The piece below is from the D.i.Y.#11 – Prisoner Support Special edition.
PLEASE NOTE – For the best viewing experience, we recommend that you download the PDF of DiY Culture No.9 from DropBox to your PC/laptop/phone.
When I’m doing events to promote my books similar questions come up over and over again. one of those could be uncharitably titled “I work in the public sector, how can we help the children who are like you used to be?”. The answer has varied, because I am not entirely sure. I always say that I understand there are good, well-meaning people working in, overworked, underfunded and understaffed departments. Part of me wants to highlight the violence and abuse that has been consistently inflicted upon poor and working-class children by state-run services for centuries. And that, in the end, it’s not just shitty individuals, it’s not just institutional negligence, it’s social apathy as a result of an economic system in which poor and working-class children do not matter, as they will never be sufficiently economically productive to matter. I want to remind them that if they are from economically secure families and communities, and if they are professionals working for state institutions, then the problems they are trying to remedy are not theirs to be interfering with.
That they are poking around what is often intergenerational trauma caused by decades of violent, economic and social marginalisation, generated by a political system that they benefit from and reproduce.
That if they want to act in order support repairing the damage that has been done to the bodies and minds of poor and working-class children and adults, then it is not middle-class adults who need to be tinkering around playing Mother Theresa. What is needed is the handing over of resources to poor and working-class communities. There appears to be an idea that poor and working-class communities don’t have the emotional and psychological faculties to repair our most traumatised individuals. That is so staggeringly not the case.
What we don’t have is the resources, the money, the buildings, the time. We are often working minimum-wage jobs, zero-hour jobs, two jobs, three jobs, whilst taking care of our neighbours, sisters, fathers, co-workers, brothers, mothers, friends, other folks in our communities. Some are doing this whilst working through our own traumas. And, again, this is important, they are OUR traumas, ones which are wrapped around OUR communities. And our understanding of this is vast, and eclipses any professionals. I do not think we should be left alone to fend for ourselves, I think we should be given the resources currently wasted on text-book experts and careerists, who only understand our communities by examining them from the outside, who are there to prod, examine and file reports. We know our communities from the inside, the warmth, the wisdom, and yes, the hurt and the pain, from being attacked by policy after policy, from being attacked for so long that we have often turned on one another and ourselves. But we do have the knowledge that can heal our collective spirit, we just need the resources to do it.