Finance / Politics

Riding Out The Recession: It’s Been Done Before, It Can Be Done Again

SAMARITANS-LANDSCAPE3_11This week market research giant YouGov announced results of the Samaritans’ ‘Annual Worries Survey.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly financial concerns topped the list, with 1 in every 6 calls now being a product of money worries.

The charity, which aims to provide emotional support for anyone who feels that they cannot continue alone, has seen a significant rise in calls concerning financial stress over the course of 2012.

Catherine Johnstone, Samaritans’ chief executive, reveals that the charity’s help-lines are regularly inundated with calls from people who are “being kept awake at night by the fear that they may not be able to continuing providing for themselves or their families.”

She adds that as much as a quarter of people who contact the Samaritans do so because they are scared of losing their job. A further 14% of callers cite difficult mortgage or rent payments as their chief concern. A whopping 38% of those polled were deeply worried about the consequences that struggling finances could have on their friends and family.

The results of this survey are deeply, deeply illuminating. They highlight the seldom regarded psychological effects of almost 5 years of financial recession. Being plunged unexpectedly from the high-board to the deep end, has cost many families a lot more than material wealth. It’s cost them their health, their mental well-being.

The ‘Annual Worries Survey’ comes hot on the heels of another set of sobering statistics. Last week the Citizens Advice Bureau revealed that Britain’s growing debt problems are prompting a worrying increase in mental health issues, relationship breakdowns and family discord.

Johnstone compels the nations struggling families to remember that “the Samaritans will always be there for anybody who needs someone to listen to them. We are the nation’s listening ear. We’re here for you. You don’t have to go through this alone.”

Times are hard. That much is clear and immutable. As the financial bust bites deeper and deeper, the line between rich and poor gets more and more distinct. There are those who have and those we haven’t.

It’s not fair.

How tempting a riposte that single, simple phrase can be. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.

How tempting it is to just give up, to stop counting the pennies, stop pinning the bills to the kitchen wall. To stop answering the phone. To stop surviving.

It’s harder to keep the counting the pennies, to keep answering the calls from the bank, from the payday loan sharks that you once felt so safe with. It’s much, much harder to survive. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.

41% of people polled genuinely believe that their financial situation will improve over the next few years,” Johnstone concludes. “They’re not ready to be beaten just yet.”

If the British are famed for anything, it is their gung-ho spirit, their resolve. That English stiff upper lip is a thing of legend. This isn’t the first time that Britain has seen hardship. There have been no fewer than 8 recessions since the end of WWII alone.

Our grandparents, our parents, have  been where we are now. And they survived. They went without, they worried themselves to sleep each night, they wondered how they were ever going to survive on the little that society gave them.

But they made it out. They survived the crisis and when the boom times began again in earnest, they remembered never to take anything for granted.

Let’s step up and do the same.

Politicians don’t make a country, neither do bankers, lenders, launderers or big businesses.

You do.

So use everything you’ve got, everything that’s out there. Sell your old clothes, cash in that jar of copper pennies, find your new sofa on Freecycle, even talk to the Samaritans if you need to.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You never know what’s round the corner.

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