In the days after the 2015 election result, I (along with everyone else on my Twitter feed) felt thoroughly depressed. I went through a whole “woe is me” period and was longing for Russell Brand to put his money where his mouth is, and start The Revolution.
Much like our Russ, I could hear myself sounding increasingly like Rick from The Young Ones. So, upon realising that people like me don’t really stage successful coups, and that the only person who could actually make me feel better about anything was me, I decided to take charge of the situation. I have taken positive steps to change my little bit of the world, and – probably more importantly – to quieten the voices inside my head that were unrelentingly trying to convince me that all is lost.
Huge thanks to Abi Wilkinson who wrote this Mirror article encouraging all of us wallowing in desperation to take up (non-violent) arms. Similarly, thank you to comedian Josie Long whose pre-election-result-list-of-post-election-promises to herself stayed with me and has also played a role in this. I hope that knowing she’s inspired people like me to “do something” offers her some comfort too.
Here is my list of things I have done, am doing, or intend to do. I’m not going to pretend that any of it is life-changing or earth-shatteringly ground-breaking, but if I’m honest, had Ed been handed the keys to Number 10 on Friday 8th May, I wouldn’t have done any of this stuff, so a great big “thank you” to Cameron and co for making me a better person. You have handed me lemons, I’m reaching for the tequila and salt…
- I’ve joined the Labour Party. Whatever and whyever your party of preference: Conservative, Lib Dem, Green, SNP, UKIP, get involved. Learn about the stuff that matters to you and that affects you and your community – whatever you may view that as being. Joining a party makes you feel more involved and keeps you abreast of what the deal is. Also, getting emails “from Harriet Harman” is making me feel well important.
- I’m volunteering with the Samaritans. I wanted to volunteer for a women’s refuge or Rape Crisis, but funding cuts mean that all my local ones have been closed down. I decided that the Samaritans could offer similar support and, thankfully, they are local to me. You can find out about your local volunteering opportunities though the NCVO. I also wrote this article which offers further volunteering ideas and meets various fabulous folk who do stuff for free .
- I’m donating to my local food bank and collecting for them. As a part of this, I’m finding I’m able to spread the word that Benefit Street inspired vitriol is bullshit. The Trussell Trust site tells you where your local food bank is, should you ever need support, as well as how to help and donate.
- I’m setting up a debating group for young people. Schools have had to all but scrap Speaking and Listening – it no longer counts towards an English GCSE despite its importance when it comes to developing confidence and social skills. I’ve been introduced to Debate Mate. They help empower young people by encouraging them to research and question. They go into schools and mentor kids, inspiring them to speak up and be heard. Kind of awesome, really.
- I have decided to stick with the day job – teaching. This is a big deal for me as I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the education system for many, many reasons and had decided once and for all to throw in the towel. It’s going to get worse before it gets better (if that happens at all) and there is a growing shortage of people who want to teach children as opposed to teach successful exam passing strategies. I like teaching children. The system stinks but that’s not their fault. So they’re stuck with me for the time being.
Whatever your feelings about the GE outcome, don’t become complacent now. It is what it is for the next five years, and whether that fills you with joy or horror, I can’t help but feel that we should all be doing something to play our part in making our little piece of the world the best it can possibly be. After all, that must be why people voted the way they did, right? They honestly believed their choice would have the best outcome for the most people…
Because what other reasons could there possibly be?
An online magazine that cares about stuff, laughs about stuff, and wants you to feel good about stuff. Life's too short.