>Rhyl in Panorama


photo from Postcard Farm

It was friend +Tim Ellis who made me aware that poverty has been exported from our cities to our coastlands. For Jeanette and myself, Rhyl is a “day out”, refreshment and time for ourselves. We enjoy the wide spaces, and the walk from Rhyl to Prestatyn along the beach.

Jim Pickering outside 
Rathbone’s Rhyl Taste Academy

Panorama presented a very different picture of Rhyl. Apparently in West Rhyl nearly half of the people are unemployed and on benefits, and these are the people the Government has in its sites in its welfare to work programme. We followed Adam, Steve and a few others. Adam did work experience at Morrison’s, which eventually resulted in his being all smiles over landing a job there for 18 hours a week. Steve described a hopeless situation of long term unemployment. It seems so sad that these people are “targets” and that they are seen as fraudulent malingerers. There are imaginative programmes aimed at helping some from welfare to work, including the work done by Rathbones in projects such as the Taste Academy and Rhyl Football Club “Strikers”.

Rathbone is a UK-wide voluntary youth sector organisation providing opportunities for young people to transform their life-circumstances by re-engaging with learning, discovering their ability to succeed and achieving progression to further education, training and employment.

The dark underside of the Government programme though is that those who can work but who don’t are going to be severely penalised (loss of benefit for three years). The little given now is going to be even less unless they accept the jobs they are offered – whether they like it or not. I don’t know where the boundary between work and slavery is, but maybe we are getting pretty close. Fitness for work assessments sound fine, so long as they are fair. MIND – the mental health charity – claims there are many problems with them.

I feel like DWP want to send me back to a workplace where I don’t have the skills necessary for coping. Whenever I deal with a government agency I feel pretty bad afterwards – it is like nobody takes me seriously and that because I don’t have a physical disability, I am somehow a malingerer or scrounger. This is not the case. (from MIND)

Rhyl beach – on the North Wales coast

I am glad I have a job I am nearly fit for. I would not want a job that didn’t fit.

For us Rhyl is a day out. We can afford to get there and we can afford to eat there (and we will be going to the Taste Academy). I’m afraid reduced incomes aren’t going to buy any days out for the people of our coastlands. It is no wonder that there are drug and alcohol issues – drugs and alcohol bring opportunities of days out – (not of place, but of mind), away from the frustration, anger and hopelessness.