Jeff & Sue: Go To Sleep

A local woman uses Amitriptyline sleeping tablets to drug her husband so he wont want to go to the pub.

Jeff and Sue have been married over 40 years and have three children who are all grown up. Jeff is an ex-miner who is now retried where as Sue used to work in the local corner shop. Jeff worked as a pony boy in his younger days, assisting the pony’s bringing heavy loads of coal.

They currently live in a bungalow on George street, Ryhill Wakefield. Sue enjoys going round to her neighbour Christine’s house to play “Zumba Fitness” a Wii fitness game.

Jeff is a big fan of real ale, a local delicacy in South Yorkshire, which he drinks down his local Workings Mens Club over a game of Snooker. He says “I prefer it to larger because it’s got none of them nasty gasses and it guz darn better”

Sue doesn’t like him going down the pub every night as she is worried he will run into trouble on the way home or will spend too much money. In order to stop him from going, she occasionally slips Amitriptyline sleeping tablets in his tea so he is too tired to go.

Amitriptyline is a powerful sedative often used to treat insomnia and depression.

Jeff is aware of Sue’s sneaky way of getting him to stay in but doesn’t seem to get too annoyed when it happens. With next to no figures available on an issue like this, i wonder how wide spread drugging ones spouse is throughout this country.

Drop In Kitchen Barnsley

More people used Barnsley drop in kitchen in 2014 than in any other year.

The Drop in Kitchen, based in the Addaction centre but run by a separate organisation, was originally set up to help the outsiders of Barnsley. The homeless, the drug addicted and those who have recently been released from prison. Providing front line care for those in desperate need.

Set up by a local church, the charitable organisations ethos is to help who ever shows up regardless of their circumstances. Unlike other food banks in the area, you do not have to be referred and have your income assessed to come to the Drop In Kitchen. They will provide a hot cooked meal, a food parcel and 2 items of warm clothing or sleeping bags to who ever comes in.

However over the past year they have had an unprecedented increase in numbers, averaging at around 100 breakfasts each morning they are open.

“The sort of people we are getting in has changed drastically” said volunteer Brian “Where as before we were mainly getting those addicted to drugs and the homeless, now we are getting more pensioners, young people, families and day labourers. People who normally wouldn’t use our services are finding themselves in hard situations and having to reach out for help ”

The drastic increase in numbers at Barnsley Drop In Kitchen can be attributed to austerity decisions made by the government. Many people on low incomes have had their work load reduced and contractual benefits slashed due to the popularity of zero hour contracts. Many others are finding themselves with less income due to controversial benefit reforms, particularly young people who are unable to claim full housing allowance until they are over 25.

Gateway Foodbank In Barnsley

Volunteers at Gateway Foodbank tackle local poverty.

Originally the first foodbank in Barnsley, Gateway, a local christian charity, now gives out hundreds of donated food parcels to some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

There are now over ten food banks operating in Barnsley, most of which are run by local charities and the Trussell Trust, many are maned entirely by volunteers from the local community. Yet despite the increase in available foodbanks, Gateway are still experiencing an increase of people using their services.

One of the volunteers said “we’ve had more people use us over the past months, one of the key reasons being a delay in benefits payments”

According the the Trussell Trust over 900,000 people used foodbanks in the year 2013-2014, and increase from the previous year; 346,992. The three top primary referral causes being, benefit delays, low income and benefit changes.

Rotherham

1,400 girls have been abused while their town looked away.

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Clifton Park, where many children were groomed and raped.

Having grown up In Rotherham and Barnsley, I was shocked and saddened to read the revelations of the Alexis-Jay Report. In the space of ten years over 1,400 young boys and girls were groomed and sexually abused in Rotherham alone. Many of the children were as young as 11 when the abuse began and were abused in public places.  The very institutions put in place to protect these children failed drastically to the point of aiding the perpetrators, many young boys and girls were blamed for being abused, ultimately allowing the perpetrators to act with impunity.

There are allegations that Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police had a policy of deliberately ignoring the rape of young children in Rotherham. Some suggest this was to avoid using resources on people not valued within society. Retired social workers and police officers have reported the widespread use of the term “S.O.S” (scum on scum) being used by South Yorkshire Police to define crimes committed within the most vulnerable sections of society. “There is a belief that people who were being exploited were asking for it.” Said retired Social worker John.

With more allegations of corruption and a clear lack of transparency and responsibility from the authorities it has allowed far right extremists to exploit the issue to further grow their street groups. Welcome to Rotherham, a town grappling with issues of corruption, incompetence, xenophobia, misogyny and poverty.

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“Jessica”, poses for an anonymous portrait after sharing her story.

