Pop Ups For The People

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When we first heard that a disused bank in Hamilton Square had been taken over to house and feed the homeless we naively thought that  Wirral Chamber of  Commerce under the guise of a ‘Birkenhead First ‘ initiative were behind it.

We weren’t just convinced because the former bank was a Barclay’s – which let’s face it has to be the Chamber’s bank of choice! No! -we also found out the ‘Love Activists’ were involved . We assumed this was an offshoot of  the Chamber’s  ‘Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Things’ . All very touchy-feely, hippy -drippy and vaguely nauseating.

Fantastic Festival of BS

Plus the fact it all seemed to encompass two headlining modern themes : ‘pop ups’ and ‘homelessness’ – which all of a sudden are ‘sexy’.  As we know the Chamber of Horrors CEO Paula Basnett can’t open her mouth without using the term ‘pop- ups’  but when it comes to homelessness were not talking about vagrant love we’re talking about how homelessness (like foodbanks) have suddenly become a fashionable issue to be seen to support . Something which shames us all.

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Now we hesitate to use the term virtue-signalling because as Aesop said : ” No act of kindness ,no matter how small, is ever wasted” . However there appears to have been a worrying shift from preventing homelessness to sustaining the homeless on the street. Dare we suggest this approach only exacerbates the homelessness situation. There are sandwiches, hot drinks, blankets and even haircuts dispensed by commendable volunteers but no money for support services and a lack of affordable housing which would prevent vulnerable people ending up on the street in the first place!

As far as we’re concerned this is David Cameron’s nightmare vision for a ‘ Big Society’ made flesh . A community of volunteers providing what were essential public services to the vulnerable as there is no other option because public money has been diverted to pay inflated salaries to high level ‘public’ servants who frankly don’t care if the homeless (or any of us) live or die.

Now of course we know that Wirral Chamber of Commerce have nothing whatsoever to do with this particular ‘pop up’ we are warming to the ‘Love Activists’. They even offered our photographer a cup of tea. They seem to understand that life is is rough out there for rough sleepers especially when it isn’t for our rapacious leaders .

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Health and Safety gone…

Lord and Lady Wirral- Leaks aren’t quite sure about the legality of “volunteers” running crowd management control and security (see email below)  but Eldritch our loveable gardener wasn’t too keen on the idea of us “extending the opportunities “for him to volunteer additional services for nought but a pat on the head and a smart new hi-vis tabard.  But he did say “The ways I see it sir,  it seems all Local Authorities will be run by volunteers sir in the future, it’s that Big Society bollocks those F**k-witted Eton toffs talk about!  I hope these “volunteers” have proper insurance- it seems it’s not so much as Health and Safety gone mad, as Health and Safety…. gone.”

“Great Scott! “ roared Lady Wirral- Leaks, “I really do hate to think what might happen at a Michael Buble concert, I hear his fans can be quite the handful, in fact almost as relentless as Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear in pursuit of their prey!!  The whole idea of using volunteers, trained or not simply to cut costs where there are large numbers of people sitting in the dark is as outrageous as it is dangerous.  Why, if there was a serious incident, such as a mass “Buble-gasam” you could almost guarantee  nobody would be held accountable.

“But my dear Lady,” I gently chided,” this is the Wirral, accountability is not a concept they understand”

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EMAIL:

“Dear Everybody,

As you will all be aware the council is going through a very difficult time and the requirement for savings has fallen on every single service area.  As part of the savings associated with the Floral we intend to extend the opportunities for volunteers to engage in the work of the theatre and seek to phase out our reliance on external contractor Kadansa who currently provide our stewarding services.

I appreciate how important the role of the steward is to the safe delivery of performances/events, however, there is no getting away from the fact that we spend a great deal of money on stewards and we simply will not be able to sustain this level of spend in the years ahead. There are many excellent examples of theatres working with volunteers as stewards and it is my intention to launch a brand new volunteers’ scheme in the spring of 2013 with the aim of volunteers taking over as stewards from September 2013. Volunteers will be supervised by our own Front of House Manager and a further two members of our staff team who will have responsibility for the fire panel etc. All volunteers will have gone through a fairly rigorous recruitment process and will receive full training.

In order for this scheme to get off the ground we are appointing a Special Project Co-ordinator for six months and it is anticipated that this person will be in post from January 2013. They will work directly with P’s team and J who is ultimately going to take over the role of ‘Volunteer Co-ordinator’ as part of her duties once the scheme is launched. The success of the scheme will depend very heavily on how well it is administered and also on how well we engage with our volunteers on a daily/weekly basis –quite a task and one that I am not underestimating, hence this lead in time.

We will continue to require security officers from time to time, however, Kadansa has been advised that we will not require freelance stewards after 31stAugust 2013. I have emailed P and he will be informing his freelance staff of our decision.

This is a big change I know and I am sure that many of you will have comments/suggestions to make so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly. “