Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

REVIEW: What’s important to us – “Get it together”, by Zoe Williams.

In S. Richardson on June 25, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Reviewed by SARAH RICHARDSON

Zoe Williams, a Guardian journalist, has written an interesting new book on current affairs. Its launch was timed to coincide with the run-up to the recent General Election, but it remains relevant in this era of a continued Tory administration.

The book is in the form of a collection of essays about social issues such as housing, education and health. The title given to each chapter is in the form of a controversial question – such as, “Was your education bog standard?” Her prose style is accessible and readable and she gives examples from personal experience. She reminds us that it is up to all of us to decide what we put a value on. For example, it is wrong that people who work with the very young (i.e. childminders) and the very old (health care assistants) are frequently paid less than the minimum wage. Are we saying that pensioners and under-fives are not important?

SHOCKING:

I was lucky enough to hear the author speak recently at a “Q and A” session at the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green, London. She was lively and informed with strong personal politics. She was asked what in the book she felt most strongly about. She said that an area that she was particularly shocked about was the privatisation of children’s services and its implication for Child Protection.

She explained that in the past, Local Authorities were responsible for their own children’s homes. Now many of these have been sold off and run by private companies. When children are taken into care they could be sent hundreds of miles away from their school, community, friends and extended family. This made them more vulnerable and, she argued, made scandals such as the Rotherham child abuse ring more likely to happen with children left isolated from support.

“DO SOMETHING”:

In the final chapter, Williams argues that we need to get involved to change things, be this in a political party, trades union or single issue campaign. She reminds us that collective action is more likely to succeed and less likely to lead to demoralisation of the campaigner. “Do something” seems a good watchword to hold on to when things are as bleak as they are at the moment.

Don’t give up, find the thing you care most about and join a campaign group to support it.

S.R.

get_it_together

“Get It Together”, by Zoe Williams, is published by Hutchinson; 2015, at £14.99.

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