“Jessica”, not her real name, was just 14 when she fell in love with Arshid, or “Mad Ash” to his friends. Ten years older than her, he was very tenderly and kind when they first got together. He gained Jessica’s trust and she saw him as a friend. “I felt, ‘I like him, I want to be with him’, but my parents were saying it was wrong, he was too old.”

Four months later things changed, Ash would get abusive and threaten her if she would not do as he says. “I remember one time we were fighting on a hill and he headbutted me. I wasn’t scared at all in the moment, because I was so used to the fighting and the arguments. It just became so normal.”

She first became pregnant at 14, but could not keep the baby, she then fell pregnant again at 15 but decided to keep the child. Jess soon learned that ash was not only with her but with many other girls, much of the abuse taking part in public.

Social services were aware of Ash and suspected him to be part of a group of men that had abused as many as 40 girls, however despite numerous people coming forward, nothing was done to stop the abuse.

Jessica’s parents were aware of the abuse but felt as though the town of Rotherham had turned their back on her. Jessica’s father Paul, also not his real name, said he went to the police four times to report the abuse.

“I couldn’t prove she was sleeping with them,” he said. “Their attitude was, ‘if she’s knocking about with them they must be little slappers, let them get on with it. What do you want us to do’.

“In the end, one of the guys at the police station in Rotherham told me if I didn’t clear off I’d be arrested. I wasn’t getting anywhere with them.”

Ash has never faced prosecution for is crimes and is a free man today. Currently he lives in Goole, in a wheel chair accessible bungalow because he was shot by rival gangsters leaving him paralysed.

Many cases have in common that social services, the police and City Council re- mained inactive for a long time when young girls were getting to much older men to have sexual relations. That there were cases not only a few singles, but that there was a system.

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“Lizzie”, poses for an anonymous portrait after sharing her story.

“Lizzie”, not her real name,  was only 12 when she met Umar, He was tall, had a deep voice and a silver car. Not having many friends at school Lizzie was grateful someone was paying attention to her, they would text late into to night “how was school” “what are you thinking about”, Soon they were speaking on the phone every night.

Umar was strong, muscular and in his early 20’s, almost twice her age. She liked his deep voice and how he waited for her outside the school gates. When they said good bye, he kissed her on the mouth, “I found that funny” but she trusted him.

When ever she argued with parents Umar said he would be there for her, he said he understands her, loves her and would one day marry her. The child had never felt like this before, it was completely new to her.

But soon Umar switched. He was no longer sweet and kind. There was no tenderness. Lizzie said she would now belong to him. She struggled for the first time as he dragged her out the car and unbuttoned her school clothes, but Umar would not stop. He said he will wait for her the next day at school.

Lizzies parents worked in a factory and a shop and were only able to take care of her at evenings. They knew she was missing school and were worried about her. Classmates repeatedly told the school that Lizzie was getting into a car with a dark skinned older man, information that was passed on to her parents.

Her parents went to the police and social services with the description, they identified him as 21 year old Umar Razaq, he was known to the authorities and had been spotted hanging around with very young girls. They regarded him as dangerous and said they would look into it.

A week later an Lizzie was raped for the first time, Her parents found text messages on her phone, 200 unambiguous messages about sex, drugs and alcohol. They took this to the police, but again they did nothing.

Now Umar was abusing Lizzie every time they saw each other. It would be in the back of his car, clifton park, the playground and other public places, Lizzie could not resist of fight back.

Weeks went by and other men, friends of Umar, started to join in as well. He would beat and threaten her with a knife if she resisted.

Soon teachers at her school noticed the many marks on Lizzies body, Umar forced Lizzie to claim it was her own father making the marks which resulted in social services taking her into care.

She was now living in a children’s home under the supervision of Rotherham social services. But the abuse did not stop there, it became more frequent. Nothing was done when Lizzie was seen getting in Umars car outside the gates of social services.

Her mother was regularly visiting Lizzie in the children’s home. 17 times she alerted the police, she gave them copies of the explicit text messages, details of where she is taken, license plate numbers and more, yet still nothing was done.

Now lizzie was being taken out of Rotherham, into dark buldings in Barnsley and Sheffield. There were other girls there too, aged around 13 and 14 years old. They were all raped and forced to give oral sex to multiple men. One night Lizzie rebelled and tried to fight back, her abusers beat her, doused her in petrol and held a lighter in the air. She obeyed.

For 11 months Lizzie silently endured hell, she told no one, not even her mother. Despite this, her mother new something was wrong, she saw her little girl change into a scarred women. She searched high and low in the parks, playgrounds and shelters and on one night in november 2008 she witnessed her daughter being abused in a local park. She immediately called 999. But still Umar was not arrested, the police let him go.

Instead Lizzle was moved to another home outside of town which was harder for her parents to get to. Umar still visited lizzie and started to threaten her family. He then tried to extort Lizzies parents demanding they pay £2,000 a month to leave her alone. So finally He left lizzie alone.

