photo Lewis Clarke/CC
photo Lewis Clarke/CC

Where is the support for working-class people?

Jane Haden, Devon Socialist Party

I live in Devon. Not a place where most people expect to find poverty and desperation. But like every area of the country, this Tory government has decimated hope here too. This is a personal account of the human cost of this government’s policies where I live.

Buckland in Newton Abbot is considered a ‘rough’ and ‘deprived’ area. There are 3,000 homes on the estate, with many housing association tenants with both physical and mental health needs, including various addiction issues.

We are an area where people are advised not to buy a house. However, we are a community, who know each other, and help where we can.

Over the last few years, my family, particularly my daughter, have lost friends – six deaths, probably preventable, and two attempted suicides. Most of these people are in their 30s, with many more years to live, given the right to or, indeed, any support.

Two of my daughter’s friends took overdoses, but survived. And the support offered? A leaflet was given to one. She was told that she wouldn’t be able to access the self-referral service, because she needed more help than they could give. But she was not referred to any other service.

Non-existent help

Help for mental health is just about non-existent here. You may get an assessment. But for any actual treatment to start, there are long delays.

According to a friend, who is waiting for help for her son, the wait is 18 months. Help is needed now, not in 18 months’ time. People die waiting.

Another friend died from a seizure after trying to give up alcohol, without proper support. At hospital, they gave him information. But no tangible support was offered. He was promised an appointment at some point.

Another of my daughter’s friends died through lack of quick medical attention after a long wait for help after an accident.

That’s six deaths of people that we know. How many more are there?

We need a new party with compassion, that puts people before profit, and understands that things can be different. A party that will base budgets on the need in communities, rather than the needs of big businesses, who can well look after themselves.

Merton hostel residents treated like animals

The eleven residents of Amity Hostel in Wimbledon, south London, were given just one week’s notice by their landlord to vacate on 1 December. Socialist Party member Alex Forbes, an Amity Hostel resident, explains what is happening.

Nobody is getting any help from Merton Council. We feel left on a sinking ship.

I am a low-paid teaching assistant. I have lived here over two years, and paid nearly £15,000 over that time. I have lived in Merton for most of my 38 years, and grew up here.

Merton Council refused to offer any help. For example, there is a vulnerable woman on the top floor with severe mental health problems, who shouts and talks to herself all day.

The building has been deemed uninhabitable. Despite this, for the last two years, the council has been taking vulnerable people with alcoholism from the streets, and placing them here, in conditions you wouldn’t put an animal in.

There is a shower with its electric wires exposed. A fire door has been off for months. Another has been missing a glass pane for months.

The fire brigade closed the top floor for a few weeks due to concerns after a fire. There are water and rain leaks all around the building.


Clearly the council don’t check regularly – except when a bailiff, on behalf of the council, came stamping around the corridors one morning demanding payment of a business-rates debt. With a tablet device in hand, he threatened the staff on reception with taking their computers, and interrupted a TEFL English class, making it move.

What a caring council, a Labour council, we have, that values money more than people. The landlord, Wallhill Ltd, has done zero repairs. It’s treating the building, and its vulnerable residents, as a cash cow, while waiting to build their new hotel here, which the council gave consent for last year.

No extension time was offered by the landlord. And even on eviction day, there was too much stuff still here. My neighbour needed a van, for example.

And nobody has been rehoused, despite all the promises from the council. The council told one resident to just move to another London borough. And another is still sleeping rough almost one week later.

I tried going through Croydon County Court to stop the eviction date. But like the council, I was blocked from getting to who I needed to deal with. I was told to go online, phone a number, and shove paperwork through a letterbox – only to be told I’d put in the wrong form.