0 Shares 62 Views

Cuts are Affecting Everyone: My Wigan Pier Story

Aug 12, 2017
0 63

Dave Ward, 53, is a retired firefighter and volunteer at Manchester’s Not Just Soup project – a service providing good quality hot food. As he tells Claire Donnelly, cuts to public services are affecting everyone.

He says:

I was a firefighter for 32 years, I joined the service at 18, and this was my patch, this part of the city centre so it’s a place I know well. And it’s changing.

There’s a lot of prosperity on the surface but a lot of people aren’t part of that.

There are more people coming here for food than ever, more coming as time goes on – because of austerity, the cuts, all that. For lots of reasons a lot of people aren’t able to cope.

Road to Wigan Pier author, George Orwell
(Image: Daily Mirror)

I think a lot of people have been hanging on for a while but they’ve got to a stage where they just don’t have enough money to pay their bills and feed themselves.

READ ALSO:   Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi 'may not have acted alone' as police warn of further arrests

Working here means you see that the stereotypes about who uses this kind of service aren’t true.

There are people here who are smartly dressed, who you wouldn’t necessarily think are homeless, but I’ll see them walking miles in the day – walking around the city to access places like this and to get the help they need.

Some of the guys who come here have got a place but they can’t keep a roof over their heads and eat as well, they have to choose.

The help just isn’t there for people. There aren’t people helping them get work or access benefits, the government is trying to stop people getting benefits, so what are they supposed to do?

When I was a kid, if my dad was out of work he went to the Labour Exchange and they helped him out. There were people there to tell you what you were entitled to.

READ ALSO:   Shocking picture shows how careless motorist was caught driving at 60mph while holding a phone in EACH HAND

Now that’s gone, the service is so fragmented and confusing it’s hard for anyone to navigate.

The impact of the cuts is everywhere.

The fire service here has changed. It’s being run on a shoestring.

Because the way they respond has changed a lot of firefighters don’t have as much experience of responding to fire

We’re being asked to do even more for less – so crews are being asked to do urban search and rescue, water rescue, and respond to code reds to support the ambulance service.

Because we are spending more time doing all of this, newer recruits have less time to build up fire response experience so there is a skills decay within the service.

At the same time people are retiring but because of the cuts, new people aren’t being recruited.

READ ALSO:   'We had to choose food or bills': Young mum pushed to brink to save her two little boys

The banter on the watch is still good between lads but in the service morale is low.

Firefighters will always do their best for the public in any situation but I feel there will come a breaking point.

It is my opinion that the Chief Fire Officer should now say to the government that they cannot go on making cuts without risking the lives of the public and firefighters called upon to help them.

Have Your Say

We are retracing the journey George Orwell made in his book, The Road to Wigan Pier, throughout 2017 to tell modern stories of working and unemployed poverty.

They’ll appear in a regular series in the Daily Mirror newspaper and here on our special anniversary website.

The Wigan Pier Project

If you don’t live on the route but would like to share experiences of living on a low income or struggling with welfare cuts, please contact realbritain@trinitymirror.com where we are keen to hear your story.

You may be interested

Putin praises Trump, says collusion claims are ‘invented’
0 shares13 views

Putin praises Trump, says collusion claims are ‘invented’

Webby - Dec 14, 2017

Allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign were “invented” by Trump's opponents, Vladimir Putin said Thursday while praising the president's…

Disney to buy Fox in $52B historic Hollywood merger
0 shares11 views

Disney to buy Fox in $52B historic Hollywood merger

Webby - Dec 14, 2017

Disney is buying 21st Century Fox, in a $52 billion mega-merger that creates an entertainment power house. The Walt Disney Co. has set…

It’s decision day for the future of the internet
0 shares11 views

It’s decision day for the future of the internet

Webby - Dec 14, 2017

Your future internet experience now rests in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to vote on Thursday to end…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Most from this category