This site is no longer active, but is provided as an archive. Please be aware all links may not work. For current TUC work, visit

Day 3: Liverpool – Dealing with despair

19 June 2013

Austerity Uncovered bus in Bootle

Today has been hard; the scale of the problem is overwhelming. People have been crying on us all week about their situations. Today that continued, seeing someone break down as they tell you how scared and helpless they feel, and when you are equally helpless to help is pretty upsetting.

So today’s blog will be a quick run-down of where we went and who we met, followed by a list of quotes from the people we met. Because those voices and faces are swimming round my head and I want to share them.

Firstly, we visited the Echo Arena, Liverpool where Unison was holding its annual delegate conference, Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary was joined by Dave Prentis, Unison, General Secretary, Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool and Chris Tansley, Unison President and hundreds of Unison delegates for a quick photo opportunity before we gathered the stories of nurses, local government workers, police support staff and lots of other public sector workers.

We then travelled to Kirby Unemployed Workers’ Centre to see first-hand how staff there are supporting the local community and hear about the increasing difficulties of the people flocking to the centre for advice. After that was the Ellergreen Road Community Centre to hear from community workers how they are trying to plug the gap between the support people need and the support available to them.  Next we stopped at the West Everton Centre where we met an amazing group of women campaigning against the Bedroom Tax. Then onto Hugh Baird College to hear staff and students talk about the cuts to education support and the introduction of FE loans and how they are trying to keep people in education. Finally we hit The Strand in Bootle to speak to passers-by about what affect austerity is having on their lives.

It was a really busy and long day and an exhausting day, thank you to all the organisations for arranging the visits and to the people of Liverpool for sharing their stories. Here’s some of what I heard:

‘My client hadn’t really eaten for weeks, he lost 16lbs. He didn’t want to fall behind on his rent and utilities which have increased making them unmanageable on £17.70 per week. So he didn’t eat’

‘As an advisor I feel a sense of helplessness, we just can’t assist anymore, there is nothing to give them’

‘It’s bad now, but when universal credit comes in – God help us’

 ‘Rich people making decisions just don’t understand what £14 a week means to us. It could be the difference between having a home one week and being homeless the next’

 ‘People are shocked and in disbelief – they have no way to pay this money’

‘As a money advisor it’s difficult to know how to advise people on how to pay down their debts when they can’t afford money for food’

‘I feel panicked constantly, I am stressed, I just can’t see a way out of it’

‘When you have scraped the extra money together to pay your extra rent, then your son tells you you need loo roll and milk – what would you do? The money is spent on the basics we need. I am now in arrears, again’

‘My family has been getting the discretionary fund to help us, it finishes at the end of the month, I have to reapply. The form wants everything, even itemised shopping bills, I am ashamed to submit my bills, with basics and essentials everything and the cheapest food I can buy.  I am not looking after my kids health properly, but I can’t help it.’

‘I have a three bedroom property, I have one child, I am prepared to move but there are no two bedroom houses. But if I get one I won’t be allowed to move because I’m in arrears, the more time goes on with the bedroom tax, the more into debt I get, the more unlikely it is I can move house. I am trapped.’

 ‘Money isn’t stretching any more, feel like I’m being buried’

‘We’re not talking about houses; we are talking about our family homes. In Liverpool particularly our hearts are in our homes and in our communities’

‘What people don’t understand is the intergenerational support that Liverpool’s families need to work. If Grandma needs to move house, who picks the kids up?’ Who babysits when Mum needs to go to her cleaning job? The impact is huge.’

‘Racial tensions are starting to brew, we don’t want that in our communities, we are trying to challenge it, but it’s hard’

‘We don’t have any dignity left’

‘It’s the kids, it’s the kids who are struggling so much. They are being exploited, contracts with no hours, getting paid £2.10 per hour, not being given dinner breaks because they are on training’

There was more, so so much more. If there’s a theme for today it seems to be one of people trying to keep hope alive against a rising tide of despair.

Gemma Tumelty, TUC Campaigns Officer

1 Comments For This Post

  1. karen Says:

    Its like a Kafka novel; nothing makes sense any more. Please, some one help us! Where is the Human Rights in this? Why isnt anyone fighing for us? Where are the mass torts, the courts, the European courts, The United Nations? Benefits were calculated on the poverty level. So many of us cant move, cant leave families behind on the whim of a government who pays itself way over the national average; pays the upper classes more in tax breaks; doesnt chase taxes owed by huge, rich corporations; keeps a Royal Family, which most countries dont have at all. Yet they come for out few pounds and dont listen to the impact on our lives. I have arthritis so bad i cant pack my house up by myself. I cant afford to move and pay the bed room tax. What can i do? If I could get a job I would; better pain than anxiety! Curse them, I hate them, I would kill them if i could; i would be better off in prison!

17 June - 29 June


Your Stories

Tell us your story

Share this site

The issues

A perfect storm for the voluntary sector

Community and voluntary organisations are in crisis as savage cuts combine with increasing calls for help.

Read more