We don’t talk very often about my husbands job in public. Rarely on social media; it’s seen as a bit improper or tasteless for some reason. Like being an undertaker. It’s a real conversation stopper with most people, or too politically loaded nowadays. Most people find it too dark to hear about, or they just don’t want to believe these things might ever happen near to them. He works in the police.
I feel we need to start talking about this, whether the public want to or not. Now more than ever. We cannot allow our desires to believe we live in a perfect bubble to cloud our judgement on public sector workers any more. It’s no longer sustainable to ignore the public sector.
On a daily basis, he chooses to spend his working day dealing with the horrendous fallout of violent sexual and domestic assault, with the highest risk victims in our area; usually at risk of death or serious bodily harm in their own homes. I recognize this is a dark part of society you don’t want to know about, but it is a real and growing part of life for many people in our area and they need our help as a society. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is no hero, there are tens of thousands of public servants in similar situations to him; they just don’t want to brag about it, so I am.
Whenever there is a riot, he leads his team into petrol bombs in his fireproof clothing to protect the public. I’m not exaggerating although it sounds crazy, this is really very normal for him. We often don’t even talk about it, except to discuss what special way to wash his uniform that day; “petrol bombs or not today my love?”
I could not be more proud to support him in this; its a vocation he chooses to do. And yet he has never been more skilled whilst having the biggest paycut in real terms. He has worked in his profession for 14 years. He’s now highly specialised, and yet his role is chronically understaffed across all of the South East; they are leaving in droves. My husband had a 2 year pay freeze, then a 1% cap on payrise for 7 years, during which time we have had a family; so are in the most costly stage of life. Working is more expensive for me because he works varying shifts and overtime which child care providers don’t like. This is not unusual in the public sector. Living is 23% more costly then in 2010 when I had our first child. If you don’t believe me, search ‘inflation calculator UK’.
If the government valued his work as much as they say they do with their trendy rhetoric phrases on TV when a terrorist attack happens, they would reflect this in pay. We’re not asking for the world, just rises in line with the cost of living. Last night he worked till 3am which is pretty normal for the police. Working into the night is no longer regarded as antisocial working; the Windsor Report has saved our Tory Government a fortune.
All of this, and my local MP Alok Sharma who earns a base salary of £144k is literally laughing at our family on public TV for us to see; as the pay is extended till 2020. This to me, shows how disconnected he is from the reality of my families situation. It’s laughable, literally. I earnestly hope he and his beautiful family never have to see the dark reality of domestic violent crime, because then he would know the true value of people who work tirelessly against it. If his children were caught up in the vulnerability of this, he would be reliant on this team of professionals to protect them. The situations my husband sees routinely are so sad our friends don’t want to talk about it because it means recognising that anyone is capable of anything, and we have very little control over our fates. Its a bitter pill to swallow. This was reflected in the terrorist attacks. People couldn’t believe it; the police had been saying for ages it was just a matter of time. It’s hard but true. We must recognise the size of the struggle our collapsing public services face; not with rhetoric; with action. We must listen to what those on the front lines have to say.
As a Christian I find this situation heartbreaking. I feel bound to support and follow our countries democratically elected leaders. We do need to respect authority, or things just fall apart. I also feel that the most vulnerable in society are being completely ignored; these are the users of front line services who have no effective voice in parliament. I feel bound to speak up for them. If you are a Christian supporting cuts and want a biblical quote for this, Micah 6 verse 8 tells us to speak up against injustice. We could swap biblical references all day though and it wouldn’t solve the problem.
I have never felt more politically charged at what feels like a personal attack on our families public service. Never so disappointed in my local elected representative to parliament. I hope he has the courage to read this when I send it to his office and think about it rather than blindly following the whip. I fear a secretary will be left to send me an automated standardised response; bland and with no solutions. Such is life; we are reduced to mailing categories by our MPs.
This is why I’m supporting #Scrapthecap
Note: Police officers have an obligation (quite rightly) to be apolitical, and cannot strike as they serve at the pleasure (rather than being employed) by her Majesty the Queen. I am not bound by this obligation which is why I’m speaking up.
If you don’t trust my word, the guardian has a really comprehensive article about this.
You can download various social media branding through the RCN to show support.