In Of All Places

A serious and thought-provoking column has appeared in the pages of the Manchester Evening News, presumably by accident.

You might have walked past it, paying little attention to the Victorian red-brick façade, with its chiselled old ‘Street Children’s Mission’ sign. If you’re lucky, you’ve never needed to venture inside.

Yet, for 140 years, families from across Manchester and Salford have made a steady – albeit unnoticed – stream to The Wood Street Mission’s door. Families who can’t afford to buy even the most basic clothes for their children.

Once inside, these mums and dads – many of which cannot even afford a pair of shoes for their children – receive free bags of second-hand clothes the rest of us have chucked away.

It’s poverty – right here in Manchester city centre. Hidden down a side street, maybe, but right under our noses.

Now we can no longer choose to ignore it after the shocking reality has been laid bare by the State Of The Wards study into life in Manchester’s 32 neighbourhoods.

The study highlights an unforgivably gaping divide between the richest and poorest in our city. It shows that, thanks to deprivation, a child born in the poorest area of Harpurhey can expect to live 13 years less than a child born in leafy Didsbury.

While we proudly show off our shiny city centre department stores to the rest of the country, there are children less than a mile away living in houses who have no furniture and no clothes.

I suppose it is exactly this kind of charity that David Cameron would like to see more of with his ‘big society’ plans. Nice work, Dave, piggybacking on the dedication of such local schemes without having to put in any effort in yourself.

Read the whole thing.

Another reason I recommend Helen Tither’s piece is that she’s managed to piss off a significant chunk of the MEN readership, who vent their displeasure with loads of ill-informed comments about how the real victims are the Didsbury high earners forced to subsidise the underclass through punitive taxation.

I do sometimes wonder if I’m the only working man in this city who doesn’t balance a chip on the shoulder all the way to the office.

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