An interesting day here in Suburbia. I have been on a very interesting course. I have met some interesting people and had some interesting conversations, (in case you didn't realise I love communicating with people!!)
However, one conversation will stay with me for sometime:
At lunch I was talking to a teacher who works in Wales. He works at a school for children aged 4 to 11. This is a school with a difference though. The children here have been excluded from all other schools in Wales. If they fail to stay at this school, their next stop will be a high security unit. They are damaged children. Damaged by life, parents and society. They are children of the 'Underclass'. You don't hear that word much these days but this is the word he used. There is one school in Britain of this sort and one in Wales. They are both full.
He has 5 children in his class and is supported by 2 other adults. Five is the limit. The children are abusive and violent most of the time. It is the only way that they know how to behave. They spit in their teachers face most days and he has bruises from their attacks. Would you do that job?
The children come to school every day. They are bused in from miles around. No one forces them to come. Most of them have no one in their lives who care whether they go to school or not. They come to school because it is the only constant in their lives. The only time that anyone cares about them, their only form of routine, somewhere that provides the safe boundaries that they need.
None of them have fathers that are constantly present. The parents are often drug addicts or in prison. When they get off the bus after school they live mostly on the streets until the next day. No one cares for them. No one, that is, except the staff at their school. No matter what they're faced with, the teachers care and look after these children. Trying to put something back into their lives. Trying to keep them out of prison.
The teacher I spoke to told me they have a role of ex pupils names on the wall in the staff room. It is updated regularly. The majority end up in prison for serious crimes, not just burglary but murder and worse (if there is worse). The school can only do so much. Once the children leave the little security they have there and move on, they become more disturbed. They follow the path of their parents and their parents parents. This is the society in which we live.
I have nothing but admiration for the man I met today. He was calm and had a wonderfully pleasant face. He talked from the heart and did the job because he cared.
There are children on our streets tonight who have their futures planned ahead of them, their whole lives mapped out. There are children out there tonight that won't have a bedtime story, who won't have a kiss goodnight, who may never know the comfort of a happy home.
It was blog action day for poverty yesterday, I wasn't sure I could take part or whether I had anything to blog about, but today is different. It's not that I didn't know this sort of poverty was there but perhaps I chose not to watch. Because it is poverty. Not just material poverty but a spiritually poverty, a poverty of care, a poverty of life chances, a poverty of hope. Not just their hope but ours, the hope that we can protect children and provide a life that is good enough. Our poverty and theirs, together. What can we do?