Advice for the fight ahead (please add your own)

10 May

So the Tories are in and they’ve already cut fire stations and they have the Human Rights Act on the chopping block. It is going to be horrible, but it will come to an end, eventually.

In the meantime, it will likely get really shitty for a lot of people.  Here is a list of tips and bit of knowledge off the top of my head, and some of my friends’ suggestions, for things which might make it easier to get through the next five years.  This is based on the charities I’ve worked for, and the stuff that’s helped me or friends of mine at various times. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments, and share this wherever you think it might be useful.  Knowledge is power and we’re going to need each other.

    • You can get job centres to refund transport costs to and from interviews.
    • If you organise your job hunt into a spreadsheet, and stick the deadline as one column, link to a job ad as another column, and then all the other stuff that’s important (salary, length of commute, sector, etc) and filter by deadline you can easily prioritise the most promising apps.
    • If you are homeless, job centres have a ‘discretionary easement of conditionality‘ to lay off the jobseeker rules about how many apps you’ve done while you sort out your housing situation.
    • Join a union. Find out which one is best for you here. Join now, ’cause often you need to have been a member for 3 months to qualify for help.
    • The phone number for Green and Black Cross legal support for demos is 07946 541511. Put it in your phone now. Write it on your arm before a demo. Get in touch with them about becoming a legal observer for demos.

  • Say ‘no comment’ to anything a police officer asks you on a demo. Especially the ‘friendly’ ones in sky blue bibs. Also useful is the phrase “am I obliged to do that?” or “Am I obliged to answer that?”
  • Netpol: The Network for Police Monitoring have all kinds of useful info for demos and more here: https://netpol.org/resources/
  • You can find any newspaper’s newsdesk phone number online. You can email in your own press releases quite easily. Local papers often put things up as is if it’s written well. Bonus points if it has a photo. Be wary of sticking people’s full names on things if possible, though, because googleability can be a curse.
  • You can find your nearest foodbank on the Trussell Trust website to help or to recieve help
  • There is no shame in asking for help, or for advice. And if you just need someone to talk to the Samaritans are freephone and 24 hours: 08457 90 90 90
  • You can go find and talk to your local MP at their surgeries. Find their details on They Work For You.
  • Sounds obvious but try to get enough sleep and drink enough water. They’re the first things to go when I’m stressed & they screw with your concentration. Less than six hours’ sleep a night for two weeks and you are ‘functionally drunk’.
  • Ditto getting enough exercise. Self-care, guys. It’s a radical act.
  • Make lists and bitesize that stuff down. You can do it if you plot out small regular goals.
  • If it’s taking too long to get to see someone about your mental health you can get how-to books on cognitive behaviour therapy. Not the same as seeing a doctor by any means, but might help while you wait.
  • If you see someone sleeping rough (they have to be bedded down because reasons) tell Streetlink on 0300 500 0914. (Stick the number in your phone now) and they’ll send a team out to make contact with the person. You can also fill out a report on their website. They’ll ask you to describe the person as best you can.
  • Clothes shop in charity shops in the posh neighbourhoods. They throw out better stuff that’ll last longer.
  • Organise a ‘swap day’ with your mates: bring anything you haven’t worn in a while. You have a clear out, you get some cool new stuff, you see your stuff going to good new homes. Anything unclaimed can go to a charity shop. Make sure you invite a range of bodyshapes/dress sizes of friends so everyone’s got a good chance of getting some nice new stuff.
  • You can mend a lot of things with WD-40 or gaffer tape. You can get a lot of basic tools from a poundshop. Google how to mend a thing if you haven’t got a clue. There’s tons of tutorials online.

More suggestions from mates:

  • For fuel woes, make sure your energy suppliers are different, if you can only afford one bill in an emergency, you can still eat.
  •  A lot of doctors’ offices and waiting rooms also have free pamphlets which tell you the basic points and how-to of CBT if you can’t afford to buy a book. Again not the same as seeing a doctor but a starting point for help if there’s nothing else available.
  • A lot of locations also have IAPT (improving access to psychological therapies) departments which will let you self refer for CBT, no need for your GP to agree/get around to it.
  • Also the Citizen’s Advice Bureau are a fucking goldmine of information on your rights, due process, template letters to send to officials.
  • Ditto Shelter if you’re dealing with crappy landlords
  • An obvious one but one that’s saved my brother’s job even in times of austerity: get yourself well-versed in what constitutes fair and unfair grounds for dismissal at your job, if you are suddenly let go you can check it and then fight it if possible.
  • Don’t underestimate your mates’ skills and knowledge and contacts. Don’t be afraid to put out a “can anyone help me with this?” or “does anyone know how this works?” call out. I’ve had everything from living situations to software sorted by sending out a distress flare once in a while.
  • Join Freecycle online, every area in the UK has one.
  • If possible, support your local charities. They need it and you might need them.
  • mental health and activism: if you are negatively affected by something – whether that’s police violence, getting arrested, or just feeling shit because the world is shit and we’re not making any headway – talk to people about it! this stuff is really fucking hard and we need to share that sometimes. equally, activists need to stop acting like we’re always cool and ok about stuff like getting kettled for 4 hours or arrested, because we’re such hardcore activists that it’s all totally normal to us. it’s not normal, it’s traumatic. if it happens to your friend, or someone in one of your activist groups, check they are ok – that gives them permission to say “actually no I’m not”.
  • This Mirror article on 7 ways to make a difference if you oppose the Conservative government isn’t bad.
  • Credit unions are an ethical source of affordable loans.
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