'If you have more than you need, build a bigger table not a higher fence'.

As we reflect on the evil sweeping across Ukraine it’s soul-stirring to see and feel the response from across the world.

Our news feeds are filled with words, pictures, and videos and, like all the best stories, these are eliciting an emotional and physical response. Thanks to technology we are invited into the lives of those affected, and although it’s disturbing it also feels like a huge privilege.

One of the pictures that will stay with me is of dozens of young children sleeping on the floor. They are slumbering angels snuggling together under colourful blankets, they look just like our children, and we identify with them wholeheartedly.

However, what we also know is the threat and danger is not far away, and although we can’t see it, we can feel it. It creeps into every pixel of the picture.

I felt a pain in my heart when I saw this image.

Although there has been a powerful response to the emergency, and I am grateful, it has also prompted me to think about charity and the way our community responds to those in need, particularly those who have fallen through the net closer to home.

We know an after-shock of the recent pandemic has been the emergence of a social and economic virus. More families are living in poverty, private rent rises are outstripping salary increases, jobs are less secure, and the hammer blow of inflation means more and more families in the B&NES community are making the choice of whether to heat or eat.

This is a reality in Bath today, there are children living in unsafe, insecure housing, and although the danger is different, it is still there, seeping into every aspect of life, and affecting their short, and long-term health, wellbeing, and prosperity.

Although Bath is one of the richest cities in the UK, it also one of the most unequal.

  • 1 in every 5 children in the region lives in poverty
  • Life expectancy differs by 10 years in rich and poor areas
  • Whiteway is in the bottom 1% for youth provision in the UK

Although this is the way now, it doesn’t have to be the way it stays.

We are not powerless to make changes.

Imagine if everyone living in B&NES wanted the region to become the first in the UK to level up – where we pledged to create an environment where nobody falls below the poverty line. Where it was simply couldn’t happen, where everyone had a minimum income and an expected quality of life.

As human beings our wellbeing is linked. Growing inequality is detrimental to economic growth, undermines social cohesion, and increases social and political tensions.

There will be readers who claim we can’t afford to do this, I would claim if we really wanted to reduce crime, improve health, and stimulate more economic growth then we can’t afford not to do this.

There will be readers who say I am simplifying a complex issue – I would say they are complicating a simple issue.

We all know that we are stronger together, and that lots of small actions compound together to make one big impact. History shows us this time and time again.

If you do nothing else today, I implore you to think about the power you possess to create change, and about the small actions that you could take to pave the way for a more equal B&NES.

If our dream is for a fairer society then dreaming won’t make it happen – but action will.

*Image credit - from unknown online source