The Olympic flame was in Melton Mowbray today, now what?

This isn’t my normal kind of blog post, there is no food involved, no photos.

If you have ever clicked on the “About” section of this blog then you will know that I had an accident just over 2 years ago on May 21st 2010 that radically changed my life. In the blink of an eye I went from being happy, healthy and earning just under 40k a year to being trapped on a sofa bed, barely able to move without excruciating pain and having an income of £99 a week to live on. This somehow would also have to pay the mortgage on my first home that I had just bought 5 months previously and all the other credit/loans/outgoings you tend to acquire when you are used to earning 40k a year and assume you will always have that coming in.

The last 2 and a half years have been really difficult but I’ve got through it but it’s been tough. Actually it’s been really fucking tough, it’s been crawl up in a ball and cry your eyes out  because I can’t see a way out/can’t pay the mortgage this month/have to sit in the dark because we can’t afford to put money on the meter/can’t afford a pint of milk/stamp tough, yeah you get the idea.

And yes I’ve been low, low to the point that feeling that way feels “normal” and it’s only when you go to see a doctor about something mundane, like a really swollen throat, and they ask you how you are feeling, and you tell them and they get “that look”. That look that says, “this isn’t normal” and then they question you further for their Suicide Risk checklist and you wonder why they are being so concerned about your answers because you feel this every day, this is normal for you right now. Yeah I’ve been there, I’ve been there many times since I was 12 years old and I’m now 34.

We are losing people in our town who feel desperate, alone and estranged. There are things we can do to help as individuals like looking out for one another but there is so much more that we can do as a community.

Melton Mowbray lost many people over the last 14 months, several of them young, who felt alone and unable to cope with their situations. In the kitchen today I worked with a young man doing work experience who told me that his age group are in desperate need. We lost another young member of our community this weekend. Members of our town really are in desperate need, not just our youth, many of us are in need, but it’s predominantly our children, our teenagers and our young adults that are bearing the brunt of our disappearing shops, jobs, leisure facilities and community.

After the torch had passed through the town today and I had closed up the cafe, I walked through the town square where there was still the Torch Roadshow truck playing music. Teenagers were dancing, laughing, shouting and having a whale of a time but the metal barriers were being gathered, the stalls dissembled and the music turned off. Where do they go now?  Lack of staffing has seen our youth clubs closed, the council has shut the leisure centre for the summer to refurbish and because there are no jobs in the town the teenagers have no money.

People talk about our “disaffected youth”- disaffected: adjective alienatedresentfuldiscontentedhostileestranged, dissatisfiedrebelliousantagonisticdisloyalseditious,mutinous, uncompliant, unsubmissive.   The irony is that our young people seem to be the most affected by what is going on around them and their voices are being lost.

I work with a Melton Mowbray charity called Lost For Words that was set up earlier this year when members of the community came together in the wake of losing several young people, to try and give emotional support to everyone who needs it though our free website resource database. 

A person, just holding a piece of metal with a tiny flame, passed that tiny little flame to another person, holding just another piece of metal today in our town centre, and managed to bring our community together for a couple of hours in the rain.  Just think what we could do if we put our minds to it. Our shops are closing and our town centre is dying, lets make sure that we do everything we can to try and save our community and try and prevent another flame from being extinguished.

The Olympic flame passed through Melton Mowbray today and brought a community briefly together, what can we now do to bring it back?