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A new day

January 10 2021
Mat (L) at work for Groundswell © Groundswell Mat (L) at work for Groundswell © Groundswell

Is it just possible that things are changing for the better? Round-up by Deputy Editor Mat Amp

What a year it’s been. So much that people took for granted has changed. It’s been like the five stages of grief:

Denial – ain’t gonna happen to us.

Anger – what the fuck is our government playing at?

Bargaining – if you all wear masks we’ll lift the lockdown.

Depression – as the pandemic dragged on and finally, some form of

Acceptance – as we learnt to live with this gift that seems to just keep on giving.

It’s incredible that it’s taken a pandemic to expose austerity for exactly what it is – the equivalent of strangling a poorly cat to make it better. But it seems like the penny might have finally dropped for an administration that is now pumping money into the economy at an unprecedented rate. It remains to be seen if they’ll revert to type when this is all over, but this sea change in government policy is characteristic of a wider change in the way we’re behaving as a society.

Many of us are starting to see the limitations of a belief system that puts the self front and centre, simultaneously limiting the size of our families to a few people we share blood ties with. “We’re all in it together” is starting to sound a little bit less like the strap line for a new series of Star Trek ‘the federation’ and more like something we can actually live by and live up to.

Shit, don’t get me wrong, there will always be some selfish tosser out there who can’t see past their own supermarket trolley, but in general people are thinking less self-portrait and more big picture.

For the past six months I’ve spent several hours every day talking to people from the homeless community. One thing that’s struck me is how well people are coping with all the changes brought about by the pandemic.

Some people have told me that they feel things have improved for them because they’re getting welfare calls from the doctor, food parcels delivered and they feel like they’re being listened to for the first time in... erm... ever.
For some, the hotels provided respite from the streets without the clinical sterility associated with many hostels and supported living houses. Others have taken the opportunities provided by a warm bed and a bit of stability to get into recovery.

Don’t get me wrong… plenty of people on the frontline have had a really difficult time this year, but the experience of being homeless can sharpen our survival skills and make us more resilient to adversity. We learn to adapt and take change in our stride.

Some of us can’t wait for this pandemic to end and the vaccine offers a very real hope that this might happen sooner rather than later. Others though are anxious over what happens next. It’s always been the poorest in society who pick up the tab when the economy fails, so I guess we just gotta stay strong and hope that the positive changes are here to stay.