Alex Cottrell is a neighbour of mine in Shepherds Bush. He is 93 years old. His father died at the Battle of Mons. For most of the last twenty years that I have attended the Remembrance Parade to the Shepherds Bush War Memorial, Alex has marched at the front of the procession wearing his own medals.
Now he is a little shaky on his feet. Some days are better than others. A year ago he was provided with a Home Help by the council – someone to come in in the mornings, see he is OK, has taken his medicine, and is able to get up and start the day. It takes about half an hour.
Next week Alex loses his Home Help. The Tory Councillors say he is only in ‘moderate’ need and does not deserve any assistance. 550 people like Alex will lose their Home Helps immediately, with the threat of another 850 in even greater need losing theirs next spring. This Monday saw the latest of a series of protests by local people against these cuts.
It doesn’t matter apparently that Alex has had two falls this year, that his Home Help may be the only person he sees in a day. One morning he was too ill to let the Home Help in – but fortunately she knew where to go for a spare key. What would happen now?
These Tory Councillors are the same people who are threatening to charge for Home Care, have sacked all 166 Home Helps, have cut a quarter of the funding to the voluntary sector, who are selling off community halls and closing successful schools. Is there no limit to the callous and brutal way they treat the most vulnerable people in our community?
The Town Hall told Alex there were people a lot worse off than him – in other words he shouldn’t be so selfish. Perhaps they had in mind those same Tory Councillors, who awarded themselves an 18% pay rise. Now there’s a deserving cause.