It was only last year an independent investigation was ordered, after Jessica had told her story to Sunday Times journalist, Andrew Norfolk. The result of the investigation is now available: 153 pages, by the social scientist Alexis Jay, which describes the abuse in a detailed way. An estimated 1,400 children between 1997 and 2013, have been exploited sexually, writes Jay.

Some girls have been raped by multiple perpetrators, they were kidnapped, beaten and moved from town to town to be prostituted. The majority of the perpetrators were Pakistani heritage men who lived in Rotherham.

“Nevertheless, the administration took no direct contact with representatives of this community, trying to decide how to move forward together,” writes Jay.

The City Council responded in a strange way: Instead of finally clarify the allegations, they searched for the informant to stop the leak.

Almost all of government employees from 1997 to 2013 are still in service today. The responsible police commander in office for two years, refused to resign – even though Prime Minister David Cameron calls for his departure.

There have only been 5 convicted offenders with many dangerous men still on the streets today.

Barnsley Community Centre Under Austerity Pressure

Volunteers at Barnsley community centre feel the pressure of austerity.

More people have been using Barnsley community centre, run by Unite Trade Union, as a result of controversial benefit reforms.

Set up in the old N.U.M headquarters, the community centre is run on a volunteer basis and offers a number of services to some of the most vulnerable people in Barnsley.

Some of these services include help and advice on claiming benefits, universal credit, assisting people struggling with the bedroom tax and offering computer training courses geared at getting people into work.

They have been under increased pressure recently as more people are turning to local charities to get their basic necessities.

Joe, a volunteer at the centre said “we are a vital lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people here in Barnsley, offering much needed advice and assistance.”

Many people in Barnsley are confused by the new benefit reforms and are struggling to provide for themselves, many others have been tipped over the edge by reforms such as the bedroom tax.

South Yorkshire Advanced Manufacturing Park

New development and investment is taking place in the South Yorkshire Advanced Manufacturing Park to create the “Silicon Don Valley Dream.”

When walking around the advanced manufacturing park in South Yorkshire, it’s hard to believe that this was the once site of the infamous Orgreave Colliery. Now home to over 40 businesses ranging from small start ups to huge multinationals such as Boeing and Rolls Royce the space has come a long way to shaking off the negative connotations of the past.

Once an area of pain for many Yorkshire men, it is now becoming a positive beacon, bringing new housing, jobs and business to South Yorkshire.

“Over 1,500 jobs have already been created” Said AMP manager John “and for every 1 job created, it is estimate that 4 other jobs are created to support their work”

The AMP is attracting investors from all over the world to set up in Sheffield.

Boeing have teamed up with Sheffield University at the AMRC training students in advanced research testing.

The site is also home to Yorkshire’s first Rolls Royce plant.

The final goal is to use the vast empty space of the Orgreave site to develop a new community hubbed around the growing advanced manufacturing park, creating an area people want to move to and live in.

New housing has already been built in Waverley to accommodate the new workers with more underway. Much of the housing has modern designs with eco friendly features such as solar panels.

Klesch Group To Buy Tata Steel Works In Scunthorpe

India’s Tata steel is in talks with billionaire Gary Klesch to sell off Scunthorpe long steel products after hiving off a division that employs thousands of workers.

The sale was announced along with the sale of several other UK sites including Clydebridge in Scotland and Dalzell Teeside, after the plant made a loss the previous year due to long product steel being down in the global market.

Trade unions, unite and GMB, representing Scunthorpe steel workers have said Tata steel had failed to consult them prior to announcement.  In a joint statement they said: “The fact that Tata Steel wants to abandon half of its European operations and pull out of an entire strategic market does not bode well for the future and ends Tata Steel’s vision to be a global steel player.”

Many workers worry about the future of their jobs as the announced sale could lead to an eventual closure of the plant.

Klesch Group are in talks with tata steel about purchasing the site, rumoured at low price.

Many worry that Klesch Group may strip the assets and sell the site to turn a profit. In response to this Klesch said “I am not going into Scunthorpe to asset strip. I have never asset stripped in my life and would not know where to start.”

“We will come to Scunthorpe as a standalone operation without the services used by Tata Steel, so we will have to employ an evaluation team of between 125 and 150 people to go on site. “I am well aware capital investment has to be made on the Scunthorpe site but that is all part of the due diligence process.”

However others are not so confident, Mr Greatrex asked Prime Minister David Cameron whether the bid to buy Clydebridge by Klesch Group, “with its record of asset stripping in France and Holland”, is “in the public and national interest”.

The announcement comes at a bad time for Scunthorpe, an area already suffering the effects of the austerity and heavily dependant on the steel industry.