A lot tbh.
I could talk about the joyous moments and the sad moments with some of the young people I’ve worked with.* I could talk about the importance of safeguarding young people and my frustration with the arts. I could (un)happily monologue at length about my anger at austerity and anti-immigration policies. I could talk about the people who have been doing the work for much longer than I have, and inspire me to keep going. I could talk about the people who’ve left the creative fields and charity sector because they burnt out. I could talk about the aunties who are surprised by what I do and encourage me to keep going because “who else will write our stories?”
There’s a myriad of reasons. Each would take a while for me to get to.
Today, I was relieved to hear that for London, despite how “The Government also wanted to scrap free travel for under-18s and over-60s. These proposals have also been successfully defeated.“
Public transport is one of the few greatest democratisers we have. I vividly remember when my London bubble was popped in my first week away at uni. I hadn’t realised that for u18s to get free travel was not the norm. I’m still not over it tbh. I’ve lived in the West Midlands for eight years now, and the unfairness of it all gets reiterated now and again.
There was one incident though which I remember more vividly than the rest.
It was in Brum, I was taking the bus back to New Street. I was tired from during community outreach during the day. It was just my luck that me returning home happened to coincide with home time for schools. The sounds blurred but followed a rhythm. A pitter of chatter, a pause followed by a BEEP as each teen tapped their card, and then the chatter would loudly resume and each of ’em rushed and stomped to the top deck. There was this one year seven kid who broke that rhythm though. The glee in his eyes from chatting with his mates had disappeared as he rummaged through the few coins in his pockets. Everyone could see he didn’t have enough. You could see him panic and his cheeks go red as he did the mental calculations of time taken to get home without the bus + time missed without mates + the embarrassment of not having enough. Time must have been so distorted for him in that moment. But before anyone could reach out, there was that gentle but gruff reassurance from the bus driver, “Don’t worry about it, let’s get you home.”
We shouldn’t rely on charitable acts for things which should be universally provided. No kid should worry about what they can and can’t afford. They all deserve the world.
*If any young person I’ve worked with comes across this post, hello!