult to access - the need for specialist advice is greater than ever before.
Yet it's become a sad reflection of the times that the case for specialist advisers hasn't been readily embraced or recognised as it should have been. I have deep concerns over what will happen to the clients who need more than modern advice can provide, those who don't do self - help, those who don't do telephone advice, those who don't do easy on-line solutions, those who despair at being kept in advice line queues only to end up with ineffective solutions provided by agencies who haven't seen specialists as a priority.
Mylegal has on my part been partly an experiment to seek out the views of our 'absent' clients. Government wrongly construes them as having an 'on-line capability' and uses their presence on social media as evidence of how they will cope with the digital era. The reverse is true, when it comes to seeking advice the reality is what these people most fear is the full on digital age, the reason they resort to social media is to seek the next best thing to face to face by engaging with specialists who can hold their hand on-line.
They are on line in their droves because they live in sheer fear of welfare reform and want to know what they are up against. They can tick boxes but they haven't got a clue which ones to tick or why - that's what so many of them ask me 'on - line'. They've deserted advice agencies who can't offer them a personal touch and are seeking on - line 'friends' who can give them a bit of one to one advice.
I'll reserve my full thoughts on this for another day, I'll probably have time on my hands in the future, until then I'll plug on motivated by simple comments like this from one of ilegal's mylegal viewers:
It's been hard work, especially when combined with the day job, the campaign work continues to grind on and on - but that's yet another story for another day. In an ideal world I guess I wouldn't feel so compelled to put so much of my time and energy into pushing for a little slice of social justice for those who I see as worthy of it . But the 31st March 2013 is upon us; until then we have to do all we can and in that regard I'll press on just as I have over the last two years.
None at all.
Indeed my sincere gratitude goes to Patrick for sending me that email, it awakened me to a whole world out there; a proportion of which are people in absolute despair. I'm all for empowering but let's not kid ourselves; there will always be those who frankly won't get by properly without our help; they'll just end up kicked by the State into compliance and labelled as scroungers.
I view that as a great shame as each day I see how these people are actually anything but. Yes a fair number are simply people who 'just don't cope' - the people government despise and the people who will get lost without our support. What's makes it all the more despicable is we now live in an era where the non - coping end up having to go to Court to beg for support, from 1st April 2013 they will do so without our help. What kind of justice can they expect as non-coping people up against a relentless Secretary of State who sits in judgement with his friend - the Daily Mail sponsored jury of prejudice?
If only people would sit down with those who seemingly 'don't cope', those who the welfare system has neglected for years for statistical convenience and listen to the often harrowing stories which emerge. You have to ask what put them on welfare in the first place, reasons frequently being connected with early childhood abuse, broken relations, never recovering from previous recessions, lives blunted by all kinds of trauma. They've long since lost faith in a system which never supported them and an advice sector which was once there for them.
My regards and thanks to all who have shown an interest in Mylegal. My hope is we find new ways of filling the justice gap which others have abandoned, for nothing would please me more than to be able to post a third year anniversary of the continuing success of Mylegal, I'm putting all my faith in finding solutions to enable a way forward - I remain convinced we will find a way. Why? How? - I'm not sure but I know one thing - we have to.