Sunday, December 17, 2017

Welsh Despair

Ebbw Vale is the largest town in the county of Blaenau Gwent. 

This autumn the county was found to be the cheapest place to buy a home in England and Wales (averaging £777 per sq metre in 2016, compared with £19,439 for the most expensive, London’s Kensington and Chelsea). 

It offers the second-lowest mean salary in Britain.

Its GCSE results are the worst in Wales. 

Five food banks operate within an area of about 42 square miles.

 Some 12% of working-age residents receive government support for disability or incapacity – twice the national average. 

 Life expectancy for both men and women is among the lowest in England and Wales.

 Out of a population of 60,000, one in every six adults is being prescribed an antidepressant, according to NHS data from 2013.

At one time, thousands of men worked to produce the steel that helped to drive Britain’s industrial revolution. The steelworks closed for good 15 years ago.

“GPs haven’t got time to listen, to talk to people, to find out what’s going on. They’ve got that five- or 10-minute slot, somebody’s in tears, they’re saying they’re depressed,” Tara Johnstone explains at the Phoenix Project, the publicly funded drop-in centre where she works in nearby Brynmawr. It’s run by a local charity, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent Mind, and people come to chat about their problems: anxiety, depression, illness, bereavement. Most stories revolve around the same theme.
“It’s lack of work,” explains Trish Richards, another Phoenix staff member. “I’ve had people come to me on zero-hours contracts. They don’t know where they are from one week to the next. Can’t plan. Can’t even plan to go to the dentist in case they get called into work.”

The Socialist Party

South Wales Branch (Cardiff )

Saturday, 13 January  
12:00pm - 2:00pm

Venue: 29 Park Place,
 Cardiff CF10 3BA 
(across the road from the National Museum) 

Two meetings out of three will take place in Swansea

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