My name is Steve Brown and I am the Chair of Birmingham UWC. I am proud and happy to have this role and have held the post for the last 18 months or so. For my part, although I now live just outside of Birmingham in Worcestershire, my family connections from Brum are strong and I spent the first 5 years of my life in Sparkbrook then the next 20 years in Northfield.
Since I left college I have moved around a bit – involved in the trade union movement as a CWU Branch Secretary, then a community worker and more latterly working for UNISON as a Development Officer for the last 6 years.
The times we face are unprecedented. This Government of millionaires is making decisions that will shape and for many, damage their lives for years to come. Wherever we look we see cuts in education, health, social services, welfare and the inevitable attacks on the poor as a means of creating scapegoats for the crisis the ‘few’ have caused. All this while the Banks escape, more or less to carry on as before without regulation or proper pay-back. Is that fair? No it is not.
I doubt very much whether this collection of centre-right marketeers and millionaires running our country who are intent on cutting public services, privatising and outsourcing them to their friends in the private sector, has ever/will ever/need ever the services they seem ideologically happy to chop.
And that is the real crisis – how can people who have no understanding of the problems the ordinary person faces when it comes to finding a job, accessing benefits, needing a public service or representation at work on an employment matter be capable of grasping what it means to be in that position?
Birmingham UWC is mainly funded through different projects supported via Birmingham City Council and in a smaller way the trade union movement of the West Midlands. That funding is being squeezed at a time when our services – provided by a lot of volunteers (yes Dave that’s YOUR Big Society) and a few paid workers who themselves worry about whether they will have a job come March 2011 – are coming under maximum strain from an ever growing number of people suffering from the Banking created recession who need help, advice and support from our Centre.
Over the next 18 months, I believe we will see a coming together of different organisations from anything like community groups to trade unions who will offer a resistance and challenge to the hatchet job this Government is wielding down on our country’s public services and people.
Birmingham UWC, with our partner in the Midlands TUC, hopes to play our part in that and is looking at ways we can achieve it. In the meantime, if you have a voice – use it to resist the cuts.