Services in Glasgow helping vulnerable young women have been shutdown. Photo: Public Domain
Services in Glasgow helping vulnerable young women have been shutdown. Photo: Public Domain

Shaw Rooney, Young Socialists and Glasgow Adult and Youth Social Service Worker

‘Charity starts at home’. Whoever said that must have been from a very dysfunctional family, because working in the volunteer and third sector leads to more crisis management than managing the real crises facing society today.

A sector built upon the socialist principles of caring for one another and providing a helping hand to those in need, has now been warped into a money-driven machine that has eviscerated the core values that it stood by. Companies and services clamber over each other to beg for the scraps from the government table packaged in the yearly budget.

Who does this affect the most in our society? As always, it’s those who are most vulnerable that bear the weight of the cuts.

In Glasgow, the 218 Project, which helps support female offenders to rebuild their lives after drug and alcohol use, has now been closed down. This has put some of the most vulnerable women in the city out on the street or in shared accommodation that puts their recovery, stability and the lives they have built at risk.

Yet, it is not only the people who use these services that have been damaged by cut after cut after cut. It is also the sector’s low-paid workers, now taking on the mental load of those they work with and the ever-present guillotine of redundancy hanging above their heads.

One of the most common sayings you will hear from anyone who has worked in social care and the third and voluntary sector is: “You must love helping people, cause you’re definitely not in this job for the money.”

Yet even this self-deprecating throwaway comment has been weaponised against the working-class people in these roles. They use people’s commitment to helping those who are marginalised in society against them by not providing a work-life balance or adequate training, and by promoting unhealthy working hours that cause burn out. All because people dare to love their job and give their all to a cause they think is worthwhile.

I, myself, have faced redundancy not once but twice in the space of a year in two different services. In my previous role I did lose my job due to redundancy and have only just managed to escape the same fate in my current role by the skin of my teeth.

While my job is secure, there are other services and safe spaces that are geared towards reducing youth violence and harm reduction that closed their doors during Covid, never to open back up. Austerity and a cost-of-living crisis has left our youth and people in need angry and wanting to lash out, caught in a whirlwind of bitterness and rage at the world and with no safe space to channel that anger in a positive way.

So what does it say about this ailing capitalist society that, at the age of 28, I have stared into the abyss of redundancy twice and those younger than me are forgotten and left to seethe and stew with no place to turn to let it all out?

It shows that greed of those at the top of society holds no bounds, even in the sectors and services we hold dear. We see, day in day out, while holding together the tattered and frayed edges of society, that we are not safe from savage cuts by those who have never had their boots on the ground or their brow hot and sweaty at the coal face.