There was a small demo outside of the Swindon Job Centre on the morning of the 19th Feb, against the government’s use of ATOS, the company commissioned to vet benefits applications of sick and disabled people signed off by their DR’s It was part of a nationwide protest.
Well, this isn´t a blog about news in Swindon but the other place I spend a lot of time. My girlfriend lives in a small village in rural Andalucia, Spain called Freila. It is not the Spain of tourists and English bars, but one where there are very few other English people and you really need to be able to speak Spanish. In England we hear all about how the Spanish are having it really hard at the moment. Well it is true. There is a very limited social welfare system here in Spain and it is very easy and very common for people here to have absolutely no income whatsoever nor any benefits. Entire families are thrown out on to the streets and it is only because it is a very family orientated society and families look after each other that most are just about surviving. But what about those who have no family. Suicides have already taken place by some of the homeless.
The photos above are just a small view of what is happening. The mainstay of the local income has been hardhit by the early heavy rains and the intense heat of the summer leading to shrivelled and dry olives. Some small land owners are not harvesting their olives at all as the sale price is so low it is not economically worth it and so the olives are left to rot on the trees. Also even in a tiny rural village like Freila where houses and caves are very cheap, they are not selling or being left half way through being built.
In England we get the impression that all Spaniards live on the coast, own bars or hotels and earn quite a lot of money from tourists. That is definitely not my experience of what is going on over here.